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What's A 25-Year Old To Do? (Introduction)

The introduction of this journey asks WHY?

There are a few "firsts" in life that people typically don't forget; your first kiss, your first job, and your first beer (Michelob Golden Light). Well I'm going to add to this list, my first trade. In the Spring of 2009 I graduated from college with a finance degree. As you are probably thinking right now, not the most opportune time to hop on the finance bandwagon. Luckily, I was able to find a job at a national bank branch located in my hometown. Although my situation did not include some outrageous Wall St. salary, it did provide me with two invaluable advantages. One) Rent, food, cable and laundry was paid in full by my roommates….thanks Mom and Dad. And Two) I was able to open a brokerage account through my employer with access to 100 commission-free trades each year. Although the free trades are now a blessing, back then it was a curse. I had suddenly acquired the mindset of Charlie Sheen & Shia LaBeouf, wanting to place orders left and right, and believe me, my money never slept.

My first trade executed March of 2010 coincidentally in an MLP, Atlas Pipeline Partners (NYSE:APL). The order was for 100 shares at around $13. One of the company's senior managers was actually on the board of my university and that is how I had first learned of the company. This was not an investment, it was a trade based off a recommendation from one of my marketing professors before I graduated the spring prior. I had done no due diligence and just wanted to use my free trades! The stock eventually rose to around $22 in late 2010 and I sold most of my position because I saw "green" in my portfolio. When tax time came around in early 2011 I immediately sold my remaining position after I received a Schedule C form from APL. Admittedly, I had no idea what the Schedule C meant; I just knew it made filing my taxes more difficult. Looking back now, if I had developed a strategy, done proper research and made an investment, not a trade, my original investment of $1,300 with distributions reinvested would now be worth over $4,000

Seeking Seeking Alpha

Through my first 4 years I have made trades totaling original investment amounts of nearly $15,000. Positions held during those years included Ford (NYSE:F), Alcoa (NYSE:AA), Bristol Meyers Squibb (NYSE:BMY), Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), and some mindless penny stocks. To this day the only remaining position I hold is Intel (NASDAQ:INTC). While I never gained or lost more than $800 on these trades, not one position was held more than a year. Those first years I had been a careless trader-again nothing I was doing could be considered investing. I had no investment plans and found myself wandering across the vast financial universe; rocket propelled by Mr. Market himself. This realization brings me back to the title of this article.

What this 25-Year Old is Doing

The past year delving into DGI articles has opened my eyes to the benefits of investing for income growth and getting a head start while I'm still young. Heck, if I had known even 20% of what I know now about DGI and invested that $15,000 equally in three DGI stalwarts, Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), and Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) my original investment of $15,000 from March 2010 would now be worth over $24,000! I like the idea of investing into a core group of companies who have consistently raised dividends and implemented dividend policy into their everyday corporate culture.

My hope is that this journey will not only provide me with supplemental retirement income in my later years, but also allow others to view my shortfalls and successes as a younger investor. I hope you will follow me on this journey and keep me accountable with periodic updates and constructive portfolio criticism. Part two of this three-part series will delve further into my portfolio strategies and investing business plan. In part three, I will reveal my current portfolio with quarter 1 updates and alignment with my business plan. Stay tuned for the next article!

Disclosure: I am long INTC, WMT, MCD, KO.