HOW DID WE GET HERE?
When I was a little girl, my father always used to say, “God will provide”. It didn’t take long until I realized that this comes hand in hand with solid work ethics and a combination of good decisions and risks.
I was lucky enough to grow up in a family where values were the backbone of our upbringing. I was taught I had to study to become somebody, I had to work to get the material things I wanted. Money did not fall from the trees.
It really wasn’t until I moved to United Stated that I really had to work on a budget and be 100% responsible for my financial well-being. Living with the income of a part time job and a scholarship wasn’t easy, but I was able to do it, and I felt so proud of it. More importantly I could see my father’s smile thinking “she is doing it on her own”.
I worked in the financial industry and climbed the corporate ladder. Until the day my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness. They gave him six months. I thought the good decision was to leave my job and go back to my country to be with him. It is a decision I will never regret.
Not only I was able to spend quality time with my father and take care of his affairs, but I also gave me time for myself. Time, that important piece of wealth, we sometimes forget about.
After my father ‘s passing, I came back home and didn’t know what to do. This was 13 years ago. I had so many mixed feelings. I needed to work, but I started to understand life under a different perspective. I wanted to gain world wisdom, something you can only get when you have time to experiment.
I decided to take a sabbatical. It was going to be one year, to recover from my loss, and to be able to help my mother cope with her new situation. Then one-year turned into three years.
Some people go through the “eat, pray, love” circle. I didn’t. I didn’t want to and I couldn’t afford it. I knew how much I had in savings. I had responsibilities, bills to pay, and family affairs to handle. So I stayed home and decided to do my own “experiment of life”.
I read all the books I always wanted to read, I watched all the movies I never had time to watch, I talked to people I would have never met if I had continued in my corporate job. I learned from everyone, from my friends and family, from teachers, from people who live different ways of life, this was my own personal way of getting wisdom.
But it wasn’t easy.
I don’t want to talk about numbers, but in a way my savings were equal to one -year income. I was able to make those savings last for three years. It is true at the end of the three years, I didn’t have more than 2000 dollars in my bank account and for the first time in my life I felt broke and desperate. But I also felt so wealthy. And most importantly I had my education and experience, my human capital.
During those three years, with a lot of careful planning, I was able to pay my bills on time, maintain a standard of living, and even travel from time to time. The fact that I had already been keeping a healthy financial life and that I know how to manage risk and make financial decisions, allowed me to do it. Some things I did was to sell the stocks I had from the financial institution I used to work with at the right timing, I knew the institution quite well. At the moment I thought the stock was overvalued, I sold. Thanks God for that! The stock turned into a penny stock pretty soon. One crazy thing I did was to sell one parking space. Yes, a parking space. I had bought my first apartment with two parking spaces. Even though it was only me, having an extra piece of property didn’t seem a bad idea. Guess what! Parking spots were a hot commodity in my building, and people were always looking to rent one. I checked the real estate market and realized that an apartment with only one parking space was worth the same as mine with two parking spaces. Even though it was a hot commodity, at the time of a sale, it was not considered in the price. So I just separated one parking space from my property and sold it on its own. I got 10% of the value of my apartment, not a bad deal. I did a lot of crazy stuff too. But I enjoyed every moment of it.
Most importantly, I was proud of myself, I was proud of being able to spend time with my father, of keeping myself financially healthy, and of having learned more about the world and discover what real wealth means. I spoke about this in the first entry of this blog “The Meaning of Wealth”.
After three years, God provided me with a job, a different kind of job. I entered into the world of the “family office”.
The family office is different. You still work with clients and still manage their investments and other aspects of their wealth, but this time the client is the one who pays you. I worked for the client; I searched best opportunities for them among the endless offers.
I also realized many people, even those with means, know very little about money management. The number increases when it comes to women. So I decided I would do something targeting this need. This was five years ago.
I decided to write a book, Finances for Blondes. This never happened, I didn’t have time, the most expensive resource. Time went by, and also technology changed, so this year with the help of a friend I took over the idea. This time a blog was more interesting to get to more people. The opportunity of offering one on one classes, was very appealing. Combining my financial background with my psychology and coaching education, sounded wonderful.
So here I am, trying to turn my daily work into a passion: teaching about personal finances and empowering women through it.