“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” ~ Zig Ziglar

To be good at anything, you have to first get started.  This applies to investing as well.

Before I made my first investment, I knew nothing about investing.   Heck, I really couldn’t even explain what a mutual fund was.

I shared this in GF¢ podcast Ep. 21 which reveals how clueless I was when it came to investing.

The biggest takeaway, though, is that I wouldn’t be where I am today with my investments had I not bitten the bullet and taken that first plunge.

In this roundup post, 50 investing experts share how they got started.

If you’re still on the fence on where to start, there are plenty of stories to nudge you in the right direction.  Be sure to join me in Operation: #investNOW and take the pledge to start investing in yourself.

first investments roundup

What was your first investment?

My first “investment” was in junior high school as part of an investment challenge. My team did some analysis and opted to go with Caterpillar. We made that decision based on my friend’s father’s work in the Middle East and how there was a ton of infrastructure being built, most of it with Caterpillar equipment. Slow and steady is good for long term investing, it’s not great for a one month contest.

– Jim Wang of Microblogger

* * *

My first investment? It was Cisco during the height of the dotcom boom!

– MoneyCone of MoneyCone

* * *

My worst investment was in a set of mutual funds based on Morningstar star ratings in the late 1990s. I have learned since then that star ratings are heavily weighted toward immediate past performance instead of expected performance. And, because mutual fund returns tend to go through cycles of outperforming and underperforming the market, buying recent top performers (even if the funds are highly rated) is “chasing performance” and not a recommended investment strategy. I also learned that a fund can beat the market but still lose value if the market as a whole is down.

– Julie Rains of Working to Live Differently

* * *

My first investment was in a local utilities company stock. It was relatively low risk stock purchase and had a high dividend.

– Bob Lotich of Christian Personal Finance

* * *

I have always loved investing, from an early age I remember sitting around listening to my uncles discuss their investments. I finally got started in the sixth grade when I got my first shares in a Florida Electric Company. I remember it like it was yesterday, trip to downtown Des Moines (exciting for a sixth grader), corner office with glass, Smith Barney!

– Andrea Travillian of Take A Smart Step

* * *

My first investment was stock in the local utility company that my parents bought for me. The first thing I bought on my own was probably a REIT I found in a DRIP program. I didn’t know much about it, but it was free to invest in and paid a nice dividend.

– FF of FeelingFinancial.com

* * *

I got started investing when I was about 13 years old and my parents wanted to show me my taxes for the first time. While showing me what everything meant, my dad showed me that my grandpa had setup an investment account when I was a baby and it had grown over time. He also explained to me how I had to pay taxes on the dividends from it each year. While I’ve since changed a lot of my portfolio, I still have that original investment of Abbott Laboratories, and the various spin offs that have occurred since then.

– Robert Farrington of TheCollegeInvestor.com

* * *

When I was 16 I saw the movie Wall Street and came home and asked my dad when I could buy stocks. He offered to sell me 5 shares of the stock he owned of the bank where he worked. The bank merged a few times and eventually morphed into Bank Of America.

– Joel Eggerding of CoachYourMoney.com

* * *

My first investment wasn’t actually my money. I was on a “stock market team” in 7th grade. (Has a nerdier thing ever been said?) Anyway, we got to invest in a variety of stocks. We basically just picked at random, but our team ended up winning first place in the entire school district. Pure luck.

– James Clear of JamesClear.com

* * *

I started when I was 20, while I was still in college. I bought some actively managed stock and bond funds for the $5,000 I had saved when working summers.

– Larry Ludwig of Investor Junkie

* * *

My first investment opportunity was when I finally opened a Roth IRA for retirement. I looked between Vanguard and Betterment. Since I was young and didn’t have much money to invest, I decided to choose Betterment. I have kept my Roth there for some time with much success and am glad I just did it instead of waiting.

– Grayson Bell of Debt Roundup

* * *

I purchased shares in Exon Mobile stock in my 20’s with a recommendation from my cousin. After owning the stock for several years, it never appreciated. Eventually, I sold it for the same price I paid. The lesson I learned is, “never take investing advice from my cousin”. Fortunately, as a portfolio manager I learned that investing with no prior knowledge or experience is a bad decision. Educate yourself before investing!

– Barbara of Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance

* * *

In high-school I read investment magazines like they were text books. When I was 18, I had saved $1,000 and invested it in the Putnam Voyager fund. Today, it looks like that $1,000 would have grown to about $4,514 had I stayed in that fund.”

– Chuck J. Rylant of ChuckRylant.com

* * *

My first investment ever was OAKMX, a mutual fund that my parents bought for me when I was 13.  They put $1,000 in it for my birthday and I watched it grow much quicker than
my savings account.

I was so excited that in a year I saved an additional $1,000 from doing chores and put that in as well.  It was quite possibly one of the best gifts I’ve ever seen given as it kickstarted my interest in investing.

I’ve been addicted to investing ever since.

-­ Andrew Fiebert of Listen Money Matters

* * *

Back in the mid-90s I was managing a music retail store. All my bills were getting paid and I had lots of money left over to buy whatever records and CDs I wanted. Life was great!

Our company offered to send us to an off-site meeting to learn about retirement accounts. I wasn’t really interested but my company offered to pay for my time and offered snacks. Who’s not going to take advantage of that deal?

A smartly-dressed woman from Merrill Lynch set up her overhead projector (I did mention this was in the 1990’s) and proceeded to tell us about this thing called a 401(k). I asked myself “Doesn’t the government pay for my retirement?” Apparently they don’t.

It was that day that I filled out all the paperwork and started putting a little of my paycheck away. Besides, I was sticking it to The Man by saving on taxes. That was my first experience investing and I continue to save for my future because of those lessons I learned.

– Steve Stewart of MoneyPlan SOS

* * *

“My first investment was in my company 401(k) at the ripe old age of 21. I’m glad I started early!”

– Sara Stanich of CultivatingWealth.com

* * *

My first investment was in two giant boxes of Airheads candy in the 7th grade. I sold them for $0.25 a piece to my classmates and nearly tripled my investment! The entrepreneurial spirit has stayed with me ever since.

– Sean Nisil of www.seannisil.com.

* * *

I got started investing when I worked at Kemper Mutual Funds (remember then) and could put money from each paycheck into their mutual funds with no load.

– Annie Logue of The Root of All

* * *

My first investment ever was Cablevision, the local cable company covering my native Long Island. I bought it because they owned the New York Knicks and that was all the investment rationale I needed at the time. Boy, have I learned some lessons about that kind of thing since!

– Joshua M. Brown of The Reformed Broker Blog

* * *

Not counting my juvenile coin collection, my first investment was into a stable value fund in my first 401(k). It was the default investment option, and I only contributed at all because of my father’s urging. His prediction at the time was spot on: “once you’re invested you can research more”. Indeed.

-PK of Don’t Quit Your Day Job…

* * *

My first overall investment was my education. Or, rather, my parents’ investment since they’re the one who were so kind to pay for it 😉 But I know that’s boring for you to hear, so instead let’s call my first investment enrolling into my 401(k) plan.

Where you get FREE money for doing something you’re already supposed to do anyways – save for retirement! How cool is that?? Oh, what’s that? Still boring? Hmm…. okay okay. Scratch all that then.

Let’s call my first investment the time when I picked up Sirius stock 10 years ago at like 2.00 cuz “it was a deal” (aka it was cheap and I could afford it and everyone and their mother was talking about how satellite radio was the next big thing!), only to sell it at $1.80 the next day, then buy back at $2.10ish the next, and then sell at $1.50 later cuz I couldn’t handle the stress any more…

But nothing teaches a lesson better than a loss in capital, so I’m mighty appreciative of learning it back then so I don’t have to anymore in the future… And that lesson was DON’T TRY AND BE A DAY TRADER!!

– J Money of Rockstar Finance

* * *

The first investment I ever made was in the Dodge and Cox Stock mutual fund when I opened a Roth IRA. I was a senior in college and had read about the mutual fund in KiplingerÕs Personal Finance magazine. It has been an incredible long-term investment.

– Hank Coleman of Money Q&A

* * *

My first investment ever was when I was 18 and my dad helped me open up an RRSP (the Canadian version of a 401(k)). I still contribute regularly to that retirement account and it’s grown steadily since I opened it!

– Stu of Poorstudent.ca

* * *

My first investment was in middle school, some tech mutual fund my dad told me to get. It did really well … until the NASDAQ crashed.

– Nick Loper of SideHustleNation

* * *

My first investment was purchasing TOY (Toys R Us) almost 30 years ago. Having a strong passion to learn how to read the Stock pages my elementary teacher Mr. Antonacci stayed after school to teach me each day how to read them. I took summer earnings from Mowing lawns and made my first stock purchase.

– Mike Kawula of Self Employed King

* * *

My best first investment in myself was at 22 years old. I got my first credit card and purchased Tony Robbins Personal Power on Cassette tape. This investment made such a permanent impact to my future that’s still paying dividends.

– Vernon Ross of The Social Strategy Podcast

* * *

I started investing when I was 15. I got a job working at the drive­thru at McDonalds, and I begged my mom to help me open a brokerage account (since I was under 18) where I could deposit my paychecks. I bought two mutual funds, one for domestic stocks and one for international stocks. If only I had known about index funds back then!

-­ Paula Pant of AffordAnything.com

* * *

I think the first investment I ever made was a little eBay business I ran in my teens. I would buy Pogs (remember those?) in bulk, then sell them in smaller lots. I turned a tiny profit; one that in no way justified the amount of time I spent buying and selling.

– Tom Ewer of LeavingWorkBehind.com

* * *

I began investing when I was 18. I bought shares of Limited Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret. I saw all these women walking around the mall with those pink bags and the stores were always packed.

– Jon of MoneySmartGuides

* * *

At 18, after getting a settlement from a car accident I was in, my aunt helped me invest $15,000 in some mutual funds through Charles Schwab. It was 1997, so they doubled over the next couple years.

– Chris Huntley of Huntley Wealth Insurance

* * *

As a junior in college I thought I’d give investing a shot. This was before the internet and online brokers. So I called Franklin Templeton, requested a prospectus, read it, and sent a check a few days later for shares of the Templeton Growth Fund. I’ve been hooked ever since.

– Jon Petersen of NovelInvestor.com

* * *

Our first investment was when my wife and I bought our first house for $82,000 when we got married in 2004. Our mortgage was only $570/month.

– Brad Chaffee of Beyond Debt Freedom

* * *

My first investment was Twitter.

– Gary Vaynerchuk of GaryVaynerchuk.com

* * *

My first investment was through the employee stock purchase program at RadioShack. I’ve been getting dividend checks ever since.

– Shane of Beating Broke

* * *

My first investment was Ascend Communications (ASND). They have since been bought out. I bought them at $23 and sold at $28. Just like that, I was hooked.

– Jason of TermLife2Go

* * *

I think my first investment ever was buying a few stocks with a small amount of money I put into a Scottrade account many years ago. I can’t even remember the exact stocks, but it was so exciting to see the little symbols and the dollar amount next to them and know that I had a (very) small share of those companies.

– Benjamin Feldman of the ReadyForZero Blog

* * *

My first real investment was investing in my 401k at my first job. I was lucky enough to have an employer match!

– Christopher J. Lalor of Life Insurance Shopping Reviews

* * *

I got started investing when I had my first post college ‘real’ job at Campbell Soup Company. My HR director stressed the importance of saving for the future, so around 10% of my income went into my 401(k) plan. I don’t remember the exact mutual funds, but it was aggressive since I was in my early 20s.

– Chris Abrams of Abrams Insurance Solutions

* * *

The first investment I ever made was when I bought stock in The Gap back in 1998. I was taking Warren Buffet’s advise and investing in a company that I knew and understood. I still own these stocks today.

– Ian McAuslin of The Life Insurance Journal

* * *

My first investment was when I chose not to go to college and took a job in my preferred field of work. During the day I received on-the-job training while I went to classes at night. I also worked on weekends to support myself. I learned tons more of experience and discipline, which eventually helped me to start my own business. It was the best investment in myself I ever made!

– Carrie Smith of CarefulCents.com

* * *

My first investment was putting money into my 401k every month. I got my first legit job at 21 and was allowed to start contributing to my 401k after 6 months of work. My employer matches 50% of the first six percent of my pay. I’ve never failed to capitalize on that match and after seven years on the job I’ve started to form a nice little nest egg. If you have access to a 401k and a company match it is definitely the first place your investment dollars should go.

– Joel Larsgaard of Save Outside the Box

* * *

I made my very first investment when I started my first post college job. I opened a Roth IRA with Vanguard and bought the Vanguard STAR fund because it had the lowest minimum balance requirement of all Vanguard funds at the time and I wanted to get started.

– Lance Cothern of MoneyLifeandMore.com

* * *

The first time I ever made an investment was when I qualified for my 401(k) at my first job after college. I began contributing 3% to get the employer match and get my free money. I would have contributed more at the time, but I had over $80,000 in student loans to pay off at the time.

– Tori of Adventuring Dollars

* * *

My first investment was when I paid off my large credit card debt after college. It was like getting a guaranteed 15% return on my money. Also the self-confidence and tremendous sense of relief was also a huge perk.

– Will Chen of WiseBread

* * *

My first investment was back in 1979 when I was just 7 years old. My mom helped me set up a savings account at San Diego Trust & Savings Bank (That bank is long gone now). I remember being so proud of my savings deposit book. I have fond memories of walking into the bank and handing the teller my deposit and she would take her big stamp out and mark my book! I grew the account with money from birthdays, allowances, and earnings from garage and lemonade stand sales. I think the interest rate was around 9-10 percent at that time!

– Ellen Edwards of InsureTheQueen.com

* * *

My First investment was not a very good one: I bought about $3000 of stock of the company where I worked as an intern between terms in Engineering school. I used my tuition money to do it. The share price quickly plummeted from $40 down to about $20, which means I had “lost” about $1500 – an awful lot of money for me at the time. Luckily for me, I held on and the volatile stock eventually recovered, and I sold it for $45.

– Mr. Money Mustache of Mr. Money Mustache

* * *

My father encouraged me at 13 to buy some Wal Mart stock to learn about investing. Great lesson and wish I would have bought more.

– Ben Newman of BenNewman.net

* * *

My first investment was Pepsi stock that my grandmother bought me when I was young. A former kindergarten teacher, she taught me about stocks and investing through metaphors and stories.

-Leah Manderson of LeahManderson.com

* * *

My employer-provided 401(k) at my first job right out of college. Wish I would have saved more!

– Scott Halliwell of USAA

* * *

My first investment was the Vanguard Target Retirement 2050 fund inside the Roth IRA I started just after college at my dad’s insistence. It was the first time I ever set up an automatic investment plan and an awesome way to jump start my retirement savings.

-Matt Becker of Mom and Dad Money

* * *

“My first investment was supposed to be Disney stock. For years at Christmas, my grandparents would say, ‘You really should get Jon some Disney stock.’ Every year I’d agree with them and say, ‘Yeah that is a great gift. I’d really like that.’ But I never got it. I had this interest in ‘What is stock?’ from a young age and would see Disney go up every year, sadly knowing I wasn’t invested. I just wanted to get in there.”

– Jon of Betterment

* * *

I first started investing in a Roth IRA. I used to watch CNBC everyday and buy what the anchors were talking about that day. Let’s just say, I’ve learned a lot more about the correct way to invest since then.

– LaTisha Styles of YoungFinances.com

* * *

I got started investing when my parents used to reward me for getting good grades with shares of Microsoft stock. These shares have since split multiple times and are now worth a good chunk of change today. I’ve been hooked ever since.

– Steve of MyWifeQuitHerJob.com

* * *

My first investment was my 401k when I was 19. I finally got a ‘real’ job with benefits and knew that I wanted to max out my company match.

– Jaime Tardy of Eventual Millionaire

* * *

My first investment was a small duplex that I purchased for $80,000 with a $0 down loan. The total payment was $600 per month, and I rented the other unit for $650, allowing me to live almost free until I moved out a year later. It\’92s been almost 7 years since I moved out, but I still hold it and get significant monthly cash flow each month. That’s true house hacking right there.

– Brandon Turner, BiggerPockets.com

* * *

The first investment I ever made was when I was 14, and thought I could use some kind of an emailing scraper/spammer thing to jump in on a ponzi scheme. I didn’t know what a ponzi scheme was, didn’t know what spamming was, and ended up losing about $100 in the process, which for my 14-year-old self, could have just as easily been a thousand.

– Jesse Mecham of YouNeedaBudget

* * *

“When I was 18, I was an actor in a summer stock play called Prelude to a Kiss. (Link is to an unfortunate photo that involves big hair!) I got $500 for acting in that show and I remember taking my entire check to the credit union to open a Roth IRA. I don’t remember what mutual funds I purchased but I remember being really proud of starting my Roth IRA because I had just finished reading David Bach’s book, Smart Women Finish Rich. This book inspired me to be financially independent and I knew this was the first step.”

– Sophia Bera of Gen Y Planning

* * *

I got started investing when my bank where I opened my first bank account decided to go public. I purchased 25 shares and have never sold them.

-Tai of DoubleSavingDivas.com

* * *

Wow, my first investment takes me back quite a ways. When I was a kid my grandmother bought all us grandkids a share each of AT&T stock. I didn’t really think much of it but it was fun to get a dividend check (even if it was less than a buck each time).

Now the first stock investment I made on my own would have been a mutual fund when I finally signed up for my company’s 401(k). I don’t remember the exact fund but I recall is was one that tracked the S&P 500.

– Glen Craig of Free From Broke.

* * *

I got started investing in a high school classroom. The whole class picked stocks and tracked it over 3 months and I ended up winning. I received $200 toward my college fund which was the first investment I ever tracked.

– Jeff Root from Rootfin Online Life Insurance Agency

* * *

My first investment was enrolling in my company’s 401(k) plan after graduating from college. It helped me save money for retirement without thinking about it – and my company matched a small percentage (which was like getting free money just for investing). I just wish I invested more. The earlier you start investing, the more your money will multiply.

– Mike Delgado of StudentHacks.org

* * *

Sirius satellite radio was the first investment that I had ever made. At the time I sold car audio for a company called Ultimate Electronics and I thought that satellite radio was the way of the future. I did not know much about the financials of the company at the time, I just thought that it would be a good play. I ended up selling it for less than I paid for it, but I learned a ton about investing in the process.

– Deacon Hayes of WellKeptWallet.com


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