Welcome to Better Have My Money, my weekly (ish) Monday night newsletter about investing, stocks and the messy world of money.
Long time no see! Once quarantine like, rly hit, the thought of doing a day’s work on my dining table and then moving to my couch to spend a few hours writing a newsletter, felt… insurmountable.
It still does a bit, which is why I am emerging back on a public holiday where I have had a nice calming three days off.
If you’re a newbie around here, hi! I’m Amber, I’m a breaking news reporter in my work life — this newsletter is a little space for me to talk about my own investments, feelings about money and suggestions for other clueless investing newbies.
To get yourself acquainted with the Better Have My Money world, I’d suggest getting yourself across a few past posts, particularly if you’re totally unsure if a stocks newsletter is even for you because you don’t have stocks or investments (it is for you! —and if you do have lots and are very wealthy, hey, this newsletter probably isn’t for you!):
how to feel about capitalism when you know it’s ruining everything but you also want to be financially independent
how markets go up, markets go down, and you should just chill out
figuring out which investments feel ethical aka why I personally don’t buy Amazon
go listen to Get Money, the podcast I co-host about how to get your money shit together
There’s a lot of shit more important than money right now. Nearly 100,000 people are dead in the US, millions have been sick and the loss is unbearable, particularly when collective mourning is near impossible.
Seeing people struggle with the choice between money or people is terrifying (please remember that wearing a mask is sexy).
And the economy has changed in truly profound ways. Nearly everyone I know’s money situation is different than it was in Jan. Maybe you’ve been furloughed. Maybe you’ve had your pay cut (*raises hand*). Maybe you’re supporting more people. Maybe your partner has been laid off. Maybe you’ve been laid off. Maybe you’re waiting for more layoffs to happen soon (*raises hand again*).
Nearly 40 million people have applied for unemployment in the US since the pandemic began. Which means a lot of people are thinking about money — and the lack thereof — in a different way because their steady employment is gone, perhaps forever.
And personally, my spending has changed. I’ve had extra costs (buying masks, an office chair, a laptop stand, a thermometer, a pulse oximeter). I’ve donated a crap ton more money than normal, and bought fundraiser merch. I paid to get my bike fixed and get a new bed frame and a portable dishwasher and a bunch of little home errands that would have been (happily) ignored if I wasn’t spending 23 hours a day in my little Brooklyn studio.
My groceries are more expensive because I’m buying them from restaurant suppliers and local restaurants turned grocery stores. I’m trying to spend locally and thoughtfully. Blah blah blah, all the things that most people are doing if they are lucky enough to have steady money right now, but also not the normal ~stuff~ we buy.
I’m fascinated to know though: how has the pandemic changed your spending? Has it made you pause your saving? How have your finances been affected and how are you coping? Comment and tell us!
One of the weirdest things for me? Watching my stocks do better than they have in the two and a bit years since I started buying them. My investment portfolios with Acorns and Ellevest are down, because they’re made up of ETFs and overall the market is still down, although it’s risen a lot since the February crash.
Confusing term of the week: “ETFs or Exchange Traded Funds” — basically a broad mix of stocks or bonds. Often they are a specific asset (such as “large-scale US businesses”) or tied to the whole market overall, like an index fund which tracks the top 500 companies and owns a tiny bit of each of them.
If you haven’t seen me do this before, I publish a list of all my individually owned stocks every few months. I last published my portfolio in Feb, so I figured it was worth doing a check in, because I honestly feel conflicted about it. I’m up 55% overall, in just over two years since I began investing.
Because some companies are doing really bloody well right now in this work-from-home COVID-19 world. Netflix, my biggest holding, is up 15% in the last three months, because what the hell else are we doing except sitting home and watching TV. Okta, basically a cloud-based intranet service for companies, is up nearly 50% in three months, because it’s a service that’s very helpful for a work-from-home employee. Same as Slack, which is still down from when I bought it, but is up 13% in the last three months.
Match is internet dating, which is what we are all doing when not watching Netflix, and Paypal helps internet shopping payments, so despite the fact that whole industries (travel, events, hospitality) have collapsed, for others the pandemic is good…. business?
Which feels totally bonkers, with nearly 40 million unemployed. Even watching which of the restaurants and bars near me were able to start selling grocery goods, or organized to-go cocktails, or started updating their Instagram accounts daily, has been a lesson in how some businesses can pivot and adapt to the market and are more likely to survive (and to be clear, it’s not always the ones you’re hoping for).
But do try and support the small businesses near you. And I also recommend, if it’s possible for you, to send some money to Give Directly, an org that hands out $1000 cash payments to people who need it (mainly single mothers) and let’s them decide how to spend it.
And I promise you won’t have to wait 10 weeks for the next newsletter.
Better Have My Money is on Twitter @bhavemymoney, so please tweet nice things (aka the link to our sign up page) and tag us. Got a mate who is spending like crazy right now? Forward this onto them and tell them to subscribe.
And shameless referral code time! You can use my referral code to get a free stock when you sign up to Robinhood, an app to buy and sell stocks which has free trading. And sign up to Acorns, an app which automatically rounds up your purchases and invests the spare change here and we both get $5. As always, if you've got any questions about stocks, this is a shame free zone. Just reply and ask away.