Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I'm a Stock Geek

            So, I had some ramblings today that I posted - wondering if I should sell some of my tiny little stock garden due to some rumblings that stocks may go down. I got several interesting comments and a few interesting links to articles, though the thing that inspired me to finally make another blog post, were the comments in those articles. There were several comments that stated in various states of readability that only rich people invest.
            For some reason this pushed me to want to write about my own investments - why I started, and what I mean when I say I'm an investor. Several years ago I found myself in pretty deep financial troubles. After a huge life-change, my overall finances looked pretty grim. I slowly but slowly dug myself out of that pit and found myself again on solid ground. This was pretty nice, enough money to pay the bills, not living from second to second. Also, I'd discovered the amusing money 'saver' of MMO's - online video games.
            This is a bit backwards to many people, who say they can't afford the monthly payment of an MMO, but I've found that paying $15 a month for a game instead of $40 every 3 weeks that I get tired of a game - or instead of a single night at the movies, really does save me money. What I also learned, is that in any MMO we played, I did really well at making money. Fake money, but money regardless. It became my favorite joke, to say that I was a typical Capricorn at making money - but only in video games.
            So here I am, a Capricorn, looking to make money in the real world, who has just found herself standing on solid ground financially for the first time in well...years. And also for the first time in years, not reliant on someone else to keep that going. Eventually, I found the 'video game' I was looking for. It was called Sharebuilder, and much like a 401K, it allowed you to put in little bits of money each month towards stocks you were interested in (instead of having to come up with money to buy whole stocks). I set it up and I named it 'Impulsive'. I filled out their funny online questionnaire and came up with some stocks to invest in. I then decided that I actually wanted to play my video game, and swapped them all out for things I thought were awesome. Apple, Netflix and Marvel.
            Then, I forgot about it. I noticed I had my $25 a month going to it, but overall, ignored it.  Every once in a while, I'd get stricken by guilt that I was wasting my money, but I'd already put it in my budget, so I didn't really miss it - it was like a tiny bill. Sadly, this is the part that's probably hard to emulate - the forgetting and letting it go for a couple of years. But that's what I did.
            By the time I paid attention to it again, Netflix had gone from $30 a share to $300. I didn't have a lot of shares - I hadn't been putting very much money into it, but I had enough that I could sell it and buy many types of stocks. Marvel got bought by Disney, and that went up too. At this point, I'd paid too much attention, and gotten really excited about the possibilities. I started looking for new stocks to buy - companies that I liked, that I wanted to invest in. Not just to someday be rich, but because I wanted them to do well.
            I also geeked about it, a lot. To my husband - who is also a super geek about a lot of things, especially science and technology. And technology breakthroughs. So together we were a super team. Though not any extreme brilliance in buying the big winning stock, there was a lot of fun and a lot of learning about the different companies and what they were working on. Also, I began to see more ways to 'invest'. In little charities. There are so many really good ideas out there - that could do so much with some funding. And they've made it really easy for the little guy to chip some in. Some of them are world changers, some are world changers for someone. Some are just to bring more beauty into the world.
            So today, when I read that only rich people invest, I was... feeling pretty argumentative actually. And also, I wanted to say - even little people can invest. And investing small amounts in your future or someone else's future, or someone's shelter that helps dogs - these are things we can all do. Investing isn't for everyone, not everyone would enjoy it like I do. But it's not just for rich people.