5 Tips of Investment Advice for Teenagers

Got a request for investment advice from a high school senior who reads my blog. Here’s what he asked.

“I know I’m very new to this, and your 7 steps for beginners gives me the confidence to take the initiative to invest. What kind of advice would you have for a high school senior? It’s hard to find information about people investing while in school and if you have any advice to share I would greatly appreciate it.” –Frank

If I could go back in time, what would I say to my teenage self?

investing advice for teenagers

1. Avoid debt at all costs
If you want to become wealthy, debt is the biggest obstacle in your path. This one hits me hard, because I bought the idea that student loans are normal. Hook, line, and sinker.

Don’t get me wrong, a college education is crucial towards your development and success. But a student loan is not the keys to a trust fund. And I spent money like it was.

There were plenty of times when I had student loan money left over. Instead of using the money wisely, I wasted on who knows what. Lots of my friends did the same thing too. Also, I didn’t utilize used textbooks websites til late in my college career. Hundreds of dollars down the drain. Don’t forget the thousands of dollars I spent in tuition because I graduated in 5 years instead of 4. Or the time that I chose the much more pricey on-campus apartments because they were cool.

Look, I made mistakes when I was young. We all do. But I wouldn’t trade my experiences for the world. A lot of what I’ve done has made me into the person I am today.

That being said, if I were to do it all over again… I’d graduate with a lot less student loan debt. And I would’ve started investing a lot earlier than I did. These are the little things that can make a big difference over the long run.

2. Build a savings habit
This is one of the hardest things for grown “adults” to do. Trust me, that little voice in your head that wants to be a spoiled brat NEVER goes away.

You don’t have to become Ebenezer Scrooge, but even just a little bit of savings can go a long way.

If you are a teenager, you don’t have many bills anyways. $10 a paycheck (if you’re working part time) can turn into $500 a year. If you earn 11% on that $500 in the stock market over 47 years (from age 18 to 65), you’d have $67,000. That can buy you a pretty nice Audi. Or if you’re really greedy, you can invest that $67,000 in a dividend paying stock and earn $3,000 a year in dividends.

All that is just on one year’s savings. Imagine if you made it into a habit, and did it every year. Add $10 a week, every week for 47 years, and you’d have $716,292! The power of compounding interest and good stock market returns is truly incredible.

You don’t have to be wealthy, especially if you are young. There is power in starting now.

3. Study stocks, bonds, investing
You’re on this website, and that’s a good start. Commit to finding more education about money and investing. A thirst for knowledge is critical if you want success.

Learn how to research stocks, how to read balance sheets, how to find value, and how to avoid value traps. I truly believe we are on the cusp of a new wave of investors who are equipped with stock market knowledge like never before. The Internet is not even 20 years old. The stock market is over 500 years old. Things are going to get interesting.

On top of that, learn about as many investing strategies as you can. Don’t stop at the first one you learned. Learn about value investing, growth investing, momentum investing, trend following, index investing, and asset allocation. Figure out what makes the most sense to you, and apply that to your strategies.

Don’t just blindly follow what anyone says.

investment advice

4. Learn about and create a second income
Entrepreneurship is probably your best chance at financial freedom. Create a “side hustle” for yourself as soon as possible. Learn what it takes to attract attention, leads and customers. Figure out how you can make money out of thin air, by providing value to others.

Absorb yourself into the world of podcasting and blogging. These have wide breadths of precious information like we’ve never seen before. Consider starting your own blog, podcast, YouTube channel, product, anything. Avoid being one of those people who always talks about the cool things they want to do but never do it. Be a doer, not a planner.

Learn how to sell. Learn about copywriting (sales page writing). If you want to know where the money is in the online world, copywriting is it. Pick up books on the topic, create your own sales page, and try to send some Google ads or Bing ads at it. Try and try and try again until something clicks.

Most of all, be humble and always trying to learn. Entrepreneurs are the best people to learn from, because they’ve been in your shoes before. I remember the first time I made money off the internet, on my own as an entrepreneur, and how exciting that was. I also remember how little I knew back then. But that’s ok. Be a sponge.

5. Be patient, young grasshopper
Enjoy life. Be adventurous. Take risks. Be young, careless and free. Explore.

The game of money is really that, just a game. You’re only young once, and there’s so much truth to that. My fondest memories have to do with some of my biggest screw ups and mistakes.

But have the smarts to discern between something that could really screw up your future, or something that’s harmless fun.

In the end, if you do these things you’ll probably get rich. But it won’t happen overnight.

BONUS TIP: Fail fast and never give up

The greatest success stories always share perseverance through failure. Life sucks, and it’s not going to go according to plan.

But no matter what cards you get dealt, you MUST NOT QUIT. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Oprah was fired because she “wasn’t a good fit for TV”. The Beatles were told by a record label that they had no future in show business.

The difference between success and failure is your will to succeed. Multimillionaires like Dave Ramsey and Donald Trump have gone bankrupt. A seemingly impossible obstacle is not a permanent failure.

Get failure out of your head. It’s ok to fail. You’re supposed to fail.

But pick yourself up, every single time. You’re gonna go far, kid.

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