Updated: Mar 22, 2019
I forget, at times, that I came from a middle class upbringing. I forget because I live in one of the most expensive cities in the US, I’ve been making a six-figure salary for 6 years, and over half the posts I see on Instagram are about friends traveling to exotic locations. I went to a private high school with two full time working parents. My sister and I played 3 high school sports year round, went to summer camp every year and always had several presents under the Christmas tree. We did not eat out very frequently, get new clothes often, nor have cell phones until we could drive.
At a young age I learned that I would be getting a hand-me-down car, not a BMW and I was going to have to save to buy myself nice things as they wouldn’t just be given to me. None of that bothered me. These learnings were partially because of my parent’s socio-economic status and partially because of amazing parenting.
Ok Magda, we get it, you didn’t have a ton of money but you clearly had enough to have a great childhood. Why are we reading about this?
This weekend I taught a three hour Financial Literacy class for an amazing organization and team called the Oakland Warthogs Rugby Team. It’s a group of young boys, age 14-18, who come from different areas of the Bay. The coaches work tirelessly to fund raise to offset the cost of the boys' gear, travel, and season expenses.
I learned that these students came from diverse backgrounds. One of the question asked to the group was, “What would be a health emergency you might need to save money for in your emergency fund?” The answers I expected from these athletes was, “broken arm, torn ACL, car accident.” Others answered, “Get shot.” My heart sank when I saw one of the more shy students answer, “Yes, this is what my emergency could be.” I later learned another teammate has had some trouble coming to practice recently because he has had to work two jobs to help pay rent at his home. He’s just 16.
I started to think about my own childhood and how fortunate I was to be brought up with finances in the forefront but this may not be the case for everyone.
If you are among those that have not progressed as far as you would have liked financially, don’t just avoid the problem. Get started today. Knowledge is power. The more you understand your money and how it should be working the more powerful you can become. This is why it was so special to do a finance class for high school students. The sooner anyone learns to build an emergency fund and understand the value of credit the better!
There’s no better time than now. Whether you came from a privileged background or not, you can shape your financial future. Here are some ways you can positively change:
1. Make sure you strive to save 30% of your paycheck into retirement and general savings when possible.
2. Start investing your long term money as soon as possible. Yea, like, tomorrow.
3. Check your credit score at least once per year and understand what impacts your score.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with your finances, just make sure that person is qualified.
Happy Getting Started Today,