PART II – Stock Options and Money Management
I previously have written about creating meaningful traditions that last, and how in our family, one way to do this is with the special “Red Plate” that symbolizes a special event or achievement from one of us in our home. It can be a birthday, a graduation, special sporting event or accomplishment, or it could even be the day of a doctor’s appointment, but whomever comes to the kitchen table in the morning and sees the Red Plate at where they sit, they know they are going to be celebrated. Every one of us – my four sons, my wife Shawntel, and I – all look forward to seeing the Red Plate.
Our family has another way of creating meaningful traditions. Another major event happens when our boys reach their 10th birthday, when they have the opportunity to accompany me to a meeting with my stockbroker, and learn what the stock market is and how it works. And on that special day I place $1,000 into their stock account, and my boys have 100% control what happens to it – I let them manage it as they see fit, as long as they keep the money in the stock trading account. They are in charge of choosing the stocks, researching the companies, which I’ve found provides an invaluable lesson in beginning to understand financial management and develop skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.
My son Brennan made his first stock picks when he turned 10 years old this past July: Facebook, Apple and Amazon. Only 7 months after he picked his first stocks for his account, he’s seen a 21% gain in his portfolio. I’ll never forget taking his older brother Braden (who is now 22 years old) to open up his stock trading account when was 10 years old. He sat with my broker wearing a blue sport coat and so eager about what he was getting to do. Braden bought Coca Cola because it was his favorite drink, McDonalds because it was his favorite restaurant, Best Buy because he thought it was the coolest store, AOL because he loved the internet and Gateway because it was his computer. In his first two years Braden had a 38% return in his portfolio! That included a 6.7% return in his first several months, and his brother Brennan is even showing some of the same return results.
What does this show? That in investing, as in so many other areas of life, it’s good to go with what you know and like! I remember my brokers saying to the boys to not think of the stock market as charts, graphs or newspaper headlines but rather think of it as way to buy a part of the companies you think are great and that you think will be great for a long time, the Warren Buffet philosophy. The boys were instructed to take two weeks and ask me what companies that they liked were public or private. It was after two weeks that they were to buy companies they like, buy what their friends like, and what they and their friends would like for a long time. None of those things took a computer program to analyze.
This tradition of investing has imparted so much wisdom to my boys, like lessons in money management and sound investment principles. It’s also a good way to impart the values of saving as well has learning how money can be put to work for work, as opposed to spending money on things that don’t provide a valuable return.