In our Asking for a Friend series, we talk to women about how they’re hitting their money goals and what you can learn from their experience to make smart money choices with your own wallet.
Unsure about investing? Sometimes, the best advice comes from a friend. Enter: the Investing Latina. In 2019, Jully-Alma Taveras launched an Instagram account for answering her friends’ biggest money questions. Three years later, her brand has grown to include nearly 40,000 Insta followers. Plus a YouTube channel, bilingual investing workshops, and private mentoring. Her goal: grow a portfolio worth $1 million. And help others do the same.
We also had a few questions for Jully. Here’s what she had to say about how she got started and money tips she learned along the way.
I was 19. I started working for a non-profit while in college, and they offered a 403(b), which is a retirement plan. They told me I would get “free money” [through the employer match]. I started with $25 per paycheck. If I knew then what I know now, I definitely would have pushed myself to contribute more. But it goes to show that no amount is too small. Now I invest a minimum $500 a month. It didn't happen overnight, but I stayed focused and slowly kept increasing my contributions, especially as I started earning more money.
I do have to sacrifice in order to invest because we cannot say yes to everything. The first thing I cut out was clothing and accessories. [Now] I’ve gotten into a great rhythm where I feel good about my financial decisions and how they complement my lifestyle. For me, investing is a self-care routine that happens every single time I get paid.
Understanding fees. I didn't understand what an expense ratio was. That’s the price that we pay to hold funds (mutual funds, index funds, ETFs, etc.). It doesn't seem like a lot, but those fees add up over time, especially as your account grows. If you keep fees low, you can save money.
My first big mistake was not understanding that the “free money” I was getting from my company had what is called a “vesting period.” It meant that I had to work there for three years to keep my money. When I left two and a half years in, I was forced to leave thousands of dollars behind. It was definitely disappointing. But it made me ask more questions about employee benefits next time. Money mistakes will happen. Analyze what happened and take action so you don’t fall into the same trap or money mistake in the future.
Alternative investments can definitely be a part of your portfolio, but you want to be very cautious and only allow it to be a small part...until you truly understand how they function and if they align with your overall investment goals. In order to invest, you want to invest-igate! Do research, read reports and articles and assess the data objectively. Try your best to keep emotions out of it. And remember that the more speculative the investment is, the more risk you are taking by investing in it.
The best thing you can do in order to control your emotions when it comes to the stock market is to not focus too much on it. The market will do its thing – it’s designed to fluctuate and it benefits us when there is movement. Try to not attach your feelings to your portfolio balance.
I personally don't look at my accounts more than two to three times per month. When it comes to rebalancing a portfolio, you want to do this periodically, perhaps once a year. Rebalancing allows you to assess your holdings and make sure that your investments continue to be aligned with your risk tolerance and overall financial goals.
A nice round goal is to get to a $1 million investment portfolio. I will get there by being consistent, not being afraid, and also learning more. You can use a retirement calculator to determine how much you need to invest to reach specific goals. I find those to be super motivating. I think every journey in life should be enjoyed, and I am doing my best to enjoy my money journey by having a good strategy, but also understanding that things can shift and change, and that is ok.
Investing can feel intimidating. But Jully-Alma Taveras, aka the "Investing Latina," didn't let that stop her from getting started at just 19 years old. More than a decade later, she's learned a lot on her way to a goal of building a $1 million portfolio. And she's made it her mission to share her experience and tips with the community she's building.
Pssst: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Asking for a Friend highlights one woman's story. They do not necessarily reflect theSkimm's point of view. Do you know someone with an interesting finance story? Want to share your own? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Skimm'd by: Ivana Pino, Casey Bond, Stacy Rapacon, and Elyse Steinhaus