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I have no background in investing and I'm not American but I would like to know what are my investment options as a college student studying in the US. I have put a side $1000 but I have no idea how to start. I am interested in an investment with low or minimum risk and I did a bit of online research and found out that my best options are mutual funds and bonds?

Any advise or comments?

  • Many mutual funds have minimum investment requirements that are more than $1000. There is an exception for investments that are IRA or 401k accounts in which case smaller minimums are required but these types of accounts are not appropriate for you (or available to you) given that you are a non-citizen (and presumably nonimmigrant) student. – Dilip Sarwate Jan 12 '14 at 15:21
  • Why are you not investing in your own country? – littleadv Jan 12 '14 at 20:59
  • Are you planning to continue adding to these savings, or is it just the $1000 that you are asking about? – IT-RMT Jan 13 '14 at 16:29
  • Note that most US brokerages will require a SSN/ITIN as per federal money laundering and tax laws. – Jacob Jan 16 '14 at 3:23
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    Start by figuring out what you're investing for and when you need the money. The answer to your question is very different based on a 2, 5, 10, or 45 year time horizon. – Todd Apr 7 '14 at 17:24
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I'm not a financial advisor, just a guy who's done lots of research on investing and lost quite a bit of money making dumb decisions. Here's some sites and tips I've learned from my experience.

First off, you're a college student and asking about proper investing. KUDOS!! It's far better to start now, make some good decisions and make the dumb mistakes now when there's only a couple zeros rather than more :)

I'd recommend the book The Little Book of Common Sense Investing, written by John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard. He created the concept of mutual funds and later the index mutual fund. The book sums up his, and Warren Buffet's & Nobel Prize winning financial researchers', philosophies on investing for the typical (i.e. non multibajillionaire) investor like you and me. For the most part: diversify with a few index funds and rebalance periodically.

After reading it, spend some time browsing through the Bogleheads forum, a great place to learn from others who also follow that philosophy. Don't try too hard to come up with the "perfect" portfolio. There isn't one. You'll start seeing so many similarities in what people are doing that you just have to pick something that works for you.

You can also start an account at various financial institutions like Vanguard (creators of index funds), Fidelity (another company with index funds), Charles Schwab (index funds with a minimum $100 investment) or others, and create your portfolio without paying any trading fees if you buy the companies' funds.

Long story short:

  • Don't try to beat the market in the long-term. It's almost like betting on heads winning over tails after tossing a coin a million times.
  • Index funds are index funds.
  • Avoid paying any fees if you can. The less you pay, the more money you have to compound.

Hope that helps a bit.

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