Pattie Lovett-Reid: It's tough for today's graduates, but you can control how you respond
Graduation cap. (Shutterstock)
HUNTSVILLE, ONT. -- I had the great honour of contributing to the commencement reel for a graduating class of 2021.
Given my focus is typically on financial advice it was a good place to start. Life isn't about the money. Money is simply the foundation to free you up to do the things that give your life more balance and meaning.
Let's begin with building the foundation.
Acknowledge you will never be the best. There will always be someone who is better and that's OK. What's not OK is not giving your best. When you do the absolute best you can, and things don't go according to plan (trust me they won't always turn out as you hoped), you shouldn't have any regrets because you tried and gave it your best shot. I recall one of my first presentations and while the feedback was predominantly positive, one person stated, "I didn't come here to hear you read your presentation.”
I was relying on my notes too heavily. After that I never used my notes again and today I don't use a teleprompter on air. I work hard to learn my material. Today, if that same person wasn't interested in what I had to say or how I said it, I know I did my best. No regrets.
Comparisons rarely drive financial success. It doesn't matter who gets the best job or buys their first home. What does drive financial success? Finding a financial role model to guide you. Be open to the basics such as building an emergency fund of three to six months’ living expenses. Start investing for the long run even if it is a small amount, and beginning with your very first job, live below your means. Simply put, spend less than you earn. My father was that role model in my life.
PASSION AND STRENGTHS
Follow your passion and get excited about the next chapter of your life. It isn't always about landing the high paying job. If the job you choose doesn't play to your strengths it could delay your progression, or worse, trap you in a field that will never make you happy. I don't know anyone who retired from a low-paying entry-level job in a field that really interested them.
My husband Jim gave me plaque, a quote from Walt Disney, for my desk. It reads: "If you can dream, you can do it."
He added the only person holding me back was me. Sometimes you have to get out of your own way and go for it.
EMBRACE LIFE LONG LEARNING
You may be graduating today, however, it is so important to embrace lifelong learning. Your human capital is your ability to earn a living. The more you have to offer, the greater the potential to earn. One day your financial capital, the money you have saved, will take over from your human capital, the money you make working.
Start tucking some money away early on, especially if your employer has some form of retirement savings vehicle. I know retirement seems miles away but this is how you benefit from power of time and compounding. Investing early and often may be the most impactful financial move you can make. As someone who has saved her whole life, I can tell you it gives you the freedom of choice and that is a wonderful feeling.
I would be remiss of course if I didn't touch on the basics of budgeting: avoiding mindless spending and getting the biggest bang for your buck. Look at your return on investment. Paying off student debt is a sure thing, investing in the market is not.
It is a tough environment for today's graduates and sadly, you can't control that, but you can control how you will respond.
In a world where you can be anything and do anything, I will leave you with two words: Be kind.
You will be surprised how far that will take you.