As millions of Americans have coped with lockdowns and quarantines, some have turned to learning new skills. Through increasingly popular commission-free brokerage apps like Robinhood, millennials have started investing in a highly volatile stock market.
As the pandemic sent stock prices tumbling, Robinhood reported adding a whopping three million users in the first quarter of 2020. That includes influential day traders like the president of Barstool Sports, Dave Portnoy, who attracts hundreds of thousands of views on his daily trading videos.
"These are gamblers. These are not investors," says Bankrate chief financial analyst Greg McBride. He warns that while the gains can be significant, the losses can be too. Last month, one day trader's portfolio dropped more than $700,000. “Apps that introduce investing to new consumers, that's a great thing, but it's, you know, kind of incumbent upon the individual to make sure that they're investing appropriately for their goals and their risk tolerance,” McBride says.
For Maryclaire Manard, life under lockdown has consisted of social distancing, mask-wearing and now a newfound interest in investing. "Lately I've had a lot of free time on my hands thanks, I guess, to the pandemic and, you know, the ability to now dive deep a little bit, and actually start investing,” she says.
"Everything, so far, for me has been trending upwards because of the time that I chose to buy,” Manard says. She's taking a more conservative approach. “I'm interested in my dollar going farther. What that means for me is not just looking for positive financial returns as an investor, but also looking at companies that really uphold the role that they play in our wider society,” she says.
Experts advise the amateurs to have a long term plan. Bankrate recommends only investing money that you're willing to let ride for 10 years or more and not turning to the market as a "get rich quick" scheme.