In some aspects, I wish I have a more interesting story to tell. My wife assures me that I have a quite entrepreneurial history. To this, she is referring to my “business” as a middle school teenager. I was in 6th grade when I inherited the job of mowing my neighbor’s yard from one of my older brothers. He was of legal working age and had moved on to bigger and better things. I, however, continued to mow my neighbor’s yard for $20 every other week. It didn’t just stop there. I was soon approached by two other neighbors who wanted me to mow their yards as well. My family lived in a semi-rural setting with acres of fields. Each of these other jobs consisted of more potential income which would be saved to buy things that any teenager wants. I eventually got to the point where I had to turn down interested neighbors because I didn’t have the time to mow all of their lawns in my free time. Plus, I was making enough money to save up for the items that I wanted to buy. It was here that I see a fundamental value in finances took its grip. I realized that in order to get what you want, you have to SAVE – and save, I did. I was, however, quite the consumer as a teenager. I bought my first laptop (used) in eight grade on ebay. I had also purchased many other items to make my room as “cool” as possible. What other ways could a teenager want to spend his money?
While I was years ahead of many of my classmates in terms of financial responsibility, I wasn’t the most financially responsible teenager. I did discuss with my dad about purchasing a stock with some savings I had acquired from my various jobs (baby sitting, lawn mowing, etc.). I had scouted out a stock that I thought was a good investment, but I never did make my first step to investing in the stock market. On a side note, the stock that I wanted to purchase at $9 a share in 2001 is now selling for $40+ per share.
From there, I went on to get a part-time job in highschool where I would save 80% of my earnings for bigger purchases. I would cash out the remaining 20% and use it on everyday expenses such as gas, food, etc. I always knew that there were things I would want to buy later. I also knew that I needed to save for college because my parents made it clear with my older brothers that we were to pay for our own college education. By the time I left for college, I had saved up $5,000 for college. I have always had a mentality of saving first.
To any financial approach, ‘saving first’ is an important foundation. It is the foundation of any financial advisor. Afterall, you cannot invest without any savings or money. Looking back on my life, living a financially responsible life comes down to realizing future goals and understanding the importance of saving NOW.