Money Talk with a 2nd Year Business School Student Turned Consultant Who Wants To Caution Everyone About Not Buying Clothes You Don't Need
Who are you and how old are you?
I am a female in my late 20s in my second year of business school on the East Coast.
Tell me about your background.
I grew up on the East Coast, went to college on the East Coast, worked in financial services for six years, and am now in my second year of business school also on the East Coast.
What does your financial situation look like? If you don’t earn money through a “normal job”, how do you support yourself?
At the moment, I am not earning any money because I am in business school. I accepted a consulting job a few weeks ago so I will be making money soon after I graduate! My parents are helping to pay for half of my business school tuition and I am paying the other half myself. I saved up some money from my previous job which is helping me to pay for this.
How do you define rich?
Being able to do whatever I want without having to worry about money. If I see something expensive that I want to buy, I’m buying it without a second thought. If I want to jet off to Miami for the weekend, I’m buying first class plane tickets without a second thought.
Did you grow up with money? How did your childhood conditions about money affect how you behave?
I had a very financially comfortable upbringing. My mom is a doctor and my dad works in the insurance business. I would say that we were upper middle class. Even though we were financially comfortable, my parents really emphasized saving and being smart about my money.
Did your parents give you money when you were growing up? What about for school?
They gave me money for whatever I need (school trips, ballet materials, etc), but didn’t give me any sort of weekly allowance.
Do you still have school loans?
No, I don’t any other school loans. My parents paid for my entire college tuition. I know how lucky I am to have parents who were willing to help out so much for college. For business school, they said that they would pay for half and that because I had saved up money from my previous job, I would have to pay for the other half. Even though they can financially afford for pay for my business school as well, they said that paying for part of my education would teach me responsibility.
Where did you learn about investing?
I initially learned about it from reading Learnvest. You (editor of Money in my Life) suggested that I check this out a few years ago. I took your advice and am glad I did! Working in the financial services industry has also taught me a few things about investing. However, ever since I started to put money in Wealthfront, I’ve taken a much more passive approach to investing.
What does your family situation look like?
I have an older brother from my dad’s first marriage. He is also a consultant. My parents are still alive and living in the town I grew up in.
Have you started to put money away for their college tuition? If so, how much is it?
I don’t have any children now but if I do in the future, I will definitely start putting money away. I would like to do what my parents did and pay for their college education. However, if they want to go to grad school, they are on their own! I believe very strongly in giving them financial responsibilities.
Do you feel like you are living paycheck to paycheck? If so, do you feel that way due to your lifestyle?
At the moment, I kind of feel like I’m living from paycheck to paycheck. I’m essentially living off my savings and unfortunately don’t have any money coming in.
What was your most regrettable purchase?
I can't pinpoint any exact regrettable purchase but when I first began working in financial services after college, I lived a much "larger" life than I should have (nice apt, bought clothes I didn't really need, etc). I regretted not being smarter about my money at that time and wised up about a year later. I cringe now when I think about what I used to throw away money on and have those regrets.
What was your best purchase?
At this point, I’d say paying for my business school. I’m at a top ranked school and I’m hoping that this pays off in the future.
Do you feel like you have a financial habit that’s out of the norm (or at least something that others have commented on)?
I’m probably more aware of my finances than most people. I track what I spend money on on mint.com and will definitely try to change any of my money habits if I see any spending behavior that alarms me.
Do you feel like your success now has anything to do with luck or being in the right place at the right time?
I do think that I was lucky to be born into an economically prosperous household and that my parents devoted financial resources to helping me do well in school and life. I also think that I was lucky to get into a top business school. This will help me with my career in the future.
How much investing do you do, if any?
I invest money now through Wealthfront. I have always been meaning to open an account and finally did a few years ago.
Do you actively contribute to a retirement account of any sort?
Other than putting money in my Wealthfront account, I am not actively contributing to any other retirement account. During my previous job before business school, I would always maxed out my 401k and contributed the maximum amount to my ROTH IRA.
Do you feel like your lifestyle reflects your income bracket?
I would say that my income bracket falls in the “student” category now. I do spend money going on trips and attending other business school events so perhaps my lifestyle might make it seem like I’m spending more than I’m earning.
Have you ever jumped income brackets (either going from low to high or vice versa) and how did your lifestyle change?
When I graduated from college and began working, I made a ton of money! But when I left work and went to business school, I went to making no money. But this will change again when I graduate and begin working as a consultant.
Do you talk to your peers and family about money?
I talk to my parents and stepbrother about money sometimes but not with my friends. I’m not even sure how I would approach this topic with them so I don’t talk about it.
Do you worry about money?
Not at the moment but I think this has to do with my privilege. I know that if I ever really desperately needed money, my parents would provide for me. I will always have a roof over my head and food to eat. So no, I don’t worry about money.
Do you splurge on anything? If so, what was the last splurge and how much was it?
I splurged on a trip to Europe last winter with some of my business school classmates. I probably spent around $5000 in total (flight tickets, hotel, entertainment, etc).
Do you have a plan to make more money?
Other than earning money through my consulting job, I don’t any other plans.
In terms of money, what was something you did in the past that you could do differently?
I actually don’t have any regrets about money. My parents taught me good financial habits and would stop me if I ever tried to do something dumb. That mentality about being smart with money has stuck with me!
What is your strategy for moving forward now in regards to your big goals in life?
Have a good attitude, set goals for yourself, and always keep going!
What is this?
An anthropological look at how people think about money. Created and edited by Star Li.