One of the tasks that I have been meaning to do for a long time is to open a Roth-IRA account. A Roth-IRA account is a retirement account, and although it feels very early and a tad silly to open an account at such a young age, it could actually be one of the smartest things that you do. According to smartmoney.com, if you put in $1000 every year for 3 years, your account could be worth about $25,000 after 45 years with a 5 percent rate of return. With an 8 percent rate of return, your account could be worth about $90,000. That’s a lot of money.
More importantly though, practicing how to invest and manage your money now will teach you how to be financially savvy in the future. It’s a much better idea to practice investing while you’re young with a small amount of money rather than doing so when you’re older with a large amount of money. If you’re at risk of losing it, lose it when you are young and have more financial flexibility.
I understand that opening an account and beginning to invest is a bit frightening—even I am still nervous. However, think of it as a learning opportunity to assist you in the future. Here are a few basic concepts to help set you up:
Have a Safety Net: Before creating an account and investing, make sure that you have a financial safety net. Have about $1000 tucked away for a rainy day fund. If you have credit card debt, try to pay it off first. The money that you would have used to pay off your credit card can be put into your retirement account.
Avoid Fees: There are various organizations that allow you to open an account without a fee such as Fidelity, Vanguard, Scottrade, etc. If there are fees involved, there is a high likelihood that someone is being paid commission, and they won’t be looking out for your best interest.
Limits: Every year, you are able to put in up to your taxable income or $5000, whichever is less. You can contribute until the tax filing deadline which is in April. Just make sure that you declare this money for the year that just passed.
No Taxes or Penalties: The money that you put into your account is not tax-deductible; however, you will not be penalized for withdrawing any money that you put into the account. Any money that you earned from the account and withdraw will be subject to taxes and penalties though.
Research: Searching on the web can provide plenty of information about opening your own Roth-IRA account. There is also information and tutorials available through the organization where you open your account. Take advantage of these resources!
Surprising as it may seem, there are actually quite a few college students who already have their own retirement account and are learning how to invest as well. You are not alone. If you can, take advantage of this opportunity and invest in your future.
Lead Her Intern, Campus Calm™