Michael on June 9th, 2008
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Although I am often asked to speak to recent grads, I have never been asked to speak at any graduations. But if I were, I imagine it would go something like this:

Congratulations, future workforce! Finally, you’re armed with your degree and plans for the future. And guess what? Before long you’ll receive your first real paycheck. And soon after, a second one. Hopefully, you’ll have hundreds of increasing paychecks over the next several years. But here’s my first question: Are you prepared to actually live on those paychecks?

Regardless of your course of study, few of you know very much about personal finance. At their first day on the job, horticulture majors will quickly learn money doesn’t grow on trees. After seeing their only $100 bill go entirely to groceries, bioethics majors may revisit their former concerns about cloning. How about the aspiring physicist? He knows all about gravitational force, but zero about the most powerful force of them all: the miracle of compounding interest. The economics major has mastered supply and demand, yet knows precious little about what she can truly afford on her first-year salary.

Attention English, psychology, and music majors: the business and math majors don’t know anymore about personal finance than you do. They might even know less.

I was a business major. My first job? As a CPA. At a big-name CPA firm. My title? Personal financial planner! Yet I still knew nothing about money! Of course, I learned quickly; I had to in order to perform my job. But I also learned two more things:

First: everyone needed the financial education I was getting at work and, second: no one else was actually getting the information. Heck, most of my friends had no idea they were even missing the knowledge.

That won’t be the case for you. Not for this graduating class. I can’t teach you everything you need to know about money in the short time we have together, but why throw the baby out with the bathwater, right?

I’m a big fan of simplicity, so I am going to give you 10 things, 10 rules, to live by. Just 10. After all these years in school, what’s one more top 10 list?

[Additional parts of the speech are/have been released all the time. To keep reading, click here and then just read the next post]

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