By Perri Stewart

For most of us, being a college student means you rarely see more than three figures in your bank account at any given time. I know this is true because it’s been four years so far and somehow, money never lasts in my account long enough to accumulate.

Since COVID-19 broke out and our country was thrown into quarantine, I’ve been looking for ways to make life a little easier. Even though the pandemic has brought a lot of our worlds to a halt, there are still ways to grow our financial freedom.

One huge factor that I have been using to my benefit, is the stimulus check I received from the IRS in April.

Since I moved away from home to attend college, gained sole residency in Missouri, and earn very little income, I became eligible for the stimulus check.

This $1,200 check came into my account one morning and since then, I have been eager to maintain and hopefully grow it.  Of course, I still have costs like groceries, gas, etc. but since being forced to stay inside, I found ways to save most of my money. Sheltering at home is beneficial when you get to save the dozens of dollars you would normally spend going out to dinner with friends or to the mall.

My advice for you, if you have extra cash laying around from saving during quarantine or from receiving a stimulus check, you should invest it.

Think about that time last year when you paid $50 for a sweatshirt online. You ended up wearing it maybe a few times and then you put it away and forgot about it.

Now, think of that forgotten $50, being invested into stocks instead.   I spent $50 of my stimulus money on two shares of Twitter about a month ago.I’ve already made $18 on the investment.

All of this was possible by downloading a mobile trading app and creating an account. Companies like Robinhood,  Fidelity, Webull and Revolut offer the ability to trade stocks and EFTs for free, on your phone!

Trading sounds like it’s complicated, but for me, it was as simple as creating an account, entering fifty bucks and picking which stock I liked most. I picked Twitter since I am such an avid user.

For me, trading has become a way to learn more about the financial markets, while also growing my little amount of money.

Next time you have some money in the bank and are thinking of splurging on that new pair of shoes or that fancy t-shirt, think about the money you could make instead.

All it takes is a little bit of patience and who knows, maybe one day you’ll grow your portfolio to the point that you’ll be able to retire on it.

Stewart is a 2020 graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism.