How to make money while you are at university

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a university student in possession of crippling HECS debt must be in want of some money.


For the average uni student, money is a luxury we desperately desire but never seem to have enough of. Student discounts and casual jobs with lousy pay can only get you so far. But is it true that you can only start making real money once you have that diploma in your hand? Do you have to wait until you’re wearing that cap and gown before you can climb the money tree?


Of course not. We talked to Spark Careers senior trainer Marcus about his personal success with making money during university and found out how you can get ahead too.


Starting small

Marcus began share trading under parental guidance when he was only in high school. When the GFC hit the market in 2007, one of his close relatives saw an opportunity for him to enter the stock market. This “hobby” began with small gains, but he was hooked. Within four months, he gained 10% profit.


By the time Marcus was in grade 12, he had made capital worth a few thousand dollars. When he turned 18, he opened his own trading account with a bank and started constructing his own portfolio worth a total of $10,000.


Learning on the job

How did he do it? Marcus learnt through self-guided research using books and the Internet. But he says the most valuable learning tool was experience. During his early days in trading, Marcus made financial losses but learnt ways to minimise them. His experience significantly shaped his investment mindset and fundamentals.


Applying university skills

Marcus’ trading skills didn’t stop evolving after high school. During his financial degree, he learnt a more in-depth theoretical and foundational method of analysis, which helped him make better-informed business decisions. He learnt how to read company financial statements, using ratios and data to analyse their financial positions. Marcus was able to integrate his financial knowledge from university into his trading business to maximise profit.


Staying in touch with reality

Even as a student, Marcus strived to understand how his university knowledge applied in the real world. Marcus says he started reading the news to comprehend what was currently happening in the industry and economy. Keeping updated taught him how to follow trends and make educated financial decisions.


Using money to make more money

Marcus’ part-time work allowed him to increase capital to invest into his portfolios. Trading with a larger portfolio consequentially increased his profit.


After gaining valuable experience and capital, Marcus was able to attempt more adventurous trading through borrowing money, margin and derivatives. Borrowing money for investment meant the possibility of increased profits, although it could also increase losses. He also traded with options, swaps, future and forwards.


Looking ahead

What began as a small side project grew into a rewarding business that gave Marcus opportunities to apply his finance skills with practical results. So the next time you find yourself sitting in your finance lecture wondering, “When am I going to start using what I’m learning and make money?” – Stop dreaming. Start doing.