A Golden Nugget for High School Graduates

Brent Pittman —  05/13/2013 — 5 Comments

Gold Miner

Graduation. Celebration. Endless possibilites. New doors opening, old ones closing. I find myself trying to remember what it was like to have just graduated from high school and have your whole life ahead of you.

There is a lot about life and money that I’ve learned since high school gradation. In that light I will offer up a bit of advice for those 17-19 year olds entering into a new era of their lives.

Wisdom and Experience

In life there are two general ways to learn. Experience and wisdom. Experience is a tough teacher that often times includes bumps, heartaches, and empty wallets.

“Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.”-Vernon Sanders Law (Major League Pitcher)

Wisdom is the ability to learn a truth without having gone through an experience.

Having a good mix of wisdom and experience when it comes to financial matters will give both knowledge and motivation to stay on the right path.

Financial Wisdom for High School Graduates

1. Save- Pay cash for items. Save up or don’t buy it. These are great years to learn how to practice the art of savings. Start with an emergency fund to stay out of debt.

2. Work Hard- A bit of hustle can go a long way. You’ll find that if you work hard you’ll end up ahead of your peers that are smarter than you. Whether it is on a job or in the classroom (hopefully both), learn the value of hard work.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”- Thomas Edison

3. Solve Problems- Find the needs around you and solve them. If you solve others problems you’ll be rich in purpose and/or monetary gain. The marketplace will pay handsomely to those who solve our problems.

4. Create- With most activities in life you can either create or consume. Err to the side of creation and you’ll be a rich person. Why not start a blog to begin creating today?

5. Give- Giving of your time and money will keep humbleness near. Developing an early practice of giving will ensure you have the character needed to handle responsibility and riches.

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”-Winston Churchill

6. Avoid Debt- Fight tooth and nail to avoid debt. There is always another path besides debt, yes even college or med school.  The path to avoid debt is harder in the moment, but in the end you’re free and slave to no one.

  • College Debt- Going to college can pay off in the long run, but you can attain a degree without debt. Debt-Free U is a book that can show you how. Having a college degree won’t ensure a job or career that you’ll love.  There are alternatives to college and learning if you’re interested in why I’m not sending my son to college.  
  • Credit Card Debt- The average college graduate has $4,000 of college debt. You can make it through life without debt by learning how to budget.

“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”-Proverbs 22:7 (ESV)

7. Find your own Path- Recent graduate, you’ll hear a lot of advice–even from me. Most of it is good, but you’ll have to decide for yourself. It is your life to live, not your parents, not your significant other, not society. Heed wisdom, but forge your own way.

8. Explore Your passions- The richest people are doing something they enjoy + meeting needs (#3 above) the needs of others. Find your passions, focus on your strengths and make a difference.

9. Start a Business- You are never too young to start a business. Learning how to sell, market, bookkeeping, etc will help you for the rest of your life. You might even start your dream job without needing to go to college. Did you know you can start a business for $100?

10. Improve your Character- Your character is more important than money. Oddly enough many people of character have wealth. Find ways to improve your character. Start with the Proverbs. There are 30 short chapters, so you could read 1 per day. No matter if you are religious or not, there is wisdom that will improve your character and finances.

11. Did I mention avoiding debt? I hear horror stories of how debt has ruined lives in my coaching practice. Please graduate, learn wisdom, avoid debt, and choose freedom.

What do you wish you would have known about finances when graduating high school? 

Photo Credit  dotpolka

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Brent Pittman

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Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.
  • http://carefulcents.com/ Carrie Smith

    I feel like this advice is appripro to people from 17 – 99. And I wish I had someone break it down for me like this. I tried to learn through other people’s wisdom, but as life would have it, I’ve learned a lot through personal experiences as well. I like your advice about the book of Proverbs and I agree, it has some very valuable life information for us all to learn from.

    • http://www.ontargetcoach.com/ Brent Pittman

      Alas, I’ve learned from experience too–that is why I’m a seeker of wisdom now. 

  • Deborah @ImpulseSave

    Love all of this! And totally agree Carrie. Proverbs is such a great book – so full of real wisdom!

  • AvgJoeMoney

    I wish I’d learned how badly using OPM (other people’s money) can mess up your life when repayment time arrives. I started out in a huge hole and had to crawl out. It was a good lesson, but one that I wish I would have avoided altogether.

    • http://www.ontargetcoach.com/ Brent Pittman

      Yes, but at least you learned it. Wisdom is sometimes learned without having to go through the struggle yourself.