How to Get Started Investing in Your 20s

womeninvesting.jpg

"The easiest way to get rich is to inherit. The second best way is knowledge and some discipline." - Seth Godin, Author of Tribes

In college, I never took a class on "How to Get Rich" or "How to Save Money and Get Ahead of My Finance." I blamed the education system for the longest time for not teaching me about taxes, stocks and the power of compound effect. However, personal-finance pieces of training existed. There are hundreds of books on Amazon. The truth was that I didn't care enough and frankly, quite lazy. What did I do next? Instead of placing the blame on others aka the American economy, the lack of funds, the fear of risks, etc. I focused on what I needed to change myself. So when should I start? Am I too late in the game already? What the hell do I do?

Like anything else, the first step was the hardest but between doing nothing to doing something, I knew that doing nothing was worse of the evil. So let me walk you through my thought process: 

Set a simple mission. My mantra is "Live your best life and let money serve you." Then isolate 3 digestible approaches.

  1. Take small bites. I took out a pen and paper and started to write down measurable goals. For instance, I want $180,000 for a home down payment in 5 years. I can start with $45,000 and add $2,000 each month. Then I let the magic of compounding do the rest.
  2. Educate yourself. In order to gain confidence, I knew I had to improve my financial literacy. You can't walk the walk if you can't talk the talk. Towards the end of 2017,  I read 5 different books on finance and spent at least 30 minutes every weeknight reading. A book recommendation for you? "The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy" https://www.amazon.com/Compound-Effect-Darren-Hardy/dp/159315724X
  3. Start somewhere, anywhere. I decided that the first step for me to "save" was to open up a savings account. That would make sense right? So I took a portion of the money that was sitting in my checking account (with inflation...having all your money there is a big no-no) and transferred some to my savings. It took me less than 15 minutes to do it. Tip: Find a bank with a high APY. 

Like me, if you are in your early or mid-20s, you are most likely enjoying the same freedom I am having — no spouse, no mortgage, no children except for your pet or two.  But if you are a woman and you're reading this, you will also have a disadvantage. On average,  we tend to live longer than men. We are also typically paid less than men *Cough, gender wage gap* therefore, it is important for us to start saving and investing while we're young.

This is also time for you and me to start having different goals. Maybe we want to buy a rental property, maybe we want to buy round-trip tickets to Asia, maybe we want to upgrade from that old car...whatever it is, I've learned from experience that if you don't #1 save and #2 invest, the path to achieving those goals will be much more arduous. 

 

3 Things to Know About a Career in Sales

Early in my career, as an intern for two major entertainment companies in Hollywood, I had a front-row seat watching and reporting on CMOs and television personalities as they build their brands and managed the companies' public characters. Image is everything. And it still is but it's not the only thing. 

A little over a year ago, I accepted an offer from a technology software company to join their elite sales department. Like before, I quickly learned how a company's financial success can be heavily affected by their public reputation, culture, and lack thereof. 

Here are a few things I've learned while being surrounded by extremely successful salespeople:

  1. You have to want to succeed. It does you and your company no good if you can’t picture yourself struggling through slow periods and withstanding hundreds of rejections.
  2. You need to have accountability. You are responsible for yourself and your income as well as treating your clients properly. It’s important to be transparent about your product and services and do NOT overpromise and underdeliver. It will come back to bite you.
  3. You genuinely enjoy helping people. This includes being engaged with your prospect, talking to them, listening to their needs, and more importantly, empathize with them. When starting a business relationship with any client, I listen first then devise a strategy uniquely for them. Every business owner is different. I treat them as such. 

Through those previous work/internship experiences, it became clear to me that when your company aligns with clients' businesses and values, the acquisition is more seamless. But it's not always about the client or the shareholders. It is equally important to think about how companies' decisions and its impact on all stakeholders - employees to community members alike.  

And of course, I'd be lying to you if I said sales is easy. It's not. Instead of being daunted by the rejections, I saw every pitch, every "Nos" as an opportunity for me to sharpen my skills and overtime, deliver a higher return.