Four years ago, when he was in sixth grade, Zach Oschin started an awareness campaign and fundraiser at his school called Pink for a Purpose. His aunt had recovered from breast cancer and he wanted to do something to support her, and to raise money for cancer research.
“The first year,” he explained, “I cut up all these ribbons and attached pins to them and sold them for a dollar. Our school has uniforms, so part of buying the ribbon was that you had a free dress (wear what you want) day too. We raised about $300 that year. The next year, we ordered bracelets and we made double that. The next year, we made t-shirts – my aunt designed them and we printed them and at the end we had made $1,000. This year, it grew again. And hopefully next year we’ll do even better.” He’s proud that “it’s grown into what it is today.”
Aside from being inspiring, the growth of Zach’s project is a good analogy for something else he’s been up to for years – investing.
“My family had always been involved with this – talking to me about stocks, showing me charts. At about four or five I started getting excited about it, partially because it was about making money, and partially it was just exciting.”
So he went to his family’s stock broker (“it wasn’t difficult”) with money he had saved from birthdays and odd jobs, and bought some stocks.
“I was interested in stuff made for me – I picked what I was into. My first purchases were Marvel Comics, which is now owned by Disney, Lockheed Martin (an aerospace company), something called Placer Dome (gold mining) and EA,” which everyone probably recognizes because they make video games. “It was about what sounded interesting to me. Because I was young, the shares were in the custody of my parents, but that’s O.K. because I get advice from my family. And as I’ve gone down the road, I’ve become more independent and now I can do this on my computer – it’s just a click away.”
His strategy now involves diversification, but also, much like when he was barely in kindergarten, is to “pick companies I believe in. When I was six or seven, I bought Apple and Google because I would go to my computer and do a search using Google. I had an iPod. It was based on everyday actions.” He believes, “as a young person, I have the perspective of a consumer of tomorrow. I do look into market trends and I try to find out if it’s a good time to buy, but I’m not looking at penny stocks from a Chinese company that I don’t know anything about – I want to invest in things I know.”
The idea of sticking with what he knows took another twist recently when he made a real estate investment.
“An opportunity arose in an industrial-use building,” in his community, he explained. “I took some money and now I’m a part-owner in the complex. It’s about diversifying my investments, but also it’s cool because it’s a place I can go. It’s physical. I can ride my bike over there and see it, so it’s fun to see what the improvements are and to see how it’s growing.”
You might call Zach’s secondary strategy patience and consistency. “I have never touched what I’ve invested. I do spend some money – maybe 10% of what I’ve received from gifts,” but for Zach, “the sooner you can start, the more you’ll have every month. If you invest $10 a month each year for ten years, you will have a huge sum at the end. Even if you don’t invest, and just put it in the bank, you’ll have something at the end of ten years,” and it will have also grown.
Finally, Zach wants to share what he’s learned. “Investing doesn’t consume your life. You make decisions, but then you sit on it as it grows. That’s the beauty part of it, and also why it’s so important for kids to get started early. The other great part is that it’s a free education. You learn so much. I can have a real conversation with adults about this and I’m learning as I go. I think this stuff should be more mainstreamed into education, because unless you know about it, you can’t really have this experience until you’re older and then…you’ve missed on years of growth.”
Outside of owning part of a building, Zach is “a normal teen. I go to my temple’s teen group, I like to travel, go on dates. I play video games, I have a record collection.”
Ultimately, he wants “to be financially independent. This is another way of making money. I don’t want to have to rely on a job.” Right now, he’s interested in a career in politics or maybe film, something he’s recently become “passionate” about.
“The great thing about investing is that whatever I do, I can do it on the side.”
To hear more from Zach, watch the video below.