Caps, Gowns and Money Games

Caps, Gowns and Money Games
Gray Easterling

In the April 28th issue of the Wall Street Journal, there was an interesting story written by Charles Whellan entitled, “Ten Things Your Commencement Speaker Won’t Tell You”. I thought it was pretty good, so I am going to summarize some of his observations. First, he notes that the time spent with friends is time well spent. Research shows that one of the most important causal factors associated with happiness is your meaningful connections with other human beings. One benchmark of your post graduation success should be how many of your classmates are still your close friends after 10 or 20 years. Next, be aware that some of your worst days lie ahead of you.  Although graduation day is a happy event, any pursuit of success will result in periods of self doubt and some failures. Gird up and be ready to fight through those days, because they will occur. Another suggestion was “not make the world worse.” Aspire to do great things, but don’t leave a path of destruction as you make your way. Number 4 in his list is to marry someone smarter than you are. He notes that having a spouse with benefits (employment type) is better than having a friend with benefits. These days, you will do better with two paychecks coming in.


At commencement, the most intelligent graduates are noted in the program or have special ribbons on their gowns, so seize the opportunity. Next, know that competition is part of life, but don’t make it all of life. Success is more than running faster than everyone else. Another insight was that your parents don’t want what is best for you. They want what is good for you, which is not the same. Teddy Roosevelt said, “It is hard to fail, but it is much worse never to have tried to succeed.”  Two last points. First, know that it is all borrowed time. Don’t take anything for granted, not even tomorrow. Are you on a path that you will be happy and proud of in 10 or 20 years? What if that improbable lightning bolt found its way to your golf club next weekend? Finally, “Don’t try to be great. Being great involves luck and other circumstances beyond your control. The less you think about being great, the more likely it is to happen. And if it doesn’t, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being solid.”


The March 28th Wall Street Journal contained an article about new websites and apps that help parents teach their children about saving and spending. For example, is designed for children three to eight years old. With one membership, every child in the family gets checking and savings accounts that work with a virtual currency called “Beanz”. Children earn “Beanz” by doing chores or homework or other tasks set up by parents. Different jobs are worth different rewards and children and parents go to the site together to deposit earnings and check account balances.  Another site is, and here, children ages 5 to 13 earn IOU’s which are deposited into save, spend and charity jars online. IOU’s are earned with chores. This site offers a visual lesson in budgeting where participants can see whether they have enough money in their “spend” jar to pay for desired purchases. Planet Orange is an offering from ING Direct that is purely educational. It is free to join and there are no product promotions embedded in the lessons. It uses a space theme to teach grade school children about finances. Visa, Inc. has, in partnership with the NFL, introduced a game modeled after a traditional football video game. Players choose a NFL team and advance down the field by answering questions on financial topics. The game can be found at, are free and were created for educational purposes. There are more, but I thought these were enough to introduce the idea to you.


Last month, I attended the celebration of a new ministry where a new rector was received by his church. Part of the ceremony includes a prayer containing these words: “O Lord and My God, to you and to your service I devote myself, body, soul, and spirit. Fill my memory with the record of your mighty works; enlighten my understanding with the light of your Holy Spirit; and may all the desires of my heart and will center in what you would have me do. Make me an instrument of your salvation for the people entrusted to my care, and by my life and teaching set forth your holy word. Be always with me in carrying out the duties of my ministry. In prayer, quicken my devotion; in praises, heighten my love and gratitude and grant that by clearness and brightness of your holy Word, all the world may be drawn into your blessed kingdom.” If you were there, you know that I “edited” the prayer, but the gist of it is here. I think we could all pray this petition each day and be all the better for it. Hope your summer is going well.


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