How I Made $3.590.11 by Trading Stocks in 2 Years With No Investing Experience

I started with $5K as an experiment to make $100.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash


I thought I needed someone to manage my money

After high school, I studied biomedical physiology and health sciences at University and upon graduating, I got a job in healthcare. I wanted a stable job that would give me a steady income and a decent pension.

Every year, I put enough money into my Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP*) so that I wouldn’t have to pay taxes that year and maxed out my Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA**). But I didn’t do anything with it.

*RRSP is a retirement saving and investing vehicle for employees and the self-employed in Canada. Pre-tax money is put into an RRSP and grows tax-free until withdrawal, at which time it is taxed at the marginal rate.

**A TFSA is an account in which contributions, interest earned, dividends, and capital gains are not taxed, and can be withdrawn tax-free.

I knew I needed to start but I procrastinated

Then I met my husband. As part of agreeing to get married, we shared each other’s financial situations. From credit card bills, investment portfolios, bank statements to mortgages, I showed him mine and he showed me his. We wanted to be completely transparent so that we both knew what we were getting into.

He shares with me that he’s been managing his own portfolio since he was 19 years old and shows me how much he’s made since. He tells me I can do it too. I saw the proof but as you know, knowledge isn’t power…applying it is. I knew I needed to start investing but I procrastinated.

I didn’t take action for about a year. I just let my money sit safely in my bank account, collecting the meager interest (or shall I say dust?) that barely paid for a meal.

The day I created an investing account

“I need to get this money shit figured out. I’m a smart, strong, independent, grown-ass woman, not the 8-year old girl who opened her first bank account and got giddy over the pennies of interest she collected every month.”

I logged into my bank and finally created an investing account. I had to call the bank to walk me through how to do it; I signed some documents and off I went. I transferred my RRSP and TFSA money and bought some super-safe dividend stocks. This was 2014.

I’m the type who likes to “set it and forget it”. So after that, I did nothing. I collected my dividends and used that money to buy more shares of the same dividend stocks. Rinse and repeat.

I started with $5000 as an experiment to make $100

Honestly, I was skeptical AF. Like I get dividend stocks because they’re typically well-established and have a proven record to generate earnings. Most importantly, they pay me to own their shares.

But I wanted to try and see if I could make some disposable income, test my unflappable INTJ level-headedness and patience.

I started monitoring a particular stock. In 2018, it dropped by 20 bucks. I saw my opportunity and I pounced on it. I pulled together $5000 and went all in.

My goal was to make $100 after commissions were paid. I told myself that as soon as that happened, I would sell. So I waited and waited. The stock rose and I sold. 100 smackers. Just like that. Over 2 years later, I’ve made about $3500.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Invest in businesses I understand, believe in, and use

Why would I buy part of a company if I don’t know, understand or believe in what they’re selling?

It’s about being an informed consumer, understanding how the company makes money and preventing buyer’s remorse.

I don’t follow the hype about companies that are on the verge of becoming public and get excited about their IPO date (Initial Public Offering). I don’t really understand what all that means. Yeah, it may be the next Facebook or Google or Amazon but I don’t know what I don’t know. It’s too risky for me.

Perhaps one day, I will read and learn more about it but I’d rather spend my time making money from what I actually enjoy doing like writing about self-love, parenting, and relationships.

Buy low (don’t be a lemming)

When there is a sell-off of shares or when the company has bad publicity (like when Elon Musk tweets silly things), this is the time to act. It seems counterintuitive since it’s like everyone is running away from an erupting volcano but I’m diving right into the crater. However, that lava isn’t molten rock, it’s white-hot gold.

Once I’ve reviewed the history of the stock and its trends, I have an idea of what is considered low and a good price to buy. I do not buy when the stock is above this amount. I have to repeat this:

I do not buy when the stock is high.

I think a lot of people get influenced by what others are doing. Buying is always the easy part. I have money and I want to spend it. It’s much easier to spend money than it is to earn.

When I see on the news or hear about how everyone is buying a specific stock but it’s totally overrated, I don’t become a lemming. I don’t want to fall off the cliff with them because I know it will be so much harder to sell and climb back up the mountain. There are months where I don’t buy anything and I’m sitting on my small pile of cash, just waiting.

Sell high (don’t lose money)

I do not sell when the stock is low.

The mantra that I have when selling is “Don’t lose money.” I’m stubborn AF and I’m also cheap AF so I do not like losing money. I don’t even like to throw out food scraps if I can make soup with it.

This is the part that can get emotional because when my portfolio drops, it gets a little scary. It’s easy to freak out and sell when everyone else is selling. But I always stay the course, patiently waiting, twiddling my thumbs until I know I can make some money. I have never sold below the price I bought the stock including commission. The longest I’ve waited to sell a stock was 6 months.

I don’t monitor stocks like a hawk. I check them a couple of times a day and see where they are at. When I can see it going up, I pay more attention.

Sometimes, I sell and I make the amount I wanted but then literally the next day, the stock goes up like crazy, so much that I could have doubled my money. But unlike most people, I don’t regret the decision nor do I try to buy it again in a panic, hoping to ride the wave. I don’t care. I made money and that’s all that matters. A dollar in my pocket is still a dollar in my pocket.

Don’t depend on the money

No, I’m not made of money. I’m not a “Crazy Rich Asian”. I don’t have a trust fund but I’ve created a lifestyle for my family that doesn’t cost a lot. We live quite simply and I’d say most of my days, I don’t spend money except for the essential needs. I don’t spend money I don’t have.

What started as an experiment to make some extra cash has become a bit of a game. It’s a topic that my husband and I banter over our morning coffee. He’s a little more brazen than I am.

I’m still learning and as you can see, I don’t use the correct finance terms and lingo. I don’t plan to make crazy flips, inject more money, day trade, or become one of those finance gurus. I haven’t taken any money out. I’m merely proud of myself for doing something I wasn’t sure about, seeing it pan out and hoping it will inspire you to try something new.

P.S. Remember to pay taxes for your capital gains.

So Readers, do you trade stocks? How do you stay level-headed?

Change Becomes You

Life advice that will (actually) change your life.

Katharine Chan, MSc, BSc, PMP

Written by

Sum (心, ♡) on Sleeve | Author. Speaker. Wife. Mom of 2 | Embrace Culture. Love Yourself. Improve Relationships |

Change Becomes You

Life advice that will (actually) change your life. Curated stories from The Good Men Project.

Katharine Chan, MSc, BSc, PMP

Written by

Sum (心, ♡) on Sleeve | Author. Speaker. Wife. Mom of 2 | Embrace Culture. Love Yourself. Improve Relationships |

Change Becomes You

Life advice that will (actually) change your life. Curated stories from The Good Men Project.

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