Word to the poor: students can invest, too

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    By Ashley Davis

    Rent, groceries, books and tuition. For some students, this is just the beginning of a long list of expenses they must cover each semester. As the bills pile up, account balances go down and students are left searching between couch cushions for spare change.

    Borderline poverty need not be a standard descriptor of the college experience, said Dan Muir, president of BYU”s Investment Club.

    In fact, by following a few basic guidelines, students can turn what little money they have into a healthy financial cushion, he said.

    “To begin, make a budget and stick to it,” Muir said. The road to wealth begins with discipline. Students should commit themselves to saving a set percentage of their earnings every month. Even the smallest amount will add up to big savings in the long run, he said.

    Next, Muir said students should invest a portion of their savings in the stock market.

    “The trick to becoming wealthy is having your money work for you. By investing, you can make money while you sleep,” he said.

    When investing, Muir advises students to buy stocks they understand.

    “Fears about money stem from a lack of understanding,” he said.

    There are numerous newspapers and magazines that offer guidance to those entering the market. In addition, the Internet provides an easy and comprehensive resource for investigation, Muir said.

    Muir also said it is important to have a “long-term horizon” when investing. He said to choose a stock and stick with it.

    People who react emotionally to changes in the market miss out on the possibility of bigger returns, he said.

    “You don”t have to have a great job now to retire with a lot of money,” Muir said. “You just have to start early.”

    Starting now is key, he said. In fact, Muir identifies the years between the ages of 20 and 30 as the most crucial time period. Students should maximize the opportunities provided by employers such as 401K”s and IRA”s. Many times companies will match the contributions that employees make to such retirement funds.

    “The buckets are there; its up to you to fill them up,” he said.

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