Students and professionals share life lessons in personal finance

At the end of our fourth week WSJ noted. Counselors Group On the topic of personal finance, we asked our counselors to reflect on the lessons they have learned that have shaped their financial lives.

Whether it’s creating a healthy relationship to spend, living within your means, or having open conversations about money, our advisors share insights that can come in handy at any stage of your financial journey.

Photo: Alex Gharianias

Alex Gerias
Client’s own investment partner; Naples, Florida.

Healthy spending is just as important as saving and investing in your overall financial plan. Learning to enjoy the money you’ve earned includes spending it on things that bring you happiness. I feel that sometimes it can be easy to spend too much on things that don’t add value to your life or spend too little on just the necessities. If you can budget for both your wants and needs, you give yourself the freedom to enjoy spending money in ways that are more enjoyable and meaningful to you.

Photo: Andrew Estella

Andrew Estella
analyst; New York, New York

The valuable money lesson I learned was about investing in the future. I learned that it is very important to invest for an extended period of time and to really benefit from the power of compounding, and to support the idea of ​​investing as soon as possible to be in a position to make future gains. At the same time, this comes with risk and it is important that you never invest more than you are able to lose. While staying in the market will be beneficial over time, you must be comfortable with bearing short-term pullbacks and bouts of volatility in order to reap the benefits in the long-term.


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Photo: Constance Beckford

Constance Bickford
Linguistics student at the University of California, Berkeley

My financial lessons came from learning what not to do by watching family members make poor decisions. Like a relative in an abusive marriage but unable to leave because she didn’t have the money to support herself. Or seeing older relatives still work menial jobs into their 70s because they don’t have a retirement plan or high-paying skills. I want to live abundantly and freely in all stages of my life without financial problems. And the only way to not care about money is to have too much of it.


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Photo: Dale Hall

dale hall
actuarial; Bloomington, Illinois.

A few years into my career, I had the opportunity to join our company’s investment department to undertake projects that combine investments and actuarial analysis. For the first time ever, I received my coveted annual bonus check. The amount wasn’t huge but for someone who was used to getting bi-weekly stipends, receiving these windfalls was a challenge. I asked our investment manager what a young man like me should do. He told me to take 25% of it and reward ‘Today Me’ and use the remaining 75% and reward ‘Future Me’. I bought a nice new TV for Today Me, and invested the rest to make a down payment on my first home for Future Me.


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Photo: Gaby Fisher

Gaby Fisher
Psychology and government student. Claremont McKenna College

There is room for bulls and bears in the stock market, but not pigs. I learned this lesson from my lovely grandfather, a 93-year-old professional investment advisor who still follows the market. Its message is simple: Don’t be greedy by buying something speculative in the hope of making a quick profit. Buying stocks like this is exciting and offers the potential for quick gains, and it can be hard to quell these feelings. I do, however, appreciate the belated gratification. I try to exercise wisdom. Buy and keep high quality stocks.


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Photo: Jenny Ebihara

Jenny Ebihara
Faculty of Social Studies and Economics; Wesleyan University

Patience has always been my mother’s favorite virtue to compromise. These manners were practiced in the little things of my daily life, whether that was by waiting for everyone to sit down at the dining table before dinner, standing in line for the train to come during rush hours, or patiently solving problem after problem. Mastering a specific mathematical concept. Thus, it was instinctive that patience became my hostile to success in terms of money and investing. As a young person with the advantage of time, I learned how accumulating passive/long-term investments by buying and holding securities for a long time is one of the safest and most rewarding ways to accumulate wealth and learn about money.


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Photo: Kamla Furqan

as a furqan worker
MBA Student at Loyola Marymount University

When I was growing up, my father would often say to me, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This proverb has proven to be a valuable lesson that I apply to all aspects of my life, including personal finance. My parents emphasized to me the importance that the financial decisions you make today (such as budgeting, saving, building credit, investing, etc.) can affect your life in the future. As a freelancer and graduate student, I now realize the importance of taking actionable steps in properly planning and managing debt to minimize any long-term impacts or challenges I may face on my wealth building journey.


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Photo: Kristen Fillmore

Kristen Fillmore
wealth management advisor; Stockbridge, Michigan.

One of the most important money lessons I learned came from my father. He taught me that early in his life, and it really helped me lay a good foundation for financial success. The lesson is somewhat twofold – put savings first, and live within my means. I have learned to take at least the first 15% of my salary and immediately put it into savings. For internships and summer jobs, before I was eligible for retirement accounts, this meant having a portion of my salary deposited directly into my savings account. Once I started my full-time career, I set myself up to defer over 15% of my salary directly to a 401(k). This strategy helped me live within my means because I did not have the opportunity to even touch that part of the income. I also didn’t have to consciously think about saving because once I set myself up, the savings would automatically check into my paycheck.


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Photo: Peter Zee

Peter Z
MBA Student, New York University Stern School of Business

I was introduced to passive investing in index funds right after college by a good friend. Passive investing is a great way to build wealth over time with minimal effort and risk, especially for young professionals who can take advantage of doubling down early. It can also be an excellent portal for active algorithmic investing for those more inclined.


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Cinematography: Saadia Ayaz

Saadia Ayaz
Student of Anthropology and Cultural Biology. Duke University

A mentor once encouraged me to take an active part in learning about personal finance. I found myself drawn towards articles and having conversations with the people closest to me. As you begin your career, concepts like “401(k)” or “Roth IRA” can often seem foreign. As we discussed in the group, educating yourself about retirement funds at a young age can have a huge payoff going forward. While each individual’s financial journey is different, the attitude to continuous learning about personal finance deserves worldwide recognition.


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Pictured: Tyler Corso

Tyler Corso
associate product manager; Oakville, Ontario

Regarding money and spending, I received a valuable lesson on credit cards from my mother, which I originally learned from her father. If you don’t have enough money in your bank account to buy something without a credit card, you can’t afford to buy it. The lesson here is to avoid overspending with a credit card just because that money isn’t due today. By treating the balance as it is due today, it helps reduce spending and mitigate future issues with credit card debt.

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