Who would've guessed that an early love for geometry and a master's degree in special education would lead to a successful career in commodities trading and market analysis? Michele Schneider certainly didn't, but she forged that unlikely path, and now she's sharing her hard-won in wisdom in Plant Your Money Tree: A Guide to Growing Your Wealth.
"My career on the commodities exchange floor began without having any money or business education," Schneider says. "I grew up as a postman's daughter who borrowed money to make my first investment." But she turned a knack for geometry and algebra into an ingenious system that allows her to chart and forecast the six phases of our ever-cyclical economy. "Charting is all about pattern recognition and probability based on repeating patterns, with a little bit of physics thrown in."
And she's made sure her analytical techniques are accessible to everyone—that's where Schneider's educational background comes in. She's been advising both experts and novices in research and investing for much of her 40-year career. Plant Your Money Tree applies her techniques to everyday career and financial descisions.
As the director of trading research and education at MarketGauge.com, Schneider doesn't just follow the financial trends, but also looks at "how and why the markets impact everyday life." Thinking of switching careers? Schneider recommends taking a look at the state of your industry and your current company's stock, and then gauging opportunities in up-and-coming sectors, such as biotech, to see if it's worth making the leap.
Want to make sure you're making the most of your 401(k)? Or wondering if it's the right time to buy or sell a home? Schneider designed her guide "to empower you to take control of your own finances in every market condition." Sometimes, she says, it may help you take a step out of your comfort zone and act on your own financial behalf, instead of surrendering to what she calls "the pitfalls of the buy-and-hold mentality."
If you're a new investor, Schneider advises starting out with a sum you can afford to lose without impacting your overall net worth. Brokerages are now offering investment opportunities for as little as $500, and Schneider's plan, rooted in research and forecasting, is built to put new investors on solid ground when it comes to making decisions about the market.
And don't discount your own gut feelings, either. "We have what's called consumer instinct," Schneider explains. "People become attracted to different companies, but most people never think of investing in them." Schneider took a shine to shopping at Kohl's department store. She did a little research into the organization, gathered impressions from the employees at her local outlet, and came up with a data set (translated into one of her charts) that recommended the optimal time to buy the stock.
Schneider also has advice for those just entering the workforce. She tracks what she calls "megatrends," or big social movements that provide "great opportunities for both career paths and investments." According to her forecast, cannabis, 3-D printing, and alternative energy are industries on the rise, so a university degree in agriculture, engineering, or technology are all good bets.
"I hope Plant Your Money Tree provides a solid place to start a conversation about how to increase your wealth by making smarter, autonomous, and more informed decisions. It'll take a little work," she explains, "in that you've got to water, prune, and adjust according to the various growing seasons." But imagine the harvest—growing wealth and the ability to anticipate how and when to change financial course.