March 05, 2012 at 16:10 PM EST
Market Wrap-Up for Mar.5 (CF, FCX, BTU, GS, MS, GLD, more)

The markets pulled back following reports China is aiming for economic growth of 7.5% in 2012, which is lower than the 2011 goal of about 8%.

There wasn’t a lot of stock-specific data out today, but a couple of negative Wall Street analyst calls had shares like CF Industries (CF) and Vornado Realty Trust (VNO) dipping. Commodity plays took the brunt of the China slowdown chatter, with traders selling stocks like Freeport McMoran (FCX), Peabody Energy (BTU), and U.S. Steel (X). Elsewhere, looking at the financials, investment brokers like Goldman Sachs (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS) paced the losses for that sector. Gold (GLD) prices were lower as bulls hope the $1700 an ounce levels can hold up.

Real Estate Speculators Next In Line for Bailout

According to a Bloomberg report, the government is getting ready to extend mortgage assistance for the first time to investors who bought multiple homes before the real estate market collapse. That’s right — taxpayers will be on the hook to help speculators who recklessly contributed to the real estate bubble.

The program pays banks to reduce monthly payments for landlords who rent out each house/unit or “have plans to fill them” (plans? who knows how this gray area will be defined). The measures will include cutting interest rates, stretching terms, and forgiving principal.

The bailout carousel never ceases to amaze!

Avoiding Financial Shock

It is not uncommon to have two spouses with very different viewpoints of money. When the subject comes up for discussion, the tone may not always be so pleasant.

Some individuals tend to stress quickly whenever finances are brought to light. The mere conversation alone can give one the feeling that certain financial habits or privileges are soon to be altered. However, the discussion doesn’t have to take on “emergency meeting” status. If you set up a routine for reviewing the finances regularly — say six times per year — much of the resulting stress can be avoided. When you create a “normal” (regularly scheduled) meeting, things don’t seem as bad. Think of it like a regular doctor’s check-up or servicing your vehicle. The longer you put those things off, the scarier they seem.

The biggest money blow-ups within relationships tend to occur when a surprise bank statement or credit card bill is delivered. That’s why keeping a regular and expected look at a family’s finances is so important. You’ll likely avoid any disappointments or dramatic reactions. Just as how Wall Street reacts to a surprise earnings disappointment (stock price drops dramatically), so too can spouses overheat upon receiving an unexpectedly high bill.

If you want to keep your relationship healthy, I suggest developing a routine of regular communication regarding all things money. In fact, it’s essential if you’re looking to achieve your goal of long-term wealth.

Keep a Production List

When I worked one of my first gigs (at an Irish deli), I learned right away what a “production list” was all about. Each day there was a list that would carry through different shifts, which was then updated by the shift that was getting ready to leave for the day. This piece of paper kept the main engine of the business running without a hitch.

If someone forgot to update the list (which almost never happened), we’d run into a speed bump in our production. For investors, having your own “production list” is also essential. Make sure you keep key financial reminders in place each and every month. I don’t care what you use — post-it notes, notebook, pieces of paper, online calendar, etc. Just keep a regular routine to keep yourself on a smooth course. Better yet, get your spouse involved as well, and maybe even your kids (if you still have them at home).

I still draw benefits from that production list I learned at the deli. Who would have known such a simple method I used in my teens would warrant such merit in my life decades later?

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I hope everyone had a chance to check out our Dividend.com Premium members-only weekend articles , including new features that highlight some of the biggest winners and losers from the week that was, such as analyst upgrades/downgrades and earnings/story stocks. These articles are a great way to catch up on the week that was in the markets. We also have a rundown of how various Dividend ETFs performed on the week.

Thanks for reading everybody. I’ll see you tomorrow!

Be sure to visit our complete recommended list of the Best Dividend Stocks, as well as a detailed explanation of our ratings system here.

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