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Is now really the best time to be investing?
You, along with countless others, have probably asked this question over the last several months.
The simple answer is ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY –– but the why in this case is important to understand.
Today, Tori is joined by Treasury co-founder, Elias Rothblatt for a special Q&A bonus episode where they answer community voicemails and commonly asked questions about investing. This episode is perfect for those of you who’ve started to invest but feel unsure of how to manage your own portfolio, first-time investors looking for help getting started, and everyone in between.
Tori and Elias answer questions like:
Is now the best time to invest?
What do people mean when they say that “stocks are on sale”?
What do I do once I’ve maxed my Roth IRA?
How do I know if my money is actually invested and not just sitting in a brokerage account?
They also officially introduce you to Treasury, our one-of-a-kind investing and education platform designed with women in mind.
If you’re a first-time or soon-to-be first-time investor looking for a likeminded community and educational resources, Treasury might be for you. Join us in our next Investing 101 workshop where you’ll leave having made your first investment!
Sophia Cohen (00:00):
Hi, Financial Feminist listeners. I’m Sophia, Project Manager here at Her First $100K. Before we get into the episode, we want to take a moment to address the June 24th Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe versus Wade. This decision stripped away the legal right to have a safe and legal abortion. Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health and independence of all Americans. This decision could also lead to the loss of other rights. To learn more about what you can do to help, go to podvoices.help. That’s P-O-D voices dot H-E-L-P. We’ll also have resources linked in our show notes. We here at Her First $100K and Financial Feminist, encourage you to speak up, take care, and spread the word. Thank you, Financial Feminists.
Hello, Financial Feminists. Welcome back. You may have noticed that this bonus episode might be a little longer than usual, but we’ve got a very, very good reason for that. And yes, it is a bonus episode. Get hyped. We have been getting tons of questions about investing from our community and from our listeners. And as our team was going through your voicemails and emails and Instagram comments, I decided that I needed a little help.
We know how important getting quality education is, right? Especially in times like these where the stock market feels uncertain and inflation is super high and just overall things in general. I mean the world is burning, at least it feels like that. Today I am introducing you to my very good friend and collaborator business partner, Elias Rothblatt. He is the co-founder of Treasury, the investing platform for women that I helped create.
In today’s episode, I introduce you to Elias and we get into some of the biggest investing questions we get from our community. And don’t worry, we’re planning to bring Elias back in the future to answer more investing questions. So if you left us a voicemail or are planning to about another question, don’t panic, we’re going to get to it. So without further ado, your investing questions answered. Let’s get into it.
Elias, excited to have you here. Obviously you and I have known each other and gotten to know each other very well over the past couple years, but can you tell Financial Feminist listeners who you are and how we ended up meeting?
Yeah, absolutely. It’s really, really fun to be here you know? Long time listener, first time caller. So I’m Elias Rothblatt, I’m one of the two co-founders of Treasury, which is an investing community that we are building together. And it’s actually… I love the story of how we got to know each other originally. I think it’s really fun. And I think it speaks to why we think Treasury is such an important thing. So my co-founder Ivar and I had previously been at a digital media company called The Outline, which was an online magazine ab
out internet culture. And we built it and sold it in 2019 and then spent about a year at the company that bought it, which was Bustle. They have a bunch of online magazines that they operate. And one of the pillars of my support and of Ivar’s support when we were at The Outline at Bustle was having this really open conversation about money, about personal finance.
And so we left Bustle and we wanted to go out and start something new. We started looking for where we could find that same conversation and find that same conversation happening at a much larger scale. And so we started talking to people in our lives, friends, friends of friends, about their kind of money journeys. Who did they talk to about money? How had they learned about money, et cetera. And during one of those conversations, the woman we were talking to basically said that her financial life had been in total disarray, had been a total mess, and she really wasn’t sure what to do. And then she had started following you on Instagram and took one of your early workshops. And that was her financial turning point.
We were aware that there were a lot of really amazing creators in the personal finance space. Many of whom I think are often, I guess, underestimated is sort of where I’m going. And we thought there was something really special happening with that, but this was this amazing light bulb moment where we were like, “Oh, wow. I’ve got to talk to Tori.” And so of course I sent you a Twitter DM.
Slid. Literally slid in my DMs.
Slid into the DMS, and I think it was something to the effect of like, “Hey, I had this amazing conversation with someone whose life you changed. And I think what you’re doing is really powerful and I’d love to talk to you about it.” I don’t even know if that point, if I said like, “I’d love to work together.” Because I don’t think I knew what working together would look like at that point, but it was just like, I had this powerful conversation that was exactly what I was looking for, and so, let’s talk.
And I think the fun thing about you and I meeting too, we joke about this all the time, you and I, is that we met summer of 2020. So I think our first meeting had either… I think I had just or maybe was about to blow up on TikTok. Things dramatically changed right around the time we met. Not related to us meeting, that in that was the fuel to the fire that ended up being able to have us work together.
I think it’s really cool to see- sorry, I’m choking on my seltzer. I think it’s really cool that even before HFK really blew up on TikTok and that transformed the business, that there were already people, many people, whose lives had been changed by the work that you were doing. And that’s what led me to you.
Yeah. So you mentioned you and Ivar kind of having these conversations about money and feeling like that support system was really integral to you navigating your own finances and then trying to seek that elsewhere. Do you feel like… Obviously I know from my research and my qualitative conversations that I think there is a level of discussion about money that happens between men that doesn’t for women. Did you see a difference or anything surprising that happened as you started branching outside of just you and Ivar and being like, “Oh, there’s other communities out there that are for other people besides men.”
Yeah. So I think two things come to mind. The first is that I think a lot of people are really interested in talking about money, but don’t necessarily want to talk about it with the people who are kind of right next to them all the time in day to day life. And you’re totally right that there’s much more of a culture or a norm of men talking about their investments. My dad loves to talk about stocks that he’s excited about, whereas my mom and I don’t really talk about that. So that’s definitely something that I think is a real thing that is pretty pervasive in our culture.
But I also think that we can assume… It can be really intimidating to talk about the people who are at your work or your close friends about money, but you see all of these communities forming on the internet of people who are similar, people who are like-minded people, who care about similar things or have similar values, who are remarkably open about the state of their own finances, and remarkably giving in terms of sharing advice with others.
And that’s something that I find really, really powerful and exciting and something that we have wanted to tap into from the very beginning of Treasury. So that’s one thing, which is I think that different combinations of different groups of people have the potential to really break some of the taboo around talking about money.
Do you feel like it’s the anonymity? Is that what it is? Of either the perceived or actual anonymity that comes with having a discussion with somebody you’ve never met who might be, I don’t know, a 10 hour drive away from you or even across the country?
I think that’s part of it, but I also think that a lot of these groups tend to attract people who share similar values or share similar worldviews.
Especially maybe in a place or in a family that doesn’t. I think that we hear that a lot at HFK. Right? It’s like, “Oh, I live in Alabama and I am left leaning. That’s difficult for me.” You know? Or yeah, I grew up in a family who doesn’t have the same financial goals that I do and I feel very isolated and I can’t talk to them about it. Yeah.
Totally. And so I think that’s something really powerful, which when you bring together like-minded people they’re going to want to talk about lots of aspects of life. And finances is one that touches every single part of our day to day lives and the kind of power structures and opportunities and all of that. So that is kind of broadly the first thing I noticed. The second thing is when you have a really open non-judgmental conversation about money, whether it’s investing or something else. And I think you know this better than anyone, once people get started, it’s really exciting and freeing to be able to talk about this. And so I feel like we’ve just seen time and time again, people saying like, “Oh, I didn’t think I could be an investor.” I didn’t think I could talk about this. And then they get started talking about it and they find that they really enjoy it, or they feel really good because they’ve built a new skill and a skill that’s going to have really tangible, real impact on their life.
Right. So you and I have had literally countless conversations. Y’all, Elias and I talk pretty much every day, sometimes multiple times a day, and this is a whole side note, but I think it’s been so cool to just have someone, and Ivar to be able to collaborate with and build something with. And that’s been really exciting of just having somebody to call and bounce ideas off of. One of the things we’ve talked about so many times is kind of what’s wrong with the financial industry or what’s wrong with a lot of the ways certain companies are going about investing. Can you break down some of what we’ve discussed? What do you see are the pitfalls or the… I mean, first thing, like super bro-y, right? What do you see as all of these financial companies who are trying to get people to invest? What are they doing wrong?
Yeah. There are a few things that come to mind because there’s a lot that’s wrong about the finance investing industry that we’re trying to fix. We’re trying to make better. The first thing is that a lot of the investment industry is really white and really male. And so just from a representation standpoint, you’ve got this mismatch between people who should be, or are investing, who are as diverse as the population of the United States. And then you’ve got this industry of people who are providing services there, who don’t match that diversity. And I think that it’s something we’ve heard lots of times, but that representation really matters.
People want to talk to or want to learn from people who understand their life and their background and where they’re coming from. And so I think that needs to be table stakes, but sadly isn’t today. That’s the first thing. I think the second thing is there’s this game in the investing world around how do you get the richest, the fastest? And so this is when you see these conversations about like, “Oh, this stock. If you invest in this stock, it’s going to make you tons of money and you’re going to get rich overnight.”
Right. Or the secret strategy that only millionaires know. Yeah.
Totally. And there’s this very, I think natural human desire to… People want to grow their wealth because that gives them… It’s not just a scoreboard, but it also gives them power. It gives them options. It gives them opportunities. And so I think the emotional… The reason that it’s emotionally seductive makes total sense, but that game is one that really favors kind of the loudest expert voices at the expense of people who are new to investing.
And ironically, is actually not a very good way to make money. The majority of even professional investors who are paid money to spend every day choosing the right investments, underperform just the market as a whole, over the long run. And so you’ve kind of got this mismatch between the game that many people are playing and the best way to accomplish the end goal, which is how do I build my wealth? How do I build a strong financial foundation that gives me that power, those options that we were talking about earlier.
Well, and I think too with specifically building wealth or becoming a millionaire or whatever you want to call it, even that fake headline I just said of the secret strategy. I think we all have very voyeuristic tendencies around money, but specifically I think with getting richer, building wealth, it’s like, oh, there is something that “rich people” do that I am not doing. And the truth is these strategies are consistent and very unsexy. And that’s what we teach in Treasury. Right? And I think one of the things that we’ve done and we’ll talk about this in a little bit, but you can see everybody’s investments in Treasury. You can’t see how much somebody’s investing. You can’t see a dollar amount, but you can literally go onto my profile and you can see exactly the funds or the stocks I’m investing in.
And I don’t have something secret that I’m doing somewhere else that I’m not telling people about. That is my investments. Those are my investments. That’s what I’m investing in and so I feel like that’s a whole other thing too, where there’s just this notion that oh, you either have to be somehow smarter or you have this specific thing that you’ve done that is secret. Right? And it’s just like, no, it’s just very unsexy, and it’s just consistent and stable over a very long period of time. And again, one of the things that we’ve committed to in building Her First $100K and building Treasury is that level of transparency of yeah, I don’t have these secret nest egg squirreled away investments somewhere else that I’m not telling anybody about, and that’s the reason I’ve built wealth. That’s not it.
Which I think is perfectly gets to the third thing that I think is wrong with the investment world, which is there is all of this complexity and you see it within the actual financial products that people are investing in. You see it in the jargon that people use when they’re describing different types of investments, and all of that complexity doesn’t benefit investors.
Literally, not at all.
Not at all. Zero percent. It is like complexity that benefits the people who have jobs, maintaining the status quo and overcharging for their services because that complexity makes investing feel intimidating.
Gaslight, gatekeep, girl boss. Mm-hmm (affirmative) Can we put that on a shirt? That’s got to be trademarked. Somebody’s trademarked “gaslight gatekeep, girl boss.” No, but again, you and I have had this conversation privately a million times, and of course I’ve talked about this publicly, but I have the not-so-conspiracy conspiracy theory that all of these investing professionals who are largely straight white men have made this complicated in order to make themselves feel sophisticated. Right? Like, oh, if I talk about all of these things, not in English, but this new jargony term, and also I talk about the hot stock or the trades, or the optimization of all of this. Right? And I also make all of these graphs and charts and make it super complicated. If you’ve ever tried to research a stock, you know, go to Yahoo Finance. This thing is so complicated and there’s so much information and you don’t need all this information, but it makes it seem more complex and exciting or sophisticated than it actually is.
And I think it could be hard when it’s like, if you’re accustomed to seeing all that information and you see something that doesn’t have it, on one hand, it’s really refreshing because it’s like, “Oh, great.” Here’s what I need to know but on the other hand, there’s still that fear of well, am I missing something? Is there an important piece of information that isn’t here that is going to make me mess up?
That’s what I mean about the secret strategy thing. Is there something? Is there some secret that I’m missing or that I didn’t get taught or that somebody knows that I don’t. Yeah, totally. I think my other big one is, I mean, we’ve been dancing around it, but that the industry is catered and for, built by and for, people who don’t reflect typically the following that Her First $100K has, or women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, disabled people. You have to manage your money differently and you have to invest differently. And specifically, because we’re not brought up with an education around investing, there’s a lot of shame and very bro-y language that gets perpetuated when we do try to talk about money.
I remember people reaching out to me back when the whole GameStop thing happened. And women literally telling me, “I got told by the Reddit bros, when I asked a question that I shouldn’t be here because I’m a woman.” And so even if you have tried to learn about investing, if you have tried to take that first step of getting started, it’s been gate kept from you. This information’s been gate kept. And you’ve been shamed and judged for the knowledge you don’t have, or the questions you’re asking.
Unsurprisingly, the data shows that women, though they invest at lower rates than men, because of all the facts we were just talking about, when they do invest, their inv
estments perform better.
Yeah. Say that… Let’s talk about that. We know from statistics and from studies that yes, women are investing at a either slower rate or not as much money and that’s many different reasons, right? That’s the wage gap. That’s the lack of education. That’s the intimidation factor. That’s the bro-y culture. But when women actually do get started investing, we’re better investors. Our investments perform better.
Like meaningfully better. And so I think just that very real scenario of being shamed for the knowledge that you don’t have is so doubly frustrating because not only is of course that is going to feel horrible if you’re new to investing and you’re trying to learn, and you feel like you have people who know more than you shaming you. It’s going to make you want to just stop learning, stop doing this important thing, but the second piece of it is the thing you’re being shamed for not knowing, probably won’t help you do better at investing. It’s just this maddening, maddening scenario.
So, I mean, if we see all these problems with the investing industry or with the financial services industry, what do you feel like you and I collectively, you, Ivar, and I collectively, are doing with Treasury to try to combat that?
Yeah. So I think we’re trying to build a better option. As we first learned about and got to know Her First $100K and your work, Ivar and I quickly realized that this is much more what we think the future of investing, the future of finance, can and should look like. And by that, I mean a nonjudgmental community driven approach that actually ties back to your values and a clear mission that resonates with your multiple million person audience. And so I think that what we’re building is a platform that supports that community as they get started investing, as they continue learning about investing and do so together.
And I think what’s really cool and the reason, many reasons why we’re working together, but I think one of the coolest is you and Ivar are straight white guys. But one of the things that you’ve both committed to is like, okay, I have a certain level of privilege. I have a certain level of knowledge. And again, to your point, believing that society and the financial services industry should look more diverse than it currently is. So how can we use that privilege? How can we use our influence or our understanding of investing and financial services to try to change that, which I really appreciate.
As we think about how we want to spend our time, it’s like the world does not need another app for finance bros. And so, that’s just not what we want to do. I think that we feel really, really good about supporting the HFK mission and about helping take what has been a space that was really, really exclusive to a lot of people who didn’t happen to be straight white men and starting to try to welcome lots of other people into that space.
Yeah. So we have so many questions that we get asked about investing, and I wanted to break a couple down. I think the first that we get asked is okay, so there’s a bunch of different companies you can invest through and there’s a bunch of different ways to invest. And I want to explain how to actually get started investing. So if you have a certain amount of money, you have two basic options of how you can get started. You can go the DIY route, which is exactly what it sounds like. You’re doing your investing yourself, so the pro to doing that is that you’re paying less in fees because somebody or something, or some company, is not doing it for you. I DIY invest, Elias DIY invests, but you have to have a certain level of knowledge to be able to do that. Right?
And if you’re listening to this podcast, with all the love in the world, I have a feeling that that’s not you and that’s okay. But you have to feel confident managing your own investments if you’re going to DIY it. So companies that DIY; TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Vanguard. You’ve probably heard of a lot of these. So again, pro is that you’re managing it yourself. You’re paying less in fees because you’re managing it yourself. But the con is that you really have to know what you’re doing and that might not be where you’re at right now, which is okay.
The other basic way to invest is a robo-advisor. So a robo-advisor is a company that is taking a small fee, but they’re doing it for you. So you’ve heard of a bunch of these; Wealthfront, Wealthsimple, Ellevest, Acorns. There’s a bunch of them. The pro again, is that they’re getting you started investing, which is super important. The con however, is that not only are they taking a fee, but they’re kind of fishing for you rather than teaching you to fish. And so Elias, how does Treasury fit into those kind of two basic options? Or how is it different than those two basic options?
We think about what we’re doing is providing the education, support, and software
platform to help you DIY it, but in a way where you feel comfortable, you know what you’re doing, and can make informed decisions for yourself. And so we show you. We’re very committed to transparency, so we show you what everyone else is investing in. We hold Investing 101 workshops, which you can kind of think of as the front door into the Treasury community. And so-
And they’re live with me and I teach you how to invest. It’s very exciting.
That is a hundred percent medically accurate. And so we want to make sure that everyone who’s using Treasury really understands the basic building blocks of how do I get started investing and what are the different words and decisions and options that I have available to me so that they can DIY. And when they run into a question or a speed bump or some new circumstance, they have a community of people to go and discuss that question with and get answers so they can make the best decision possible.
And you can manage your own investments. I want to be very clear about that. I think people think, “Oh, I need a financial advisor,” or, “Oh, I don’t know enough.” That’s why A, we start with a workshop. Nobody else starts with a workshop. Any of these other investment platforms, they’re not starting with a workshop. We’re really intentional about teaching you how to invest before setting you free to make your decisions. And it’s also, you can manage this yourself. We want you to be able to do this both because it saves you money. And also because I want you to have control over your investments, control over your financial life. We just need the education and the guidance to learn how to do that.
I joke with Elias all the time, because I added this reference into our workshop materials, and he has never seen an episode of Hannah Montana, but I joke that Treasury is the Hannah Montana of investing platforms because you get the best of both worlds. Yep. It’s great. Because we’re teaching you, again, how to manage your investments, manage that yourself, again, paying less in fees, but with the education and the confidence so that you don’t just go in blind.
Regardless of the platform you choose, please just get started. I think that’s one thing that just ends up happening is that fear, right? The number one reason women don’t invest is fear. Fear of losing money, fear of making a mistake, a fear of not doing something correctly. And what happens is that you end up losing thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, by waiting to invest when I just need you to get started. Even if that staircase that you’re climbing, that first step is 20 feet high, I need you to climb that first step so you can continue investing.
And the cool thing is once you have that education, whether you continue DIYing or you use a robo-advisor, or you’re trying to figure out what to do with your 401k at work, you’ll be better. You’ll know what questions to ask. You’ll know what’s happening there so that you can make better decisions across all aspects of your investing life.
One question that we’re getting a lot right now, as we’re recording. We’re recording this in early June, is a lot of stock market volatility and inflation and all of these things. We have a whole episode about how to prepare for a recession. So please go listen to that if you haven’t already. But I think one thing that a lot of people fail to realize about investing is it’s not just the how to actually open an account and put money in the account and choose your investments. But it’s like emotion management. Can you talk a bit about that? Especially during times of potential economic volatility?
Yeah, totally. When I think about investing, it’s like 10% or 20% what. How do I do this? What do I invest in? And then the remaining 80%, 90% is how do I manage my emotions and how do I build a system where I’m going to invest for a really long time so that my investments have time to actually come to fruition. I haven’t yet figured out how to predict the future.
And here’s the thing, financial experts, including myself and any other financial expert, they don’t know either. We do not know. And anybody who’s telling you they know what the stock market’s going to do is lying to you or trying to sell you something. Quick tangent, but I have to be clear about that. It’s not from lack of experience, none of us know because you can’t really predict it.
And so when people are like either the stock market’s really turbulent is this a good time for me to… This seems scary. I don’t want to invest, or the stock market’s down a bunch, that seems good. Right? Because it means I’m going to invest at a cheaper price. And the answer is some combination of both, and we don’t know. But the thing to do, or at least the thing that I do is just try to invest really consistently whether the stock market’s doing amazingly well or doing really poorly. There’s this thing called dollar cost averagin
g, which is kind of a jargony term. That just means-
Elias, we actually have a question from one of our listeners about that. So let’s go ahead and listen to that question.
Speaker 4 (29:38):
Hey, Tori, I just wanted to say thank you for all you do. I’m actually in my twenties and bought a house when I was 25 and everything that you’ve been giving me so far is so great. I was wondering though, where you always talk about time is on your side. If the market being low right now, would it be a good time though to be buying stocks or indexes as well as starting an IRA?
So Elias, if… I imagine this person, I know this person isn’t alone and feeling like, “Okay, if it’s volatile, is now a good time to invest? Should I keep doing what I’m doing? If I haven’t gotten started is now a bad time to start?” Can we talk about that?
Totally. So it’s a tricky thing because let’s say you decide now’s a great time to get started and you put your money in the market and then the volatility continues. And in the short run, the stock market goes down more. Well, then it’s going to feel really bad because you’ll have your invested dollars will be less valuable than they were when you originally invested. But the alternate can also happen, meaning you’re like, “Oh, it’s seems like things are pretty scary. I’m going to hold off for a little bit.” And maybe in the short run, that’s smart. But then all of a sudden, the market starts doing okay, and you’re still holding off and it keeps doing okay, and you’re still holding off. And now the money that you didn’t invest is not growing.
So because it’s impossible to predict, at least in the short run, what the market is going to do. There is this jargony method called dollar cost averaging. And what dollar cost averaging means is just taking the same amount of money and putting it into the same investments with some frequency, let’s say every two weeks or every month or every week, you just buy, let’s say $500 of the same investments again and again and again, over a very long period of time. And what’s cool about that is it takes all of that psychological challenge out of your investing decision. It allows you to say, “Oh, the market’s down a little bit. Well, that means my $500 is going to go further.” Or “Hey, the market’s up a little bit. That means the money I’ve invested previously is benefiting from the market being up.” And so if you just do that, you end up getting basically the average price that the market is at over that long time period and all the while you are investing, which means you’ve overcome the most important, hardest step about investing, which is getting started.
Right. And for whatever reason, if you’ve been kind of tuning us out or you’re not listening, come back, please. Because if there’s one thing I have to tell you, there is never a perfect time to invest. In that way, every time is a perfect time. It is never a bad time to invest as long as you’ve gotten started. Literally every day is a good time to start investing, especially because we’re thinking about investing, not just for a week, not just for even a year, we’re thinking about multiple years, if not decades. Right. So what happens on a random Thursday, what happens even in a random year, doesn’t matter if we’re thinking about investing for the long term. So when Elias talks about this concept dollar cost averaging, it’s just the idea that we need to put more time in the market than trying to time the market.
They say this in the financial industry all the time. Time in, I-N, time in the market is more important than timing the market because none of us can, even us financial professionals can’t time the market. So it’s just important to start investing and to invest at a consistent rate over a long period of time. I will also say too, that there’s a lot of talk about oh, my investments are down or I’ve “lost money”, and I put lost money in quotes because the truth is you actually haven’t lost or gained money on your investments unless you choose to sell your investments. So you have not actually lost money on the stock market unless you choose to liquidate. Unless you choose to sell your investments, just in the same way that you actually haven’t gained any money on the stock market, unless you choose to sell your investments or liquidate your investments.
So all of this talk about I’ve lost money on the stock market. You’ve only lost if you sell. And if, again, we’re thinking about this in the terms of years, if not decades, we’re strapping into the rollercoaster and we’re riding the rollercoaster for a while. So part of it is curbing that anxiety. And again, the shameless plug of Treasury is you want a place to be able to get a pep talk from people you trust and be able to ask questions and figure out how to navigate something you haven’t navigated before in again, a way that’s not going to be judgemental or shaming. And that’s part of why we built the community that we did.
We got another voicemail. And I think this is an all too common question. And it’s for investing if you’re a little bit older.
Speaker 5 (35:11):
Hi, I would like to know. I am 61 years old and I would like to know how I can start investing. But anyway, I’ve never asked this question.
So largely my work at HFK is geared towards a younger, more millennial or gen Z audience, typically women in their twenties and thirties. But I know that we have a ton of listeners and a ton of Treasury subscribers and a ton of people out there who are 40, 50, 60, maybe older than that. So Elias, is it too late for them to get started investing?
Great. Podcast over. Thank you for being here.
Yeah. Podcast done. No, it is never too late. I think like we’ve been saying and say over and over again, the best time to start is now. I think if you are older, it means that you’re probably thinking about retiring or you’re thinking about using the money that you’re investing sooner than someone who is going to be able to wait 30, 40 years until they’re going to make use of that money. And so there’s two big differences from my perspective that you might want to think about if you are getting started a little bit later. So the first one is there’s this really magical thing in investing, which is compounding returns, which basically means as your money gains money, you start to also gain money on the money your money has gained. Your returns make returns. And that disproportionately happens the longer you wait.
So the longer you wait, the more your money is going to make money for you. If you’re getting started a little later, you aren’t going to benefit as much from that. Or at least it’ll be a long time. And so you might want to see if there are ways to invest more money on a monthly or weekly basis than someone who has a longer time that they’re going to be able to invest for. That’s the first thing. The second thing has to do with volatility, which basically means how much do the investments that you’re making go up or down. And if you’re closer to needing to use the money you’re investing, you want investments that are less risky, that don’t… The price doesn’t move as much on them so you have more certainty of the money I put in is going to be worth roughly this much in five years or 10 years, when it’s time for me to use it?
Yeah. And I think one thing as well, if you’re older, you’re probably thinking, again, is it too late for me or it’s kind of hopeless, so why try at all? And of course we know if you would’ve started younger, you probably have more money. That’s the harsh reality. However, I would rather you have, let’s say $50,000 or a $100,000, or even if you can invest more money. I would rather you have a little bit than none at all. Right? I would rather you have a little bit of a nest egg than absolutely nothing.
I think again, with personal finance, I think a lot of we either go, “Oh, we’re like $10,000 in debt. What’s another $2,000?” And it’s like, it’s another $2,000 in debt. Or we go like, “Okay, well, I should have started this five years ago or I should have started this 20 years ago, but I was taking care of kids or taking care of early family members, or I was paying off debt or I just didn’t know any better.” Or “I got divorced.” We hear that a lot. And you’re like, “Okay, what’s the point? Because it’s all hopeless.” I promise you. It’s not hopeless. It’s better to have at least a little bit of money, hopefully a lot of bit of money. But it’s at least better to have some sort of retirement savings or some sort of an investment nest egg than thinking you have nothing at all.
And hey, people are living. Lifetimes are getting longer. Women live longer than men. And so I think there’s probably more time than it might feel like no matter when you are starting, just to add on to Tori‘s point of even things that may feel like a little relatively small amount can make a big difference.
Totally. And again, compound interest works regardless of your age. Now, compound interest works better if you have more time, but compound interest can work for you. Even if you have a year, five years, 10 years. Compound interest works regardless of how old you are. Regardless of how young you are. We always say, especially at Treasury, it’s never too late and it’s never too early. You’re never too old and you’re never too young to get started investing. Okay. One question that we’ve gotten in another voicemail, let’s go ahead and listen to this one.
Speaker 6 (40:00):
Hi, I just finished listening to your podcast on the 401ks and Roth IRAs retirement account. I’m kind of late at the game of this because I was a stay-at-home mom and now I’m a single mom and I am trying to get my retirement accounts up as fast as I can. Last year I opened a Roth account at my credit union and every paycheck money goes into the account, but I don’t know how to invest it. So what are the next steps after I have the
money in the account? How am I supposed to invest this money? That’s something I have never been able to figure out. So thanks.
Okay. Let’s talk about this question because I think this is a common pitfall. So this person went and opened up a Roth account at a credit union, but they’re not sure how to actually invest it. So talk to me about the difference between opening up an investment account, especially a Roth IRA at a credit union or bank versus opening one through an investing platform.
So first, can you just cover quickly the idea of like investment accounts versus investments? Because I think that’s an important foundation for this to make sense.
Yeah. Elias, thank you for bringing that up. So we talk about that more in depth on the retirement account episode of Financial Feminist, as well as the Beginner’s Guide to Investing, which I believe is Episode Nine, but basically a lot of people think that a Roth IRA is an investment. It is not, it is the investing account. So you have accounts that hold your investments. And we talked about this again in Episode Nine where you have to not only deposit money into an account, into something like a Roth IRA, but then you have to go choose your investments. It’s step one and then step two. So when we’re talking about something like a Roth IRA, you’re not only depositing money into a Roth IRA at an investing platform, or at an investing institution, but then you are going and purchasing your investments that exist within that Roth IRA or that live within that Roth IRA.
Awesome. Thank you. So the person who left this voicemail is basically saying, I have this credit union that I use as my bank. And I see they offer Roth IRA accounts and I put money in, but I can’t figure out how to invest that money. I can’t figure out how to do step two. And so this is a really interesting pitfall, which is that some banks and credit unions offer Roth IRA accounts, which again is a type of account that has special tax advantages, which is what makes it a Roth IRA. But the ones that credit unions and banks offer actually don’t let you invest in the stock market. They’re more similar to a CD, and so it’s really low risk, which is nice, but the downside is that your money is not going to grow or you can’t expect it to grow at nearly the same rate that you would expect if you were to invest it in the stock market or in an index fund that gives you a diversified set of stocks across the market.
And so if you want to invest in the stock market, you need an investment account. So if you want to do a Roth IRA, you need to do it at a brokerage. And a brokerage is kind of the list of DIY investment providers that Tori was mentioning earlier, like TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, Vanguard, E-Trade, Schwab, all of those brokerages and many more will have Roth IRAs that actually let you choose investments on the stock market. And so once you deposit money into one of those Roth IRAs, you can then choose your investments. And I just want to add, one thing to consider with Roth IRAs is just that there are limits around how much you can put in per year. And if you can put money in at all, if you make above a certain amount, so just make sure you research those before you think about putting money into a Roth IRA account.
That’s super helpful. One thing I might think about when I just listen to that answer from you is, okay, I’m investing in the stock market and that’s different than putting my money in a Roth IRA that’s through a bank. Why do I need to invest? Why do I need to invest in the stock market at all?
Yeah. So the answer basically just has to do with the type of growth you can expect in your investments from a bank or a savings account versus in the stock market. The long term average for the US stock market is between 7% to 10% a year. And that is a whole lot more than even high yield savings accounts are paying in a bank.
Which as of this recording is about a 0.5%. So half a percent versus 7%, 8, 9, 10% is huge. And especially when we know again, as of this recording, that inflation is what?, 6%, 7%, 8%? It continues to grow. The thing that’s beating inflation right now is investing in the stock market.
Exactly. Banks are important. Having an emergency fund in a high yield savings account like Tori talks about all the time. You’ve heard her say many times is in incredibly important, but once you’ve got a really strong emergency fund in place and you’re starting to think about how do I start to invest for whether it’s retirement or other goals, five, seven, 10 plus years in the future. You really want to take advantage of the growth that the stock market has historically provided that 7% to 10% a year.
Yeah. And this sounds intense, but it’s true. You won’t be able to retire if you don’t invest. You will not be able to afford to retire if you don’t invest. Because again, what Elias was talking about
earlier, compounding returns or compound interest, compound interest is there to help you. Compound interest is simply when your interest earns interest. So that’s the power of investing of that 7% to 10% returns, meaning that, let’s say you put a $1000 in something like a Roth IRA. You’re not just saving money. You’re not just building up money. That money is earning you money, 7% to 10% on average, year over year over year. And then that interest that you just gained, is earning interest, is earning interest, is earning interest. That’s what makes it so powerful.
So, why invest? You want to be able to retire someday. You want to be able to build that long term wealth and the best, and really one of the only ways to do that for the average person, is the stock market, is investing through the stock market. Opening up something like a tax advantage retirement account, again, we have an episode that breaks down what those are, but opening up one of those accounts and being able to invest in the stock market through that account.
I think that’s great. Well, one thing I will add, is that there’s a limit, again about Roth IRAs, there’s a limit to how much each person can put in a Roth IRA each year. And so if you do have a Roth IRA at your bank, just remember that very likely is going to count against that limit. And so it’s also going to mean you can put less money into Roth IRA that would let you invest in the stock market.
Yeah. They’re almost fake IRAs to me. They’re like faux IRAs. Opening an IRA at a bank is like a souped up savings account, but it’s not in the same realm. It’s not in the same world as a Roth IRA that you’re using as your investing account. And I love that point of if your yearly limit for an IRA is $6,000 and you put $5,000 into your bank or credit union’s IRA, well now you only have a thousand dollars to put into an IRA that’s actually invested. So, that is something to consider and something to think about. So if I am listening to this and I either want to get started investing and I’ve tried before and it’s been too intimidating or I’ve let that analysis paralysis get in the way, or I’m starting to continue my investments and starting to be a consistent investor but I don’t really know what I’m doing, how do you recommend people get started?
So we’ve built Treasury exactly for people in that position who are looking to get started, don’t know exactly where to get started with investing, but are ready to do so. And so you can find us at either Treasury.app on the web or on Instagram @TreasuryApp. We’d love to have you join one of our upcoming investing 101 workshops where you will not only learn everything you need to know to make your first investment, but you can actually invest live during the workshop.
And we’ll link it in the show notes but I think the coolest part for me about Treasury is people literally sign up for the workshop. They walk in, a little nervous, excited, but a little nervous and intimidated, and they literally, within 45 minutes have become either a first time investor or have continued to invest. I think 80% of folks that join Treasury have never invested before and they leave the workshop, not only with the education, but they’ve actually made an investment. So one of the workshops we gave most recently, we had over a thousand folks attend, and they invested collectively more than $130,000. And it’s so cool to watch literally the fruits of our education labor pay off. I literally get to watch somebody go from timid and nervous, but little excited, to feeling confident and literally walking into the rest of their week as an investor.
It’s so cool to literally watch the statistics and watch the statistics change and their confidence increase. And that’s just my favorite part of it. Elias, thanks for being here. I really appreciate your time and answering all the questions and you can get access to both of us and this community, as well as where to ask questions about investing, what to do., and when the stock market is volatile, how to learn more about investing, how to optimize your accounts all over on Treasury. Thanks for being here.
Thanks for having me. This was really fun.
Thank you again to Elias who you’ll be hearing more from in the coming months. Also, we mentioned that of course, several times in the episode, but we have an incredible investing education platform called Treasury, also featured in the front page in the New York Times that we’ve built specifically with women in mind. And we would love to have you join us over there if you haven’t to get your questions answered, to give you step by step instructions and resources about how to get started investing without the intimidation, without all the fear, and just a really supportive community, almost like a support group during times of financial uncertainty. So there’s a link to Treasury in the show notes. We hope to see you again soon. Have a great week Financial Feminist, I’ll catch you later.
Thank you for listening to Financial Feminist at Her First $100K podcast. Financial Feminist is hosted by me, Tori Dunlap, produced by Kristen Fields, marketing and administration by Karina Patel, Olivia Coning, Cherise Wade, Alena Helzer, Paulina
Isaac Sophia Cohen, Valerie Oresko, Jack Coning, and Ana Alexandria. Research by Ariel Johnson, audio engineering by Austin Fields, promotional graphics by Mary Stratton, photography by Sarah Wolfe, and theme music by Jonah Cohen Sound. A huge thanks to the entire Her First $100K team and community for supporting the show. For more information about Financial Feminist, Her First $100K, our guests, and episode show notes, visit financialfeministpodcast.com.