High school students learn many important life skills that help them prepare for the future. One such life skill is learning how to invest the money they earn as they enter the job market.
Those investment opportunities can come in many different forms. But knowing how to make your money work for you can bring a certain amount of financial security as people age and build a life for themselves.
Along with opportunities comes risk, and sometimes with investments come losses. That’s why it’s important students acquire the investment knowledge to maneuver the challenges and opportunities with which the markets will test investors.
At Grand Island Senior High, learning the world of investments goes beyond the textbook setting to hands-on opportunities.
That is why GISH has created the Future Billionaires Investment Club, where students with an interest in learning more about financial investing can begin gaining financial security in the world of stocks, bonds or similar market trades.
Eric Hartel is the club’s adviser. He is also the high school’s finance and management teacher.
“It is a club for any student, from any academy or pathway, to come in and join and learn about investing,” Hartel said. “It gives the entire school the opportunity about investment.”
He said about 25 students started out in the club. While membership has declined, Hartel is hoping to recruit.
The club currently has access to “paper trades” through an advanced finance game purchased by the school.
To help further the club’s learning and engagement, Hartel said, members are seeking donations to create their own student-managed investment fund similar to the one at University of Nebraska at Kearney.
He said UNK has built a successful program that consistently yields double-digit returns, with a cumulative growth of 150% over the past six years.
Hartel said the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation has provided its tax ID, broker access and a fund repository to help facilitate real index trades.
By having the broker access, students can present their ideas for trades to then be executed by the broker.
“It gives them a chance to use real money and make recommendations and get experience in making trades,” Hartel said.
He said the students learn and grow by removing the view they are incapable of learning how to invest.
“My philosophy is that investing is not just for the wealthy,” Hartel said. “It is for all of us.”
He refers to a quote from Albert Einstein concerning the power of compound interest, which is why investing is an important financial tool.
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world,” Einstein reportedly said. “He who understands it, earns it. He who doesn’t, pays it.”
Hartel said the goal is giving students something they can build upon as they enter the job market and giving them the knowledge, skill and confidence to invest, not only into the economy, but also in themselves.
He said students like the idea of making a lot of money.
“The truth is that, if you start young at 18 years old, and earning 10% to 15% return on your investment, there is no reason why you can’t be a millionaire when you are 65 or 67 years old,” Hartel said.
That is the power of compound interest.
He said the goal of the club is to give students an understanding of those financial tools that are available so they can achieve financial security.
“They definitely learn about the basics and a little bit more,” Hartel said. “We have spent some time on this and it has been worthwhile. The students learn what is a stock, what is a bond, what is a mutual fund, what is an ETF (exchange-traded fund), what is a good investment, what is a risky investment and how you invest responsibly.”
The club meets on the second Friday of each month.