financial planning

I am Thankful I Don't Have Student Debt

no student debt I managed to do something that's unthinkable, and maybe nearly impossible, in this day in age: graduate college without a dime of student debt. On top of that, I graduated from Saint Louis University, which cost about $35,000 a year. If I remember correctly, during my four years at SLU, tuition increase by about 10%. I do believe it actually increased at least three out of those four years.

We Can Actually Thank SLU Financial Aid for This One

On more than one occasion, my father asked me to go to financial services and to ask about a student loan. "Tell them you need a loan," he said. I did that during my freshman year, and I never went back again, despite repeated requests.

When I visited my freshman year, all the counselor did was tell me that I needed to talk to a bank instead. He (at least I think it was a he. It's been six or seven years now.) printed a list of banks out and said that one of the six or seven banks on the list would be a good option. He didn't tell me how to approach these banks, or where branches were located, or even ask how much money I really needed. I expected this to be a 20 or 30-minute meeting, having a discussion and going through how this process works. I actually thought I would be getting some paperwork on an actual loan. Silly me, as all this means work for financial services. I don't think the meeting even lasted five minutes.

I'm from Hawai'i, and I'm attending school in St. Louis. I don't recognize any of these banks. There's no American Savings Bank or Bank of Hawaii on the list. Wells Fargo only sounds familiar, but it's not a brand I really know anything about. Did they really expect to forge such a huge financial relationship with a company I barely heard of? I suppose this isn't much of a dilemma for most people since they probably get the loan before starting college or the next semester.

So, I never got a student loan. I was always able to avoid it because the financial services department was so unhelpful. It wasn't that I didn't want a loan, but it's hard for my parents to help me when they are 4000 miles away and they're not even on the same land mass.

How College Did Get Paid For

About a quarter of my total college tuition (for all four years) came from the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship, which is awarded to SLU freshmen who show a commitment to diversity and who demonstrate leadership. I am grateful for this scholarship and when I can, I interview incoming freshmen for scholarship selection when that weekend rolls around in February or March.

For the first two or three years, my great aunt helped a lot. She had a lot of money, but didn't do much with it in her ripe old age. When she passed on, I believe the money she left for me was used for college as well. I think after she passed, my parents covered the rest of the tuition.

Without Student Loans, I Can Have a Business

More than 38 million Americans have student loan debt, totaling nearly $1 trillion. Student loan debt now surpasses credit card and auto loan debt in this country. Those numbers are staggering, and even though I do have credit card debt (most of which I've accrued after I started the business), there's no way I could have a business if I had student debt. That would have been an additional cost that I would have had to account for in the beginning, making it harder to generate enough income and to be able to put something back into the business. With a ton of debt right after graduation, there would have also been a lot of pressure to find a steady career, instead of taking the chance to venture on my own. I am very grateful that I do not have the debt to weigh me down and to narrow my options for wealth and career.

My Empowering Beliefs About Money

"You say it long enough and it starts to be a part of you." - Rita Pierson It's not that I thought this idea was "a bunch of hooey", it's just that I've never seen it in action. I've never seen it, or heard about it taking place, or experienced it taking place. I just wasn't sure about the viability of simply saying something out loud Until now.

Below is the speech where the line came from, in case you were curious. It's actually a great speech that's worth watching.

[ted id=1728]

The Challenge

During one of our sessions, my business coach asked me about the energy of money. I still don't quite understand the "energy of money", but what she wanted me to do was to examined what I believed about money and where I stood with money. She wanted me to create a value system for money, something that outlined what it meant to me personally, what value money had in my life, and why I want money.

My ultimate homework was to come up with my empowering beliefs about money and to say them daily. I took the time to create that value system. I wrote them down and repeated them daily, although instead of saying it out loud I wrote them down. I learn better through reading and writing. I really wasn't sure if this would work, or how, but my business coach said to do it so I did it. I knew she was going to ask about it in our next session, and I didn't want to lie to her. I also figured that this couldn't possibly hurt or ruin my life, so there wasn't any harm in trying it.

My Empowering Beliefs about Money

This is what I've been writing down and repeating for almost three months now (new research shows that it takes 66 days to form a new habit, more than twice as long as the 21 days in conventional thinking). The smiley faces are the most crucial part of the whole thing.

  • I, hereby, delete these negative beliefs from my system at the source. Now, I can replace them with empowering beliefs about money. :)
  • As long as I am in a positive state of mind and am grateful for what I have, there will always be enough money and there will always be sources of money.
  • I buy things that I enjoy and I am confident in the things that I purchase.
  • I respect and value my money and I spend and invest it wisely! :)
  • My money, and how I earn it, will merit respect. It will be used to accomplish good things, to tell the truth, and to inspire others to tell the truth.
  • I like money. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can make me very happy.

Empowering Beliefs about Myself

My empowering beliefs about money are very much a part of me. Those thoughts go me through the past few months when money was tight, when my business wasn't making as much and I needed to make some changes. Even though my coach doesn't ask about them anymore, I still do them because I think they are important to do and to reinforce. Now, I think the next step is to come up with some empowering beliefs about myself. I remember the process for coming up for the money beliefs, so doing these beliefs shouldn't be much of a problem.

I suppose the only hiccup is that nearly everyone else has come up with these "empowering beliefs", or those "victory declarations" or those inspirational sayings about what to think when others are being haters and stuff. I suppose the big difference is cementing your own empowering beliefs about yourself and doing more than just applying someone else's to yourself or borrowing someone else's. It's certainly much easier to agree or to find something that supports your own beliefs. But, what makes this exercise really cool is that you're starting from scratch with yourself.

My 5-Year Plan

five year plan Continuing my "business breakthrough" homework, while adding some timeline and action steps to my bucket list, I have created a five year plan. Once again, I was initially going to do this on paper, but I am going to do it here instead because it needs to get done and I need to 'breakthrough' on other parts of my business, like branding, marketing processes, and CEO identity. And as the saying goes, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail." I do not plan to fail.

June 2013 - May 2014

  • Eliminate 20% of my debt, which comes to $1500
  • Own an iPhone
  • Own a painting
  • Build my poker bankroll up to $200
  • Earn $3000 a month
  • Have 2000 subscribers to my upcoming coffee blog
  • Own a car - I want a cute, little Smartcar, which costs about $15,000. This one worries me because I don't think I'll be able to pay in full, but taking out a loan would add more debt. Part of this plant is to get rid of my debt, not add to it.

June 2014 - May 2015

  • Play in a live poker tournament, such as the WSOP circuit, the Heartland Poker Tour, or even an World Poker Tour event.
  • Build my poker bankroll up to $10,000
  • Eliminate another 20% of my original debt, which comes to $1000
  • Join Toastmasters International - I probably could do this in year one, as probably by now I'll be too busy to attend meetings and actually join.
  • Read the Bible in full
  • Own 20 Matrushka dolls
  • Own 20 decks of cards
  • Get married - I think the second year in my five year plan is reasonable for this.
  • Have 5000 subscribers to my upcoming coffee blog
  • Earn $4000 a month
  • Shoot a gun
  • Learn to sew - I think I needed a few more easy things for year two.

June 2014 - May 2016

  • Eliminate another 25% of my original debt, which comes to $1000
  • Build my poker bankroll up to $100,000
  • Have 10000 subscribers to my upcoming coffee blog
  • Put 100 slideshows on Slideshare - They will be about all sorts of things
  • Earn $8000 a month
  • See the Grand Canyon
  • Attend a World Cup
  • Visit Stonehenge
  • See Macchu Picchu
  • Ride a gondola in Italy
  • Spend New Year's Eve in Sydney - Consider all this world travel as part of my honeymoon, and tasting more coffees in real life like Anthony Bourdain, but just the coffee

June 2016- May 2017

  • Eliminate another 50% of my original debt, which comes to $1500
  • Build my poker bankroll up to $500,000
  • Own 40 Matrushka dolls
  • Own 40 decks of cards
  • Have 20000 subscribers to my upcoming coffee blog
  • Write that coffee book that will a New York Times bestseller
  • Build three niche sites as part of my online business/media empire
  • Earn $12000 a month
  • Get a masters degree - Think I can squeeze this in here?
  • Give a TED talk - maybe on coffee, or building a business online, or on being an awesome woman in poker
  • Visit the Pyramids of Giza
  • Visit the Taj Mahal
  • Visit the Colosseum

June 2017 - June 2018

  • Win a WSOP bracelet
  • Have a business generating $100,000 in annual revenue
  • Eliminate all of my debt, including the car loan if I get it!
  • Have a side blog/venture that actually generates revenue for me
  • Own a house
  • Be recognized as an authority in my chosen field (could be a variety of things, such as content marketing, coffee, poker, credit repair etc.)
  • Play poker in Macao - If I haven't done that by now, then I need to make it a point to do so.
  • Start my own non-profit organization - Will probably be something having to do with women's rights
  • Be halfway on my way to my $500,000 net worth
  • Own 100 Matrushka dolls
  • Own 100 decks of cards
  • Visit Niagara Falls
  • See Old Faithful
  • Tour Petra

I'm Doing It!

2013 goals and beyond Guess what? I'm actually being productive, making plans, and getting things done, all like I said I would the other day. Yay me! My VIP day with my business coach yesterday was a huge success. We spent the day figuring out how to remedy my current situation as well as figure out a new business venture that does a better job of marrying my passions (marketing, writing, news, and activism). More on that in a later post, as I'll take the time to flesh it out and to do the necessary research.

Money, Money, Money

I've finally set up my account with (I tried to do it two years ago, but didn't realize that I needed to set up my online banking to do this. I have finally have that now, like almost two years since I set up the account). It's such an amazing tool! I now have one place to track expenses, to set up a budget, and to set financial goals for myself. My big goal is to get rid of all my debt, most of which is credit card debt. I still have about half of my business loan to pay off and I do owe Sean money as well. To do all that, I do need to increase my income, which is obvious. I'm gonna be hustling for a few months, perhaps a year or two, to get this done. I think that's okay. Hustling is respectable if you do it right.

One Year and Five Year Goals

This is what I need to do next, as part of my business breakthrough coaching and developing my new business venture (and even part of being a better hustler too). I'm going to work on these tonight right after I write this. I already know some of my goals, like get rid of my debt, buy a car, win a WSOP bracelet, get to $500,000 in net worth. But, I need to think about all of them and develop my five-year plan toward getting there. It's not going to be easy. However, breaking it all down into steps, doing the right research, and setting milestones will make it easier.

What Will I Do Next?

After I go through the personal stuff, then I can work on the new business venture. I do think I might have to transition slowly toward the new business and I do think that I might have to prototype it first, like develop some free aspects to generate buzz and a community before starting to monetize and to generate any revenue. It might make it easier to sell the bread and butter, while proving that we do provide value to the community. This way, it's not as if all we're doing is selling something and trying to make money (I get that's the point of a business, but no one's going to buy what you are selling if no one thinks it offers any benefit or value to their lives). We would actually have something that's worth paying for while having the base to sell it to.

It all seems like a lot, and maybe a waste of a Memorial Day weekend, but it's okay. It's supposed to rain and to thunderstorm the whole weekend in St. Louis, so I'll be spending a lot of time indoors. This will give me plenty of time to do what I need to do. Although, I do want to see the new baby elephant at the zoo. It's not going to stay a baby for long. However, if the weather's horrible, I might not do that.