Have you ever been put in a position where you felt like you had no idea what you were doing? Parenthood definitely qualifies, for sure. Another time I was hired at a Montessori school and went from teaching with my comfortable K-5th grade range to teaching music to 3 year olds up to 8th graders! Holy Batman! And now, it’s taking care of my financial future. Unless you count paying monthly bills, and buying and selling a few houses because of our frequent moves, I had no investment experience. This is my story of my plunge into the stock market, ready or not! Time to sink or swim!
My initial startup
When I was younger, a ROTH account was started for me. It’s an account where you put in after tax (already taxed) money. The idea is that when you are able to take it out (minimum of age 59 ½ or later), all your earnings are tax free. Anyway, because I got quarterly statements, I was at least aware of the names of the companies. (They always seemed to be changing names by being bought out or whatever.) I saw the stocks go up and I saw the stocks go down, but mostly up. But I was busy raising a family and never took an interest. I couldn’t touch it until I was an old woman anyways.
Fast forward to a few years ago (and almost that old woman.) I divorced my husband of 33 years and everything was divided, his 401k and my 403b. His was much larger because he is an engineer and started working right out of college. I stayed at home to raise our children and only jumped into the job market as a teacher when our youngest of four started 1st grade. Now I was solely in charge of my retirement money.
The sharks start circling
There are a lot of people and companies that want to handle your money. I had applied for a credit card, and I was required to go to a local branch to take care of it. While I was there, I got talked into meeting one of the specialists to talk about my financial goals. I felt like it might be one of “those” meetings where you feel pressure to sign up with them for whatever they’re selling. But I needed to learn about my retirement options so I agreed to meet.
Do I want to handle my money or let an “expert” handle it?
During the meeting the specialist covered several topics, from my budget and expenses to long term goals. I guess if you want to be able to help your client, you need to know about them. It seemed on the up and up, but one comment really concerned me. The specialist said that during the bear market of 2008, one of his clients was so upset that his portfolio lost 50%. He was trying to make the point that markets go up and down, and his client would’ve had his portfolio rebound back to its previous level. Now I had just started reading “How to Make Money in the Stocks” by William J. O’Neil and had read his 7-8% sell rule. I thought, what financial institution would let a client’s portfolio fall 50%?? That’s when I decided to keep my money where I can handle it myself. Many of these “specialists” are not financial experts, only salespeople trying to sell you their product.
Find a brokerage firm
So I looked at different firms that had the self-directed option and settled on one that was offering to give me money if I opened up an account with them, so I did. There are several companies that you can go with. The nice thing that happened last year was that all of them (I think) went with no commissions when you buy or sell stocks. There is TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab, Vanguard, E*Trade, Chase, just to name a few. So if you find one that is charging for trades, take your money elsewhere. And look for those offering to give YOU money. See How Do I Pick a Brokerage Firm and Open an Account?
Stocks are not the only option for investing
If you are ready to take that first step and want to keep to a safe path, mutual funds are an option. Those are professionally managed funds that don’t swing in prices as much as individual stocks do. You don’t need to babysit your portfolio. In fact, it will do better if you leave it alone for 10 to 15 years. I will be researching them so look for my blog. I will be investing in one very soon so I want to find one that fits my comfort level of investing which means I need to do some research first. There are many other ways of investing as well but my plunge is into the stock market so that’s where my focus is.
Nothing set aside? Start today!
What if you don’t have a nest egg at all? Then today is the day you need to start one. See If I’m in Debt, Can I Still Invest? There are so many websites that give great advice on budgeting, saving money, cooking at home, etc. And the good news is that some of the investment companies require no minimum amount to get started. Of course, you can’t buy any stocks without money, but it shows that it doesn’t take much to get started. And isn’t it better to learn on a small scale than a large scale? Your mistakes won’t be as amplified. See How Much Money Do I Need to Start Investing?
Take My FREE 7-Day Investing Readiness Challenge!
Take my free 7-day Investing Readiness Challenge to help you with your budget. This interactive financial assessment will quickly let you know if you are in position to start building your financial future. Simply opt in below to have it sent straight to your email inbox!
I just want to be clear that I am not a financial expert. I am not giving tips on what stocks to buy or sell, or even what companies to start your account with. Also, I am not selling any funds nor being sponsored by anyone. I’m sharing my experiences with the hope of inspiring other women to take control of their money. If you come away from this with only the desire to try and put away a little more money for yourself, then I feel successful. Let’s do this!
Until next time,
Linda Davis (“Publisher”) provides this website (www.stockmarketgal.com) for informational purposes only. All information on this website is information of a general nature and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or entity or on any specific security or investment product. In reading this website, you understand that Publisher is not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value, or suitability of any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction, investment strategy or other matter. In making an investment decision, each investor must rely on his, her or its own examination of the investment, including the merits and risks involved, should consult with his, her or its own investment, trading, financial, legal, tax, accounting and other advisors, and should not construe any information on this website as investment, trading, financial, legal, tax, accounting or other advice. From time to time, Publisher or her affiliates may hold positions in securities discussed on this website and will disclose those positions if applicable, but neither Publisher nor any of her affiliates receives any compensation from the issuers of any securities discussed. Publisher does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information provided, either expressly or impliedly, and expressly disclaims all warranties of any kind.