The 51 Steps of Becoming an Investor

October 14, 2013 — 10 Comments

Investing is a foreign subject for most of us – whether we like to admit it or not. Even though I majored in Finance, it still took me a long time to learn what the whole “investing” thing was all about. Fear not, just like the timeline of an entrepreneur, you can now see where you stand in the progression of investing!! For many of us, it goes something like this:

1. “Dow”, “NASDAQ”, and “stock market” might as well be Latin for as much as you understand them
2. Hear someone on TV talk about the importance of investing
3. Realize you should probably start paying attention
4. Your “friend” the financial advisor offers to meet with you
5. Decline their offer for the fifth time but know you are running out of excuses
6. Google the term “Investing” and 230,000,000 websites pull up offering to help you get started – you learn what “Dow” means
7. Close the webpage because Modern Family is on
8. Parents ask you if you’ve started investing yet, you lie and say yes and explain to them what the “Dow” is
9. Get back online and read some more
10. Realize you truly have no idea how to get started
11. Set up a meeting with the HR rep at work who helps you get your 401k started
12. Do a happy dance because now you’re officially investing
13. Open up the account and realize you have no idea what it actually is, but you just know they’re now taking more money out of your check
14. Do an angry dance because your check is smaller
15. See your first contribution go into your 401k account
16. Tell your friends, parent, neighbors, and perspective boyfriends/girlfriends that you’re now investing in the market
17. Watch CNBC
18. Get scared when the person on CNBC says the market is going to tank
19. Check your 401k account, see you only have $75 in it; the stock market tanking wouldn’t hurt you much


20. Realize you haven’t watched CNBC in a while
21. Try to log onto your 401k account and realize you don’t know the password
22. Reset your password, see that you now have $1,500 in your account!
23. Do another happy dance, turn on CNBC
24. Participate in Yahoo’s Stock Pick’em, realize you should pay more attention to your account
25. Open your own trading account on Scottrade, put in your first $250 to trade
26. Buy 5 shares of your favorite restaurant’s stock, freak out when it drops 10%, sell
27. Check your Yahoo Pick’em account and see your money has doubled – how come you can’t do this in real life?!?!?
28. Get discouraged because your investment accounts are so low
29. Tell yourself that at this rate, you’ll never be able to retire, and won’t ever see six figures in your accounts
30. Keep plugging away and putting money in
31. Decide day trading is the only way for to ever have a good amount of money
32. Buy the penny stock your friend told you about because the stock is “getting ready to take off”
33. Lose all of your investment when the company goes bankrupt, learn that day-trading is a bad idea
34. Throw the remote down, turn off CNBC
35. Turn Modern Family on


36. Gained confidence and knowledge now makes you feel comfortable in knowing where to put your money
37. Stacks of financial books now cover your bookshelf (ok, only a stack of two)
38. Open accounts and realize you’re now over $50,000 in investments!
39. Do a happy dance
40. Realize you have a long way to go if you ever want to retire
41. Run a retirement calculator that says you’ll need $2 million to retire comfortably
42. Throw down the remote
43. Increase your 401k contribution amount because you got a raise


44. Gasp as you open your account and realize you’re up to $120,000 in investments!!!
45. Stock market drops, you now have $105,000
46. Throw down the remote, swear you’re never going to invest again


47. Stock market recovered, your nest egg has grown, and now you’re up to $200,000!
48. You realize you no longer need to take big risks like day trading, instead you just want your money to continue growing slowly
49. Stock market moves no longer worry you because you’re invested for the long term
50. You help friends figure out the whole investing thing
51. Your contributions are on autopilot, but you continue to make portfolio adjustments as necessary

A LONG TIMER LATER….. you retire and you have $1.2 million, not the $2 million the calculator told you to get, but enough to have a happy retirement!

This may not be the exact steps you’ll go through, but most people will go through something like this. Investing isn’t easy, but the hardest part is just getting started. After that, as long as you continue to stay involved and read more about it, you’ll start to understand it all.

If you need help getting started, check out my how to start investing post.  What do you think, are there more steps of becoming an investor?

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10 responses to The 51 Steps of Becoming an Investor

  1. This sounds auto-biographical. Or maybe it’s just me. We still have a ways to go before we can get into this.

    This may be miss information from long ago in my life, but I was once told that you needed to buy stocks in blocks of 100. The only way to get around that was to work with a group.

    • Hey Jon, possibly a bit autobiographical as it’s written from my (and other’s) experiences! The 100 block increments might have been true when you had to purchase through brokers, but you can easily buy any number of shares (even 1) through the online sites now

  2. This is so true. I saw a little of me in some of the steps. The fact is, if one doesn’t get started investing one will never build wealth or an nice nest egg for the future.

  3. Dan — I was never a day trader and anyone who tries to time the market is crazy. I think the individual investor is better served by investing in mutual funds and possibly putting aside some savings to put in a stock that s/he has thoroughly researched. When even professional investors get it wrong — and they do — the small fish don’t stand a chance.

    • Jeannette – I couldn’t agree more with you. Whenever we get into the day trading mindset, we might as well spend all of our money at the casino because at the least the odds are somewhat better there!

  4. Investing? Huh? Is that a word? I thought money was to spend and enjoy!

    Of course, I don’t do either one. I have no money…yet…since I’m not a famous author! (Yet being the key word.) LOL

  5. Yeah, I think I remember almost all of those steps. LOL Doing better now, but still have some distance to cover to reach our goals.

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