How Do I Learn to Invest Like a Boss?
An attendee of the Vet Financial Summit asked in our private online community “What are good starting courses/videos for stock trading? Where have you all started at? Any favorite resources?”
Before answering with all kinds of suggestions, we asked: “What do you mean by stock trading?”
The answer: “A combination of short-term 1-2 months and long-term investments.”
So that’s two totally different strategies.
Most people, once they decide to take control of their financial future, want to rush into the stock market. At first glance, it looks like a logical decision. However, one could argue that this should be the last thing they do. Before jumping into short-term trading, you need to answer a few things first.
1. What are your investment goals?
Different investors have different goals, depending on their personal situation:
- Get wealthy.
- Stay wealthy.
- Generate safe and predictable income.
Which one(s) are you interested in? The answer is important, as it will dramatically affect your investing strategy.
- If you want to get wealthy, stocks may be the best way.
- If you want to stay wealthy, you need to be more defensive. Hard assets may be a safer way.
- If you want to generate safe and predictable income, real estate, bonds or REITs may be the way to go.
This next step is also an important part of choosing between these priorities…
2. What is your investment horizon?
Early in your investment career, you may need to focus on getting wealthy. Right or wrong, this is typically associated with taking more risk.
As they get closer to retirement, most people shift gears and turn to staying wealthy. This classically means moving from riskier assets to less volatile assets.
In other words, young colleagues shouldn’t put all of their money in CDs. Likewise, seniors shouldn’t gamble it all on penny stocks. Between those ages, there is a whole gradient of investment styles and risk levels.
3. What is your risk tolerance?
Countless studies show that novice investors do the opposite of what they should. They are super reactive to stock market changes, and trade based on emotions. In the end, they end up buying high and selling low.
Of course, you should ideally do the opposite: buy low and sell high.
And you should not invest in volatile assets if you don’t have the stomach for it.
4. Is investing the most important thing to do with your $ right now?
Before you gamble your money away, did you take care of your consumer debt (credit card, car loan, etc.)?
Do you have a plan for your student debt (payoff vs. forgiveness)?
Do you have disability insurance?
If you have dependents, do you have enough life insurance?
And the most obvious offender: knowing that historically, the stock market returns an average of 8 to 10%, you should eliminate all personal debt (bad debt, especially credit card debt) that carries an interest rate of 18 or 22%.
5. Do you have an emergency fund?
If you have no savings or “rainy day” fund to pay for a new tire, a new furnace or a new car, then it makes no sense to invest in the stock market.
You should have at least 3 to 6 months of expenses in a safe, dedicated, untouchable cash account (e.g. a savings account).
Now, let’s assume that our colleague checked all 5 boxes, then how do you learn?
Well again, we’re not going to answer directly. We’d rather ask these questions first:
- How do you feel when your clients play Drs? Know-it-alls? Breeders? Healthcare professionals? Translation: are you really the best person who should manage your portfolio? Or should you seek help from a professional?
- Do you have the time to learn a whole new, complex skill? Or should you spend the time on your veterinary career or your family?
- Buying stocks is just the beginning. It’s easy. Anybody with a phone or a computer can do it. Do you have the time to monitor your portfolio? Or, again, should someone who does it for a living do it for you?
OK, let’s assume our colleague has decided that this is a reasonable thing to do, then how do you learn how to invest?
There are many ways:
- YouTube university – which is full of bad advice.
- Books. For general financial information or philosophy:
- I Will Teach You To Be Rich (Ramit Sethi)
- The Millionaire Next Door (Thomas Stanley)
- The Latte Factor (David Bach)
- The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom (and other titles, Suze Orman)
- The Wealthy Barber (David Chilton)
- The Richest Man in Babylon (George Clason)
- Think and Grow Rich (Napoleon Hill)
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad (and other titles, Robert Kiyosaki)
- Ordinary People, Extraordinary Wealth (and other titles, Ric Edelman)
- Personal Finance For Dummies (Eric Tyson)
- Complete Idiot’s Guide to Personal Finance (multiple titles in this series) and so many more.
- Books more geared toward investing include Personal Finance and Investing For Dummies (Faith Glasgow), The Intelligent Investor (Benjamin Graham), A Random Walk Down Wall Street (Burton Malkiel), The Little Book of Common Sense Investing (John Bogle), and a million more recent books dedicated to the art of investing.
- Then there are countless financial newsletters, some general, some more specialized (tech stocks, commodities, precious metals, international etc.).
In addition, we’ve written several blogs about investing (http://box5489.temp.domains/~vetfinan/category/personal-finance/).
And of course, staying plugged in to the Vet Financial Summit community and participating in our Summit are great ways to learn more and meet like-minded colleagues.
Good luck in your investing career!
Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS
Meredith Jones, DVM
Co-Founders of Veterinary Financial Summit
Are you ready to conquer your financial future? Be sure to join us in September for the VFS Virtual Conference. At the conclusion of the event, not only will you have a better understanding of your financial future, you will also have created your financial plan, and become part of a Community of like-minded Veterinarians supporting one another throughout the year.