In July of 2021, I celebrated 13 years as an investor – it has been well over a decade since I started to invest on my own and manage my portfolio.
Below is the backstory about how it all happened. Grab your favorite beverage, and let’s go down memory lane 🙂
I discovered the stock market for the very first time during my senior year as an undergraduate student.
I arrived at the State University of New York at Albany (SUNY-Albany) registered as a Computer Science major. My “dreams” were “crushed” soon after enrolling in Computer Science 101 and realizing everything sounded like a foreign language. I felt lost and confused.
Even after getting a tutor, I still found the subject extremely hard.
Before college, I attended public schools in Bronx, NY, and had never taken a computer science course in my life. However, I loved the idea of technology. I also graduated salutatorian from my high school. I had a lot of confidence in my ‘smarts’ and the idea that I would be able to just “get it.” Guess what, that wasn’t happening.
I felt discouraged and discussed this with my college counselor. I had no idea what to do next. He suggested I consider majoring in Business instead.
At first, I was skeptical, but then it kind of started to make sense. I grew up with a father who had a very successful business for YEARS (he still does!). I also loved math and numbers and all that good stuff. Majoring in Business actually started to sound interesting.
I slowly started adding business courses to my schedule.
In the fall of my senior year, I enrolled in a class that completely changed my life – “Investment Management” by professor Christopher Faugere (I still clearly remember his name and the course).
As someone who had NEVER been exposed to the world of investing in any way, shape, or form, I found the course extraordinarily fascinating and was hooked from the beginning.
The core of the class was to learn the general concepts of investing and how to analyze publicly traded companies. Our project for the semester was to apply everything we had been learning to build a virtual stock portfolio.
While my teammate and I didn’t win the most “profitable portfolio” contest, we got a 92% on our paper.
I also won something far more valuable – I found a passion.
I immediately switched my concentration to finance.
The actual report that I’ve saved for well over a decade!
In May of the following year, I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Finance. I went on to work a corporate job in the insurance industry.
Although I dreamed of working in Wall Street for a well-known investment bank, the reality was that I had zero connections in the Wall Street world.
As a minority (Latina) and a female, I was not very well represented in the finance world (we still aren’t).
I was afraid I would graduate jobless and disappoint my parents. And, so, I decided to go with the insurance job.
All I could think about day in and day out was how I could start investing and often ask the “universe” to send someone to explain it to me.
Notice that even with a Bachelor of Science degree in finance, I was still clueless and confused about the actual process of investing. Formal education rarely, if ever, shows you the practical side of how things work in the “real world.”
Nonetheless, I was eager to learn the step-by-step process of investing. I would read and listen to everything I could find on the subject.
I would say I was borderline obsessed, and I may or may not still be the same today =).
It took a few years for me to finally meet someone that taught me the actual process of investing. As my higher power, luck, or the universe would have it, this person was a new hire at the insurance company where I first worked.
The crazy thing is that they could have sat this person anywhere in that office, but they sat him right next to me, and we got to talking.
Talking about stocks to anyone who would listen is something I had been doing for YEARS, so naturally, the conversation came up.
Most of the time, I would be greeted with blank stares and confusion. However (and thankfully), this time was different. To my pleasant surprise, this person shared they had been investing for a while and dedicated the following weeks to teaching me everything he knew about the subject.
I would be forever thankful to that person (Alimo). If it wasn’t because he “magically appeared” in my life, perhaps I would have never found the confidence to start investing. Or, maybe, I would have started much later in life.
I even gave him a shout out in the dedications page of my first book:
I know there are no coincidences in life, and I took that ‘serendipitous’ meeting as a gift from God, my higher power.
Finally, in the summer of 2008, a few months shy from the financial crisis that shook the world, I opened my very first online brokerage account.
I bought 4 shares of stock from my favorite company at the time – Google ($GOOGL) a few days later.
I remember the day clearly, and I was so excited I think I almost cried. As you could probably tell by the fact I only purchased 4 shares, I was still a little bit “hesitant” and working on getting the hang of it.
I was so excited to go through the actual process and just learn hands-on how to complete an investing transaction from beginning to end.
As the housing bubble got crazier, big corporations started going out of Business, and the stock market started going downward. Even with the chaos, I was not discouraged in the least.
Instead, I remember being super excited and started to buy shares of high-quality companies at deep discounts. The circumstances only strengthened my love for investing, and I continued educating myself on the subject.
As time went by and my passion continued growing, I decided to pursue an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship, which I finished with honors in the spring of 2014.
I learned a ton in those business classes, mostly fancy finance formulas and being strategic about business practices.
I also learned that no one needs an MBA or finance degree to become a successful investor.
Once I finished my MBA degree, I considered whether it was time to pursue my “lifelong” dream of a Wall Street job.
However, as the universe would have it, a semester before I graduated with my master’s, I got the idea for Girl$ on The Money. The name popped into my head while sitting at a cubicle at my corporate job at the time, which happened to be in Wall Street (but had nothing to do with investing).
In the spring of 2014, after finishing my MBA, I finally quit my last job in the insurance industry.
I decided to pursue a strong mission that sat in my heart: Teaching investing to women, minorities, and individuals that aren’t typically exposed to this incredible skill.
Despite wanting a “Wall Street Job” so bad for many years, when I got the idea for Girl$ on The Money, things started to make a lot of sense.
I soon realized that maybe my mission in life is not working on Wall Street, making the wealthy wealthier. My mission is to spread the knowledge of investing education and show (in a practical hands-on way) that investing is NOT rocket science.
Everyone has the power to invest and be successful at it.
Today I manage a profitable portfolio of various stocks, most of which I’ve held for several years. I’ve also helped hundreds of students and clients do the same.
Seeing your money grow in an investing account VS. seeing your money make pennies in a regular bank account is an eye-opening and empowering realization. This is one of the many reasons I feel so passionate about sharing this information with the world.
Educate yourself about how real investing works, make educated decisions, and practice patience – you can grow your wealth faster and efficiently.
Investing is a world that many of us are not exposed to – sometimes ever!
Through Girl$ on The Money, I am here to change that.
Thank you for being part of our community and coming on this journey with me. If you have any questions about anything, I’m always an email away.
Cheers to health, love, success, and profits!
Courses & Resources:
Stock classes –
Start here: If you’re brand new to the investing world and would like to learn the basics of investing, check out the Ready, Set, Invest workshop.
Or here: If you want to learn the basics AND take it several steps further into stock analysis & beyond – check out the Stocks Bootcamp. Enrollment is now open.
Digital Guide –
Understanding Your Investing Options: Starter Guide for Beginner Investors. Check out details here.