It’s not easy to be a young investor. With the world of investing in constant flux, keeping up with every change can prove exhausting, even for someone pursuing a degree in finance. Luckily, there are people in the world who live and breathe investing, people who’ve seen it all and can provide some guidance. One of those people is Professor Robert Uptegraff Jr. He teaches several classes at Oakland University and heads up the Student Managed Investment Fund, a two million dollar portfolio that is managed by a select group of OU students each semester. I was fortunate to take a class with him and was also presented the opportunity to interview him to gather some tips on what students can do to prepare for investing.
The importance of knowledge
During my time in the world of finance, I’ve been reminded of the importance of investing early. I had teachers in high school tell me that if I wasn’t already invested, I was falling behind. But when I posed this question to Professor Uptegraff, his response was the exact opposite of what I’d expected. Rather than tell me I needed to be invested, he emphasized the importance of education. “Build that knowledge base,” he told me. “Get your education first; not only your college education, but your market education. Learn about investing so that when your income is ready to invest, so are you.”
This answer was unexpected, but the more you think about it, the more it makes sense. Many of us in college, for one reason or another, are not in a position to invest quite yet; however, we’re certainly in a position to learn. Taking time when we’re in a position to learn and make mistakes means that when the time is right, we can feel empowered to invest.
The news, your investments, and you
The news cycles are endless. News organizations will often do whatever they can to earn your attention, even if it means making mountains out of a few molehills. But what does this mean for you as an investor? How should the news change your investments? Well, according to Professor Uptegraff, not much. “Keep your ear to the ground. Know what’s going on the news and if something catches your attention, then look further. But the television news is not your advisor. It’s up to you to go behind the headlines and make decisions accordingly.”
You wouldn’t trust an advertisement to tell you everything you need to know about a product and the same should apply to stories on the news about investing. It’s a good place to start, but not the final authority.
The emotional roller-coaster
It can be hard to separate your emotions from your investments. When we see ups and downs with our investment value, it can be hard to resist taking action. But when we act emotionally, it can cost us more than we expect. “Watch your investments, but don’t obsess over them,” was what Professor Uptegraff told me. “You should be checking your investments to make sure things are going according to plan; but, if you’re checking every day, it’s probably too much, especially if that money is going to be in the market for the long-term.”
I, for one, hate losing money. Even wasting a dollar can be an annoyance for me, so I needed to hear this. Watching the ups and downs of my investments over years and years would certainly prove an unpleasant roller-coaster ride, so turning off notifications and checking my investments less sounds like good advice.