Graduation Season

May 2016


It’s that time once again when high school and college students are graduating. First, I want to congratulate all of the graduates and their families and wish them much success in the future. I would also like to remind the graduates that even though their formal education may be ending, that doesn’t mean they can put education on the back burner. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. We live in an ever-changing world and it is important to constantly re-educate yourself. If you don’t have a commitment to continuing education, you may find you’re falling behind and that is not something you want to do. Therefore, I would encourage all graduates to not look at graduation as an end to their education but rather, a new beginning.

One thing I always tell young adults is that the best investment they can ever make is a good education. When I graduated high school and college, as a society, we were competing for jobs against Ohio and Indiana. Today, we are competing for jobs across the world. One thing that will distinguish you from your competition is a good education. Therefore, I encourage all graduates to continue their education; particularly, those who are graduating high school. The day of being able to graduate high school and find a good paying job is over. Therefore, it’s imperative for high school graduates to continue their education past high school. Whether it is a four-year college, community college or even a trade school, you must dedicate yourself to continue your education. For those who only get a high school degree, they may find they’re permanently locked into low-paying jobs. Even if money is an issue, you must find a way to continue your education.

Because it is graduation season, it also means many of us are looking at what to buy the graduate. For most people, giving cash or a gift card is certainly the easiest way of going; however, the question is whether it is the best way of going. I don’t think so. For those of you looking for a gift for a high school graduate, why not give something that will help them continue their education. Friends and family of a high school graduate can get together and open up an education savings plan for the graduate. The Michigan Education Savings Plan ( is a great vehicle for this. In fact, something I recommend is that high school graduates’ families set up a Michigan Education Savings Plan account and then let family and friends know that a contribution to that account would be appreciated. I recognize the graduate may not be overly thrilled and would certainly rather have cash or a gift card. However, what the graduate needs should be more important than what they want. In today’s challenging economic conditions, helping someone with their future education is a gift that will pay dividends well into the future.

For the college graduate, think about some sort of gift whether a book or a software package, that will teach the graduate good financial skills. One thing I constantly see is college graduates entering the real world with no skills when it comes to managing their personal financial affairs. As a result even if they earn a good living the absence of financial skills can doom them. Therefore, a gift that would help them get off to the right start will be invaluable to their future.

Once again, I want to congratulate graduates and their families on a job well done and remind them that education is a life-long pursuit.

Good luck!
Rick is a fee-only financial advisor. His website is If you would like Rick to respond to your questions, please email Rick at