Falcons of Wall Street

For most people, their first experience with making money is opening a lemonade stand as a kid. Evan Patrick (12) was no different. With his close friend Jack Berman (12), he set up a lemonade stand on the corner of his street. With homemade lemonade, cookies and a poster, they were ready for business. Except, Patrick’s business model was slightly different than most.

“At the end of the day we’d count up all the money and go home, and my dad would say ‘Well, you can’t put it in a savings account,’” Patrick said.

Rather than spend his earnings on a new toy, Patrick’s dad helped him open a brokerage account in order to teach him about investing money and avoiding the depreciation of the dollar.

“[My dad] and I would take the money every time Jack and I would make our earnings from the lemonade stand and put it in a Standard and Poor’s, which is an index fund,” he said.

Most people do not start investing until their mid-twenties, but Patrick started at the age of five. Now, he is a passive investor, dabbling in stocks, bonds, indexes, crypto and real estate. According to a survey conducted by Junior Achievement USA, 37% of teens polled would not invest at all, with 20% saying the stock market is “too risky.” Yet, Patrick and teens like him represent a small group of young people who invest with the aim of building wealth for their future. For Patrick, investing is crucial for maintaining the value of his money, just as his father once explained to him with his lemonade stand earnings.

“Because of inflation, our dollar is worth less and less every day. So it’s important to hedge on inflation, bet on inflation, by investing,” he said. “My dollar right now will be less next week and the week after that unless I do something about it, which is investing in your future.”

William Yang (11), who has been investing since his freshman year, agrees.

“I think it’s just really important for kids to save money and put it into an investment,” Yang said. “It’s a good long-term way to build your wealth so that later on in life, you’ll feel more financially free.”

Yang first started investing after competing in an investing competition in his Intro to Business Class on Investopedia, a stock simulator that uses fake money.

“I remember one stock, it was CDEV, I think it was $4. We had an investing competition in our class, and one person went all in with that stock, and in those three weeks of the competition, it rose up to $8 and they won the competition,” Yang said. “When I first got my initial money, I put it into penny stocks, such as CDEV. But, I later realized its growth potential is nowhere near that of Apple or Meta, and it’s not as safe.”

Jake Ashby, who teaches Intro to Business at TPHS, values this project for teaching his students about the importance of investing.

“Introducing [students] how to manage money in a big-picture holistic aspect, like the stock market, allows them to start those skills earlier,” Ashby said. “With losing money in [the simulation], we take away all of the risk and so it is a learning experience.”

To Patrick, investing is all about balancing risk, but figuring out this balance is difficult. From
penny stocks to shorting too soon, the industry is a minefield of missteps. For Patrick, the trick is to control your emotions. Despite this philosophy, Patrick has had a few times where his emotions led to some mistakes.

“Luckily, it hasn’t been an extreme amount of money, but it’s all about learning,” he said. “In school, you get the lesson then the test, but in the market, you get the test and then the lesson.”

In the face of the lessons he achieves through investing, Patrick remembers to give back. According to him, one of the most important things he has learned is to “be generous” with the knowledge he has about the market.

“My view on it is that I don’t necessarily need to share how much money I have in it, I just need to share the wisdom, how you can get the best resources,” he said. “There’s so many things that people don’t know that you can help with.”

In the spirit of this philosophy, Patrick offered his advice to investing hopefuls. From stock simulators like Investopedia to reading articles in the Wall Street Journal, there are countless outlets for information on the stock market. Most of all, Patrick suggests learning from the people around you.

“Reach out to everybody you know who knows anything about investing. It’s a game about knowledge. It’s not necessarily how much money you have because I could have all the money in the world and I could still lose it all. If you have knowledge, if you understand what’s going on and you bet, it could work out for you,” Patrick said. “So definitely network and reach out to other people who know what they’re doing. They can guide you and give you the knowledge that they have pretty easily. It’s pretty accessible.”

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