Senior Column: Invest – stocks only go up


Matthew Rabinowitz, Outgoing Managing and Copy Editor

Many of you probably have money sitting in your savings accounts accumulated over the years from jobs, snow shoveling, birthdays, Hanukkah celebrations and b’nai mitzvah. I have about $1,000 in mine. And guess how much interest I made over the past year?

Less than a quarter.

As a young adult, now is the best time to invest, and to invest with risk. You likely don’t have mouths to feed or rent to pay, and much of your money is going into a low-interest college savings account rather than investments that could earn you higher dividends or have the potential for extreme growth. Even if you lose a bit of money, you will have an overall net gain.

So take a look at your most basic options (no pun intended).

The first option is to purchase individual stocks, where you pay for a tiny ownership share of a company. Depending on how the company does and how much people are willing to spend on it, the stock price will fluctuate, and some “safer” stocks offer monthly or yearly payoffs, called dividends.

The riskiest stocks are smaller companies that have a high potential to either fail or rapidly grow. So before you invest, research a company or only invest in companies that you have prior knowledge of.

Then, there are mutual, index and exchange-traded funds, where you buy “shares” of a company’s investment portfolio composed of numerous different stocks or of a spread of stocks focused on a specific market. Funds generally have fewer risks and less rewards, but they are easier to deal with if you have less market knowledge.

There are other ways to invest, but they are much more complex and unnecessary for beginners.

Your parents might be scared of investing after having lived through the Great Recession and other big dips in the market, seeing their portfolios drop in value by tens of thousands of dollars, but unless they had invested in a few unlucky companies, their stocks have most likely soared since then. Recessions come and go, but the market, as a whole, trends upwards.

Until you are 18, you will need your parents to invest for you, but it’s worth it. Even if you’re only going to put your money in safer stocks or funds and ignore them for years, you might be surprised at how much money you’ve made by the time you graduate college. But if you have the mentality that stocks only go up, you’ll be able to put the fear of potential losses behind you and invest riskily and effectively.