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Happy Graduation!

May 01, 2024

I turned thirty-six this year, which makes me twice the age of kids who are graduating high school this year. Life really gets away from you fast. Whether you are graduating high school or college, soak in this moment!  

Graduation is such a fun and joyous time that marks the beginning of a clash between expectations and reality. I don't mean that negatively; I mean that there is no way to accurately predict the post-schooling world without experiencing it. I'll give you an example: I graduated college in 2010. I was excited to apply to various jobs and have my pick of career paths. I mean, come on, I have this shiny new degree that says I know money; indeed, businesses have been waiting for me! Unfortunately, businesses had plenty on their plate since they were in the throws of the most significant recession and economic uncertainty of the last fifty years. Here's my point: life is an exercise in persistence.  

per·sist·ence

noun

  1. firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action despite difficulty or opposition.

Persistence cannot exist without a goal. How can you stay the course if you don't have a destination? My advice to all graduates is to chart their goals. Know that storms and challenges will arise, and you need to be flexible, but your goals have to be steady and defined.  

I can't tell you what your goals are, but I can help you prepare for whatever might be on your radar. First, a quick warning: money for the sake of money is a poisoned path; do not drink from that well. Money represents the stored potential that allows you to manifest goals—i.e., you will need money. The secret to finding success here is making the steps reasonable and executable.  

Step 1:  Pay yourself first. 15% of your income needs to be saved and invested.

Step 2: Consider where to save—depending on your situation, Roth IRAs or your employer's retirement plan are probably the places to start.

Step 3: "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it" -Aristotle - Austin Lane, CFP®. People will give you their opinion; it's good to listen and consider, but more often than not, you probably don't want to take that advice. 

Once you start working, you will be tempted to make more money than you ever have by an order of magnitude. It is very easy to fall into the Tom Haverford "Treat yourself!" way of thinking. Enjoy life, yes; blow all your money because you don't need to define short and long-term goals, not clearly. Here is my offer to you: for recent graduates, I am offering my time this summer to help you figure this out. Call my office and schedule a time to come in at no charge. Getting this right the first will save you many challenges later; I would love to help you get these crucial years sorted out.