Open Letter to a High School Graduate

Open Letter to a High School Graduate

What would you tell the high school graduate in your life?

When I receive graduation announcements in the mail from friends and relatives, it automatically takes me back to my own high school commencement.

The excitement of completion and the anticipation of college is like no other.

But I also remember how unprepared I was to begin making my own decisions about banking, saving money, spending wisely, and developing a budget.

That’s where this letter comes into play. Hopefully, this open letter to high school graduates can provide some useful personal finance tips as you begin to face life in the real world.

To All High School Graduates,

First, congrats to you on your many successes and achievements. Take a moment and be proud of yourself . . . you deserve it. Newton D. Baker is quoted as saying,

“The man who graduates today and stops learning tomorrow is uneducated the day after.”

In light of this statement, I offer you the chance to continue your education with a few words of wisdom and counsel pertaining to personal finance.

Now is a Perfect Time to Begin Saving

Whether you receive a financial gift or earn a paycheck, make sure you hold back a percentage of every dollar that comes your way and deposit it into a savings account. Yea, you’ve probably heard this before.

But chances are high that you’ll listen to me since I’m not your mom or your dad. Trust me, saving a portion of each dollar is the smartest thing you can do at this point in your life. You don’t need to make big bucks to make a big impact with your savings. If you can develop a habit of saving money now, it will pay off in accumulation and in future financial self-discipline.

Understanding How Much College Actually Costs

I can still remember back to when I got my tuition difference check. My student loans paid more than my actual tuition costs, and I thought I had hit the lottery. Needless to say, I wasn’t making wise decisions with the leftovers. Don’t make my mistake.

Even if you receive scholarships, most students will pay for college through the use of financial aid student loans. This is not free money. When signing up for financial aid, do not take on more student loan debt than what is absolutely necessary. Fill out more scholarship applications than loan applications. Remember, you will be the one making the payments after college.

Beware of Credit Cards

Welcome to adulthood. Now try to avoid debt at all costs. If you didn’t receive many credit card applications in the mail while living at home, that’s about to change. Don’t listen to their sales pitches and don’t throw away your financial future for a free t-shirt.

A credit card can help you begin to build your credit history, which will be needed for numerous things later in life. But using a credit card and using it wisely are two drastically different things. Don’t use a credit card to bankroll your lifestyle or pick up dates. Instead, make smart purchases, develop a budget, and begin using your financial brain to become a responsible spender.

The Importance of a Mentor

No matter what your circumstances may be, there’s always going to be someone else who has experienced what you’re going through. Find that person, learn from them, take notice of their warnings, and learn some wise life skills. Don’t think you’re too smart to learn from others.

Well, that’s it. Again, congratulations on your high school success. May you have an excellent future and successful bank account.


PT from PT Money

Do you have any other advice for a graduate? Leave it in the comments below.

Image by CarbonNYC

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Last Edited: May 10, 2012 @ 12:30 pm
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a husband and father of two. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.