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Online Investing Hacks by Bonnie Biafore (O'Reilly) is one of those books that can pay for itself in short order, as well as over and over.

Chapter list: Screening Investments; Hacking Excel for Financial Analysis; Collecting Financial Data; Analyzing Company Fundamentals; Technical Analysis; Executing Trades; Investing in Mutual Funds; Managing Your Portfolio; Financial Planning; Index

I worked at Enron from 1998 through 2001, and spent plenty of time during that era following my stock portfolio. I watched my Enron stock value go from incredible value to a point where it cost more to sell the stock than it was worth. I won a few bets (face it, that's what they were) on a few dot.coms and lost many more. What could have been an incredible nest egg, isn't. This book would have been a lifesaver if I had read and paid attention to it a few years ago. Biafore shows you how you can analyze and invest wisely using a variety of tools available to everyone.

If you're an Excel user, you'll find it an invaluable tool for analysis. She'll show you how you can use it to create financial charts (#13), calculate compound annual rates of growth (#26), and use rational values to buy and sell wisely (#36). #39 - Spot Hanky Panky with Cash Flow Analysis (using Enron as an example) would have literally saved me hundreds of thousands of dollars had I known about it. Even if you don't care about the investing tips, the hack on downloading data via Excel web queries (#7) was something I didn't know how to do (or that you could even do it!). The book has a little something for everyone.

As with all Hacks titles, you probably won't be interested in every single item. Some may not be applicable to your situation or may be too complex for what you care to handle. But all it would take is one hack to work out and change your investing for this book to pay huge dividends. If you do your own investing, you owe it to yourself to get this book.
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Barely 12 years ago, before the Web, there was very little on the Internet for the investor. And what there was cost money to access. Here, Biafore gives a good current survey of how there has been a vast systemic change.
The bulk of her book consists of methods ("hacks") of getting financial data from the Internet. Mostly free access, note. But the book is far more than just a list of good financial websites. For that, you can go to magazines like Forbes, Fortune, Business Week and Kiplinger's, which regularly publish such lists. Remember that this is an O'Reilly book, and the publisher's readers are often programmers.
Thus, many methods involve downloading data into an Excel spreadsheet that has logic to analyse it using meaningful financial formulas or metrics. Of course, given such a spreadsheet, you can add further logic of your own, to winnow down a list of stocks. If you are already a programmer, then from that standpoint, there is nothing hard in the book. You may not perhaps be as conversant with some of the financial jargon. But part of the book's job is to educate you on that.
The thrust of the book is to let you, the investor, take a maximal and active advantage of the best financial resources on the Internet.
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VINE VOICEon October 3, 2004
It seems like everyone is involved in investing in some form or another. While I always felt like I should be investing too, it was never clear to me how to begin this process. After all, it's my money. How can I be sure I'm investing in something that will provide some sort of reasonable return? This book is an excellent resource in answering some of those questions and putting the new investor on the right track.

This book is written in the same format as the other "hacks" series by O'Reilly. This format is very easy to read, and the format makes it very easy to find answers. Rather then having to read the book from cover to cover, the reader can pick out topics they are dealing with, read the answer, and move on. Since many of the people interesting in a book of this nature will likely have little time, the book's format works to its advantage.

The book begins with some basic introduction to the stock market and tips for selecting appropriate stocks or mutual funds. The whole middle section of the book deals with data analysis. The author discusses how to understand a company's balance sheet (e.g. what that P/E ratio means), how to spot companies in financial trouble, how to pick a good stock, and even how to trade. There is also a good discussion on minimizing the effect of taxes on your little return on investment.

The author even goes further and gets into a discussion on financial planning. In addition to discussing debt reduction, the author also talks about IRA plans and different strategies for saving for your child's education expenses. I think my favorite part of this book was the discussion on different education savings plans. The author discusses the ins and outs (as well as tax consequences) of each of the plans, and provides some examples illustrating the fact that it's better to start saving earlier than later.

This is an excellent book, not just for its investing advice, but also for its sound financial planning. This is a great book for anyone who is interested in increasing their wealth, saving for a rainy day, or simply saving for future financial goals.
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on November 7, 2004
Online Investing Hacks is an excellent introduction to the world of investment. Though the title does contain the word 'Online', I would say that the general information the book provides on investing is not limited to the online realm.

Overall, I was very happy with the book, and found it incredibly useful. Though I do have several investments (401K, some stock, mutual funds etc) I would hardly consider myself an authority on the subject. This book provided very detailed explanations and tips on various forms of investment, from CD's to Index funds, and everything in between. While the experienced investor might not glean much from reading this book, anyone just getting started will find it an excellent reference, and resource.

The format of the book is similar to the other books in the 100 * Hacks series published by O'Reilly. There are exactly 100 hacks, or topics, which are spread across 9 chapters. Each one is an individual entity and can be read and understood without reliance on any of the other hacks.

One minor annoyance I had with the book is that it is geared toward those of you who, for some reason or another, run Microsoft's Windows OS, or have access to Microsoft Excel. Luckily, of the Excel examples that I played with, Open Office's Calc program handled them with minimal tweaking.

I can easily recommend this book to anyone who wants to invest, but is unsure of what to invest in, or needs some tips on making the most of preexisting investments. Those of you who enjoy research and building your own stats and graphs will also find parts of this book rather intriguing, as it covers data acquisition and manipulation with Excel in great detail. It will make an excellent addition to my reference shelf, and I have a feeling it will be well thumbed through in a very short time.
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on July 7, 2004
This is an excellent text covering a wide variety of investment topics; from do-it-yourself Excel spreadsheets for tracking and evaluating investment ideas to understanding technical analysis to online trading (and pretty much everything in between). There is a wealth of diverse investing information in each of the 100 "hacks".
I really liked the short "hacks" format - which really reads more like an informative news article. I don't have the patience to read an entire book about Technical Analysis, so this book was perfect for me. Each "investing hack" is any where from a couple pages to 10 or more which makes the book very easy to read. Curious about line and bar charts, candlestick charts, point and figure charts, or more importantly, how to spot patterns in techincal charts? Turn to the Hacks 46-53 on Technical Analysis. Mutual Funds? Hacks 59-72. Hindsight is 20/20, but if you're interested in how Enron and WorldCom cooked the books, there are hacks that point to the warning signs in a company's financial statements (Hack #39 - Spot Hanky Panky with Cash Flow Analysis).
Each hack also references other hacks in the book as well as online resources available (both free and fee-based sites) if you'd like more information. This book makes an excellent reference collection of investing "hacks" - there is something for everybody, whatever your online investing skill level and investment style may be. I have already put a few of the Excel hacks to good use!
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on August 17, 2004
Bonnie Biafore's excellent book is filled with great ideas and tips for the online investor. Though the title claims "100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools," the tips expand the hacks so that there are actually far more than 100 ideas. The format of the book is such that it does not have to be read cover-to-cover, allowing the reader to focus on whichever part is of interest. Each hack carries a thermometer identifying its difficulty level, from beginner to expert, something I found very helpful when trying out the hacks. Additionally, all tips are highlighted with a pushpin symbol, greatly expanding the number of tips to beyond the claim of 100.

I particulary found useful the hacks on getting financial data (hacks 7 - 13), calculating competitors' averages (hack 23), and making a spreadsheet with earnings release information (hack 23). The explaination on financial data is a must read (pages 68 - 74). I am thrilled with the tools in this book and am looking forward to trying out many more of them. Online Investing Hacks will keep me busy for a long time.

Books like this are great to keep on one's bookshelf. As an intermediate investor with less than intermediate computer skills, I like the idea that I can grow into this book as my computer skills develop.

Hats off to Ms. Biafore on writing such a fine book!
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on September 18, 2004
This is one of the most useful books on investing that I've seen.

The excellent chapter on fundamental analysis alone is worth the price of admission. Plus there are chapters on technical analysis, mutual funds, asset allocation, financial planning, investing in bonds etc, all equally well written.

Hope the author writes a sequel to this book covering topics not covered here (eg. topics related to options trading).

A required title in any serious investor's bookshelf.
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on July 26, 2007
I've been trading for over twenty years, including a period as a floor trader on the Chicago Board of Trade. Even with that experience there are tips and tricks in this book I found useful to the point where I employ them daily. To be complete as a reviewer I will say there is a lot of pretty basic stuff from my point of view, but still well worth reviewing since some of it I had forgotten.

Well written, easy reading, well organized
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on December 20, 2010
This book is a good dictionary for describing all various ways to invest in stocks. For my use it was limited due to the fact that ETFs are not mention anywhere in the book. It was if they do not exist.
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on July 13, 2008
This book is clearly written and user friendly. Biafore gives links to information sources, making it easy for the reader to get more information on each of the hacks. These links alone are worth the price of the book.
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