Commencement Speech

You've Made It

Good afternoon. First, let me begin by saying that congratulations are in order ... you've made it! You've worked hard to accomplish a difficult goal, you've proven you could stick with the task at hand, and now you have finally graduated!

So today is a time for celebration, for looking back on what you have accomplished and acknowledging the dedication and hard work that got you to this juncture.

But it's also a time to look toward the future ... your new frontier. Some real world questions now present themselves ... where do you go from here, and how are you going to get there?

Maybe you were lucky enough to have your college costs paid for you. Perhaps you had to work to support yourself through the past four years, or you might have received assistance through a scholarship or loan program. But regardless of how you paid for college, you already know the high cost of your education – for tuition and books, for housing and clothes, plus transportation and incidentals. As the saying goes, the best things in life ARE free. However, many other good things in life – just like your college education – require money in order to secure them.

With graduation behind you, it's an appropriate time for setting some new goals for yourself. No matter what those goals are now, whether short term or long term, you will need financial planning and stability to achieve them. This will be true whether you are beginning your career, starting a family, opening your own business, traveling around the world, working on a new invention, or buying your own home.

So, now that you've finished your academic training, it's time to ensure your financial literacy. Being financial literate will enable you to skillfully deal with the challenges of the world beyond the university campus. As you leave your parents, guardians, professors, and mentors to create a life on your own, you will want to take fiscal responsibility for yourself and become financially self-sufficient.

But just how do you accomplish this? The answer is straightforward. You do it by applying many of the same methods that made you successful in college: learning from experts in the field, knowing where to find resources to help you, being disciplined in your approach, and working hard to meet your new life objectives. It's time to learn those life-long skills that will help you succeed financially.

  • You can begin planning for your financial future by understanding your options. Learn how to obtain financial support for your next venture: to further your education, apply for a small business or car loan, secure a home mortgage, or even pay for your wedding.

  • You'll be well on your way toward achieving your financial goals if you practice good money management, spend money wisely, and stick to a budget.

  • You can improve your life tremendously by practicing thrift and using credit wisely. You can also avail yourself of debt counseling if you have student loans to pay off.

  • And you can help ensure your financial future by saving money, building wealth, and developing creditworthiness.

Above all, use the skills you've honed from your college experience to become an educated financial consumer. Take advantage of the many resources in the financial world that can help you with money-related information and free financial education programs. Your local credit union is a great place to start. This new kind of education – this financial literacy – will help you navigate in the real world, whether you're interested in pursuing an additional degree, becoming a homeowner, starting a business, or investing your money.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Use the intellectual curiosity that has driven you over the past four years to learn all you can about planning for your financial future. Financial preparedness is the key to reaching that next milestone in your life, and the world awaits you! Good luck!

Helping Gen-Y

This speech was written as part of our submission to NerdWallet's Gen Y Credit Union Contest.
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