February 04, 2013 at 16:19 PM EST
Market Wrap-Up for Feb.4 (MHP, MCO, CVX, WMT, FDX, CLX, more)

We witnessed softness in overseas markets carry over to our markets here in the U.S., as the start to the new week was nothing but red in most parts.

Leading thew way lower were several earnings names, with Mercury General (MCY), Gannett (GCI), and Sysco Foods (SYY) all down on their earnings announcements. Humana (HUM) and Clorox (CLX) bucked the downtrend as investors were warm to their earnings news. Meanwhile, Wall Street analyst downgrades pushed stocks like Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), Merck (MRK), Tiffany & Co. (TIF), and Chevron (CVX) lower. FedEx (FDX) felt a bit of investor optimism following bullish commentary from a Wall Street firm this morning. Finally, it was a tough day for credit ratings agencies as news spread S&P could be the target of a U.S. Department of Justice civil lawsuit over its ratings of mortgage bonds prior to the recent financial crisis. Parent company McGraw-Hill (MHP) sold off on the news, as did its main competitor Moody’s (MCO).

Check out all the latest earnings reports, analyst moves, and much more over at The Dividend Daily.

Starting Out in the Hole

A new study out of Ohio State University found that young adults are racking up credit card debt at a more rapid rate than other age groups — and that they’re slower at paying it off. Compared to what their parents had in credit card debt at their age, people born between 1980 and 1984 already have an average of $5,689 more in credit card bills. The young and the broke are relying on credit cards to make it until their next payday. In today’s day and age of debt consolidation sales pitches, there is also a growing belief that debt can easily be forgiven.

Rather than starting their financial lives in the hole and slipping into the financial abyss of debt loads and zero savings, better examples must be set from older influencers. There needs to be more of a financial mentorship that will produce the results I am talking about. It’s like working out at the gym. We all know we need to be in better shape, but if no one is there to hold us accountable, talking and reading about it won’t really accomplish anything.

The bottom line is that it takes parents and older siblings to get on and stay on those who are starting their journey off on the wrong foot. Cutting off financial assistance with some tough love could be the smartest lesson to teach!

Waiting for Their Share

I can’t tell you how many times I hear horror stories about estate battles with families that are circling a soon-to-be departed soul’s riches. If you peeled back on the origin of the battles, it likely started with good intentions trying to help children with various needs over the years (paying for college, helping with a home purchase, or any other big events). Eventually the spigot gets hard to turn off and sentiment begins to get nasty with any sort of hesitation to help out financially. Sadly the end is mired with those particular types waiting on one’s physical demise and eventual death to “clean up” the rest of their life-long taking.

The earlier one can establish a family’s finances and how the money flow works, the better one’s entire clan will wind up over time. Hard work, saving money, investing, and making smart financial decisions will marry well with developing the patience and discipline needed to make those around you as financially independent as possible. Your estate will eventually be less about who’s taking what, and instead you may find that your offspring don’t need any financial assistance at all!

Our 2013 Dividend Stock Guide Has Arrived!

Our new members-only eBook has just been released! This 250-page guide to investing in 2013 contains a concise economic forecast for next year, including full previews for 60 big-name stocks! Be sure to head over to Dividend.com Premium and download it and get your game plan in place for all good things dividend-related in 2013!

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.

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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