How I Turned $20 into Six Figures Through Investing
The year is 2021, but the fundamentals of research, patience and wit remain hugely profitable investing virtues, along with a few other key factors
I began my investment journey five years ago while working a full-time job. I was fortunate enough to have both stability and a job that allowed me to make more money than I needed at the time. Unlike my peers, instead of going out and partying on the weekends, I began to read books on investing and how to play the stock market. As a typical millennial, I began playing the market irresponsibly, looking to make quick gains, then quickly learned that didn't work. So, I began versing myself on how to invest for the long-term. This led me to research different brokers and where my money would be best served, so I opened a brokerage account and deposited just $20. I was working for a publicly-traded company at the time, so it was only logical for me to buy $20 worth of that particular asset, so I did. I knew that this company was and would continue to be successful.
My hunger for knowledge didn't stop there. I began reading books like The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefevre, and others alike. As I continued reading and learning, I quickly realized that the key to wealth wasn't day trading, but rather long-term investments. Instead of having a savings account, I decided to put all of the overflow money into my brokerage account. I would set a goal and when I would hit that goal, I would then use that money to buy stocks in different companies that caught my attention. This wasn't easy. In order to do so, I had to do extensive research on the particular companies and why they were a good fit for my portfolio. At first, I made the mistake of having over 40 companies in the portfolio and none of them were really making significant gains. I decided to take The Intelligent Investor's approach and began to focus on a small number of companies that allowed me to grow my wealth and kept my attention tight instead of trying to spread attention 42 different ways.
We all think that investing in the stock market is just a walk in the park, and with all the available options to do so nowadays, it is fairly easy to get in the market, but are you really winning? I've made significant mistakes in my investment journey, and now my goal is to teach those who are getting started how to avoid those mistakes. In my book, The Hustle Made Me Do It: Traders and Investors 101, I show people how to achieve financial independence through investing and do so by explaining the material that what I've learned over the years in simple terms. Today, I want to share seven lessons that have been particularly impactful for me.
1. Leave emotions out
Emotions can be good or bad, but when it comes to investing, more often than not, they are your worst enemy. Early in the journey, I would see a negative day and be ready to throw in the towel, but knew that wasn't an option because I’d committed to being in it for the long term. My advice is, stay calm and have confidence in the companies you've chosen to invest in, then remember that the markets always give it back if it's a sound company. Keep in mind that there will be corrections in the market, both positive and negative. You should also have a determined goal on how long you want to keep your money invested in a particular stock. This will help you have a grasp on emotions as you continue a position.
2. Don't be a sucker
If I’d known this at the beginning of my investment journey, I would have made better decisions. What I mean by this is, don't listen to anyone without doing your own research. Don't listen to the rumors, and they will be everywhere. Try to stay away from financial magazines and newsletters. Everyone has an opinion on different securities, but it is important that you remain steady on what you believe is true about companies you're invested in. Remember rule number one. Finally, throw out any tips from the national money talk shows. Everyone has personal motives on why they want to give advice on particular investments.
3. Don't get cocky!
This is a mistake I still make from time to time. When the markets are going up, I feel like the smartest person on the planet. When the markets are going down, I feel like an idiot — questioning all earlier decisions. The point here is, don't get cocky, because when the markets are up, everybody is a great investor, but when they’re down, that's when you are really tried and must hang on firmly to rule number one. Just let the markets do what they do; they will inevitably correct themselves in the direction of supply and demand.
4. Don't tell people what to buy or sell
This goes in tandem with rule number three. When a stock is doing well for us, we tend to want to tell everybody about the great discovery. However, when it goes down, we'll wish we had kept our mouths shut. Don't play with people's money, play with your own. It's okay to talk with your peers about different investment opportunities, but perhaps the most profound advice in this article is: don't tell people what to do with their money! The last thing you want is one of your close friends sending you a message, telling you how the stock you recommended is now plummeting and how you're responsible for the money they lost.
Related: How to Give Great Advice
5. Be cautious when they are not, be foolish when they are cautious
This is some of the best advice I absorbed from The Intelligent Investor, and also some of the best advice you'll hear the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, give. It simply means that when people are running away from a particular security, run towards it and when people are leaving the market, jump in. This is seizing the opportunity and finding value that others aren't seeing. Keep some assets liquid so that when the market is correcting itself, you’ll have the opportunity to buy low. Just think of it as buying a $100 item for $70, expecting that it will be worth $200 in a few months.
6. Get paid for the products you use
If you have money to buy an iPhone, you have money to buy stock in Apple. This is a dividend-paying stock, meaning that you will get paid for the company’s success every quarter. Why not get paid for the product that you already use? Why not support the companies you like? It's simple: assess your favorite brands and look them up on a stock index. If they're a publicly traded company, I would strongly recommend buying a few shares.
7. Invest wisely
Allow your money to grow, and allow the compound interest to continue making money for you. The key is not getting rich quick, it is to have a portfolio that will withstand the test of time. Diversify that portfolio as much as you can and focus on companies you know will continue to be successful in the long run. Although I'm not here to give you financial advice, I do recommend that you hold your stocks for two to three years. This will give you the best chance to see the trends in the market for this particular investment, then revisit your portfolio and make the changes necessary.
Investing is still one of the great tests of patience and emotions. It's not for everyone. Whether it's cryptocurrency stocks or Forex, I strongly recommend that you do research on any investment you're jumping into. Our goal at The Hustle Made Me Do It is to teach young people how to become financially independent, and I am a firm believer that investing for the long run is a sure way to reach that goal. It takes a bit of work and an investment of time, but once you get the hang of things, the process is truly like riding a bicycle. You will likely grow to love it and, most importantly, reap the benefits of research and patience.
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