Students and Professionals Share Life Lessons on Personal Finance

At the end of our WSJ rated four weeks. A cohort of personal finance-themed advisors, we asked our advisors to reflect on the lessons they’ve learned that have shaped their financial lives.

Whether it’s building a healthy relationship with spending, living within your means, or having open conversations about money, our counselors share information that can be helpful at any stage of your journey. financial.


Alex Greanias
Investment Associate for Private Clients; Naples, Florida.

Healthy spending is just as important as saving and investing in your overall financial plan. Learning to enjoy the money you’ve earned involves spending it on things that bring you joy. I feel like it can sometimes be easy to spend too much on things that don’t add value to your life or to spend too little on the bare necessities. If you can budget for both your wants and your needs, you give yourself the freedom to spend money in the most fun and meaningful way for you.


André Estelle
Analyst; New York, NY

A valuable money lesson I learned was about investing for the future. I’ve learned that it’s more important to be invested for a long time and to take full advantage of the power of compounding, supporting the idea of ​​investing as much as possible as soon as possible to be in position for a future gain. At the same time, it involves risk and it is important never to invest more than you are capable of losing. While staying in the market is beneficial over time, you need to be comfortable with weathering short-term declines and bouts of volatility to reap the long-term benefits.


PHOTO: Constance Beckford

Constance Beckford
Linguistics student; UC Berkeley

My money lessons came from learning what not to do by watching family members make bad decisions. Like a relative in an abusive marriage but unable to leave because she had no money to support herself. Or seeing older parents continue in menial jobs well into their seventies because they didn’t have a retirement plan or high-paying skills. I want to live abundantly and freely in all stages of my life without money problems. And the only way not to worry about money is to have plenty of it.


photo: Dale Hall

Dale Room
Actuary; Bloomington, Ill.

A few years after the start of my career, I had the opportunity to join the investment department of our company to carry out projects combining investments and actuarial analysis. For the very first time, I received the coveted annual bonus check. The amount wasn’t huge, but for someone used to bi-weekly paychecks, receiving this windfall was a challenge. I asked our investment manager what a kid like me should do. He told me to take 25% and reward “Today Me” and use the remaining 75% and reward “Future Me”. I bought a nice new TV for Today Me, and invested the rest to eventually make a down payment on my first home for Future Me.


photo: Gabe Fisher

Gabe Fisher
Student in psychology and government; Claremont McKenna College

There is room for bulls and bears in the stock market, but not for pigs. I internalized this lesson from my lovely grandfather, a 93-year-old professional investment advisor who still follows the market. His message is simple: don’t be greedy by buying something speculative in the hope of making a quick buck. Buying such stocks is exciting and offers the possibility of quick gains, and it can be difficult to temper these emotions. However, I appreciate the delayed gratification. I try to be cautious. Buy quality stocks and hold them.


PHOTO: Jennie Ebihara

Jennie Ebihara
College of Social Studies and Economics; Wesleyan University

Patience has always been my mother’s favorite virtue to pass on. This ethic was practiced in the small things of my daily life, whether it was waiting for everyone to be seated at the table before dinner, waiting in line for the train to arrive during rush hour, or patiently solving a problem afterwards. problem to perfect a certain mathematical concept. So, it was instinctive that patience became my formula for success with money and investing. Especially as a youngster who has the advantage of time, I learned how accumulating passive/long-term investments by buying and holding securities for a long time is one of the safest and most rewarding ways to accumulate wealth and learn more about money.


photo: Kamilah Furqan

Kamilah Furqan
MBA Student, Loyola Marymount University

When I was growing up, my father often said to me, “An ounce of prevention is better than cure. This proverb has proven to be a valuable lesson that I apply to all aspects of my life, including personal finances. Both of my parents stressed to me the importance of how the financial decisions you make today (such as budgeting, saving, building credit, investing, etc.) can impact your your life in the future. As a freelancer and graduate student, I now understand the importance of taking concrete steps to properly plan and manage debt to reduce any long-term effects or challenges I may face on my journey to building wealth. .


photo: Kristen Fillmore

Kristen Fillmore
Wealth Management Advisor; Stockbridge, Mich.

One of the most valuable money lessons I learned came from my father. He taught me that very early in life, and it really helped me lay a good foundation for financial success. The lesson is somewhat two-fold – put savings first and live within my means. I learned to take at least the first 15% of my paychecks and immediately put them into savings. For internships and summer jobs, before I was eligible for retirement accounts, this meant that a portion of my paychecks were deposited directly into my savings account. Once I started my full-time career, I set myself up to defer over 15% of my salary directly into my 401(k). This strategy helped me to live within my means because I didn’t even have the chance to touch this part of my income. I also didn’t have to consciously think about savings, because once I settled in, the savings would automatically happen from my paychecks.


PHOTO: Peter Zhi

Stone Zhi
MBA Student, NYU Stern School of Business

I was introduced to passive investing in index funds right out of college by a good friend. Passive investing is a great way to build wealth over time with minimal effort and risk, especially for young professionals who can benefit from compounding early on. It can also be a great gateway to active, algorithmic investing for the more inclined.


photo: Sadia Ayaz

Sadia Ayaz
Student in cultural anthropology and biology; duke university

A mentor once encouraged me to take an active role in learning personal finance. I found myself gravitating to the articles and having conversations with the people closest to me. At the beginning of your professional career, concepts such as “401(k)” or “Roth IRA” can often seem foreign. As we discussed in the cohort, educating yourself about retirement funds at an early age can have huge benefits down the line. Although each individual’s financial journey is different, an attitude of constant learning about personal finance is universally meritorious.


photo: Tyler Corso

Tyler Corso
Associate Product Manager; Oakville, ON

When it comes to money and spending, my mom taught me a valuable lesson about credit cards, which I originally learned from her dad. If you don’t have enough money in your bank account to buy something without a credit card, you can’t afford to buy it. The lesson here is to avoid overspending using a credit card just because that money isn’t due today. Treating the balance as it’s owed today helps reduce expenses and alleviate future problems with credit card debt.

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