I remember receiving a binder labeled “Employee Benefits” at my first grown-up job. I was 22 at the time, and with a little guidance from a patient coworker in HR, I set up my very first retirement accounts: a 401(k) and health savings account (HSA). It was my first introduction to investing.
Now, several years later, I’m no longer in that job, and I’ve since expanded my investing portfolio. Regardless, I can still distinctly recall the dread and confusion behind opening that benefits binder and seeing so many daunting financial terms.
Investing is no small feat, and there’s certainly more than one way of approaching it. Below are eight women who shared their own first experiences with investing.
I was very lucky—I got started investing at a young age—mainly due to my mom. My mom worked in investing and finance for many years, and thought it was extremely important that I understand stocks, bonds, interest rates and the markets.
My mom gave me $200 when I was 16 to open my first bank account. My very first stock purchase was on E-trade my senior year of high school, after I had earned enough money from nannying each summer. From there, I began to build my stock portfolio and experiment with bonds.
I started investing at age 30. I was debt-free and had a good job.
I knew nothing about investing and being a Ramsey fan, I went to an ELP to open a Roth IRA. It was a huge mistake! The fees were high and he invested in bonds. But thanks to finance-oriented Facebook groups, I’ve learned so much about investing. These groups are full of information and great members who are willing to answer questions.
I guess I first really started investing with my first job at 21. They automatically enrolled me in their 401(k) plan. My first active investment was at 23, when I decided to buy a house.
The 401(k) was just in a default target date fund. I wish I invested more to max the company match! But I didn't know about that until later. Oh, and I also had an account that had horrendous fees, but I moved the money away after a few years.
The house I bought half on a whim, but it was a great investment. I sold it in 2018 for three times what we put into it over the seven years we owned it. I really enjoy real estate, but I think the stock market is much more predictable, so I do a split of both.
I was 23.
I got married young, and my partner and I were still both in school. We lived in a tiny apartment and both got several scholarships at an affordable state school — so we started investing the extra scholarship money! We went with VFIAX on my dad's recommendation.
I was 20 when I got my first “real job.”
My dad told me to put as much as I could in my 401(k), which according to the company I worked for, was 25%. I kept it there until I bought my house and lowered it down to 10%. It gave me a good start to my retirement account.
I was 24 years old.
I got started investing through my employer's 401(k) plan. To be honest, though, I didn't really know much about investing, which is ironic because I worked at a brokerage firm. Even so, I'm very grateful that I invested in my company's 401(k) plan at such an early age because it made the stock market less scary for me now that I knew that I was invested in it.
I started investing at the age of 19 after becoming a camp counselor for Gail Perry Mason’s Money Matters Youth Camp.
Although I was a counselor, I soaked in as much knowledge as I could along with the 10-year-olds, and decided to purchase a few shares of Apple. I had seen articles about it in Black Enterprise and realized that if everyone like the iPod Nano as much as I did, that the stock, which was only $30 then, would surely go up. Boy, was I right!
I started investing when I was 20.