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Nerd Wallet Gen Y Credit Union Contest Commencement Speech

Generation Y;  Also known as the echo boomers and the millennial generation.  They are said to be the second largest of all generations since the baby boomers.   Known for their ambition, willingness to improve and understanding of technology, Gen Y should be acknowledged as the future leaders of our country. 

With all of the positives lined up in favor of Gen Y, we must not forget that this generation is still gaining skill, strength, and knowledge about the “real world”…so they call it:  and no, we are not talking about the Real World television show on MTV.  The real world as we know it consists of hard work, planning ahead, working, paying bills, working, and did we mention working hard? Start young, work hard while you can, save your money, and plan your future by building a strong financial foundation.  The chances of you succeeding financially in the long run will be much greater.  The hard part is that Gen Y values rapid progress, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Who wouldn’t want to see the benefits transpire immediately? 

Good news! The first step in learning how to be financially successful is to understand the concept of money.  Do your research!  Weigh out your options; compare savings account rates at credit unions and banks.  You may be surprised with your findings.  A credit union usually has just as much to offer you as a regular bank when it comes to services.  Interest rates are usually higher for savings, checking and savings plans.   Interest rates for loans are usually lower.  The benefits of being a share owner at your local credit union definitely out-weigh the so called benefits at other financial institutions. 

Build your foundation by establishing good credit as soon as possible.  Making sure that you have good credit is vital when you reach adulthood.  Credit ratings will determine your ability to purchase a vehicle, purchase a home and obtain a credit card.    They say that no credit is worse than bad credit.  And they’re right.  A credit rating states that you have proven some type of history, good or bad.  Of course you will want to maintain good history for repayment.  No credit says that you have zero history, nothing for a lender to judge you on.  Before signing any credit card agreements it is a good idea to examine all credit card interest rates, annual or monthly fees, perks as well as rewards programs.  If you are confused about any of the literature please ask; no question is a stupid question. 

Your credit score is based on a few key factors such as; how long it will take you to pay back your debts, how you maintain your balance, and avoid late payments (you should consider keeping your credit card balances at least 50% or less than your available amount). It’s pretty simple if you think about it, think of it as borrowing money from your parents only thing is, if you over borrow, forget to pay or don’t pay them back at all, your chances of ever borrowing from them again are extremely slim.  The best way to start building credit is to apply for a fully secured credit card or loan.  The amount of your limit will depend on how much you can afford to be put on hold in your account.  Example:  You have $500 from your high school graduation money, you can choose to save it, spend it, or save and build your credit at the same time.  Your choice! 

Thinking about renting a new place after college, dorm rooms just won’t be as cool as they once were when you were a freshman.  Rental agencies will require credit checks to ensure that you have maintained good history with other creditors. Credit also plays a huge role when thinking of making a large purchase such as a new car or home.  Now that you know just how important credit is please do not forget that credit is very easy to obtain but good credit can be difficult to maintain.

Think of what will benefit you in the long run, yeah, yeah, yeah, YOLO this YOLO that, You Only Live Once that’s the motto, you are young, you deserve to have fun and do what you want when you want, but seriously what will you do if you live your entire life based off of the lyrics in a Young Money song.  It is true, you do only live once, but those lyrics were based off of the motto of young rappers.  We all aren’t as lucky to be living such an extravagant lifestyle, however, if you plan ahead, you will find that your chances of living a financially stable or wealthy lifestyle are much greater.  Ask mom and dad for a fully secured credit card to be in your name.  Not only can you purchase all of your essentials for school, you will also be helping your future! Talk about instant rewards, right! You gain credit, if you select the best credit card company available you may even gain points or rewards through the credit card company.   

More money, more problems, the statement is as true as you make it to be.  Once you have established yourself and have obtained the degree of your choice the next step is finding a career.  Finding a job can be tough right out of college even with a BA. Here comes the credit issue again! Another reason why credit is so crucial, some employers may require a credit check to make sure that you are able to handle finances properly.  You should also ask your employer about retirement plans such as a 401k.  If your employer offers some sort of retirement plan you should definitely think about starting your retirement! Yes, we know, you’re young why in the world would you need to save money that you can’t even spend till you’re in your 60’s! It may sound crazy but, by starting young and preparing yourself for your future is crucial.  To put it in simplest terms, work hard while you can, so you can relax later in life.  You wouldn’t want to be working hard at the age of 70; that would be outrageous. 

While in college you should be an expert at budgeting! Budgeting is the key.   You must always keep in mind to never spend more than what you make or have.  While in school your parents will most likely control your budget.  College is not cheap, especially if you plan to attend a university outside of your home state.  If you can manage to live off of the budget that your parents give you while attending school, why wouldn’t you be able to live by the same budget out of school?

It is also a good idea to keep a savings account active.  We call it PYF, Pay Yourself First! It’s simple, we all know with becoming an adult also comes bills.  For example, your parents probably will not want to have you on their cell phone plan forever, so now that you have become a young adult you have earned a cell phone bill.  Now that you are on your own you have also incurred a few other monthly bills such as, rent and living expenses (like food or gas).  Once you have deducted all of your monthly expenses from your paycheck you may have some money left over.  Take what you will need, and anything more you should PAY YOURSELF FIRST! Place the leftover money into your savings account, even if it is just a few dollars.  After a while you will notice your savings account will slowly begin to grow.  The more you can afford to “pay yourself,” the better off you will be in the long run.  Hey, and who knows you just may need some extra money one month for an unexpected expense.  Saving money is a very hard task for some, so hard that some people can go through their entire lives with little to no savings.  If you can start this habit at a young age you will reap all of the benefits in the long run. 

Always remember to stay clear of any quick cash schemes and/or payday loan establishments.  Interest rates and other fees may be very costly.  Remember to always do your research!  There are many credit unions and financial institutions that want to help you. Fortunately in your day and age, your fellow peers do the research for you.  Companies like provide all of the essential information for you to make the final decision on where you would like to bank, where you can obtain a credit card with low interest rates, where to invest your money, and more!  Technology is crazy scary these days, some of us still do not understand how the internet can provided tons of information in a split second.  Luckily we have you Gen Y, the technology generation, the internet babies, the millennial’s, to lead the way, to teach all of those who are considered to be “old school,” the new and improved ways to better navigate through life. 

Gen Y, a generation whose limits are endless, whose ambition and motivation exceeds all other generations in the past.  You hold the key to our success as a whole, although impatient at times no one ever said that benefiting from your work immediately was a bad thing.  Stay focused, work hard, believe in your goals and make them happen for you.  Perfect example is the creation of Facebook, who knew a college student only website would bloom into one of the largest social media websites of our lifetime!  By building healthy financial habits and determination to be successful along with the gen y ambition you will succeed in all that you put your mind to.  Never give up on what you want most in life, given all of the resources and knowledge be sure that you set yourself up for success in the long run.

This speech was written as part of our submission to NerdWallet’s Gen y Credit Union Contest.  #GenYCreditUnion


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