Stash app: The apology to my economics teacher
‘Straight from the Hart’ made me want to pay attention to stocks and IRAs
There are very few regrets I have in life. I’ve made all kinds of mistakes (as has any human) and had to overcome some major obstacles in school, including getting suspended for carrying a knife, almost getting expelled and put on academic probation for rebelling against an English faculty department and once locking my Spanish teacher out of the classroom*. While I could find all kinds of ways to justify my teenage behavior, I don’t regret any of the above.
I still got a bachelor’s degree, graduated Cum Laude, went to grad school and have had all the dream publishing jobs (and nightmare magazine jobs) I ever wanted. But there is one thing I did in high school that I really wish I could have a do-over on: economics class.
If you’re an English major, there’s a high probability that math is not your favorite subject (or vice versa). So taking an economics class sounded about as painfully dull as my trigonometry class, geometry class, algebra class and just about any other class that revolved around numbers. The teacher was such a delightful man, but my Creative Writing brain shut down completely and preferred yapping away at a very handsome young man who sat beside me. I grudgingly brought newspapers to class, half-heartedly circled different stocks and bonds, lazily kept track of my investments, and gazed from that cute boy to the clock every day.
Regardless of what people say about public schools, there are some teachers out there who go above and beyond to reach their students. But I just did not understand the importance of learning how to invest, no matter how much my teacher tried. Eventually he even tried moving my seat away from the boy. My new tactic was to write notes to this dude, still trying to make time fly by. Even my grandfather, who lived to be 95, was financially stable based on investments, a paid-off home, and stocks and bonds, and I still ignored anything that was math-related. But if I could have a do-over, I would’ve ignored the boy** entirely and invested my time in investments.
Interestingly, it was another set of men who made me dust off my memory bank to realize I didn’t forget all of that stuff I purposely tried not to listen to in economics class. The Plastic Cup Boyz (Kevin Hart’s crew) are who made me want to take up investing and IRAs again — willingly this time.
I’d already tried real estate investing, but it is entirely too slow to make a profit and my personality needs to be more hands-on. When you’re a teenager, you don’t always know why you don’t like a particular subject. I summed it up as “boring” but didn’t really bother to figure out why I thought it was boring. As an adult, I am fully aware of where I went wrong. I don’t have the personality of someone who can just sit back and wait for results. I need to be far more hands-on and see what’s happening at all times. Google Sheets, Excel formulas and editing meeting minutes? Count me in!
It’s why I take so much joy in being condo association president. Quietly paying assessments and calling property managers waiting on them to do things works well for some people. However, I find a bizarre amount of joy in researching contractors; getting things fixed; and understanding budgeting, bylaws and talking to real estate lawyers. I need to be in it to enjoy it. So throwing money into a 401(k) or Roth IRA or traditional IRA or buying certificates of deposits (CDs) sounds about as exciting as watching paint dry.
But having some kind of say in where my money is invested, looking into companies that I’m actually familiar with (instead of random, unfamiliar companies I see with a “+” and “ — ” by their names) and want to support, and then being of an age where I care about retirement made all the difference. Although investing in a traditional IRA is still not particularly intriguing, I did it again. As much as I’d like to pump out content into my 90s, I have to be realistic and understand that I may not be as sharp. Life happens. However, I’ve found a platform that makes me excited to invest and save: Stash.
Stash review: Investing with a more hands-on, user-friendly approach
While articles like “Learn More About These 8 Black Entrepreneurs” and “Advancing Black-Owned Businesses” are worth a read, pretty much any financial company could write these kinds of posts. That wasn’t what sold me on Stash. It wasn’t even that their pop-up comes up to say they’re closed on Indigenous People’s Day — not that other name of the mid-October federal holiday in October. But that definitely helped.
It was really just me realizing that living paycheck-to-paycheck is not a sane option. Crossing my freelancing fingers in hopes that my current clients always have enough work for me to pay my mortgage doesn’t work either, specifically in this COVID-19 working environment. As mentioned, handing over money for someone else to invest is not enjoyable for me.
Stash, much like Kiplinger magazine, does a good job of explaining financial topics in laymen’s terms. I could get lost on the mobile app just reading company news. I like the idea of investing in brick and mortar and ecommerce companies that I buy from every day. If I’m going to affiliate my name with a company, I want it to be businesses that I’m proud of — who have business practices that I respect.
I’ve listened to enough video critiques regarding the subscription monthly rate being too high ($1 per month, $3 per month or $9 per month). But for someone who blows through money on GrubHub knowing full well I can cook, I just cannot even humor the idea of griping about giving up a total of $12, $36 or $108 per year — not when I spend that in a month on takeout.
While I wouldn’t recommend doing this for every company you want to invest in, I’ve invested in companies as low as $0.40 and watched the value go up. It’s a fascinating way just to see if your favorite companies are doing well or not, and supporting them if you would like to assist. (Obviously, I’m going to invest in higher rates.)
As of now, I have six companies that are set up for annual investments, a set amount to deposit in a traditional IRA, and the $3 per month plan to dive into all of the articles and investment advice on the app. For hardcore investors who are looking to make more money and to pay less for a subscription starting out (and far more to invest), this may not be the best long-term app for you. But for the economics student who wants to let her economics instructor know she was halfway listening while he droned on about investing and saving, Stash is my favorite new toy. And this time, it has the attention of my eyes, ears and money. No boys allowed!
Want to join me on this Stash investing financial excursion? Click here.
* The Spanish teacher single-handedly ruined my path to bilingualism by teaching me to unlearn everything I’d mastered. (Plus my mother watched me yell at this teacher on Report Card Day, then walked me out of the classroom, yanked me up by my collar against a stairwell and made sure I never did it again. So there’s that.)
* * We reconnected on MySpace in our adult years and met up in person — he turned out to still be as handsome as ever but still seemed stuck on high school games, so I unfriended him. Sometimes childhood crushes need to stay in your childhood.
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