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This Week in Your Wallet: Degrees Worth the Dime (and Debt)

Did you catch University of Connecticut’s graduation address by NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio from space? (If not, you can check it out here.) That was a memorable one. As was First Lady Michelle Obama’s at Dillard University on Saturday, in which she urged graduates to always stay hungry for education. You see education shouldn’t just stop when you receive your diploma in the mail. Staying hungry to learn (and to succeed) will lead to open doors and financial freedom.

In her words: “No dream is too big, no vision is too bold. As long as we stay hungry for education and let that hunger be our North Star, there is nothing, graduates, nothing that we cannot achieve.”

Quite honestly, I remember who my commencement speaker was (Michael Brown — recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1985), but I have to tell you, I don’t remember what he said. I don’t think that’s his fault – it was about 100 degrees the day I graduated from college, and our ceremony was held outside on the football field. I was too sweaty to remember.

The fact that graduation season is upon us does have me thinking about guaranteeing what’s likely to be a pricey investment (in your future) is worth it. I’m a fan of liberal arts degrees (some of you may know I’m an English major), but if your kids are considering them, please encourage them to load up on internships so that they’ll be able to find a job when they get out. And if they’re willing to consider a more direct path, we found two stories this week that can help. Read on for more.

Degrees worth the d-word

Do your local coffee shops seem a bit more crowded lately? It’s finals time for schools across the country. If you know students who are on the home stretch and can’t see the light, remind them that their education will pay off. As for exactly how much, direct them to this recent piece from Kiplinger’s. As Kiplinger’s reports, the average high school graduate (25 years and older) will earn roughly $29,766 a year. Students working towards bachelor’s degrees can expect their median annual incomes to be $50,281, and those taking it a step higher with advanced degrees (i.e. masters) can look forward to annual earnings of $73,100.

Now, if you tell this to a graduate (school) student looking at years of paying back student loans, don’t expect a huge smile on his or her face. That’s why the magazine also looked at which advanced degrees are worth the debt by calculating how long it would take someone (with a job in a variety of fields) to pay it off. The research resulted in 10 degrees worth the d-word. For instance, graduate students working towards degrees in civil engineering, accounting or mathematics, can (and should) start to smile. For more, read the full story.

The best (and worst) jobs

And while we’re talking about jobs, WalletHub released a report on the best and worst entry-level jobs for graduating high school and college seniors. After comparing 109 different jobs based on criteria such as starting salaries, projected industry growth and job openings, Wallethub came up with an actionable list for those entering the workforce.

If you’re about to be a web application developer, or an information security analyst, you’ll occupy one of the top two entry-level jobs, according to WalletHub. (Web developer and lawyer tie for third place on the top ten list.) On the flipside, the worst of the worst entry-level positions include: Policy-processing clerks, tool and die makers, tellers, welders and floor assemblers. Tax attorneys have the highest starting salaries at $89,624, and policy-processing clerks have the lowest at $26,572. As for entry-levels with the most job openings, budding engineers are in luck – geophysicists however, not so much. For the full breakdown, head here.

Girl talk

Do you talk about money differently with your daughter than you do your son? Research says yes, and here’s why you need to stop. As TIME reports, more women are unprepared for retirement and lack the confidence necessary for investing, because parents are subconsciously socializing them (differently) growing up. Meaning: Parents are making gender-based distinctions when choosing which money topics to talk about with their children.

For example, boys are more likely to get the borrowing, budgeting and savings talks, while girls receive lectures on spending money, checking accounts, earnings and overall family finances. Both behavioral scientists and economists say that’s why women are insecure when it comes to investing in the stock market. According to BlackRock’s Global Investor Pulse Survey, only 20% of women around the world – not country – say they’re comfortable with investing. Experts say to turn this trend around by blurring the gender lines, and starting earlier on the investment talk with your daughters. For more, head over to TIME.

Have a great week,


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