No SCOTUS news, just STFU news cycle

Hi friends!

Hello, hi, hola, remember me? I spent 10 days reporting from near El Paso, Texas, on the family separation policy and obviously three year olds in immigration court was more important than this newsletter, but I'm glad to be back.

Welcome you to Better Have My Money, my Monday night newsletter about stocks for newbies who are a lil confused by the stock market! Better Have My Money is a gif-filled rundown of thing I'm learning from my own tiny brand new stock portfolio (from how to buy a share, to figuring out which public companies are run by women, to picking cheapish stocks to buy) and the things we're figuring out together.

One of the things I'm figuring out right now... why should we care about stocks when it feels like the whole world is burning down? Babies being separated from their parents, white people constantly calling the police on black people, journalists being killed in newsrooms, constant crowdfunding of medical care, a new conservative Supreme Court Justice possibly putting Roe v Wade at risk and trade wars. The news cycle is exhausting and depressing.

Maybe the entire economy as we know it will collapse (ahem late capitalism), and if so, then what's the point of investing in the stock market?


Yes, I really spiraled quickly.


But I've been thinking lately more about why I invest and what the benefit of learning about stocks is for me.

1. For me, stocks — whether that be buying them or just the market itself — always felt like something that didn't apply to me or my friends

I'm female, a foreigner, I work in a semi-creative industry. I graduated college in 2009 just as the entire global economy collapsed. Stocks either felt like a thing for fancy rich white guys on Wall Street who own homes in the Hamptons OR it felt like sad rich white guys on Wall Street who have just lost their home in the Hamptons cause of the crashing market.I figured you needed thousands of dollars before you could start a stock portfolio. I didn't know how you even bought a share — do you... call a trader on the phone? Like in the movies? (no, you don't do that, just read this). It felt overwhelming and not for someone like me to be involved in, until my friends started buying some shares and then I was inspired to buy some and then I realized that it was not nearly as confusing and overwhelming as I had thought.

I saw a tweet the other day that reminded me of what made me so frustrated:​Jim Cramer is a super famous former hedge fund manager and stock market guru who founded The Street, a publication about stocks and financial news and apparently he yells on TV a lot (I don't really watch TV, sorry). He probably has very good financial advice! He certainly has a nice garden (I wondered if this garden was in the Hamptons, and of course it is).
 But... here's why his tweet pissed me off. Firstly, the idea that people need $10,000 before they can buy individual stocks. ​I get that he's not assuming you have $10k from the get-go, but it still feels like he's saying your share portfolio "needs" a min of $10k to get started. Cool, so I'm screwed before I've even started.

Confusing term of the week: "individual stocks" — that just means stocks from a single company, rather than from a fund, aka Apple stocks are "individual stocks". Buying stocks of companies means you're buying individual stocks. 

But $10k just feels overwhelming to me and to most people I know. Maybe to you too? If I needed $10k to get started buying stocks, I wouldn't own any stocks.Second, the thing that drives me bonkers about his tweet is not that he's telling people to buy ETFs. That's wise! I don't do it, but literally I am no financial expert and every single study shows that's what you should do and I've written about this before!

However, one key reason I don't do it is that I want to learn and follow market news and see how things change and practice buying and selling and maybe losing some money and see what works and learn more.

Rather than the stock market just be this big giant MYSTERY that is too much for my lady brain to comprehend, I want to make it learn about how it has worked historically and how it reacts today, so that I can better understand the world we live in and use that knowledge to build my own wealth aka beat the rich white men at their own game. You... don't do that with ETFs. You buy them and then you twiddle your damn thumbs cause there's nothing else to do. They follow the market. That's it. There's nothing much to read or study or learn about, because you're not following a company or an industry (depending on your ETF obviously). You don't get any smarter and I write this newsletter so that people learn about stocks and the market and realize that this is a world they can be part of too. 

2. Money is so, so, so important and can disappear in a heartbeat.

There was a devastating piece written by a New York Times editor in The Baffler this week about how he graduated with $100,000 worth of student debt shortly after his two parents were laid off from their jobs in 2008 in the middle of the financial crisis — and then his mother got cancer — and what debt has meant for their lives. "Now thirty years old, I have been incapacitated by debt for a decade. The delicate balancing act my family and I perform in order to make a payment each month has become the organizing principle of our lives," writes M.H. Miller.
In no way am I trying to claim that his family should have invested in stocks — literally the market collapsed and destroyed people's 401k and retirement funds at the time. But it was a reminder of how precarious money in the US can be and why you need to be constantly aware of how it can all disappear.

So, right now, while neither myself, my partner or my parents are ill (knock on wood), and the economy is OK and my life is OK, I'm trying to invest money and make money off stocks while I can. Get ahead a bit, in preparation for the shit time.

Here's how my stocks look right now (since I haven't worked it out for a few weeks, I removed the "change from last week" column, but I am up 6% overall since my last newsletter. And yes, Netflix continues to be the best investment by a mile).And, making more money means there is more to give away. For example, RAICES Texas is raising bond money to free parents who've been separated from their children and other immigrants who have been detained after crossing the border, if you want to throw some money their way.


As always, if you've got any questions about stocks, this is a shame free zone. Just reply and ask away.

And, are you at least making some money with the market jumping around? Tell me your hot tips and why you like them.

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 also clueless af about stocks but worried about how crap the world is? Forward this onto them and tell them to subscribe.

What particular piece of world news is crushing you and what is restoring your faith in humanity? Please reply to this email and tell me, I need it (you cannot only respond with crushing news).