Listener Letters: What should I do with a stock that's worth nothing?

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange at the end of the day on December 11, 2012 in New York City.

It's so easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit. The parties, the presents, the paid vacation days -- fun, fun, fun! But there is always work to be done when it comes to keeping your money in order, and once we cross over the new year, tax time can come surprisingly fast. So, don't let it catch you off guard, be prepared.

CBS Money Watch editor-at-large, Jill Schlesinger joins guest host Tony Cox with some investing tips and answers a few of your questions.

Laurie from St. Paul, Minnesota, invested in a low value penny stock that has gone to almost zero and bought stock in a company that went bankrupt. She wonders what to do with these worthless stocks.

"The first thing I would do is try to sell it, that's number one. If it's a company that has actually gone bankrupt, the IRS will let you deduct this loss," says Schlesinger. "You know if I give you all the data in the world -- Apple notwithstanding, Google notwithstanding -- it is hard to pick winning stocks and it's really hard to pick winning penny stocks. I would steer clear of them, take your losses, move on, and pinkie-swear with me you're not going to do this again."

Kay, a nearly 80-year-old  retiree from Fullerton, California, was a approched by a financial planner who suggested that investing in life insurance would be a good option. She wonders whether to trust this advice.

"When you go into a bank branch and they say, 'come talk to this investment guy,' that person has no duty to tell you what's in your best interest -- they don't have what is called the fiduciary duty," cautions Schlesinger.

"When I look at life insurance for people who are 80, this is usually -- and I'm not going to say every single time -- maybe 99 times out of 100, this is a bad idea. Life insurance products tend to be among the most expensive types of vehicles out there. So while you might get a better rate of return, you are paying for the privelege of getting that rate of return." Schlesinger notes that the SEC also cautions against life insurance as an investment vehicle.

To hear what ever happened to the paper U.S. Savings Bond and more advice on investing click on the audio player above.

About the author

Veteran journalist Tony Cox has joined American Public Media as guest host of Marketplace Money.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...