- Thursday, May 03, 2007
I wasn’t invited to give a graduation speech this spring, evidence that commencement speaker committees do make wise choices.
Still, I was prepared.
And so, in keeping with the tradition that a good speech is a terrible thing to waste, I offer it to you now.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Class of 2007 ... Congratulations on a job well done.
You did it. You worked hard, you stuck it out even when you wanted to quit.
You persevered and for that I offer my sincerest congratulations. But lest you conclude you’ve just crossed the finish line, let me point out that you have just arrived at the starting gate.
Now it’s time to run the race.
Get a job
I know it is your intention to get a job. But my point is to get one now and to not extend to yourself the luxury of taking the summer off.
While you want to strive to find a job in your field of study, do not waste precious time. While you are waiting, find work where you can. And find all the work you can.
You know how to persevere, you know how to work hard. You demonstrated that in the past four years. And now you face the big test of your ability to reach for your goals while working ethically and diligently in the real world.
There’s a pervasive attitude among college students that Really Great Jobs await those with degrees. Yes, it is true that your lifetime earnings will surpass what your peers without degrees can expect to earn. But not necessarily in the beginning. And remember that to achieve lifetime earnings, one must actually become employed.
Plan to start at the bottom. This is called the “entry level.” There are no Really Great Jobs at the entry level. Teachers, attorneys, doctors, stock-brokers — all professions require entry at the bottom. That means the lowest pay.
If you think you had to scrape and scrimp in college, think of that as the dress rehearsal for what is to come.
Do not fantasize about making a lot of money. Start where you can then work hard and with so much integrity that you become indispensible.
Attack your debt
Statistics suggest the vast majority of you leave here today in debt — mostly student debt but credit card debt, too.
The decisions you make for how you manage your debt will significantly impact the direction of your life. You have two choices:
You can defer, avoid, ignore, prolong and otherwise try to put off repayment until some more convenient time in the far distant future. Or you can face your debt head on starting now, believing that life’s greatest opportunities are reserved for those who are not chained to debt.
Choose the reasonable course. Attack your debt while you are young, energetic and in good health. And do it with uncommon fervor.
Don’t let your debt steal your future. Render it powerless by making double, even triple payments. Put yourself on a three-year repayment schedule and then stick to your plan as if your life depends on it. It may.
Never allow yourself to spend all that you have. Strive to live below your means.
Make it your personal rule of life to always give away part of what you receive. That will keep you from greed. Likewise save some for your future. That will keep you from fear and worry.
Keep driving your old car for now. There’s no new car that feels as good as a car payment feels bad.
Be careful whose advice you follow. Learn to decipher what really matters to you so you won’t waste your time and money on things that don’t.
Do not try to impress others. To do so gives them the power to make choices for you.
Do not focus on what you lack. Determine instead to want what you have. And to be truly grateful.
Strive to be content for that is where you will find joy and peace of mind.
And trust me on the debt.
© 2005 Debt-Proof Living. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
"The Cheapskate Monthly" was founded in 1992 by Mary Hunt. What began as a newsletter to encourage and empower people to break free from the bondage of consumer debt has grown into a huge community of ordinary people who have achieved remarkable success in their quest to effectively manage their money and stay out of debt. Today, "The Cheapskate Monthly" is read by close to 100,000 Cheapskates. Click here to subscribe.
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