Where I Started
My hope for you after reading about my financial journey it will inspire you to take action.
For a long time, I’ve been determined to get the most out of my personal finances, from getting the best deals to learning about investing. This passion and hunger to learn has turned me into someone friends and family ask for financial advice.
I am not an expert nor do I claim to have all of the answers. I live an entry-level middle-class life and love helping people. This desire to grow stems from the experiences I had growing up.
When I was eight years old my father walked out of my life. This is unfortunately common. But when he left, he left me and my four other siblings for good. I’ve seen him two or three times over the past 17 years.
Not only did he disappear but he left a mountain of debt. After the divorce, my mom discovered close to half a million dollars in unpaid debts with a lot of it being in her name. Of course, she couldn’t make the payments and was forced to file bankruptcy.
A single mother, four kids, and nowhere to go. We stayed in our house for 18 months before the bank knocked on our door and kicked us out. We were homeless living on food stamps but my mom did everything she could to get off of government support. I didn’t realize it at the time but we had nothing. At one point, everything I owned fit in a shoe box. My favorite item was a green GameBoy (now you know how old I am).
We moved from place to place for years. My mom worked two jobs and tried to keep our expenses as low as possible. Occasionally, she bought Lucky Charms or Waffle Crisps (which are the best by the way). We’d eat the whole box in one morning. This caused her stress because it was difficult for her to feed me and my brother. We hardly ate out. Going to McDonald’s was a big luxury.
Before the divorce, you would’ve thought from the outside looking in that we were doing very well financially. We lived in a ten-bedroom house, my dad drove a new truck every year and had all the new toys and gadgets. It seemed as though we were way ahead of the Joneses. But when the crap hit the fan as they say and when the waves rolled away we were caught standing naked. It was a superficial lifestyle built up without any kind of foundation.
My mom is one of my greatest examples and mentors to me. There were times she wanted to give up, but she never did. She could have blamed others for what happened but she took responsibility and was determined to get us out. She pulled us out of poverty, climbing the economic ladder, and helped us become independent and self-reliant.
She took it upon herself to learn about personal finance. She read and listened to audiobooks by Dave Ramsey, Robert Kiyosaki, and Tony Robbins. I had to listen to it in the car too. I had no choice. But I came to love it. By the time I was 16, I had read, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” “The Total Money Makeover” and “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind.” I learned that I was in charge of my financial future and committed to doing things differently throughout my life.
I wanted things that my friends had like pit bikes and BMX bikes. I asked my mom if I could get one. She said, “those things cost money.” I said, “how do I get money?” She said you work for it.” So I got my first job working construction at the age of 12 making $3 an hour (I’m pretty sure I broke a lot of child labor laws). While my friends were hanging out riding their bikes in the summer, I was working 40 hours a week in the hot sun. But having $300 paycheck every two weeks as a twelve year made it worth it.
I’ve always saved at least 10% and have never spent more than I’ve made. I’ve never had a car payment and I have always tried to be debt free. I’ve made many financial mistakes. I know what it’s like to have nothing and I never want to go back. I never want my son to have to go through what I did growing up and it all comes down to teaching him the same financial principles that I learned.
A few weeks before my son was born my father actually put a gun to his head and took his life. It was a string of events that led to that decision for him. Money was one thing he was never good at and caused a lot of stress in his life. When he died someone started a GoFundMe account to try and cover funeral expenses. He had debt collectors following him, many unpaid bills and lived a lonely and hollow life. No one should ever have to get to that point in their life.
What makes me different and unique?
I’ve always been interested in financial planning, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do out of high school and I didn’t want to be a financial salesman. In college, I became a financial peer mentor and started helping other students with their money. After a few months, I became one of the financial counselors.
I became an Accredited Financial Counselor, AFC® through the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Educators (AFCPE). You can learn more about that here. I teach and counsel at the University of Utah and am one of the directors of the Personal Money Management Center, a service dedicated to providing financial literacy, borrower education and debt management programs for the benefit of students. These services include presenting educational seminars and conducting individual one-on-one confidential student advising sessions on all aspects of personal finance. I’ve had the opportunity to help hundreds of people work towards financial independence.
I want to share my story and help others become financially independent. I have seen the damage that can be caused to a family when there is a huge burden of debt and the finances are out of order.
I am not financially independent but is something I hope to achieve in a few years. Because I am not financially independent don’t take everything I say as gospel or as the way you have to do something. I still have a lot to learn and I will be experimenting many things and documenting my journey. I hope to be as transparent as possible as I share experiences and struggles so hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes.
One of the best decisions I made recently was to become a producer instead of a consumer. I would encourage you to do the same. Being a producer will bring a fulfilling life but being a victim will bring laziness and depression.
Why should you care?
This blog is not about money. You’re not going to get to the end of your life and wish you had more money. It’s about what do you want to do with your life and how can you use money to achieve the financial independence to do that.
What I share is about life optimization and living a bigger life, not lifestyle. It’s about inspiring you to use money to buy back your time and to do the things you love to do. I want to help you live a life where money is not important. I am not here to tell you what to do with your money, rather to provide you with ideas and information to make better decisions. It is my purpose to take the complexities and differing opinions about money and simplify it to a point that you can take action and even a child can understand it.
“Simplicity is the key to success.”
Financial Independence is not about deprivation, it’s about expanding your life and opening options. I am a non-traditional Financial Advisor. I fall in between a Financial Planner and a personal counselor. I refer to myself as a Financial Coach and help people just as a basketball coach would. I don’t seek power or fame or honor but to simply build up the freedom and welfare of the people that I serve and to please God. My job is not to manage investments. My job is to manage investors behavior. I do not manage money. I help build healthy habits. I do not sell financial products. I sell a better way of living. Get on a plan and get out of debt.
“Focus on habits and the results will take care of themselves.”
Health is not achieved in a pill. Neither is wealth built in one day. It takes small consistent effort over many years. Who is going to help you get there if it isn’t you? I believe everyone should have someone they can trust and go to for financial advice. The problem is most people don’t have the assets to work with a “real” financial advisor and don’t like the feeling of being sold financial products by from the guy down the street who promises to make you rich.
How I can help you.
I provide virtual financial coaching and I am an absolute believer that anyone can achieve financial independence. I send out a blog post once a week on Monday mornings on a wide range of topics. I am a speaker if you ever want a non-salesy financial presentation. I am married to my beautiful wife and we have a newborn son. My wife owns Cozy Cottontail, an e-commerce store selling custom blankets and baby accessories. This allows her to work from home, do what she loves and take care of our son.
I hope you will join me on the financial journey of taking control of your money and reaching financial independence. Please subscribe to our newsletter, schedule a free coaching session, like our facebook page and follow us on Social Media. If there is anything I can do to help please reach out to me any time.