Seven Secrets To Financial Success From A High School Reunion

What is the secret to financial success? Business gurus give different answers, although there are many common denominators. I had a great opportunity to learn this a few years ago when I had a grand reunion with my high school classmates. What better way to test theory than to observe what really happened to my batchmates?
During our reunion, we were all curious as to how well each of us were doing so the information I wanted was there for the taking. Of course, this cannot be considered a scientific study as it does not strictly comply with statistical sampling requirements. Still, I found it very interesting, and the data I gathered, while generally predictable, may serve to guide those looking for the true path to financial success:
Entrepreneurs make more money, but the poorest were also in business. Not surprisingly, it turned out that successful businessmen do earn more. But I also noticed that those with the lowest income were also into business or were previously in business. This just goes to show that while the rewards are highest in business, so too are the risks. Still, even for those who did not strike it rich, the majority still earned enough from their business to live a middle-class existence. Unlike their employed counterparts, most of the middle-class entrepreneurs worked longer hours.
Those employed longer in a single company tend to earn more. Despite the current trend to give emphasis on merit, seniority still carries a large weight in promotion decisions. Those who job-hop frequently rarely ended up in a better position. The exception to this is if the succeeding position is better compensated than the last.
High grades were a factor in initial employment. Assuming that those who had high grades during high school probably ended up getting good grades in college as well, it would seem that they also got better jobs, at least initially. While I do not know what grades they had during college, those who were academic performers during high school appeared to do better than average in landing better jobs. This is only to be expected for new graduates because potential employers have less to assess them on outside their school records. Summing up, good grades open doors, but performance at work is what ultimately determines your career.
Extracurricular activities count for a lot. Classmates that have excellent leadership capabilities, as reflected in their extracurricular activities, seemed to do even better than those with high grades alone. With competition for good jobs now more intense than ever, it seems that most companies demand both academic and social skills. In the case of those who became entrepreneurs, there is more flexibility. Those who were not outgoing tended to go into industries that don’t need a lot of personal interaction with customers; either that or they hire people to do the job for them. In the corporate setting, this may not be possible. Those who have professional practices like doctors and lawyers also benefitted a lot from having social skills since personal interaction with customers and peers provide a lot of referrals.
Good habits are best established early. Habits are hard to break. Hard workers during high school are more likely to be wealthier. Those who developed good habits like working hard and discipline are more likely to carry on these traits for the coming years. Even those who managed to overcome their vices and lack of drive took some time to do it. For many of them, it took the obligation of supporting their family and kids for them to finally be mature in their actions. So as to not waste time, it is better to develop good habits early.
A good school improves chances of getting a good job. I had a good friend who went to a less prestigious university after high school and he said he regrets not having gone to a more well-known university. He felt that it was the main reason why he was not able to get a better job. He said there were many companies who would not even consider graduates not from the top three universities whenever they would have a management vacancy.
Expenses are much lower than their income. After talking to my friends for a while, I found that many of those who were earning big were still hard-pressed for cash. On the other hand, there were many others who did not earn as much but were doing great with regards to their finances because they were more frugal. It turns out that what you earn is not as critical as how much you are able to save.

*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. CC-4, Sunday, September 1, 2013. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.