If you’ve ever wondered how I started my investing journey, today is your lucky day! I believe in transparency and talking about the things that people don’t want to talk about. If we want to change the financial system, the gap in wealth, and the wage gap, it is important to be open.
People not sharing how much they make contributes to the continuing wage gap. People not sharing how much money they have has led to more inequality. People not sharing how they made the money they have leads to more financially uneducated people.
So here it is. I’m putting it all out there and sharing my investing journey.
I am not an expert at investing, and I find it hard to believe that anyone is. Even financial advisors. It is all a gamble and a risk. Still, though, statistics show that over time the market always goes up, even if it crashes or takes a dip occasionally.
Getting started on my investing journey
Originally Brandon and I were saving up to buy a house this year. But when my health took a turn, we decided that staying in our rent-controlled apartment that is walking distance from family and friends was the best thing for us at this moment.
Instead of having our money sit around, I decided to invest some of it so that I could still do something to keep us moving forward, even if we weren’t going to be buying a house. Since I didn’t know the future of my employment at that point with my health condition, we wanted to make sure to keep a large emergency fund available in case I ended up quitting my job (which I eventually did).
Now I have started my own coaching business, but have been putting the money I have been making from that right back into the business (did you know starting a business is expensive?! Who knew?!). I feel good with the $40,000 plus we have been keeping in 2 different high yield savings accounts for emergencies.
We decided anything above that we felt comfortable investing, especially since even if we lost it, we would still have plenty of money to get by.
So, I binged watched YouTube videos (shout out to Our Rich Journey) and read a lot of Instagram posts and blogs on investing.
Where I started making investments
To start with I opened an account with Vanguard. With Vanguard, you invest the money yourself but they have great customer support to help guide you along your investing journey. They also have very low-cost index funds so you aren’t paying a ton of fees (with mutual funds you often end up paying a lot in fees).
I put $5, 300 into Vanguard 500 Index Fund Admiral Shares also known as VFIAX. You have to have at least $3,000 to start with to invest in that. That account as of writing this is now at $5,868.91. It has grown and at some point, it could go way down but I am going to have faith and leave the money there believing that no matter what happens over time this will be a well worth it investment.
I also opened a Roth IRA (Retirement Account) with $4,000 and set up an automatic $100 to be put into the account every month. So far I have contributed $4,100. The balance of that account has now grown to $4,377.69. That money is invested in the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund Admiral Shares also known as VTSAX.
Both VFIAX and VTSAX are index funds. Warren Buffet recommends investing in Index Funds which is kind of like investing in the whole market versus picking and choosing individual stocks from different companies.
I also opened a Robinhood account. I got a free stock by using a friend’s referral code. Also, Robinhood is great because there are no fees. I put $2000 into that account and put some of the money into an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) called QQQ and then bought a few stocks of Costco. I really wanted to put some money into investing in companies that I really believe in and felt that Costco was a good place to start. They treat their workers well. They pay them well and provide very good benefits. They also are great with customer service and I save a lot of money every year shopping there.
Making the most of learning to invest
Finally, I opened an investment account through Sofi because I got another referral bonus through a friend by investing with them. I only put $325 into that account. I invested that money into Starbucks because they also pay their employees more than most coffee shops and provide health care even for part-time employees which I believe is so important. The $325 I put in there is now up to $393.33.
Some might ask why I didn’t max out my Roth IRA before investing in a regular investment account. Well, the reason why is it is possible in 2-3 years we may decide that we do want to buy a house and it would be helpful to have more access to that money. Also, I have a solid pension from my old job which means that around 65 years old I will get over $700 a month until I die. Brandon also has an employer-sponsored and matched 401k which is now over $15,000 so I am not too worried about maxing out every retirement plan at this point.
I still actually may max out my Roth IRA before the deadline for the 2019 tax season. My plan with all the money I make from my coaching business, once I have extra after investing to get the business to where I want it to be, is to take all that income and invest it.
We are frugal enough that we can live off Brandon’s income and all that will be cherry on top of the cake. That will be the money that will get us officially to early retirement.
Investing is a constant journey
I am also still figuring out socially responsible investing; it’s a constant journey. I had a call with an investment firm that participates in ethical investing this week and I will share what I learned in a later post.
Just remember I am not an expert – but I am sharing all of this to show the world that you don’t have to be an expert to put some skin in the game. I am also sharing all of this to break down the taboo culture we have around sharing numbers when it comes to money.
Investing doesn’t have to be this big unknown. Start small if you need to. Do some research like I did and invest at your own risk.
If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to read this post I wrote about my basic investment strategy. And let me know any investing questions you have in the comments. I may not know all of the answers but together we can figure it out.