Each month I want to chronicle someone that was inspired by my book to start investing. I’m calling it “The Stock Market Is For Me” series. Today I am happy to introduce AnneMarie Balogh, who decided to open an investment account after reading my book…
Up until a few months ago, if you had told me I’d become interested in the stock market and begin investing, I’d have laughed in your face!
Number one, I would have said, the stock market is all about numbers. I suck at numbers. I am a words person. I can edit a piece for you and make it read amazing. I can spell anything, and have the right word for any situation. But math? Without a calculator, I will make a mistake. Guaranteed. I’m that hopeless.
Number two, I’d have added, I don’t have any extra money. Like many other Americans, I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck for most of my life, and for most of my life have carried some debt. Of course, at age 45, I was beginning to become concerned about the fact that I had nothing saved for retirement. But what could I do? Such is life for most of us, I’d have said several months ago.
I’d been exposed to the stock market before. I’d worked as an administrative assistant for two different investment firms. Rarely did the principals of these companies allow a document to go out without having been proofed by me. My secretarial skills and writing ability were highly praised. At no time, though, did anyone at these places suggest I start investing myself. Why would they? I reasoned. They pay me, they know what my income is, and they know there’s nothing extra there to do anything with.
So when Eric, whom I met at my current 9-5 job, brought up the idea of investing to me, I – you guessed it! – laughed in his face!
He let me laugh. Then, he asked me a question. “Are you able to spare $25.00 out of every paycheck?”
That question caught me off guard. $25.00? Of course! For most people, setting aside $25.00 every two weeks amounts to something fairly easy and painless. For me, that was the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes (I’d been working on cutting down on this terrible habit) and two or three take-out salads at lunchtime. I wiped the sarcastic smile off my face, and answered that yes, of course, I could spare $25.00.
Eric told me about Robinhood, a free app available for iOS and Android. Robinhood’s slogan is “Investing. Now for the rest of us.” Robinhood is extremely simple, and totally free. You can deposit as little or as much as you’d like in there, and purchase one share of stock at a time as you become able to.
This appealed to me, and I opened an account immediately.
So now I had an investment account; however, I still felt some trepidation. For one thing, remember: I suck at numbers! How, I asked Eric, was I supposed to keep track of stocks going up and down, when to buy, when to sell and all the rest? Those little tickers made me nervous. Something always seems to be happening that affects the markets, right? What if I lost all the money I put in? Also…I hadn’t even a clue what stock I should buy!
Eric responded to my first concern by showing me this timeline drawn up by Morgan Housel of The Motley Fool (an amazing site for beginning and experienced investors alike!). It goes back to 1950 and graphs the movement of the stock market over time, up to 2014. The graph shows that, regardless of what’s been happening in the United States and in the world (think wars, assassinations, recessions…), the stock market has continued to go up. “The takeaway isn’t that the market is safe,” Housel writes. “It’s that bad news never supersedes true patience.”
This, Eric told me, is why to buy stocks and hold onto them over time. There’s no need to look at every rise and fall in share price from day to day, and certainly not from minute to minute. Pick a stock that you are confident in, he said, purchase one share at a time when you can, and over the long term you will see your investment grow. The best investment strategy – borne out by Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway, among others – is a long-term investment strategy.
That timeline – along with a documentary I watched on Warren Buffett – sold me! I was excited to start investing, and in fact had managed to deposit a little more money into my Robinhood account. The only immediate question I still had was…“So which stock do I invest in?”
Eric suggested that I start with Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI). Activision makes video games. Now, I am not a gamer. But my 13-year-old nephew and his friends are, along with many of my friends’ kids, and millions of other people of all ages around the world. Activision makes Call of Duty, Minecraft, and other wildly popular games. The revenue from these games, from the equipment on which they’re played, and from esports (live, in-person video game tournaments at arenas like Madison Square Garden) is huge. And interest in gaming is only increasing; the number of users is growing faster than that of streaming services such as Netflix. Activision is a company that is poised for significant growth.
The key to picking a stock, Eric explained, is to look at its growth potential. You don’t have to know the ins, outs, nuances and subtleties of what a company does. Just look at how its impact on the world is expected to grow over time.
At the time of this writing, I have had my Robinhood account for a little over two months. I have deposited several hundred dollars in it so far. I own three shares of Activision and three shares of Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU). My account value is up 10.69% since I opened it. I read, watch, or listen to something each day about the stock market and/or the companies in which I hold shares, and as result, my knowledge of the topic is growing every day. For the first time in my life, I feel in control of my ability to create wealth, and today confidently refer to myself as an investor!
If I have been able to do this, you can do it too! As the title of Eric’s ebook states, THE STOCK MARKET IS FOR EVERYONE.