WorkSaveLive Thumbnail

An Imperfect Mold

While I didn’t grow up in the projects of St. Louis, burglaries were common and it’s wasn’t unusual to hear the “pop, pop, pop” sound of a gun not too far in the distance. After years of growing up in a rough neighborhood, I was fortunate to be accepted to one of the most prestigious private schools some 45 minutes away in the richest part of the city.

Seeing both sides of the fence as a child – the lower class lifestyle and the extremely wealthy lifestyle – had a profound impact on my mentality and how my life would eventually take shape. Being able to associate with kids of affluent members of society allowed me to see the luxuries that money can afford. However, on the other hand, going back to my “rough” neighborhood each night reminded me of the life I wanted to avoid and escape.

Despite being surrounded by high income-earning families, my mom and our family struggled to make ends-meet. As a child there was never conversations of budgeting, spending wisely, saving for retirement, or being financially responsible; we simply lived life paycheck-to-paycheck and hoped that someday things would eventually change.

After the struggle that most single mothers have, I’ll never forget the day in high school that my mom told me she was filing bankruptcy and we’d have to get rid of the house; later that Friday night I’d go escape and soak up the upper-class lifestyle: it was pretty nice to stay in my friend’s parent’s 5,000 square foot house.

Keeping up with the Joneses

Saying that I wasn’t ready to handle life on my own would be an extreme understatement as I headed off to college. Despite working jobs throughout high school, I’d never learned the basics of managing money…not even how to fill out a check!

Upon leaving college early I earned a small fortune: $56,000 in my first 7 months of employment (at 20 years old). Dining out for every meal, front row concert tickets to a number of events, and partying like a rock star seemed to fit the mold of the upper class lifestyle I had witnessed as a child. So that’s what I did.

However, my excessive lifestyle would eventually catch up to me and years of over drafted bank accounts, bounced checks, and credit card collectors would ensue. Stress, sleepless nights, anxiety, and hopelessness is what my life became.

Shaping Up

After a few years of racking up debt and living without regard to my finances, a few co-workers turned me on to the Dave Ramsey program. They didn’t know I was struggling with money as I hid it from everybody I knew, but little did they know that that introduction would change my life forever.

While I disagree with many of Dave’s opinions, there is little denying the fact that his budgeting principles work wonders for the average, ignorant Joe. With a new-found sense of hope and a way to get past my self-inflicted stupidity, my wife and I would eventually pay off 60,000 of our $110,000 worth of debt over the next 4.5 years ($25,000 in credit cards/personal loans and $85k in student loans).

My transformation eventually gave me the desire to teach other people how to overcome the financial struggles that the majority of Americans face. After working in an industry where I spent years climbing up the ladder, I’d forgo all that I knew to pursue a career as a financial advisor and coach.

Looking back, I can only be thankful for the lessons that life taught me and the way it’s shaped who I’ve become today.

The Start of WorkSaveLive

After personally coaching a few hundred families and guiding people to the path of financial peace, I was pushed by many of my friends to share my story and knowledge with others around the country. While I knew nothing about blogging (literally…nothing), I decided that I couldn’t overlook the opportunity to connect with hundreds and thousands of people on a monthly basis. Why only coach a few each week when you can reach many more with a single post?

Although there was quite a bit of hesitation on my end, I launched WorkSaveLive in November of 2011 and it’s been an incredible journey. For those of you that haven’t visited the site, I share my family’s journey out of debt, discuss a myriad of financial topics, and offer up a delicious recipe each week that I hope all of my readers test out.

I’m extremely grateful to Yakezie and the network here for giving us all the opportunity to connect and share ideas/concerns. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have gotten through the challenge and be officially inducted.

When I first started blogging it was a challenging road and the site didn’t really begin to take off until I joined the Challenge. I’ve developed some great friendships with many of the challengers in this class and I’m looking forward to getting to know the rest of you as time goes on.

Thanks for all that you do and taking part of our journey!

Over the next several weeks we will be highlighting the Yakezie Epsilon Member Posts. If you’re interested in partaking in the Yakezie Challenge you can find more information here