BYU students prove financial investing in college possible

BYU economic self reliance professor Kurt Brown instructs his students on how to make investments in early stage for companies that aim to solve some of society’s most systemic challenges. (Claire Anderson)

BYU math education senior Trevor Scott approached his parents for financial advice before he got married. He felt a newfound sense of responsibility for his future family and wanted to know if he and his wife should start investing.

“I was just picking (my parents’) brains about what they would have done differently, and their whole motto was, ‘We just never really invested when we were young,'” Scott said.

He chose to meet with representatives at a financial services company to start a mutual fund.

Scott and his wife married in October 2015. When he talked with his wife about investing, she was initially shocked he wanted to start when they were in college.

“She didn’t know why we would be planning for retirement,” Scott said. “It’s easy to have that mindset. You don’t want your money to leave you because you’re so short on it.”

BYU economic self—reliance professor Kurt Brown said students don’t have to invest a large amount of money at first. He said it is more important to start early rather than start late and invest huge sums of money each month.

“In reality, the sooner someone starts investing any amount of money, the better,” Brown said.

Scott said his wife saw how much thought he had put into it and was impressed when they met with financial representatives, so she agreed to invest.

Scott said he and his wife appreciated the representatives’ questions about their goals in life. He suggested people should choose a company with their best interests in mind if they are going to trust a company with their money.

BYU junior Logan Robison is an intern at Northwestern Mutual. He suggested people should learn as much as they can before they start investing.

“A lot of good resources come from Investopedia,” Robison said. “You learn a ton about investing. You can even do investment simulations.”

BYU finance professor Bryan Sudweeks said BYU has excellent resources for students to learn about personal finance topics like investing. Students have free access to BYU’s personal finance website which has courses about investing.

Brown said there are several sources students should use to learn about investing before they start. He recommends Sudweeks’ personal finance course. He also said Kiplinger and the Wall Street Journal are great assets students can use.

“The Wall Street Journal is a must-read for anyone serious about money and finance,” Brown said. “I read from it every day.”

Sudweeks stressed the importance of learning good investing habits before beginning to invest. He admonished students who do not have knowledge of investing to be patient in learning.

“Investing is not a simple thing. It’s not something (where) you can learn two things and then do a good job of it.”

Sudweeks also emphasized the importance of being debt-free before beginning investments. Students should especially pay off credit card debt before they begin investing.

“Once you’ve got your emergency fund and you’ve paid off your short term debt, then I would start,” Sudweeks said. “You can probably have some school debt. I would not mind about that.”

Sudweeks also said students should know the amount of risk they want to take. Brown said while there is some price fluctuation in the market, there is very little chance of an investment being wiped out.

“You have to be willing to see some ups-and-downs along the way,” Brown said.

Brown emphasized the importance of investing in order to plan for retirement. He said he knows some people who live off social security because they neglected investing.

“No one’s going to plan for retirement (for you). If you don’t, no one else will,” Sudweeks said. “Social security is not a good way to retire.”

Brown also urged students to think about retirement and to not delay investing.

“Put down this newspaper and immediately begin investing in the stock market. Even just a small amount of money every month,” Brown said.

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