Who are you and how old are you?
I am a 31 year old working as a CEO/Founder of a startup on the east coast.
Tell me about your background.
I grew up in the Southeast, went to college in my home state, worked as an investment banker after college, and then left the finance world to work as an entrepreneur. My first startup was funded by a famous accelerator program on the east coast. Unfortunately, it didn't progress in the way I would have liked, and I took many of the lessons I learned from that to create my next startup, which I am currently working on now.
What does your financial situation look like? If you don’t earn money through a “normal job”, how do you support yourself?
I live with my partner and we split everything down the middle. I currently take a salary from my startup. At the end of the year, I will take the profits from my company and invest the money - 50% goes toward growing my company, and the other 50% goes toward a "Purchasing an apt one day" account.
How do you define rich?
$5 million income after taxes a year. It’s enough to afford multiple houses and be able to travel whenever I want.
Did you grow up with money? How did your childhood conditions about money affect how you behave today?
Yes and no. I grew up in an middle to upper middle class family. My dad started as a mortgage broker and eventually worked his way up to be president of the bank while my mom managed a horse farm. Even though my dad did well, there were up and down periods in his career. When he made a lot of money, he would spend it all. We didn't have many liquid assets. After the 2008 market crash, he lost a lot and is only now starting to get back on his feet, in his 60s. My mom taught me a lot about how to manage money, mainly, to not be like my dad!
Unfortunately, I do see some traits of my dad within myself. When I worked as an investment banker and made lots of money, I spent more than I should have. My partner is more frugal and financially conservative, and that influences how I deal with money.
Did your parents give you money when you were growing up? What about for school?
My parents gave me $10,000 a year for college. The rest of my tuition was covered by scholarships. They gave me money when I was growing up but I didn't really want for anything. For example, they bought me a car when I turned 16 but I accidentally totaled it later. They didn't buy me a car after that!
Do you still have school loans?
No, I've never had school loans.
Where did you learn about investing?
I learned about investing from my background. I studied economics in college, I had a private wealth management internship in college, and I worked as an investment banker.
What does your family situation look like?
My partner and I are a double income couple with no children and no pets living in a major city on the east coast.
Do you and your spouse/partner have similar financial habits?
My partner is more financially conservative than me, and that has made me more financially conservative as well! We stick to a monthly budget and are saving toward buying an apt!
Do you feel like you are living paycheck to paycheck? If so, do you feel that way due to your lifestyle?
No, because my partner and I have a very decent amount of money saved up.
What was your most regrettable purchase?
The previous apt my partner and I lived in. We were paying way too much in rent for that and signed a two-year lease so we couldn't move out when we wanted to. I regret signing up for that apt but at the time, felt like we could afford it after looking at our budget. I just didn't account for all the extra expenses that would add up (decorating, etc) living in that place and the other things I could have done instead with the money (put it in savings, hire someone for my company, etc). It really was a fiasco and now I'm super cautious about that stuff. We have since moved into a new apt that is much more reasonable.
What was your best purchase?
My designer clothes and shoes. These are items that I get refurbished every year so they stay in great condition. I know they'll last 7-9 years, and are collection pieces.
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 keep really detailed budgets in excel. My partner and I split everything and we have 3-5 accounts - one joint checking, two personal checking, and two business checking. I don't think others may be as detailed as I am, and think this is habit left over from my banking days.
Do you feel like your success now has anything to do with luck or being in the right place at the right time?
Yes, a lot of my success has to do with privilege. I’m white from an upper middle class family. My parents are both college educated and paid for my college. In regards to my startup, I got multiple writeups which brought in a ton of business.
How much investing do you do, if any?
I use a robo-adviser for my investing.
Do you actively contribute to a retirement account of any sort?
I do not because I am working at a startup. I just have savings at this point.
Do you feel like your lifestyle reflects your income bracket?
No, not at this point. Even though my partner and I earn more now than we did before when we had that expensive apt, we are a lot more financially conservative and don't have a "flashy" lifestyle .
Have you ever jumped income brackets (either going from low to high or vice versa) and how did your lifestyle change?
I jumped income brackets after graduating from college to working as an investment banker. I bought a BMW with my banking money, went out to restaurants all the time, all that stuff. I’m so similar to my dad, now that I think about it. When I left banking, I got a corporate strategy job that paid a decent amount but because I didn't get an annual bonus like I did in banking, became much more disciplined with my money. I moved to a smaller apt and cut down on spending.
Do you talk to your peers and family about money?
I just talk to my partner and my mom. My mom always wants to make sure things are in order and is constantly talking to me about her will. I don’t talk to my siblings about money.
Do you worry about money?
No, because I have a decent amount saved up.
Do you splurge on anything? If so, what was the last splurge and how much was it?
I splurge on designer clothes and shoes. My last splurge was a pair of Gianvito Rossi heels, which cost around $700.
Do you have a plan to make more money?
Yes, through growing my startup. I constantly think about expanding the product line, increasing my distribution channels, and more.
What would it take for you to feel like you are completely rich?
$30-40 million, after tax.
In terms of money, what was something you did in the past that you could do differently?
I would NOT have moved into that expensive apartment - it really was a nightmare. I also wish I could take the knowledge I have now, go back to my 22-year-old self, and tell her not to buy that BMW!
What is your strategy for moving forward now in regards to your big goals in life?
Keep saving, stay in this current apt for as long as we can, and paying attention to where our money is going.
What is this?
An anthropological look at how people think about money. Created and edited by Star Li.