Financial Independence

Reading My Hustle might provide some helpful background here 🙂

My 2 sisters left for college while I was in elementary school. They actually ended up “boomeranging” back to live with my parents after the homestead had been downsized when I was 13. I loved having my sisters around again, but I definitely got used to being a pseudo-only child in the 6-8 years they were away. So as a 17 year-old living in a house that barely had enough room for 1 of my sisters to come back home, let alone 2 – let’s just say I was easily motivated to not move back home after I left for college.

With a recession looming, I got a quick and dirty education in the importance of personal financial management. I witnessed the conflict my parents faced welcoming their kids back home, but not knowing if they had the physical or monetary resources to accommodate them. I saw the strains our sisterhood was put through to once again be living under the same roof, but with very different life experiences. I observed the burden of student loan debt weighing heavily on my sisters, leaving them without any options aside from asking my parents if they could come back. So I knew one thing for sure – I did NOT want to endure that same struggle when I was their age.

Like I said, that was a quick and DIRTY education. My parents talked to me about the importance of saving as I aged. I started working as soon as I could at the age of 14 bussing tables, and have been fortunate enough to have a job since then (much of the time 2+ jobs). When I was deciding which college to attend, I thought I made the best choice I could from a financial perspective. It enabled me to graduate with my undergrad 1 year early without incurring any additional cost. BAM – $24K in tuition saved! There was a Wegmans nearby so I could keep my current job and work through school, and (minor detour) obviously do my shopping at Wegmans because… WHO MOVES WHERE THERE IS NO WEGMANS?!?! Insanity!….

Actually you know what’s insanity? Attending the same private university your 2 older sisters did 8-10 years later, and expecting a different outcome financially – even if you were smart enough to work through school and shave a year off. Boy was I wrong.

After enrolling, I was notified that I needed to read a book over the summer before the my first “Intro to Business” class – I was less than pleased. Reading over the summer? I thought I was in the big leagues! College. Not elementary, not middle school, not high school. Why on earth did I have to read a book?! This was supposed to be my summer off(ish) – aside from working. The book was called “Rich Dad Poor Dad.” What the heck is that?! I’ll show you!

This book ended up being a blessing in disguise. I was intrigued by the subtitle – “What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!” … My family was “middle class” as far as I knew. Was it worth reading this book?

Here were my top takeaways as teasers:
1) Keep it simple, stupid! … No I’m not elaborating you should read the book!
2) Assets that depreciate quickly, aren’t actually assets (i.e. – cars & automobiles are the biggest offenders, unless they’re well cared for classics that actually appreciate in value)

It’s literally $6 on Amazon – 100% worth it. Free through audiobook!

Reading that book set me on a path to taking control of my own financial future and helped me recognize that while I love my parents for teaching me everything they know, they don’t know everything. Thankfully they’ve been super supportive in my journey for financial independence and self-education. This is best outlined in my experience in utilization of college cost calculators – when I let my dad drive the bus my freshman year and why I took over sophomore year and beyond.

Long story short, I’d highly recommend not only prospective students to read this, but even entire families or new parents to do so together. Even if you’re not in a position to make some of these moves currently, it gives you insight into the bigger picture for acquiring and maintaining wealth long term.

SO while I may continue to be salty about the amount of debt I incurred, and was less than thrilled about my freshman 8am BUS 111’s summer reading assignment, I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out Dr. James Kling and Professor Mitch Alegre. Without them I may not have developed my passion or opportunity to help people with higher education costs.

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