Too many people are using the default credit card that their bank gave them or paying off their loans without trying to refinance — and they’re losing thousands of dollars as a result.
In today’s special bonus episode of Market Foolery [happy Labor Day!], host Chris Hill talks with Motley Fool contributor Brendan Byrnes about The Motley Fool’s new subsite, The Ascent. Brendan explains what you can find on The Ascent, then shares a few tips for getting most of your money. Also, Chris talks about some market stories we didn’t get to last week. Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) went out and bought itself some coffee and some Moxie, and we’ll just have to see what comes of that. At the same time, the madmen at Mondelez (NASDAQ: MDLZ) are at it again with yet more flavors. Click play and hear more.
A full transcript follows the video.
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This video was recorded on Aug. 31, 2018.
Chris Hill: It’s Monday, September 3rd. Welcome to Market Foolery! I’m Chris Hill. Yes, the market is closed. Yes, I know Mac Greer said at the end of last week that we’d be back on Tuesday. But this is a small bonus episode. I’m taping this on Friday. There were a couple of things I wanted to talk about and share, including a conversation that I taped earlier in the summer with my colleague Brendan Byrnes.
Friday morning, the news breaks the Coca-Cola is buying Costa Coffee. I’m sure this has been covered to death in the business media. But as someone who owned Coca-Cola shares for a long time — I don’t anymore, but I owned them for a long time — I’m a fan of Coca-Cola, I generally like what the business has been doing, particularly the way it has expanded its beverage portfolio. But this deal just left me scratching my head, particularly the quote from Jim Quincy, who’s the CEO. For those unfamiliar, Costa Coffee, big in Europe, big coffee chain retailer. It’s a coffee retailer. They’ve got about 4,000 locations. The CEO of Coca-Cola said, “This is not a retail strategy. It’s a coffee strategy.” OK. Well, it kind of seems like it’s both, because this is a retail company. And I’m very curious to see how this plays out.
In the same way that, on this show, we were asking the question about Pepsi spending north of $3 billion for SodaStream, asking the question, “Look, we know we’ve got the money. Is this the best use of the money?” Same thing with Coca-Cola. They’ve got the $5 billion and change to spend on Costa Coffee. Is that the best use of their $5 billion? I don’t know. We’re going to find out. I really hope this works out. In general, I root for Coca-Cola, even though I’m no longer a shareholder.
Also, this buried the news that, earlier in the week, Coca-Cola bought my beloved Moxie. For those who have spent any time in my home state of Maine, you may have come across a unique beverage called Moxie. It’s one of those things that’s distinctly northern New England, which is to say, [laughs] it’s not for everyone. Moxie is not… take it from someone who grew up in Maine, Moxie doesn’t taste particularly good. I’m not exactly sure how Coca-Cola thinks they’re going to be able to expand the reach of Moxie, how they’re going to bring it to more people. I don’t know that more people are looking for Moxie. Again, I say that as a proud son of Maine. I say it with all the love in my heart. Moxie just doesn’t taste that good.
Also, thank you to all of the dozens of listeners who have either emailed me or tweeted at me or posted in the Motley Fool Podcasts Facebook group — which, if you’re on Facebook, join us at Motley Fool Podcasts — thank you to all the people who sent the story about Mondelez, the parent company of Oreo, once again coming out with new flavors. This time, wasabi and hot chicken wing. I’m just going to say this. Shares of Mondelez trade where they traded three years ago. Go back to early September 2015. It’s basically at the exact same point. It’s about $42 a share. Meanwhile, the S&P 500, up 50% in that same timeframe. The executives at Mondelez, Oreo is already the best-selling cookie. I don’t know why they’re just not doubling down on that. Just stick with what they know. Increase the profitability and look to spread some of the money that they’re spending on these insane other flavors. Spread it around. I think if I worked at Mondelez in any other division other than Oreo, I would just be so angry at the Oreo division and how much money they get to play with.
Anyway. It all comes back to the stock, which is where it was three years ago. Have fun, Mondelez executives, burning your Oreo cash while the rest of your business continues to flounder.
A while back, I sat down with my colleague, Brendan Byrnes. Brendan has been working at The Motley Fool for a few years. He started in our editorial department. Really bright guy. Moved around to doing a bunch of different things. He’s now heading up a new initiative here at The Motley Fool called The Ascent. We’re a big enough company that there are things that happen in our company from time to time where I just hear about it on the side. I don’t need to be kept in the loop on everything. That’s fine. But every once in a while, I get curious about something. And it’s like, “Well, wait, what is this thing that we’re doing?” Brendan is in our Denver office, but he was in town. I was like, “Let’s get in the studio. Let me ask you a few questions so I can find out about this thing myself.” And that’s where we started.
Hill: So, what is The Ascent?
Brendan Byrnes: The Ascent is a personal finance site that we’ve just launched. It’s a sub-brand of The Motley Fool. The goal here is to get you all the information that you need to make the best financial decisions possible. We cover things like credit cards, savings accounts, CDs, mortgages, and much more, on our site, theascent.com. What you’ll get from us is unbiased coverage from our experts, you’re going to get thorough reviews, and we’re going to help you find the right information that you need for all these different verticals fast.
The main thing here is, there’s a ton of noise in this space. There are 1,500 credit card offers available in the U.S. alone, and that’s just credit cards. I think a lot of people look at this, and they think, “How do I find the right offer? What’s really important?” Like most things in life, there are only a couple of things that are really important. We’re going to help distill those down for you. We’re going to make this readable and hopefully a little bit entertaining, as opposed to what’s out there a lot right now.
Another thing is, wherever possible, we’re going to test drive these offers ourselves. We’re going to be able to give you a first-person review of the offer, what to expect, what the pros and cons are from people who have actually applied for this credit card or applied for this savings account and have inside knowledge of it.
We’re constantly looking for areas to cover, new areas. If you come to theascent.com and you don’t see, maybe, the area that you’re looking for right now, check back in the future. We might have it in the future.
Hill: I like that we’re doing this. For anyone who’s been to fool.com, there’s so much information available on fool.com. Obviously, our bread and butter is stocks. It really seems like this is an initiative where we’re taking the questions that we’ve gotten, really, since The Motley Fool started in the 1990s, and really trying to funnel it into one place. Is that why we’re doing this?
Byrnes: Yeah, that’s why we’re doing it. The main reason is, we want to help people with all of their financial decisions, not just stocks. When you look at this, there’s also an investing component of it. Every dollar that you save by having a better cashback credit card, or, maybe you save because you got a new mortgage refinancing and you pay a lower rate, or maybe you’re getting more on your savings account — that’s a dollar that you can plow right back into investing.
There’s a huge compounding component here, too. If we help you save $500 a year on all of those different things — which I think for a lot of people is actually very doable — at 8%, that $500 turns into $10,000 after 40 years. And that’s just after one year. Those things add up very quickly. I think that’s really important. People can save real money here, and that compounds and compounds and compounds over time.
Hill: I know that this is a dynamic site. We’re going to be adding stuff as we go. But in terms of, maybe just a few money tips that you can share right now with folks?
Byrnes: One is, don’t sweat the small stuff, sweat the big stuff. This is life advice in general, but it certainly applies here as well. I think there are people out there that spend a lot of time clipping coupons, and then, at the same time, they’re paying 2% for their financial advisor, and they have whatever credit card that their bank gives them and it’s totally unoptimized for cashback and for rewards. They’re just throwing money down the drain there. I think that’s one of the big things.
It’s also important to remember that some of these things sound daunting. You say, “I have to put in all this time to research,” and all that. No. 1: the ascent.com will help you with that. No. 2: once you get these things set up and you get the offers that are right for you, there’s a big autopilot component here as well. You can just set it and forget it. The cashback flows straight into your account, the mortgage has a lower rate, or you have a higher savings account, and you’re just earning that money as you go. It’s on autopilot.
Hill: I love the autopilot when it’s working in my favor. I remember when I was in my 20s and I set up my first, essentially, 401(k) account. I just remember thinking, “Alright, I don’t know. We’ll see how this goes. I think I’m going to miss this money.” And my older sister was like, “You’re not going to miss it. Trust me, just put it on autopilot.” What else do you have?
Byrnes: Another big one is shop around. According to FINRA, 58% of Americans don’t compare credit cards or collect information from more than one company when they’re shopping for credit cards. That’s pretty crazy. This is exactly what the banks and the big credit card companies want you to do, because you’re almost certainly going to wind up with a credit card that doesn’t have a great rewards system or cash back and is going to have a really high interest rate — higher than you could otherwise get by shopping around.
I think a lot of people are probably happy with their credit cards right now or their savings accounts. In general, they think, “OK, that’s probably pretty good.” But the reality is, most people can do much, much better if they just shop around a little bit, take a look and really dig into the information. Again, we can really help you with that with easy-to-read reviews. We can tell you exactly what you need.
Hill: Alright, give me one more before we wrap up.
Byrnes: I think you should consider an online savings account over a traditional bank savings account if you’re looking for higher interest rates. The online savings accounts, obviously, they don’t have the brick and mortar stores like traditional banks, so they can offer higher interest rates because of that.
Hill: Wait, you mean I don’t have to settle for 0.1% or whatever my bank is offering me right now? [laughs]
Byrnes: Exactly. On theascent.com, we have reviews of several online interest accounts that offer over 1.5% interest rates. The national average is 0.7%. You’re talking about a 30X increase potentially right there, just on your savings account. This could be a good option if you’re looking for a good safe place to park some savings. These are still insured by the FDIC.
Hill: That’s fantastic. You never want to jinx anything, but as we’ve said a bunch of times on this podcast, and across all of The Motley Fool’s podcasts, it’s great that we’re in a bull market. Everybody loves a bull market. But at some point, it’s going to end. At some point, you’re going to want that safe place for your cash if you’re not already parking some right now.
Hill: Thanks for being here! This is great!
Byrnes: Thank you, Chris!
Hill: That was my conversation with Brendan. If you want to check out The Ascent, it’s a free site. If you’re looking for information on credit cards, savings, finding an online broker — I think of it as Money 101 stuff — all that stuff, you can find at theascent.com.
Alright, that’s going to do it for this episode of Market Foolery. As always, people on the program — in this case, myself and Brendan — may have interest in the stocks that we talk about, and The Motley Fool may have formal recommendations for or against, so don’t buy or sell stocks based solely on what you hear. The show is mixed by the Iron Man, Austin Morgan, who was heroically pulling double duty, doing this and Industry Focus and a bunch of other things. Thanks to Austin! I’m Chris Hill. Thanks for listening! Hope everyone had a good Labor Day weekend! We’re going to see on Tuesday!
Brendan Byrnes has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Chris Hill has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook. The Motley Fool owns shares of SodaStream. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.