Apr 222004
Authors: Lindsay Robinson

For college students, retiring from a career they have yet to

begin may seem like a lifetime away.

However, it is never too soon to start setting aside money for

retirement, and the stock market can be a fairly hassle-free and

lucrative saving tool, said Sean Florentin, a senior analyst for

the Summit Student Investment Fund at CSU.

The campus investment organization manages its own stock

portfolio with money donated by Bob Everitt, CEO of the Everitt

Companies, a local business.

Florentin, a senior finance and accounting major, said if

students can afford to begin an investment plan before graduation

it can be very beneficial.

“It’s definitely a good idea to start if you’re able to put some

money away to invest because the sooner you start, the sooner

you’ll be able to retire,” Florentin said. “If you’ve got the money

to start putting away now, it’s as good a time as any.”

It doesn’t take a lot of money to begin investing, said Glory

Burns, an adjunct professor in the finance department.

“There are some mutual funds that allow students to begin with

as little as $50 or $25 a month and they can do it automatically,”

Burns said.

One way for students to invest is through an online discount

brokerage firm.

“You can open a small Internet trading site and they usually

have pretty low commissions and minimum balance requirements,”

Florentin said. “You can start easily and just keep a small

portfolio of some stocks you hope will grow.”

Peter Contino, a local representative of Edward Jones,

recommended that students consider investing in a tax-free Roth

Individual Retirement Account.

“Think of it as a tax shelter, and within that you can invest

stocks, mutual funds and bonds, but because it’s in the Roth IRA it

will grow tax-free,” Contino said. “If you ever want to take the

principal out, you can take that out penalty-free and tax-free.

That’s a nice safety valve if you really need to take out the

money. You don’t have to wait until you retire.”

Contino said Roth IRAs can be obtained at a number of places,

including banks, brokerage firms and other financial


The stipulation of a Roth IRA is that a person can only invest a

portion of his or her income, at a limit of $3,000 a year.

However, Contino said by the time students are ready to remove

their money, the fund will have grown substantially.

“It’s an achievable goal,” he said. “If you can meet that goal

of $3,000 a year at a really young age, 25 or 30 years later it’s

going to be a significant amount of money.” Tim Gallagher, chair of

the Department of Finance and Real Estate, said there are other

viable investment options.

“If you qualify for a Roth IRA, that would certainly be

something I would encourage,” he said. “But if a student simply

invests directly in a brokerage account that they set up themselves

for their future plans, that’s good also.”

Beginning to invest can seem intimidating, Burns said.

“People have a tendency to be afraid of investing but it doesn’t

have to be that scary,” she said. “If you’re a good shopper, you

can be a good investor. It’s basically the same mentality.”

Gallagher said the best advice for students is to first learn

how investments work.

“They’d have to do their homework. I’d encourage them to read

the Wall Street Journal, to go to the various financial Web sites,

or the Web sites of the online firms themselves and just research

the e-companies that they’re interested in and put their money in

those companies that they find to be promising,” he said.

Christy Mesinger, a junior analyst for the Summit Fund, created

her own IRA with an initial investment of $2,000. She recommended

that students compare the benefits of the various types of

investment programs before committing to anything.

“My main advice is to make sure you know what you’re doing and

that you learn as much about it as you can before you just go in

there and start investing,” said Mesinger, a senior finance


Gallagher said the number of younger adults interested in

investing is a positive trend.

“There’s been a lot of research that shows that young people in

their 20s are saving more of their money and investing more

aggressively than their parents did at that age, and that’s a good

thing,” Gallagher said.

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