It’s Graduation Season — What Do You Wish You’d Known?

While I still believe that “Wear sunscreen” is some of the best general advice you can get as a graduating student, getting a little money-related advice is a good idea too.

Looking back, I wish I’d known that I should always save at least 10% of my income, no matter what. And that if I make so little money that saving 10% of my income seems impossible, that I’m either spending too much (probably on my car!) or else I need to get a better paying job.

Getting a copy of Your Money or Your Life at graduation would have have put my life on a much straighter course to the path I’m on now. If only I could turn back time!

I wish someone had explained investing to me as well, and suggested good books to read like The Four Pillars of Investing or The Intelligent Investor.

Basics like how to budget and plan for the future would have been useful as well, along with exactly why staying out of debt is an outstanding idea. There’s a difference between knowing intellectually that debt wears you down, and understanding the freedom and flexibility you have when you aren’t weight down by debt.

Did you receive any financial advice as a high school or college graduate? What do you wish you had known back then?


  • It’s probably more career than financial advice, but the two do go hand in hand. When fearful about contemplating a career change, my mother told me not to worry and to “never become some profession’s whore.” I wish she would have told me that eons ago.

    Also, I wish I would have fully understood that nothing is forever. Jobs, careers, goals, etc., all change. I don’t have to look at any career move as a permanent one. We can change our minds and forge new paths. Thank God, eh? Or we all might spend an eternity in debt, doing the same old thing.

    • That’s a good point about always being able to change. It sure makes the decision process a lot easier when you’re not thinking the decision is forever.

  • The one thing I wish I would have known was to not let anyone influence me on how to spend my money. No one cares more about your financial success than you do.
    That little bit of info would have allowed me to put a lot more money into savings. Oh well

  • I wish I knew how rewarding it is to drive a car that was paid for (even if the door handle sticks!)

  • I’m with Kevin on this one. I would not have let people influence me on how I decide to spend my money. They don;t know how much debt you have, what your ambitions are, or what your daily expenses are, so why would you listen to them tell you what to buy!

  • I wish I had known the true evil of credit cards for people that don’t know how to handle them.

    It would have saved me years of “recovery” time, and thousands of dollars…

  • I have always been a natural saver, but a crappy investor. I wish I had known about Roth IRA’s in 2005 instead of 2007. I also suggest “Automatic Millionaire” as a great book for graduates…proof that you don’t have to make a ton of money to reach your financial goals earlier than expected.

  • I’ve been a crappy investor too, but I’m working on that! I have yet to read that book — think it’s a good book for people long past graduation too?

    • I think so! I read it last year in an hour or so…I liked it. It won’t help with investing though…it just explains how much easier it is to build wealth when you automatically sock money away. If you come across any good investment books, please give me a heads up. :-)

      • The Four Pillars of Investing is a good one. I also liked The Snowball but that’s a (massive) biography of Warren Buffett. It gives some insight into his thinking though.