Invest for long-term success

By Ed West, Columnist

For many students at the University, the new year started off with a refund from the school.

If you are one of these people, you rejoiced at the sight of extra money in your bank account.

Most students are probably planning on shopping for new shoes, getting a ticket to the Travis Scott concert in Chicago or just buying food. However, that newfound loot would best be used for a financial investment.

While the college experience has many advantages, there is a downside to it: the student loan debt either you, or someone else you know, has. Federal Student Aid estimates there are over 42 million federal student loan borrowers, totaling more than $1.4 trillion of debt.

The burden of paying back student loans has become a vicious cycle that has trapped millions of Americans well into adulthood, which our generation is now also taking on.

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    While there are a few different ways for individuals to reduce or eliminate their personal debt, it is unlikely one can get rid of their student loans without paying them back themselves. So, while you may not think about them, the thousands of dollars you owe will always follow you.

    Therefore, you should invest as early as possible. With the right plan, the hundreds of dollars you now have access to can be turned into thousands.

    You may be thinking, “Investing is not for me,” or “I don’t know how to invest.” These are no longer valid excuses; financial literacy is a necessary life skill to learn for future financial stability, and this is especially inexcusable because we can summon the information through our fingertips in seconds. Granted, the terminology may seem overwhelming in the beginning, but there are ways to begin.

    You can start by learning about the stock market, bonds and other types of financial investments. Information on these topics can be found on websites like Investopedia, which offers articles, videos and even a stock market simulator game you can play with your friends. Visit your bank’s website to see what other insights and services are available — they are holding your money anyway. Take advantage of the resources you have.

    Simply, investing is crucial for long term success. You may believe you’re getting all of that $50,000 of salary from your job, but you’re not. Instead, you will encounter taxes, living expenses  and those pesky student loan payments. You should look to acquire as many assets as possible in order to offset the costs of being an adult.

    Today is the day to start gaining financial independence. Do not waste your refund on things that do not bring you long-term value. Liberate yourself from the insecurities and doubts that are in your head. You don’t have to be a finance major, you just have to know the basics.

    Ed is a sophomore in DGS.

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