Tomorrow you will graduate from High School and the major part of your life thus far will be over. Up until now, your father and I have guided you and protected you. We have held your hand while you learned to walk and walked beside you when you learned to ride a bike. We have watched while you tested your wings with a car of your own and a job.
As you step out into the world, there are things that I would tell you. I know that you want to take a year off before college but I would urge you to go now. Life has a tendency to get in the way and once you have a job going back to school will just get harder. While I am sure that you can find a job, a college degree opens doors to opportunities that you might miss otherwise.
I would tell you to always pay yourself first. Put as much money into savings as you can and leave it there until you have enough to live on for 6 months or so. You will never be sorry. Start your retirement fund early and don’t touch it. If you go to work for a company that matches your contributions, take advantage of it.
Be wary of credit cards. They are too easy to get and too hard to pay off. If you have to buy it on credit, you probably can’t afford it anyway and most likely don’t need it. If you use credit cards regularly, you will pay many times for the same item. Save buying on credit for two major purchases, a car and a house.
Invest your money in things that you understand. If you don’t understand it, then either educate yourself or find something you do understand. This understanding will help you decide when to invest, when to hold and when to sell.
Find a job doing something that you love to do. You spend most of your life at work, it helps to enjoy what you are doing. This may be a strange forum to say that while making a lot of money is great, doing something that you enjoy and are good at will bring you more satisfaction in the long run so try to find a balance between being a starving artist and overstressed ceo.
Keep an emergency savings account. In a perfect world, this would be enough to support you for 6 months but it can be as little as $1000. The emergency funds purpose is to pay for emergencies. I know you are saying “duh, Mom” but you have to understand that an emergency is not the concert tickets that you can get at the last minute or for those cute shoes that you just have to have to go with your new dress. It is for things like the car broke down and I can’t get to work without it.
When you find that special person, make sure that they are someone who will support and respect you. Hopefully, you will find someone with similar goals to yours, both financial and life goals. I have found that while love is grand if the support, respect and common goals aren’t there, love loses out at worst and at best your life will be a struggle.
Whatever you do, do it with all your heart. You are smart enough to do anything you want to do, you just have to make up your mind that you are going to do it. Don’t let anyone beat you down. Don’t settle for second best, you deserve the best of the best.
And remember always that I love you and that you always have a place to come home to.
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