My First Investment Decision at 18
My parents, despite experiencing very hard economic times, always had a roof over our heads and food on the table. My mother managed the budget, which allowed us to have life’s necessities. We never had luxuries, and not until a couple of years ago did my parents start splurging more on clothes, shoes, etc. I learned my money management from her.
When I was 17, I started working for a non-profit music and dance group as their administrative assistant. The director of the group took me under his wing and helped me open a bank account, get a cellphone, and later, build my investment portfolio. He taught me to go beyond just saving cash, and turn the cash into investments.
I was very fortunate to have earned extra scholarship money my freshman year. I was tempted to buy a car, but then, I realized I would have to work more to pay for insurance and maintenance. Adults constantly told me that I needed to start investing money as soon as I could. So, I knew that I would be better off if I saved the money and invested in stocks.
At the time, I had no knowledge of stocks, bonds, or CDs. I approached my mentor, and he helped me start investing. I went with USAA because he already had portfolios there that were doing well. I also decided to automatically invest $100 every month.
Here is the breakdown of the portfolio in 2008:
- USAA World Growth Fund – $3000
- USAA International Fund – $3600
- USAA GNMA Trust – $4000
- USAA Tax Exempt Long Term Fund – $4200
- USAA Money Market $1000
As you can see, I was actually very risk-adverse and invested more in bonds. I regret this decision and wished I had invested all my funds in international stocks. Those funds were the ones that grew the most.
USAA is a great company with amazing customer service. I’m definitely opening investment accounts in the future with them.
When did you start investing? What would you tell yourself back then if you had the wisdom you have today?