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Investing For College Basics

 

Many people are really not very experienced when it comes to investing for college. It does not have to be hard or confusing if you just follow some simple guidelines.
The first rule of the stock market is that it is going to fluctuate up and down. Most ordinary investors stick to mutual funds, which helps them spread their money around over many investments at once, keeping the eggs out of one basket, so to speak. Mutual funds are a fairly easy place to start learning how to invest.
Saving for college is a good way to learn how to invest as well, especially if you start early. Let’s say that you have fifteen years to save for that first year of college. That gives you almost twenty years before the last year. This is a very long time to invest. You will likely see the stock market jump around wildly, reaching new highs and new lows along the way. Your balance will reflect the fluctuations.
Some people have been scared to put money into their college investments lately, since the market is at a very low point. People generally get excited when their balance goes way up and they throw more money in. This is really the opposite of what would be the most profitable, so you have to learn to keep your head on straight in times of high and low markets.
If the market is up really high and the returns are looking incredible, this is also when the investment is at its most expensive, getting you less shares for more money. When it is really low and scaring people off, that is when it is at its cheapest. You have to keep your eye on the prize.
The market fluctuates with emotions as well as the economy. Even savvy investors find it hard to buy low and sell high. They may see numbers rising and want to get in on the action, driving it even higher. When a lot of them do it at once, they can inflate the value of something beyond what it is really worth. Then they all sell, sell, sell and drive it back down. If it goes wildly high when people are excited, this does not necessarily mean that the stocks are really worth what people are paying, and eventually there should be a correction. If it is really low because of fear, then eventually it may correct back to what it is really worth. That is, if investors pulling out do not bankrupt the company.
With a general understanding of the market fluctuations, you will need to determine how much risk you are willing to take with your money. In general, the longer you have to save, the more risk you can afford to take. But, if you can’t sleep at night or it makes you sick to watch your balance plummet, then you may want to consider safer avenues that still have potential for growth. Mutual funds that have a balance between stocks and bonds can be a little more stable while still allowing growth. As you approach college, you may want to move into safer investments, such as all bond funds, getting you out of the fluctuation game all together.
Talk with a qualified financial advisor about the best way to put your children through college. Save as much as you can as often as you can. Keep your credit clean so that you can get the best terms and rates on student loans if they become necessary. Take the time to plan out college savings and it could really pay off.

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