Part-Time Investor, Full-Time Student: Investing While You’re in College

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  • Many college students find themselves with few monthly bills—a portion of tuition is being taken care of by their parents, another portion through a scholarship or loan, and housing is paid twice a year instead of once a month. Most of the money they make goes toward their morning coffee and the latest movie. If you are in this position, now is the best time to invest. Here are four investment categories to start exploring while you’re still enrolled in college.

    Invest in Yourself

    Sure, you’re spending a fortune on your education, but you haven’t really begun to invest in yourself yet. Every year, college students put together hundreds of business startups. Some of these startups will fail, but according to Scott Annan, founder of AIMbitious, starting a new business venture takes “two to three months and cost[s] a few hundred dollars.” This means that if you are in college for four years, you’ll have the time to begin 10 separate business startups, one of which is sure to succeed.

    College is also a great time to begin a high-interest savings account and begin contributing to a 401K. Do a little research into your options, and then invest in yourself.

    Invest in Real Estate

    If you aren’t planning to transfer out of the area during college and may be in the area for a while after graduation, it may be worth your while to look into investing in real estate. This could mean buying a portion of a rental company that caters to the housing demand created in college towns or buying properties and selling them at a profit.

    When looking into real estate ventures, be sure to do your homework. Look at the housing market and consult with real estate professionals in the area. If you choose to buy and flip properties, have the renovations they need evaluated by a reputable company. Make sure the appliances like the fridge, electrical system, and dishwasher are up-to-date. Repair or replace any damaged or inefficient appliances with Energy Star rated appliances to increase the property’s resell value.

    Invest in the Future

    Pay attention to new developments, particularly in science and technology. Buy stock in companies that make great technology or are making huge advances in medicine. These stocks often yield higher returns than other stock, even when you’re just starting out.

    Invest in Causes You Care About

    A “cause you care about” can be anything from non-profit agencies that work to build wells in third world countries to your favorite pizza place. Jim Cramer, of NBC’s Mad Money, recommends investing in a company that makes something you’re interested in so that “you will stay current and care.” Don’t just invest—be invested.

    College is a great time to begin investing because you can afford to take investing risks. You may not see immediate returns, but just think: someday your investments could be putting you through graduate school, helping you buy the car of your dreams, or allowing you to tour Europe.

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