Investors Like Me: Ionnie McNeill

Investors Like Me: Ionnie McNeill

Ionnie is currently a national board director for BetterInvesting .

Her foray into investing at an early age helped her to publish The Baby Billionaire’s Guide to Investing, a book for youth and young adults focused on the importance of investing and the power of compound interest .

How many years of investing experience do you have? 20+ years

What is your investing risk tolerance? Medium-High

What is your portfolio size? 20+ stocks

What are your favorite investing sectors? Healthcare, Financials, Information Technology, Communication Services When did you get started in investing and why?

I was initially exposed to investing at age seven and bought my first stock at nine. Then got a part-time job at 14 to open and max out my Roth IRA. The origin of me investing at an early age was the result of my mom being transparent with me about her money mistakes and allowing me to participate in her “personal finance journey.” We read the same self-help and personal finance books together and attended BetterInvesting classes together. Since she was not an authority on the subject, she was very intentional about exposing both of us to information and resources that could further our learning. I was grateful for her intention and vowed not to make the same mistakes she did. This is how and why I started investing. Can you tell us a little bit about your relationship with money at an early age?

I was always a saver at an early age. My dad taught me the importance of patience by watching him wait for things to go on sale. When we would go shopping on Saturdays, he would challenge me to calculate the final price of items that were marked down by 20% and 30%. These experiences helped me to see the connection of math (percentages, division, multiplication, addition, and subtraction) on money. So I was the kid who would rather spend someone else’s money before my own because I quickly learned the value of a dollar.

At a young age, I also experienced losing my grandmother’s house due to probate. This opened my eyes to learning the difference between a will and a trust , and from there I realized that many people lose money and inheritance due to the ignorance of specific information, not due to a lack of effort or not being smart.

Meanwhile, my mother exposed me to Black Enterprise’s youth entrepreneurship conferences and BetterInvesting conventions, and I quickly realized that investing in well-known, public companies was a quicker way to become a business owner and an easier way to make money than the entrepreneurship route. These contrasting experiences at an early age helped me to see the difference between knowing how to make money through effort and knowing how to multiply it through good decision-making. What has your journey been like as an investor? What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome?

To be honest, despite being a young Black woman, my investing journey has been very supported and encouraged. I credit that to my mom and joining the BetterInvesting (BI) community at an early age. Despite most of the BI community not looking like me, they all saw in me my most precious asset and encouraged me to get started as early as possible. And I listened. In elementary school, it started with just one stock here and there until I was old enough to get a job in high school and really start investing consistently for retirement.

Since I had never been exposed to a lot of money at one time before, staying the “compound interest” course at about year 15 proved the biggest challenge. It’s one thing to ignore the $300 monthly contributions you make over time because the total amount is still small. It’s another thing to see the five and six figures it becomes and still stay the course. Therefore, self-sabotage was the biggest challenge I had to overcome. But the unintended benefit of staying the course is that you learn patience and delayed gratification along the way. In what ways has your social or cultural identity and lived experiences positively impacted your investing journey?

Since I was already a young Black woman who grew up poor, I already knew what the bottom looked like. However, socially and culturally, I grew up very rich because knowing who I was and who/where I came from was something that was taught at home, instilled at school, and reiterated at church and the […]

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