Theo (left) and Arlo (right) are two 16-year-olds from Wellington Boys High School. Thanks to Sharesies and their weekly paychecks from Countdown Supermarket, they’re now first-time investors! We asked them about what it's like getting started, and to share any tips they have for those thinking they’re too young to give it a go!
How did you two get started with investing?
Arlo—Dad* signed me up to a Sharesies Kids Account and got me to sit down with him so we could choose my investments together. Once Sharesies made accounts available to 16-year-olds, I created my own account. I’d thought about investing before I found out about Sharesies, but had no idea where to go or how to start.
Theo—My mum made a Sharesies account, so I knew it existed. When the minimum age dropped to 16, she made the most of the Sharesies Refer a Friend program and sent me a referral link. I signed up from that and started depositing little amounts to see what would happen with it.
Tell us about your first investments!
Arlo—Apart from seeing some stuff about shares on the news, Dad would often talk about investing. He’s always coming home telling us about all the cool tips he’s learned from Sharesies, so I knew I was in good hands. I had a look through all the investment options and liked the look of the US 500 and the Asia Pacific fund—because I knew that’s where heaps of the big companies were. I could see that some funds were starting to dip and I knew that it was good to invest when the price was low. So I took a gamble on those!
Theo—I first invested in the NZ Top 50 fund and the Europe fund. I looked at the graphs to see the trends over the last couple of years. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew that it was good to buy shares when the price was low. I was going to invest in the US 500 fund, but my dad’s American and told me to be wary because of all the Trump stuff that was going on.
What are you investing for? Travel, a house, university?
Arlo—I’m definitely not investing for university. Although any gain is a gain, university is only two years away, and I don’t think that’s enough time for my investments to perform as well as they could. So at this stage, I’m in it for the super long-term.
Theo—I’m kind of the same. I don’t have any specific investing goals, it’s more like a bit of a game at the moment. I’m testing the waters and seeing how it all goes.
How did you feel after becoming ‘investors’ for the first time?
Theo—The first time I bought investments I only topped up my Sharesies Wallet with $20. I didn’t really know what I was up to, and I didn’t have many expectations. I mainly felt curious to see what would come from my investments. Once I realised that it was growing a bit, I decided to deposit and invest more. I'll continue doing this and see what comes of it.
Arlo—I deposit about $10 a week into my Sharesies Wallet. It felt good having my own investment Portfolio that I could log in and see for myself. Dad and I have a little competition going where we compare how our investments are doing, so that’s pretty cool.
When you two compare your Portfolios with one another, what do you compare?
Theo—Because we both deposit different amounts, we don’t really compare the Portfolio value, but we compare the percentage return on our investments.
Arlo—We’re the only two in our friend group who have Sharesies accounts, so it’s cool to be able to talk to each other about it. One day my friend and I walked to school together and talked about nothing but investments for half an hour. That would have never happened before! I was sitting in physics class one day as well as looking at my Portfolio, and some boy walked past and said that he invests with Sharesies too. It's cool that Sharesies is opening up that conversation.
What have you learned so far investing with Sharesies?
Theo—I had no investing experience before I started investing with Sharesies, so I’ve pretty much learned how to get started. I’ve learned that I can actually do it. I don’t have to wait til I have heaps of money to become an investor, which is pretty cool.
Arlo—I’m a little bit the same. Like, I’d seen stuff on the news about investing and the share market, but that’s about it. Because I’m doing it now and I’m officially an 'investor', I now have the motivation and reason to learn about it.
You’re both still at school, so how do you make investing work?
Arlo—We both work at Countdown, so we get a paycheck every week. We’re still at school, so obviously it’s not that much. But we can invest the money that we’d otherwise be spending on other things we don’t need. I have an automatic payment set up every week for $20. It’s growing pretty quickly too.
Theo—At the moment, I’m saving for a trip to the USA. So I’m adding in as much as I can into my Portfolio while still saving as well. I guess what I could do is put my savings into a low-risk fund like NZ Bond, so I can get it out in the near future without opening it up to too much risk. But let's just see how it goes.
What tips would you give your mates who want to start investing but think they're too young, or too inexperienced?
Theo—Start now. Give it a go, because it can’t hurt. Most of my friends either have a job or get pocket money from their parents, so they have the money to do it. It’s just a matter of signing up and buying that first investment. It doesn’t hurt to try.
Arlo—Most of our friends buy their lunch from the canteen every day. I can guarantee if they stop buying their lunch every day, they’ll be able to start investing with an amount as little as $5. Just do it.
*Arlo’s dad is Sharesies’ Marketing Manager, Alan. He takes no responsibility for his son’s investment strategy! And since this post was written, there is no longer a $5 minimum investment. You can invest as much or as little as you can afford. Our post on fractional shares explains it all.