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Kids These Days

Kyle McIntosh, 1:15 pm ET

A FEW WEEKS BACK, Jonathan Clements wrote an article reminding readers that they, too, likely made financial missteps in their younger days. His article was in response to comments by HumbleDollar readers about the perceived lack of financial discipline shown by those currently in their late teens and early 20s.

Before my recent career change, I would’ve had the same opinion as many readers. With my new job teaching accounting to undergraduates, however, my perspective has changed. While it’s hard to ignore the pricey lattes accompanying many students to class, I’m bullish on the financial future of today’s college students.

First, most students are hustlers. Because of the high cost of college, students often work one or more jobs to help pay for college. I have one student who closely monitors his DoorDash app and knows the optimal times of the week to jump in his car to deliver food. This DoorDash driving is on top of his other work and athletic commitments.

I also see students taking advantage of internship opportunities. Given the tight labor market, there’s high demand for student workers among local businesses, especially in accounting. I have one student who will have two paid internships during the spring semester. Instead of relaxing because of a lighter-than-usual course load, she’s ramping up the experience—and income—she’ll collect before she graduates.

Another trend I’ve seen: Students are much more interested in stock investing than I was as an undergraduate in the 1990s. I’m regularly approached by students who want to learn how to read financial statements and do fundamental stock analysis. I recently had lunch with a freshman who was keen to learn about the meaning of price-earnings ratios and dividend yields. This student now researches stocks and sends investment ideas to me on a regular basis.

A final heart-warmer for HumbleDollar readers: I recently helped the DoorDash driver open a Roth IRA. He’s now investing every month in an S&P 500 index fund.

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DrLefty
DrLefty
5 months ago

I’m also a university professor, and I find most students to be incredibly hardworking and motivated. They all have jobs—sometimes 2 or 3. I teach professional writing classes and have an assignment that (for example) has them practice writing personal statements for law school applications. They all have multiple examples of internships and volunteer opportunities they can cite to support their admission qualifications. They’ve gotten the memo.

IAD
IAD
5 months ago

This is an awesome post! Thank you!

Roboticus Aquarius
Roboticus Aquarius
5 months ago

I’m super skeptical of generational claims. People respond to the incentives they face, and if one generation differs from another, they are probably facing different obstacles and have different opportunities. The kids are alright!

Andrew Forsythe
Andrew Forsythe
5 months ago

You did that DoorDash driving student a big favor. Starting early, and thus benefiting from many decades of compounding, is so important. I wish someone had drilled that into my head when I was young.

Sharyl Suzanne Morris
Sharyl Suzanne Morris
5 months ago

Agreed. He’ll remember Kyle forever!

Kyle Mcintosh
Kyle Mcintosh
5 months ago

He had gotten interested in investing through Robinhood, but knew that getting an IRA set up was the right thing to do. We talked the pros and cons of different types of IRAs and the Roth was the obvious choice. Even though he had gotten interested in trading through Robinhood, he knew that getting an account set up with a more established brokerage and putting it in an index fund was the right way to go. He picked ETrade.

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