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A letter to high school graduates

Posted by Jamie Downey  June 14, 2010 08:39 AM

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Congratulations on your recent graduation. You have no doubt worked diligently over the years and should be proud of your successes. I am not quite sure if you will be moving on to college, the military or other envious endeavors. Nevertheless, you should be advised of how the real world works. The real world is a lot like gardening. If you combine your God given talents (the soil), with knowledge and hard work, then you will reap a wonderful harvest. Take away just one of these items, and your success will be disproportionately reduced. Remove knowledge, and you will likely yield no harvest. Increase your education and knowledge and your harvest will be wildly abundant.

While I am proud of your recent graduation, the education that you have just received is woefully inadequate. Much of the public school curriculum was developed in the 19th century. My grandmother took much the same course work in the 1930’s that I did in the 1980’s and now you have continued the tradition to the 21st century. Unlike wine, this curriculum has not improved with age. Case in point: One skill that you will need to use almost daily in life and will contribute greatly to your success or failure is personal finance. However, you have not even been offered this in your curriculum. Yet your school continues to teach rope answers in subjects such as trigonometry that will never be utilized again by 99 percent of the student population.

You have just participated in commencement, which means “the beginning”. Regardless of if you are off to university or not, this is the beginning of your education process not the ending. One of your goals in life should be self-sufficiency. You do not want to rely on your employer or the government to provide for you. If you rely on these parties, you will clearly be disappointed. When I graduated high school 20 years ago, we were taught that Social Security will provide for us in retirement. Now, only a fool would believe that the government will be there to provide these benefits. Alternatively, ask a laid off General Motors employee if reliance on their employer worked out well for them. Wouldn’t you much prefer to retire on your terms, at an age you decide, with an adequate stream of cash flows to provide for you and your family without external aid? This can be accomplished much easier if you start now and learn about success.

You will need to take charge of your education on the topic of success. Spend a half hour a day, reading and learning about personal finance, successful people, goal setting, etc. Choose college course work, seminars, webinars and other educational tools that will help you pursue this topic. If you study success now, then you will be much better off at your ten year reunion than all of your peers. More than likely, you will be completely self-sufficient. Here are a few books to get you started on the process:

- Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money-That the Poor and the Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki
- Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing by Robert T. Kiyosaki
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (offered for free as the copyright has expired)
- The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale
- Everything written by Jeff Gitomer
- Lead the Field by Earl Nightingale

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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ABOUT MANAGING YOUR MONEY
Local finance professionals share insights and advice on issues such as budgeting, managing debt, and retirement planning.

About the contributors

D. Abraham Ringer is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER practitioner and a Financial Adviser with Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Management in Boston. He is registered in MA, NH, NY and several other states to which his articles are directed. For more information please visit www.morganstanleyfa.com/ringer
Financial Planning Association™ of Massachusetts has 900 members who specialize in the financial planning process. Many of its members engage in philanthropic pro bono work in their communities, recommend legislation, elevate public awareness, promote financial literacy, and advocate for sound economic and tax policies.
Odysseas Papadimitriou is the founder of CardHub.com, a credit card and gift card marketplace, and WalletHub.com, a personal finance site. He has more than 13 years of experience in the personal finance industry, and previously served as senior director at Capital One.

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