This was first published on BusinessRecord.com on May 6, 2019
There is a different kind of crop that needs tending this spring. It is the crop of talented young women who will walk across the auditorium stage at high schools and colleges across the state. They have worked hard and followed our advice to “go to school so you can get a good job.” These graduation ceremonies mark an important milestone. It is part celebration of their accomplishments and part launch party for the next leg of their journey.
With record low unemployment, they hope to soon be earning a steady income. This is good news, yet it isn’t enough. We need to do more for them. We need to show them how to keep what they are earning. How to protect it. How to confidently manage it. After all, what good is all the effort and education if it simply adds another rat to the rat race?
Earning an income should only be the starting point, not the end point. This spring my daughter will be receiving a graduate degree she has been working toward for three years. Here is what I want her and all the young women to know as they cross the stage and receive that all important piece of paper.
1. Never confuse your personal worth with your net worth. Even if you never make a dime, you have value and something to contribute to this world. You have value far beyond any paycheck or bank statement. What an employer is willing to pay has far more to do with their economic standing, not yours.
2. Every job is a good job. If it is legal and honest, it’s a good job. Do your best and learn what it has to teach you. You will be better for it. Humility is still a great virtue.
3. The math is simple. It is the self-discipline that is hard. You work hard for your money. You also need to work hard to keep it because there is $200 billion being spent every year to try to separate you from your money. On top of the avalanche of marketing and advertising there is social pressure and peer pressure. This is not about you. It is about those trying to apply the pressure. Push back and don’t give in. If it is right for you, you’ll know it. Friends and co-workers will buy and spend more to try to buy the respect of others. You don’t need to. As long as you respect yourself, so will others. Your respect can’t be bought. It is priceless.
4. Debt is a tool that should only be used when absolutely necessary to get you what you need. Like a sharp knife, it can be a handy tool to accomplish a goal. But if it isn’t used carefully you could end up with a deep wound that could take years or even decades to heal.
5. Remember what Albert Einstein, said: “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. (S)He who understands it, earns it. …(S)He who doesn’t … pays it.” So start saving as soon as you start earning.
6. If you manage your money today, you’ll own your tomorrow. If your financial well-being is totally dependent on another person or organization, your options are limited. If your finances are in order and your obligations are limited, you have more options – and more control over your life.
If you are too old and independent to take your mom’s advice, listen to other wise women. Beyoncé said it best: “The most alluring thing a woman can have is confidence.”