We each have our own story – our background and experiences which shape who we are.
I really enjoy reading people’s stories and getting a sneak peek into their lives. While mine is not nearly as interesting or impressive as some, I’d like to share my story to offer some insight into who I am and where I came from.
I grew up as an only child and I credit this for the close relationship I have with my parents. Growing up, we didn’t have an abundance of money by any stretch of the imagination, but we never did without. Without much to manage, money was never a topic of conversation, at least not one I was exposed to.
I was pretty much your standard American kid and had an amazing childhood full of wonderful memories. Middle school and high school were pretty typical. Sports (traditional and extreme), friends, getting into more trouble than we probably should have, etc.
During my senior year of high school, I achieved the type of recognition any parent would be proud of, not “most likely to succeed” or “most likely to win a Nobel Prize,” no, I was bestowed upon me the prestigious “class clown” award. Cue the envy and awe.
I met and began dating the love of my life (and now wife) during my last year of high school. We both worked part-time jobs at the time and since we lived at home and had minimal bills or monthly expenses, we were (seemingly) flush with cash. Rather than save or invest our money, we chose to spend it like drunken sailors.
We ate out as if we were allergic to home cooked meals. We were recreational shoppers and the mall crawl became a hobby of ours. Dinner dates, going to the movies and concerts were regular weekend activities. We had an absolute blast together, but looking back, it would have been nice to balance a little more saving with spending like rockstars. (This continued for the next three years until we decided we wanted to buy a house.)
I also started a clothing company my senior year of high school. Circa 2005. Who didn’t start, or at least want to start, a clothing company in 2005? Not surprisingly, with no money, knowledge or connections, my venture was unsuccessful. RIP Mistaken Industries. Periodically, I still get the urge to live out this dream and start another company in this space, but then I usually come to and realize it’s probably a pretty silly idea.
At the age of 18 or so and right around the time I graduated from high school, I developed a strong interest in business, entrepreneurship and personal finance. I began reading books like The Millionaire Next Door and The Richest Man in Babylon (two of my personal favorites). A few years later, I also began reading personal finance blogs and haven’t looked back since. I am thankful for the information and ideas I was exposed to, especially at such a young age.
When I was in high school, my career goals were centered around becoming a tattoo artist and eventually owning my own tattoo shop. Dream big or go home. My dad has tattoos and I loved to draw and was pretty good at it, so my idea (at the time) seemed like a perfect fit.
I turned 18 halfway through my senior year of high school and I managed to get my first tattoo two weeks before my 18th birthday (note to self, when everyone tells you to keep the ink above your sleeve line, listen). Once I turned 18 and while still in high school, I began an apprenticeship at a local tattoo shop. Aside from being the shop peon, overall, it was a pretty cool experience.
After about 6 months, I realized tattooing wasn’t for me and, much to the dismay of family and friends who loved getting free tattoos, I decided to indefinitely suspend the ink-slinging.
Post High School Life
A few months later, I was recruited to join a well-known multi-level marketing (MLM) business. I “caught the vision” and was attracted to the idea of “being my own boss” with very little capital outlay or overhead. Oh, to be young and impressionable. I continued on with this organization for about 5 years before eventually tapping out.
Although, despite my best efforts, I never made much money, the personal growth and development material I was exposed to was life-changing and still serves me to this day. Books like How to Win Friends and Influence People and How to Have Power and Confidence in Dealing with People challenged me to get out of my innately introverted comfort zone.
During my time in the MLM organization, I also worked various jobs in construction, retail and motorcycle assembly. Like many of the people I graduated with, I had never anticipated going to college and why would a tattoo artist need to anyway, right?
Only a few people out of my entire extended family (on both sides) went to college, so it was never on my radar and its importance was never really impressed upon me. At the time, it seemed so out of reach and unattainable. All of that was about to change.
Stay tuned for Part II of my story. We’ll talk about college, startups, job loss and babies. Life truly is a beautiful, wild ride.
Did you spend money like a drunken sailor in your younger years or have you always been a saver? Have you had any experience or success with MLM? What are your favorite personal finance books?