Posted on May 24, 2013 3 Comments
This morning, a student group came in to talk with me about communications careers and social media. It got me thinking about advice I would offer to the graduating class of 2013. I can go on for hours about careers in communications, but instead, here, I’ll focus on financial advice for your future.
- Don’t spend what you don’t have. Plain and simple. Step one to being independent is setting up a budget and sticking to it. Sounds simple, but you’d be amazed at how often adults fail at this. Buying on credit is spending what you don’t have. Learn to live on what you earn, no matter how little. Learn how to say no. And learn to be comfortable living within your means.
- Save, save, save. Adopt a frugal lifestyle, no matter how much you earn. Sock money away before you ever see it with automatic deposits. Invest in a retirement fund. Yes, in your 20′s. It’s important to develop good saving and spending habits at this stage in the game, rather than be someone else’s mess later on in life.
- Blaze your own trail. I have been living in an apartment since 2003, paying rent. This makes my family legitimately angry. A lot of my loved ones feel very strongly that home ownership is important. I feel that saving up for a down payment is important. I have a strong retirement fund and a lot of cash savings. I feel good about this decision.// … I didn’t drive until age 28, and I didn’t buy a car until age 31. People thought this was shocking. Some loved ones actually got upset that I would “put myself in danger” on public transportation. I made due just fine.// … And while we’re on expenses, man friend and I are saving up for a wedding, eventually. Which means I’m 33 and not married, with no kids. And I am training for a marathon, travel often, and love my job. And I’m doing great.// … Sometimes, people’s best financial advice, while heartfelt and well-meaning, isn’t what is right for you. Do your research, and believe in your own brain.
- Determine what you value, and make it your true North. In college, I vividly remember doing an exercise where we had to rank our top priorities in life. At the time, mine went something like: 1) Education, 2) Family, 3) Friends. It was my signal that whatever happened, my education and family came above anything else. Now, many years later, the same exercise would have a different, but not unfamiliar, outcome. Nowhere in there would you find material goods, a big house, a fat salary, or climbing the corporate ladder. Today, I value my loved ones, I treasure new life experiences, and I value my health. The way I spend my time directly correlates to those. It’s easy balancing your budget when it corresponds nicely with your values.
- Treat others how you want to be treated. In business, and in life, this is of the utmost importance. Don’t cheat, steal, lie, or step on others to get to the top. Be kind. Invest honestly. Live a life that’s worth living, and help raise others up, not drag them down.
Congratulations to the class of 2013. You face a long road ahead that will no doubt be filled with challenges, and no road map or course catalog offers a guaranteed path to get you to a place of happiness and financial security. But if you make wise choices, commit to doing good, and stay true to yourself, you’ll be closer than you think.
Here are a few other Budgeting Babe posts college graduates might be interested in.
- 2012: Be the heroine
- 2012: How not to handle your student loans
- 2008: The class of ’08 scrambles to find work