Rarely do college students start thinking about saving money or investing while they are still in school, typically putting it off until they graduate and find a stable job.
Students get caught up in covering their school expenses while using any available money they have frivolously, never really paying attention to what they spend on and how they can save more money. However, the sooner students start saving, the more secure they will be in the future financially.
Although many may argue that most students are “starving” as the expression goes even a few dollars a month can go a long way and accumulate over time.
Financial advisers also recommend that students start saving money now, regardless of how small or how big the amount may be, as it can help them secure a stable financial future or prepare for financial emergencies that may come along.
“The earlier you start, the better for your future,” said Gennadiy Yankiv, a financial adviser and an associate vice president for Bank of America.
Yankiv recommends that students apply for a 529 plan, which is an education savings plan operated by the state. It is designed to help families set aside funds for future college costs and can even be used for out-of-state institutions.
The plan also offers other savings and prepaid plans, which requires paying in advance. He recommends that students apply for this type of plan both before and while attending college. The benefits include a 4 percent increase on the account, meaning the money accumulates more than the original amount saved through interest.
Ronald Bibonia, a private client adviser for Chase Bank, advises students to save money rather than look for ways to invest in stocks.
Movies like “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013) have escalated many students’ interest in investing due to the potential of wealth one can acquire; however, Bibonia said that students should start investing when they have a stable job and income. This would allow them to invest larger portions of money, which can potentially lead to a higher return on their investments.
Additionally, Bibonia said that because students have so many expenses and the market goes up and down, they should not take the risk of losing money. Rather, they should make paying their bills and school fees a higher priority.
According Bibonia, investing is the last thing to look at because students have a lot of expenses.
“I don’t recommend for you to invest because, sure, investing can give you money over time, but it has risks attached to it,” said Bibonia. “The biggest risk is that [the market] goes up and down every day.”
Yankiv also agrees that, although it is good to invest money, the fluctuating market provides a real risk of loss.
Instead, Bibonia advises college students to keep a three-month allowance on reserve in case of emergency, such as suddenly being laid off. Money can be stored in savings accounts or certificate of deposit accounts, which function similarly to savings accounts but have a fixed interest rate and are federally insured.
However, Bibonia does think that students should be more knowledgeable about investing because it can benefit them in the future.
“I like young people to be aware and ask questions about investing,” he said.
He also advises students to keep daily track of their expenses and to categorize their spending so that they can see where their money is distributed at the end of the month.
“That’s the best way to identify how you can save money every single day and every single month,” he said. “Everything becomes habitual and you’ll become aware about your spending habits for the rest of your life.”
“The earlier you start, the better for your future,” said Yankiv.