In late March I wrote a small article entitled “College Seniors Don’t Know the ABCs of IRAs,” which focused on Jeff Rose, CEO of Alliance Wealth Management and his experience speaking to a crowd of soon-to-be college graduates.
Rose was speaking at his alma mater and had an audience of 50 students. All were inching towards their formal introduction into the fabled “real world.” When Rose asked how many people had ever heard of a Roth IRA, not one hand went up.
A startled and incredulous Rose could wrap his mind around the fact that no one knew how a Roth worked when compared with a regular IRA, but out of 50 people and one hundred hands not one had ever even heard of one? The finding was troubling and Rose felt compelled to act.
And how else do you mobilize these days but through social media? Rose immediately tweeted: “What’s wrong with this picture? I polled 50 soon-to-be graduating college seniors if they knew what a Roth IRA was. The result: Zero.” Soon after, at GoodFinancialCents.com, Rose and hundreds of other bloggers and financial professionals began to relay to young people why a Roth matters and why it is a smart investment.
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Before I started shaking my head and lamenting that the youth are adrift I thought back to the antediluvian days of Spring 2007. A happier time. A time of easy credit. A time when McMansions sprung up like canals in the 1820s. And yours truly was sitting on a leafy campus in Burlington, Vermont waiting to take the world by storm. But even then, I had heard of a Roth and I knew that the difference between it and regular IRA had something to do with taxes, but that the extent of my knowledge.
I recall a friend of mine, wise beyond his years, who has since gone on to become a CPA at a large hedge fund extolling the virtues of early saving. In math textbook-like examples, he explained how two twins, one who saves between the ages of 18-26 and never saves again and one who saves from 26 to 55 fare at the end of the day. The early saver beats the later saver practically to the point of it being no contest. “The marvels of compounded interest and early savings,” I recall thinking.