Zombie Apocolypse and Investing

I’ve avoided investing for years, but the power of zombies convinced me to start

I think I just broke my record for procrastination. I’ll procrastinate doing dishes or laundry. I’ll procrastinate some projects. But those things usually only last for a day, or a few weeks. This I’ve procrastinated for 5 years.

I’ve thought about investing for years. And just I never did it. I read all the articles that said, “You should start investing in your 20’s! Time is on your side!” I would nod along: “Yes, that makes sense! Yes, I should start investing! Yes, if I wanted more money, I could do that with some smart investing!”

And yet, I never did it. Five years of excuses and fear and procrastination.

That is, until a few weeks ago when I finally pulled the trigger.

This post is about all my fears and reasons that stopped me from investing, how I broke through them, how an an army of zombies is motivating me to keep it up and the easy-to-use website I used to get me going.

I Had some many REasons To Not Invest.

I knew investing was something I should be doing. I knew in the long-run, investing was going to help me build wealth. I knew the math: that I would get a better return in the long-run in the market than in a savings account. And I still didn’t do it. I didn’t even start Why? For the same reasons that anyone else has around investing:

  1. I don’t have enough money to invest. Investing seems like a rich person’s game. It feels like you need thousands to even get going. And if I’ve only got an extra $100 a month to put away, how the heck am I going to find a way to invest that into the market?
  2. I’m scared to lose money. The first time I invested in the market I lost everything (I bought “cheap” stock in a single company right before the 2008 market crash… and then that company disappeared!). There’s risk that you get in the stock market that you don’t with a savings account. A savings account is nice and safe. I know it will be there the next day when I wake up. I know that I’m missing out on earning money, but it feels really comforting knowing where it is and I can get to it when I need to.
  3. Even if I felt ready, I don’t even know where to start! This is where I get hung up the most. Even if I felt ready to invest, it feels like a really complicated process to get started. Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs… I don’t really know what it all means and I certainly don’t know where to put my money.

So I had three big blocks I had to tackle before I could start investing. I had to find a way to invest that:

  1. Only required a little money
  2. Felt like I could actually get returns and not lose it all
  3. Seemed easy to start

I started with the fear first. I had to start thinking about investing differently if I was ever going to get started and shift my mentality from what I could lose to what I could gain.

Playing a Rich Man’s game vs. Putting My Money to Work.

I assumed that investing was all about taking big risks with piles of cash (I’m certainly not in a place to do that).

It took me awhile to get here, but I realized that smart investing isn’t about throwing the dice and hoping you get a payout. If I’m in it for the long-haul, investing can actually be a rocket boost to my long-term savings. I’m a big saver. I like my money in a savings account. But I realized investing a piece of my could actually push my savings to the next level. It just meant being consistent and sticking it out in the long-haul.

Say I’m trying to save up for something in the future. Maybe I want to get a house someday. (Actually, I don’t really know about that, but that’s for another post!). But what I do know is:

  1. It would be nice to have $20,000 saved up for big things down the road; and
  2. I want my savings to pile up faster than it does right now so I can make big things can happen before I turn 80.

Right now, I can put $100 a month aside in a savings account to build up that savings cushion. At that rate, it would take me about 16 years to save that up (even if I was earning 1% interest on a savings account). But investing – even conservative investing – gives me a chance to boost my money. I know that on average, there’s a 7% historical annual return on the stock market. But even a conservative 4% could really boost my savings.

I plugged these numbers into an online investing calculator, and here’s what it would look like:

  • Saving $100 a month for 16 years at 1% return (savings account): $20,916
  • Investing $100 a month for 16 years at 4% return (conservative): $27,237
  • Investing $100 a month for 16 years at 7% return (average): $35,808

With the conservative estimate, that’s $7,000 extra. With the average? I’ve got $15,000 more. HOLY MOLY. Compounding returns rock.

Let’s pause for a second: there is definitely risk involved in the market that you don’t get in a savings account. But if I play for the long-haul, that risk gets stretched out across a longer period of time. And I keep investing I can take advantage of the average and keep that money growing. The lows and the highs all even out.

So if I’m okay riding out some of the bumps in the market and I’m consistent, investing is a great way to boost my money. That’s my money working for me. That’s the power of compounding returns.

And this is actually where the zombie apocalypse comes in handy to show that power.

The Zombie Apocalypse Makes Me Want tO Invest My Money

Zombie Apocolypse - Betterment and Compound Investing

(Thanks to Dan Egan of Betterment for his amazing zombie-investing analogy and inspiring this cartoon!)

Investing helps put some zombie power juice into your big picture money plans. When you reinvest what you earn and you let it do it’s thing over time, investing is powerful stuff. And that’s a good feeling.

Finding an easy, low-cost investing option

So I felt like I’d tackled my fear of risk. Next, I needed to find an easy way to invest with just a little money.

Enter Betterment.

When I started asking around for advice on how to get started investing, I heard the same recommendation over and over again: Betterment. I decided to check them out and created a profile. After a few minutes on their site, it hit me: I could start investing in five minutes with just $100.

They would let me link to my bank account on the spot. They would help me set up my portfolio based on how risky I wanted to be with my money. They had a customer service hotline. And they had a super easy-to-use, easy-to-understand dashboard. And all I needed was $100 to get going.

5 minutes later, and I’d done it. I’d invested. And damn it felt good.

Betterment dashboard

Honestly, I wouldn’t have started investing without an option like Betterment. They took out all the intimidation from investing and it made me feel like I had control of my money. And it was so easy to get started. That’s exactly what I needed to finally break my 5-year procrastination streak.

Got 5 minutes and $100? You can Start Investing NOW

Okay, so if you’re convinced that investing is a good thing and you’re ready to put a little zombie juice into your savings, here’s an option for getting started right now:

  1. Go over to BettermentClick “Sign Up” to create your profile.
  2. Tell Betterment a little about yourself: your personal info, your goals and how “risky” you like things. You can always change this later.
  3. Link your bank account to your Betterment account to make a deposit (this is instant).
  4. Deposit your first $100.
  5. Done!

That’s it. That’s all it takes.

And it’s not just about investing $100 today: it’s the act of setting you up for a lifetime of wealth, of putting your money to work for you.

Like every post and comic on my blog, I don’t want this to come off as investment advice. But if you’re like me and you’ve hesitated about getting started, I hope this helped you feel more comfortable and gave you a next step to help you start investing.

Or, as I now call it, to put some zombie power juice into your big picture money plans 🙂

P.S. If you do decide to check out Betterment and use the link I provided above, I will get a referral commission. It helps me keep the lights on here at The Empowered Dollar 🙂

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