As the family gets older, there seems to be less to do. Still busy, but the boys are more self sufficient. I almost feel like I spend more time walking the dogs than I do with them (14 and 16). So what to do with all this extra time?
I know of stocks and basically how the market works. But I've never experienced trading stocks or really actively watched the market other than for political interests. While I am old enough to see the end of the road of work and the beginning of the country lane that is retirement, I am still young enough to realize that there is a lot of work to do and time to do it. I decided to take what my wife and I call my No Fun Money, and rather than buying lottery tickets, I'd buy stocks instead.
Many folks run their financial household in different ways. For us, we just put all our employee income into one pot that my wife uses to manage and pay the bills all planned out in her awesome spreadsheet. But instead of me using the bank account for lunches and coffee, I get a weekly allowance of...$25. This is to cover anything I want to do or have plus my monthly haircut. Don't laugh or shake your head...lol. It works for us. I don't need much. Over time, this allowance became my No Fun Money - just enough to get some extra things, but not enough to really have any fun.
What I found myself doing though, especially over COVID not buying coffee and lunch for work, is buying lottery scratch-offs. Obviously those tickets are designed, just like any other gambling system, to win enough to buy more, but lose over the long term. And that's exactly what was happening. So I decided to open a stock account and give myself a chance at a bigger payoff while learning something new.
With some meager research, consulting with a friend, I looked at quite a few sites and landed on SoFi. I can't say what directly lead to me selecting SoFi other than it was a top tier site on the review pages I looked at. And the name was familiar to me because I receive an offer at least once a week for a loan or something. So SoFi is where I'll do my trading. I set up a separate bank account because these sites are not liquid accounts where you can just pull money in and out of. Plus, I didn't want any direct contact from the investment account to our main bank account for obvious security reasons. It's good to be aware once money goes into a SoFi account, it's going to cost you $75 to get it out. But the transferring money into the account is free as well as trades.
I am super impressed, from a developer's perspective, with SoFi's website in both the UI and UX forms. It's easy (for me at least) to understand and navigate. The iOS app is excellent just as well. Both outlets have a ton of data and news articles that allow you to make an informed decision. Graphs allow you to track stocks at various time intervals and see how they trend. You can easily see your account balances and how you are progressing (or not).
I deposited a $100 in the SoFi account, but having zero experience and not knowing what to buy it took me a few days to pull the trigger and buy something. I could have purchased a share of AMD for about $95 and be up over 10%. But I wanted more shares of something a bit smaller in value so that there was a little bit more volatility. So after, again, some meager research I picked ADT. It's a familiar name and has been around for while. I bought 10 shares at $9.35 looking for the quick score - you know, like all the cool day traders do. But ADT said "Slow down there cadet" and currently sits (at the time of this post) at $8.46. But that doesn't really deter or discourage me at all. This was No Fun Money now converted to Enjoyable Learning Cash.
If you have the resources and some time, I highly recommend doing this. Just be prepared, as all the trading websites state, to lose your money. Initially, I stressed over that $100, but now I see it as an opportunity I am giving myself.