Investing

How To Invest As A Teenager

Learning how to invest your money isn’t just something adults should do. There is no such thing as being too young to be an investor. As soon as you are old enough to get an allowance and manage your personal finance, then you can be an investor, too. Also, investing is not some obscure activity for old men or nerds who love Math. Due to the multifaceted nature of the investment world, virtually anyone with any sort of interest can begin and succeed at investing.

Thus, while in high school as a teenager, you should start thinking about building an investment profile. As a parent, you may want to diversify your child’s education by introducing them to investments as early as possible. Instead of handing them your credit cards or debit card whenever they need some money, you can instead loan them the money to invest in stocks or shares of their choice. 

Just like every sphere in life, there are things to note when investing as a teenager. Thus, this article gives an elaborate expose on how to invest as a teenager. It will serve as a useful guide both to the teenagers and their parents as well.

So, without anything further, here are our tips for how to invest as a teenager.

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Why You Should Start Investing As A Teenager

As an investor, if there was one thing I wish I could do with my money, it would be to go back in time and start making investments when I was younger.

Why? Because time is what allows compound interest to work its magic.  Given enough time, you can take even just a small sum of money, invest it, and watch it grow to thousands or even millions of dollars as the years pass.

That’s one of the single, biggest advantages teenagers have over adults when it comes to investing.  They are young and can use the time to leverage the benefits of compound interest to their advantage.

Take, for example, a teenager who works part-time all year and earns $10,000.  If they were to invest that $10,000 in a simple fund that earns a 10 percent average return, then guess how much it would be worth after 50 years?

$1,173,909!

That’s right!  For doing nothing more than letting your investment sit around and gain value, it has the potential to multiply 100 times over by the time they would be ready to retire.  That’s the power that compound interest can have!

investments for teenager

You can try this for yourself using this simple calculator from Investor.gov.

Benefits of Investing as a Teenager

Learning Discipline Early

Parents are quick to notice the gains of teaching their teens about investing when it comes to saving money. No doubt, getting a nest egg early on is quite important. However, financial prudence is also another great benefit. When teenagers start early to learn and start investing, they build the experience needed to become excellent investors in the future.  As a parent, this should be a legacy worth leaving to your child.

Increased Savings

A strong benefit which a teenager gains from starting the investment journey at an early age is saving money.  There is hardly any argument that can be made about how important making money through investments is. Generally, people who invest over a long period have more money to accomplish whatever goals they have. For a teenager looking to get into college, the money from investments will be important for paying off college fees and student loans. Thus, even when they start to work after college, they would not have the burden of debts hanging over them.

Take Advantage of Compound Interest

Generally, the longer an investment lasts, the greater it is worth. Thus, if a teenager starts investing as a minor, the value increases over time.

What to Know Before Investing as a Teenager

Whether you are going solo into investing or are doing so with the guidance of your parents, there are certain fundamentals to note. They will guide you to find the right stocks or other investment paths to pursue. They will also help mitigate whatever hassles you will discover while setting out to invest.

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Work with Your Parents

If you are in your teens and have the initiative to start investing, the first thing to do is speak to your parents or guardians. This article will be providing a faulty template if it does not highlight this from the start. There are legal rules regarding the appropriate age a teenager ought to start investing in in the first place. Besides, no matter what your net worth is, you may require funds and support from your parents at some point. Furthermore, your parents may have the experience you require to thrive while investing. Thus, keeping your parents in the loop could eliminate the need to consult a tax advisor.

Learn

You would need some form of financial education to make it as an investor. Thus, to get a head start, you may want to consume as many materials on the subject as you can. You may want to take a course on personal finance. There are several sites you can access for that. Furthermore, you could even go as far as getting an online broker to teach you the ropes and make the right investment decisions for you, especially at the beginning. As a parent, once your teenager indicates interest in investing, it is your responsibility to make sure they have all they need not to sabotage the process. 

Beware of Scams

Investments demand serious work and commitment. However, because it also holds the promise of high yields, people, especially inexperienced ones, fall prey to scams. Unscrupulous people seize the opportunity provided by the naivety of teens to fleece them of their earnings. As a teenager looking to invest or a parent looking to get your teenager started with investing, it is imperative to watch out for scams. As a general rule, if an investment promises returns that sound too good to be true, they most likely are. Some stock options give high returns, no doubt. However, they should be reasonable and be within certain expected parameters. Thus, you have to be careful; even as a part-owner, you could lose huge sums of money if a scammer gets their hands on your portfolio.

Scrutinize the Intended Company Carefully

It is also important not just to invest in any company listed on the stock market. Parents of teenagers have to direct their wards towards companies that have gained repute over the years. Of course, no one may be able to fully predict the possibility that any given company will do well in the future or not. Hence, the parent (or the teen) can utilize certain parameters to predict how well an investment in any company will fare. Companies typically make public their financial data for any given period. The teenager can take advantage of this to learn as much as possible about any company they have an interest in. Similarly, certain indicators such as the company’s Return on Equity, Earning Per Share, Price-Earnings Ratio all come together to indicate the health status of any given company. You may want to have these available before going with any company. 

Custodial Accounts For Minors

Unless you’re already 18 years old, all brokerage accounts will require that your parents or legal guardians open custodial accounts for you.  This just means that they are legally responsible for the account since you are still considered a minor.  Generally, depending on where you live, the account ownership switches over to the teenager at the age of 18 or 21.

Once that’s complete, now its time to start investing!

Where to Invest as a Teen

The crux of this article is showing not just why and how a teenager can begin investing but also explaining the places they can do so. The teen needs to have gathered some measure of experience before this point. It doesn’t have to be a large amount of knowledge; taking a financial course or two should be fine. The aim is to ensure that they do not get confused. After this stage, the next step will be deciding the places to invest in. Some of the best options to consider include the below.

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Begin with Custodial Accounts

Generally, a person is not legally permitted to begin investing in stocks till they get to 18. Thus,  teens cannot directly buy stocks or enter into any other such kind of investment. However, there is a way to get past this challenge. This is through opening and maintaining a custodial account for the teen. A custodial account is typically opened by the parent or guardian of the underaged person. The parent “gifts” some money to the account. The teen can then choose the stocks they want to invest in, under the parent’s supervision, of course. An advantage of custodial accounts is that they are quite flexible. Once one is opened for the teenager, they can then invest in other areas as they deem fit.

Start A Retirement Account or Roth IRA

Investing in retirement is always important. That may seem far away for teenagers, but one of the best tools that a teenager can use to start investing is to open a Roth IRA.  Just like with adults, Roth IRAs are a huge advantage over traditional types of investment or savings accounts because of the tax benefits it provides.  

With a Roth IRA, the money you contribute now is taxed.  But then when you retire in the future, all of your withdrawals can be made tax-free.  This includes any earnings that you’ve accumulated on your investments over the decades.

That’s a very important point.  Look back to the example we gave at the beginning of the post.  The initial $10,000 was the contribution, and the rest of the $1,173,909 that grew on top was the earnings.  Therefore, inside of a Roth IRA, all of that money would be available to you tax-free!

Compared to how a traditional IRA or 401(k) plan works (i.e. pay no taxes now and instead pay them later in the future), it makes a lot of sense for a teenager to start using a Roth as soon as possible.  Why?  Because a teenagers’ marginal tax rate will never be as low as it is while they are working a part-time job.  When they grow up and earn more money, they will naturally move up into a higher tax bracket.

Invest In An Index Fund

If you’re a parent who isn’t sure what kind of funds their child should invest in, then look no further than something called an “index fund”.  An index fund is simply a financial asset (usually a mutual fund or ETF) that contains all of the same holdings as a major market benchmark, such as the S&P 500 stock index

The advantage with an index fund is that with almost no effort, an investor can easily capture the average return of the market.  Currently, the long-term average return of the S&P 500 index is 10 percent.  That’s not a bad return at all!

Buy Stocks

If you’re a little more comfortable with investing, then you might also want to consider introducing your child to the world of stocks. You can definitely make money in stocks!

You don’t have to look too far to find some good ones.  For example, you could have your teenager research the companies that are apart of the Dividend Aristocrats,  a list of well-known companies that have paid consistent dividend returns over the years. 

You could open a custodial account through any of the following:

stock investements as a teenager

Mutual Funds

Teenagers can also consider investing in mutual funds. A mutual fund houses stocks from several companies. This is an excellent way to work the system because you end up spreading your investments. As a minor, mutual funds afford you the opportunity to invest in several companies using any amount and gaining profit while at it. Of course, the risk of losses is not eliminated. However, any such loss will not severely impact teens who explore this option.

Try A Micro-Savings App

One of the easiest ways to get your teenager in the habit of investing is to let an app do all the work for them.

A good way to do this would be through a micro-savings app like Acorns.  With Acorns, every time your teenager makes a purchase with their debit or credit card, it gets rounded up to the nearest dollar.  The extra change then goes into an investment account that can be used to periodically buy ETFs (exchange-traded funds).  

Believe it or not, all of that extra change can really start to build up over time; especially when you consider that its also being invested for growth!  In fact, if your teenager is a student, Acorns won’t charge them any fees.

Open A CD Or High-Interest Savings Account 

If you’d prefer to keep things very simple, then perhaps you could ask your teenager to research reputable places to open a CD (certificate of deposit) or a high-interest savings account.  Sites like BankRate make it extremely easy to find the best ones.

Though most banks aren’t necessarily paying very high rates of interest, you can rest assured that your investment is safe and that at a minimum you are encouraging your child to develop good financial habits.

Invest As A Teenager - Savings Account

Real Estate Investing

Away from stocks, bonds, etc., you may also want to go into investing in real estate. While investment options like an index fund have age barriers, you cannot say the same for real estate. Thus, this is an opportunity teen investors can take up any time. Additionally, while people have to be familiar with the stock market to begin investing in stocks and bonds, investing in real estate can be as simple as identifying a company and putting up the required funds. Bear in mind that you don’t have to watch over it like you would a brokerage account. This way, you can focus on other areas of your life.

Start A Small Business

Finally, one last great way to get your teenager involved with investing could be to have them start their own small business.  This might be any number of simple ventures such as doing landscaping, selling baked goods, running a stand at the farmers’ market, pet sitting, etc.

This would give your child a first-hand experience with how business works while they put up their own money to get the business going.  Plus, who knows … it might just encourage them to become the next great entrepreneur!

Conclusion: Investing as a Teenager

It is amazing getting your teenager started on learning about investments as early as possible.

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If you are a teen venturing out on your own, that is also awesome. However, in both cases, it is important to realize that the risks associated with investments will certainly affect the teen too. In fact, age and a lack of experience could be factors that determine how well the new investor will fare. Thus, it is important to learn the basics about the investment options to consider, the company you intend to invest in, and so on. The product of such in-depth scrutiny will be dexterity in investment.

Kevin

Kevin is an ambitious entrepreneur that is obsessed with all things related to finance. From a young age, Kevin has always been involved with side hustles ranging from online selling to freelance work. Over the years, Kevin graduated from side hustles and started launching multiple online and offline businesses. Kevin is a serial entrepreneur who loves starting new businesses and exploring all things related to business and finance. He is constantly looking for new ways to save money, invest money, and create income streams.

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