I’ve been interested in the stock market since I was an early teen. When I was in high school in economics class we had a stock market project that we had to do. It was a simulation of what we would do in real life if we traded stocks. We started off with $10,000 and had to document all our trades. I think it was 3 months long, and by the end of the program I had made close to $200,000. Most of my trades were speculative and “band wagon” trades (if I saw something going up I would buy, and then sell as soon as it looked like it was going to go back down). I didn’t have strategy based on fundamentals or future developments, but more off of trends. I did very little research on company financials or future outlooks.

We have to take count at 4 p.m. everyday which is where we have to be on our bunks while the CO’s made their round to make sure everyone was where they were supposed to be. This also happens to be during the closing bell of the stock market so Monday-Friday I used to turn my TV to CNBC to watch the market. I started this routine my first time in prison, and even though it wasn’t a reality for me to invest at the time it ended up being a beneficial routine that I still have to this day. Usually my TV stays on CNBC all day but even if I’m busy I always have to be in my cell and on my bunk during count time so I at the least watch it then.

When I came back to prison with all this time and I started to plan for my future, I knew I wanted to invest in the stock market. I’m an independent person and I don’t like to ask people for help, so I do my best to do everything that I can for myself. Investing in the market is a way for me to make some legitimate money and try to provide some financial security for myself for when I get out, or maybe even to help me get out if I end up needing a lawyer. When I do get out, the only money that I’ll have is what I make for myself while I’m in here. I’ll have a lot of things to deal with when I do get out and if possible I’d like to have enough to not feel pressured to make money on top of everything else so I’m taking an active approach to try to use the time that I have in here to make that possible.

I had to figure out how I was going to get everything set up, and how I was going to be able to buy and sell shares. The first step was to find someone that I could trust with my money. Then I had to see if this person was willing to help by picking up the money that I had sent and setting up the accounts to make it possible for me to start investing. Next step was to pick the right app to use, and Ally seemed to suit my needs. After that I had to raise the actual capital to start investing.

It took a lot of discipline to do what I needed to do in order to put myself in a position that I could send money home while maintaining what I needed to in here to keep the cycle going so that I could continue to make money. Because I owe restitution and I can only get $50/ month in my account, I was going without the kinds of things that provide a certain level of comfort in order to have items on hand for my store. Instead of eating good I kept letting my store build up until I got to the point that I had a decent amount on hand so that I could do some “transfers” (see my post money makes the world go ’round, even in prison) to send some money out in the world, and still have enough on hand to run a store.

With the money I made from doing transfers I made my first investment in the stock market about two and a half years ago. It was in a biopharmaceutical company that had developed a new drug in the top of its class that was going through the clinical trials to be approved by the FDA before being allowed to go to market. The results were promising, but unfortunately the covid pandemic happened and put a stop to its progress. I’m still holding it.

My next investment was in a company that’s been getting a lot of attention lately, Fuelcell Energy (ticker symbol FCEL). I got in at .78ยข/share, and got out at $3.24/share. This might be the one that got away, because the last time I checked it was a little over $20. I still made a decent profit, enough to cover the cost of 5 of the 6 investments that I’m currently holding.

The way I trade is like a short term, quick flip kind of strategy. I typically look for cheaper stocks that seem like they’re going to have a surge in valuation whether its from a new product launch, a new contract, or just more popularity. Because I only have limited resources on watching market activity and knowing how shares of specific companies are moving, I have to make decisions based on when I can get the information, so if a stock is up a decent amount and it starts to go down, I’ll usually sell at the first sign of a decline rather than holding on and waiting a while to see what happens in case it crashes and I find out too late. I’d rather take the profits because the risk typically isn’t worth the reward.

Lately the market seems to be being influenced in a big way by social media. With factors such as, people having more free time because of covid, trading platforms like robin hood and e trade, and social media influence from places like reddit it seems to me that the market has been more like a popularity contest. I’ll admit that because I’m in here I don’t have access to social media so I can only speculate on certain things but watching CNBC there has been enough coverage of the effect of social media on the market that I can believe it. The market has been pretty volatile.

Depending on how long this covid pandemic continues to impact certain industries, I’m looking into making some long term investments. There are certain companies that seem almost guaranteed to make money once things go back to normal.

I don’t consider myself an investment strategist so I won’t attempt to predict if or how this new era of trading will effect the market long term. I can only hope that no matter what happens I can make the decisions that’ll make me some money.

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