Joshua Zirkiyev’s favourite stocks are Tesla and Alibaba.
He is in sixth grade.
Zirkiyev has spent the last three years investing virtual portfolios in school, through the nonprofit SIFMA Foundation’s Stock Market Game.
The game, offered as part of the curriculum at Zirkiyev’s Queens, New York middle school, allows over 600,000 students across the US in grades 4-12 to invest a hypothetical $US100,000 portfolio.
“The Stock Market Game teaches them so much that is a life skill,” says Neme Alperstein, a Queens teacher who has been using the game for 28 years. “It’s mathematics, it’s investing, it’s English/language arts. There isn’t any dimension of this program that I can’t use across the curriculum.”
Alperstein believes strongly in educating kids about personal finance. “It’s critical,” she says. “Their future, and their financial future, depend on just how financially literate they are.”
You could say that Joshua Zirkiyev is pretty financially literate, especially when it comes to investing. After three years, here are some of the investing lessons he’s learned that could benefit us all:
1. Do your research. Zirkiyev can’t stress enough how important it is to do your research on potential investments through charts and graphs on Google Finance, and he makes a good point: It’s always smart to look into a potential investment before signing over the cash, and some experts specifically caution against buying “hot stocks” without looking into them more deeply.
2. Look at the long term. On the subject of researching investments — specifically stock in companies — Zirkiyev advises taking a wide view. “Look at the long term,” he says, “how they have been doing since they started.” A company’s past doesn’t necessarily indicate how it will do in the future, but he’s right to look at the big picture. For most people, investing is a long-term game.
3. Know what’s coming up next. While again, an investment’s past performance can’t predict future results, Zirkiyev highlights the fact that some of the most lucrative investments are in companies on the forefront of technological advancement, like his favoured Tesla. “If some company is making typewriters, and there’s Apple making this advanced technology, who would buy typewriters now?” he asks.
4. Invest your savings. “There’s a higher chance, if you actually do research, that you will make more money [from investing],” he says. “With bank accounts, in one year, you just make 25 cents or something.” It’s usually not quite as dire as 25 cents, but he’s right that the interest earned on a savings account pales in comparison to the potential earnings through the stock market, or even compared to relatively conservative investments like index funds.