Local coffee redefined in two words: Affogato West

By Lizzie Cawley

Those bored with mainstream chains or looking for a livelier scene must experience Affogato West — St. George’s best-kept espresso secret.

Many of us who identify as morning coffee drinkers have established a ritual to help ourselves survive the day. For some, the need for caffeine borders on medicinal; For others, it’s recreational. Regardless, this coffee shop just blocks from our campus is the perfect niche for all who enter into its whimsical and unique atmosphere.

Elise West began Affogato West as a mobile truck operating in 2017 after years of dreaming and planning her idea for a business. She discovered an incredible truck located in Phoenix, Arizona, and after driving it back to St. George, found a permanent home in the parking lot of Red Rock Bicycle. West worked with her dedicated crew of baristas to craft a local name for herself. With the belief that every drink should reflect quality ingredients and effort, these gourmet beverages became instantly popular, and West cultivated an extensive coffee family. Her customers couldn’t wait to return every morning to be part of the magic.

“I remember going to the truck when it was parked outside the bicycle shop. Elise set up a canopy out front, and all sorts of people from around St. George would show up, sitting in chairs and sipping their coffee. We loved it. The atmosphere was at once really homey and chic. Just cool. And the drinks were always delicious,” said DSU English professor Stephen B. Armstrong.

Due to mechanical problems with the popular truck, this past August, Affogato West relocated to a hip, eclectic home inside Unicorn Hatch Labs, an exciting workplace that was built in an empty, skeletal movie theater. Complete with hammocks, skateboard ramps, and a foam pit to zip line into, the old warehouse is anything but traditional.  Within these cavernous walls, coffee-lovers of every age, gender and background are transported to a place that no longer feels like small-town Southern Utah, but, rather, a vintage, beach-house blend of trendiness you’d find in bigger cities and college towns.

“The reason that people love us is because we act as a third home for them,” West said. “To me, it’s all about creating an environment where people can come and just be themselves.”

Affogato West’s aromatic vibe and zany decoration promote productivity and genuinely good vibes. This coffee shop doubles as a sanctuary where the employees know their customers by name and strangers can strike a substantial conversation with one another. The staff commonly greets their familiar clients with a hug and strives to make everybody feel welcome in their family.

Affogato West is playing a phenomenal role in the community, and especially at Dixie State University. From hiring students, to acting as a meeting place for various clubs and organizations, West encourages individuals or groups to gather and collaborate. Affogato West and Sigma Tau Delta, the English honors society, will host a book sale fundraiser on October 20 and 21 to raise money for an upcoming convention.

“We are excited to have this opportunity to increase awareness about the importance of reading and analyzing books in our community,” said Dr. AmiJo Comeford, who serves as director of DSU’s Sigma Tau Delta chapter.  “Each year, Sigma Tau Delta hosts a national conference, where students gain vital experience sharing critical essays they’ve written with an audience of scholars. This year’s conference will be in St. Louis. Proceeds from the book sale will help to defer costs for our students. I’m so happy we now have an establishment like Affogato West for people to congregate, discuss literature and have a great time.

Affogato West participates in other community events,  as well, such as Pride of Southern Utah and local farmers markets.

West and her staff support local merchants and artists, too, having them sell their artwork and handmade jewelry. Every Sunday morning, Affogato West offers live music such as jazz or new acoustic material, delivering soothing sounds like a fresh take on The Commodores’ “Easy (Like Sunday Morning).” Customers can be found sipping coffee indoors in their lawn chairs brought from home, the same ones, in fact, clientele enjoyed back when the truck still operated.

Popular drinks here include West’s favorite “Davis and Clark” which offers a delectiable, substantial meal of espresso, five spices, raw cacao, collagen, unsalted Kerrygold butter, and coconut oil. West uses unconventional ingredients in her concoctions; fan-favorites include a white chocolate and lavender latte or the gourmet “Cuppa Chaos” with espresso, lavender, mint, rosemary, thyme, and milk.

“I’m super proud to say that there are no artificial ingredients or flavors, HCFS, dyes or powders with fillers anywhere on our menu, which makes a big difference in how the drink tastes and how we feel afterwards” says West.

The options don’t stop with espresso drinks. The last couple weeks, West has worked with local vendors to supply daily baked treats and healthy food choices such as salads and sandwiches. These efforts make Affogato West a one-stop shop.

Catering to a multitude of lifestyles and dietary preferences, West’s homemade and creative syrups are one-of-a-kind and can support any level of caffeine addiction. Whether you’re on the go or have time to stay and spend the afternoon playing board games or reading recycled books, Affogato West is the place to be.

Located inside Unicorn Hatch Labs at 214 North 1000 East, St. George, Utah.

Hours: Sundays, 8a.m.-4p.m.; Monday-Saturday, 7a.m.-4p.m.

Contact number: (801) 898-9378

Miss Dixie 2018 crowned, strives to “Live Naturally High”

The second night of Dixie State University’s Homecoming Week ended with the crowning of Miss Dixie 2018.

Elleiana Habibian, a freshman biochemistry major from St. George, was crowned Homecoming Queen and received the Community Service award Tuesday night at the annual Miss Dixie Pageant.

“I am just so honored, I feel so blessed,” Habibian said. “It’s going to be a great year and I’m so excited to represent such a great university.”

The community service initiative of DSU’s new queen is “Live Naturally High” in an effort to reduce alcohol and substance abuse.

Habibian said she is looking forward to interacting with all of the students at DSU and is excited to hear their ideas for the year.

DSU Homecoming Royalty also included first attendant Bergen Nelson, a senior exercise science major from St. George; second attendant Sage Nielsen, a sophomore media studies major from Draper who doubled as the Miss Photogenic award winner; third attendant Ayrion Orton, a sophomore English major from Kaysville; and fourth attendant, Angela Roundy, a sophomore nursing major from Saratoga Springs.

The winner of the Dixie Spirit award was Amanda Kelsey, a communications major from Kearns. This award was voted on by the rest of the contestants. The Director’s Choice award was awarded to Sydnee Wilding, accounting major from Willard, for being prepared, punctual and overall easy to work with throughout the pageant process.

Miss Dixie 2018 was also the first pageant to follow the new Miss America scoring guidelines. The categories consist of private interviews with the judging panel which made up 25 percent of the contestants’ final score, on-stage interviews which accounted for 20 percent, the talent competition was 40 percent, and the evening gown showcase was 15 percent.

The swimsuit category was removed from the entire Miss America pageant system in June to minimize the focus of physical appearance in pageants, but has since stirred up controversy in the pageant community.

“I was sad to see the swimsuit part go because I loved being on stage and being a part of an exhilarating experience that way,” Nielsen said. “But I also think it’s important to focus on women, what they have to say, their social impact issues and the things they’re bringing to the table that we truly need to be focusing on.”

Former Miss Dixie, Ella Barlow, a junior biology major from Eagle Mountain said she cried a lot during dress rehearsals prior to the pageant.

“I just feel secure,” Barlow said. “I knew that if any of them won I was going to feel comfortable passing down the crown to them and they were going to take good care of this university and represent it well.”

Winners of the Miss Dixie pageant go on to compete for the Miss Utah title where they then have the opportunity to compete in Miss America.

DSU Football prepares for homecoming game

The Dixie State University football team faced their rival, Colorado Mesa University, this weekend in Grand Junction, Colorado.

DSU football lost to CMU last year and prepared for redemption, but came out short again with a 24-45 loss.

“There’s a lot of ties between the two programs and that makes it a great rivalry when everybody knows each other,” said defensive coordinator Willie Garza. “This is just another stepping stone for us to get better as a team in all three phases: special teams, offense and defense.”

DSU football is undefeated at home, but now one and four on the road. Senior quarterback Michael Sanders, sociology major from Phoenix, Arizona, has been back on the field for the past five weeks and broke two DSU passing records against Chadron State College.

“I would trade a win for records any day of the week,” Sanders said. “Unfortunately we came up a little bit short, but it was exciting to get a couple of records.”

The team is now five and four after their loss at CMU. As for this week’s game, Sanders said he is looking forward to the challenge.

“Colorado Mines is having a great year obviously, they’re a top ten team in the country, Sanders said. “It’ll be fun for homecoming and senior day to land on the same game, and we’re looking forward to a good matchup against a really good team.”


Students split between making own Halloween costumes, following trends

Werewolves, unicorns and Fortnite, oh my! Those are just three trending Halloween costumes at Dixie State University this year. With everything from do-it-yourself Harley Quinns to store-bought, couples costumes of Bob Ross and his paintings, the spirit is definitely in the air at DSU.

With stores like Spirit Halloween and Partyland readily available to St. George residents, it’s easy to buy a complete ensemble to get your costume fix. However, apps like Pinterest on the rise, DIY costumes have been gaining traction as another viable option to those on a budget.

Rozlyn Melluish, a general education major from Sacramento, California and president of DSU’s fashion club, said DIY costumes have spiked in recent years among young adults.

“It’s definitely the cheaper option,” Melluish said. “It honestly just depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re okay with making and tailoring your own clothes, then I would definitely recommend it.”

Melluish said she has handmade her own disco queen costume, piecing together the outfit from a sequin dress and Go-Go boots.

Assistant manager of Spirit Halloween Stevie Vogel said the most popular costumes this year have been a combination of both DIY and store-bought.

“So many people come in here looking for pieces and bits of costumes they want to put together themselves, me included,” Vogel said.

Vogel said she combined DIY and store-bought components to make a steampunk-inspired costumes.

It seems DSU students this year are ditching the notion of traditional Halloween costumes needing to be scary, as several are planning a more realistic approach, opting to dress up as popular movie characters, said Arianna Witham, an English major and fashion club member from Sacramento, California

If you’re a girl looking to take the “Mean Girls” approach, you’re in luck, as animal-human hybrids are still a popular option for female college students wanting something cheap and simple. Just buy a pair of cat ears and draw some whiskers on with makeup, and boom, you’re ready to go.

Both Vogel and Melluish said they have admitted to seeing a lot of unicorns and werewolf costumes recently being planned or bought for the upcoming holiday.

Not only are movie replica costumes popular this year, video game characters have also transcended their way into the real world via costume representations.

Vogel said, at Spirit in particular, Fortnite costumes have been selling like crazy to children and young adults.

“I’ve definitely seen a lot of cosplay on campus,” Melluish said.

Melluish said she continues to describe that furs, glittery fabrics and makeup have been trending in costumes this year as well.

You can catch these costumes and many more at the Chaos dance this upcoming week on Halloween. Tickets are $10 at the campus store or $20 at the door. For more information on upcoming homecoming events at DSU, check here.

Hotdoggers whip out Wiener Whistles, set record

Monuments mark the sites of historic battles, honor legacies of former presidents, and celebrate lives of celebrities. But what marble-sculpted commemoration could possibly match the awe and historicity of the event taking place at noon on Oct. 30 in front of the Dixie State University student center, when the record for most Wiener Whistles blown at once will be set?

Hayley “Habanero Hayley” Rozman from Waukesha, Wisconsin and Anthony “Tony Baloney” Sanmiguel, a graduate of University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, make up the team of OscarMayer brand ambassadors, dubbed hotdoggers, that tour the westernmost United States driving a 27-foot long Wienermobile.

Thousands apply to become hotdoggers each year, but only 12 make the cut, Rozman said.

“There’s only thirteen people who are allowed to speak on behalf of OscarMayer and it’s the twelve hotdoggers and the CEO,” Rozman said.

The hotdoggers’ usually visit a new city each week, Sanmiguel said.

The hotdoggers put on events in each city, handing out small Wienermobile-shaped whistles, called Wiener Whistles, and promoting OscarMayer products.

“[Wiener Whistles] date back to 1952, so they are pretty historic,” Rozman said.

About 70 percent of their events take place at grocery stores, where OscarMayer products are sold, and the other 30 percent take place everywhere from sports games to parades, Rozman said.

When not entertaining crowds of wiener-gawkers, the Wienermobile garners one of two reactions when encountered in the wild, Sanmiguel said.

“We either get the super-crazed fan who’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s the Wienermobile!'” Sanmiguel said, “and then we get the people who are completely confused or just shocked to see a 27-foot long hot dog on wheels. They don’t know what to expect or what to think, really, because who knew there would be a hot dog turning the corner?”

During their event in front of the DSU student center, the hotdoggers are going to share their famed Wiener Whistles with people of all ages in their bid to create the record for most blown at once.

“We’re actually making [the record],” Sanmiguel said. “[DSU] is making history with the Wienermobile, that’s for sure.”

The hotdoggers are hoping for a thousand simultaneous whistle-blowers, but are trying to gather as many as possible for the event, Rozman said. The hope is, after creating the record at DSU, future hotdoggers will try to break the record, she said.

“I plan on attending, I plan on bringing my friends, probably my family, too,” said Weston Zimmerman, a senior accounting major from St. George. “This will be the third time that I’ve seen the Wienermobile in my life, and every time I see the Wienermobile I get excited for what is to come.”

The position of hotdogger is available to any graduating university students, and the online applications open in January, Rozman said.

“There’s actually quite a few people on this team of 12 that just applied online,” Rozman said. “It’s definitely not a problem if they don’t recruit at your university.”

You can find out more about the record-setting Wiener Whistle event, set to begin on Oct. 30 in front of the student center at noon, on their Facebook page.

DSU Athletes show support for community involvement

For Dixie State University athletes it’s all about “active learning, active life” and being an active part of the community.

During the month of October, players from many of DSU’s athletic teams participated in various events in the St. George community. Several teams helped in the organization and volunteering during events such as the St. George marathon, the Mayors walk, and Special Olympics.

“We get to help with the Mayors Walk every year,” saidJames Borzone, a sophomore pitcher from Vancouver, Washington. “We mostly just direct people on where to go and help out with whatever we can.”

Borzone said it was a really rewarding experience because just being there and being a part of something in the community is huge. The baseball and volleyball teams also spent time at various elementary schools hanging out with the students. Borzone said they work to show young kids the importance of higher education, hard work, and dedication.

“It’s awesome to see all of our athletes coming out because it lets the community know we are there to help them and support them, especially because we are so lucky to have them support us,” Borzone said.

Shonie Christensen, a member of the board of directors for the DOVE Center, said she has been lucky to work with athletes from DSU.

“I got in contact with the [DSU] baseball team a few years ago when we were working on getting volunteers to help with some community events,” Christensen said. “ They basically told me ‘We’re here, what can we do to help?’ and we have used them for the Mayors Walk every year since and I know if I need volunteers, our athletes are always willing to help out.”

DSU has more community events coming up with the week of homecoming. The annual trunk or treat was held on Oct. 29. Athletes from every team came dressed in costumes and passed out candy to community members. Proceeds from the event are set to go towards the Make-a-Wish-Foundation.

“The trunk or treat with the athletes is something my kids look forward to every year,” Sarah Johnsons, a member of the St. George community, said. “It’s so cool for the kids to get to hang out with the teams because to these kids, college athletes are the closest thing to super heroes.”

Johnsons said she appreciates all the athletes do for the community because it creates positive role models for her children to look up to. 

“These athletes are the ones people in the community look up to, so seeing them involved and helping out makes all of us want to help out too,” Johnsons said. “It’s more than just football or baseball or basketball. We are all a part of something bigger.”

More to concert contracts than when, where, salary

Securing the perfect performer for the Dixie State University Homecoming concert is not as simple as a signature and the shake of a hand.

DSUSA Adviser Luke Kerouac said the general decision for who comes to campus is in the hands of the students. Surveys are circulated throughout the student body each spring semester, Kerouac said, which helps DSUSA narrow down the search for performers.

“One of the really cool things is that the students absolutely get to choose,” Kerouac said.

He said the survey is kept rather broad to bring about realistic suggestions; whereas Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake would be amazing, Kerouac said, their price isn’t in the student government budget.

“We usually ask what types of events [students] want to see, and then what genre,” Kerouac said. “That’s where we start the process, and usually, from there, it’s all about budget. A lot of artists just cost way too much to bring.”

Kerouac said the most popular genres almost always include rap, hip-hop and country, although it varies each year.

Other than the chosen genre, he said DSUSA also takes into account the performers’ tour schedules. A performer’s route is the path they are taking while on tour. Kerouac said DSUSA tries to find a performer going in between big cities like Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, Nevada, when narrowing down who will come to campus.

“Lots of time they will be playing [in] Salt Lake [City] or Las Vegas or southern California [and] we try to find a date that’s a day before or a day after that, so we can get them on that tour and it adds tour dates for them,” Kerouac said.

He said performers coming to St. George are given the added benefit of reaching new fans and selling merchandise on top of the added tour time.

Bailey Zimmerman, DSUSA vice president of student life, said performing at one of the fastest growing colleges in Utah has its added benefits, as well as it being a good stop between Salt Lake City and larger cities in Arizona and Nevada.

Zimmerman said they go through an anonymous promoter to find and negotiate with talent.

“We try to get bands that people have heard of,” Zimmerman said. “Unfortunately we don’t have the world’s biggest concert budget, and concerts are very expensive. I had no idea when I started; I was like ‘Oh my God. It’s amazing how much people charge.’”

Zimmerman said she roughly estimates 80 percent of the concert budget to go to the performer, including the hospitality rider.

Kerouac said in almost every contract there is a section called the hospitality rider where performers are able to make a “wish list” of what they want from the venues.

“In almost every hospitality rider they ask for alcohol, but because we are a dry campus we strike that right away,” Kerouac said.

These riders can encompass a lot of things. Kerouac said he recalled Macklemore asking for a particular brand and color of underwear, while Phillip Phillips asked for food from five separate restaurants, which totalled close to $1,000. Other performers ask for specific kinds and amounts of cheese, he said, it just depends.

“It’s all just kind of funny stuff, really,” Zimmerman said. “I haven’t had anything obscene or crazy.”

Zimmerman said she remembers one group asking for four cans of Easy Cheese. Most performers ask for bubbly water and herbal teas, she said.

“Everyone has their wish list; hospitality riders are basically a big wish list,” Zimmerman said. “Daya’s is broken down into must haves, and it’s like throat-soothing tea, water and dark chocolate candy bars.”

Kid Ink’s hospitality rider was broken down into on-stage and dressing room necessities. On stage he wanted 10 black medium face towels, five large black and white face towels, and one 24-pack of water placed in a cooler filled with ice. His dressing room list was more extensive, including:

  • Assorted White Crackers (Keebler Club Original, Stonewall Kitchen Simple White Crackers, Carr’s Table Water Crackers).
  • Assorted Cheese tray.
  • One tray of fresh-cut assorted fruits.
  • One gallon of no pulp orange juice.
  • Two six-pack of Smart water.
  • Twelve 12-ounce assorted soft drinks (include Grape, Orange & Sprite).
  • Six 20-ounce Orange Gatorade.
  • One package of Orbit Spearmint gum.
  • Two 750 ml bottles of Patron Silver.
  • Two 750 ml bottles of Moet Rose.
  • Plastic cups and paper towels.
  • Iron with ironing board or a hand steamer.


Performers also have the option of having a meal buyout, Kerouac said, in which performers can forego requests in exchange for money to buy themselves and their crew meals.

“Lots of times it’s way cheaper because they just ask for $15 a meal for all of their crew,” Kerouac said. “That’s lots of times cheaper than buying all of the specific, 100 items that they have on their hospitality rider.”

Zimmerman and Kerouac said they would love to host another concert in the spring, but feedback is just as necessary as it is with the homecoming concert.

“I love to plan events, that’s why I’m here, but I want to plan events that people want to come to,” Zimmerman said.

Alumni Ezra Hainsworth, 2017-18 student body president, said DSUSA plans events with the majority in mind, but DSU students have to do their part.

“Students in general could do more to pay attention to the resources established for student feedback. If students miss an opportunity to be informed about planning or an event itself it’s because they didn’t take advantage of what’s been established by the DSUSA,” Hainsworth said.

Kerouac said although they can’t please everyone, they want to try to make the event as fun as possible for most people.

“One of the hard parts of putting on concerts is that we are never going to please everyone,” Kerouac said. “I mean we are not going to find an artist that everyone loves, but I mean if someone is super passionate about concerts come help out. There is no limit on how many people can come help; we always need help. If you want to see the background of the concert, that is one of the cool opportunities students get to [experience].”

Nighttime horror ads need options to be skippable, cause unnecessary anxiety

Imagine you’re lying in bed after a long day, listening to a few songs on YouTube  to wind down for the night. Slow songs, just to soothe your senses.

And then a demonic nun jumps out at you.

Fantastic, “The Nun” had just given me irrational nightmare fuel. My only solace was knowing that particular ad would stop showing up after the movie came out on Sept. 6.

It’s still ridiculous how often I get shown horror movie ads at night while listening to songs that have nothing to do with horror. In fact, it would be nice if YouTube gave you the option to opt out of certain ads, especially horror movie ads.

What if I had serious mental issues such as PTSD and anxiety? Gee, thanks for the panic attack, YouTube. I have a friend who uses PTSD filters that stop ads with triggering themes, but it’s not provided by YouTube and I don’t have the time or resources to look up stuff like that.

It’s not as if I hate the horror genre. I’ve played the “Outlast” video game trilogy and I just wrote an article suggesting a whole list of horror movies. I just refuse to watch or play anything horror related at night.

Obviously, I know none of the stuff in the horror movie ads is real, but that doesn’t mean I won’t end up having unpleasant dreams if that’s the last thing I see before I go to sleep. And with the stress of college life, I don’t need anything unpleasant showing up in my dreams.

Also, I’m not the only one who complains about YouTube’s horror movie ads; there’s literally an entire Change.org petition requesting YouTube to let users skip horror movie ads.

Look, I can deal with YouTube’s horror movie ads during the day when I’m listening to playlists with bands like Blood on the Dance Floor and Three Days Grace — I might even half-expect it. But when I’m listening to a slow ballad by someone like Little Mix or Gabrielle Aplin to wind down in the middle of the night, I’m not in the mood for a jump scare by Michael Myers or the Nun.

So if YouTube wants to show me horror movie ads during the day, go for it. But it should give you the option to turn off horror movie ads at night. Or at the very least, it shouldn’t be showing me horror movie ads when my YouTube history clearly indicates that most of what I watch at night is PG-13.

It can even be opt-in. Just give me options.

High schools need to encourage political involvement, give students broader range of Civics classes

The last thing on most high schoolers’ brain is political involvement. Without being of voting age, political life seems meaningless and far away.

However, high school is a vital time to teach citizens how to be politically active and establish political efficacy.

In a 2016 study conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, only a quarter of citizens could name all three branches of the United States government, and only one-third of participants could name any one of the three.  

Similarly, famous comedian and talk show host Jay Leno interviewed people on the street in his segment “Jaywalking.” Leno would ask random people questions from the United States citizenship test. The only question that was answered correctly was: “What is the national anthem?” 

This lack of knowledge could be one of the main contributors to the poor amount of political involvement in the United States. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, the US placed 26th out of a list of 32 developed countries when it came to voter turnout.

One of the ways to solve this problem is to give citizens, specifically high school students, the knowledge they need in order to feel comfortable enough to vote.

Most high schools usually require just half of a year of a civics class in order to graduate, and the school environment can often focus on tests and grades, not experiences and participation.

In a study done on high school seniors by Brookings Public Policy Institution, 70 percent of students said they had never written a letter to give an opinion or help solve a problem. Fifty-three percent had never had outside speakers or gone on a politically focused field trip.

“Our analysis of state policy and self-reported student experiences indicates that most states do include important aspects of a quality civics education in their standards and curricula,” the Brookings study reported. “However, there is room to grow in incorporating more participatory components of civics education into students’ experiences.”

An important thing to remember when considering our youth’s engagement in the political world is that they can do more than just vote. If teachers include these other ways to be politically involved, political efficacy may rise.

Other ways to get involved include, but are not limited to:

  • Knowing who your local officials are and talking to them.
  • Attending town hall/city council meetings.
  • Participating in protests.
  • Volunteering for a cause.
  • Writing letters.
  • Donating.

Utah’s policy on civic education is available by going to https://utah.gov/ and searching R277-475.

The College Investor: How you can start investing now

By Joe Raymond
So you have some savings, what’s next?
Over the past 200 years, stocks have been the most reliable route to wealth. Anyone can invest in stocks, but how can you take advantage of the long-term potential of the stock market? How much money do you need to start?
As an investor, you have three options: you can hire someone to manage your portfolio, manage your own portfolio, or passively invest in an index (or pursue some combination of the three). This article will focus on the latter two options.
The first thing you need to start investing in stocks is a bank account. There are many different options when it comes to opening a checking account, and most banks and credit unions have special promotions for opening a new account. Conducting a simple Google search for local bank promotions or “interviewing” the various financial institutions around town should help you find a high-quality bank with attractive incentives, low (or no) fees and small minimum balances.
Once you’ve funded a checking account, you can link it to a handful of brokers and other investment institutions that will help you deploy your savings. A favorite amongst college students and young professionals is Robinhood, a website and application you can download on either IOS or Android. Robinhood has no minimum balance requirements and allows users to buy and sell American stocks without commission. As the only “free” (they make money on margin and idle cash) broker, Robinhood is a great app for new investors with small savings to buy and sell individual stocks.
Robinhood is constantly launching new features, recently giving users access to a few large international stocks like Alibaba, Adidas and Tencent. For the enterprising investor who wants access to a larger pool of global investment options, Interactive Brokers (“IB”) offers a solid product. With access to 24 stock exchanges around the world and low commissions, IB is one of the highest-rated brokers in the US. The minimum to open an individual account is normally $10,000, but adults under the age of 25 can open an account with $3,000. While IB offers a good product, it’s not advised for beginners.
For those who want to take advantage of the long-term compounding potential of stocks without having to do any work, Vanguard is a wonderful option. As the largest index fund company in the world, Vanguard allows investors to “passively” invest in stocks that track some sort of index. For example, the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index (VTSMX) owns 3,680 American companies, giving investors exposure to a large portion of the US stock market (VTSMX has a minimum investment of $3,000). By making consistent contributions to a diversified index fund like the one discussed above, investors are likely to do well over the long-term as stocks continue to add value and build wealth.
There are many investment companies other than those listed above, all offering similar features and competing products. Investors would do well to research Fidelity, Schwab, E-trade and others to determine which fit their individual needs best. The chief importance when choosing a broker should be low fees and acceptable features for your personal use.
Once you’ve opened and funded your account, you can begin investing either actively or passively and refining your investment process to meet your personal financial goals. There is no one-size-fits-all investment strategy, but knowing the basics of long-term buy-and-hold investing should benefit the individual investor.