1. Money Isn’t One-Size-Fits-All “Our motto is that personal finance is personal,” Rhodes says.
In other words, there are no hard and fast rules that work for everybody.
“Instead, you have to learn basic financial principles—such as spending less than you earn—to make the right choices for your own situation, regardless of what others are doing,” he explains.
2. Time Is Your Biggest (Money) Ally O.K., there is one absolute that’s right for everyone: Start saving—now! In fact, the Money Professors advise all of their pupils to start putting money into a retirement plan on day one of their post-grad career life.
“Most twentysomethings say they can’t afford to do so right now,” Weitzel says. “But by starting from the first day of their first job, they’ll end up having to save a lot less in order to retire comfortably.”
3. Ditch the Joneses At the start of each semester, the professors ask the class if they think most people are financially successful—and the students overwhelmingly say no.
“If most people aren’t financially successful, then it makes sense to stop doing what most people do,” Pratt explains. “Just because everyone else is getting a new car every five years doesn’t mean you should.”
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4. Talk Money With Loved Ones The trio actually spends a significant portion of their course discussing relationships. The reason? “You can’t divorce your life from your money,” Rhodes says. “Your finances bleed over into your spiritual, social and relational life.”
As a result, students learn to openly discuss financial goals with siblings, parents and partners. One undergrad even told the Money Professors that when her boyfriend proposed, her answer was yes—with one caveat. He had to take their class first!
5. Expect to Make Mistakes—but Don’t Make the Mistake of Not Having a Plan Most people spend their twenties messing up their money, their thirties trying to figure out what they did wrong, their forties trying to dig out of the hole, and their fifties trying to catch up for retirement, Weitzel says.
“But if you focus on money now, you avoid having to focus on money later,” Rhodes says, adding that’s why he recommends grads arm themselves early on with a personalized financial plan to guide them through the decades.
“You might still mess up in your twenties,” Rhodes explains. “But you’ll have the information you need to change course quickly—so you can spend your thirties building wealth instead.”