B-b-buckle your pants, this is a big deal.
Truth is, there should be a dozen things on a list somewhere. But in the video I posted today on YouTube, I talk about investing in index funds. Specifically, buying VTSAX through Vanguard.
If you're between the ages of 10-17, get da book. Talk with your parents about this - you're never too young to start taking control of your finances... this can seriously change your life.
When I was 15 I WANTED this, and even asked around about ways to get ahead in life. But the adults in my life didn't know enough about this stuff to point me in the right direction. No worries, I'm on the right track now - and I feel great about it! I was lucky enough to start as young as 21.
Tell your folks, 'I'd love for you to open a brokerage account for me through Vanguard or Wealthfront. I'd do it but I legally can't until I'm 18:(" (keep reading for more info)
If you have parents that plan to pay for your college, tell them that you'd like to talk about that brokerage account becoming where your college fund is built in the meantime.
If you aren't sure about college, tell them that you heard from J.L. Collins that investing for the long-term is smart and that it's never too young to start.
If you're between the ages of 18-30... PLEASE get this book. I prefer the audiobook version because the author is the voice you hear - he does a great job reading it. But the financial journey he's talking about in the book is a 40 year long journey. That 40 years starts the moment you first buy a compounding investment like VTSAX. So the sooner the better.
If you're between the ages of 30-40, seriously consider index funds. The difference between not saving/investing at all and actually investing in something like VTSAX is life changing. I'm only three years into my journey and despite the recent 'crash' (kinda) of the stock market, I'm loving my investment and feel great about the spending/saving habits I've built through this book.
If You're Starting With No Experience
While I'm about 85% sure you won't be able to find VTSAX through wealthfront, that doesn't matter for a beginner. The first things to learn are better savings habits and spending habits. Wealthfront is the perfect platform for someone in the very first stage of building new habits that will make them wealthy long-term. It's so easy to use, you can simply start your account without knowing a single thing about investing, and their system will walk you through the rest.
Some things to keep in mind are that vanguard will likely earn you more money over the long run, and will take less off the top. But I wouldn't worry too much about that (in fact, I didn't. I personally started on Wealthfront and then transferred all my money over to Vanguard after about 18 months of using the platform.)
Vanguard was not as easy to set up. Actually, I called the number on their website and the woman that answered was somewhat impatient. She didn't like all the questions I was asking, and acted like she had better things to do... Maybe she viewed me as a small fish - someone with too little money to be worth her time. But I didn't mind too much, I knew I wanted to be in Vanguard so I remained calm and patient as she walked me through setting up an account. I have a couple friends who also setup their Vanguard accounts via a phone call and they didn't experience anything like this, they liked who they ended up on the phone with - I just got unlucky :/
After my account was set up, I went to YouTube to watch tutorials others had posted on setting up their account. I'm not the only one that has read The Simple Path To Wealth! Many other YouTubers cite that book as the reason they started using Vanguard. Here's a YouTube video I watched when I was first setting up my account with Vanguard:
A Dumb Idea:
Now, imagine for a moment if middle school or high school teachers decided to buy this book for their class and teach about investing from a young age... Imagine if a school created it's own fake currency, something like monopoly money for students. Maybe the students ID links to their account with all their holdings, that way there's no risk of losing cash or a card. They can "buy" things around the school, or save it in the school's "index fund account" OR they can go around to specific teachers and buy their own class's stocks which can do well for a few weeks, and then do poorly, or go to $0, who knows! Every quarter of the school year acts like 10 years in an actual index fund account.
Maybe the entire student body should be split up into a number of groups.. Say, group 1 starts immediately, but group 2-5 don't get to start until the second quarter of the year or are offset by a few weeks.
You'd have teachers telling kids, "well, while you were away over the weekend, your investment cut your money in half." And hopefully the whole thing would be able to stay truly lighthearted. At the end of each quarter they could briefly talk about results at a pep rally. Ha! That'd be an interesting experiment which would hopefully be fun for students and teach them about a few fundamental life principles:
1) Investing isn't about getting rich FAST, it's about building good habits and balance around your earnings/spending/savings/investment holdings. A great area to seek maturity as an adult.
2) Adulting seems to be more fun for people that learn to control money, and less fun for people that feel like money controls them.
3) Sure, there's a benefit to starting early, but it's never too late to start.
4) How certain investments cost you more in taxes, and others cost significantly less.
5) I'm sure there's tons more to list here but I've grown bored at the moment thinking about this.
Thanks for reading!