There are countless resources available to help you learn the fundamentals of investing. This week, Black Enterprise shares the top five investing rules for women. Today’s tip: Educate Yourself.
Tamela Finney, 27
Tamela Finney became interested in real estate investing six years ago as she quietly listened to her male colleagues discuss their investments over lunch. Finney wanted more information, so she borrowed a book from her manager that he’d once mentioned, Buy Low, Rent Smart, Sell High: Real Estate Investing for the Long Run (Kaplan Business; $18.95). A few weeks after reading it, she closed on a two-bedroom house in Macon, Georgia, for $60,000. Not long after, she bought a second two-bedroom house, this time with her father’s help, for $50,000. Both homes were owned by elderly people who were eager to sell. Finney, 27, rents out both and brings in a total of $1,075 each month in rental income.
Finney’s investments aren’t limited to real estate. She also invests in securities, such as Ann Taylor, (ANN), Accenture (ACN), and Apple (APPL), knowing that diversifying her investments helps her withstand the market’s volatility. “It took about six months for me to get up to speed,” she says. “Now I spend about 10 hours a week monitoring, managing, researching—just staying on top of my investments.” Finney also opened a simulated trading account that she used to hone her securities investing skills during her six months of self-training. She later moved her account to E-Trade.
Finney participates in online tutorials, attends live seminars hosted by E-trade, and reads financial news on Websites such as CNNMoney.com and Yahoo Finance. She recommends that novice investors find stocks that fit their interests and lifestyle, and that they learn the intricacies of the sectors and industries in which they choose to invest. “My areas are tech and retail,” says Finney, an Atlanta-based information technology consultant. “I have a tech background—I graduated with a computer science degree.” As for retail: “I love to shop and because I’m out there, I know where consumers shop.” Finney has amassed about $40,000 from her stock investments in the last four years, and she’s put away $25,000 from her rental properties over the last six years.
Once you start investing, it’s important not to lose sight of your financial goals. Whether your investments are earning a lot or a little, stay focused on building wealth for the long term, rather than seeking a quick profit. “The philosophy in this country is to make money and spend it. But we need a new money philosophy: Make money, spend some of it, but also invest it and grow it and start building your wealth,” says Broussard.
Thakor agrees, adding that women should educate themselves not only about the ins and outs of investing, but also about the basics of saving and budgeting. Without knowing the fundamentals, it’s difficult to move forward with an investing plan. “Know where you’re headed. Some people can’t answer the question, ‘How much should I target saving?’ And the simple answer is 10% to 15%. If you start saving 15% of your gross income from day one of your working years, and you keep that up while you’re working and you invest wisely, you will have no problems supporting yourself in retirement.”
–Develop your own financial curriculum that includes a mix of reading, online tutorials, and live seminars, or consider starting a financially focused book club.
–Attend seminars and workshops. Take notes. Learn as much as you can.
–Open a simulated trading account to develop and test your knowledge at Investopedia or other sites.
This article originally appeared in the March 2010 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.