I started off life just below the middle class. My dad worked as a line cook and my mother a secretary. When both my parents lost their jobs, the legs that held us in the middle class went wobbly. We went from having a two bedroom house to being homeless and trying to figure out how to put food on the table.
Instead of joining the drama club or spending my summers traveling, I worked a job starting in high school to pay the bills. I ended up going to university on a full scholarship and knew that I didn’t want to be poor after I graduated.
I Knew What I Wanted to Do After College
I needed a good paying job out of college. While my friends were partying and drinking on the weekends, I was busy preparing for interviews. I remember buying a $49 suit from Target for my interviews and having my mother tailor it for me. After two years of prep and many more countless hours networking, I finally landed a job at one of New York’s top investment banks. Starting salary?
$85,000 base salary + $45,000 bonus
Not bad for a 22-year old coming out of college…
I Eventually Found My Way Back to My Middle Class Roots
Not being poor anymore is a wondrous feeling. Even though I was working 90 hour work weeks, I was able to pay the bills, put food on the table, and send money back home to help with the mortgage. The company provided me with retirement, a daily dinner allowance, and comprehensive healthcare coverage. I no longer forewent the doctor because of money and fully utilized the plan’s physical therapy and chiropractic coverage.
Now, my goal is built on increasing my net worth. I’ve built three different sources of income and plan on building two more. During my whole poor-to-middle class journey, how rich you are comes down to internal programming. The time that I’ve honestly felt the poorest when I had money, but was working 100 hours a week.
The Used-to-be-Poor is a Weird Place to Be
I’m always afraid about slipping back to poverty. That is why I save 70% of my income. Nowadays, somehow having more money has brought up my fear of falling all the way back to the kind of poor where I buy frozen vegetables to save money.
Some days, success feels like a soap bubble. I’m afraid I’ll do something to pop it. I’ve got a really good life and I love working in private equity. I love meeting founders and CEOs and deciding what businesses are worth investing in and how to improve existing businesses. I am helping people realize their dreams. I’m doing something that lots of people want to do, so I get asked fairly often about my work.
Meaning vs. Money
My advice to people reading this is to focus on finding out your own goals in life. For instance, my goal is to build as much human capital as possible. That means traveling to different countries, learning to play an instrument, a new language, and how to Latin dance.
Life goals are different for everyone.
If you want to inspire people, then do it.
If you want to create a business, then do it.
If you want to write blog posts like me to help people in life, then do it.
The zeros on the computer screen get very boring, quickly.
I’m not saying money doesn’t matter. It does; however, it should not be your primary focus. Money is only merely a medium for you to fulfil your goals in life. For me, I use money to travel, try new foods, buy a custom-made guitar, and for salsa and bachata lessons.
My self-worth came to me through the simplest pleasures. I didn’t need a Lamborghini to make me feel on top of the world. A yoga class in the morning or asking a girl to dance at a bar in Argentina gives me far more pleasure than money ever will.