Save for College First

Dear Dave,

I'm 17, and my personal finance class at high school has been watching your course. I want to begin investing early to take advantage of compound interest, so I want to start a Roth IRA. Which mutual funds would you advise investing in while I'm still trying to save for college?

Jeff

Dear Jeff,

I love the fact that you're thinking ahead, but I want you to save for college before you worry about investing. The best investment you'll ever make is an investment in you, and that's exactly what college is all about.

Now, if having money for college isn't a big issue, you can go ahead and begin putting a little bit of money into a Roth IRA. You can put as much as $5,000 a year into one, but the great thing is that you don't have to put that much into one. It would probably be pretty hard for you to invest to that extent while you're still in college, anyway.

When it comes to a first mutual fund, I'd suggest a simple growth-stock mutual fund. They're pretty calm, and they will do some great things if you can find one with a good, long track record of success!

—Dave

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