Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Google V. Facebook Battle: Thoughts On Google's Earnings And Reasons Why I Will Remain A Shareholder


The first stock I ever purchased in my life (right in the middle of the financial crisis, I may add) was Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) I still remember the day back in the summer of 2008 and my excitement to finally be a part-owner of such an incredible company.
The main reasons why I bought Google were, and still remain-- its strong brand, its severely strong leadership status within its industry, an incredibly large market share within the industry of search engines (62.3% worldwide as of February 2015). The word itself was used so much it became a verb.
When I started my position in Google, Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) was not yet a publicly traded company and not really going full force in to the advertising industry, at least not as much as it is today.
However, I am well aware that times are changing and I am not surprised that in recent quarters (including this past one) Google has been announcing a slowing in advertising revenue. I am completely aware of the competition that is out there and is something I am not necessarily worried about. Before I go in to the reasons why, here are some of the highlights that caught my attention during the Google earnings call this past Thursday 4/23/15:

  • First quarter 2015 revenue came in at $17.3 billion, a 12% year over year increase in comparison to same quarter last year. (As per CFO, excluding changes in foreign currency exchange, growth would have been 17% year over year).
  • Total advertising revenue came in at $15.5 billion, a 11% year over year increase in comparison to first quarter 2014. However, a 5% decrease in comparison to last quarter (fourth quarter 2014).
  • "Other revenues" (non-ad related) came in a bit over $1.7 billion, a nice 23% year over year increase in comparison to fourth quarter 2014 (a 2% decrease in comparison to last quarter earnings).

Google also announced that their aggregate cost per click (the average price they charge advertisiers for online ads) decreased by 7% year over year. CFO Patrick Pichette, attributed this in part to YouTube's 'skippable' ads which return a lesser revenue (YouTube currently allows users to skip advertisement after approximately 4 seconds).
If this were not an option, CFO indicated cost per click would actually be growing. It has been indicated Google is in the process of launching paid ad-free subscriptions for YouTube. However, this has yet to be implemented. 

Why I know Facebook is a major threat in Advertising

Although I am not yet a shareholder of Facebook, I do understand their business model when it comes to advertising and their incredible advantage. Facebook's benefit is that they have the real time information of billions of people (1.4 billion active users worldwide as of first quarter of 2015). Not only do they have people's names but they have their gender, their relationship status, their "likes" (things they are interested in) and an ongoing amount of information that members willingly disclose.
Major companies looking to save in advertising dollars and looking to make their ads more strategic and specific, can easy tell Facebook what kind of people they are looking to target and Facebook can provide the specified audience immediately. I see this as the new face of advertising in the coming years and beyond and is something Google cannot yet compete with.
Google: At the forefront of innovation
Now, why doesn't it necessarily worry me that Facebook is eating away at Google's advertising dollars? It should come to no surprise that long gone are the days in which Google focused solely on advertising as source of revenue. It is true that they remain profitable for the most part due to advertising and that they are still the leader. In fact, during their last annual deport ending December 31st, 2014; Google did announce that 89% of their revenue came from advertising dollars.
However, it is also true they have been diversifying away from that for quite some time now. We've heard about their successful Android and YouTube acquisitions which happened in 2005 and 2006 respectively, in addition to their innovative creation of tools used all over the world such as Gmail and Google Chrome. Below is also a list of some pretty cool stuff that are still in the development phase:
  • Driverless cars
  • Google Glass
  • The use of Android operating system to automate your entire home
  • Android-powered smart watches
  • Partnerships with pharma companies to create pills that could diagnose and treat medical illnesses
  • "Project Loon"-initiatives to bring internet access to the entire world (sometimes we forget there are still billions of people in this world living without this privilege)

This excerpt in their most recent annual report for year ending 12/31/14 is a perfect example of how Google sees their business and the world:
"Many companies get comfortable doing what they have always done, making a few incremental changes. This incrementalism leads to irrelevance over time, especially in technology...people thought we were crazy when we acquired YouTube and Android, and when we launched Chrome...We won't become complacent, relying solely on small tweaks as the years wear on...we will not shy away from high-risk, high-reward projects because we believe they are the key to our long-term success. We won't stop asking "What if?" and then working hard to find the answer."
Final Takeaway:
As subsequent quarters come and go, my plan is to keep an eye on what exactly is happening to advertising dollars and cost per click. I want to see that they are doing something about the slowing ad revenue and the role of new developments in supplementing said revenue.
As a huge fan of dividend paying stocks, I have to say this is one of the very few companies in my portfolio that doesn't pay dividends and I am okay with it. I feel that the company has been doing a fairly good job when it comes to strategic acquisitions and remaining innovative. 
If you are not yet a shareholder of Google I'll recommend you do some research and consider starting a position during a pull back. Decide for yourself if this is a company you'll see around for generations to come. My personal opinion is that they will be and I'm excited to be part of the journey.
Tell me, are you a Google shareholder? Do you think the company can remain profitable even if Facebook ends up taking away a significant market share in the advertising space?
Disclaimer: Please do not invest or cease to invest solely based on the information in this post. Please do your own research for any security you may be considering adding to your portfolio.

Disclosure: currently LONG on GOOG/GOOGL

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The earnings I'm looking forward to this week (and why)

As I prepared myself for the upcoming work week making notes of earnings announcements coming up I realize I have a pretty busy week ahead of me. I also decided to share with you guys quickly which earnings I'll be keeping my eyes on and why.

1. Apple (4/27/2015 @ 5:00 pm E.T)


This has to be the company i'm most excited about to hear how they performed this past quarter. According to their investors relations website they'll make us wait until after market closes (5:00 PM E.T) to announce earnings. The torture! Really looking forward to this. I have a feeling the earnings wont be as "exciting" as the last one considering the hype of Iphone 6 sales has died down by now and the new developments such as the brand new iwatch or new MacBooks just recently came out. However, as the rest of the world, I am looking forward to what they have to say in regards to volume orders and sales of these new and "hot" items as well as any new strategic plans for their lesser-revenue items such as the Ipad, etc. This is will a fun way to start (or end) my Monday. 

2. Coach, COH (4/28/15 @ 8:30 am E.T)




Quarter and annual earnings announcements during the past 2-3 years have been a bit of a roller coaster. I'll be specially interested in three things: How the Stewart Weitzman acquisition is doing, the performance of the new collections launched last year, current status of their ongoing plan to transform the company to a lifestyle brand- are we seeing a significant improvement in sales and profit? Reflection in EPS, top and bottom line performance. Keeping an optimistic outlook on coach.

3. Mastercard, MA (4/29/15 @ 9:00 am E.T)


To be quite honest, whether they come up with a amazing or not so amazing quarter is not something I am worried about. This is one of those companies in my portfolio that I consider a core holding and one that's not going anywhere. One of my favorites without a doubt. Lets see what they have to say.

4. Visa, V (4/30/15 @ 5:00 pm E.T)


Another core holding in my portfolio and another favorite. See above.

5. Colgate, CL (4/30/15 @ 11: 00 am E.T)




This is another 'staple' in my portfolio. A consumer goods company that has never let me down with consistent earnings and returns on investments. Not really worried about anything they may have to say this week. I have a feeling they'll bring up foreign exchange issues affecting the bottom line, as the majority of companies with a heavy international presence have announced during these earnings season. However, those kind of issues have nothing to do with the internal performance of the company itself so Im not really putting much worry or emphasis on that. Lets see what they have to say.

BONUS: The final two stocks in my watch list also announce this week:

1. Skyworks Solutions, SWKS (4/30/15 @ 5:00 pm E.T)- Top and bottom line results, strategic plans to remain competitive and relevant, and status of contracts with their main clients.

2. Gilead Sciences, GILD (4/3/15 @ 1:30 pm P.T) - Would like to find out what they plan to do about the high cost of their drugs considering there has been some issues with certain insurance companies refusing to pay for the hepatitis C drugs due to their incredibly high cost for patients. Also, keeping an eye on the performance of their incredibly successful Hep-C and HIV drugs as well as any new developments they may want to share.

And that is all friends.

If you own any of these companies (including the ones on my watch list) would love to hear what YOU will be keeping an eye on. Email me or comment below.

thanks for reading and cheers to profits!

Mabel

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Wall Street Journal Review: How I read it, why I like it, and a personal story

Hello my dear followers!

Hope everyone is having a great Saturday so far. The weather here in New York City is a bit chilly but is nice and sunny outside. After the nightmare winter we had, we'll take any sun we can get.

So anyways, writing this post is a bit bittersweet considering my Wall Street Journal subscription is expiring this coming week. So, so sad. However, by the end of this post you should get a sense of why I may just continue my subscription.




A little bit of a personal background

I was a business/finance major in undergrad and a finance major in graduate school. As you can imagine, reading the WSJ was a recommendation from professors all throughout my entire higher educational 'career'. Professors didn't really force us to read the paper but encouraged us to use it as a complement and source of real-time examples to what we were learning in class. 

Considering this "encouragement" from my dear professors, I tried many times to get in to the paper. We had the luxury of getting discounted subscriptions. My school library even had access to the online version for free. However, for some reason I could never really get in to it. I remember back in undergrad the piles and piles of papers that would build up in my college dorm. I eventually felt guilty and called customer service to cancel my subscription. I explained I was a poor college student and could no longer afford their super cheap rate (now that I think about it, I'm  kinda' embarrassed about that). All I remember is the customer service rep being super nice and understanding. He cancelled it right away (thanks, stranger).

I cant tell you if all the information was too overwhelming or perhaps I just had more "important" things to do (homework, projects and/or cramming for quizzes and exams). In graduate school I was also working full time so add a full time job to all of the above. Who had time to read the paper?

The turning point

So, when did things change? As my passion for finance and investing grew (something that seems to be intensifying as time goes by) I decided I needed a source not only for investment ideas but to keep a close eye on the developments of stocks in my portfolio. 

At some point early last year, I realized my local library had editions of the Wall Street Journal. As I found myself with more time after grad school ended, I began reading those papers. Some of the editions were a week old (or sometimes older) at times but I didn't really mind. The information was clear, solid, super informational and worth my precious time. I am a voracious reader so I read a lot of books, magazines, and in the past, other newspapers. I have to be honest, I couldn't find a source that compared to the information I was getting from the WSJ. 

I soon got tired of being cheap reading the outdated library versions of the paper and decided to pay for my subscription. 


Billionaire Tory Burch reading the paper (I really like this ad campaign)


How I read the paper & my experience with the paid subscription 

So, I paid for the "bundle" which includes getting a paper delivery, Ipad version, and computer access. If you've seen the WSJ you know it has multiple sessions. I have to be honest in that I often skip a few of the sessions due to time. Here is how I organize my reading-- in this exact order:

1. Business & Technology
2. Money & Investing
3. Personal Journal <-- a growing favorite. Awesome lifestyle articles here. 
4. Briefly browse through the rest of the sessions (Front paper, Greater New York, World News, etc.)

The weekend edition comes with a "weekend investor" sessions which is also a favorite.

Paper version

I live in a community within a borough of New York City that is not very easy to find. However, the paper version comes every single morning (Mon-Saturday) without fail. I don't know who delivers the paper to my front door since I've never met him/her but I'd like to shake that persons hand. Even during a nasty snow storm we had earlier this year, the paper still showed up. I bragged about it on certain social media outlets:






The Ipad version 

This has been my motivator to hit the gym. When I have no time to read the actual paper I tell myself I'll catch up at the gym. I completely zone out with my headphones on and simply read away while I  complete the jogging speed walking session of my workout. I highly recommend this! The IPAD version is well organized and you can seamlessly switch from section to section of the paper with one touch of the screen. As soon as you open the WSJ app it prompts you to "today's paper" and you can choose to read that or look at older versions if you missed something. Whatever company/ticker symbol is being mentioned within an article, comes with real time quotes which I think is pretty cool. There is also a real time session where you can check out news as its happenings. You have to be connected to WiFi for this but is truly great. I'd say the Ipad version is my favorite out of the three. 

Computer Version

I rarely every used the computer edition but is nice to have this option, specially working in finance, and its come in handy when I have to look up some information quickly. 

Final Takeaways/What I enjoy about the paper

What I really like about the newspaper is that it keeps me informed about everything that is happening in the world of finance, investing, and companies in general. There are not many resources out there that not only provide this information but make it engaging and entertaining to read. I actually look forward to the paper each day and always feel like I'll be learning something new. With that said, I am strongly considering continuing my subscription. It helps feed my passion and love for investing. 

Even seeing the paper while on vacation brought joy to my heart:


Speaking of vacation, you can suspend and re-start your paper subscription for whichever time period you prefer as necessary. 


And that is all! I tried to make this post as comprehensive as possible but if you have any other questions please let me know. Note: this is not a sponsored post. I paid for my own subscription of the WSJ and opinions are my own. 

Tell me, what is your experience with this newspaper? If you don't read it yet, what sources do your rely on for financial news and information?

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Closer Look: The Etsy IPO

Hello everyone!


Hope you've all been having a great Monday so far. Today I want to introduce a new series on the blog entitled "A Closer Look". My goal will be to examine various companies from upcoming IPOs to stocks on my watch list. 

What better way to Kickoff this series than with the infamous Etsy, which is expected to make its debut as a publicly traded company this coming Thursday under ticker symbol, ETSY.

In the case for IPOs I will take it upon myself to review the S-1 filling, so you don't have to, and I'll fill you in on what I find. 

Note: S-1 filling or "prospectus" is a document all companies looking to become public must file with the SEC (Security Exchange Commission). In a nutshell,  It has all the information a prospective investor would want to know about the company before it becomes public. 



Without further 'ado, here is what I found:

I. The Business:
  • Founded in Brooklyn, NY in June 2005  by Rob Calin and Chris McGuire as a marketplace for handmade goods, crafts, and supplies.
  • Company is a certified B-Corporation- it has rigorous social and environmental standards for the products sold within the marketplace.
  • What differentiates Etsy from other popular online retailers is that it has been able to cultivate a niche of unique and creative entrepreneurs that sell their hand made crafts to customers around the world looking for those same unique products they cannot find else where. The company has created a strong and growing ecosystem that has made a lot of money for a lot of people. And that brings us to our next topic.


II. How the company makes money (& Strategic Plans going forward):

As per the S-1 filling, Etsy breaks down their sources of revenue in three ways:

1. Marketplace Revenue
  • Sellers pay Etsy a fee for each transaction that is made (Ie: when someone buys their product).
  • Sellers also pay a listing fee for each item they sell

2. Seller Service Revenue:

  • Sellers have the option to pay for certain seller-assistance services that Etsy offers within its platform: Services can include anything from basic classes to prominent placement in search results (promoted listings) to payment processing services via direct checkout and purchases of shipping labels.
  • As per the S-1: during the year ended 12/31/2014; 46.1% of Etsy sellers used at least one of their seller services.
  • Seller services came in at $42.8M (34.2%) of revenue in 2013, which represented a 169.9% increase over 2012 and $82.5% (42.2%) of revenue in 2014, a 92.7% increase over 2013.

3. "Other" which include:
  • Fees collected from third party payment processors
  • Wholesale offerings (launched in August 2014): in this space, over 6500 local boutiques and three national retail chains (whole foods, Nordstrom, West Elm) make partnership deals with the sellers in order to diversify product offering and offer unique products within stores. Etsy charges wholesalers a fee for said collaboration.

Strategic plans to sustain and grow revenue and profit streams:

1. Make Etsy an everyday experience
2. Build local marketplaces, globally
3. Offer high impact seller services
4. Expand the "Etsy Economy" by continuing to connect sellers and skilled partners, continue focus on wholesale offerings and strategic partnerships
5. Invest in marketing (pilot testing in United Kingdom already showed favorable results in this area)




III. Financials

Company is still unprofitable. 
  • As of December 31st, 2014; Etsy had a total of 54 million members including 1.4 million active sellers and 19.8 million active buyers.
  • More than 11% of current active sellers have been using the platform for over 4 years
  • Gross Merchandise Sales (GMS) for 2014 came in at $1.93 billion, This represented an increase of 43.3% in comparison to 2013. Out of said sales 36.1% came from purchases made via online devices and 30.9% came from Etsy sellers & buyers abroad.
  • As a company, Etsy made $195.6 million in 2014, an increase of 56.4% in comparison to 2013.
  • Net Losses were  $15.2 million, $0.8 million and $2.4 million for 2014, 2013, and 2012 respectively.
  • Adjusted EBITDA came in at $23.1 million for 2014 V. $16.9 million in 2013.
  • Company reported a deficit of $32.4 million as of 12/31/2014.
Prospectus also emphasizes that operating expenses are expected to increase as the company hires new people, improves technology and makes further investments in the maintenance and growth of the company. Furthermore, as a newly publicly traded company is expected to incur additional legal, accounting cosrs and further expenses.

IV. Risks & Competition

There are so many risks listed in the S-1 that it would take me 24 hours to list them all. Whoever wrote that really wanted to cover all bases.  However, the top risks are listed are as follows:
  • The company has a history of operating loses, they claim it is "unknown" whether they'll be profitable and leave this up to the investors discretion. Note that this appears to be a standard listed risk for a lot of IPOs.
  • Possible fluctuations in quarterly operating results as a result of factors that may be out of the company's control
  • Staying true to the company's values and focus on long term sustainability may negatively influence short or medium term financial performance.
  • Competition: The company openly accepts the fact that they operate in a fiercely competitive environment. Etsy sellers have no binding contracts and are free to use other venues to sell their merchandise-- marketplaces such as Amazon, Baidu, Ebay.
  • Etsy also competes with companies that sell software and services to small businesses (sellers do not necessarily have to use Etsy seller services)

V. My Two Cents

Firs of all, if you have been reading my blog for some time now, you know I never invest in IPOs. I like to take my time and see how a company operates once it becomes publicly traded. Once I feel a company has 'proven itself' -- which can take anywhere from a couple of quarters to a couple of years, then I may consider buying. I have zero remorse about "missing the boat" on any IPOs and I love being able to sleep at night.

With that said, and after reviewing the S-1, I really feel this company may have the grounds to become even more wildly successful. Despite the competition from "big names", I feel that if the company was going to fail because of said competition, it would have failed already as it has been in operation for nearly a decade with the same exact competitors around it.

I feel the key word for this company is uniqueness, they have done a phenomenal job creating a true ecosystem of buyers and sellers of unique products and have been able to capitalize on that in a significant way. The company found a way to specialize and has created a niche and strong  'bond' within its growing number of buyers and sellers which may be difficult to disintegrate.

It looks like the company has very specific plans (see strategic plans above) in terms of what they plan to do with the IPO funds and I like where they are going with this. With that said, I'll be adding Etsy to my watchlist. Join me in seeing what happens in the next quarters and years going forward.





Tell me, is this a company you would consider investing in? why or why not? Do you know anyone that sells on their platform?

Thanks for reading and cheers to profits!

Mabel

Thursday, April 9, 2015

From Apple to Visa and everything in between: Earnings Report Dates for stocks in my portfolio (updated)

Hello my fellow investors and soon-to-be investors,

As I recently exclaimed on twitter:


 Earnings season started last night with the unofficial kick off by Alcoa ($AA). As it is the norm each earnings season, and as I explained in this post, I like this time of year because it gives me a chance to see how the companies in my portfolio have been doing in the past three months as well as take a peek at the performance of stocks in my watchlist.

I have previously made it quite clear that I completely understand that there is not much a company can do in three short months and it doesn't make or break my decisions. However, I like to keep a close eye on quarter over quarter trends in order to ensure my stocks remain in the right track. Being a long term investor doesn't mean we just "set it and forget it". In my personal opinion, it is wise to remain alert of any strategic developments, internal changes within the company, growth (or lack thereof), and the list goes on. A look at quarter over quarter earnings gives us a nice glimpse of all that. 

For the companies on my list- I'll try to listen to some of the calls live while for other's I'll simply read the transcript. Either way I'll keep informed and if I come across anything interesting will make sure to share with you all.

Below are the dates for the stocks in my portfolio as well as the portfolios I manage:

Company Ticker Earnings Announcement
Apple AAPL 4/27/2015
Coach COH 4/28/2015
Colgate CL 4/30/2015
Coca Cola KO 4/22/2015
Disney DIS 5/05/2015
Google GOOGL/GOOG              04/23/15
Johnson & Johnson JNJ 4/14/2015
Mastercard MA 4/29/2015
MMM (3M) MMM 4/23/2015
New York &Company NWY                  5/20/15-5/26/15*
Nike NKE                  6/24/15-6/29/15*
Procter & Gamble PG                             4/23/2015
Starbucks SBUX 4/23/2015
Visa V 4/30/2015

And here are the dates for a few of the companies in my watch list:

Company Ticker    Earnings Announcement
Skyworks Solutions SWKS                              4/30/2015
Gilead Sciences GILD 4/30/2015
Qualcomm QCOM 4/22/2015
Hershey HSY 4/23/2015

**Asterisk represent tentative dates.

For my beginner investors--if you have any questions whatsoever about what this means, feel free to email me at teachmetoinvest@gmail.com or comment below.

Thanks for reading and cheers to profits!

Mabel

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Suze Orman Show: A fan's takeaways (Part II)

Hello Everyone!

Hope you're all having a great day so far. Its been cloudy and windy here in NYC and I've been working nonstop since around 7:00 am this morning- but no complaints. Enjoying every second.

I wanted to pass by the blog and share with you guys part II of my Suze Orman financial takeaways post. If you missed part I check it out here. 

In this post I am sharing the remainder tips and "financial mantras" which I've learned from Suze over the years and which have been very valuable in my personal financial life. 

  • Financial health equals independence and freedom: Every time Suze would mention this I totally understood where she was coming from. From a very young age, I adopted frugal tendencies. To me, saving as much as I possible means the flexibility and freedom to do the things I love. For example, I was able to Travel to several countries around the world during my 20s because of my propensity to save as much as I could. I wouldn't spend $2.50 on a coffee but I'd spend hundreds on an experience. And this personal approach to life still continues today.


  • Learn to find as much joy in saving as you do in spending: People are different. There are those people that love saving everything they can while there are others who see no point in saving and rather spend everything they have in the latest gadgets or fashion. I totally understand this. However, for those who love to spend, remember the immeasurable benefits that come with putting money away and then having that money work for you.Those benefits can outweigh the joy you get from a new pair of shoes or a purse for example. It can buy you eventual freedom. Just consider that. 


  • When an opportunity arises, don't fear it, go for it-- sometimes people see potential in you that you don't see in yourself.


  • Never finance a car for more than three years: This one is kind of random but is something Suze would repeat over and over again in her show. If you have to finance a car for longer than that. Leave it alone. 


  • Stand in your truth: As Suze herself indicated many times- "in order to create lasting security you must learn to stand in your truth. You must recognize, embrace and be honest about what is real for you today and allow that understanding to inform the choices you make. Only then will you be able to build the future of your dreams." You can read more about this and even sign and print a pledge, check that out here

  • Is better to do nothing than something you don't understand: Dont jump in to doing things simply because you feel you may be "missing the boat". Take the time to educate yourself as much as you can and then move forward. 


  • Be weary of financial advisers that work for commission and may be only out there to fend for themselves. For the best personal finance adviser in the world, look in the mirror. No one will understand your finances as much as you. 

....and last but not least, her infamous quote:

  • People first, then money, then things: Apparently people misunderstood this quote for years. Specifically the first part. People first refers to ourselves. We have to think of ourselves first and make sure we have our "oxygen masks" on before we are able to help others. 


And that's all folks. This post concludes my "tribute" to one of my favorite personal finance TV shows of all time. I wish Suze the utmost success as she switches gears in her career. The Suze Orman Show will be missed. 




Do any of the takeaways above resonate with you?

As always, thanks for reading and cheers to profits!

Mabel

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Suze Orman Show Financial Forevers: A fan's takeaways (Part I)

Confession: I have been a huge fan of the Suze Orman show for nearly a decade.

I cannot tell you exactly when I came across the show or Suze Orman herself but I do remember her feeding my passion for personal finance education. I consider myself lucky that I was able to "find" her wisdom in my very early 20s. Her tips and advise (in conjunction with many other resources I've immersed in from a young age) helped shape my financial wisdom and development going forward.

After 13 years, her very last show aired this past Saturday March 28th. I am not ashamed to say this saddened me and  that I looked forward to her shows each and every Saturday. I will greatly miss it. You may or may not have seen my random tweets from time to time where I shared my obsession with the show:





So, anyways, the purpose of this post is to share her "financial forevers" advise which she emphasized during the last month of her show. As she explained, these are personal finance tips that will not change or wont be changing any time soon and people should keep in mind at all times in order to lead a financially-healthy life (and prevent getting in to trouble). It'll be interesting to look back at this post 10 years from now and see if anything has changed. Here you have it [in order of importance]:

5. Never, ever buy whole life insurance. Specially if a "sales person" tries to portray this purchase as an "investment". Insurance and investments are two completely different things. If one must buy some kind of life insurance; term insurance is a much better idea.

Bonus: When putting money away for education purposes, a 529 plan is the way to go. Do not let anyone convince you that putting money in an universal, whole life, or variable life insurance package is a good idea. Stay away from that.

4. Never buy a variable annuity, specially within a retirement account. You'll have to die before you get back your money. If you must choose, go for a no load mutual fund instead.

3. Never, ever take out a loan from a 401K/retirement account unless you qualify to take it out for retirement purposes only.  Money in a  retirement account is fully protected against bankruptcy. Hence, if anything of the sort happens, at least you can rest assured you'll still have that retirement cushion stocked away.

2. Never co-sign any kind of loan for anyone (car loan, student loan, etc). If a bank or financial institution refuses to lend someone money without the need of a co-signer as a form of guarantee- that alone should be a red flag.

1. Never go in to default, deferment or forbearance when it comes to student loan payments. The most important payment out of all your bills should be your student loan. Even if you have to pay your very minimum each month find a way to do so. Remember- a $25k loan can easily turn in to $50K, $80K, and beyond if ignored. In addition, student loans are not forgivable in bankruptcy. Work towards paying it off. Research ways to tackle it.

This is it for Part I. In Part II i'll share the remaining tips I've learned from this financially-fierce women through the years.

I understand Suze has a huge following but also tons of people that didn't really agree with her. Hence, I'm curious...

Were you a fan of the Suze Orman show? Why or why not?