While attending Penn State Law, I made $300,000 in thirteen months by buying and selling stocks. When people hear my story of success, they ask the obvious question: "how?". After all, school in general -- but especially law school -- is supposed to be a drain on the finances. How had I overcome the enormous amount of debt school poses for most and actually grown my assets in the process?
The simple answer…I was tired. I was tired of the cycle of debt. Tired of being broke, living paycheck to paycheck, working forty hours each week and having nothing but paid bills to show for it. Most of us trade time for money to buy what we want or need. I decided I wanted to track my money well into the future. So, I became an investor and bought stocks.
I'm not really one for planning out all of the finer details. One day I simply jumped off the cliff and opened a brokerage account. You can do the same thing, learning as you go. The following simple mindset changes and steps helped me solidify hundreds of thousands in earnings:
Step 1: Blow past fear.
People fear investing in stocks because they often don't understand the process or terminology. I understand this apprehension intimately because I too was once afraid of the idea of putting my money in the stock market. No way was I going to waste my hard-earned money "gambling" on stocks. But wealth is created through investments (real estate, stocks, starting a business, etc.). This is why it's vital to push past fear and misunderstandings about stock investing. Had I never moved beyond my fear I wouldn't be writing this article today. The first step in every journey is always the hardest part, and moving beyond fear is a difficult but mandatory first step if you plan to grow your finances through investing.
Step 2: Invest extra money.
During my first semester of law school, I used money from my refund check and purchased stocks in Amazon. I had never purchased stocks before and had no background in finance, licensing, or experience. Initially, I had no idea which stocks to purchase or what was a good investment. I figured Amazon was a company unlikely to go out of business anytime soon. Plus, I shop on Amazon so why not invest where I consume. By investing, I could see where my money was spent, and also have an opportunity to watch it grow.
I realize not everyone will have extra money lying around from scholarship refunds. Each version of investing "extra money" will differ and might come in the form of income tax refunds, inheritances, or holiday bonuses from your job. Any windfall apart from your paycheck is always the first place to start. Additionally, "extra money" may have to be generated using a bit of creativity. This creativity might be switching from cable to a low-cost streaming service, skipping a personal luxury each month (i.e. hair treatment/cut, pedicure, eating at a restaurant, etc.) or having a garage sale of things no longer used. Many believe you need mountains of money to begin. But the reality is stocks can be an affordable investment, and you can begin purchasing stocks on almost any budget. A stock portfolio can be built little-by-little on your own or by investing in a mutual fund where a professional selects the stocks for you.
Step 3: Prepare for your next money move.
After investing in companies like Amazon, Netflix, Tilray, and Beyond Meat I had found much success in the stock market. However, the goal is to avoid stagnation and continue to make your money grow over and over again. To accomplish this, you must continue to educate yourself on new investment opportunities. Take advantage of the many great financial apps available through your smartphone. You can use these apps to check the pulse on the housing market, economy, unemployment rate, and more. Knowing different areas will help you plan when you should consider buying and selling stocks, adding bonds to your portfolio, purchasing new IPOs, or even diversifying into real estate. One way I chose to increase my wealth was to take profits from the stocks I sold and invest in my retirement account (IRA). By using money earned in the stock market to fund my retirement contributions, I can grow my money even further through years of compound interest.
Ultimately, if you are unsure where to begin with investing, simply take it one step at a time. Begin by committing to read one finance article each week. This exercise introduces you to terminology and keeps you informed on market movements. Follow finance pages on social media for integrated exposure. When scrolling your favorite news feed those finance pages will sprinkle in quick tips to help you understand investing. Finally, pick up a used copy of the book "Personal Finance for Dummies". This is a cheap, simple, and straightforward guide to understanding a world that seems complex, but in reality, is very manageable.
With so many groundbreaking medical advances being revealed to the world every single day, you would imagine there would be some advancement on the plethora of many female-prevalent diseases (think female cancers, Alzheimer's, depression, heart conditions etc.) that women are fighting every single day.
For Anna Villarreal and her team, there frankly wasn't enough being done. In turn, she developed a method that diagnoses these diseases earlier than traditional methods, using a pretty untraditional method in itself: through your menstrual blood.
Getting from point A to point B wasn't so easy though. Villarreal was battling a disease herself and through that experience. “I wondered if there was a way to test menstrual blood for female specific diseases," she says. "Perhaps my situation could have been prevented or at least better managed. This led me to begin researching menstrual blood as a diagnostic source. For reasons the scientific and medical community do not fully understand, certain diseases impact women differently than men. The research shows that clinical trials have a disproportionate focus on male research subjects despite clear evidence that many diseases impact more women than men."
There's also no denying that gap in women's healthcare in clinical research involving female subjects - which is exactly what inspired Villarreal to launch her company, LifeStory Health. She says that, “with my personal experience everything was brought full circle."
“There is a challenge and a need in the medical community for more sex-specific research. I believe the omission of females as research subjects is putting women's health at risk and we need to fuel a conversation that will improve women's healthcare.,"
Her brand new biotech company is committed to changing the women's healthcare market through technology, innovation and vocalization and through extensive research and testing. She is working to develop the first ever, non-invasive, menstrual blood diagnostic and has partnered with a top Boston-area University on research and has won awards from The International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering and Northeastern University's RISE.
How does it work exactly? Proteins are discovered in menstrual blood that can quickly and easily detect, manage and track diseases in women, resulting in diseases that can be earlier detected, treated and even prevented in the first place. The menstrual blood is easy to collect and since it's a relatively unexplored diagnostic it's honestly a really revolutionary concept, too.
So far, the reactions of this innovative research has been nothing but excitement. “The reactions have been incredibly positive." she shares with SWAAY. “Currently, menstrual blood is discarded as bio waste, but it could carry the potential for new breakthroughs in diagnosis. When I educate women on the lack of female subjects used in research and clinical trials, they are surprised and very excited at the prospect that LifeStory Health may provide a solution and the key to early detection."
To give a doctor's input, and a little bit more of an explanation as to why this really works, Dr. Pat Salber, MD, and Founder of The Doctor Weighs In comments: “researchers have been studying stem cells derived from menstrual blood for more than a decade. Stem cells are cells that have the capability of differentiating into different types of tissues. There are two major types of stem cells, embryonic and adult. Adult stem cells have a more limited differentiation potential, but avoid the ethical issues that have surrounded research with embryonic stem cells. Stem cells from menstrual blood are adult stem cells."
These stem cells are so important when it comes to new findings. “Stem cells serve as the backbone of research in the field of regenerative medicine – the focus which is to grow tissues, such as skin, to repair burn and other types of serious skin wounds.
A certain type of stem cell, known as mesenchymal stem cells (MenSCs) derived from menstrual blood has been found to both grow well in the lab and have the capability to differentiate in various cell types, including skin. In addition to being used to grow tissues, their properties can be studied that will elucidate many different aspects of cell function," Dr. Salber explains.
To show the outpour of support for her efforts and this major girl power research, Villarreal remarks, “women are volunteering their samples happily report the arrival of their periods by giving samples to our lab announcing “de-identified sample number XXX arrived today!" It's a far cry from the stereotype of when “it's that time of the month."
How are these collections being done? “Although it might sound odd to collect menstrual blood, plastic cups have been developed to use in the collection process. This is similar to menstrual products, called menstrual cups, that have been on the market for many years," Dr. Salber says.
Equally shocking and innovative, this might be something that becomes more common practice in the future. And according to Dr. Salber, women may be able to not only use the menstrual blood for early detection, but be able to store the stem cells from it to help treat future diseases. “Companies are working to commercialize the use of menstrual blood stem cells. One company, for example, is offering a patented service to store menstrual blood stem cells for use in tissue generation if the need arises."