I am currently thinking about investing my money in various things. I have a monthly income of 900€ and only 40€ regular expenses including food, spotify premium and a web domain. From what I can observe I have quiete a lot of money for a person of my age and I can deal with it pretty wisely. I also have some one-time expenses which stretched to something around 300€ per month in 2019. I do think that it will be much lower in 2020 though. At least I hope, huh? Some people on the internet were asking if they should buy an expensive car at my age and basically everyone said it was a bad idea which I would agree with but at the same time concerns me a little bit about investing at my age.

My first investment I am looking for is buying some shares I have very deep knowledge about. But I don't want to pull out everything at once so I would estimate that something around 10k would be a good start. This would equal a little bit more than 20% of my money.

The second thing would be a 5k investment into a small business I would like to start which I hope to be profitable in one and a half years.

The last thing I am currently planing to do is building a small laboratory of technology for myself where I can learn new skills and test some ideas which I could be using in a business I am eyeing for in a more distant future but which would require a lot more money. I really enjoy learning new things from scratch by myself and figured that this is the most efficient way for me to learn. This laboratory would cost roughly 2-3k but I am not entirely sure yet how much I actually need this.

Please let me know what you think and feel free to make some modifications or give me advice. What would you do? Would you keep the money and have a large and safe backup or would you use it now? Thanks in advance.

  • 92
    What do the people currently paying all your expenses think?
    – chepner
    Dec 17, 2019 at 17:05
  • 1
    You say you might want to "pull out" some money, so the question is, where is the money now? Unless you've got it stuffed under your mattress, or something of that sort, it probably is invested. Maybe it's invested in something like a savings account with a really low rate of return, but it's still invested.
    – jamesqf
    Dec 17, 2019 at 18:45
  • Also technically my money is invested right now but the return is very low as you pointed out already. I would just like it to be a litte more "active". Dec 17, 2019 at 20:04
  • This probably doesn't constitute an entire answer but I recommend reading the book "A random walk down wall street" it discusses investing in stocks, bonds, property etc and how much risk you should be preparing to take at different stages in your life and common misconceptions. It's a great start to learning about investing and how to do it without losing the shirt off your back.
    – JAG
    Dec 18, 2019 at 0:06
  • 1
    @Acccumulation 18k is NOT OP's total money. 18k is their planned investment. OP has 50k in the bank as you noticed, 10k = 20% of total balance.
    – Jesse
    Dec 19, 2019 at 4:08

11 Answers 11


You are currently in a phase of your life where you have a couple hundred € per month you can experiment with freely without hurting yourself too much.

If you want to invest the money in stocks, you will likely soon realize that you don't actually have a knowledge which is as deep as you think. The stock market is the world's largest gambling den. Lots of people far more knowledgeable than you entered it believing they had a surefire system, and ended up bankrupting themselves. So be mentally prepared to lose your investment. But even if you lose, you might learn a lot in the process. Just stay away from any risky wall street bets where you can potentially lose more money than you invested (like short-selling stocks).

Same with investing into a small business. It might seem like a profitable opportunity, but can just as well end up burning your investment if the business fails (by the way: about half of all small businesses fail in the first year). Set a limit of how much you are going to invest and don't get coaxed into taking a loan to invest more. Also make sure it's an arrangement where you are an investor with limited liability. If the company ends up failing and accumulates a lot of debt, then you don't want to be in a situation where you have to pay a part of that debt out of your own pocket.

Investing in yourself and your skillset (by building your laboratory) is always a good investment. Experience, knowledge and special skills can help you throughout your whole life. It also helps you to make up your mind about what you really want to do with your life and what kinds of careers are available to you. And you seem to be in a phase of your life where you actually have the time, resources and energy to engage in this form of self-improvement. You don't know if you will have the same conditions in a couple years from now.

But in the end, this is your decision. Anonymous strangers on the internet can not make it for you.

  • 4
    Well there is definetly much to go wrong on the stock market. Especially considering that I have almost no special inside knowledge of how exactly it's going on there. I just know a lot about the companies and their products I want to invest in to be honest. I also know how much can go wrong building your own business and how much time and energy it comsumes but actually that is pretty much exactly what I want to do in my life. I want to take some risks (as long as they don't ruin me) and I want to give my life a purpose I can identify with and which I am willing to give all my energy to. Dec 17, 2019 at 20:16
  • Excellent answer. The best investment is the investment into yourself and into your kids.
    – Suncatcher
    Dec 18, 2019 at 14:17
  • 2
    @randombutnotsorandum if you rather foolishly want to become a "stock trader". (I say "foolishly" because I am always mystified why folks want to do this. (i) the hours are very long (ii) the amount you'll make each year is very low. Anyway.) If for some reason you want to become good at "trading stocks". Put 10,000 in a trading account and start trading. When that is gone (say, 4-5 weeks), do that cycle again. If you do it five times you'll begin to have a clue about trading. This is a very small investment of money compared to say a 5 yr college degree. (Cont...)
    – Fattie
    Dec 18, 2019 at 20:04
  • (again though, I can't really see why anyone would want to "know how to trade" - the end result is an incredible amount of hours worked per week, to make less money than a top plumber, but - there it is. it will only cost you say 50 - 100 thousand to learn the basics of trading, if that's what you want to do.)
    – Fattie
    Dec 18, 2019 at 20:05
  • I disagree with your stock analysis. Long term investing generally yields ~7% annual gains. You get some great stocks, you get some bad ones, which is why they say to diversify across sectors. ETFs take the work out of it. And if you can save on your taxes by dumping some of this cash into a retirement account, go for it.
    – rtaft
    Dec 19, 2019 at 17:48

There are a few concepts I think you should be very aware of as you look at what to do with your money. The first is the concept of utility. What is utility? Think of it as a unit of happiness. If I have 1€, that might give me 1 utility. If I'm hungry and I use that 1€ to buy a sandwich so that I can stop being hungry, that might give me 2 utility. It's a concept an old economics teacher taught me, and it's a great way to look at how to spend some supplemental income you might have. Generally speaking, money will only make people happy up to a certain limit-- eventually, you need something else to make you happy, and you should figure out what that/those something elses will be before you commit your funds to stuff that, while economically beneficial, may not be as beneficial to your overall happiness and well-being as other investments might be.

The other things I'd like to introduce you to are the wonderful worlds of the ETF and the mutual fund. As Philipp has stated, playing the stock market is a gamble. It isn't a crack at you or anyone else to say that; there was a literal study in the 80's where monkeys flinging darts at newspapers got better returns than a team of stock market experts. You're trying to predict the behavior of human beings, and that's rarely doable.

So instead of trying to predict the behavior of human beings-- hedge your bets. ETFs and Mutual Funds are "pools" that a lot of people have put their money into to buy shares of a ton of different stocks. You own a fraction of a share of a bunch of different stocks (there are literally thousands of investors in most ETFs and mutual funds), but you have the advantage of being secured against the market going down rapidly and losing everything. If an individual company in the portfolio tanks, your investment is not all gone.

That isn't to say that neither of these can lose money-- they absolutely can-- they just won't lose money as quickly or as riskily.

Another question to ask yourself is what you're saving this money for (IE how far in the future do you want to spend it?) The general wisdom is that, the farther out you are from needing the money, the more riskily you can invest it, since you have time to earn it back. Most investments will have a risk/return factor associated with them. Something like stock in the Walt Disney Company would have a very low risk/return factor-- it's a safe investment, and you're unlikely to lose your money on it. That being said, it probably won't grow very quickly, and your shares will grow slowly over time. Something like a fledgling new tech startup would be a high risk/reward ratio. That has the potential to get acquired by a titan like Microsoft or Facebook and increase in value exponentially. It also has the potential to go bust and be worthless literally overnight.

Ultimately, these are all just tools for you to use. My personal opinion (note: mine. It does not have to be yours) is that you'd be wise to figure out exactly what you want in your laboratory, and set aside the money for that. Do a whole lot of research beforehand. See if there are ways to cut costs (IE do you need the top-of-the-line equipment, or can you get away with last year's tech that's 5% less powerful and 35% cheaper?). Put aside an "oh crap" fund of an estimated six months of living expenses for the worst case scenario (you're suddenly on the street and need to find a new place to live, pay for your own food, etc.) Take the rest and split it up over a couple of relatively diverse mutual funds and/or ETFs that appeal to you. I have always used Vanguard because of their low expense ratio ETFs, but I also admit that I am not an authority on what's out there; I've just done what my family has always done.

If you have short-term (1-5 year) goals, put the funds for those goals into a low-risk, low-reward investments (my advice is always some form of staple foodstuff-- no matter what the economy does, human beings still need to eat). If you have medium-term goals (5-15 years), put the funds into more medium-risk investments. If you're saving for longer term goals, put the funds into higher-risk investments that appeal to you. I'm a big fan of the information technology funds, but that's mostly because I think IT stuff is neat. Doesn't mean it doesn't have the potential to crash hard if Google or Apple has a major security breach tomorrow and everyone loses faith in them.

With regards to your business goals, that's up to you in the end. I would advise against it based on the risk, but I also know nothing about you or your business, and can't give you an accurate assessment of the market, how likely you are to succeed or fail, etc. I'll say that you won't be a reputable business when you start, just because you're brand new. In order to get customers, you'll need to be sure that you 1) provide a service that others aren't providing, or that there is insufficient supply of for the given demand 2) provide it better than anyone else who tries to muscle in on your territory and 3) are willing to put in a lot of overtime. Like, you won't have weekends for a few years levels of overtime. Managing a business is a ton of work, especially if you're the sole employee.

If you have other goals that you're working on accomplishing simultaneously, I think it would be wise to analyze the utility of the situation-- how happy you'll be with the extra money vs. how happy you'll be with some extra time to spend with your friends on hobbies you enjoy. I've seen a fair number of folks who overworked themselves, talking a big game about how much more they made than others, and then squandered a large chunk of their paycheck on coping vices like alcohol, gambling, or recreational drugs because they're miserable with not having a chance to enjoy what they've made for themselves.

  • 1
    Very nice concept you bring up there. I'll definetely think about that. Dec 17, 2019 at 20:19
  • Thanks for all your advice. I think I will be good assuming that I don't change my personality too much. I actually do not care about the money at all as long as I stay solvent in the long term. As I already stated partly in another answer I try to give my life a meaningful purpose and spend my time with things I love and surround myself with these things. At least for this part of my life this is exactly what I want to do. I want to spend extra time working on projects that I find important to an exciting future. Dec 17, 2019 at 21:57
  • If that's what makes you happy, then I think you'd be wise to pursue it. :) I'll just repeat the advice I think you already know (just in case): Make sure that you have enough money that you'll be okay for a little while if everything goes wrong. Money is no biggie while you've got it, but a huge source of stress when you don't. Good luck! Dec 18, 2019 at 13:27

My apologies if I missed this point in the other answers, but YES, this is an especially great time to invest from one common baseline consideration. Compounding interest is better and better the longer you have. While technically, most of the investments you might consider grow by means other than interest, the principle holds.

Money made that is kept or rolled back into the investment also makes money (or attempts to). So say you invest $10 (sorry for my American keyboard configuration) and make 10 percent in a year. Next year you have $11. If you make another ten percent, instead of getting $1 the next year, you get $1.1. The longer an investment does this, the faster it grows.

If you invest a dollar at 50, get about 10% per year and forget about it for the next 15 years, it will roughly double twice, leaving you with $4. If you invest it at 18 and leave it until until you're 65, it would double nearly seven times, putting it close to $125. Results vary wildly over years and by what investments are chosen, but 5K now could plausibly put you over half a million at 65. Not a bad start.

If you do invest in stock, I'd suggest at least considering putting some of that into something like an ETF like NegativeFriction mentions. Putting all your stock money into one single company MIGHT pay off big, or might lose it all. There are reasons to take those chances, but there's a reason for the very old saying, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket."

  • That's pretty much what I was thinking. ETF definetely sounds like a good idea. Thank you very much Dec 17, 2019 at 20:27

Since other's have covered how badly you can lose on the stock market, I'm going to skip that part of your question and cover something I know quite a bit about, investing in yourself.


No, I'm not going to tell you that you have to get a degree, but taking college courses are a good way to learn. There are plenty of places that'll let you take individual courses without expecting you to get a formal degree. There are also plenty of places that do online courses. There are also plenty of trade schools that'll teach you very useful skills, even if you don't become a welder, mechanic, etc. for a full-time job.

This can take a lot of money, so keeping your money in an easy to access manner is handy when you have to pay tuition, buy a book, or buy other materials.

By the way, getting a degree isn't the worst thing you can do, but only you can decide if that's what you need to do to get where you want to be later in life.


There's a lot of different meaning for this, so I'm going to assume it's chemistry or biology related. There's a lot of expensive equipment that goes into a laboratory like this. Far more than you probably expect, and much of it is safety equipment. Much of that safety equipment is also required, if not by law then by insurance, even if it's your renters or house insurance. That is, if your current insurance will even cover a laboratory in your residence. Having a laboratory outside your residence is going to cost a lot of money monthly, including insurance, in case you blow yourself and the neighborhood up.

An alternative is finding a local makerspace, also known as a hackerspace. They might not have exactly what you want, but they might be able to help you get a small lab set up there, if they have the room and other's interested in the same thing. If nothing else, they may know where you can go instead of them to do what you want. They may even be able to help you find others that are interested and set up your own co-working lab, so you have other people helping with finances, equipment, repairs, and more. There might even be equipment at the makerspace they'll donate to help get you started. There's often an abundance of "stuff" people donate that isn't being used, due to lack of interest or lack of space.

College, again

Taking college level courses will help you avoid some of the novice mistakes you're likely to make in your own lab. They'll teach you more than just avoiding mixing chlorine and ammonia, or trying to use water to wash the oil off of sodium. These courses also tend to pack a bunch of related things into the course, so you find out how they are related, even if they don't appear to be at first.

You'll also meet likely a lot of like minded people. You might even find people interested in working at your lab and get that help with the finances, etc. I mentioned earlier. The thing about working with other people is that besides them being annoying at time, they also often have really good ideas. Sometimes those ideas are of things you'd never dream up yourself. You end up bouncing ideas off each other to build an amazing concept that you have fun working together with. I'm not saying this is guaranteed when you go to school, but people your own age are more likely to get this kind of vibe. Bringing in a seasoned/older/experienced person can also help, since they'll help you avoid common pitfalls, know shortcuts, maybe know where to source things, and lots of other "hidden gems" you might not know about yet.

Earning money

Whether this lab is a personal thing or a commercial idea, you need to make money to support it. Your current savings won't last forever and your current earnings eventually won't cover it all, either. It might be an interesting idea to look into commercializing at least part of what you do at your lab. I have a day job as a software developer, but in my "off hours" I run an Etsy shop where I make oak and acrylic decor, juggling equipment, game boards and accessories, and much more. I do a lot of this for fun, some I build for myself then reuse the designs for the store, and some I design for customers and reuse.

I'm not sure how you would work this into your idea, since I don't know what you really have planned for the lab, but it's something to think about. Whether it's doing water testing for treatment plans for your neighbors, making slime for the local kids, determining what rocks are brought to you by a nearby geologist, or whatever, there's a potential to earn money by doing what you do, even if you're learning while doing it. Heck, half the stuff I make I learned something in order to be able to make it. I'm quite often learning something at my day job, too.


As much as you think you know right now, I'm glad you're interested in learning more. Even as much as you do know now, there's a lot more you need to know in order to successfully run something that can easily become very complicated and dangerous, like a lab. An early investment of a couple thousand will quickly turn into a need for ever more money. Hobbies are expensive and it sounds like you have a very expensive one.

Consider more than just a "get rich quick" scheme that the stock market is. Instead, focus on what you want to do and do it to the best of your ability. It's also best if you find friends to help you along the way, and turning it into an actual career might not be a bad thing, either. Even if you don't become financially rich, enjoying what you do is very rewarding on it's own.

  • 1
    Thank you very much for your extensive answer. I have been to college starting a physics degree but progress honestly felt way too slow for me considering the time I had to invest in order to move on in studies. College level courses sound really good though. Especially the networking aspect is a big thing I need to work on. The laboratory I mentioned is more like a server room instead of a natural science lab. Besides physics my other big passion is computer science and I would only need some basic equipment like or a small AI workstation, network components and a deployment machine. Dec 18, 2019 at 15:53
  • 1
    "plenty of trade schools that'll teach you very useful skills, even if you don't become a welder, mechanic, etc. for a full-time job" where I am, there are also in-person evening courses. E.g. I took a welding course that a trade school nearby holds in the evenings. Dec 18, 2019 at 17:13
  • 1
    @randombutnotsorandum, as a software developer, I can tell you that you need more than that to get started in AI. A decent machine to run any kind of software development is going to cost $1500-3k, especially if you want to get into AI. You'd also be better off renting a server with variable specs to meet your needs, like AWS, which you'll end up paying quite a bit per month. You can get used equipment, but you also get what you pay for, if you're lucky. I was also a computer repair tech, so I understand hardware better than most people, too. Dec 18, 2019 at 17:48
  • 1
    @dwizum: Understanding which interests can earn a living is very good advise! But OP calculates in €: going to college/university will likely not have tuition costs that are anywhere close to the US version of getting college/university education. Dec 19, 2019 at 15:08
  • 1
    @randombutnotsorandum “but progress honestly felt way too slow for me considering the time I had to invest....” that’s honestly how everything works in the real world. Significant progress on any substantial project or goal is generally made at a snails pace, and with tremendous effort. A lot of young people think they are ahead of the game and have what it takes to “beat the system” very quickly on their own, often to find out ten years later that they were naive. This idea generally applies to all disciplines: money, academics, relationships, arts, etc.
    – shalop
    Dec 19, 2019 at 21:27

If I were you, this is what I would do. I would get familiar with different types of investments (cf. bibliography) and in parallel, I would build up a vision of what I want / would like / need in my life.

In a nutshell, the type of investment depends also on the growth and timing you want with your money. Typically high risks involves potential high revenues (and low availability), and low risks low revenues (and high availability).

If you know a very young business (startup) with great promises, and if you would like to follow venture capitalists that you know that could be an interesting opportunity. You could quit when you have multiplied by 10-100x in 1-2 years (while still in early series) your investment. But usually this type of investment is mid/long term, and VCs really want to multiply a lot, but they also get very much involved in the operations of the enterprise, to make it a success. If you have the priviledge to do such thing and follow regularly the operations (like a hobby), that would be great. The downside is that your money is not available immediately.

If you want to get to know finance products and put money in this, either you should follow someone who knows this well or you delegate this to an investment bank (but usually it requires much bigger amounts of money). Here risks are lower and revenue lower, you don't get involved in the operations. That's the world of finance. Typically, you put loads of money on assets with low risks, and you do this often. Revenue is not guaranteed.

But, in the end, the most interesting money, is the money you invest into you: you want to educate yourself and grow yourself. In that perspective, you really want to drop cars, luxurious clothes and phones. The lab falls perfectly in this mindset.

You can in the end diversify your investments, like traders do, some may fail, some may succeed mildly, and others wildly. In the end, you still get something.


Bernstein - Against the Gods. The Remarkable Story of Risk

Damodaran - Investment Valuation. Tools and Techniques for Determining the Value of Any Asset

Fisher - Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits and Other Writings

Graham Zweig -The Intelligent Investor. The Definitive Book on Value Investing

Lynch, Rothchild - One Up On Wall Street - How To Use What You Already Know To Make Money In The Market

Soros, Volcker - The Alchemy of Finance

Fabozzi - The Handbook of Fixed Income Securities


Here are my 2 ct, mainly in addition to what Philipp and NegativeFriction write.

At some point you mention €, so I assume you are in Europe. Compared to the US/North America, this means

  • your chances to learn/study a professin without going deeply into student debt are great. You'll probably not need to reserve most/all of your money for tuition fees.
  • As for the various suggestions to invest into real estate, at least here in Germany I'd definitively not recommend this at this stage: better postpone that until you have a realistic estimate that you'll stay at one place for the longer future.
    The situation in your country may be different, though.

You seem to have a good grasp at your finances and also a rough plan of what fractions you may want to put into which "bin" (bookkeepers would call it account). That's a great start.

I'd recommend to classify these bins into

  • long term investment money (saving as in retirement)
  • medium term investment money (as in saving to buy a house in 10 years)
  • play money: a part of your money that you put into high-risk (financial) activities, and that may be completely lost as a result.
  • consumption: savings in order to buy stuff that is either directly consumed (as in vacation or ice cream) or that will probably depreciate in a way that you cannot rely on getting anything substantial for selling.
    This includes possibly a car (in mid future?, but also your lab)

I'd recommend to set upper limits for yourself for the play money and consumption categories (separately) and a lower limit for the long term savings/investment. Bot in terms of absolute amounts and of fractions.

Financial Investment

IMHO it is a good time to start investing: starting now will allow you to learn slowly along the way.

buying some shares [...] deep knowledge [...] a little bit more than 20% of my money.

Others have told you that investing in single shares is a risky decision, and that deep knowledge often turns out not to have been all that deep. That is of course true, but it is maybe nevertheless worth while in the sense that putting a limited amount of money into some shares you'd like to buy will get you experience with the procedure, and after a year also with the taxes and so on.
Many brokers charge a minimum order fee, so it makes sense not to put too small an order, but 2.5k€ or 5k€ would probably be a good size.
Due to the risk of a single share investment and the risk inherent to doing something risky in which you do not have experience, this falls into the play money category.

(At some point in the future, you may want to excercise the same strategy to check out, say, bonds.)

However, this is also a great point to start a habit of long term savings. Others have explained that at your stage of life/wealth ETFs are the financial instrument of choice. So the recommendation would be to start your long term savings this way. You may want to put a lump sum now, but check out with your broker whether they offer savings plans for ETF and what the conditions (fees) are for that. With 900 € per month of which most is disposable income, I think you can put maybe 400 - 500 €/month into such savings plans.
Yes that's quite aggressively saving, but you'll probably lower that somewhat when you move out of your parents house. Until then, an aggressive savings plan can at the same time give you a head start in terms of saving and keep you out of lifestyle creep (in the sense that due to your exceptionally low expenses you may be tempted to get a lifestyle that you could not really afford if you'd have to pay for all your expenses).

Starting a business

5k investment into a small business I would like to start which I hope to be profitable in one and a half years.

That's play money as well: the risk of loosing that money is very real. Many small businesses are shut down again within few years and the fraction of successful businesses increases with the age (or rather professional experience) of the founder.

Personally, I kept the idea of starting my business "in the back of my mind" since before I graduated (I'm chemist). In consequence I attended some business administration lectures for non-economists (in the evening: they did draw the correct conclustions from analysing their customers) and business starting workshops while doing my PhD. I also started slowly by signing up with the tax office as freelancer which in my case allowed a small/low risk strategy: I was able to do this as a side line that was profitable when a customer came along, but had hardly any fixed costs (full personal liability, though).

After some 15 years of professional experience, I decided to seriously get into business (with a GmbH, i.e. limited liability).

In any case, I recommend that you learn about how to start a business: there's lots of information around, but sometimes it's hard to find it when you're not yet into that crowd.

Where I am, there are - events such as a business starting day in November - a local technology/incubator center runs a series of free workshop ≈1 evening each month on topics like bookkeeping/acounting basics for small businesses, legal topics, financing topics,...) - there's a business founders' regular table - the chamber of commerce offers free initial counseling on starting a business (and they know all the others who have information) - the local university has similar counseling and also lectures on business administration for founders (no need to study business administration, if you have another profession. But if you want to found a business, you really should have basic knowledge of B.A.) - ...

Others here told you that if you go for it, you should make sure of limited liability. I'd recommend to get counseling on that: I don't think that such a recommendation can be given that generally.

Laboratory and self study

  small laboratory of technology for myself [...] learn new skills [...] business I am eyeing for in a more distant future [...] 2-3k.

Have a look around whether there's a suitable maker space or hacker space or the like where you could go. Not only would that give you access to "machinery" that would cost you a lot more than 2-3 k€, you'll also meet and network with people who learn new technologies and share their knowledge. There's also a certain overlap with the business starting scene.

Oh, and while maker spaces and hacker spaces are mostly focused on computers/robotics/mechatronics, I've met people setting up physics and biology experiments.

As you mention in your comment that you want to look into AI and someone commented on the need for heavy computation machinery: I (my company) do machine learning for chemical data. Most of the modeling I could do on my laptop which I bought 1 1/2 years ago for ≈850 € (used Thinkpad). I do prefer my desktop though for day to day work (which also has a bit more compuational power). All in all, the machinery for my business would fit into a 2 k€ budget (if needed, servers can be rented in addition, of course - if the customer agrees to their data leaving our house).

However, other application fields for AI have data that behaves differently, and they do a lot more number crunching. I just want to point out that there are application fields where less fancy computers work perfectly well.
The more important part IMHO for you would be to get a thorough understanding of data analysis (see below), and that needs less computational power and more brain power and elbow grease (well, maybe rather brain grease...).

(I'm using the advantage that I know chemical data [after all, that's my profession] and that I can recommend measurement modes where physics/chemistry/biology gives us often rather direct ties between the data and the properties we want to predict.)

Learning/studying a profession

  • You mention that you started a physics education but find it hard.
  • You also comment that college-level physics education sounds good to you.
  • And you mention your interest in AI.

Are you aware that you can study data science? Where I am that is possible either at university level (often technical universities) or at universities of applied science (more applied level). Not every university offers it, but the relevant courses may be hidden as specializations within studies like business-oriented computer science or the like.

I'm a chemist who moved professionally into the interdisciplinary space between chemistry, physics, computer science and statistics. That move happened during my Diplom [Master] thesis. When I was 18, I had a hard time to decide whether the profession to study should be chemistry, physics or computer science (I had no idea about statistics, as that was basically omitted in my school maths). And see what happened...

IMHO physics would also be a perfecty good starting point for a data science career. So would statistics or computer sience or mathematics.

  • 1
    Thank you so much for your time reading all the comments and giving so much advice! I think your classification makes a lot of sense and I am already doing something like this with my current income. Makes sense to do the same with bigger investments. Sadly I can't find any active maker spaces close to me or the next city. I will also have a closer look on the data science career. This part of my passion has evolved in the last two years and hasn't been big enough when new decisions had to be made. I am probably going to finish computer science first and go back to the college question later. Dec 18, 2019 at 21:44

If I had that kind of cashflow, at that age, with the knowledge I have now, I would buy a property of some kind if I could and rent it out.

  • While I tend to agree, this answer could do with some justification about why getting on the property ladder is a better option than investing on the stock market, investing in a startup business or funding a private workshop Dec 19, 2019 at 11:14

I've been investing off-and-on at a largely amateur level for the past decade or so.

The biggest advantage has been that the money I'm investing is in ISAs. It's therefore untaxed and not subject to being devalued like money in a bank would be.
It's worth putting your money in an ISA whatever you do as long as you don't need to interact with it much.

I've so far made somewhere around £3500 on the stock market having invested around £10,000, but about half of it was down to one lucky investment which panned out. The rest was a gentle trickle upwards from Index funds.

I have around half a dozen index funds as a core, with a few specific investments in particular businesses I thought were promising.

I treat it essentially as a kind of Bonsai Money-tree. pruning it and trimming it, adding new branches (investments) as I find them. As a rule I revisit my stocks about once a month to see how they're doing.
Some pan out, some don't.

By and large, it's an interesting hobby, but it hasn't exactly replaced my day-job.

There hasn't really been a downside to doing it though.
If you don't have a plan for what you want to do with that money, some careful and prudent investing isn't a bad idea in my opinion.

Startup Businesses
My main advice is that you shouldn't be starting a business at this stage.

90% of startups fail
Most of them in their first year.

Are you in that 10%?
How about the even smaller percent that get past their second year?
Or the vanishingly small number that actually ship a product and start making money?

I've worked in a few startups myself, they have invariably been great employers, enthusiastic, full of ideas, supportive and fun. But the common factor has been that the boss has a record of multiple failed small businesses behind them.
When asked, they've said that they intend to keep learning from their mistakes and eventually they'll take off and produce a business that can actually fly.

The failure-mode of your average startup business is not the ideas being bad. It's because running a business (even a small one) is intensely complicated, expensive and difficult.

Unless you plan to make a service business (like a web-design studio) where you immediately have clients paying you for things that you can turn around quickly, your business is statistically doomed.

The reality is that a business that starts making profit after 18 months probably won't even get that far. And 5k is not enough to be meaningful, You might be able to start a business on 5k but you won't be able to operate it for very long without dumping a lot more into it.
If you're serious about the business, you'll want all 19k to do it, and you'll very probably still lose it all.

But don't let me stop you, it's your money!

My recommendation:
Put the money in an ISA to make it tax-exempt, maybe play with investing if you like, but keep the money for Big Life Things like a downpayment on a house, or paying for your wedding, or a car, or any of the other major milestones of money you're likely to hit in the next decade.
Your 20s are an expensive decade, your adult life comes with a lot of startup costs.

If nothing else, having 19 grand in reserve is a huge safety-net.
Things can and do go bad, and being able to slap money on the table to fix it can be the difference between carrying on or being messed up for life.

By all means have fun with the laboratory stuff, you've got the spare cash for it, go for it. Investing in yourself as a knowledge-worker will likely pay for itself quickly!


I think that the best you can do with your money is to invest in something. Make your money working for you. But be aware from scams, pyramid games, etc... There are millions of people who would like to steal your money saying that "this is your best investment" or "earn 1% per day".

I can recommend a book, that I read and changed my mind: https://thefalconmethod.com Check it! This book describes an easy and clear method how to invest in dividend stocks, and make a portfolio working for you. It needs more work than an ETF, but it makes 2-4 times better profit than an average ETF.


I would truly urge you to establish your first real estate holding.

So, buy a small flat, house or similar property, and live in it.

There are overwhelming, absolutely overwhelming, advantages to this:

  1. Absolutely staggering tax advantages in almost all jurisdictions

  2. Overwhelmingly, property is the only leveraged investment available to normal civilians

  3. Overwhelming advantages to your credit score and general financial situation

  4. For anyone entrepreneurial it is all-but essential, end of story. It's a hundred times easier to do things like "be a freelancer", "start a shop", "risk a few dollars on a home lab" if you are a Home Owner

Real estate is your first investment. Get it set up and out of the way. Later you can go for more sophisticated investments.

A typical investment discussion goes:

Sophisticated investor: Don't go for real estate. It has costs. You have to repair the roof. You can make 3.7% with XYZ rather than 3.4% with real estate. There are better, more sophisticated investments than real estate.

Me: so do you own a house?

Sophisticated investor: Of course, obviously.

Me: what was your first investment?

Sophisticated investor: A house.

So, OP asks

"Would you keep the money and have a large and safe backup or would you use it now?"

Buy a house or flat and you are keeping the money. It's all yours. It's right there in the house or flat. Say you're thinking of gambling on a stock... Once your house or flat is established, you can take the money out of the house or flat and use it for that gamble anyway. Regarding safety backup it's safer having it there in home equity than cash sitting around.

Buy a house or flat, it's win / win / win / win / win.

In your "life financial journey" get home ownership out of the way first.

Regarding other issues mentioned by the OP:

"a 5k investment into a small business I would like to start..."

Never put money in to business ideas, ever.

Find a way to do it without putting in one cent/penny, or it's not a "business idea", just an amateur bumble.

"small laboratory .. cost 2-3k .. not sure how much I actually need this .."

Just set this idea aside.

Certainly, in business you have some small unavoidable expenses (so, you need a phone for $200 because you don't yet have the business skills and experience to get a phone without having to pay for it yourself).

Any time you're thinking of spending more than $500 on anything, it's simply a bad idea and a waste of money.

I can instantly think of three ways to have far better lab access with no spending.

Spending money in business is like eating sugar - simply, a habit to break. Truly successful businesspeople spend nothing on anything.

  • Very interesting approach. I also thought of that but figured that now is probably a very bad time to do that where I live. Real estate prices are at it's all time high and observing politics I'd say it's rather going down due to regulations. Also I need 5k to start the business in order to offer something. Otherwise I don't have a product. The only prupose of this business anyways is a small passive income. Not something I want to grow and spend my life with. Dec 18, 2019 at 16:17
  • In #4 you say that starting a business is easier when owning a home, then later you say never to start a business.Those bits of advice are polar opposites. Also, your last bits about business are wrong. Truly successful businesses pay others to do what they don't care to do or have time to do, saving their time and energy to focus on their core business. Also, you need a good credit score to get a good deal on a house, which the OP doesn't have at 19. Dec 18, 2019 at 17:36
  • CCG .. "Truly successful businesses pay to ..." [do things][. Yes, of course, a business has to pay for many things. But you pay nothing. Never, ever take money out of your own pocket to start a business.
    – Fattie
    Dec 18, 2019 at 18:34
  • @randombutnotsorandum - good news! in the history of the universe, every single person who ever bought a house or flat, before doing so, has said "Real estate prices are at an all time high and observing politics my guess is it's going down..." You're smart, so you see my point. Just buy a flat, you'll never regret it in the slightest and your financial position will soar. Enjoy!
    – Fattie
    Dec 18, 2019 at 18:36

I'm sure you familiar with the term "Cash is King", I read nearly every week that economists are predicting another global recession in the next 2 years, so I'd be keeping my money safe until then.

between now and then I'd be banking as much money as I could until that happens (ensuring you have a very good credit rating) and then using the savings to start a property company, (buy to let, buy houses and convert to apartments, etc).

I've seen many many guys do this since the last recession and they're all sitting pretty now.

I'm just waiting on the next one myself.

  • 2
    So you're suggesting that the OP "bank" the money and then immediately pull it out to become a landlord? What happens if the recession you think is happening causes the landlord gig to go bust as well?
    – Nosjack
    Dec 18, 2019 at 15:14
  • The OP likely doesn't have a credit rating at 19. There's little chance they can get a house now, and after a recession, no one is going to give a "kid" with no credit history any kind of loan, let alone several for real estate. And even though your friends are "sitting pretty" now, I can guarantee they weren't right after the last recession and buying up those properties. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to make a profit that way. Dec 18, 2019 at 17:41

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .