It may surprise you to know that this whole active journey to Financial Independence just started very, very recently. (As in about 6 months ago!)
For the vast majority of my life I was like most people: only interested in Personal Finance enough to make sure I was making ends meet, along with saving a little bit on the side. I (wrongly) assumed that unless you had a super high paying job, everyone had to work their whole lives before retiring in their 60’s.
Not everyone is a born saver, I’ve certainly had my lapses. But that doesn’t mean things can’t change if you set a goal and put your mind to it!
Let’s take it all the way from the start to get the whole picture of who I am, where I’ve come from, and my journey to Knighthood!
I grew up in a family that was pretty much the definition of middle class. With 3 siblings (I’m the upper middle child, anyone else!?), we were a large family, and both my parents worked as we were growing up (and still do). I have a lot of respect for my parents as they have sacrificed a lot over the years, career and personally, in order to fully support us and give us a life that they didn’t have growing up.
They showed us lifelong values that completely shape the man I am today. One of my favorite things they taught me:
“Friends may come and go, but Family is forever”
Even though my siblings, parents and I all live in different cities, we are all still very close and get together as often as possible.
From the Financial side, my parents are definitely savers (They recently told me their calculated Net Worth and wow! They could retire whenever they want and be very secure!!). While we were growing up they tried to impart their wisdom upon us, and showed us the benefits of saving what you earn.
Through these early years there wasn’t too much earnings. I played sports year round until graduating high school which did not leave a lot of time for earning on the side. I did babysit 2-3 times a month for neighbors, but that was about it, other than birthday/Christmas gifts from relatives.
A majority of what I did earn though, I put away into a bank account that my parents had opened for me.
As I mentioned above, I played 3 sports throughout high school which consumed a vast majority of my time. In addition, I’m a pretty social person and would spend a lot of time with my friends I made through school (we are all still very close even 10 years later!)
I would still babysit for neighbors on the side, and eventually by the end of high school I found enough time to get certified as a lifeguard.
When it came time to choose a school for college, my parents had a longstanding agreement with my siblings and I that wherever we chose to go to college, they would pay for half, while we needed to cover the other half on our own.
I know I am extremely fortunate to have parents that would do this. Most people aren’t in the same situation and are not able to get any support at all from their parents. I absolutely realize this and am very grateful for the support I’ve gotten. It’s absolutely made my post-college life vastly easier to deal with.
I ended up choosing a smaller (though very expensive) university in the New England area where I received a half tuition merit based scholarship, as well as the opportunity to play on the football team!
The scholarship drastically helped make it more affordable, and even with my parents paying half, I was still looking at some significant loans if I didn’t figure out how to make some money on the side. I found a little time to work around campus, though college sports turned out to be pretty close to the equivalent of a full-time job (with practice, games, workouts, film study, etc. it was a lot!)
This meant that I had to take full advantage of the time I was away from school to make money to help keep my loans as minimal as possible.
During my winter and summer breaks I worked quite a variety of odd jobs early on, and internships later. Among them included: life guarding, valeting cars and working in a cardboard box factory… the latter being particularly
grueling fun! The last winter and summer I worked two separate internships that eventually helped aid me getting my full-time job out of school.
Through these methods, I was able to hit my goal to pay off a portion of my tuition bill each year and take a smaller loan for the remainder. This didn’t leave me with too much spending money, but I feel like the theme of college (for most people), was getting the most out of limited spending!
By taking several AP courses throughout high school, I was able to graduate a semester early! This saved me an entire semester of college, which was huge savings when you break it down!
Unfortunately, my full-time job didn’t start until right after typical graduation (June-July time frame). So once again, instead of sitting around I worked some very interesting jobs. This included working at a liquor store, and… wait for it… at the cardboard box factory again! (I swear this is the last of it).
After all this, I was able to bring my student loan debt practically close to zero, which was a major goal of mine! With my full-time job beginning, my Net Worth was still negative, but not for long with a higher salary starting up!
To continue on, check out my Background: Part II.