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Three “Don’ts” When It Comes to Starting to Invest (with Gen Z slang)

Ok, you Gen Z’ers out there. TBH (to be honest), you just spent two hours on a Wednesday night watching Bella Poarch lip-sync “M to the B” on TikTok.  Or maybe you watched Zach King float in the air like Harry Potter?  Great.  Don’t be cringe. In less than that time, you could have opened a sustainably focused Roth IRA and in the long run, helped invest with the planet in mind getting yourself closer to retiring on that beach in Cancun or Ibiza. FR (for real). Skrrt.  So, all that being said, here are 3 “Don’ts” for when you finally get to socking a little money away post Tik Tok watching.

Gen Z’ers Searching for an ESG Sustainable focused investment platform

1.Don’t Procrastinate or Freak Out.  We see it on a weekly basis. Either Silly Susan says she forgot to put money into her IRA for the last 3 years or Freaky Frank says he is nervous because he read about some Crypto maniac who ran off to the Bahamas with hoards of cash and now can’t find it. RYKM. The most successful investors are ones that methodically invest into their accounts on a regular basis regardless of world politics. That’s called dollar cost averaging.  They do not sell at bad times and they don’t wait until the moons are aligned to jump in.  All we have to base investment returns on is history.  Over the past 100 years the S&P500 has returned 10.53% annualized. That’s all you need to know.  Don’t even look at the returns of Apple or Netflix or Costco or Chipotle over the last few decades.  I won’t go into statistics of what $10,000 a year socked away turns out to be. You can figure that out.  You wait a month and then two months and then 2 years and then 20 years and then it’s too late.  The power of tax-deferred, incremental investing is not something to mess with. It works. Don’t be like Freaky Frank or Silly Susan.

2. Don’t Get Confused. Young investors should be focused on enjoying their young lives, traveling, Netflix and chilling or hiking Patagonia while your young bones can, not on PE ratios or sector weightings. Don’t be bamboozled by suit wearing brokers. The key is to not become emotionally overwhelmed and cray cray with trying to understand all there is about investing. You can do that later in your 30s or 40s or never. Keep it simple to start.  Use a digital automated investing program (ahem, like Sustainfolio) to get you started in the right direction.  You don’t need an advisor at this point. You need discipline and a place to dip a toe in. If you run into tens or hundreds of thousands or millions, well. Perhaps then you may need some more hand holding by hiring a full-service advisor, but until then, its more about getting comfortable putting money away into an investment account. 

Instead of buying individual stocks which takes more time and research than most have, you can buy something called an index fund which buys the stocks and does the diversification for you.  Sustainfolio does this on behalf of its clients by buying index funds diversified across various asset classes (all sustainably screened) so you don’t have to do the research. Stock investing is great, but when getting started, investing in low cost ETF (exchange traded funds) is the way to go.

3. Don’t Invest in Evil. It’s not worth it. Will you be able to fall asleep at night knowing that you are ruining your future grandkids’ lives by investing in evil companies? Probably not, unless you are Freddy Fazbear. Don’t invest in stocks or funds that will make the planet uninhabitable by the time you turn 50. Utilizing an investment strategy with sustainability or ESG in mind is the way to go these days. If you aren’t a big fan of pesticides or oil companies still drilling in Alaskan wildlife areas, then you are a fan of sustainable investing. Make sure your advisor or digital investing program that holds your IRA is committed to the green way of investing and uses ESG screens. Keep in mind, if we all must move to Mars by the end of the century, well, your IRA or 401k balance won’t mean much, now will it.  Invest with sustainability and clean energy in mind. 

4. Bonus Point. A Roth IRA is probably the way to go if you are still in her youthful years.  Again, don’t be confused. A Roth IRA means you already paid the tax man and when you start taking money out at the ripe age of 59 ½ , you will not owe any taxes. $5,000 out is $5,000 in your pocket. If you chose a Traditional IRA (which is better than doing nothing at all) then you don’t pay the taxes now and end up paying the taxes upon withdrawal at age 59 1/2.  $5,000 out could be $4,000 in your pocket. 

All in all, many older folk are kicking themselves around the point that they spent $5,000 on that Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera as opposed to funding an IRA in their 20s. Get a head start on things and you will be the one that’s bougie and dripping. YOLO. Laters.

If one is interested in getting started with a digital automatic investing program, like Sustainfolio, don’t hesitate to email us at or check out the website at