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I guess you could say technically I got started when I was a baby. My grandparents gave us grandkids silver dollars, when we were born and for special occasions (birthdays, xmas, graduation, etc). I still have a couple left (our home was robbed once). My parents opened savings accounts for us when we made our first communions. We were always encouraged to add to them. I made my first stock purchase when I was in my early 20’s. My BF at the time encouraged me. He taught me a lot about stocks. I eventually sold my initial shares but had been reinvesting the dividends and held on to those shares. I still own that stock. Hubby and I invested in a local company about 15 years ago, dividend paying stocks. We don’t have a big portfolio but we have gotten a decent return with dividends and if we ever do sell we will make a profit.
This is a three-part answer, if I may.
My first experience was in 1993 or so when I was still in the military. One of my co-workers talked about how he was investing in an IRA and linked me up with his “advisor” (non-fiduciary). I ended up starting an IRA with monthly fees, annual fees, front-load fees, etc. It was a horrible choice but it got me started, which was the important thing.
Fast forward a few years, to 1999. I was working overseas as a Department of Defense contractor. I had recently retired from the military (senior NCO) and had part of a pension from that, not really a whole lot (my ex- got part of it). They hired somebody from the States who constantly talked about his stock investments (this was at the height of the dot-com boom) and I started listening. At the time, I had no idea about how to buy stocks or anything like that – but I heard about 401(k) contributions and started throwing money into one. And while I have no idea why I didn’t panic in 2000 or 2008, I just looked at the dwindling account balances and laughed.
Sometimes laughter is a great investment strategy!
Finally, somewhere between 2005-2010, when I was once again working overseas as a Department of Defense contractor, I worked with a group of people who were a lot more financially savvy. They started talking about a lot of other stuff regarding finances, and with more Internet resources available (and lots of “slow” mid shifts), I started learning more on my own. Then the FIRE movement started and I learned about the beauty of index funds…
It was a gradual process and I would have done a lot of things differently than I did – but I’m still grateful for the results.
In about 1960 I would have been 12 years old. My Dad had a cousin who was a successful private investor and was visiting us from out of town for a few days. The cousin had no children and he brought me a notebook and told me about investing, urging me to read the stock tables in the newspaper and make pretend investments in companies that I liked. I did so, and then later on in college took an investment course where we had to do the same thing, for credit, so I had a leg up on my classmates. I bought a few shares in the company that I had a summer job with while in college for my first “real” purchase. That investment gained a little, and I sold it to help make my down payment on my first house in 1973. Back then you needed 20% down, no easy loans as in the last few decades. But of course, the house was only $20,800. Zillow now values that house at $133,300, but I am several moves removed from that starter home. A few years later, still in the 1970s, I started reading Value Line and did limited stock picking based on their classifications. Now as a retiree I am almost entirely in no-load funds and ETFs, with about 2% set aside just to keep up with the idea of picking a winner.
In the 1970’s when IRA’s were first introduced, I selected 3 funds from Money magazines recommendation list. After a few years, 2 did great, 1 did not. I realized that there were many things I did not understand. The one thing I did understand was a low expense ratio, which lead me to Vanguard.
In the mid 1990’s, I put $100,000 in a Smith Barney wrap account with a 2.25% aum fee. In a few years, it went to $225,000, which seemed great. Of course, it crashed with everything else in the dot com crash. One thing that I learned is that anything can be made to look good. My Smith Barney rep gave me a glowing report showing how my investment was exceeding the “modified benchmark”. (I have become suspicious when anyone uses a modified benchmark.) I said, “Peter, the report looks great but the bottom line is that since I been with you, my account has increased from $100,000 to $124,000. Your fees over that time have been $25,000. I don’t think that this is the way it should work. Your making more than I am. I’m transferring everything back to Vanguard”. We have been 100% Vanguard since then.
We inherited my late in-laws’ Edward Jones account in 2009. Neither of us had any investing experience, so we just went along with the “financial advisor”. We thought nothing of following his recommendation to switch to an ‘Assets Under Management” model. We had a nagging feeling about the monthly fees, but we didn’t follow up on those feelings.
The pandemic provided me an opportunity to think about our finances. I discovered the Bogleheads’ wiki and forum, and learned about lowering the costs of investment. After reading Allen Roth’s, “How A Second-Grader Beats Wall Street”, we decided to take the plunge into DIY investing. We moved our EJ assets to self-directed accounts with Vanguard, and are already reaping the benefits of keeping more of our money.
We decided on an asset allocation that takes my vested retirement benefits into account. Our rebalancing triggers are based on 5% bands, which keeps us from buying high and selling low. We are much happier now.
I watched Financial News Network from the time it was first launched until it became CNBC. When my work offered a 401k , I invested regularly. I continue to educate myself about investing through books and CNBC even today. I used to read Mr Clements articles in the newspaper. I sure miss those.
I transitioned from a savings account to CD’s, and then to money market funds at T Rowe Price. I soon became intrigued with no load mutual funds and invested small amounts in a couple of stock funds. I read personal finance articles in “Money” and “Forbes” magazines and watched “Wall Street Week” with Lou Rukeyser.
My dad always owned a few stocks that never went anywhere, but they were fun to look at back when newspapers published daily stock market prices in eights. This kept a ten year old busy. In high school dad transferred a few stocks to me that never went up in price. After college and some years of working I sold those two stocks just before they took off in price. Working thru local brokers was so expensive the average Joe could not trade, but only own for a long time. Like watching grass grow,
Then came the internet, cheap commissions and the common man was on an even footing with the Big Boys. After some years of pain and scars, I got serious about learning to trade, and discovered OPTIONS. Now I sit at home and generate as much money as I need to pay the bills. There is so much money floating around in the USA and the world, I find it easy to tap in and have some of it stick to my fingers. I try to never get greedy, just earn what I need and be grateful. What a country !!!
Savings and not be profligate. The first investment was in a decent home, followed by investing in my family’s education.
I was about 28 and working in the aerospace industry when my company began layoffs in the wake of the Berlin Wall falling and the Soviet Union imploding.
I sat near an older fellow who received a pink slip and was concerned about his job loss. “Who’s going to hire a 55-year-old?” I heard him say.
It was then that I realized I had better start investing for the future so my life wouldn’t fall apart if I faced a job loss in my later years. I’ve been an ardent saver and investor ever since.
My brother and sister and I pooled our meager savings back in 1980, when we were all between 10 and 14, and bought some silver – because we couldn’t afford gold. The near immediate losses taught us something about speculation!
Age 18. Vanguard Roth IRA Target Retirement 2045 fund.
I had listened to Clark Howard on the radio during high school and enjoyed all the tips–particularly on how to achieve long-term wealth. I guess my dream was to have enough money to do what I want when I wanted.
I saved up cash from working at a local muni golf course and at Publix. I finally did it. I had $3,000 which was the investment minimum at the time. I set up an ACH, and off it went. I lost $15 my first day but was excited that I was now an investor for my own retirement.
I actually had an experience before that. I bought a 2.15% CD from Compass Bank when I was 17. I thought, “wow that’s better than 1.5% at an online bank!” Sweet deal. Then I learned more about how to really build wealth over time.
I’ve made it a goal to max out my retirement accounts each year, and have done it since 2005. Roth IRA, 401k, HSA, etc. I’m now financially independent and run my own little investment writing business and teach at the University of North Florida to easily cover my annual expenses while still having benefits.
Will I re-enter the 9-5 world? Perhaps. If the right role comes about. A place like Morningstar in Chicago or Creative Planning in Kansas could make sense.
When I got my first job after college, I had a (very modest) disposable income for the first time in my life. I’m naturally frugal, so I began accumulating more money than I needed to cover day-to-day expenses. I had received little to no financial education from my schooling or my parents, so it was up to me to figure out what to do with my savings. After a bit of Googling, I found the Mr. Money Moustache blog, and that set me on a journey of financial self-education that I’ve continued to this day. It’s a little bit sad, but I learned far more about personal finance from blogs, forums, and Youtube channels (and HumbleDollar!) than I ever did at school.
Because I’m someone who’s prone to analysis paralysis, I started investing with the robo-advisor Betterment. A few years later, I took the time to learn the basics of investing and transitioned to a Bogleheads-approved two-fund portfolio.
My husband and I got started investing thanks to my in-laws. We had some fascinating discussions around the dinner table. Forever grateful to them for the wisdom they imparted. Yes, my mother-in-law was involved!
My older brother was an investor and he convinced a bunch of us to start an investment club. That got me interested and I started reading and researching. That led to my more general interest in personal financial planning. An investment club is a great way to combine learning with friendship.
Only about three years ago when I was knowning little about investing and picked one stock and invested a large sum on it. The stock went through roller coaster ride (down more than 50%), which I was lucky as no need to sell until earlier this year when it was fully recovered (and a bit more). During this “journey”, I realized I need to learn more about investing and personall finance overall, because picking stock will get me burn (badly) and I am more interested in long term investment vs. short term.
In 1981 IBM introduced the personal computer which I thought would be a huge hit. I bought 100 shares of Verbatim which made the relatively cheap, disposable 5 and 1/4 inch floppy disks for about $10 a share. Later I sold the share for my first profit (about $14/share), paid the taxes and hefty stock commission and learned immediately that you had to invest for 12 months to get the long term capital gains tax. A lesson that I learned early and has kept with me ever since. Coincidentally a giant bull market started in 1982 at about 820 on the DJIA.
Verbatim was later bought out for around $5 a share by Kodak as the technology became commoditized.
When I was 9 years old, A friend was given a mutual fund by his father.
He was allowed to spend his dividend check as he pleased.
We went to the candy store with the $4 dividend. Again, next quarter. 🙂
Third quarter, He told me “No more money”.
He was letting the money grow in the fund. No more candy. 🙁
Followed Wall Street after that. 11 years later, I started.
I wanted my own checks in the mail.
When I started working at 18 there was a brokerage office across the street and on breaks and lunchI went over and sat and watched the ticker go by. Made friends with one of the brokers who gave me “tips” on penny stock. Thankfully we were dealing in a hundred dollars or so, at least before I lost it all.
I contributed to my 401k at my first job as a lawyer when I was 26. I didn’t learn what a Roth IRA was for a few more years.
I started investing in gold mining companies in college because I could see that Gordon Brown had sold all England’s gold and thereby created a massive buying opportunity. I made a lot of money riding a 10 year bull market in the precious metal, and then I rode that market right back down. Once I realized that gold companies were capital intensive lottery tickets that depended on external factors like the price of gold and the politics of the country they mined in, I began searching for alternatives, and eventually discovered index funds. When I think of the opportunity cost for this long delay, it makes me sick.
Wow, great timing!
I was motivated to become more DIY after some less than stellar experiences with full service brokers back in the bad old days. Then when folks like Jack Bogle and Charles Schwab started making it easier for individual investors to handle their own finances, I got interested. And then when the internet came along and made it all so much easier and faster, I was fully onboard.