Finding interest in investments

Nicole Stejskal


A college student’s typical view of the future may include continuing his or her education, beginning a career or starting a family.
But what about retirement? Sure, it’s a long-term goal for most students, but rarely do students consider the importance of saving their money for the future. With the state of the economy and the decreasing dependability of receiving Social Security from the government, now is the best time to consider how you’ll afford to keep living once you’ve stopped working.
Kelly Donaldson, Edward Jones financial adviser, emphasizes the importance of creating financial opportunities that will allow you to make money now and secure it for your future.
“The responsibility is more and more so falling on the individual to prepare for their own retirement,” said Donaldson. “The younger you start, the more time you have to compound that growth, or earn interest on top of interest earned. That’s where you see the fastest growth in your accounts.”
One of the first steps financial advisers typically suggest taking is saving money for emergencies in a liquid cash investment, such as a savings account or a money market account. The general rule they give to their clients is to save approximately three to six months of your salary.
“If you were to find yourself out of a job, then the reasonable length of time for you to find another job would be three to six months,” Donaldson said. “You need to have that liquid cash to support yourself, just in case.”
Once you have an emergency account, Donaldson recommends placing money in investments to start earning returns that will build up your future savings. Investments range from out-of-market, fixed-income investments, such as savings accounts, money markets, bonds or certificates of deposit, to in-the-market equities, such as stocks, mutual funds or individual retirement accounts. The choice of investment depends on how much risk you are willing to take.
When saving money, there is always some form of uncertainty involved, so not every investment you make may be successful. However, financial advisers encourage people to stick with the plan they’ve set for themselves.
“If there is any one factor that will lead to a person’s success more than anything else, it’s time in the market, not timing the market,” said Donaldson. “That’s what matters most.”
If the task of investing your money seems daunting and you don’t know where to start, Donaldson suggests seeking professional help from someone you trust.
“The first place that you should start is to do some interviewing of local financial advisors. Ask them questions and certain scenarios,” Donaldson said. “You want to test their knowledge, test their honesty and get a feel for who they are, what they stand for and see if the personalities mesh.”
No matter what your age or financial situation, you can get started in preparing for your retirement. Even in tough economic times, there are ways to cut your expenses and invest your money. For Donaldson, it’s all a matter of learning to manage your money.
“It’s not how much you make, it’s what you spend,” said Donaldson. “If it’s important enough to you, you’ll carve out the money.”