Since the start of the pandemic, current college students have been put in a place that no one in history has ever been. I am going into my senior year of college and can attest that the world is very different from when I was a freshman. We were taught that doing well in high school leads to admittance to a good college, which leads to a well-paying job. But that is not always the case. According to a study at the University of Washington, “53% of current college graduates are unemployed or underemployed.” While college may not have the same return on investment it once did, there are still opportunities for college students to put themselves in a better financial position upon graduation.
One area of financial education I wish I had paid more attention to was savings and investment. For the longest time my parents invested money on my behalf. I was never involved in the process, or even cared to be. Every paycheck I received from a part time job was spent. It never crossed my mind to put money into a savings account or invest for growth. This mindset stayed with me throughout high school, into college. If I had been involved in investing early on, I might have created a better foundation of good financial habits. Preparing for life after college going to require some planning and investing for my future.
Besides starting earlier, it is important for young investors to make intelligent decisions when deciding where to invest their money. DIY apps have made trading stocks very accessible and mainstream for younger generations. Social media also promotes stock market investing by highlighting “must buy” stocks that guarantee outsize returns. However, there is no real easy money in the stock market. It is important to do proper research into potential investments and seek advice from investment professionals.
I know many of us will have an uphill battle once we graduate, but there are steps we can take to be more comfortable with what comes next. By investing smartly now, expenses that come with living independently won’t be so daunting. If you are a parent or grandparent, I encourage you to try and get your kids involved in their savings as early as possible. Likewise, if you are a recent college graduate and need some help getting started, the financial planners at West Financial Services can help you put your best foot forward on the long path to financial freedom.
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