Written by Eric Raine, PharmD/MBA ’25:
Hello! My name is Eric. I am currently a full-time MBA student, with a professional background in financial planning and investment management. Before returning to UB to pursue graduate coursework, I worked for a local financial advisory practice where I was a licensed advisor earning my FINRA Series 7 and 66. I would like to share a handful of simple ways that students can get started on the road to financial wellness.
Admittedly, it can feel overwhelming for students to begin on this path, especially when money is tight. You might be thinking, “How can I start investing when I’m barely making enough to pay my bills?” The good news is that regardless of how much money you are starting with, anyone can begin their journey by following the five simple concepts below.
1. Improve your financial literacy.
- Understanding the basics of investment accounts, financial products and terminology can help students become financially savvy.
- Reading about current events and their impact on financial markets can improve your understanding of cause-and-effect relationships.
- Start by taking 10 minutes each day to read or watch a video on something that interests you. It’s surprising how much you can begin to make connections between events happening in the financial world.
- Pay attention to news that causes volatility. You don’t have to look far to find a headline that talks about how a stock price or fund value jumped up or down.
- There are a variety of free and credible resources available online that can act as the first few pitstops on your way to improving your financial acuity.
2. Start small.
- Before worrying about growing money in an investment, focus on growing the money you can invest. Saving, even in small increments, can have a strong influence on your approach to your personal finances. You are more likely to make sound decisions with money you have taken time to intentionally set aside than you are with money you quickly toss into a short-term investment.
- No need to dive into the deep end. There are a variety of inexpensive (or even free) platforms that can be used to begin dabbling with investing.
- There is no need or requirement for you to start with a large chunk of money when you feel you are ready to test the waters.
- When you do decide you want to try, consider investing with only what you are initially willing to lose. This will allow you to maintain lower overall risk as you learn.
3. Create good habits.
- The best time to create healthy financial habits is during school. As a student, it can be beneficial to become used to setting aside money at a regular rate. For example, consider the idea of putting $10 per month into a savings account that you commit to leaving aside until you reach a certain goal balance.
- Consistency is key. If this is something that becomes a formed habit now, then the likelihood of expanding on this habit is much greater in the future when you graduate and your earning potential jumps up significantly.
4. Think long term.
- You are investing for your future (we are talking about decades from now), not tomorrow. Of course, you will have certain milestones along the way from a spending perspective; however, my grandfather used to tell me, “Plan like you’ll live a long time, because you probably will.”
- Start sooner, rather than later. Consider the following example of how compounding interest can have a profound impact on your portfolio. Let’s say you earned an average annual return of 8%:
|Start Now||Start Later|
|$10/month for 20 years||Nothing for 10 years|
|Nothing for 10 years||$20/month for 20 years|
|$2,400 contributed||$4,800 contributed|
|$11,856 at year 30||$10,893 at year 30|
In this example, we can see that investing earlier resulted in earning more overall, even when contributing less (in this case half) over the same timeframe.
5. Stay the course.
- Trying to time the market can be a steep uphill battle. This is why remaining focused on the long-term is a helpful mindset to develop early on.
- It’s not too different from what you are already doing. You go to class, study and take exams as you maintain a long-term focus on graduating. You are enrolled in school with the intention that your current investment of time, energy, and tuition will produce future benefits for your career.
- One of the most powerful aspects of financial wellness is mindset. It is important to focus on thoughtful planning and sound strategies, and less on emotion.
- Reducing impulsivity can help lower the potential of making mistakes that negatively affect your long-term trajectory. One bad exam score today doesn’t mean you should drop out of the program tomorrow. The same goes for your financial outlook – one unexpected life expense, or a bad day in the market, does not mean you should completely reroute your journey along your financial path.
The idea here is to take small and intentional steps. The path toward financial wellness is not paved by way of a hot stock, a speculative cryptocurrency or playing the lottery. It is a long road that can be traveled intelligently if you map out where you want to go, and trust in proven directions that will help you arrive at your goals. Seek the advice of professionals, lean on your mentors and talk with your friends. Your time as a student can be even more valuable if you invest in your financial wellbeing today with these five simple concepts as your starting line.
BIO – Eric was born and raised in Western New York, growing up in Clarence with his parents and two younger sisters. He went on to graduate with his bachelor’s degree from Buffalo State College, majoring in business administration. Eric’s decision to originally pursue a degree in business stemmed from the goal of having a strong foundation and to secure rewarding employment after graduation. Following a year spent working for a staffing firm after his bachelor’s degree, Eric had the opportunity to take a position within a financial advisory practice in Getzville, NY, miles from UB’s north campus. He gained experience initially working in marketing and customer relations and eventually transitioned into a formal role as an associate financial advisor. His experience in the areas of financial planning and investment management provided growth in his personal and professional development. Years spent carefully analyzing the financial and life decisions of many clients helped Eric to reevaluate his own career trajectory. He ultimately decided to return to graduate school to pursue his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree at UB, with an interest in career opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry. After completing his first two years in the pharmacy program, he decided to pursue an MBA degree to develop his professional, leadership, and data analytic skills. In his spare time, Eric enjoys spending time with his family and friends, traveling, watching sports, and skiing in the winter months. He has a passion for cars and motorcycles and has spent time participating in track day events as a motorcyclist at race tracks in the northeast. Dedicating time to these important things has been essential for allowing him to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
(Disclaimer: This article does not constitute professional and/or financial advice, and is for educational purposes only.)