Today, we’re going to talk about “How did YOU learn about Financial Literacy?” Because I think it’s important for YOU to know where I learned it if you’re getting some tips.
Financial Literacy Lesson #1 – Emergency Fund
Before we get started on anything else for today.
I want to ask you to ask yourself, “Did I get STARTED on my EMERGENCY FUND?”
This was the homework from our last post. If you haven’t reviewed it, go do it now. To have an emergency fund is SUPER IMPORTANT and you can have several emergency funds (as I do and as I’ll explain later). If you can, deposit $10 this week into your emergency fund at a minimum and you will have already accomplished a lot!
My Emergency Fund Story
In my last post, I detailed that I had about $10,000 to work with for an emergency fund for six months and at the end of my fifth month, I had about $2,000 left of runway. Things were getting shaky there in terms of me about to burn through my last $2,000.
Have you ever been in that situation before?
Have you been in the situation when your money was about to dry up?
That you will be left with NO EMERGENCY FUND?
Maybe, you experience that on a consistent basis and you KNOW how stressful it is. I’m telling you, I’ve been there and it’s not fun. That’s why I’m writing these financial literacy posts to educate as many people as I can about financial literacy because SCHOOL DIDN’T TEACH IT TO US. Did they?
Fortunately, I found a job in the USA that brought me here and ever since then I’ve been at the same job (because they sponsor green cards). That stroke of luck allowed me to get out of that situation.
Not everybody will be that lucky, I don’t want to be a downer, but I just want to emphasize the need for an EMERGENCY FUND that’ll last you six months to a year.
That’s how long I want you to have it because that’s a good chunk of time it’ll give you for you to figure things out.
You’ll thank me later.
Every single person will be in that situation AT LEAST ONCE, if not more times, than necessary.
To find a ballpark of a good-sized emergency fund, do the following:
Finding your emergency fund example:
|Expenses||Monthly Cost||6 Months Projection||12 Months Projection|
|Rent & Utilities||$900||$900 * 6 = $5,400||$900 * 12 = $10,800|
|Groceries||$300||$300 * 6 = $1,800||$300 * 12 = $3,600|
|Essential Subscriptions (i.e. internet/phone)||$200||$200 * 6 = $1,200||$200 * 12 = $2,400|
|**Other things (going out/restaurants)||$100||$100 * 6 = $600||100 * 12 = $1,200|
|TOTAL||$1,500||$1,500 * 6 = $9,000||$1,500 * 12 = $18,000|
YOUR EMERGENCY FUND (FILL OUT CHART BELOW):
|Expenses||Monthly Cost||6 Months Projection||12 Months Projection|
|Rent & Utilities|
|Essential Subscriptions (i.e. internet/phone)|
|**Other things (going out/restaurants)|
** One thing to note, if you are out of a job and have no income. You should probably NOT be going out and visiting restaurants BECAUSE YOU ARE BROKE. Save some money, repurpose your time in finding another job/gig as soon as possible.
The resulting total will give you a good estimate of how much you need to get by, to survive, per month. That’s how much money you need to save or have in your emergency fund in order to be protected in case the unexpected happens.
My Financial Literacy Story – How Did I Learn About Money?
Let Me Rant A Bit
I don’t really want to tell this story, it’s such a long story, but it’s important for you to know where I came from. Maybe you will resonate with my past, maybe you won’t. But if I don’t tell it, we will never know the answer to that, will we?
I hope after hearing my journey, you’ll feel inspired and motivated to conquer the world. Too many of us live in depression, stressful, and unfulfilled lives. Passing time on Netflix or YouTube because they are either living in the matrix or too scared to step out to the unknown…
… I was once there and I spent too much time there. Money REALLY DOES enable oneself and allow them to chase their dreams.
When people say, “money is the root of all evil” the people who say that usually have no money. It’s a very poor mindset. If you think money is evil and bad, then money will never come to you.
Think about it, if money was a person, and you thought this person was evil or bad and they knew that, why would they want to hang out with you?
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. – Timothy 6:10 KJV
My Financial Literacy Journey Full Disclosure
I was raised in a very low-income family.
We did not have much.
Mom was a stay-at-home mom and I remember feeling bad about it when I was younger. I called her lazy because she wasn’t like other moms. All of my friend’s moms were out working and making money for the family while she was at home taking care of us.
There were times when she’d do a brief stint or gig to earn some extra cash while grandma babysat us, but I guess she preferred raising kids instead.
NOW, I realize that raising your own kids have its own importance, because you can impart your own values and beliefs onto your kids (and they are most easily influenced at the tender ages).
Stay-at-home moms are the MOST UNDERPAID job in the world. They don’t even get to contribute to 401Ks (and you’ll learn later why 401Ks are the BIGGEST SCAM in the USA).
Now that I reflected back on that I’m really glad she did that because I think being raised by a loving parent (regardless of being biological or not) is really important for the emotional, mental, and physical development of a child.
If you study human behavior a lot, you can really tell who was neglected when they were growing up. There are obvious patterns. But that’s a story for another time.
A Detour From the My Financial Literacy Story on Human Behavior … Kinda!
This is off-track from personal finance, I know, but I think it’s important! Therefore, you should read it!
Disclaimer: It’s also my personal opinion, and you can disagree/agree all you like, it won’t hurt my feelings. I just want you to learn to observe human behavior and perhaps you’ll share your perspective with me. That way, we grow together.
After reflecting, a lot of kids whose parents were out working didn’t really that same sense of love, values, and beliefs instilled from their parents.
I can imagine that causing a bit of conflict later down the line in future relationships and potential life partners.
The values instilled in us, by our parents, play a BIGGER ROLE than you might think.
Those conflicts will result in a certain mindset or frame of mind that will likely result in more stressful lives.
For example, a child who was neglected or told “they won’t amount to anything” will likely fulfill that prophecy. They’ll hop from relationship to relationship, person to person, looking for someone who will “value” them. But, until they figure it out that NO ONE will value them until they learn to value themselves, until they resolve the “neglect” they grew up with….
… they will stay in that cycle. And maybe they will stay there FOR LIFE.
That is the reality of the world we live in.
Let’s contrast that with nurturing parents that raise their children with love and care. There are tons of articles citing the importance of “love”. That it’s the one thing humans yearn and chase after.
We’ve all heard of cases through media or movies of the people who gave up everything for “love”. Yes, it’s that important!
What’s less talked about is how “love” develops us from children to adults.
Love really helps us develop as humans because, frankly, we’re emotional beings. If you have parents that had both worked and you didn’t really get much attention growing up, you probably wouldn’t be too close to your parents as adults.
Can you find people in your life, either in you or through the people you know, who aren’t close with their parents? Or who are close? Have you ever wondered what the parent-child relationship might’ve been like from childhood to adulthood?
I kind of understand this theory, because my dad worked a lot to support the family and growing up, he didn’t spend much time with his kids. There was not a lot of playtime.
Nope, I never played catch with my dad.
We didn’t get much time to bond and that resulted in me NOT thinking too highly of him. I remember times when I thought condescendingly of him, again a story for another time.
Things are good now and we have a good relationship (not as good as my mom and I), but that is only because I am a passionate student of human behavior, psychology, and neuroscience. In short, it took a lot of knowing and learning about myself and where my dad was coming from in order for me to bridge our differences.
Growing up, we weren’t very close as father and son.
For most of us, if you ever thought differently or looked at your parents condescendingly (because you’re comparing), don’t feel bad, because I think everyone has done that AT LEAST ONCE across all generations (boomers, X, Y, Millennials, Z)
Back to the Story
I grew up in a low-income household in a low-income neighborhood. Of course, I attended public school because private school? That’s OUT OF THE QUESTION. We did NOT have money for that.
Public school was all right. There were gangs and fights and I never partook in any of that, but there were people in that crowd (or else there wouldn’t be a gang, right?).
When you’re in an environment where people are emotionally reactive, you will likely be emotionally reactive. When you react emotionally, then you’re not reacting logically and that’s how you misuse money.
I’m not saying to be emotionless; I’m saying to learn to control your emotions. Learn to stop. Then, breathe. Reflect and act accordingly. That’s how we find success with attracting the positive things we want in life.
At some point during my youth, because of my situation and environment of seeing conflicts due to lack of money from my parents, I started to ask the question: “How does the rich make money? How do they stay wealthy? While my parents are slaving away at jobs or barely making ends meet?”
My dad was a seasonal worker, he worked at an Asian grocery store in the winters and he’d be a gardener, running his own business during other seasons – Spring, Summer, Fall.
As immigrants, they didn’t bring home thousands of dollars.
Maybe $800-1000 every two weeks?
That’s to raise a family of four, because I have a younger brother.
It’s hard for families, especially children, in that situation. I grew up in one, so I understand. Being in that, seeing that, and growing up seeing conflicts between my parents because of money. It’s hard.
Fun fact: I remember reading somewhere that finances are the #1 reasons for divorce in America.
Seeing that situation as a kid made me realize that “If we had money, all these problems, won’t be problems.”
Up to a certain point I think that line of thinking is true. Of course, now I know more about human behavior, psychology, and neuroscience…
If you’re an asshole before you had money, you’ll just be a bigger asshole after the money
If you’re a generous person before you had money, you’ll be even more generous after the money.
Money magnifies and intensifies the person you really are.
Think about who you are and what you want to do and once you’ve acquired money, what you’re going to do with that money. I think this exercise either reveals our humility or our selfishness.
I think there are a lot of examples out there of the ultra-rich, just unfulfilled, because they never figured it out prior to getting all that cash.
That’s one long story of how I learned about money.
- I came from a low income family
- I saw how hard things were for my family and parents
- I started wondering how the rich came to be rich
- I started looking on the internet and going down rabbit holes (like most people)
- I joined useful clubs (i.e. finance) in university and networked with people (albeit poorly) and learned from them
- It started with an interest of knowing how money works. That was my journey of financial literacy (which hasn’t stopped)
North Americans Aren’t Alone
DISCLAIMER: I’m NOT a financial advisor, just a client who had grown his money NOT by saving because SAVING is for suckers and you can’t make money saving.
Financial Literacy: Knowing how money works… how to earn, give, invest, save, and spend CASH.
I put this in a specific order. Earn, Give, Invest, Save, and Spend.
Why is spending last? Because after you’ve set up your system, then you can spend the leftover discretionary money KNOWING that you’re being financially responsible, that you’ve earned, gave, invested, and saved!
I believe that every self-made millionaire or billionaire started where we all started. They all started at a job and EARNED. Some of them, if they’re religious or something would give 10% to a church (a tithe), or would donate to a cause that’s important to them. After that, they’d invest into things like mutual funds, bonds, etc. something that’d give them a return on investment.
For me I put money in mutual funds, index universal life insurance (super important, I’ll talk about it in another post, so make sure to join the newsletter!), etc.
After that, they’d put money in their bank account. An activity we would call “SAVING”.
I always have a couple thousand dollars in my checkings account FOR SMALL EMERGENCIES/SPENDINGS.
I am highly against having a lot of money in your checkings or savings account in the USA because the interest is 0% basically. In other words, your money is collecting dust and it’s NOT WORKING FOR YOU.
The savings is just there to give me peace of mind, that if anything happened, I’d have the funds to cover me.
I also have an emergency fund that is invested in investments (like mutual funds, stocks) that is making a return on investment. Not earning 0% interest. That’s part of the INVEST stage. Again, we’ll talk about this more in later posts, so make sure you join the newsletter!
Savings is just having money that you can withdraw easily from an ATM.
Spending is EASY. The caveat is to never actually spend CASH, always use credit cards because you earn rewards and it helps with your credit score. Unless, you are irresponsible with credit cards, then spend cash because you can’t be trusted with credit.
Hmmm. Let me know if a credit course would be beneficial for you. I have quite a bit of experience using credit cards correctly . You pick credit cards based on your goal, that’s a little teaser I’ll offer you right now.
To me, spending cash is not smart, unless you’re at a Chinese restaurant and they don’t take credit cards (because … credit card fees – and they’re cheap). I understand, I’m Chinese; it’s a 2.9% fee!
Again, if you don’t know how credit works, get educated before you use credit. That’s why credit card debt is $1 Trillion dollars in the USA!
So, SPENDING is LAST!
Being financial responsible is IMPORTANT and the system is important, but it’s also IMPORTANT TO HAVE FUN PEOPLE!
Financial Illiteracy: NOT knowing how money works!
That is, you spend first. So, by the end of it, we have nothing left to save, to invest, or to give.
IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT
Financial literacy was NOT taught in school. We weren’t taught this anywhere. Some people are lucky enough to have parents or families that taught them how money worked, but not all of us are that lucky. I wasn’t part of that lucky group.
For myself, I went out and met people who were good with money and learned from them. I did not learn it from my parents, they still don’t know how money works. I’m going to be their pensions and funding them until they pass away. That’s Chinese culture though, parents take care of their kids when they are young, and the kids take care of the parents when they’re old.
But, I just want you to know, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.
90% of Venezuelans live below the poverty line.
Greece still hovers close to 20% unemployment since their 2010 economic collapse.
Plainly, financial literacy impacts 3/4th of the world.
The Financial Literacy Goal
To close the knowledge gap and level the playing field.
I don’t want people to be taken advantage of. For immigrants and elderly, they are HIGHLY SUSCEPTIBLE especially if they are like my parents, immigrants and elderly, who don’t speak English well in a English-speaking country.
Just knowing how finances, interest rates, etc. work will really level the playing field. They will be able to make calculations because that stuff is universal wherever you go.
And if they don’t care to learn it, YOU CAN LEARN IT TO PROTECT THOSE YOU CARE ABOUT.
CLOSE THE KNOWLEDGE GAP, LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD, AND PURSUE THE DREAM LIFE THAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED.
Financial Literacy Casualties
- 44% of Americans don’t have the cash to cover a $400 emergency
- 43% of student loan borrowers are not making payments
- 38% of households in America have credit card debt.
- 33% of American adults have ZERO retirement savings.
Think About Why You Want To Be Educated In Financial Literacy
That’s it for today’s post. Boy, it was a long post. Took me hours to write. But I hope you got some value from it. Though, it was mainly me talking about how I came to learn about financial literacy.
It’s a journey that will never end in your life once you start it, but it will be a journey well taken, because it will protect you and your loved ones. That was my reason, is my reason, and will always be my reason for financial literacy.
But what is my reason MAY NOT BE your reason. So, I want to end this post by asking…
What is your reason? Why do you want to be educated in Financial Literacy?
That’s all for today folks and don’t forget to join our newsletter!