Investing

Tips for new investors from the author of the newsletter 'Better Have My Money'

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Courtesy Amber Jamieson

Though she's quick to point out that she's not a financial expert, 33-year-old Amber Jamieson is becoming someone that young people look to for guidance when they're trying to get their financial lives together.

Jamieson, who's originally from Melbourne, Australia, but has lived in the U.S. for six years, is a breaking news reporter at BuzzFeed. Most of her time is spent chasing news stories, not writing or talking about money. Still, her weekly financial newsletter, "Better Have My Money," which has several thousand subscribers, has resonated with many people who are curious about investing, and she's co-hosting a new podcast, "Get Money," targeted at users who are "done with confusing (and boring)" financial advice.

The newsletter, which she's been writing for two years, walks readers through Jamieson's own journey into investing. As a novice, at the beginning of 2018, she started buying stocks and bonds and slowly putting together a portfolio. Now she shares what moves she's making with her portfolio, why, and the returns she's seeing as a result. Readers can follow along and understand how someone can start investing from scratch.

How she started the 'Better Have My Money' newsletter

Jamieson moved to the U.S. to go to graduate school at Columbia in New York City and, after graduating, held a couple of jobs, including a stint at Guardian U.S. After a layoff, she took the small buyout given her to help transition to a new job and decided she wanted to look into investing.

She had no idea where to start. "I was going to ask my friends, but no one knew anything. None of my friends had any idea. None of them own stocks or investments," she says.

Flying blind, she started playing around with different investing platforms and ended up buying some shares of companies she liked — Netflix and Estee Lauder were among the first — and started texting her friends about her money moves. These text updates, as it turned out, led to the creation of "Better Have My Money."

"One day I get a text from my ex-boyfriend saying, 'Maybe you should start a newsletter, please stop texting me these boring updates,'" Jamieson says. "That's where it all started."

I was going to ask my friends, but no one knew anything. None of my friends had any idea.
Amber Jamieson
co-host of 'Get Money'

Even after working as a reporter for a decade, nothing she's done has gotten as much feedback as the newsletter, she says. Her inbox is full of messages from readers sharing their own stories or asking her for advice. She responds by saying that she's not a financial professional and can't give suggestions. Still, she says, it's good to know that people are excited by what she's doing.

Jamieson's willingness to be open about her experiments with investing is what's striking a chord with her readers, she thinks, since people don't often talk about money or investing and may feel clueless when they get into the weeds and don't know what to do next. By openly sharing what she's doing, she offers a blueprint for others who want to get started.

Jamieson's advice for new investors

For those still wary about getting into the markets, or who are just beginning their investing journeys, Jamieson has some advice:

Let compounding work its magic. You've probably heard it before, but it bears repeating: Compound interest is the key to building wealth over the long term. That's why Jamieson is so adamant that people start investing as soon as possible. "Compound interest is the way to get rich," she says.

"Investing is the way to make money — my income will never be that huge, but I can take what I have and make it grow."

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Though Jamieson has, to some degree, focused on buying stocks in individual companies, experts generally recommend investors hedge their risks and opt for ETFs and index funds, because they're diversified investments that can help your portfolio maintain value if the market gets bumpy. An easy way to start investing in index funds or ETFs is to contribute to your retirement account, like an IRA or 401(k).

You don't need a lot of money to start investing. One thing Jamieson makes clear to her family and friends is that investing doesn't require a lot of cash. One of the most important things she's learned to do is is invest consistently, even small amounts, over the past couple of years to take advantage of compound interest.

Have fun! One thing that many people don't realize is that investing can be engaging, Jamieson says. Make a game out of it — see how many weeks you can consistently contribute money to your investment account, for example, or work on adhering to a preferred portfolio allocation.

"One thing I realized when I was getting into stocks is that it's fun," she says. "It's a very fun world to know about and be involved in."

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