Miramonte students play the stock market

Goal to improve financial literacy, learning investing

Early in the morning, before his usual Zoom classes start, a student investor catches up on financial news and analyst reports and checks up on after-hours moves in order to decide whether to buy, sell, or hold the positions in his portfolio. The market opens at 6:30 a.m. and he makes his moves, while the rest of his peers are asleep. Finally, he joins his academic classes and starts a normal online school day, just like everyone else.

Several Miramonte students have taken it upon themselves to improve their financial literacy and learn about investing.

“Learning how to invest and investing now, while you are younger, is paramount if you want to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle in the future. As a hard rule, when you have money, you have only two choices: to spend it today (for short term pleasure) or invest it and spend it tomorrow (for long term pleasure). You don’t need a large investment to get started: anything will do. You have another 50 years to watch your investment grow, so why not start soon?” longtime investor and Miramonte computer science teacher Barry McQuain said.

Though one must be 18 years old to open a brokerage account in order to buy and sell stocks, a parent can link a custodial profile to a brokerage account for their children to use. 

“I started in middle school because I made some extra money from babysitting and tutoring. I had just enough to buy some silver. It’s a good way to make passive income but you need money in order to start. It’s best to ask parents or teachers for advice before you get started because with investing, the more money you put in, the bigger the risk,” Miramonte senior Lanie Pritchard said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of stocks crashed in response to the unease and economic hindrance brought on by business shutdowns and lockdowns. As a result of cheap stock prices across the board, brokerage websites saw an influx of new accounts. Brokerages Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, and E-Trade gained a total of 1,580,000 new accounts during the pandemic — some of them opened by Miramonte students.

“Personally, I got into investing because I was locked inside all summer with little to nothing to do. I think it’s a really interesting hobby and if a student has a little bit of extra money, they should definitely try it out,” Miramonte junior Alex Lee said.

Good investors do meticulous research into companies they are interested in and make their moves accordingly. 

“I pick my stocks by trying to predict markets that will grow in the future. For example, in June when the pharmaceutical companies were rushing to create a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, I invested in a few of the top pharmaceutical companies before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved any of their products. I knew that if the FDA approved one of those company’s products, then the government would pour money into the company in order to get their vaccines, increasing the value of my shares,” Lee said.

Traditionally, younger Americans tend to keep their distance from the stock market. According to a 2020 poll conducted by Gallup, within the 18 to 29-year-old demographic, only 32 percent own stocks while 61 percent of Americans older than 30 own stocks. No  polls can give a number for investors under 18 years of age because minors can’t open brokerage accounts on their own, it can be inferred that the “under 18” crowd has even fewer investors. A poll conducted of Miramonte students by the Miramonte school paper The Mirador via Instagram found that 40 percent invest in one way or another while 60 percent do not.