Congrats to all the graduates.  Whether it is High School, College, a Masters or a Doctorate degree, I admire your dedication and hard work to achieve your personal success.

Contrary to what you have been told, having a degree does not ensure your financial success in the future.

Today, roughly 10,000 Boomers exit the workforce every day, which should present an opportunity in and of itself for Millennials to backfill the depleting workforce. Census data tell a different story. In 2016, median personal income for workers aged 24 to 34 was $35,000. In modern dollar terms, that same age cohort was earning $37,000 in 1975.

It’s difficult to square lower earnings with the educational makeup of the labor force. In 1975, 23 % of young workers had earned a bachelor’s degree. Forty years on, 37 % have achieved the same. Shouldn’t that improvement have lifted per capita earnings?

It comes down to comparative advantage. In the 1970’s, it was easy enough for a younger, better-educated worker to displace an older, less-educated and therefore less-qualified older worker. Today’s workforce is largely educated and intent on working longer.  At the same time, the double whammy of technological innovation and globalization have reduced the aggregate demand for warm bodies.

Less well known is that the earnings advantage associated with a bachelor’s degree compared with a high school diploma is no longer growing like it once did. Census data show that the average annual earnings differential between high school and four-year college graduates rose sharply, to $32,900 in 2000 (expressed in 2015 dollars) from $19,776 in 1975—only to fall to $29,867 by 2015.

Only you can control and achieve your financial success.  I found that successful graduates have discipline about their financial life.

In a letter to my nephew, I wrote to him about being financially successful.  This became the Financial Olympian™ Creed.


Save 10% of your gross pay each pay period until you have a year’s gross salary. This will be your emergency and base for lifetime savings, and over the years you will realize how important this simple step is.

Participate in your retirement plan provided by your company beginning with your first day. Start with at least 3% and increase each year by 1% until you are contributing the maximum. If your company does not have a retirement plan, then start an IRA and follow the same plan.

DO NOT USE CREDIT CARDS – They are a cancer on your financial health and rob you of opportunity and your future.  Do not carry a balance on your credit card.  You might have heard that you need to accumulate debt on your credit card to build up a good credit history.  That’s just not true.

Live Below Your Means – You cannot spend every dollar you make and become financially independent.  Now is the time to learn to live on less.

Give Regularly – If the question running through your head as you read this is, “I am barely making ends meet and I am trying to live the first four parts of the Financial Olympian™ Creed and you want me to DONATE?” Then take a deep breath and reorder your priorities.

Giving is a learned experience.  Maybe you are working on changing your life and meeting the Financial Olympian™ Creed.  Giving can be in dollars and in time.  If you wait until you have paid all your bills, giving will be forgotten.  Make giving your time or your money a priority.

If you need more knowledge about becoming a Financial Olympian™ or know a recent graduate that you would like to support in becoming financially wise, then I would recommend you forward this email to them as a first step.

The second step is to buy, read and embrace 99 personal money management principles to live by in Why Didn’t They Teach Me This In School by Cary Siegel.

Thanks, to former Tannery & Company Wealth Manager Bob Knode CFP®, for the book recommendation.

As the proportion of adult Americans with college degrees grows beyond one-third, being a college graduate no longer necessarily denotes exceptional vocational promise. The bachelor’s degree is not the reliable signaling device it once was.

How can Tannery & Company support you? 

We help you keep track of all your financial information; checking, savings, credit cards, retirement accounts, school loans, mortgages and more.  Our Blueleaf client service allows you to track your net worth on your Personal Financial Dashboard and become engaged in your finances.

Whether you just graduated or graduated years ago, taking your finances for granted is not the way to become a Financial Olympian™.

Want to try our client system?  Are you interested in how Blueleaf works? For your free trial of Blueleaf sign up here.

Enjoy your summer weekend!



Click here to schedule an appointment? 

Michael Tannery CPA CDFA® AIF® ●  CEO
Registered Principal

Be A Financial Olympian™


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