A BRIGHT FINANCIAL FUTURE.

Author:BROWN, CAROLYN M.
Position:Investment planning, college through career - Includes related investment advice - Brief Article
 
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Gen-Xer Marene Jennings is keen about reaping the benefits of long-term investing

MARENE JENNINGS, 24, IS GREEN TO THE JOB MARKET, but she isn't new to saving. Jennings, an economics major who graduated from Dartmouth College in 1998, has been diligent about saving her money since elementary school. "I always did chores, which I would get paid for, and during holidays family members would give me money instead of gifts," says Jennings, who grew up in the Bronx, New York, with her mother. During high school, she pumped up her personal savings account--which totals $4,000 today--with earnings from summer jobs and a yearlong gig at a shoe store.

Most recent grads are over-burdened for years trying to pay back school loans. Jennings, however, owes only $4,000, thanks to a scholarship, financial aid, and contributions from her mother. But she is also quick to point out: "I've always paid more than the minimum payment due [often double the amount]."

Jennings recently landed a position in the strategic new business development office of a Boston-base mutual fund company. In addition to a Fidelity brokerage account, valued at around $7,000, she also has about $8,000 saved in an IRA, to which she contributes $2,000 a year (the maximum allowed). "I have been contributing to the Fidelity account ad hoc, whenever I have extra [cash], mostly my bonus money," she says. In addition, she has $100 automatically deducted from a checking account every month and deposited into two tax-managed mutual funds, valued at $4,000. She also contributes 10% of her $70,000 salary to her 401(k).

Jennings' money is invested mostly in equity mutual funds. "I didn't feel like I had enough time to research individual stock," she says, "but I was comfortable with and knew enough about mutual funds."

THE ADVICE

Marene Jennings' challenge is to preserve and appreciate her capital and to plan for the future, which includes applying for an M.B.A. BLACK ENTERPRISE introduce Jennings to a financial advisor who could help her adjust her asset mix and assess her chances of getting financial aid to pursue a postgraduate degree. Gail Perry-Mason, first vice president of financial services with First of Michigan, a division of Fahnestock, offers the following recommendations:

* Apply for scholarships, grants, and fellowships. Jennings' investment income is likely to prevent her from qualifying for "needs-based" financial aid. She should start doing her homework by researching programs...

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