I just turned 20 and live in the U.S. I haven't started any career, and I haven't graduated with an associates like some of my friends. I'm at a crossroads and I don't quite know what to do.

I want to learn how to invest and make money doing so. I am interested in stock and real estate. In my opinion, investors are people with a lot of freedom; they can work with whom they want in most cases, invest in what they want, make what someone with a 9-5 makes in a year in a month potentially, they travel and live overall more exciting lives. I want this.

I've done a year in college, majoring in Computer Science with a goal to become a game developer for pretty much the same reasons. I didn't want to work a 9-5 for some company in the industry; I wanted to learn to make games because I saw it as an investment. People have made games in no more than a week and made thousands in passive income monthly off of it. That seemed like such an ideal thing to aim for, and on top of that I've always liked playing some video games.

I think I am an investor at heart, but I don't know where to go, what to do, how to start... I am not sure if continuing my college degree is worth it or not — after all, so many self-made millionaires are college drop-outs. Lastly, it's about time I'd live on my own; I want to be independent so I need to learn to make money. Can I get some advice please? Thank you.

  • This question is pretty broad, and likely to be closed because of that. It's tough to tell what the question is. The title "I want to be an investor" vs "continuing my college degree" or "I wanted to learn to make games" – JTP - Apologise to Monica Jul 1 '15 at 15:42
  • Good point, let's just focus on investing, everything else was just some background knowledge. The question is what should I do to start out in investing (real estate & stock)? (What do you guys recommend) – EdinsonC Jul 1 '15 at 15:49
  • There's no trick to making a million: work your ass off until you're very good at something. There are certainly millionaire plumbers and such, but they got there step by step."Bing an investor" for a living either requires skill and knowledge and a big starting pile of your own cash, or even more skilll and knowledge sufficient to convince other people to let you manage their cash. There's no free lunch, kid. Pick something you like doing (you're going to spend half your life on the job) and that other people need done, study/practice until you're great at it, and money happens. – keshlam Jul 1 '15 at 15:51
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    For every successful investor there are hundreds of broke who tried. Just keep that in mind. – littleadv Jul 1 '15 at 16:06
  • I've tried to focus your question with a new title. Your wall of text has also been passed through quality assurance. – Chris W. Rea Jul 1 '15 at 16:17

Stay in school, learn everything you can, and spend as little money as possible. And realize that the chances of you dropping out and becoming a millionaire are much lower than the chances of you staying in school and becoming a millionaire. You're unlikely to be a good investor if you make bets with negative expected payoffs.

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    Agreed with the qualification that a serious trade school can count as school. But I do mean serious, as in they will fail you if you don't hit fairly strenuous requirements. North Bennett Street, not ITT Technical. – keshlam Jul 1 '15 at 22:20
  • What courses do you guys recommend to learn about investing in real estate and stocks? What internships if any are there that you guys might know about for beginners in the world of investing. I live in the eastern side of the US. – EdinsonC Jul 2 '15 at 5:44
  • Business courses, statistics and math courses, finance courses. I work for a hedge fund (I just work on the web tools, not the finance side of things) and we bring on a lot of interns every summer - I'm sure other hedge funds and private equity funds do the same. Get good grades, get a recommendation or two from a professor, and try to get in contact with some firms, just send the HR people a resume with a cover letter explaining that you want to learn, you want to work, and you're willing to do anything. If you send it to 100 places, you just need a 1% success rate. – David Rice Jul 2 '15 at 15:35

The basic problem here is that you need to have money to invest before you can make a profit from it. Now if you have say $500K or more, you can put that in mutual funds and live modestly off the profits. If you don't have that $500K to start out with, you're either looking at a long time frame to accumulate it - say by working a job for 30+ years, and contributing the max to your 401k - or are playing the market trying to get it. The last is essentially gambling (though with somewhat better odds than casinos or horse racing), and puts you up against the Gambler's Ruin problem: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gambler's_ruin

You also, I think, have a very mistaken idea about the a typical investor's lifestyle. Take for instance the best known one, Warren Buffet. No offence to him, but from everything I've read he lives a pretty boring life. Spends all day reading financial reports, and what sort of life is that?

As for flying places being exciting, ever tried it? I have (with scientific conferences, but I expect boardrooms are much the same), and it is boring. Flying at 30,000 ft is boring, and if it's a commercial flight, unpleasant as well. A conference room in London, Paris, or Milan is EXACTLY the same as a conference room in Podunk, Iowa. Even the cities outside the conference rooms are much of a muchness these days: you can eat at McDonalds in Paris or Shanghai. Only way to find interest is to take time from your work to get outside the conference rooms & commercial districts, and then you're losing money.

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