An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Investing (With Just A Few Dollars)

by Melinda James

I'm Melinda, a filmmaker based in Oakland. I didn't start actively investing until 2013 at the age of 28. When I was in college, my dad had tried talking to me about mutual funds and getting me to invest. He didn't give me much guidance outside of that and when I looked into mutual funds, I got overwhelmed by how much information there was to sift through. Also, you needed $3000 to start investing and I definitely did not have that kind of dispensable income as a college student.

I came across an article in Fast Company about Loyal3, a company that was looking to make investing easier and accessible for most folks. They took a simple approach by allowing people to start investing with as little as $10 in companies that you were familiar with. I think the first company I started with was Disney and I started at $10/mo because that's all I could afford as a freelancer at the time. 

As I started to make more money, I did more research into the stock market and learned the basics of understanding charts, which companies paid out dividends, and how to assess if a company was doing well based on their earnings reports. Not too long after, I landed my first full-time job at GoPro and had to learn about 401k's, IRAs and Employee Stock Purchase Programs. If it wasn't for setting up that initial account with Loyal3, I would've been in over my head, but that gave me a solid foundation for learning how to maneuver through the basics of investing.

Since I was an early adopter of Loyal3, they invited me to do a testimonial about the reasons why and how I use their platform to invest.

Even though I've expanded my investment options, most of my money is with Loyal3 because of the ease and simplicity. Also, there are no fees associated with selling and buying like with most brokerage companies.

For more guidance on investing and how to get started, I'd suggest reading these books:

-Your Money or Your Life

-The Power to Prosper

-Think and Grow Rich

-Work Less, Live More

-The 4 Hour Work Week


Melinda James is a filmmaker with a primary focus in cinematography. Her films embody a visual style that is minimal, yet intimate. Over the past five years she has shaped a body of work that places women and underrepresented communities in positions of power and recognition, yet the messages behind her work are tangible enough to reach many. Based in Oakland, and primarily working under the creative title of About Her Films, her work encompasses music videos, short films, commercials and photography.