From a young age I have loved numbers.
I suspect this passion for numbers contributed to my interest in finance. By the time I turned 15 and had my first W-2 job working as a dishwasher, I was ready to start investing in the stock market.
What a different world it was back in 1987. Back then, there was no discount broker, no online, no internet. There were only full service brokers where you had to stop by your broker’s office or phone them and place your order that came with a commission usually in the $30-50 range per trade.
My first investment was made on Oct. 19, 1987, a day in the investment world known as Black Monday, because the Dow Jones Industrial Average would go on to shed 22.6% of its value in one day.
***Interesting geeky note. This day is known as Black Tuesday in Australia and New Zealand as well as other parts of the world. Can you figure out why?***
While some may look back on my initial interaction with the stock market as unfortunate luck, I could not consider myself more blessed.
I lost a great deal of that initial investment in that first day, but it was a humbling lesson. It taught me to respect financial markets and know the risks involved with eschewing conservative financial shelters, like savings accounts, for seemingly stable investments like the stock market.
The stock market crash of 1987 also provided a healthy respect for each penny I earned. The minimum wage for Vermont in 1987 was $3.35 an hour, if I recall correctly. I’m not sure how much I lost that day, but suppose it was $335. That would have been equivalent to 100 hours worked at my dishwashing job. It would have taken me five weeks of working part-time during school at 20 hours per week to make that much money.
Five weeks of working hard as a dishwasher and nothing to show for it in terms of money earned at the end of that day.
To read the rest of my story at the Army Wife Network, click here.