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Money Lessons From a (Not-So) Recent College Graduate

June 19, 2018

A commencement speech to my former self.

3 min read

Greetings, Emily, Class of [Redacted in case the CW is considering me for a role on Riverdale]:

Oh, the places you’ll go… broke!

So much lies ahead of you, young Emily! It’s exciting! But expensive. I’d love to offer some financial advice—tidbits I never expected but learned along the way—to make your journey into adulthood a little easier.

Ask for raises.

You’ll go through your 20s reading about how women make less than men, but somehow think these stories are not about you. They are about you. No one is going to hate you for asking for more money. Sure, it may be momentarily uncomfortable, but you WILL get more, and it’ll all be worth it.

Trust me, at an exit interview at age 30, an HR rep will even tell you that you should have asked for more.

Don’t buy high heels.

You always think you’ll “grow into liking them,” but you never will. Don’t waste so much of your money on aspirational accessories and tight dresses. They’ll sit in the back of the closet collecting dust FOREVER.

Ditch the weird Groupons.

You’ll spend your 20s wasting money on boudoir photo sessions and skiing lessons. Honey, this isn’t you. You’re a sweatpants, cheese, and poolside kinda gal, and you will let all of these Groupons expire. Hundreds of dollars, thrown into the wind!

Stay on your parents’ phone plan!

At 24, you’ll feel that the only way to truly untether yourself from your parents is to sever all financial ties—and that includes the phone plan. Don’t do it! You’re too young! It’s a cold, cruel world, and if mom and dad offer to pay your phone bill until 27, LET THEM! You’ll have enough to worry about as it is!

Pay your credit card bill every month.

Debt multiplies, which makes crawling out from under it extremely difficult. Don’t let any money sit in your checking account when you have a credit card balance, you silly fool!

Free isn’t always “FREE.”

One super annoying thing about your 20s is that you’re going to get nickel and dimed by services that give you a free trial period and then charge your credit card when it ends. For many years, you’ll totally forget you signed up for all this junk, and then one day realize that they’ve been slowly draining your bank account without you even realizing. That is a sad day.

Say “I can’t afford it.”

In your 20s, you’ll date a few fancy men who like the finer things. Good for them, but you don’t have the means to indulge the way they do. To save face, you’ll spend more money than you should on superfluous nonsense. You don’t have to do that. You don’t end up with those guys, anyway. (You end up with a really great guy who LOVES A DEAL!)

Don’t be a stereotype.

Why are you so bad at parking your car?! Dude—READ THE SIGNS! You’re going to get towed and ticketed, like, 10 billion times! If you learn to parallel park now, you won’t convince yourself that parking in someone else’s driveway is “totally fine,” and save at least $1,000.

And finally…

When everyone else is dying their hair crazy colors, don’t dye yours pink. It turns out to be really expensive, and it ruins your silky mane. Just stay a redhead, and save yourself the financial (and emotional) heartache.

I’m so excited for you to learn about Venmo! Now, go get ‘em!

Emily, 2018

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By Emily Winter
Emily Winter is a writer and comedian in New York. She's written for TV Land, Glamour and Fusion TV.

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