You can be a millionaire at 50

kroy-1-mil-chart-copy-1024x671 buffalo_high_school_lgPaying attention

College kids today, always wanting to grow up too fast. They’re barely out of high school and they want to get tattoos, pierce several appendages, move from watching R-rated movies to engaging in R-rated activities. Heck, some of them even want to own stocks.

Well, we won’t comment on the age-appropriateness of all those behaviors – except the last one. Here’s a question we received via email: “I’m a freshman in college. Should I wait until I graduate to start investing?”

And here’s our answer: To begin with, you’re never too young. Time is your best friend.

If you’re between 18 and 21, depending on your state, you’re old enough to open a brokerage account of your own. If you’re younger than that, ask your parents to open an account for you.

This is the Open Sesame to the eighth wonder of the world: compound interest. A mere $150-a-month investment can make you a millionaire while you’re still in your 50s (we know, that sounds old — but it’s really not).

But not so fast, Fool-To-Be! There are a few caveats (those are the dark fish eggs that are eaten on crackers with champagne) before you sip that bubbly.

First question: Are you out of debt? Have you managed to resist the crush of credit card offers? More important, whether or not you’ve accepted them, have you managed not to run up a mountain of credit card debt?

If you’re paying something like 18% interest (or 15% or 9%) on your credit card balance, you’re not yet ready to invest. Even if your investments beat the market, you’re going to have a tough time stanching that flow of red ink if you carry high-interest debt.

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