College students and graduates
College students and graduates represent our future and play a key role in our ability to help clients take control of their financial lives. That's why recruiting the best and brightest is a high priority for Schwab. We are committed to developing their careers by giving them opportunities to experience different departments, participate in mentoring programs, and volunteer with local charities, all while ensuring a healthy work-life balance.
Schwab New Employee Recruitment Development (NERD)
The nine-month NERD program hires new college graduates and gives them personalized onboarding, extensive training and development on technologies and soft-skills required to be successful.
"Schwab's environment is very collaborative, and team-oriented, where you know the person to your left and the person to your right is always there helping you."
Andrew Vuong, intern to project manager.
Schwab Financial Consultant Academy
The Schwab Financial Consultant Academy is a developmental rotational program that prepares individuals for a career as a Financial Consultant in one of our branches.
Schwab Intern Academy
The Schwab Intern Academy provides college juniors and seniors and graduate students the opportunity to experience Schwab's culture of service while challenging them with a structured blend of learning programs, team-building activities, networking opportunities, and enriching work projects.
The Transition to Ownership
Guiding graduates and young investors toward ownership
Millennial money expert Stefanie O'Connell talks about budgeting, managing student loans, and how to start the investing journey.
Annie Liu: Welcome everyone, I'm Annie Liu and I am your host today. We are on Facebook Live from the Charles Schwab headquarters in San Francisco. We're here to talk about money tips for the Class of 2018. That's right—graduation is in full swing, and as millions around the country celebrate this important milestone, we're here to talk about how to help them get ready for the next step. With me today is Stefanie O'Connell. Stefanie is dedicated to helping young adults overcome common roadblocks to taking ownership of their financial future. I will be asking Stefanie a wide range of questions from how to negotiate your first pay to paying off your student loans. I'm a regional market executive at Charles Schwab in the Pac-Northwest Region, and a lot of my questions are coming from clients from there. So, I wanna also remind you that please share your questions and comments in the comment section, and we will be responding to them after the Facebook Live. Now, to all the graduates, please excel. I want to take a minute to recognize that you've done such a great work to navigate through different tracks of school and be here today. For example, you work really hard in high school, which unlocked a door to college, and today's conversation is really a continuum of that great work that you've done, opening up the door to the future. So please take a minute to recognize how much you accomplish, and with that, we're gonna go ahead and dive into today's conversation. Stefanie, thank you so much for joining us today. You have a really interesting background; please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you wound up here.
Stefanie O'Connell: Yeah, well, thank you so much for that introduction, and hey to everybody watching, thank you for tuning in. So in terms of my money story, it really came to a head in 2008 when I graduated college, and it was such an interesting time, in relation to dealing with all that new graduation anxiety. It was also 2008, so financial anxiety was kind of all around me. And among my friends and peers, there was a lot of struggle—struggle to get jobs, struggle to meet our basic cost of living. And personally, money just felt like this insurmountable barrier. It felt like it was this thing that was just keeping me from doing the things I wanted to be doing, like going out with my girlfriends, or keeping me stuck in jobs that I didn't like, or keeping me stuck in living situations that weren't great, or just forcing me to say "No" to "Will you be a bridesmaid in my wedding?" because I just didn't have the money…
Annie: That's gotta be hard.
Stefanie: …to buy that dress!
Annie: That's right.
Stefanie: Right. So one day it kind of came to a head and I had this total money meltdown. And it was actually at the dentist's office, and I don't have great teeth, so I had had a root canal and then that went bad, and all of the sudden they were like, "You need a dental implant and that's gonna be $1,800." And I'm like, "What? $1,800? I don't have $1,800." And I just had a total money meltdown right there in the dentist's chair, and I started crying. So I was a little bit of that "crazy person"…
Annie: Oh my goodness, oh my goodness.
Stefanie: …that day. But, it was a huge wakeup call to me, because what I realized was that, in that moment, there's a big difference between stressing about money and managing money. And it's a really simple shift, but once I realized that, and that money meltdown really did make me realize that, it was a call to action to actually start spending some time looking at my money, paying attention to it, managing it, instead of simply feeling anxious about it all the time, or feeling like it was something that was outside of my control. So, I decided I was gonna take action and learn everything I could about managing my money and about personal finance.
Annie: Well, implants weren't cheap, huh?
Stefanie: No, not cheap at all. I was like, "There is so much I would rather do with $1,800 than buy a dental implant."
Annie: That's right, that's right.
Stefanie: Right? [Laughs]
Annie: And it's still not cheap. You know, what I love about that story is that you took complete ownership of it, and focused on what you have control of. Quite frankly, along that same thing of ownership, one of the biggest concerns for today's graduates is student loans. And the most recent, according to the most recent New York Times article, the average American borrower with a bachelor degree leaves campus with $28,400 in debt. How do they begin tackling that?
Stefanie: Yeah. So this is, again, about that difference between being anxious about it and actually spending the time to do something about it and be proactive. And when you first graduate , the best thing you can do is just get organized. You might not even know who your lenders are—who do you actually owe money to? What is your balance? So start with the simple things, just make a list. And that's not a daunting task, everyone can make a list, right?
Annie: [Laughs] Yes.
Stefanie: So, you're gonna make a list of what you owe, to whom, minimum payment on each of your debts, and your respective interest rates on each of your debts. Now, once you see it all in front of you, you can start making decisions. So if you find that those minimum payments are more than you can afford to pay off right now or in six months when those bills come due, you wanna get out in front of that, so you can call your lender, you can be honest with them about your struggle to meet the terms of your repayment, you can look up programs, especially if you have federal student loans. A lot of programs, for example, income-based repayment that you might qualify for, or an extended repayment plan that can reduce that monthly minimum payment that you owe—I mean, I know this is a topic that you talk about with your clients a lot.
Annie: It is, it really is. I love what you said—it is critical to stay on top of your debt. The only variation that I get a lot of is this question of whether I should be paying off student loans or start saving for retirement, and , you know, first of all, there are good debts and bad debts. Student loan is an example of a good debt—it allows individuals to invest in their education and increase their earning potential, and that in turn allows them to do really well. Now, student loan is also tax-deductible, so there's a lot of benefits of keeping that good debt around. An example of a bad debt is like a car loan, it's on a depreciating asset, the cost to borrow is typically much higher. So with all of that said, you gotta at least pay the minimum, and you can never miss a payment, but beyond that you can create a system to stay on top of your loans while still contributing to your retirement, so I always tell people to do both. Now, I know the concept of retirement can seem kind of removed for people, it's a little hard to grasp. There are two questions that I would advise people to think about. Number one is "What type of lifestyle do you envision? Do you want to travel, do you wanna go to concerts, do you wanna own a home?" And then number two is to really get into the space of thinking about what do you want money for. So Stefanie, you're very successful and quite young. Tell us how you think about that and, you know, how do you get started on investing?
Stefanie: Yeah. So I think there's this idea around investing as something that you need a lot of money to start, or you need a lot of expertise to start, or it's something that you'll do someday, and when it comes to investing, what people really need to understand, especially when you're just starting out, is that time is your greatest asset. So, building the habit of investing, setting that money aside for the long term and investing it so it can grow, is actually more important than the amount you're investing to start with, right? So even if you're just setting aside 5% or 2% of every paycheck, even something really small, you're starting the habit early, so that way, when you can put more toward your investment accounts, the habit's already in place—you just increase the amount that you're contributing and you have time working on your side because you started so early. So you really just wanna really solidify the habit first and foremost, and don't stress that you're not starting with $5,000, you don't have to have $5,000 to start.
Annie: I love that advice, it's all about creating great habits. And one of Schwab's seven investing principles is to start saving and investing today. Quite frankly, my parents are immigrants from Taiwan, and no one ever talked to them about saving for retirement early on. I learned from their mistakes, and in my twenties I started contributing to my retirement through company-sponsored 401(k) plan, which is quite easily set up, you know, can be set up with a lot of ease. Now, can you share a little bit of tips on how you look at the 401(k) retirement? Because a lot of times companies do offer some sort of match, and I would think at the minimum you wanna be able to contribute to that so you're not leaving money on the table.
Stefanie: Absolutely, yeah. So if you get a 401(k) match you definitely are gonna wanna max that out because, like you said, if you're not doing that you are leaving free money on the table, and the way I think about it is you're leaving part of your salary on the table, too, if you're not doing that. So, absolutely, that's the perfect place to start, and especially if you do have access to something like that, it's a built-in plan, right? So they're automatically gonna be taking that amount of money out of your paycheck, you don't even see it in your checking account—that way you're not gonna spend it because it's not there, it's automatically being saved for you. And talk about systems, you talked about systems that help enable you to build these good money habits—that's an example of a great system that's gonna continue to work for you over time, so yeah, I definitely would start with that.
Annie: Great point there. Now, let's talk about that first job. As you and I know, a lot of graduates are looking for their first job now. How do you go about negotiating their first salary?
Stefanie: Yeah. So what we're finding is that when it comes to that first salary offer, that a lot of young people don't feel bold enough to ask for more, and I totally get it, you're just so happy to have a job, right?
Annie: Of course, I understand that, yeah.
Stefanie: Yeah. But there was a study that came out and they found that 75% of employers were willing to give new employees a 10 to 15% pay increase, but young people weren't asking for it. So again, this idea of leaving money on the table is coming back full circle. So we wanna avoid leaving money on the table, right?
Annie: Of course.
Stefanie: We all want to maximize the money we can get and the money that we have. So what we can do is come into that conversation prepared, right? And what can you do? You can talk to people in your industry in similar positions in similar parts of the country, you can do research on salaries on sites like Glassdoor and Payscale, and when that conversation is initiated with your employer, in that offer conversation, you can say, "Hey, listen, I would like to understand the pay structure." And you can say, "Is there any flexibility in the pay offering?" And if they come back and say "No," that doesn't mean it's the end of the conversation, you can say, "Hey, can we revisit this conversation in three months or six months?" And then, once you understand the metrics of your performance and how your performance is measured, you can find ways of exceeding those metrics so that you have proof points in that future conversation for saying, "Hey, I'm outperforming my metrics, and now I think, you know, three months, six months later, can we talk about a pay increase? 'Cause I have the data to back it up."
Annie: That's right. Nothing is ever permanent, and I wish I knew all of that that you just shared when I was in my twenties.
Annie: But certainly not too late for our young adults to be hearing these suggestions. Now, let's just say you get your first job, and I know a lot of companies offer benefits, one of which is health insurance. But I'm also hearing a lot of young adults saying, "I don't really need insurance, I'm really healthy." As a financial professional, I think risk management is super important. How do you think about that for your generation?
Stefanie: Yeah. Accidents happen to everyone, no matter how healthy you are. So, I mean, I spoke about my dental implant earlier, right? That's a great example. I go to the gym pretty much every day, but that's not gonna save me from my dental implant…
Annie: [Laughs] That's right.
Stefanie: …or, you know, whatever might happen. So, while insurance might seem like something nice to have, it's actually a must, especially when we're talking about something like health insurance—must for everybody, you need health insurance. So if you have an option through work, obviously that is lovely and you should think of that as part of your compensation package and if you're not taking advantage of it, again, leaving money on the table. We don't wanna do that, right?
Annie: That's right.
Stefanie: So, if you're not getting health insurance through work, though, it really is important that you go sign up for it. So, if you're under 26, you're single, you might still be eligible under your parents' plan, and if not, you can look into low-cost, high-deductible plans. And beyond health insurance, obviously you wanna think about other types of insurance, so car insurance, renter's insurance—I actually have a renter's insurance story, so…
Annie: I'd love to hear it.
Stefanie: Yeah, it's those stories where you're, like, the insurance comes in handy that you're, like, "Yay for insurance," but not so great for everything else. [Laughs] So the story is, I had just started dating my boyfriend and we were out, and he went back home and texted me to tell me, "Oh, it was a nice date, but also my apartment got broken into." And I was, like, "Oh my goodness." So they stole his stuff and I was, like, "Oh, well, your renter's insurance will cover it," and he's, like, "Renter's insurance?" And I was, like, "You don't have renter's insurance?" He said, "No." Well, guess who has renter's insurance now? My boyfriend. And it's a good thing, because he moved, and his apartment got broken into again.
Stefanie: And this time…
Annie: He learned.
Stefanie: He learned. His laptop was stolen, things like that, but it was all reimbursed through the renter's insurance. So maybe we need to look at other places to live, but we're good on the insurance.
Annie: Well, I love those stories, 'cause it's precisely those stories that bring some of these concepts to life. So in addition to having insurance, it's also important to build up your emergency money for unexpected situations, like you mentioned about the implant, and we typically advise people to save anywhere from three to six months of living expenses. What about tips for folks that are not joining big companies, right? They obviously are not gonna get benefits through company offer type of sponsorship programs, and then this concept of gig economy and entrepreneurship—how do you think about that for those folks?
Stefanie: Yeah, so I'm very familiar with the gig economy, it's basically my whole career.
Stefanie: So, I mean, there's a lot of pros, right? So you get greater flexibility, you can get work-life balance, you get to work on your terms. But there's a big downside, too—you don't have that in-built job security. You don't necessarily have an HR department who kind of takes care of your health insurance and your sick leave and your 401(k), all that stuff. So that means the onus is increasingly on us as individuals to create a little financial support system for ourselves. And that means obviously signing up for your own healthcare plan, setting up your own retirement plan. So it's really about being all departments, right? Just as you are the accounting department in your own business, you're also the HR department of your own business if you're in a gig economy, so be good to yourself, be a good HR department. Now, as far as managing cash flow goes, that's another huge challenge for gig economy workers—we're not necessarily getting the same amount of money every week or biweekly. It can go up and down, it can fluctuate…
Annie: It's unpredictable.
Stefanie: Completely. I mean, my income can change month to month drastically. So one of the things that I do is I have this number I call my "make-or-break" number, and essentially my make-or-break number is my essential monthly cost of living, like, only my needs, so my rent, my insurance costs, my food, things I need, basically, to survive.
Annie: Yeah, bare minimums, yeah.
Stefanie: Right, and then on top of that, I include in that number targets for my financial goals, because I want my financial goals to be as uncompromised as paying my rent, right? That's how I think about my money and my long-term future—as a necessity. So I build in a retirement savings contribution to that make-or-break number, an emergency fund savings contribution to that make-or-break number, and if you had a debt repayment, you would be putting your minimum payment in that make-or-break number, right? So then you have a number, a benchmark, for the viability of your monthly cost of living, plus you're taking care of your financial future. And that way, I know how much I need to earn every month to hit that number. And when I think about "Okay, how much can I afford to spend on the fun stuff?" what I do is I subtract that number from my previous month's income, and I know exactly how much wiggle room I have. So it's, what is it now, May?
Annie: May, yeah.
Stefanie: So, for my May budget, I take my April income, subtract my make-or-break number, and I know exactly how much money I have in May to spend discretionarily. So even though your income might change from month to month, you do have a basic sense of what your expenses are, right? So use that—again, this idea of control comes back into the picture here. We're talking about things we know, things we can control, so use that as the starting point, and then make it work with the unknowns.
Annie: Yeah. I love that—focusing on what you have control of, right? That's great. I know we started the conversation with student loans, but I also want to talk about debt in general, and especially how it impacts your credit score. So let's start with the basic: What's the deal with credit scores?
Stefanie: So basically the credit score is just a measure of your reliability. So if I lend you money, and I don't know you, right? So—well, we know each other…
Annie: [Laughs] We know each other, yeah.
Stefanie: But let's say that I didn't know you. I might not feel comfortable if I've never met you before, because how am I gonna know if you're gonna pay me back?
Annie: Sure. Makes sense.
Stefanie: Right? And the credit score is all about answering that question as best as we can in terms of the lending atmosphere. So probably for new graduates, the first thing you're gonna need that credit score for is renting your own apartment, right? So this is not some distant thing, this isn't something you're only gonna have to deal with one day when you apply for a mortgage. This is something you're gonna need to figure out if you're gonna move out of Mom and Dad's house, right? So if you go apply for an apartment, one of the big things that landlords ask for is your credit score, and they wanna know that you have a history of paying your bills on time, and that's totally reasonable. So it helps these lenders make choices about who they're gonna rent to, or who they're gonna lend money to, who're they're gonna give a credit card to, or a car loan, or a mortgage, right? So to build and maintain your credit score, what's really important to do is pay those bills on time, right? That's the number one thing…
Annie: That's huge, yes.
Stefanie: …as you well know. You know, if you do have a credit card, you wanna keep the balances low, you don't wanna use up your full credit limit and max those cards out. And you don't wanna be applying for new credit cards all the time—if you're opening up ten credit cards at once, that's gonna be a big red flag. So you wanna avoid that behavior, and do the good behavior of paying the bills on time, and build that credit score so you can use it not only in the short term to get your own place, but also in the long term when you pursue other goals like applying for a mortgage and buying your own home.
Annie: Yeah, earlier in the conversation you mentioned, you know, staying within your means, budgeting a little bit. What are some good tips to avoid credit card debts, 'cause I know how easy it is to swipe that card.
Stefanie: Yeah, so, my policy is I only charge on my credit card what I know I can afford to pay off right now, not what I think I might be able to pay off in two weeks or three weeks when my statement comes due—today, right? That makes sure that I'm not spending beyond my means, 'cause the money is there. Now, one of my other things is I pay off my credit card bill frequently, more frequently than I get my statement, and that way I'm always staying ahead of the game and I'm not gonna miss a payment. Now, if you are not that kind of crazy money nerd like me [Annie laughs] who's always logging in to her bank account, maybe for you, you just set up an alert when your statement comes out or when your bill is due, right? That way you know "Oh, it's on my phone, let me go deal with this right now, I'm gonna pay off that bill"—that way you're keeping that on-time credit history, you're building that credit history with on-time payments and that is so, so vital. Now, if you know that you're an over-spender, a credit card can be a dangerous thing sometimes 'cause you just swipe and that doesn't really feel like anything—"Oh, sure, free money!"
Annie: And you don't see it.
Stefanie: "Yeah, yeah, I'll just keep swiping." [Annie laughs] So what I like to tell people is to just automate a couple payments, a couple necessity payments. So like your utility bill, you can automate that to go onto your credit card, and then pay off just that at the end of the month when you get your statement. And that way you're still creating that credit utilization, you're creating that credit history, you're paying the bills on time, but you're not gonna get into that habit of swiping, swiping, swiping. And the rest of your budget, you can use cash for, 'cause like you said, cash is tangible, I can see when it runs out. When I have no more dollars in my hand…
Annie: You're out.
Stefanie: I'm out!
Stefanie: Exactly. So in this way, we can use these tools to work for our own personal needs and habits.
Annie: Sure. Great advice there. Now we have a lot of parents tuning in as well. How can parents talk to their recent grads about money?
Stefanie: [Laughs] Yeah, so, you mentioned this earlier—it's not about the money, right? It's about what the money enables us to do. And that's how we need to start the conversation, with this meaning, with the goals, with the lifestyle we're trying to build with the money, rather than "Well, you should set aside 10% of every paycheck." And otherwise it's just like "Yeah, I know, okay." It's not interesting…
Annie: But what does that mean?
Stefanie: What does that mean, right? So let's talk about meaning, let's talk about values, goals, dreams, and then let's talk about strategies to achieve them. Now if you're a parent trying to start this dialogue, you know, you're gonna need a little bit of patience, okay? You're not gonna have this deep financial dialogue the first time you try, probably not. But you can use opportunities like graduation or a new job or a cross-country move, or a relationship change that are already somehow connected to money inherently, to initiate a more comprehensive financial dialogue. And as you're doing that, be open about your own history—have you made money mistakes yourself, you know? Being transparent about your own finances can help build rapport, can build trust, and it can prompt your kids to seek out your advice as they're working through their own financial challenges and missteps. So be open about that, even though you might not like that bad money mistake history. [Laughs]
Annie: I love that you brought up that point, and early on I shared that having watched some of the money mistakes that my parents made prompted me to wanna do something differently. So that is so true.
Annie: Go ahead.
Stefanie: So I just wanted to expand more about what we were talking about with meaning, leading with meaning. So one of the most effective things I've done, and I've seen it with my readers, is I ask them really simple questions like, "Five years from now, what do you want your life to look like?" right? I'm 31. In five years I'll be 36. I have a very clear idea of what 36 looks like to me. 'Cause if I ask myself that question, I can start thinking about ,okay, well, if I do wanna buy a house, or if I do wanna hire more people for my business, or if I do want to buy a car—that stuff's gonna cost some money, right? So five years isn't that far to save up money for a down payment or for a car, for all those things, and I can actually put a price tag on my future. That's gonna motivate me to start doing something about it so I can actually start working toward that future instead of saying, "Well, someday. Maybe someday." So we wanna think about these questions like "What do you want your life to look like? If you wanna buy a house, where might that house be? What kind of property do you want it to be on?" We wanna get connected to that vision for our future so that we become really invested in achieving it. And I have to really face the question "Oh, am I okay not getting this?" Because we don't wanna settle, right? So if we can frame the money conversation around what's at stake if we don't engage with our financial lives, that can be a powerful motivator to start.
Annie: I love that. And, you know, with what you're saying–it's connecting emotions to money.
Annie: And then make those decisions.
Stefanie: We're definitely emotional people…
Annie: We are.
Stefanie: And as rational as we might wanna sound, we can talk about compound interest all day, but unless we're talking about what that money is gonna get us…
Annie: It's not gonna do anything.
Stefanie: It's not that compelling.
Annie: That's right. Now my kids are still kind of young, but I am really looking forward to using some of these approaches that you've mentioned to talk to them. Just really quickly, though, a quick reminder for our viewers, please share your questions in the comments section, and after Facebook Live we'll be responding to them. All right, so let's talk a little bit about savings for big goals. You talk about homes, we talk about retirement—how do you do those things?
Stefanie: So when we talk about savings, we have this tendency to talk about our retirement savings and our emergency savings. So we have this really long-term money, and then we have this really short-term money. But we need money to live all the life in between there, too, right? So we need to start thinking about that. What're the things we wanna do? Like I said, this five-year future exercise. Five years from now, how old will you be? What do you want your life to look like? Okay, I talked about buying a home, starting a family. Do you wanna have a big wedding? Do you wanna travel the world? All of these things come with a price tag, right? So when it comes to goals that are five years or more down the line, I like to think about the tools that I can use to grow that money, like investments. But when it comes to shorter-term goals, especially those in the next few years, I like to think about the tools I can use to protect that money because I know I'm gonna need it sooner, right? And I know that this can be a little bit nuanced, but this is where working with, you know, a financial professional, like yourself, can really help, and, again, help you customize a plan based on your individual needs and goals and timelines. So you wanna start thinking about that stuff, and then you wanna talk to somebody about it who knows how to make it happen.
Annie: Absolutely. And Stefanie's right, we have a lot of tools at Schwab to help you achieve the lifestyle that you want and really map it out so that it's very clear on the steps and milestones that you need to reach.
Annie: So make sure you schedule that appointment with somebody in our local branches or go online or call us. We're definitely here to help. One last topic I do want to discuss 'cause it's really important for all generations, and oftentimes is overlooked, which is how do you talk about money with your boyfriend or girlfriend, especially when you're in a serious relationship?
Stefanie: So here's the thing—you don't have to come to the first date and be like, "Here's my net worth, and here's what all my financial plans are," just like you don't come to the first date and be like "Are you ready to get married and buy a house and have three children?" right? It doesn't have to start that way, but on the first date you're still feeling out whether your partner or potential partner's priorities align with that vision for your future, and the same thing can happen with your money, right? You can start feeling out your compatibility from the very start, from the kinds of dates they recommend, right? So, you know, big picture talks—again, we've talked a lot about thinking about the five-year timeline or the ten-year timeline, what the goals are, what the priorities are. These are great ways to segue into financial dialogue with your partner, as well. So maybe you're watching an episode of Fixer-Upper on HGTV, right, and you're talking about, "Ugh, I totally wanna move to Waco, Texas, and have Chip and Joanna design my dream house."
Annie: Very affordable, though.
Stefanie: Very affordable, but you have to factor in the cost of renovations, too. But that can go naturally into a dialogue, right? So how much would that cost if I was gonna do a cross-country move, if I'm gonna have a down payment, if I'm gonna redo every single room in my house and there's a crack in the foundation like there always is, dun-dun-dun, right?
Annie: [Laughs] Always.
Stefanie: That stuff costs money! So these are things that we can use as an entryway into a financial dialogue, these goal conversations are always the way to get started, because it's not intimidating to talk about the life you wanna build with somebody—it's a natural conversation you're gonna have with your partner. Now when we are talking about those first dates, you know—I was talking about my boyfriend earlier, and I have another funny story with him is that when he first asked me out, I was, like, "Yeah, that sounds great, but can we go somewhere cheap? I'm on a budget." And I just put it out there from the very beginning, and I was upfront about my financial outlook and the way I think about it. And that just made the money conversation so clear, honest, easy, and open from the start, because I set that expectation right at the very beginning. So if we can, you know, be honest about it, and if we can use these goals as an entryway into the conversation, the money talk becomes a lot less taboo, right? And then it's much easier to talk about when it does come to more direct financial conversations like "How are we gonna split our bills when we move in together?" right? So if we've already been "rehearsing," I like to say, with those other conversations, it's gonna be much easier to continue the conversation. Now, I did say things like moving in together, or if you're getting married, it's important when things start getting serious that you really do start digging into the actual numbers, right? So goals are a good entry point, but at some point we really need to sit down and talk about our credit scores and talk about our debts. If we make very different amounts of money, we need to talk about that, right? So we need to think about the things that require a conversation, and have that conversation. And it's okay, everything's okay if your partner has debt, if they have bad credit. It's not a total dealbreaker. What is a dealbreaker is a refusal to talk about it. What is a dealbreaker is a refusal to address it. So, you know, it's one thing if your partner has debt, but if they're not doing anything about it and they're not open to talking about it with you and they're judging you for the way you spend money, well, those could be actual red flags. So it comes back to the importance of the openness, the honesty, and most importantly the conversation and the willingness to talk about money, and do it in partnership with you.
Annie: Well thank you—very, very insightful. And I can see why it's so important to make sure your value on money aligns, right? Especially when you're in that relationship. Now we just covered a lot of ground, and I'm afraid that we're really out of time for today. Thank you so much, Stefanie, for joining us, for all of you joining us. For more insights from Stefanie, you can go to schwab.com/graduations. At Schwab we believe in asking questions and being involved in your finances. We really want our clients to feel informed and empowered when they're managing their wealth, and reaching those lifestyles that they want. If you know a graduate and you wanna help them get started on investing, Schwab is running a promotion for Schwab clients. If you're a client with us, you can refer a graduate and they can enroll and open up an account, and for any new accounts that they opened, we will put in $100 to help them get started. For more detailed information, please go to schwab.com/referagrad. With that, that concludes our event today. Have a great day, everybody.
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