Cheat Sheet Q&A:


Today’s topic:  Knowing when to sell your investments


Here’s the entry:

Hi Brian,


Over the past couple of years I've taken extra savings and have been self investing in a handful of stocks that I think you'd approve of based on what you've said previously (companies left out).  Thankfully I've done well overall but how do I know when to sell?


Bottom Line:  My answer is short and sweet but will likely require a bit of elaboration. 


  • Sell when the reasons why you bought change for the negative

So what does that mean?  First it should reinforce the principals behind why you invest in the first place.  For example I believe in making investments in companies that meet, at a minimum, these three basic principals:  companies that are growing revenue year over year, companies that have more cash than debt on their balance sheet and companies that pay a dividend that yields more than fixed income investments.  So in my world that would mean that if two of those three reasons changed negatively, I’d sell.  Or better still…  If I believe that two of the three will change for the negative I’d sell. 


At the same time I hope that I never have to sell.  There are many companies that I’ve owned for many years that I’ve never had to sell.  Being principled will keep you focused on why you invested originally and why you continue to stay invested going forward.  It will also take any emotion out of the process. 


If you have a topic or question you’d like me to address email me:


Audio Report:




How much you're spending on your families' healthcare – it’s staggering!:


Bottom Line:  The rising cost of healthcare is a near constant conversation in today’s news cycle.  And with reason…  


Usually the conversation centers on the cost of insurance rather than the total cost of healthcare each year.  The cost of healthcare has been and continues to be the real root of the problem. 


  • According to Kaiser the average family of 4 has spent $23,215 on healthcare expenses in the last year!


That factors in all healthcare costs – insurance and out of pocket expense.  That’s incredible.  That’s about half of the average household’s net income!  It was up about 5% over the prior year and is up from about $14,000 in 2006.  This is clearly unsustainable and highlights the biggest issue and greatest failure of the ACA.  The problem isn’t a lack of insurance coverage.  It’s the cost of the healthcare itself.  Until and unless we get the costs of care under control we’ll continue to spiral in a negative direction. 

Audio Report:


EBay has been hacked and you need to act…  What happened and how to handle:


Bottom Line:  Earlier this year EBay was the victim of a significant hack attack.  Employee credentials were used to access an untold number user’s non-financial information.  So what information of yours has been potentially compromised?


  • Your email address and birthdates


It’s important to note that EBay is saying any financial information you have stored on file was not affected and even more importantly, Paypal (which is an EBay company) was not impacted.  Be smart when you’re changing your login information. 

Don’t click on any links from an email you may receive.  Even if it’s truly from EBay.  Just go straight to and do it there. 


Audio Report:




So have calorie counts on menus changed behavior? 


Bottom Line:  One of the mandates associated with the ACA was the inclusion of calorie counts on menus for larger restaurant businesses.  Theoretically if we knew how many calories were in the food we had been ordering we may alter our choices (in a healthier way).  So has that happened with fast food companies so far?  It appear not… 


  • The average calorie consumption per fast food order is 836 calories
  • When asked we believe we’re taking in only about 650 calories


So we’re still under estimating our fast food calorie consumption by greater than 20% even with the information right in front of us as we order.  That’s not to say there isn’t benefit to having the option to easily be more informed about our food choices, I’m a bit of a calorie counter myself, but it would appear as though we tend to order what we want rather than what’s better for us when visiting the average fast food location. 


Audio Report:




Why you still have a home phone & other potential takeaways:


Bottom Line:  If you have a home phone line that you pay for monthly – why?  Now if you use it and like it – that’s great!  I’m not trying to talk you out of it.  If you’re like most people however you have it because (according to a Consumer Reports survey of 44,000 people):


  • You’ve always had a land line (top answer with 53%)
  • It’s part of a bundle (more than 40% of the response)


So the two most common reasons for keeping a land line have nothing to do with using it service.  Additionally in my research the unbundled rates of services are cheaper without the landline than with it – so you’re likely not saving money if you’re not using it. 


So this could be a very easy way to save some money every month.  But it also leads me to wonder how many other services we’re paying for every month out of habit that we don’t use.  You may be able to save significant money every month by thinking this through. 

Audio Report: