OLD WORLD UPBRINGING
Work hard in school and get good grades. Good grades will get you a good job to work hard at. Save your money and one day you will be able to retire. This was the only personal finance education I received growing up.
My Italian grandparents, who lived through the depression, had a tight-lipped policy about money for fear of it being stolen. This was their sad reality. Money was therefore stashed away in a tin can, rolled up and tuck away in the back of the freezer, and crammed away under the mattress.
My baby-boomer parents were a bit more trusting and put the majority of their money in the bank while the remainder went into tax-deferred retirement accounts. However, the influence of their own upbringing and living through multiple financial recessions, paranoia set in that led them to save more in cash than in investment accounts. The old world didn’t care about the market, they had their cash.
Naturally, I myself, became a bit of a saver and a sucker for “get rich quick” schemes. It wasn’t long before I discovered the small amounts I saved over the years was greater than the sum of all my bad investments combined. Sure, I regretted chasing those failed investments that lost me a few thousand, but it taught me two very important lessons. Lesson #1, there is no substitute for the old world ways of saving money under the mattress (the ‘mattress’, today, being a metaphor for a savings account, retirement account, or the discipline of consistently saving). Lesson #2, I needed to invest more time educating myself about personal finance.
It took me years and the loss of a few thousand dollars to figure out that amassing a fortune didn’t require a fancy education, owning multiple rental properties or sophisticated investing into a hedge fund.
Why didn’t I want to believe this?
Because it sounds sexier to tell your friends, “I just made a killing in Apple stock. Got in at $300 and it closed on Friday at $800”
“I was able to save 15% of my income last year.” SnooooooooozzZZzze-FEST!
Saving is boring. Saving isn’t sexy. Saving has little to no rate of return. But above anything else, it is your savings, regardless of your income, that will create and drive wealth.
THE AUTHOR – CHURCH
I graduated college in 2002 with an accounting degree, $17k of student debt and a job offer from the company I interned with during my senior year. By today’s standards, I was lucky.
Throughout my 20’s, I contributed a small amount to my company’s 401(k), stashed money into stable growth whole life insurance policies (again, analogous to putting under the mattress) and the remainder was spent on being young and dumb.
My early 30’s weren’t much different, just less dumb about money. I began to max out my 401(k) contributions, automated my life to save more frequently and developed an appetite for more calculated risks in my portfolio.
Now I am 38, married, planning a family of our own in a couple of years and want to re-prioritize my life to focus on what is truly important to me – time with family & friends. Easier said than done, but not impossible.
MyMattressMoney.com is purposed to track my progress and setbacks of achieving my financial goals, while adding educational information to help those along their own personal financial journey.