Financial Life After Yale

Financial literacy – a career/life skill? When you think about career and life skills, what crosses your mind? Networking? Business etiquette? Interview techniques? Resume-writing? Self-discernment? Clear communication?

These all matter, of course. Getting started – or moving along and up your career arc – may require all of them.

But what about money?

Money shouldn’t be your goal. But it’s crucial to know how money fits into – and can interrupt – your career and life plans. Money belongs to Life After Yale as anything else. And yet, when we peer into the future, we rarely think rationally about money.

Getting started. As we share thoughts here, let’s put money where it belongs: squarely in focus. We need to pinpoint:

  • How to think about money
  • Shorter and longer term money needs
  • Which things we can control…and which things we can’t
  • How we can be money-disciplined
  • Rules of thumb for our spending, investing and retirement
  • How to establish – and improve – our credit

In future posts, let’s address these all. Once you’ve read my ideas, you add your own: when it comes to money, one size does NOT fit all!

Before diving in – even before looking inward at your own money thoughts, needs, fears and aspirations — do homework. There’s a ton of information out there. But it needn’t take long. Some suggested quick reads:

  • www.etf.com/docs/IfYouCan.pdf (If You Can: How Millennials Can Get Rich Slowly – a quick/short booklet aimed at keeping things simple)
  • www.learnvest.com (articles and advice focused on early-career financial challenges)
  • www.investopedia.com (defining financial acronyms and explaining other hard-to-understand financial concepts)

How to think about money. Whether or not we’ve studied economics, or taken an accounting course, or read about companies and how money affects them, it’s important that we accept that we ourselves face some of the same money issues as the companies we read about.

For example, companies have income statements – summaries of how they generate income and how they spend it – and so do we! Companies have balance sheets – summaries of what they own and what they owe – and so do we! When companies make money, they face choices on what to do with it – will they reinvest some of it in building up their balance sheet? or spend it on building relationships with stakeholders? or pay off loans? or invest in stocks and bonds? or build a rainy-day fund – and so do we!

We, too, must navigate financial paths and make financial choices. If we take care of our own income statements and balance sheets – learn about them, track them, budget for them, and set money priorities – we’ll gain a crucial career/life skill.

Our next topic: budgeting. In my next post, let’s explore the five “moving parts” to our personal budgets. That will give us a jumping-off point for shorter and longer-term needs, for understanding what we can control, and for budget-related rules of thumb. Stay tuned!