Just a few weeks ago, I had no idea what I was doing when I used the Stash app for beginner investors to make my first few investments in the stock market. I basically just threw a dart at the internet and bought a few bucks’ worth of some brand names I recognized.
From there, as I shared previously, I moved on to some intentional Google research, which might not sound all that revolutionary—but it was more effort than I'd ever put into learning about the stock market before that point. And that process led to finding my way to some industry experts with loads of wisdom to share. Then, as described in my last post, I started exploring the in-app learning resources provided by Stash, and I gained an understanding about how to “diversify” my portfolio to minimize risk and maximize stability for long-term growth. That's a fancy way of saying "not lose my life savings on stupid stuff." So what comes after that?
The following is based on personal opinions and personal experiences, and should not, under any circumstances, be considered professional investment advice. Always do your own research before making financial decisions. Please note none of my views or opinions are endorsed by any other party mentioned. (I doubt they even know I exist.) On that note, this post contains referral/affiliate links which may save or earn both you and me some moola on products/services, or provide me with a small commission that doesn’t cost you anything, as a way of supporting one another in winning the wealth-building game. Deal?
Step 3. Signing up for the Motley Fool Stock Advisor.
This was the most exciting, informative, confidence-boosting step I took at the beginning of this year, in my first two weeks as an investor, while researching stocks to build my very first investment portfolio. And it’s the only one that cost me any money beyond actually buying the fractional shares I wanted.
That said, beware… Stock Advisor is not a cheap resource, even with the half-off coupon code I found online somewhere along the way. As I’ve shared in other posts, I grew up under the poverty line, and I’m not exactly made of money these days, either. Shelling out almost a hundred bucks for investment advice? That's not a move I expect every amateur investor to make right away. I certainly didn’t expect to make a move like that within my first two weeks of learning about the stock market.
For me, this paid subscription was an investment in and of itself—definitely the biggest gamble I've taken in this experiment so far. In all honesty, if I hadn't just received my $600 government stimulus check, and if the Stock Advisor subscription link I stumbled upon hadn’t promised a 30-day risk-free refund period, I would’ve skipped the opportunity altogether. (Remember, the Stash app provides plenty of ways to begin investing in the stock market without an expenditure like this, so anyone can start wherever they’re at.)
But here’s the thing. Since beginning this journey on January 1st, in all of my reading, researching, and cross-referencing about stocks and market behaviors, Motley Fool articles kept coming up at the top. As one review site observes, “If you have ever done research on investing, you’ve likely heard of The Motley Fool.”
Now, remember, before 2021, I knew absolutely nothing about investing in the stock market. But I’ve known how the internet works for a long time. At first, I wasn’t completely sold on whether Motley Fool resources were really as proven and reputable as the website claimed, or if they just had a killer search engine optimization strategy to get high rankings on Google.
So I proceeded with caution. And the more I read about stocks during my first two steps to building a beginner investor portfolio, the more I saw Motley Fool researchers quoted and cited by other high-profile authors in the subject area. Plus, the free content I could get my hands on without a subscription seemed to be the best and most thorough information out there for self-made investors.
When I looked into the philosophy behind this company, I learned why: the Motley Fool co-founders have built a freakin’ empire based on their commitment to sharing everything they know to help their members on the path to financial freedom. And they’ve been doing it for a long, long time — with some of the industry’s most impressive results to show for it.
Although the Motley Fool team doesn’t specifically target their advice toward empowering lower-income or working-poor investors with wealth-building know-how, which is where my little heart lies, the founding brothers duo, David and Tom Gardner, are known as dedicated investor advocates unlike any others. Basically, they’re in the game to give away what they’ve been given, knowing they thrive when they help other people thrive. And that ethic certainly aligns with my dream for a more empowered average joe.
From the Motley Fool website:
The world and the markets operate best when the opportunities for growth, impact, and prosperity are clearly available to all.”
“Stash was built with a simple philosophy: everyone should have access to investing.” Everyone should have access. And that’s a hope for humanity that led me to begin The Serenity Project — an experiment in winning the wealth-building game. If I can figure out how to do it, you can figure it out, too.
All this is to say, I bit the bullet, I paid the subscription fee, and I signed up for Motley Fool Stock Advisor, telling myself I'd cancel for the refund if it didn't add value to my investing journey. Immediately, I started reading about Tom and David’s top picks, and… wow. With the depth of research, detail, and readability, along with an enormous library of practical premium content, I might never need to consult another investing resource again.
I will say up front… the Motley Fool’s up-sell game is, well, intense. If you sign up, be prepared for a lot of emails. Like, a lot of emails. Like, “here’s your last reminder about your reminder about your very last chance to sign up for the most recent new latest greatest exclusive insider look at the next premium content subscription that’ll rock your world til tomorrow when it’ll be your very very VERY last chance again to sign up til the next time when we announce the NEXT most recent new latest greatest exclusive insider look at the NEXT premium content subscription that’ll rock your world…” level. I’m not gonna lie, the marketing emails could tone down a lot. But the content available through the site has been, for me, well worth the two seconds it takes to scan and discard a redundant message in my inbox a couple times a day.
Among other Stock Advisor features, I can save favorites and mark the companies I’ve bought, so I’ll receive SA email notifications whenever the authors issue an update or a news item about one of my stocks. Plus, not only does the Motley Fool issue recommendations about which stocks to buy, and when… it also issues recommendations about which stocks to sell, and when.
That’s great news for me, as a newbie investor, since I have zero experience reading the signs of the times, in terms of gauging how a company’s performance today might speak to its performance 5, 10, 15, or even 20 years from now. I don’t know about you, but I’m not exactly in a spot in life right now where I can quit my job to learn how to be an expert in investment analysis. Which is fine, because I don’t have to—because there are already experts in investment analysis who are sharing their experience and telling us what they’re gonna do, so we can make smart moves right along with them.
Knowing there’s a team of 25+-year pros who are constantly analyzing every tiny detail of every earnings report, financial update, world event, and associated impact on stock valuations, who are committed to sounding the call to action any time something important happens that I should know about one of my stock picks…? That brings peace of mind for me to sleep at night, with my investing plan based on 1) “set it and forget it” and 2) “leave it alone and let it grow,” for the long haul. Just getting started, I figured even if I do nothing else with my portfolio, I can simply keep adding to my positions here and there, building them up over time, and the Stock Advisor team will let me know when they think it’s time to do something different.
Meanwhile, even if I don’t end up renewing the paid Stock Advisor subscription every year forevermore, I keep coming back to the free content on Motley Fool over and over again, keeping up with daily market observations and updated stock overviews. In fact, now that I'm a few weeks into this wealth-building experiment, whenever an investing topic catches my eye at another source, I’ll read what that author has to say about it, then go Google the same topic + motley fool to see what the MF authors have to say about it.
That’s how helpful and encouraging this team has been to me. It’s not just the wealth of usable information shared, but the wealth of character and growth mindset of people doing well who want other people to do well, too.
Armed with this perspective, after spending the first two weeks of 2021 learning how to build my very first portfolio, investing a few bucks here and a few bucks there, I became such a believer that I ended up deciding to invest the rest of my $600 government stimulus check in January.
Now, that might be just a drop in the ocean for some people, but $600 is a big deal for this girl. Yet I was willing to take the risk because I was so impressed and so inspired after doing my research about the Motley Fool and its mission that I really began to embrace the idea of financial independence as an actual, possible reality for my life.
I’m not telling anybody else what to do — I’m just saying my $600 stimulus check went into building up my first investment portfolio with company stocks recommended in the Motley Fool’s latest picks, updated on Thursdays. And maybe you’re still expecting your tax refund or even your $1,400 stimmie #3 to hit any day now, which might be something to think about. Just sayin’.
I’m not gonna give away the farm here or go into any great detail about the research that informed my decisions, since I got the inside scoop from the premium Motley Fool content I paid for, and that content is somebody else’s livelihood. Suffice to say, I’m now especially keen on companies like Lam Research, to name just one… an obscure-to-me company I might’ve never even heard about, til I read the Stock Advisor justification for the pick and gained total appreciation for how clever the opportunities look for the future, especially with a 5G world just around the corner. Or how about Innovative Industrial Properties, a land owner set to capitalize on continued marijuana legalization by being the company that leases real estate to cannabis growers and producers in the future?
That’s one key to the “Foolish” way of investing: this approach takes the long view, assuming money will be left in the market for a minimum of 5–10 years and grow in value over time. Long-term investing means short-term fluctuations don’t end up mattering very much in the end, because eventually, most stocks tend to trend upward. For instance, I might check my portfolio today and see that I “lost” money on a stock I bought yesterday — but five years from now, that stock might be worth two, three, five, maybe even ten times more than what it’s worth today. So I haven’t actually lost anything in the meantime.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a dreamer… I read all the Instagram ads and Facebook posts and personal blogs about how everyone on the internet these days apparently has six or seven side hustles earning six-figure streams of passive income, and I have all kinds of ideas about ways I’d love to spend my time — if I had time.
But like most of America, I still live in the version of reality where I need to work full-time to pay the bills and put food on the table, in the hope and the prayer that if I stick it out long enough, I’ll gradually be able to find opportunities to pursue my passions and leave a meaningful legacy someday.
You see, for me, winning the wealth-building game isn’t about showing off a bunch of cash and flash. It’s about relieving my family of generational burdens which have prevented us from freely contributing our gifts and talents to the greater good for all our lives so far. We’ve never had the opportunity to give what we want to give to this world… and I’m sick of it.
The Serenity Project isn’t about making a name for myself or personally getting rich. It’s about seeing people released from oppressive conditions of poverty and debt to become wide-open, out-loud, peace-spreading expressions of crazy-generous love for other people, enjoying the mutual betterment of futures lived on purpose together.
Yeah, I’m a dreamer. But I’m also a strategist. I have a knack for seeing the small details add up to the big picture. I see potential… everywhere.
So starting with what I’ve got and putting the little money I do have to work for me? It might not be much right now, but it’s the beginning of my new side hustle as an investor. And that’s a really big deal in my world.
After those first two weeks of researching and selecting my beginner portfolio mix, I became invested in…
- 14 companies I chose based on Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations,
- 6 companies I picked from other sources,
- 2 companies I scored in #StashStockParty opportunities (which I’ll explain another day),
- 1 company added from my first Stock-Back® debit card purchase,
- 9 domestic ETFs,
- 4 foreign ETFs, and
- 4 variety packs of bonds,
This might sound like a lot. And it might have actually been a lot to begin with, especially since I don’t have much spare money to spread across them all. But the Motley Fool team has shown “the best way to build lasting wealth is to own a diversified portfolio of multiple stocks — 30 or more is great.” It seemed like a reasonable approach to begin building some solid investment habits. And, with a schedule of automated investments set up (more about that later, too), my portfolio will continue to grow over time.
Of course, I’ve already revised and refined my strategy along the way, and I have so much more to share that I’ve learned and developed since I started in January. I’m learning as I go, using myself as my own guinea pig. For now, I’m glad I started at all — and I’m thankful for the technology available to let me figure out what I’m doing to begin with.
So there you have it… the first three steps I took as a brand-new investor who knew nothing about investing. With those first three steps, I began to build my first portfolio by buying fractional shares of stock through the Stash app. To date, while learning how to research my investments, I’ve moved from blind Google searches, to in-app Stash recommendations, to the financial industry’s most acclaimed stock-picking advisors of all time, to branching out into a dividend-driven passive income strategy focusing on high-yield ETFs and REITs, to building my own data analytics spreadsheet for tracking spend and return so I can see where I’m getting the most bang for my buck…. not bad for the first few weeks of 2021, right?
Now it’s time for the hard part of long-term wealth-building: leaving it alone and letting it grow.
In the year ahead, I plan to continue writing about my experiences as a beginner investor, using the Stash app to build a portfolio in the stock market. I’m not saying you should do it, too — I’m just gonna try it myself and let you know what happens. I’m learning as I go, so if you’d like to come along for the ride, we’ll be learning together, hopefully doing our small part to turn the tables and win the wealth-building game, for the good of greater society.
Does that sound overly ambitious to you? Maybe we just haven’t allowed ourselves to think big enough before.
If you like anything you read here, please share this post with your social media networks to get more people thinking about how we can all start winning the wealth-building game together. Like to connect? Drop me a line or visit on Twitter.