I was very lucky to be exposed to investing during my last year of high school. For some reason investing sparked my interest and I became thoroughly involved. After completing Army basic training, I took a shot at investing with real money in a Roth IRA. At the time, the limit for a Roth IRA was only $2,000 so maxing it out was easy. I was 18, and didn’t really know much about the process, but I gobbled up as much information I could find and did the best I could (with no guidance).
I managed to work part-time while in school and saved money during deployments so I could max out the account every year – taking full advantage of the increasing limits. I was living at home and was pretty frugal, only giving myself one huge reward after my final deployment. I bought a brand new Acura, went back to work at a full-time civilian job, and resumed college full-time. At the time, I thought that I would become a financial adviser so I could help people prepare themselves for retirement.
… we started spiraling into a rage of ever increasing consumption.
Determined to finish, I graduated in 2009 with a degree in finance – ten years after I initially started school. Right in the armpit of the economic collapse. Who wanted a 28 year old guy with a degree in finance that had no related job experience in the field? No one. No one was willing to take the risk on the merit of just being a veteran, as is the trend now. So, I continued to slog away at my current job.
After another two years, I started to become fed up with work, so I tried looking for finance jobs again. This time, I actually got responses. A vice president at Solomon Smith Barney told me to get an internship to build some experience. Me? 30 years old with a wife and mortgage…not going to happen. Then Metlife called. They were extremely aggressive while recruiting me for a financial planner gig. Why? For my contacts and foreign language skills. I was ecstatic, but once I found out that they were fee-based and pushed whole-life insurance policies I bowed out.
I realized that in order to help people, the way that I truly wanted to, I would have to do it on my own. But in order to help someone else, I would need to be responsible for changing my own life.
I noticed that after my wife and I bought our house, we started spiraling into a rage of ever increasing consumption. Before I got married, I never had any debt and was always able to save at least half of my income. So when I inherited student loan debt and started spending most of my earnings, I felt out of tune with myself. I corrected my course by reading books on financial management and renewing my priorities. I did what I could to simplify my life and optimized my family’s finances. As of this posting, we have paid off all of our outstanding debt, except for the mortgage.
As I get older, especially that I have a family of my own now, I am starting to see more clearly the value of my life and how much (or really how little) time I have. I no longer measure success by my status and have thrown away the definition of the typical career. I don’t want to be part of the rat race and have no desire to work until I’m 65, only allowing myself a few fragile years to live in leisure.
I put my head down and lived paycheck to paycheck, depleting my family’s bank accounts … to show people how impressive I am?
I have witnessed too many people around me conforming to the rules of society, burdening themselves with more work and more debt, doing things they are “supposed to do”. Without knowing it, they have become slaves for the rest of their lives. Even with pensions or social security, they will have a feeble retirement – at best. They tell me the time they spend at work, the time they waste on the road, the debt they take on to buy new things, and the money they blow on fleeting vacations is worth it. I don’t believe it. Not one word.
I know this because I lived it and I was unhappy. I put my head down and lived paycheck to paycheck, depleting my family’s bank accounts for a few years. For what? To keep up with an expected lifestyle to show people how impressive I am?
When I discovered that blogging was a viable way to reach out to people, I became truly excited. I found a way to obtain an audience and educate people without an ulterior motive of selling them something. I can get information out publicly so people who are looking to find their way out of debt can realize that they can empower themselves to change their lives. It is possible, and it is never too late. I am also excited that I can educate young people who are able to start themselves on the right path, and stay on track – for the rest of their lives. If I can guide people to a more promising and fantastic life, I will truly be satisfied. I know that the catalyst for change is within everyone.
I started this blog to be accountable to myself and show you that managing your finances isn’t that hard. With time and patience you can develop and stick to a great plan. You can get out of debt, you can save money, and you can live a great life. Let me show you the way to true freedom where you can do what you want to do, instead of what you’re supposed to do.