My investment journey so far


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!

Getting paid!

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.

Moving abroad

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. :mrgreen:


6 thoughts on “My investment journey so far

  1. It’s so interesting to learn about your journey! You started at such a young age and are clearly still ahead of most people even if you feel disappointed in your investing at different stages in your life. By definition having early retirement in reach means that you’re doing a lot better than most!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with ONL, it is very interesting to learn about your journey. We don’t have the same crazy student loan thing in Australia (we have regulated university fees and a government-funded loan scheme that you only have to pay back once you earn a decent income) that you have in Canada, but from all that I have read, graduating with no debt through your own hard work (rather than your parents’ wallet) is no mean feat!

      P.s. that picture is awesome – did you take it yourself or did ONL give it to you?!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I love the cheaper/free education schemes. It’s like that in Germany too, and I’m all for it. In Canada our tuition is also regulated, and not as $$$ as private unis in the states. But costs are rising and it’s still not possible to pay a full years’ tuition + living expenses by simply working during summer. Paying my own way through university laid the foundation for my life now. If I hadn’t done that, I would likely still have debt and would not have dared go abroad to marry the love of my life! 🙂


    • Thanks for the encouraging words ONL. I guess I feel I could’ve *done more*, given my head start. Maybe we can all feel like that though, depending on how we slice it. Like most people in this crazy FIRE community, being better than the average Jones family is not much of a relief! But it is so important to be forgiving of our past selves, in order to learn and move forward. I feel a little ridiculous and overly dramatic writing it out like this, as I know I didn’t come from extreme adversity, or even any debt. So I’ll stop now. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Why I’ve stopped buying VWRLs | Ms. Canadian Expat

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