Use leftover change and loan refunds to start investing

atie Greenwald

Give up vending machines; start investing

Rent, tuition, a car payment and food all have to come out of that minimum wage paycheck.

It’s no wonder many college students don’t feel like they have enough money left over at the end of the week to start investing.

David Smith, senior general studies major, said he doesn’t invest because he needs his leftover change for snack food.

But all it takes is that leftover change invested in the right place and a student could earn a large amount of money over the years, said Peggy Davidson, an investment adviser at FirstMerit Bank.

She said $10 invested in a mutual fund every week with a 15 percent interest rate would yield $250,000 in 40 years.

Preparation for the future can start on a modest budget.

“Start small, but be consistent,” economics associate professor Kathryn Wilson said. “A lot of it is about the patterns you start now.”

She said a good investment plan doesn’t have to build off large installments, but rather can build off less than a dollar a day.

But that change is sometimes needed for important habits such as doing laundry, parking and, in Smith’s case, eating.

That’s where money-saving tips come in handy.

“I think it works much better to pay yourself first,” Wilson said. That way the student can’t spend extra money on unnecessary things.

According to, being conservative on water, gas and electricity use can save a consumer more than $1,000 a year.

The site offers tips such as turning off the TV when it’s not being watched, hanging clothes to dry, shortening shower time and using the Internet to chat rather than a cell phone.

Keeping track of where money is spent is another way to save it, according to

The site advises people to write down how much is spent on bills and try to lower that amount each month. Turning off lights and water when they’re not in use are some ways to lower bills.

Paying off credit card bills in full each month is another way to save money according to; however, it says not having a credit card at all is best. By paying off the amount in full each month, a consumer will avoid costly interest fees.

Some other advice the site offers is to wait to buy items until they go on sale, buy generic brands over name brands and go on a diet. It says that by dieting people look better, feel better and eat less food.

Gene Hamby, an in-house money manager out of Akron, agrees.

“Stop drinking that Coke, which only makes you fat,” he said.

He said if someone drinks water over Coke, they can save a dollar. After doing that a thousand times they will have $1,000 to invest.

He also suggests people buy discount movie tickets at the grocery store rather than paying full price at the theater. Or, he said, movie-goers should go to the cheaper theaters such as the Linda Theatre in Akron, and see a movie that was released a few months earlier for $3 rather than paying $8 at another theater.

Contact financial reporter Katie Greenwald at [email protected].