So, it is time once again to welcome all of our graduates to the real world with some advice from those of us who have been around the block once or twice.
(OK, full disclosure. This is one of my popular recycled pieces that I do from time to time.)
Actually, a Chicago Tribune columnist – Wes Smith – started the tradition back in 1986 with his column full of advice ditties to graduates. Some of his offerings might seem a little outdated – most of today’s high school graduates were born in 1994 – but many are still of value.
This year’s grads have never known life without the Internet, or cell phones, or mp3 files, and they would be hard-pressed to tell you the last year that the U.S. was not involved in an armed conflict in another nation.
So, here’s a sampling of Smith’s offerings:
– Never answer an advertisement seeking a “liberal roommate.” You probably are not that liberal.
– Having a drink out with the boys every night after work is a bad idea. Notice that the boss doesn’t do it. That is why he’s the boss and they’re the boys.
– Instead of buying a new stereo for your car, skip a step. Buy a window sticker that says, “It’s already been stolen.”
– They aren’t kidding when they say, “Wash whites separately.”
– Never date a woman whose father calls her “Princess.” Chances are she believes it.
– Never date a man who goes shopping with his mother.
– Eat good meals. Greasy snacks take their toll.
– If you don’t like your job, quit. Otherwise, shut up.
– If you get invited to a wedding, send a gift. Otherwise, do not expect a crowd when your turn comes.
– There is no such thing as a self-cleaning oven.
– Be nice to ordinary people. You’re still one of them.
– Never date someone you work with. Especially the boss.
– At some point in your life, your family will be all you have. Treat them right.
– Never get married simply because you think it is time to get married. Get married because you want to live with someone for the rest of your life, including weekends and holidays.
– Everyone is lonely at times. Learning to deal with it is part of growing up.
– The only thing worse than asking people how much money they make is telling them how much you make.
– Dirty laundry never goes away.
– Never trust a landlord to make improvements after you have moved in.
– If you make a mess of things, admit it.
– Hurry up and learn patience.
OK, here’s some more advice (that hopefully is up to date) from a number of sources:
– When you get a job, keep your mouth shut for a while. Look around, listen and learn. If not, then the veterans who have been there will regard you as a loudmouth joke.
– Make sure you are using anti-virus software.
– You probably don’t need life insurance, but the $4.99 a month for replacement cell phone insurance is probably worth it – especially if you’re a male.
– Learn in advance the immediate steps you need to take if you accidentally drop your cell phone into the toilet.
– Don’t leave college broke and tired. Save as much money as you possibly can from those part-time jobs during the college years so you have a little money when it’s time to get your own place – and stuff for it – after you graduate.
– And when you get that first job, be frugal. Save money from every paycheck.
– Absolutely take advantage of an employer’s 401(k) plan, especially if there is a company match.
– Traveling is much more fun than owning – and paying for – that hot, red convertible.
– Invest in a good steam iron and learn how to use it.
– If you get a tattoo, make sure you can hide it when you’re on the job, unless, of course, you’re lucky enough to own your own business.
– Avoid using the personal pronoun “I” in conversations. People will like you a lot better if you ask about them instead.
– If it’s your turn, by all means buy lunch.
– Never, ever cheat while playing golf. It says something about your character if you do.
– Don’t be self-righteous. It’s irritating.
– Don’t try to manage your staff – if you are lucky enough to have a staff – by email.
– Avoid starting memos with the degrading “All:”
– Be on time whether it’s a work commitment or a social engagement. Being continually late is a character flaw.
– Paying your own way in life is about as good as it gets. Make sure you get enough education to pull it off.
– For goodness sakes, if you don’t smoke, don’t start. Quitting is pure agony.
– Learn how to spell. It’s not too late.
– Use the English language when writing essays, memos and letters. Do not use the language created by cell phone texters.
– Don’t believe anyone who tells you being in debt is good. It is not.
And here’s one from Michael Pollan, who wrote the book “In Defense of Food”:
– Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Ron Lieber, the New York Times’ financial columnist, borrowed Pollan’s style with this:
– Index (mostly). Save a ton. Reallocate infrequently.
To read more from Dick Farrell, visit him at www.TuscBargainHunter.com.
Published: April 30, 2012