The world of investing is filled with life lessons. Personal memories and stories from our past can easily be related to our thoughts and emotions about investing as adults. A question I often pose to people is, “Tell me about your first memory of money.” The responses are always different. However, these responses tell a story about your personal investment profile.
For example, my first memory of money is, well . . . not having money. My father was a minister and my mother was a stay-at-home mom, so we did not have much financially. If I wanted to have something “extra” I had to work hard to get it. In the fourth grade, I started working in a fruit orchard in a small town called Emmett, Idaho. After I had worked for four years and saved what I considered a fortune, my father told me about something called “the Stock Market.”
My father made an appointment with a local broker. He was busy attending to his duties as a minister, so my mother and I met the broker in his office and I told him I wanted to buy the stock of an oil company called Unocal (which is now a part of Chevron). My father had insisted that I buy Unocal and my mother wanted me to make the decision myself. However, the broker had different ideas, such as an electronics company called Carver. What a dilemma for a 13 year-old-boy. Buy stock in a company that refined oil or buy stock in a company that made loud stereo equipment? Unfortunately, I went for the stereo equipment.
In those days, I had to look at the newspaper to see how my stock had performed the day before and I did so diligently. At first, it performed well, making some initial gains. It was not too long and suddenly the stock started to fall. The company went bankrupt a few years later and I lost all of my hard earned money. If I had listened to my father, I would have purchased 100 shares of Unocal that day. In 2005, Chevron and Unocal finalized their merger and Unocal stock holders received 1.03 shares of Chevron which is around $100 a share today. My worthless stereo equipment would have been worth somewhere around $10,000 today!
How does that relate to my personal investment philosophy? Mine sounds like this: “I am a conservative investor. I want to protect the finances I have earned and provide for my family’s future.” I learned three main things from that initial memory of money. First, always value and protect the things you’ve worked hard for. Second, always do your homework first and have a good understanding of what you are buying. And finally, I learned that my father was a much wiser man than I gave him credit for as a teenager.
So, what’s your first memory of money? Recalling that first memory can be an important step towards understanding your financial decisions. I would love to hear your story. Give me a call!
Altana Federal Credit Union
24th Street Branch