If you’re looking for an incredible rags to riches Cinderella story, mine isn’t it. I grew up in an average middle class family, with average friends, and an average community. Was my family poor? No. Was I rich? Absolutely not. My dad went to work every day as a payroll professional for a plethora of companies in varying roles and my mom was a school teacher. They both worked tirelessly to put food on the table and generally provide my brother and me with all the necessities any generation Y’er (me) or generation X ‘er (my bro) should have. We lived neither lavishly nor miserly. You might say my parents lived life at their means, so to speak.
Sure, I worked as a kid…I had jobs. But I never really understood the VALUE of money. Every dollar I earned, I spent on movies, clothes, video games, food, dating., etc. I never had the drive nor desire to put anything away or invest, because I had not learned to do so. Life was about living in the now. And who am I kidding? I was a kid – living life and enjoying it!
Through my parents, teachers, and peers, I learned to make the art getting good grades my only goal, so that I could get into a good college and hopefully get a high paying job. I never learned about money. Instead, I kept my nose to the grindstone, studied hard, and maintained good grades, which for me, was the only success I knew or cared to understand. Since I had decent SAT scores, I thought getting into a great college would be a breeze. But , “getting in” was the only goal…I never truly grasped the “paying for it” part.
So, a big, bold, shiny envelope arrived in our mailbox on a warm spring day during my senior year of high school, with the school crest of Pepperdine University vibrantly etched into the upper-right hand corner. I got into my dream college! I was giddy with anticipation of basking in the Malibu, California sun, studying for my business courses by the pool, and meeting a buxom blonde Christian girl.
One problem….no scholarship or financial aid was awarded.
Reluctantly, my parents sat me down and spoke with me heart to heart about finances. They explained to me what $45,000 per year in student debt (that’s $180,000 for four years for those who love math!) would mean for me in the future. They explained that my early working years would be spent as a slave to debt servicing rather than investing in my future. They left the door open for me to go, but taught me that it would be a terrible financial decision that would undoubtedly haunt me the rest of my life.
I was crushed, but I was forever smarter for it.
For the first time in my life, I felt and began to UNDERSTAND the heavy, hard, and seemingly HORRENDOUS power of money…the true value of the dollar. Lack of it can keep you from achieving your dreams.
I decided then and there that I would focus on learning about wealth, what it takes to generate it, cultivate it, protect it, and grow it. In fact, I decided to make “wealth generation” the subject of my high school capstone project. As the starting point of my study, my dad lent me his copy of the book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. www.richdad.com
I was engrossed. Reading the book opened my eyes to a world of passive income generation, business ownership, return on investment, and wealth creation. As rudimentary as it seems to me now, the book provided me with a jumping off point to begin a life geared towards finance, investment, and ownership. I highly recommend all readers here to read Rich Dad, Poor Dad cover to cover for its inspirational tone and timeless message.
The project culminated with a presentation that outlined my life plan to build wealth. Although my understanding of the wide world of finance and investment was certainly limited at the time, my themes were nonetheless paramount – live lean, save and invest the difference between income and spending, buy assets that generate substantial return (whether that be capital gains or income), and most importantly, work hard at whatever you do.
After graduating, I went on to attend Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas where I received some great scholarships as well as early access to the Cox School of Business Scholars program where I would study finance. As I learned from Robert Kiyosaki, I surrounded myself with a great “team” of smart classmates and friends, studying together, comparing notes, pushing each other and relying upon one another. We all competed and thus, we all excelled.
Like my friends, I had the opportunity to gain real world investment experience through internships – in my case, commercial real estate investment and private equity.
With hard work, a good attitude, and an open mind, these internships led to a full time job at a major investment bank where long hours and late night dinners at my desk stretched my character immensely. The colleagues with whom I worked tirelessly are friends for life. Living lean, the steady income earned here in my early 20s jumpstarted my investment portfolio, providing me a small asset base to cultivate.
I used any free time during these early years to work towards the achievement of Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, thought to be the “gold standard” by investment professionals. Although the preparation for each of the three annual tests was the most challenging I had ever experienced, I did my best to persevere and ended up coming out on top, passing all three exams. Achieving the CFA designation is one of my proudest life achievements.
To bring you up to the present time, I have since moved back to my hometown of St. Louis, MO, where I am married (to my lovely blonde, Christian, wife, Heather) and work as an analyst for a small investment management firm servicing single family offices and high net worth individuals.
I have created this website to serve those Generation Y individuals (like myself) looking to gain simple, practical financial advice. I want you to walk with me along the path towards financial freedom.
We are in this quest together!
Financial literacy, fiscal prudence, and hard work daily will create long-term wealth.
And with wealth comes the freedom to give back to the communities that shape us. Wealth allows our gratitude to be made manifest!