My investment journey extends as far back as age 7, when my savvy Mom transferred my brother and I some of her stock options from work.
She explained to us what the stock market was, how to look up share prices in the paper, and how to buy and sell. Transactions were made through phone and cost $40 each!
From then on, I received dividend cheques and annual reports in the mail.
It was my first brush with passive income, although I didn’t appreciate it. Not only because the numbers were small, but because I’m an INFJ which means I tend to care very little about money.
I didn’t contribute to my portfolio either, because I didn’t have income. I just held onto my stocks in certificate form. They were kept in a safety deposit box and far removed from me.
Once bitten, and twice shy
Ten years later at age 17, I transferred my holdings to an online broker. That’s when I could watch the activity in my account, though I rarely ever did. I did see when Nortel separated from its parent company, which I owned.
Nortel was a big Canadian tech giant and at $100+ per share, it was the most net worth I had ever had up until then. Yet watching it dwindle to $0 still barely interested me. Why? As I mentioned, the INFJ thing (how long can I use this excuse? about 15 more years!!!!).
In hindsight, I think Nortel going bankrupt did affect me, by making me nervous to invest in stocks thereafter.
Failing out of university – sort of
My mid-twenties rolled around and I was still a student because I switched majors after studying the first major for 3 years! While my parents had paid for my first run, they weren’t willing or able to pay for me to basically repeat university all over again. Plus they didn’t agree with my vision and thought I was being irresponsible and impulsive!
*That’s* when I started caring about money.
I had a new goal, and I needed to pay for it myself. Having barely worked at all, I was a bit nervous but also stubbornly determined.
It worked out well! I overcame my job-fear and ended up landing high paying student jobs, which enabled me to put myself through school, including paying rent in one of the most expensive cities in Canada. I was able to graduate with the average Canadian student debt, but in savings. It still surprises me how well it worked out – like, did I really do that? YES I did!
Let’s try out this investing thing
During this time, I also tried again with stock investing. I had taken out a student loan to keep as an emergency fund, assuming I wouldn’t be able to cover tuition from my income in subsequent years. I used a small part of this loan to invest into 2 companies.
One company ended up going bankrupt, and I didn’t even notice until a year later when I re-logged into my account. The other company went up 35% in the first week I bought it, so I cashed out immediately. I ended up netting a small gain, but only because I got lucky. Otherwise I didn’t learn anything valuable, nor did I develop any new investing skills.
Before I left for Germany at age 28, I sold my stocks from when I was 7, and plunked it into my savings account (it wasn’t a lot). Then I closed my brokerage account, which in hindsight, I should not have done.
Now at age 33, I have finally started paying attention to investing. This time, in a slightly more informed way. i.e. I read Jim Collins’ stock series and feel equipped and ready!
Of course, life has gotten a lot more complicated now that I’m a married expat with stuff going on in 2 high-tax countries – 3 if I include Ireland where VWRLs are domiciled.
For years I’ve felt disappointed in myself for never caring about investments, despite having the chance and the environment to get into it. I mean, I held the same stock for 20 years! Yet the journey was mostly lost on me.
But, let’s move forward and not dwell on the past.
It did take me a while to come into it, but I’m here now, and feeling great. I’m so glad there’s such thing as an index investing strategy that matches my
no low maintenance approach.