How I Started Investing for the First Time
Some things in life are just begging to be pushed to the end of my to-do list, not to be done until I’m absolutely forced to: filing my taxes, making the appointment to get my yearly skin check, calling maintenance to finally fix my finicky door lock—the list goes on, and for me, finally dipping my toe into investing always had a permanent spot on my to-do-eventually list.
To say I’ve always felt as if I didn’t have enough knowledge to even know where to begin investing is an understatement; I’ve always felt like I didn’t even know what I didn’t know—a notch below “absolutely clueless.” My journalism major ensured I learned absolutely nothing about finance in college, and it felt like—even at 24—I was so desperately behind the pack that it was too late for me to really get a grasp on the stock market.
This year got me to do the things I had been pushing aside because I was busy, and after weeks of writing “START INVESTING” at the top of my planner, I decided it wasn’t something I could push off anymore. Enter: Public.com. Public is an investing social network where investors can own fractional shares of stocks and ETFs, making the barrier to entry significantly lower than other investing platforms. They know that a significant reason why many don’t invest is due to a lack of financial literacy, so they aim to unlock the stock market to a wider range of people through the empowerment of a community where you can learn and grow.
It felt like Public was welcoming my non-experienced self with open arms. Their mission is to make the stock market inclusive and fun, two words that felt like the opposite of other website’s goals. They also incorporate a social media aspect, where members can share ideas and news in a feed with other investors. This meant that I would be able to learn and grow my confidence with the help of other, real people, not just stock experts that I would feel were talking down to me.
After years and years of putting it off, I can finally say that I, Madeline Galassi, am an investor. Here’s where I began, how it all went, and what I learned:
*The following is for educational purposes only and is not investment advice.
Where I began
In partnership with Public, they gave me $500 to begin investing. Once I had my funds in my app, I was prompted to invest in blue-chip stocks like Google and Apple to get my portfolio built. I chose to divide my $500 between five stocks, investing $100 each in Google, Apple, Disney, Amazon, and Visa.
The process was much easier than I had anticipated. I expected to be greeted with hard-to-understand jargon, but Public helped me get my money invested in the stock market immediately, and then I could easily trade and sell my stocks from there, right in the app.
To decide what to trade, I relied on the social network part of Public to educate myself. I looked at what fellow traders were talking and excited about, which helped me understand which stocks were currently doing well without needing to have the NASDAQ ticker up on my TV all day (or have men on cable screaming about what I should invest in). I learned from real people who spoke in layman’s terms, and it helped me decide to invest in ACN (Accenture Public), something I previously had no knowledge about.
Being able to interact with other, real investors made investing something I actually looked forward to. I checked my app every day and watched my shares go up and down and began to understand why. I felt empowered, curious, and excited—three words I never thought I’d associate with my investing experience.
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Why fractional shares are a total game changer
My initial investments were toward blue-chip stocks with high buy-in rates, so how did I do it with only $500? One share of Google is currently $2,846, and I obviously didn’t have that to invest, but since Public lets you invest in portions of stocks (what I learned is called fractional shares), I was able to say the exact amount (which could be anything) that I wanted to put toward each stock. This meant that I still got to be an investor in these profitable, reputable companies that give a reliable return to investors, just at a scale that I could afford.
Something I learned quickly was how important being able to invest in fractional shares is to an investor, especially a beginner like me. Blue-chip stocks have extraordinarily high costs per share, which are amounts that someone like me would be uncomfortable investing in to start (and that I simply didn’t have the funds for). But being able to invest in portions of these stocks is important because of their return rate to investors. They consistently grow and make investors money, and by being able to invest an amount I chose, I could reap those benefits without needing to pay the high barrier to entry, which is a win for me.
I’m constantly learning from real investors
Public.com provides learning resources on their website, which helped answer the questions I had, from the super basic ones to the more in-depth. They had answers to questions I was embarrassed to ask—they even have a page dedicated to answering “what is a stock?”
I made it a goal to read through one question every day for a few weeks, which got me familiar with concepts I didn’t think I’d understand for a while, from what blue-chip stocks are (and look, today I was able to talk about them in my own words!) to understanding index funds. I was able to stick to it because their answers were free from intimidating jargon and instead stuck to terms that I was able to completely understand—and even find interesting—as someone with limited knowledge.
Lack of knowledge about the stock market is something that, honestly, I used to be very conscious about. In my day-to-day life, I’m surrounded by men who know the stock market like the back of their hand, and have been making money off of it for years. My dad has been a life-long investor, and my boyfriend and his three male roommates actually had a point in time where they were competing against each other for how much each could make in the stock market every day. It gave me such a deep, uneasy feeling of being behind, and I never thought I’d catch up to them. But guess who has been joining into the stock banter lately? A girl who used to stay silent throughout every conversation.
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How I felt four weeks later
After a few weeks of getting really comfortable, I started to follow some of their guidance and gathered information from other investors on what I might be interested in. I started a running list of stocks I was interested in investing in and watched what other investors were saying about each of them in my news feed.
One of my favorite parts of the app is the “theme” feature. It provides a list of different overarching stock themes, from cannabis to food delivery to even “Women in Charge,” which highlighted companies owned by women, and have lists of stocks to invest in under those umbrellas. I chose to sell one of my stocks and invest in Accenture Public, which is women-led and something I felt excited about making a priority for myself in my investing. It made investing feel more personal to me—I wasn’t copying what investing experts were telling me to do, but I was putting my money toward companies and leaders I truly believed in myself, which makes investing that much more enjoyable for me.
Investing isn’t one-size-fits-all, nor should it be. There’s no rule that says I only need to invest in the stocks other investors say I should, and with Public, I’m able to learn about what I want to invest in in the future because it interests me.
I learned it wasn’t worth being afraid of
Four weeks ago, the stock market felt like a big, scary thing that I needed a special set of skills to approach. I thought it was going to take me years and years to feel like how I feel right now: I have the basics under my belt and am excited to approach my future as an investor.
When I was given non-intimidating resources, I was able to not only understand investing but also actually enjoy the process and feel pride in doing something with my money—but I honestly don’t think I would have felt this way if I had approached it without Public. Public allowed me to learn and had resources that were meant for someone like me—a complete and utter beginner—and existed to help empower me without talking down to me or expecting me to Google every term they were using in order to understand. It gave me an easy-to-use app, community of like-minded investors, and tools to choose which stocks were the best for me to invest in. After all this time, I finally am an investor, and thanks to Public (and much to my surprise), I even feel confident about it.
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Offer valid for U.S. residents 18+ and subject to account approval. There may be other fees associated with trading. See Public.com/disclosures/.
This post is sponsored by Public.com, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.