I started investing when I was doing my undergrad degree. I opened a retirement savings account as soon as I had saved up the minimum amount for it. Since then I have read countless personal finance books – some at the public library, some sitting in the bookstore, many of them I bought – but I think I have come across only three or so that come close to addressing themselves to a primarily student audience. Everyone begins off assuming you’ve just graduated and with wet ears you’re now ready to face the “real work world.”
Most people have some job already during highschool or secondary school and probably during university or college as well. There’s no need to wait to get started on your financial future. I read the book by Timothy Olsen, who was thirteen at the time he wrote it, who started investing at age 9 with stocks like Walt Disney that his parents or grandparents had given him. The book was titled The Teenage Investor: How to Start Early, Invest Often and Build Wealth. I think he was featured on Oprah or some other large talk show at the time too. Anyone see him?
It’s true there are some obstacles to investing while you’re still in highschool or college:
1. While it’s becoming rarer and rarer these days, you still might not have your own personal (i.e., home) access to the internet. You might be living at home or just not be able to afford a home system set up yet – you write your papers, etc. at the university or highschool library. Most of my financial research is done online and there are significant advantages – such as lower fees for certain investments.
2. The obvious one: you might not have a job. You want to focus on your schoolwork and you live at home, so you don’t need a job. Perhaps your parents have been able to fund your tuition. Well, this only looks like an obstacle. You’re actually in a great situation for beginning to invest – you could, maybe even should, get a part-time job even just working weekends, and use the money solely for investment purposes.
3. You have a job and internet access, but with so many spontaneous expenses (late charges on books, connection and reactivation fees, cabs, a night out) you think you really can’t afford to “gamble” or “waste your money” away on investments that might not work out. In other words, there are psychological reasons you haven’t begun your financial future.
I’m sure there are others. I would agree only with the first of these. Doing your research and selecting your investment vehicles is made much, much easier if you can do it online. But so what? Take the time between classes to meet with someone at the local bank and make some phone calls. Use the library internet connection for checking out the sites of companies you’re interested in.
This is going to be a longer post, so I’ll break it up.
But what do you think? If you didn’t start investing already during college, why was that?
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