My Bad Investment Decision at 15 Years Old

Who knew investing was so complicated? I thought you could buy some stocks, hold onto them for a few months, and have guaranteed growth. What happened? This is my story on how I threw away $500 by making some bad investment decisions.


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Today we have a post that is a little bit more intimate than normal. Since starting our blog our goal was to be as real and transparent as possible. Hope you enjoy looking into my younger years.

Who knew investing was so complicated? I thought you could buy some stocks, hold onto them for a few months, and have guaranteed growth. What happened? This is my story on how I threw away $500 by making some bad investment decisions.

 

Investing Blew My Mind!

Turn back the clocks, I was 15 years old. After flipping items on eBay and bailing hay at the local farm, I had earned around $2,000. I was excited, I was working hard to save up for my first car. However, my money was not growing at all in my savings account and I felt like I was missing out.

I was always drawn to business classes in school and LOVED them. In one of the classes, we were talking about investments. My mind literally exploded in class. I remember thinking to myself, “So, I can invest in companies I believe in and grow my money without doing anything else”?

This had to be too good to be true right? I was making less than a dollar a year in interest in my savings account. It was a no-brainer I was going to invest, and I would be rich!

 

Seeking out my Old Man for Advice

Not sure if I have said this before, but I literally have the best dad ever! Growing up he was always extremely supportive to all of us kids. He was always willing to let us try things on our own and learn from “natural consequences”.

We were able to try a lot of things growing up and failed at them often. Looking back, I am very grateful he allowed us to do this because failing can be life’s greatest lesson.

I went to my dad and started talking about investing. Without hesitation, he helped me open up a Scottrade account. Luckily, he was wise enough to advise me to start investing with only $500 first. Investing all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea.

We deposited the $500 for me to start investing with, a big chunk of change for a 15-year-old. I did some quick research on a few industries I liked, and I mean quick, like 5 minutes. I ended up investing in Wind Energy America and a Computer Software Company.

These had to be “GREAT” investments. Alternative energy was on the rise and software companies never fail. WRONG, turns out both companies tanked within the first 6 months. I was literally left with pennies in my Scottrade account within just a few months. Devastated and broken, I remember thinking to myself “I am never investing again, it’s all a lie”. It’s funny how a naive 15-year-old can think sometimes.

Related: 8 Extremely Important Money Lessons You Should Have Learned

 

A Bad Investment but a Life Long Lesson

Losing so much money at a young age felt like such a big failure. Money was so hard to come by and it was like I threw it down the drain. Looking back, I would not have it any other way. I learned so much about money, investing, budgeting, and financial planning all by this one mistake.

Investing was supposed to be a sure thing. I thought if you invested in good companies you were guaranteed returns. Quickly I learned investing is a long-term game, and not being diversified was extremely risky. I also learned to not be afraid to take risks, and this resonates with me even today.

 

Millennials Start Investing Yesterday

As Millennials, we need to understand how important investing is and how investing early on can have HUGE impacts. Investing early provides you with a secret weapon, TIME. The longer your money is invested the greater growth potential it has, compound interest is a wonderful thing! You can’t afford to not be investing yet.

You can’t afford to not be investing yet! To explain this further we took a great example from Business Insider. Consider two hypothetical savers, Emily and Dave. Emily puts $200 per month into a retirement account with an estimated 6% rate of return starting at 25. Dave starts saving $200 per month at 35, just 10 years after Emily.

Both continue to add $200 each month until they retire at 65.

By the time they are 65, Emily has contributed $96,000, while Dave has contributed $72,000.

Here’s the trajectory of both of those accounts:

saving at 25 vs saving at 35 continued saving prettier

Related: Why Millennials Need to Start Saving for Retirement

 

Using Technology to our Advantage to Invest

At 15-years-old I didn’t have the least bit of understanding how the stock market worked and to be honest, I bet only a small majority of the population does.

Since we are Millennials drawn to technology, why not use it to our advantage? There are so many investment platforms that make smart diversified investing as simple as owning a bank account. Some of our favorites are Betterment and Wealth Front.

These companies are considered Robo investors. According to Investopedia “A robo-advisor (robo-adviser) is an online wealth management service that provides automated, algorithm-based portfolio management advice without the use of human financial planners”.

We actually use our Betterment account as a “savings” account. Our money is fairly liquid (1-2 business days) and we are able to have a good portion of our assets in diversified ETF’s invested in the market.

Related: Millennials Put a New Spin on Money Management

 

Life’s Tough Learn to Get Back Up After Getting Knocked Down

In my 26-years of life, I have learned failures are life’s greatest lessons. I failed miserably with bad investing when I was 15. I learned so much from this experience it completely changed my life. From that point on I became obsessed with learning as much as I could about money.

This fire of learning and talking about money still burns today. Our blog has really allowed us to have an awesome outlet to share our life’s experiences.

Related: How to Build Wealth: Stupid Easy Investment Tips For Millennials

 

Do you have any bad investment stories to share?

 

Kelan

Kelan is a born entrepreneur! While in college studying business and finance Kelan was able to grow his e-commerce business to over $50,000 a year. After being an insurance salesman, UPS driver, and jail deputy Kelan has come full circle with his burning desire to be 100% self-employed. Kelan currently runs The Savvy Couple full time with a passion for helping others get money $avvy.

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