Investing: It’s not just for adults anymore

Shelley Blundell

Why students should be thinking about their financial future from day one.

Credit: Beth Rankin

Between the burden of bills and tuition payments, most students don’t think too much about financially investing in their future.

Maybe it’s time they did.

Stacia Brooks said she wished someone had told her the benefits of investing sooner.

Brooks, chief executive officer for the Kent State Student Credit Union and graduate student in business administration, is now dealing with the financial strain of “life after graduation” and acknowledges a little money would have been nice.

“I’m married now, with a family and a house — a little cash to fall back on would have been really helpful right now,” Brooks said.

Most of the credit union’s clients don’t seem to be thinking about their financial future at all, Brooks said.

Ed Balaj, vice president in charge of retail investments for Huntington Bank, agreed with Brooks.

“In my experience, the average person spends more time every day watching television than planning their financial future,” Balaj said.

This lack of planning, Balaj said, can lead to potentially disastrous results.

“Today, the average retiree has less than $30,000 in savings, and this statistic is bound to get even worse,” Balaj said.

President Bush’s conversations regarding Social Security in the first days of 2005 gave students an even larger reason to invest — Bush estimated that the system would soon be almost $11 trillion dollars in debt, leaving little cushion for current students when they reach retirement age.

“Social Security will be a nice addition if it’s there, but it’s not something you want to solely rely on,” Balaj said.

Jenna McGlaughlin, senior deaf education major, is in her final semester of academic work. While she is not too certain about the fate of Social Security, she does feel confident with her own financial security.

“I’ve invested in a few CDs (certificates of deposit), and I feel pretty secure with my future financial options,” McGlaughlin said.

The sooner students start saving, Balaj said, the better off they will be. In addition, Balaj said, students in the job market should be looking at employers’ pension plan offers and total benefit packages instead of just salary rates.

“Too often when students are looking at jobs after graduation, they look at the immediate payoff when they should be looking at the long-term benefits,” Balaj said.

Megan Aalbers, freshman fine and professional arts major, said that is exactly what her father has told her.

“I’ve thought about investing but haven’t really gotten around to it yet,” Aalbers said. “My dad always said to make sure I get a good job with good benefits.

“It makes me a little scared (to think about the future of Social Security) but I think something will work out.”

While student debt continues to rise and most have problems meeting day-to-day monetary commitments, the possibility for many to invest may look hopeless.

“It would seem that most students today are scrounging pennies just to make it,” Brooks said. “But we offer very affordable savings plans, such as our CDs, which can be attained with a minimum balance of $250 through the credit union.”

And today, Balaj said, many employers offer tuition reimbursement programs, which are always worth looking into.

“My best advice (for investing in your future) is to avoid as much debt as you can and to look into an individual retirement account (IRA) as soon as possible,” Balaj said.

Contact general assignment reporter Shelley Blundell at [email protected].