No Time Like The Present

Gen Xers should start investing for smooth sailing in the future

more each month, don’t let that stop you. It doesn’t matter how much you save, says Thompson, as long as you save something. There are many mutual fund firms, such as T. Rowe Price Associates in Baltimore (, that will allow you to invest as little as $50 a month. Thompson also recommends dollar-cost averaging, a method of steadily increasing the amount you own by investing a fixed dollar amount in an individual stock or mutual fund each month.

Daniel Forbes of Queens, New York, is off to an early start. He doesn’t want to punch someone else’s time clock for much longer and plans to retire in four years to work for himself. But first, he has to graduate from college. You see, Forbes is just 22 years old. So just how does he expect to accomplish his aggressive retirement goal? By investing in the stock market. The Pace University finance major has been investing since his days at Brooklyn’s Sheep-shead Bay High School, where a business administration class piqued his interest in the stock market.

In 1994, he invested about $1,400 he’d earned from a part-time job in his first stock, Showboat Casinos, which has been acquired by Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (NYSE: HET). He made a profit of $700. His skills impressed his father, who gave him $5,000 of his own retirement savings to manage. Forbes nearly doubled it by investing in Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU), the AT&T Corp. spinoff. He’s had other successes, including buying 50 shares of E*Trade (Nasdaq: EGRP) at $47 and selling the shares several months later at $107. Now Forbes regularly invests $400 a month and his portfolio has grown to $12,000. He currently owns five stocks: E*Trade, AmeriTrade Holding Corp. (Nasdaq: AMTD), Rbid (OTC-BB: RBID), (Nasdaq: EFAX) and Southwest Securities Group Inc. (NYSE: SWS), which operates the mydiscountbroker .com Website.

Not bad for a guy who works part-time, making $9.66 an hour. Forbes, who works in the back office of Bear Stearns Securities Corp., reconciling institutional accounts as well as receiving and delivering institutional trades, says he makes most of his money by trading through an account with his employer. Forbes has about $2,000 in credit card debt and $10,000 in student loans which he expects to pay off with profits from trading. He isn’t liquidating his portfolio; he’s done so well, he says it won’t hurt to take a couple of dollars off the table. Financial planners warn not to take too much. “You don’t get into the market for only one or two years because that doesn’t give you the time horizon to maximize any profits that might come your way,” says Harris.

Not all 20-somethings are footloose and fancy-free. Twenty-six-year-old Chrysta Stotts is a homeowner and a single mother of a seven-month-old son, Haydn. When her father suggested she buy a house, Stotts thought he was crazy. But as she sits in her three-bedroom townhouse in Suitland, Maryland, she now realizes Dad is about as crazy as

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