Be nice to Mom and Dad and study up for financial life after college

Michelle Singletary
Columnist May 30, 2013

They’ve done it. They’ve graduated from college. The question is have they gotten a good financial education, too?

Michelle Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column, “The Color of Money.” View Archive

Many haven’t. So, Wall Street Journal reporter Karen Blumenthal offers recent grads tips on how to excel financially outside of the classroom.

I love her first tip. “Be nice to your parents,” she writes. I’m going to save this article and send it to my daughter when she graduates from college in four years.

And why should they be nice?

“In addition to giving you a place to stay until you find a job, they might pay for your health insurance,” she writes. “Under the Affordable Care Act, young people can stay on a parent’s health-insurance plan through age 25.”

Other tips:

--Pay down student debt as soon as you can. “Debt is such a burden that it’s worth scrimping for a few years, and even delaying graduate school, to pay off at least some of the debt. That will save you in interest costs and give you far more flexibility in your later twenties and beyond.” Amen, sister!

-- Use your social network to help increase your net worth. Blumenthal says: “Don’t post your bank balance or salary online — that’s tacky — but don’t be shy about asking other recent grads what they pay for rent, car insurance or Internet service. Remember what you learned in college: It’s good to be friends with someone who did the homework.”

Color of Money Question of the Week

What one piece of financial advice would you give to a recent college graduate? Send your advice to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Put “Financial Life After College” in the subject line. Please include your full name, city and state.

Chat Today

Join me today at noon ET for my live online discussion.

My guest will be Ellen Miley Perry, author of “A Wealth of Possibilities: Navigating Family, Money, and Legacy,” which was the Color of Money Book Club selection this month.

As George Clooney says in the movie “The Descendants” you should “give your children enough money to do something but not enough to do nothing,” Here’s my review of the book .

If you can’t join the chat live, send your questions in early.

“Marketplace Money”

If you didn’t hear this great American Public Media segment last weekend on adult children living at home, you still can listen. I was interviewed by Adriene Hill of “Marketplace Money” to discuss the trend of adult children who aren’t financially ready to leave the nest. My comments might surprise you.

Listen here.

Graduates Want Job Training

A recent report by consulting firm Accenture found that graduates want more on-the-job training than employers are offering.

Seventy-seven percent of pending 2013 college graduates expect their first employer to provide formal training to develop their skills. But 48 percent of 2011/2012 graduates reported that they actually received such training on their first job, according to Accenture 2013 College Graduate Employment Survey.

In addition, despite their degrees, 63 percent of recent college graduates say they will need more training in order to get their desired job.

“Companies should identify and hire workers based not only on current skills but also on potential—then make the commitment to develop the specific suites of skills those employees will need to make an impact on organizational performance over time,” wrote report authors David Smith and Katherine LaVelle.

More Than A Degree

When it comes to employers, they aren’t so impressed with the current pool of recent college graduates, according to a survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s “Marketplace.”

The report found that 42 percent of employers surveyed said it was difficult to find qualified graduates; 11 percent said it was very difficult.

“Nearly a third gave colleges just fair to poor marks for producing successful employees,” reports the Chronicle’s Karin Fisher. “And they dinged bachelor’s-degree holders for lacking basic workplace proficiencies, like adaptability, communication skills, and the ability to solve complex problems.”

What do the colleges have to say for themselves?

“While some institutions tout their career centers, internship offerings, and academic programs designed with industry input, others argue that workplace skills ought to be taught on the job,” Fisher writes. “Higher education is meant to educate broadly, not train narrowly, they say: It’s business that’s asking too much.”

Do you agree?

Should colleges focus on getting student ready for a job or just educating broadly, or both?

Send your comments to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Put “More than a degree” in the subject line. Please include your full name, city and state.

RGIII Wedding Gift Gaffe

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III got some backlash for accepting gifts from fans from his Bed Bath & Beyond wedding registry. Griffin posted a picture of himself standing in front of his wedding loot.

For last week’s Color of Money Question, I asked: “What do you think of gift registries and the response to Griffin’s gift explosion?”

“The choice of gift is ultimately up to the giver,” wrote Mimi Carvalho of Waverly, Tenn. “However, many people ask if you’re registered somewhere because they want to give something that is needed and will be used. I’m one of those people who frets over giving something that’s meaningful, appropriate, and will be used, so the registry is at least useful for ideas. One should be considerate and register for items in a variety of price ranges.”

Kathy Alderton of Hagerstown, Md., is a huge RGIII fan but is very disappointed with his latest gaffe.

“I understand that he did not ask for these gifts,” Alderton wrote. “But when it became apparent that people who are strangers to him and his fiance were sending these registry items, I wish he would have issued a statement of thanks with a request that no further gifts be purchased by fans. He might even have added the explanation that they are already blessed with so much and while he appreciates the thought, a congratulations card would be more appropriate.”

Facebook reader, Andar Eel, wrote: “I don’t think any celebrity should accept anything from their fans . . . They have enough free stuff from all over the world. I’m sure RG3 could afford the $499.99 wicker table set. . . INSTEAD perhaps direct those fans to donate to the Skins Charitable Foundation.”

@AVGJOhanna tweeted: “@SingletaryM Not judging but it was an odd pic bc he looked a little greedy given his means, right?”

@Mochagold118 disagreed. She tweeted, “@SingletaryM Why is that an issue? The fans are not shopping under duress and are fully aware of his earning potentials, smh!”

Tia Lewis contributed to this report.

Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or michelle.singletary@washpost.com.
com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to postbusiness.com. Follow Michelle Singletary on Twitter @SingletaryM.

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