At equities.com, we’ve always been focused on building an active community among the leading voices within the world of finance. However, as with many other fields, in recent years, we’ve noticed a significant shift away from traditional sources of news, tips and predictions and toward the growing number of financial bloggers.
In this series, we profile some of the most distinct and noteworthy voices in the world of financial blogging. Here you’ll find our recent interview with Robert Farrington at The College Investor. Robert is an MBA graduate who became known as America’s Millennial Money Expert™ and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™ from his articles on investing for millennials. And for anyone who would doubt Robert's entrepreneurial drive and financial savvy, simply note the trademark symbol attached to each of those titles. Read below to learn what led Robert to start blogging, the difference between gambling and investing, and the false "either/or" dichotomoy many people make when it comes to investing and paying off loans.
EQ: What inspired you to start The College Investor?
Farrington: I was inspired to start The College Investor because I was tired of seeing other college students make dumb choices when it came to investing. I went to a few "investing club" meetings, and all everyone wanted to talk about was trading this penny stock or some other hot flier. Nobody was talking about fundamental investing. Nobody was talking about asset allocation. Everyone was focused more on gambling than investing. I wanted to change that, and educate others who wanted to invest and grow their money, but who didn't know how to get started. After more than five years, it's emerged as one of the top places for millennials to find advice on escaping student loan debt and getting started investing.
EQ: What differentiates The College Investor from other financial blogs?
Farrington: Well, our target market is our key differentiator. Everyone says millennials don't invest. Well, they're smart, and they want to, but they have other financial issues burdening them. We try to help with that - the biggest being student loan debt. Part two of the equation is that millennials also grew up in the Great Recession and are fearful about investing as a result. I'm conscious of that because I remember sitting in class watching it live Scottrade.com. So, it's important that we keep in mind where our readers are coming from when trying to tell stories that help them and inspire them.
EQ: Do you have a long-term personal investing goal?
Farrington: My long term goal is financial freedom. I'm a big believer in hustling to get what you want, so I side hustle, build multiple income streams, invest the excess to build even more wealth. I don't know if I truly want to "retire early", but the freedom of choice is nice.
EQ: What stocks or investments do you find particularly interesting right now?
Farrington: I love dividend paying stocks, and I invest a large portion of my portfolio in these companies. They're not sexy, but they've been steady through economic tough times and boom times, and I like that. I especially like dividend stocks in industries that will be needed - utilities, medical care, etc. While growth stocks are sexy, I like to invest for the very long term.
EQ: If there was one piece of advice you’d like to impart to your readers, what would it be?
Farrington: Millennials have a distinct advantage above everyone else when investing, which is that time is on their side. A 40 year-old investor simply can't get 20 years back. So, I encourage all young adults to get started, even if they just have a little bit, because that money will grow and compound over time and be worth a great deal more more later on down the line.
EQ: Have you found that the financial blogging landscape has changed in the years since you began?
Farrington: The financial blogging landscape has changed greatly since I started. First, there are more blogs than ever, and that's a great thing. Everyone has a unique story to tell, especially when it comes to money, and readers love stories. Second, blogging has gained a lot of credibility with the general public, and in turn the media and institutions like Congress. The power of the written word online is becoming very comparable to the traditional written word. Great bloggers are starting to be taken as seriously as great authors. That's pretty amazing.
EQ: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Farrington: One of my main messages is financial balance. A lot of pundits will say do this OR that. Pay off your student loans, THEN invest. But money doesn't have to be either/or, this or that. It can be an AND equation. For example, you can make the minimum payment on your student loan debt AND take advantage of your employer's 401k. You can pay your debt AND save. It doesn't have to be mutually exclusive, and you shouldn't be afraid to strike out while finding the balance that works for you.
For more on learning to invest, student loan debt and other financial topics that are relevant to millennials, follow Robert's blog The College Investor here.
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