Financial Planning Advice to Mount Holyoke College Seniors, Class of 2013
In each of the last few years, I have been asked to speak about basic financial planning issues to seniors of my alma mater, Mount Holyoke College. The most recent presentation was in March. In just 30 minutes, I tried to impart on the seniors some basic financial knowledge to prepare them for the decisions they will be presented when they enter the working world – how toselect a health insurance plan, do they need disability insurance (yes!), what about life insurance, should they start contributing to a retirement plan or pay down their student loans (if there is a match – both), should they consider graduate school. As I prepared my remarks for the students, I tried to think of broader strategies that would lead to financial success through the next several decades of their adult lives, here are some of the lessons that I presented to them, which are relevant for those in any stage of life:
- Live below your means – always save some of your earnings, even when you are just starting out.
- Write down your goals and your budget – track your progress through the years.
- Make decisions with your head and your heart – pursue a career that you love, spend money on what is important, but use your head if needed to rein in your choices
- Stay physically healthy – poor health can cost you productivity in your working life and end your career sooner than anticipated.
- Be positive – a positive outlook can help you face whatever life brings – including financial challenges.
- Learn to invest – start small, don’t be afraid to take some risk and make mistakes, it will make you a wiser investor when there is more at stake.
- Know when to take risks and when to protect from the unexpected
It is always a privilege to speak to these young women who are embarking on this transition from college to career. 30 minutes is a very short amount of time to tell them what I think is important about their financial well-being. I hope that by sharing my knowledge, they won’t have to learn some of these lessons I the hard way, as I did in the early years after graduating from college.