As a college student, money management can appear daunting. It is natural to brush it off as a topic which only concerns adults. I am currently a freshman in college, and ten months ago, I had no true interest in investing. However, during quarantine, my dad began to explain the perks and advantages of investing. It certainly sounded attractive, but how was I supposed to invest my personal money when I did not even know the basics?
I am excited to share four steps to encourage you to invest and lead you to long-term success.
- Identify a trading platform that fits your needs and interests. Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, and Robinhood are reliable and safe companies, and I know many people using each. For a beginner, Robinhood is the easiest platform to use. All three of these platforms have little to no fees for investing.
- Open a Roth IRA account, as well as a normal brokerage account. An IRA is designed for long-term investing, which usually means your money stays in the account until retirement. A brokerage account gives you access to invest and withdraw your money at any time. Opening both an IRA and a brokerage account allows you to do long-term investing and short-term investing.
- Create an investment plan. At this point you are ready to invest! This is an exciting time in your life, especially if you are a first-time investor. It is important to identify your goals and purpose for investing, and then to plan and research based those goals.
- Identify investments that interest you. Look for steady, reliable, well-performing companies that are in good financial standing and have a positive outlook for the future. As Warren Buffett says, “if you wouldn’t hold your investment in a company for 10 years, don’t even think about owning it for 10 minutes.” Do not make spur-of-the-moment investment decisions, as I can tell you from personal experience, they usually lead to mistakes. Identify an investment that interests you, think over it for an extended period of time, and then execute.
My best piece of advice is to invest in an index fund. In simple terms, an index fund is a form of investment that tracks the performance of hundreds of different companies. The S&P 500 Index is the most famous, and there are plenty of funds that follow this particular index.
Warren Buffett has stated numerous times the importance of investing in a low-cost index fund. Buffett recently said in a 2019 Yahoo! interview, “in 1942, if I put $114 into an S&P 500 fund instead of buying a single stock, it would be worth about $400,000 today.” This is arguably the most risk-free and reliable strategy for investing.
Make it your goal every month to put at least $10 or more into an index fund in your IRA. You are not only investing in your future, but the future of your family.
Commit to learning, save your money, and invest it wisely. Also, have confidence, because you are making one of the best decisions for your future, and beginning a lifelong journey of excitement!
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