They Lied To You
Go to school, get good grades, get a degree, and you are destined for a good job and success. Does that sound familiar to you? It is something that youth have been told for generations. Unfortunately, many followed that advice and found out that it doesn’t work that way in the real world. Sure it was sufficient advice for those in my grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ generations, but it doesn’t apply today.
“When you get a degree you are entitled to a good job.”
Many college graduates buy into the notion that if you get a degree you are entitled to a good job. WAKE UP! You are not entitled to anything! In America, the only thing you’re entitled to is an opportunity, and sometimes that is the opportunity to go out an find a way to create income on your own. The majority of college graduates end up working jobs that are not even related to their degree.
Unemployment is also a big issue right now among recent graduates. There have even been protests lately because so many college graduates have taken on so much debt from student loans, and they can not get a job when they get out of school, but they are expected to start paying those loans back. Many are choosing to default, or just not pay their student loans. I certainly understand the outrage from these graduates who have been lied to, but protesting is not proactive. The proactive thing to do is find a temporary job while you’re looking for the one you want, or you can create some income with a business of your own. There are several low-cost start up options; everything from eBay to network marketing, to internet marketing/affiliate marketing, and more.
“Go to work for a company for thirty or forty years and they will take care of you.”
Even those who can find a good job out of school are discovering another problem. No one works for the same company for thirty or forty years anymore! I challenge you to find someone who has worked for the same company that long. Try to find someone under forty who has been with the same company for even ten years! The average employee today is changing jobs every few years. Only a small minority of employees are with the same company for ten or more years.
“Invest all you can in your company’s 401k to build your financial future.”
Investing in your company’s 401k is not a bad idea. In fact I recommend to my clients that they invest as much as their company will match. Even if it is held in a money market cash account you are still making a good return on investment. Where you have to be careful is when you are only allowed to invest in your company’s stock. There is added risk when that is the case. If the company runs into problems, the stock will take a hit, thus so does your 401k, and if they have to lay employees off, you could end up losing your job and having your 401k hit at the same time.
The other risk is what we saw happen with Enron. Although this is not the norm, it is a risk. Even if the company is legit, it can still go under, and the stock (and your 401k) will be worthless. This is why it is always important to diversify you investments, and do your homework on all of your holdings, even if it is a company you work for. If you are a good investor, and do your homework, you may find that you know more about the company than your boss does.
Most of these ideas worked at one time. Generations ago this was good advice. But today, it no longer applies. It is up to you to take charge of your life and design the future you want. It will take more responsibility and a little more effort than it did before, but you can do it.