Another week, another great Pursuing Freedom Interview! This week we have Solving Finance! He was able to achieve a $40k net worth while he was in college – which is fantastic compared to most college students who struggle for years after graduating to get to a positive net worth. I can tell you more about him but he does a better job at it!
Solving Finance, it is all yours!
Give us your 30 second elevator pitch. What is your story?
I accumulated a $40,000 net worth after graduating from college which was when I was 21 years old. I didn’t have a trust fund set in place and got there through my work ethic and frugal lifestyle (I did the Elon Musk’s only spend $2 a day on food challenge for a semester, the $2 a day is a number that’s adjusted for inflation).
I had limited income and was busy with two majors and 3 minors in college but I got through it and learned so much more than I could possibly imagine. I stopped being as frugal now but I still consider myself to have a high savings rate.
Take us back to when it all started. When did you have your money epiphany?
It was around when I was about 10 years old. I noticed my parents looking to save pennies on anywhere they possibly can. They were great at leading by example, so I developed the habit of saving from very early on. You could say that I was obsessed about money. My parents used to make fun of me because I used to make sure my dollar bills were facing the same way whenever I had new money to put into my savings envelope. Hey, I wanted to be organized!
Every birthday money, part-time job money, or miscellaneous money that came my way, I saved all of it. During high school, I worked a tutoring job that paid $15 an hour and a minimum wage job ($7.25 an hour) and spent none of it. Therefore, prior to entering college, I was able to have a $6,000 nut. Money was a very significant aspect of my life (though it wasn’t the most important).
People normally only share the good things in their lives. What is the biggest money struggle you have had to overcome (or are still working on)?
My biggest money struggle that I had to overcome revolves around investing in the stock market. I had a lot of money to play with for a college student and wanted to make millions off it. I took way too much risk that I didn’t understand and lost a significant chunk (I think I lost around $4000).
Now, I’m more brutally honest when it comes to investing. I don’t blindly and optimistically invest but do research beforehand. I think through my investments before I make them so that I’m comfortable and understand risk that I am taking. I do a lot more research than I did before when I’m deciding whether to put my money up to the test.
What is your proudest financial moment?
Actually going through with the Elon Musk’s spend only $2 a day challenge. I read a Business Insider’s article on the challenge and Elon Musk himself went through with it for a short time to see if he could actually do it (back then, it was the “spend only $1 a day” challenge but I adjusted for inflation to be around $2 a day). His logic was that if he was able to accomplish something like this, he realized that he could do anything in life.
I agree and resonate so much with that statement. It gave me a lot of confidence to say “if I can do this, I can do anything” and actually mean it. I practice discipline and humility though because I know that I literally can’t do anything that I want, but the key is giving me the confidence that with discipline and the right attitude, I can accomplish being financially independent.
We don’t want to be always looking in the past. Currently, what is your main financial focus this year and how do you plan to achieve it?
I want to increase my income. My employer pays up to an extra $1800 a year if I met certain criteria for staying healthy (work out frequently, achieve healthy biometric metrics, etc). Since I started work halfway through this year (in July), I don’t think I’ll get the full $1800 but next year, I know that I can get it.
On top of this, I want to look for other avenues of revenue such as affiliate marketing for products that I think my readers would enjoy, or checking out Fiverr. With the internet, the possibilities are endless!
Financial freedom means something a little different to everyone. What is your definition of financial freedom?
Optionality. The option to say “I want to work” or “I don’t want to work.” I was watching a video that had Tony Robbins in it and he summed it up perfectly. It’s not about getting to a point where you don’t work, it’s about getting to a point where you don’t HAVE to work. Right now, if I don’t work, my income takes a HUGE hit, which isn’t something that I would want.
There is more to life than just money. In your free time, what can you be found doing?
I love watching tennis and basketball! I used to play both in college, pickup games or club tennis. The US Open for tennis on September was a real nail-biter and I ended up coming back from last place in my bracket to first. Great memories.
I also love watching TV shows (HUGE Suits fanatic, the last episode really was a mind blower) and other TV shows I watch include Modern Family, Shark Tank, and Big Bang Theory.
Time is our most precious non-renewable resource. What actions are you taking to make sure you are living the life you want to live (your remarkable life)?
This is a great question and I actually detailed a post on spending time and making the most of it. I’m making sure to write down goals that I want to accomplish the next day. I realized that if I don’t write down my goals, I don’t know how to spend my time and end up going on Youtube to watch a bunch of cat videos.
I also write down weekly goals and monitor them quite frequently. In college, I made the mistake of not frequently going over my goals to make sure they were something that I actually wanted. As a result, I questioned whether I made the right choices in the end. I won’t make that mistake again.
Imagine that someone just starting on their financial journey reaches out to you. What books or resources would you recommend to them?
For books, I recommend Rich Dad Poor Dad. For resources, I recommend reading a few great personal finance blogs that are out there. Reading these daily and getting to hear the blogger’s perspectives really opened my eyes to change some of the choices I was making and learned far other things than if I had just stayed in school. All of the bloggers have so much wisdom to offer, which is what I love! Some I recommend are Financial Samurai, 1500 days, Budgets Are Sexy, and of course, It Pays Dividends ;).
I recommend using a service to track their budget, if I had to recommend a DIY software. I use Excel and refer back to it weekly to make sure I’m meeting my target spending / savings rate and Personal Capital to track my net worth (the bad thing with this is that they don’t let you link accounts with Robinhood. Bummer).
If there was one thing you could ask the people reading this to do, what would it be?
This isn’t personal finance related, per se, but I want the people reading to know that anything is possible with a little bit of effort. For example, I used to be absolutely petrified of talking to strangers, more so because I was coming from a completely different country knowing nothing about the US’s culture or language.
Nowadays, I can talk to anybody that I want to without being overly scared (like talking to CEO’s, CFO’s during networking events). It still nerves me a little but now I connect with the individual I talk to instead of thinking of the next thing to say.
It took me 13 years to get used to talking to strangers (starting from 3rd grade, which was when I came to the US, to end of college). I had to work a lot into it, reading books such as How to Win Friends and Influence People, consciously make an effort to speak to strangers in class, and at the end of the day go over what went wrong, what went right, etc.
I didn’t want to believe that I needed help in this regard but I had to get over my pride and actually seek out resources to better myself.
Effort breeds results! If it doesn’t, angling effort a different way will breed the result you want!
Where can people get in contact with you? (ex. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc)
Blog: Solving Finance
Pinterest: Solving Finance
Twitter: Solving Finance
Facebook: Solving Finance
Thanks Solving Finance! If you are interested in participating in Pursuing Freedom Interviews, let me know through my contact page!
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