Do you ever feel like you’re too young to start investing? Or do you ever feel like you have to have a lot of money to invest? There are a lot of myths around investing that prohibit many people from getting started. Today, I'm excited to share the story of how a young woman overcame her fears and began investing at a young age — and now is teaching others how to invest as well.
At such a young age, you are clearly passionate about investing. When did you fall in love with investing and how did you get started?
I started getting interested in finances when I was a freshman in college. After I read the book “A Millionaire by 30” it really opened up my eyes to the possibilities of investing, and real estate. After that I kept reading more and more money books, until reading wasn’t enough. After years of reading all these books I had to finally decide that if my finances were going to change, I had to take action.
Even though I was reading books that were telling me to invest my money I still had no idea how to go about it until one day I spoke to my older cousin, who broke down everything so easily. He was the only person in my family that knew enough about the stock market to teach me about it. He had been investing his money for years. He told me everything I needed to know to get me started.
What barriers did you have to overcome (mentally or financially) to get started?
For myself, growing up I always heard bad things about investing. Like you’ll lose all your money if you invest, and of course no one wants to lose money. So, mentally I was afraid to get started. It was new for me and any time you’re trying something new it can be scary, but once you get the hang of it it’s really easy. I had to realize that I was already losing money by buying products that I don’t need, products that wouldn’t give me a profit in return. I decided that since my money would be in the market for a long time, if I did lose money I would have plenty of time to get my money back, plus more. Investing has also given me patience. I think with today’s generation we want everything so fast. We want to put in $100 today and know how much will that $100 give me next week? I had to learn how to start thinking long-term, and not just today or next week.
Financially speaking I waited until I received my tax return back and used $1,000 from that tax return to get started investing.
For many Millennials, investing can seem scary or like a foreign language. What advice would you give to young people who want to start investing?
My advice to millennials interested in investing would be to first believe that you’re already an investor. Each day, every time you buy something, you are making an investment. Start paying attention to brands of the clothes you wear and doing research on the companies that you’re constantly using. From the clothes you wear to your favorite snacks. Start taking inventory on the brands you’re using in your every day life and then go on Google or Yahoo Finance and start to research these companies. What does the company do? What types of products and services do they offer? How long has this company been around? How healthy are their finances?
What has been your greatest lesson learned so far with investing?
This is a great question. I used to think that when you invest, you lose the money that you put in. For example, if I wanted to buy a share of Kraft and it costs $64.00, I used to think that once I bought it, my money would be gone. Now I kind of look at my brokerage account like a savings account that has a high interest that I can’t touch. A savings account filled with great companies that are growing.
Many people think you have to have a lot of money to start investing. How can those who have limited funds, or who are paying off debt, begin to invest?
I don’t come from a wealthy family; stocks were the last things on my parents' minds. I think what stops a lot of people from investing is they believe they need to have thousands of dollars in order for it to really be worth it. Which isn’t true. You can’t look at the entire flight of stairs that you have to walk up; you just have to take one step at a time. In this case just take one dollar at a time. Investing a little bit of money is still better than not investing at all. There are many free brokerage accounts that people can sign up for. Also there are many different stocks that range from different prices. Try to start with companies that have lower prices. If you can only afford to buy a few shares at a time, it’s still better than not buying any shares at all. Just get into the habit of putting away money consistently.
Do you have an investment strategy? If so, what is it?
I only invest in great companies that have been around for a long time. I’m more of a buy and hold type of investor so I don’t plan on selling the shares that I have. I also only invest in companies that pay dividends.(Dividends are payments made by the company to its shareholders.) I like to build up about $600-$1,000 at a time, and then buy a bunch of shares from one company at once, rather than buying a share here and a share there. This way I only have to pay the fee to buy the shares one time. I also stay away from trends and don’t focus too much on what the news is saying about the stock market because many times it will be negative things that will only make me afraid and not want to invest.
Candice Marie is a blogger who teaches people how to create better financial habits. She recently wrote The Young Urban Investor’s ebook to help any young person who has always wanted to invest, but just never learned how. This book is different because it’s written from a young urban perspective.
Great advice, Candice! Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with The College Investor community!