Hello there! If this is the first time you're stumbling across my blog, you are starting in an AWESOME place! Prior to this post, while there is some great information for those more advanced on the personal finance spectrum, I did not address those less advanced first and went straight into more advanced topics like Health Savings Accounts and Backdoor Roth IRA's. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, don't worry. What we're going to do now is take a step back and start at the very beginning and by following this content, in no time you'll know exactly what those terms are. What you'll read in these next posts will actually be excerpts from my recently released book Winning With Money By Keeping It Simple, a financial survival guide to help you break the grip of average. Hopefully, you enjoy what you read and it helps you on your journey to financial wellness. Please remember to subscribe to get all this information delivered directly to your inbox every week. If you would like the first 3 chapters to my book for free, subscribe here.
I’m writing this as a letter and a guide to my sister Lisa directly, and to my other siblings as well. Since all of my siblings are of the millennial generation (born 1982-early 2000’s), this is also intended to be a guide for any millennials who want to learn how to better handle their finances in our current economic environment. The writing of this book was inspired after going on a walk with my dogs to the park near our mother’s house in San Jose during the Thanksgiving holiday 2016. I hope you find it a useful, informative and easy read as that was my intention.
The truth about everything I’m about to say is that everything you want or need to know about personal finances and how to properly handle your money is somewhere on the Internet. It is available for free, and all you have to do is search for it. But if this is true, which it is, then why are there still so many people of all ages still struggling with their finances? Why do so many millennials feel that the Baby Boomers and Generation X has left them with a financial mess to clean up?
If you were to watch the news, you would feel that financially we are finished as a country and that we should all sell everything we have and buy bullets and bottled water. Don’t get me wrong, there are a TON of people struggling in America. But, even with all of our shortcomings, this is still the best place to earn your personal fortune, IF you take the right steps. Don’t believe me? Ask just any immigrant for their thoughts on the opportunities in America.
If people from outside our country are literally jumping over the walls to get here, then why does the millennial generation feel so hopeless about their chances of ever accomplishing anything great financially? Why do immigrants start businesses at twice the rate of native-born citizens? How do they do all this even though only about one-third have ever taken some sort of college class, while 54% of native-born people have? Not only that, about 37% of immigrants compared to 16% of native-born Americans haven’t even finished a high school level of education.
If this is all true, then I have to ask the question, is the system to blame? Or our individual mentalities? Or does the system program each individual’s mentality? I don’t know the correct answer to this. I only have my opinion. All I can say is that I think to be successful these days, we have to un-program ourselves from what we are taught in school, and reprogram ourselves with what it takes to succeed now in America. And I think learning from the immigrant mentality may be one of the keys.
But, back to our subject: money and personal finance. I am passionate about many subjects revolving around health, wealth, love and happiness, but the only one I have formal training and experience in involves personal finances.
My name is Jason J. Hamilton, and I am the CEO of KIS (Keep It Simple) Financial Planning, LLC. We specialize in helping people in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s build wealth using an innovative model. While we do manage assets as a traditional firm would, our main source of revenue is our monthly client retainers. We also have a big heart for the 501c3 non-profit world. To help here, we have specialists on 403(b) consulting and also public student loan forgiveness programs. Why this model? Well, I’ll share my story in a second, but the overarching reason is that we wanted to make REAL financial planning accessible to people of nearly any income level while operating a profitable company. We do this by offering services and advice while remaining conflict-free by not selling any financial products. In short, you will not be sold a whole life policy or big commission mutual fund when you work with us.
I am someone who, only 7 years ago, went from sleeping on an air mattress because I couldn’t afford a bed, and being 40 thousand dollars in debt, to being debt-free, owning a financial planning practice, and serving the non-profit community by teaching financial literacy courses. This is all because I was able to get the right information.
As I mentioned before, it’s all out there somewhere on the internet or in a book, but it’s knowing where to start and where to go next. I’ve read at least 75 books on personal finance, well, probably more like 100, 1000’s of blogs and hundreds of interviews with so-called experts. And after doing all of this, I ended up feeling like they all had a different system and some were even conflicting. Some would talk about good debt versus bad debt. Some said all debt is bad. Some would say you have to personally manage your budget every month. Others said you could put everything on auto- pilot and use systems. Looking back, it was a bit confusing. All I can share with you is what’s worked for me and that it will work for you too.
As I mentioned in the beginning, this is meant as a letter to my siblings, with the hope they will read it so I’ll apologize ahead of time if I start out too basic for you. But after speaking with and teaching classes to hundreds of people, what I have come to realize is that there’s still a MAJOR gap in basic financial knowledge in the general millennial population. Don’t get me wrong, there are a bunch of millennials killing it right now with their finances. But, I find that most people are overconfident in general and even the ones doing well feel like they know it all.
Ask any extremely successful person what happened when they acted like they knew it all. Most of them will tell you they were smacked in the head. They were humbled. Knowing what I know, I still feel like I have so much more to learn. Not only about finances and wealth management, but also about people. Just because I can tell you exactly what to do, it doesn’t mean you will do it and if that’s the case, what good is the knowledge I have to share?
I now consider myself a student of people and that I’m in the business of life and behavior change. So, what do I know? Sure, I own a financial planning firm, but so what? What does that mean? Good question! What is an expert anyway? As defined by dictionary.com, an expert is a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area. So comprehensive and authoritative knowledge do I have that made me feel I could write this book? Well beyond absorbing nearly everything available on the public interwebs, Amazon.com and the public library, I also have my CFP Certificate in Personal Financial Planning from UCLA Extensions - a program considered to be one of the top 20 available. I also earned my degree “with distinction” woah ho ho! I’m special! Not really. But I can tell you this: I’ve spent thousands of hours learning and also applying some simple financial principles and I’ve taken myself from deep in debt, with very little money saved, struggling month-to-month, to out of debt, able to quit my job, and doing what I love to do and am passionate about every day. Can you say the same? I have also helped those close to me do the same.
If you follow the simple steps I will lay out for you, you can do the same as well and often in less time than you think. So where do you start? Well, in my opinion, you have to start with a reality check and then a decision. Let me explain.
Here’s the reality check!
The Federal Reserve Board completed a study surveying Americans of a wide range of jobs and incomes and this is what they found out about how the average American is doing financially:
Over 70% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
47% of all Americans, regardless of income, would have to sell
something or borrow money to cover a $400 emergency.
Only 38% of people could cover a $1000 emergency or a $500 car repair.
55% of people did not have enough liquid savings to cover 1 month of lost income.
71% were worried about having enough money to cover everyday expenses.
These statistics are regardless of income. These are results from people with college or graduate degrees or without. If this doesn’t tell you that something is wrong, I don’t know what will.
Hopefully, that was enough of a reality check for you. Now it’s time to make a decision.
You have to make a decision that you are not going to live like the average, normal American anymore!
Write it out here: ________________________________________
Ex: I will NOT live like the average American/millennial anymore!!
Have you made the decision?? Good! Now we can move on to the next step.