From the outside looking in, you’d never know that Tela Holcomb has a net worth closely approaching the millions. She’s a happy mother and wife who lives below her means but made financial freedom a priority. Not too long ago, Tela had a government job, worked a 9 to 5 and knew nothing about the stock world. But with diligence and practice, she was able to master her craft and earn over $1 million in four years from stocks and trading alone. And she’s here to help you do it too. In this interview with BAUCE, Tela shares what motivated her to get in stocks, the initial fears she overcame, and why she decided to build her own platform to help other women of color financially rise to the top as well.
Tela, I want to set the stage here. What was your 9-to-5 job before you got into stocks and trading?
Tela: So before I started trading, I was doing administrative work for the government. I was doing that for about seven years. What really made me want to start learning about stocks was this guy I worked with that was always talking about how he was going to retire early from trading on the stock market. He had this whole plan to RV the country and do all this crazy stuff. It made me curious. I thought to myself if he can do it, I know I’m smart — I can figure this thing out. So that prompted me to just really start asking him questions because other than knowing the fact that the stock market existed and that there was a channel that talks about it all day, I didn’t really know anything else about it. And I didn’t have anyone growing up or around me at the time that I ever really talked to about trading outside of your 401k or investing. So that’s really what peaked my interest. I started asking him about what books to read, and what courses to take.
What resources helped you learn about the world of stocks when you were first starting out?
Tela: Honestly, it varied. A lot of the information goes completely over your head. So I had to Google a lot of stuff. I also went to Investopedia a lot and then I would also break things down for myself. Once I figured out what a term meant, I would find a way to figure out how it related to something I’m used to in everyday life so that it was easier to explain. Think about how you teach a child to tie a shoe. You’re not telling them “rotate your strings 45 degrees and loop them around”. Instead, we say things like “the rabbit jumped over the log or make these bunny ears”. That’s how I truly mastered the stock game — by breaking through the lingo.
Did you have children when you started trading?
Tela: Yeah, I was a single mom at the time when I first started.
Having a side hustle while you have a job can be exhausting. How did you automate trading into your schedule? How did you find the time to learn all this information?
Tela: In the beginning, you have to allot time to it. I did it only because I was committed to having it replace my job. I was committed to having it generate income for me. But I didn’t want it to take all my time away from my family. What I did was find the time that I was already pretty much wasting — like all the time I was using to watch television — and reallocate it to learning about stocks. So while I sat outside and watched my daughter play, I would be reading a book about the stock market. I would be looking at stock charts. When I was sitting at doctor’s appointments waiting to be seen, I would be scrolling through information about stocks on my phone. I chose to use the dead times in my day also to do more studying and more learning.
What was the first stock you ever purchased?
Tela: The first stock purchased was Coach [laughs] because I love purses. I was like, you know, what, if I can make the money to purchase the purse I want through the stock then I’ll get it. I will use it as a way to motivate me.
But when you purchased that first stock, did you know how soon you would get a return on it?
Tela: Uh, you know, at first I didn’t know. It was all practicing and that’s something I try to encourage people to do is use a practice account first before you use your real money. I lost money the first time around but I kept kind of trying to practice and figure it all out.
But then I started to learn that there are trends in stocks. There are some stocks that tend to [go through] the same type of movement. Maybe they always go up during a certain time of year or they always go down during a certain time of year. So once I discovered that I started to find the trends and all these different stocks. With Coach, I realized the stock always goes up around a certain time of year. So I knew I had a great chance of it going up because that was the trend of that stock.
What practice accounts do you recommend for people starting out?
Tela: There’s two practice accounts that I would definitely recommend. One is through Investopedia. They actually have a practice simulator on their website that people can use to kind of play around and get a feel of things. There’s also thinkorswim by TD Ameritrade. I love their practice platform. It’s a little techy for most people, but it’s definitely powerful and I highly recommend it.
The biggest mistake is trying to get out there with your real money when you have no idea what’s going on. I get people all the time that put their money out there and then they don’t even know how to sell it. Take the time to practice and learn this. The stock market’s not going anywhere. All this money is still going to be there to be made.
You talk about stocks as a path to financial freedom. Do you think stocks are for everyone?
Tela: Yes. I believe everyone should have stocks as a part of their wealth building or their “legacy building”. Because we can’t pass down financial legacies if all we’re doing is saving and budgeting. So stocks, real estate, something of value — some type of investing needs to be a part of your wealth building plan so that you can start building a financial legacy within your family.
You have your own platform where you share these tips and jewels. What motivated you to start sharing these resources with other people, especially African Americans?
Tela: I decided to create my own platform too educate people and share my story because when I started there weren’t very many people trading stocks that looked like me. And so when I started that was a little discouraging for me. It also felt that no one was explaining it in a way that I needed to understand so all the information clicked. So I had to do that on my own.
I realized that there are more people out there that look just like me who probably are feeling the same way that I did when I started out. They may look around in the space and feel that they don’t think they have a chance to succeed in this. So it’s really for me to be out here and represent so that other black women (and men) can see what’s truly possible. As long as we are motivated and we take the time to put into the things we want — anything is possible.
Last question: how would you define a BAUCE woman, Tela?
Tela: Ooo, a BAUCE woman! I would describe a BAUCE woman as someone who breaks barriers and enters into a space even when no one looks like her and still decides to dominate. She still decides to represent and show people that even though they don’t think she can do it, she can. She makes the impossible, possible.
Want to learn how to make millions on the stock market like Tela did? Sign up for her free course here. To stay in touch with Tela, join her “Stocks and Profit” Facebook group or you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.