College graduation may have been a long, long time ago for some of us or more recently for others — or for your kids or grandkids.
Inspired by this weekend’s upcoming graduation at the University of Notre Dame and “graduation season” in general I offer several basic pieces of personal financial advice that hold meaning for nearly everyone at every age.
1) Upon attaining that “holy grail” of a job, we need to remember that it is more about how much you spend than how much you make. In fact, even upon becoming VP, MD or even CEO it is more about how much you spend — and what you spend it on.
2) There will come a time to spend more money (like after several raises, experiencing the satisfaction of maxing out your 401k AND securing an emergency fund). Maybe you will even run the show someday and have money to burn. Taking risk has its place but burning money and going into debt early in a career can get ugly (might I say, “Don’t go ugly early”?).
3) That first job is likely not your last nor the firm with which you will spend your entire career (although it could be the case). The first job is an opportunity to learn what you know — and more important what you don’t know.
4) Seek and find a mentor — and if an “assigned” mentor does not work out, then find a new worthwhile mentor from whom you can learn.
5) Then seek out a sponsor, that person who vouches for you — especially when you are not around — for a promotion or raise. This person can turn out to make or break your career so be patient and smart about this one. Sponsors are for both the young “newbies” in an organization and more senior executives. (I recently attended a dinner where a newly named partner of a major Wall Street firm advocated for having a sponsor at any level).
6) GOAL-SETTING never gets old. Get help setting goals if need be.
7) Having a qualified, fiduciary financial adviser either to get you started saving and investing or to keep you on track and ON-PLAN pays dividends for a lifetime.
8) Easier said than done: Remember that our behavior is driven by fear (not just FOMO but real fear) and all sorts of factors out of our control — and understanding the relationship between behavior and investing AT ALL AGES can make the difference between financial success and failure.
Happy Graduation to all the graduates, their parents, friends and families. Graduation is the first day of the rest of your life — and for those of us who graduated a while ago we know that amidst the ups and downs it only gets better!