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Hi, Im Twenty Seven...
Old 09-22-2008, 09:36 PM   #1
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Hi, Im Twenty Seven...

Hello people

Im twenty seven (just starting out). I've a B.S. degree and work as an analytical chemist for a biotech company. I earn a decent salary and Im looking to go back to school for the full enchellada (PhD) in the next couple years.

I bought a house (technically a second house since we started out in a mobile home and made a decent return on it) one year ago, Ive been married five years (he makes an average wage) and we are getting along fine monetarily (fine being better than most).

I have a decent mind for money and my credit rating is in the high 700s to low 800s as I have had a credit card since the age of 13. I tried investing at a young age, and it went over about as well as a lead balloon. I think most of it was due to the fact that I opened my first brokerage account at 17, I didnt have a grasp on the wonderful tool that is called "the internet" and I fell into a general investment scheme that is called Edward Jones. As a result I lost about 20% of the funds, and had to withdraw the account in my skimpy college years to buy food and pay the water bill.

I should also mention that I did my biochemistry degree in three years at a state school and paid for all three years as I attended by working more than one job (usually three in the summer time). Lets just say I dont remember much from the ages of 17-21 and it wasnt because of booze, drugs, or a huge case of apathy. I worked my ever loving tail off to afford my degree.

All that in, Id like to start investing again. I have a few savings bonds, a skimpy IRA start, a collection of company stocks, and a few thousand in savings. I could probably scrape together a couple grand at a moments notice, and probably could stand to lose about a grand without crying too hard. I know I dont have near what I should... but I guess my only excuse is that Im twenty seven. At least I have a house and its not upsidedown in equity (in fact I probably have at least 25K in equity even in this downturn market).

Most of my questions are how do I get started? Ive requested company after company's literature on IRA and rothIRA funding. I also visited my bank (wells fargo) even though I loath dealing with the bank, and asked for advice. The man who I spoke with practically threw a phone at me to speak with someone about setting up an account, of which I had no idea how worked, and then told me that he didnt have any literature on the account for me to read. Holy shibbits!

For all my research and feeling outward, I have yet to find something that makes me happy with results. Call it being fire-shy after the Edward Jones deal, but I dont fancy losing 20% of my money over 4 years of investing because Im too ignorant of the system to understand what to do with it.

Does anyone have a good book to reccomend?? or maybe a decent bank program?? or even a bit of advice on who to ask. I dont mind spending a bit of money for financial advice, but I dont want to pay $60 for someone to tell me to keep my credit cards low and ordered, and all my financial ducks in a row. Im ahead of the game there, and everywhere, except retirement planning.

I dont even have a goal, although I know I wont be withdrawing any social security in 40 (or, at this rate 70) years.

Thanks for reading my rambling... any advice for someone in my situation?
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Old 09-23-2008, 01:17 AM   #2
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Welcome to Investopedia.com - Your Source for Investing Education is a good way to start. That's what I'm using right now, but I plan on reading a few books too. Do some random searches in this forum, and I'm sure it'll help you come up with more specific questions.

Oh yeah...got a tip on how to study Organic Chemistry
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Old 09-23-2008, 08:46 AM   #3
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You've gotten off to a great start. I think, before you invest your money anywhere, you need to learn the basics of investing. Read Four Pillars and The Coffeehouse Investor for general overviews.
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Old 09-23-2008, 11:31 AM   #4
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Oh yeah...got a tip on how to study Organic Chemistry
Yeah, any time a Prof says that "this is a rule of thumb" dont believe him... The trick to Organic is there are always exceptions. Its usually easier to memorize the exceptions lol.

If I could do it all over again, I would have taken physical chemistry first. But I am very math minded. After I took physical chemistry, organic made perfect sense (as F-ed up as that sounds).

I'd try your hardest to understand orbital theory and how it applies to the basic chemicals (CHNO). Memorize a good list of radicals (Br, I) and try to permutate a set of chemicals (EtOH and hexanes to say, caffeine ).

And, a study group in that subject saved my butt on more than one occation. We took to meeting up two days a week in the library. It's a crappy way of learning, but you can "study to the test material" instead of trying to encompass all of organic into your brain.

Thanks for the book list... it definitely helps... there are so many books out there that are just a waste of time in some aspects... Given my nature, Im often afraid that I get distracted by the research and lose focus on anything but learning all I can.
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Old 09-23-2008, 12:33 PM   #5
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Hello PsychoticChemist,

My favorite subject has always been analytical chemistry followed closely by organic chemistry (though I was limited in that subject by my relatively poor memorization skills). I ended up doing neither...

My wife though is the ideal organic chemist: she has the ability to remember almost any reaction she comes across. She remembers the name, starting materials, conditions, mechanisms and products of hundreds of reactions. She's like an encyclopedia. It's truly amazing.

As for getting your PhD, I wish you good luck in that endeavor. My wife and I both got our PhDs in chemistry and those were not the best years of our lives, not because of the intellectual challenge, but rather because of the personality of our respective advisors. But it was totally worth it in the end!

As far as investing goes, I recommend The Four Pillars of Investing and The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing. I think you should keep it simple (total market index, total bond index, target retirement, etc...) until you feel comfortable with your understanding of more complex investments. Most importantly, control your costs and tax liability. That alone could considerably boost your returns.
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Old 09-23-2008, 12:45 PM   #6
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For all my research and feeling outward, I have yet to find something that makes me happy with results. Call it being fire-shy after the Edward Jones deal, but I dont fancy losing 20% of my money over 4 years of investing because Im too ignorant of the system to understand what to do with it.
Over your investing lifetime, you will probably lose 20% again. If you're risk-averse, I think the best strategy is to invest with an auto-deduction plan and forget about it. Obviously not with Edward Jones. The markets are lingering so now is a good time to start.

My sister just finished her Chemistry Ph.D and is working in France on a post-doc.
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Old 09-23-2008, 02:13 PM   #7
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As for getting your PhD, I wish you good luck in that endeavor. My wife and I both got our PhDs in chemistry and those were not the best years of our lives, not because of the intellectual challenge, but rather because of the personality of our respective advisors. But it was totally worth it in the end!
That is really neat that you both are chemistry people. And I wish I could have memorized things like your wife... I did to an extent... but I retained more from other classes.

My husband is in shipping and really makes a better manager of people than anything else. So he's not really an effective sounding board sometimes when Im dreaming in chemistry goals; he has an unwavering sense that I can do way more than I probably will accomplish (but thats why I love him) .

Im dreading the PhD years, mostly because of the hit in living standards I will have to make again. I mean, living poverty lines is a struggle, but I think its worse to go back when youve known better kwim?

I actually want to get into Pharmacology not straight chemistry. I tried an M.S. in biostats a while back and got about halfway through it before I wanted to hang myself because of the boredom.

Thanks for the books... and the best wishes (everyone)!

I should probably add that neither of us wants children so, that wont be in the cards unless something unforseen happens.
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Old 09-23-2008, 02:47 PM   #8
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I also recomend Bernsteins The Four Pillars of Investing and I would also read his book on asset allocation as they go hand in hand.
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Old 09-23-2008, 03:16 PM   #9
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Welcome and good for you for getting started so early. Books I'd recommend:

A Random Walk Down Wall Street Amazon.com: A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing, Ninth Edition: Burton G. Malkiel: Books

Bogleheads Guide to Investing Amazon.com: The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing: Taylor Larimore, Mel Lindauer, Michael LeBoeuf, John C. Bogle: Books

Forum I would recommend:

Bogleheads Bogleheads Investing Advice and Info I'd read a number of queries for portfolio advice to match similar circumstances to your own, then post a query of your own. Excellent advice, Vanguard tilted
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Old 09-23-2008, 08:44 PM   #10
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I think you should keep it simple (total market index, total bond index)...
Stop right there!

I used to be an amateur chemist, specializing in psychoactive substances...
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Old 09-23-2008, 10:52 PM   #11
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If I could do it all over again, I would have taken physical chemistry first. But I am very math minded. After I took physical chemistry, organic made perfect sense (as F-ed up as that sounds).
Holy crap so am I! I'll will have to look into this. Thanks!
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Old 09-25-2008, 08:06 PM   #12
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vanguard's a good group to deal with. im sure many agree
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