a stream of words
ballads of adoryu
emanates from inside
soft, quiet pulses
a stream of words
ballads of adoryu
emanates from inside
soft, quiet pulses
Saving money is hard. We want to budget, but we spend more than we realize—or admit to ourselves. For most, money seems to come and go, and we are left wondering why we are in debt. Life gets in the way, and unexpected expenses pop up. At the same time, costs for education, housing, and healthcare tend to increase every year, outpacing the raises we receive. The media does not help either. We turn on the TV and are overwhelmed by the information that is available. We ask ourselves where to even start. Between investment accounts, budgeting, and what to invest in, there is a lot to take in. Not only that, but the media portrays happiness as being for sale, and modern life pressures us into overspending with new cars, new watches, and new iPhones. It is no wonder that it is hard to save. We keep postponing saving money until later, thinking once we get that promotion or raise then we can start.
I used to think this way, especially when I was younger. I remember buying a new MacBook Pro for school and spared no expense getting the 15-inch version with bumped up specs when I only needed the 13-inch base model. I upgraded my iPhone every year when my current iPhone still worked fine. I bought the latest and greatest TVs to keep up with technology. And, I spent countless hours looking at new cars when I could afford them the least. Fortunately, common sense reeled my car fantasies back in. This behavior did not mean that I was a bad person. In fact, most people live life this way.
Growing Up Without
As a child, my brother and I grew up with a single mom. Our dad left when we were young, so we did not have a lot. During the day, my mom worked multiple jobs to try and make ends meet. I remember on more than one occasion seeing my mom walk in the door with a box of food, knowing she had gone to the food bank. In school, I was picked on for having odd clothes and glasses because we could not afford what the other kids were wearing. Through it all, I thought that if only I had what the other kids had, then I would be popular, happy, and normal. My urge to impress others came from this. I thought if I worked hard and bought everything my mom could not afford, then I could impress others in school, be liked, and have more friends.
Why am I sharing such a personal story right off the bat? Because coming from nothing, I know how hard it is to get your life on track and how it is easy to feel frustrated, exhausted, scared, resentful, or guilty over your financial situation. My experience growing up also taught me that happiness is a state of mind and how the insecure boy wanting to keep up with everyone else to be happy was wrong. I only became happier when I was satisfied with what I had.
Growing up without money meant that I had an odd fixation on it. I did not have money to manage, and, therefore, I wanted it. For years, I dreamed of what it would be like to have money and believed that once obtained then I would finally be secure in myself and have something to offer others. This became a problem because my self-identity revolved around money and how insecure I felt not having it. Little did I realize that money should be the process of attaining more but not the end goal.
My life changing-moment came after graduating high school, when I decided to live with my dad for a year in the Philippines. While I was there, I saw little children with literally nothing, whose parents made less than $100 a month, running around in the streets laughing. I thought to myself, “How can they be happy? Here I am working hard at my job at McDonalds spending money on videogames and electronics, and these kids are happier than I am.” I needed to change my focus, so I studied how those children could be happier than most people I knew back in Canada, including myself. No longer was I trying to impress others. Relationships, volunteering, and making a difference in the world became my focus. The good news is that you can make those fundamental changes right now like I did.
Who Is This Book For?
I wrote this book to make a positive impact on others concerning financial security. It is written to teach a new way of thinking about money—to help readers learn the fundamental skills they need to become debt-free and retire comfortably. This book is for anyone, of any age and income, who wants to learn how to better save their money and change their mentality regarding their finances. The ideas in this book are not taught in the classroom, although they should be, and come from real-world experience. I have an undergrad in finance and an MBA and still had to learn everything from scratch.
I specifically wrote this book as a guide for my peers, Millennials. We tend to focus on experiences instead of financial security, mostly because we believe having both is not feasible. We may wonder why even try when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. The principles of this book, however, teach everyone the monetary fundamentals and demonstrate how financial security is achievable no matter where you come from.
The number one financial issue that faces society is debt. In December 2017, U.S. consumer debt hit $3.82 trillion. That is a lot of debt. Of this, $1.75 trillion are student loans, $1.25 trillion are auto loans, and $500 billion are credit cards. And, this does not include mortgages. Think about that for a second. This debt is about $11,660[i] per person including children. For a household of four, that is about $46,640. What is even more astonishing is the average U.S. household has a savings rate of 3.2%, which is near a 10-year low. As seen in the figure below, the country is headed in the wrong direction. Canadian consumers are doing a bit better but not by much.
If you are one of the 99% of the people out there, you fall somewhere on this financial spectrum:
Your goal is to move up this spectrum, one rung at a time. My goal is to help you get climbing!
For full disclosure: I am in the #2 category with my goal of obtaining #1, which is a far cry from where I was growing up. What qualifies me to write a book about personal finance when I am not myself retired? Good question. First off, I started from the bottom with literally nothing. I was not born into a rich family. I had to work and claw my way up out of poverty.
Second, I am now debt-free, and believe me, it felt like a long road from being over $50,000 in debt and making mistakes along the way to now having a sizable six-figure retirement fund and owning multiple properties. It is all about saving, budgeting, investing in the market, using compound interest, and the time it takes for your money to work for you.
The truth is that for most people it is not one single event that puts them into debt but rather hundreds of small financial decisions every day—one transaction at a time, each swipe of the credit card, nothing that sets off alarm bells on its own. These small purchases add up over time, though. While my debt primarily came from a single life decision, I show you how changing my daily spending habits allowed me to pay back my debt and save a sizable amount in a short period of time.
The 14 chapters in Kicking Financial Ass, which are divided into four parts—Foundations, Growth, Investing, and Living Your Life—will transform your relationship with money, help you achieve your goals, and enable you to become financially independent. This is not a book about money as much as it is about changing your perspective on life.
By the end of this book, you will:
After reading this book, you will feel empowered to change your habits and routines, focus on debt reduction, and ultimately retire. You will feel free to travel the world, take multiple vacations a year, and live life how you want to and feel secure in your financial future. Many of us never received financial training in school. Most, if not all of us, had to learn it on our own. This book is a short-cut to teach you everything you need to know.
[i] $3.82 trillion divided by US population estimate https://www.census.gov/popclock/