The American education system has not done its due diligence in making sure students are savvy in all things concerning finances. In grade school, I do not remember taking a class on interest rates, credit cards, investment portfolios and other financial concepts. It is no wonder many millennial are in over their head in educational debt; many people purchase homes they cannot afford; and America’s debt amount is larger than any other nation’s. The reality is Americans are not the most frugal with money.
I am no different. In fact, circumstances have forced me to take a long, hard, look at the way I manage my finances and I must say things need to change. My educational debt needs to change. My credit card debt needs to change. My investment portfolio needs to change. My everyday habits need to change. But, most of all I need to change.
When I graduated from BU with loads of debt, I was pretty optimistic. My plan was to get a job with a high salary and make payment towards my loan each month. In due time, I’d have my debt paid off and life would turn out well. After all, I did what members from the Baby Boomer generation told me: “Go to school. Get your education. Don’t worry about the educational debt, for the money you’ll be making after school will pay it off.”
Now, we all know that assertion is not true. There are individuals who graduated from school with a doctorate degree and without any job prospects; they were forced to succumb to receiving government assistance. Of course, this effect was a direct consequence of a poor economy, but my point is we cannot rely solely on a job to make our way out of debt or to live the lavish lifestyle some of us want to live.
Hustle while you work is one of my favorite quotes. Get your 9 to 5 job and work hard to keep it, but in the meantime, have a back-up plan – plan A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H. One day, the company you’re working for might decide to do some “re-organizing,” and your position may be no more. What will you do without a backup plan?
I’ve already discussed the importance of having a side gig, but I also believe that we should have an investment strategy: a plan to invest in stocks, real estate, companies, bonds, etc. It is tempting to look at billionaires like Warren Buffet and think, “I’ll have to wait until I have billions of dollars before I can invest.” That is not true. Start now. That’s what Buffet did. He started delivering newspaper as a pre-teen and he made money. It may not have been a lot of money, but he invested the little amount of money nonetheless and look where he is today.
Financial investments and the related jargon is a bit overwhelming if you unaware of the field and terminology. In fact, yesterday I attended a real estate investment seminar and some of the concepts discussed were foreign to me. But I am not discouraged. I plan to educate myself on other financial concepts, particularly investment strategies, and execute my own investment strategy. Financial education is the first step towards financial freedom and that’s what I am striving towards.
While I read, study, digest, seek mentors and dive into this world of investment, I’ll share what I learn. Let’s take this journey towards financial education together.