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Invest Like A Woman: Surviving The Stock Market Scaries:

Finance

According to research done by Kiplinger, females are more methodical long-term investors than men. In general, we save more and we trade less. This means we don't expose ourselves to the friction costs of investing, which ultimately eat into any margin earned. Therefore, we earn more on our investments annually. Additionally female investors tend to be less eager to sell than male investors, which is ironic as most of the best investors say their worst decisions have been sell decisions.


Taking the first step towards investing can be daunting. I have first-hand experience of this. Fear is natural but what makes investing so worthwhile, is that the benefits far outweigh the risks. Since entering the market two years ago as a novice investor I have built up fundamental knowledgeable and understanding, my portfolio has expanded (better than any savings account or managed fund has returned for me), and I have really enjoyed the journey so far. However, I have really been struck that as a female investor I'm part of a very small minority, which doesn't help tackling that daunting fear I mentioned earlier, but rather exacerbates it.

At a recent hackathon I dug deep in this phenomenon to understanding the core reasons as to why more women either don't invest at all or at least to the same levels as men, despite it being proven that women are more successful at it. The main reasons I came away with were perception of affordability, potential risk, lack of trust, not knowing where to start and a lack of guidance.

The great thing about all of these challenges is that they all have solutions entirely within our own control. Given our natural predisposition to successful investing, I think it's about time that more women owned their financial future. I wholeheartedly believe, from first-hand experience, that stock market investing offers the best long-term opportunity to do so.

Here are five simple ways that have built my confidence to get started, and hopefully they will help you too.

Just Start

This is a scary thought, right, but it doesn't have to be. Starting is the most important step that essentially requires two things - time and money.

Time relates to the hours you are willing to invest in building the knowledge necessary to reduce the risks associated with making uninformed decisions. It's important to know the basics. I found the perfect app that helped me get started. Start where ever suits you best, but the important thing is to get started. Your knowledge also relates to the length of time that you are comfortable investing, which will change your potential for higher returns-- hence the importance of getting started, now.

The second thing that is required is money. People presume they can't afford to invest or that they need thousands to get started. When realistically you can start with as little as ten dollars (although I recommend starting with a bit more than that, so that you are cushioned against the costs of investing - transfer fees, commissions etc.). Many apps offer fractional share investing, meaning you can buy a fraction of a share if the full share price is too large for you.

I believe that there is no better experience than that which is gained from the actual act of investing. Once you make your first move you are committed and this sense of commitment will lead you to understand, with greater clarity, how stocks and the stock market operate.

Think Long-Term

I adopt the 'buy-and-hold' philosophy. This requires buying part of the companies that you understand and believe in, and holding them for the long term (ten+ years). The reason I adhere to this philosophy is because it has been tried, tested and proven to be the best way to outperform the market.

Never Borrow to Buy

Borrowed money comes at a cost, usually in the form of interest, which will over time eat into your returns. As a good habit, with each paycheck I receive, the first thing I do is save ten percent of my salary. Save whatever you can and before you know it you'll have a nice little bundle to dedicate exclusively to investing. Or, you could follow the rule of investing what you can, when you can and on a regular and fixed period each month.

Diversify

That famous adage, 'don't put all your eggs in one basket' can be perfectly applied to stock market investing. By spreading your risk across different stocks in various industries and diverse territories, you are providing yourself with the best opportunity to reduce your exposure should the market take a turn for the worse. Over time aim to build your portfolio to 12 stocks or more. You could even start with an ETF, which offers instant diversification.

Buy What You Believe In

Reflect on the brands that you consume every day. Whether it's Amazon, Apple, Nike or Netflix, start to build up your knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes of these companies. All listed companies have an Investor Relations page on their website. You can start there and get to know the nuts and bolts of the company.

From my experience investing has been a very enjoyable pursuit because I've invested in businesses that I believe in and understand. I have also learned a lot about new sectors, emerging trends and the broader business world along the way.

Since I began to invest it has only been a positive experience for me - even when the stocks that haven't performed as I expected have provided a learning opportunity. While some mistakes may be made along the way, there are ways to minimize these risks. Follow these five simple steps to build your confidence. Start today and enjoy the journey.

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Sneak Peek: Female. Likes Cheese. Comes with Dog: Stories About Dating, Divorce, And Saying "I Do"

Dating. Divorce. Marriage. Being single. None of it is easy.


I don't think any of us have the right answers or know exactly what we are doing when we navigate through relationships or breakups, even if we do take every Buzzfeed quiz there is out there. What I have found out though, is by writing this book, Female. Likes Cheese. Comes with Dog: Stories about Dating, Divorce & Saying "I Do" most everyone can relate to some part of it, whether it is having an awkward date, being dumped, or falling in love. The short stories read as if we are talking over drinks at a bar gossiping about our love life. It's as if, you, reader, are one of my best friends. I hope by reading this book you are reminded that you don't have to be anybody but you and your mistakes are simply memories to learn upon. Get comfy, grab a glass of wine (or your beverage of choice), cuddle with your furry companion (pet or otherwise), and enjoy…

From the chapter "Kansas & The Firepit" from Female. Likes Cheese. Comes with Dog: Stories about Divorce, Dating & Saying "I Do"

I had lost my dog to my ex. I was a mess. I thought this man was going to be by my side the rest of my life, I had gained a lot of weight. Not the kind of weight you gain when you tell your friend "OMG, Kelly, I, like, put on five pounds this summer because of all the partying I've been doing at the rooftop bars," but real weight. The weight that makes you feel totally inadequate. The weight that makes you say, Hey I might as well keep eating because it doesn't matter anymore. I was inconsolable during that summer.

I still wasn't completely out of my trash TV and alcohol phase, but I had switched to vodka, at least. Which, let's be real, just hides the fact that you're an alcoholic. I wasn't really talking to anyone about my problems. My mom tried to take me to fat camp. Yes, fat camp. When your mother says the reason why you're not happy is because you're fat, there comes a point where you really don't know whether to laugh, cry, or drink. I think I did all three. The reason why I wasn't happy was because I was going through a divorce, and my life was unraveling. I was not only unhappy but also fat, so I guess there was some truth to that. It was just what I needed to hear to get myself back to reality.

While cleaning the kitchen one day, I walked by a pair of boxing gloves. Boxing was something I had always been interested in. Watching it on TV and having some friends that had done it professionally, I figured I would take the plunge and put this "body after breakup" into motion.

There was only one boxing club in our area for fitness. I walked into the afternoon classes knowing that I was going to be a little out of my element, but I'm not afraid of a challenge. I'm an outgoing person and being sports savvy, I knew that I would catch on quickly. The guy teaching the class, Kansas, was very attractive. Ladies, you know how in yoga when you have to do the sun god pose? Well, let's just say he was what you would hope a sun god looked like. With sweat glistening down the side of his face, it was almost as if the ceiling parted and angels started singing as he stood over you telling you, "Ten more!" as you got down for ab rounds between punches. This guy was exciting. He was energetic. He was. . . constantly checking on me during class to make sure my form was correct, since I was new, and let's face it—I was totally OK with the attention. After class I signed up for a one-year membership and became addicted, not just because I loved the workouts but also because of the hot trainer.

I started coming to class three times a week, initially taking only Kansas's classes, but not wanting to look obvious when I really started crushing on him, I had to mix it up. I mean, this is Crushing 101. This was my first crush out of the gate post-divorce, so exactly what you think would happen, happened. Kansas became my rebound guy. I would make any excuse to linger after class (which, looking back, just made me look desperate), but then sometimes I would switch it up and leave. I mean, it was a game. I was trying to figure out if he was interested or not. It was exhausting. After talking after class for a few weeks, I happened to mention a home improvement project I had been thinking of working on. Being the good listener (stalker?) that I was, I knew he just happened to be interested in home improvements, as he did many of his own. I figured that would be a great way to get to know each other better and for him to fall completely in love with me, of course. Duh. Now I had a reason to cross something off my "list". I love sitting outside and having a glass of wine and listening to music by a fire. I wasn't really sure how I was going to accomplish this task on my own, but recruiting a fine gentleman like Kansas would be a good start. So, he agreed to my firepit project, and after gathering supplies at Home Depot, he came over, and I quote to you from my journal, I kid you not:

So today he shows up, and we are in the backyard digging the hole, and he takes his shirt off. His body is a wonderland! I mean sweat is just glistening down his torso. So I had to change the subject somehow and shut my gaping mouth, so like an idiot I say, "Oh, look, a callus on my hand," and he says, "Those on a woman are sexy." FML.

Ladies and gentlemen, do you want to know what I did that day? Something so adult and so mature: I pushed him into the dirt. I pushed that beautiful body into the dirt. I couldn't take it. I was like a schoolkid on a playground. Because that is the type of tantrum this lady used to throw. Kansas took it as flirting. I took it as frustration, because I couldn't tell a boy I liked him at the time.

This whole awkward flirting game went on for a few more weeks. Kansas would come over, and we'd dig more holes (to bury my dignity in) or set stones—I don't know. I thought rebound guys were supposed to be fun, casual things, but this wasn't fun at all. This was like homework in school. Every day I'd come home from "class," and I'd strategize on what I needed to do to make better "grades." If I had actually spent half the time in real school that I spent on Kansas, I would've had a 4.0. I was having to chase him, but I almost didn't know what race I was running. After all, I hadn't dated since 1884. So I figured if the firepit thing didn't work, then I'd write him a poem... Like a moron...