Pitt’s wolves of Wall Street: Students invest in stocks and crypto

By Punya Bhasin, News Editor

While college is a financial burden for many students, Sebastian Santos eased that burden thanks to a $500 investment he made six years ago. He started investing in stocks in the ninth grade, and has earned more than 30% returns.

“I started off with $500 like in 2016, and I’ve been putting my own money in over the years, and I’ve gotten pretty lucky,” Santos, a junior finance major, said. 

Some students are investing in stocks and crypto as a hobby to gain financial security and to better understand the world of finance. While some students started investing prior to college, some joined Panther Equity, a club that educates students on financial markets and building portfolios on campus, in order to better learn about investing. Santos said he learned how to navigate the intricacies of the stock market through his father. 

“I was homeschooled and my dad took the time to read investment books himself, and just by being around him I got interested in it and started reading some books too,” Santos said. “So I just kind of looked into what he did and tried to follow him until eventually I learned how to do it on my own.”

Santos said it was important for him to feel and learn financial wellness. 

“I feel like being able to manage your money well and make financially literate decisions is important to daily life,” Santos said. “I think, especially for students where most people have debts and loans to pay off, I think it can be useful to understand finance and start investing early.”

While Santos currently invests in index funds since he is busy with school, in the past he researched and invested in a number of different markets, including consumer markets such as Starbucks and Lululemon as well as banking markets like PNC Bank.

Ely Elliott, a senior finance and international business major and member of Panther Equity,  also dabbles in the world of investing, specifically through crypto. Elliott said he’s amassed a portfolio worth thousands since he started at the age of 18.

“I started investing early,” Elliott said. “I invested in dogecoin when it was two cents and four cents and I invested about a thousand bucks total, and I have invested in a couple of other things as well, so overall I’d say my portfolio has amassed a couple thousand dollars.”

Elliott said investing isn’t always easy and is sometimes a “gamble,” so he advises that interested students do their research. 

“So, with cryptos, usually it’s a lot of research, reading about the different cryptocurrencies, finding recent trends, market news — specifically, international news — and you definitely have to do a lot of research beforehand,” Elliott said. “There is a gambling aspect to it, but if you do your research, there is a lot of room for an extra source of income if you give it time and plan for the long term.”

Nicholas Lorance, a senior psychology major, said he started investing in stocks and crypto during the pandemic and has been developing an algorithm for the last three years in order to better understand the market. Currently, he’s amassed a portfolio of about $6,000 after initially starting his investment journey with $100. 

“So I have some money in Ethereum, which I plan to hold on to long term, and I invest in a variety of stocks, like the first stock I invested $100 during the pandemic and I made like $350 off of it,” Lorance said. “I’ve also been working on building an algorithm to better understand the market and what stocks to invest in, which I hope to continue tweaking.”

Lorance said he recommends everyone look into investing as a way to grow their money, and for students who are hesitant to invest he recommends using a variety of market resources to help. 

“So if you’re hesitant about the risk, there are a lot of funds that are actively managed by experienced investors and companies that you can invest in, and with that there’s really nothing to worry about,” Lorance said. “You’re not going to make a million dollars right off the bat, nor should you expect to — just be safe with your investments and don’t fall for Reddit thread advice or any other quick money stock schemes on the internet.”

Santos said he plans to go into corporate finance after graduation, and suggests students who are interested in stocks join Panther Equity to learn more about investing.

“Panther Equity is probably one of the better clubs to join,” Santos said. “There’s so many people and so many different internships and connections that you make, and everyone in there is looking to help you become the best version of yourself.”

Elliott said there are many ways students can start investing, and he recommends that students start focusing on how they spend their money at an early age. 

“You know, you get some money for your birthday, and you could just go and buy a new bike, or you could invest in something like an index fund or the S&P 500 and watch the money grow,” Elliott said. “I think it’s more than smart to start investing at a younger age, so I would recommend people to just create a portfolio, throw it in there and forget about it.”