Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I haven’t always been responsible with money – probably because it requires a logical, practical responsibility that just seemed desperately boring when I was young and dumb naïve. I used to believe that the purpose of money was to buy things that I wanted; that money’s role was to facilitate me having fun. And despite a pervasively empty bank account in my early 20’s, I persisted in the magical thinking that there would always be more. I didn’t worry and I didn’t save. I just spent, spent, spent.
It took me a long time and a lot of hard work to clean up my own mess. But I did it.
Today, I’m happy to report I value money differently. First and foremost, money offers security to me and my family. But yes, we have fun too. I even get my own allowance to do with what I please. I spend my allowance on dinners out with a friends, movies, or coffee (translation: chocolate milk) dates with my girls. Almost always, I spend my personal money in situations where I’m deepening connections with other people.
But as I’m busy enjoying my friends, I’ve been watching my husband, B, grow his allowance by dabbling in the stock market. He’s getting good at picking penny stocks and watching his allowance grow over time. It’s infuriating. I mean – who INVESTS their allowance?!?!? Answer: My husband does. And it’s working. He’s built up quite a little rainy day fund for himself in the past few months.
So, not to be outdone, I thought to myself – What’s keeping ME from playing the stock market? Well, first and foremost, I know nothing about it.
I’m nearly 36 years old, work for a major financial institution, am largely responsible with money (401k, savings, etc) and had to google “how to buy your first stock.” Shame.
Turns out there are amazing websites devoted to helping people like me. A couple of them have Kindergarten-level descriptions of the stock market, stocks, and the different ways to evaluate which which stocks to buy.
Unfortunately for me, all of these sites seemed to be missing something. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I realized that I don’t want to invest in a company just because it’s going to maybe help me grow my rainy day fund. I want to invest in a company I believe in.
So on the one hand I had my market research (P/E ratio, 52 week high/low, price, company financials, dividend yields, etc) and on the other hand I had my spirit of social justice and need to do something good in the world. It took some time and even more googling, but I actually found an inexpensive stock that met my market parameters and also had an interesting story to tell. The market name for this company is FHCO (Female Health Company).
Already sounds interesting, right?
My research uncovered some enticing info about this company:
The Female Health Company (FHCO) is a little known company that has helped reduce the occurrence of serious diseases and unwanted pregnancies in many countries around the world. FHCO is the primary manufacturer of the female condom (under the FC2 brand) that is distributed across the world. This product is one of very few that empowers women around the world to make the choice to protect themselves from both unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.”
I know the stock market is risky. And I also know that I don’t have the time or interest to follow it most days. I had $100 to play with and I accepted that I could lose it all in no time. But it feels good to root for this company with my small investment.
A day or so later, I posted this during a self-congratulatory moment:
Within 48 hours of purchasing my handful of FHCO shares, the stock market took a dive. Turns out, investing in stocks is really an exercise in being measured in response to others’ vacillating points of view. Depending on the article, my choice to invest in FHCO was either brilliant or idiotic.
At the end of the day, I’m not trying to make a million dollars and I won’t invest what I’m not willing to lose. Perhaps that’s why this little experiment feels fun AND fulfilling. In fact, I’m already on the prowl for the next company I can cheer on from the sidelines of Wall Street.