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TECH SAVVY.

Use technology to heighten your investment knowledge and maximize your earnings

Horetta R. Wilkins, and members of her online investment club, use technology to research investments and manage the club's portfolio.

AFTER 28 YEARS WITH IBM CORP., HORRETTA R. WILKINS of Stamford, Connecticut, was downsized. The former programmer for Big Blue decided to start her own consulting firm in 1994. Although she doubled her income by being self-employed, Wilkins, 59, began to look for other ways to supplement her income, especially during slow periods. In addition to reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor & Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki I Warner Books, $15.95) and playing the CASHFLOW (Game, which Kiyosaki created to teach investment principles), she began researching investment clubs.

"I found the Motley Fool (www.fool.com) and started reading through their message board to learn about setting up an investment club," says Wilkins. "I would ask questions and get answers. I researched online and full-service brokers. I researched the SEC rules for what distinguishes you between a club and a mutual fund."

Last year Wilkins began soliciting friends and acquaintances to form the Rats of NIMH Investment Club, or RONIMH, named after the characters in the classic children's book series. "We wanted to adopt the same philosophy as the book--collective cooperation and self-sufficiency--for the investment club," explains Wilkins, who organized the club by putting together a partnership agreement and information on methods of investing for would-be members to easily access using the Internet.

For the most part, the club's discussions and votes on stocks take place online via e-mail. Wilkins uses Bivio.com, an online investment club tool, to post the club's account information. In addition, she uses Mydiscountbroker.com to make trades.

The group, which comprises 25 members, has purchased shares in two companies: Bed Bath and Beyond (Nasdaq: BBBY) and Kemet (NYSE: KEM), which makes capacitors for electronic devices. Members contribute $20 monthly in dues, according to Wilkins. The club recently formed a stock selection committee to look at retail and pharmaceuticals, among other industries.

Like thousands of other investors, Wilkins and fellow club members are using technology to enhance their knowledge and to boost their stock-purchasing power. This falls right in line with Declaration of Financial Empowerment principle No. 9: to maximize my earning power through a commitment to career development, technological literacy and professional excellence. Use the following guide about computer programs and the Internet to help you better manage your finances:

* Managing your accounts. If you write more than a few checks a month, file an itemized tax return, own investments, or have nonreimbursable business expenses, you are a prime candidate for personal-finance software. For instance, Quicken 2001 Deluxe (www.quickenstore .com) by Intuit and Money 2001 Standard (www.microsoft.com) by Microsoft can help you write checks, pay bills, and create a budget based on past income and expenses. Also, look for a program that can help you explore different financial scenarios, including refinancing your home mortgage.

* Online banking. Most banks offer you the ability to check account balances, transfer funds, and arrange electronic bill payments. Others allow you to download account information and even trade stocks or mutual funds. To find ratings and comparisons of banks' and other industries' services visit www.gomezadvisors.com. To compare online rates for everything from money market funds to certificates of deposit (CDs), credit cards to home mortgages, check out www.bankrate.com.

* Using online brokers. There are several reasons to trade online, including the convenience afforded by easy-to-access information. But the biggest selling point is that online brokers are dirt cheap.

* Researching stocks. Before you take action, make sure you read all you can and create a financial plan of action. Of course, the Web is a source of all sorts of investing information. Visit such sites as www.blackenterprise.com, www.blackstocks.com, www .bloomberg.com.www.the street.com, and www.money central.com. Also, check out sites of mutual fund companies: www.fidelity.com and www .vanguard.com are two.

* Tracking your portfolio. There are a number of Websites and financial software packages that offer a customized portfolio manager to help you access stock quotes, set up an investment account, and track stock and mutual fund purchases. Quicken 2001 Deluxe, for example, tracks investments online, assists you in reducing taxes, and creates a financial plan. Microsoft's Money Deluxe features financial planning and tax saving, as well as investing tools.

When building wealth, it is not always about what you earn, but what you keep. Use all available resources to assist you in expanding your income and stretching that almighty dollar.

DECLARATION OF FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT

From this day forward, I declare my vigilant and lifelong commitment to financial empowerment, I pledge the following:

1 To save and invest 10% to 15% of my after-tax income

2 To be a proactive and informed investor

3 To be a disciplined and knowledgeable consumer

4 To measure my personal wealth by net worth, not income

5 To engage in sound budget, credit and tax management practices

6 To teach business and financial principles to my children

7 To use a portion of my personal wealth to strengthen my community

8 To support the creation and growth of profitable, competitive black-owned enterprises

9 To maximize my earning power through a commitment to career development, technological literacy and professional excellence

10 To ensure that my wealth is passed on to future generations
COPYRIGHT 2001 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:BROWN, CAROLYN M.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2001
Words:918
Previous Article:ON THE MOVE.
Next Article:ON A MISSION.
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