Lauren Simmons makes history several times. In 2017, at age 22, Simmons became the youngest full-time trader on Wall Street and the second African American trader in the 229-year history of the New York Stock Exchange.
She was only paid $12,000 while male colleagues doing the same job made more than $120,000.
Over the next four years, Simmons left Wall Street to build her own personal brand, raising $650,000 in the past year as a writer, producer, podcast and television host, business angel, and board member for several financial firms. In 2022, the 27-year-old is on track to rake in $1 million.
Simmons’ income streams are impressive enough, but the way she manages it all impresses even more, Kevin O’Leary, chairman of O’Shares ETFs and CNBC’s Money Court judge.
Simmons credits her mother with teaching her to save 85% of her income, which she has maintained even when she makes $12,000 a year. “If you teach your kids to save early, they’ll stick with you for the rest of their lives,” says O’Leary.
Simmons’ income fluctuates from month to month, so she pays some big recurring expenses, like rent, up front.
“She knows she’s at an income risk even though she’s hitting it right out of the park,” says O’Leary. “But that may not be sustainable forever. Who knows? There’s a big risk when you’re considering multiple sources of income and doing it on a business basis, so you want to save and invest at the same time.”
Simmons says she’s “very cautious” about investing, which she’s learned from other NYSE traders. She opened her first brokerage account in spring 2020 and is refusing to spend money on crypto, at least for now. “I believe that a digital currency will be permanent and will remain in our infrastructure,” says Simmons. “But at the moment it’s highly speculative for me.”
Financial experts say that cryptocurrency is a risky and speculative investment and that you should only invest what you can afford to lose. Given her financial position as an entrepreneur, O’Leary says there is “nothing wrong” with Simmons’ more conservative investment mentality.
She also prioritizes her mental and physical health by journaling, meditating, and exercising each day.
O’Leary says that balance between work and well-being is key to success: “Everyone has to find that special place where they stay sane because the world is a really crazy place. When you do an entrepreneurial job and many Work hours, you have to stay healthy.”