by Larry Patrick
Congratulations to all of the high school seniors that are graduating in the days and weeks ahead. You have more to be proud of than you might even imagine. For those seniors that aren’t graduating, my best advice is to not give up and keep trying. Graduation from high school is the first positive step to adulthood.
Some of you are going to go on to college, be it a 4-year, 2-year or vocational school. Others of you are ready to tackle the working world. Education has always been important and is even more so now in this global society. Much has changed since I graduated many years ago, and for you to stay competitive in today’s marketplace, learning needs to be a life-long goal.
There are many ways to learn today. Attending college in person is the most active way of doing things. However, besides college and the school of hard knocks, I’ve learned an awful lot through attending seminars and listening to tapes in the car on all kinds of subjects. If they gave degrees for listening to motivational and sales tapes in my vehicle’s tape player all of these years, I’d have a degree from “Auto University.” These days many people with busy schedules have done well with on-line college courses.
One thing you will learn right away in having graduated from high school is that you have made your parents and other family members very proud. They have worked hard and spent a lot of money in raising you. They may not have always been able to give you everything you wanted but they instilled the importance of getting an education to prepare you for life ahead, which will have its ups and downs. So thank your parents, grandparents or guardians and appreciate the time and the money they spent going to games or other activities with you or giving up their time and money to help give you a positive start in life. Graduation is about you but you have had a lot of help along the way.
While graduation is a positive step and is to be enjoyed right now, let me pass along one of the things they don’t teach in high school or college so you can be prepared for it. It is about the 45-year plan. The what? I know, you’ve never heard of it. Basically the 45-year plan starts when you get out of high school or college and begin working for a living. For some it will be a 50-year plan.
You hear about our standard of living in this country and many of the opportunities we have. It is true but not as easy to obtain as educators or the government would have you think. According to Social Security statistics, out of every 100 people who strive to get to retirement age (which keeps getting higher) in the greatest nation on earth:
• 1 out of 100 will retire with an income of $100,000 or more per year after turning 65 or whatever the retirement age will be then.
• 4 out of 100 will retire with an income of $30,000-$40,000 per year after retiring.
• 28 out of 100 people will not live to retire. (Insurance tables are based on this fact).
• 5 out of 100 will be working after the age of retirement because they didn’t make enough money during the 45-year plan. (I know some people don’t like retirement and work because they want to. But most have to. Otherwise they would be mostly volunteering after 65).
• 62 out of 100 people in America will still be working paycheck to paycheck when retirement comes. They’re not making it on regular pay let alone take a pay cut with social security only.
Some people may resent or want to deny those statistics but all you have to do is look around you. Many hardworking, well meaning people have not enjoyed financial success, not just because they made financial mistakes or had lower paying jobs, but because the system doesn’t work well for the average person. So you have to be prepared!
What do these grim statistics tell you? It is important to get an education, it is important to save & invest money and it is vitally important to live within your means. Doing so can help put you in the top 5 out of 100 people at retirement time. I know that retirement is a long time off, but preparing for it now by doing the right things will help make for a successful, satisfying and less-stress free life. It is important to have the information up front in order to be prepared.
Now that I’ve thrown a scare into you about the real world, just know that graduating will help you to face it. There are many exciting opportunities ahead and reaching adulthood is something you have strived for, for many years. It’s not always what it’s chalked up to be but it gives you the chance to make more of your own decisions, your own mistakes and learn and grow from them. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. You have taken a giant step to success but it only the first step. Keep looking forward and remember that sometimes you stumble in moving forward. Also remember that your loved ones have life experiences to help you. So don’t be afraid to keep listening. Reach out and be the best that you can be. You just may find that you end up having accomplished more than you or your high school classmates ever thought was possible. That’s part of the fun of returning for high school reunions.