Every birthday, I reflect. This time last year, I was on my way to Chicago for Lollapalooza. This year, I am looking forward to painting trim at my house.
Today, I turn 25. As I reflect on my life I am so proud of my accomplishments.
This blog post is about being humble with a hint of Kanye. I’m going to give you a little background on my life and explain how I was able to travel around the world, pay off school and buy a house before I turned 25.
In the mid-90s, my family immigrated to Canada and we lived in a 2- bedroom apartment. My 3 brothers shared one room and my room was a walk-in closet; just large enough for a single bed and a little cardboard box for my clothes. I think that experience motivated me to have my own place.
From a young age, my parents instilled a strong work ethic in us. My dad, the child of farmers left his village at a young age to pursue an education. My mom, the child of a restaurant worker and homemaker paid her way through law school (in Mexico). My parents, are my greatest inspiration. They left their families and friends in Mexico in hopes of a better life for their children. For that, I am eternally grateful.
Everything I do, I do because of their support. It took me a few rebellious teenage years, a handful of really stupid mistakes, and trips around the world to realize that everything they do, they do for my own good.
Anyways, on May 25th 2016, I took possession of my own home. Though I was going through a terrible and tumultuous time, it was one of the happiest days of my life.
I was 24 years old, with a university degree paid off and a passport full of stamps. How did I do it? Goal setting, hard work and sacrifices.
Growing up (and to this day) I never knew what I wanted to be. I only knew what I wanted to do.
I wanted to:
- See the northern lights
- Turn 20
- See a whale
- Surf in the ocean
By 22, I had done 3 out of my 4 goals and I didn’t know what to do with myself anymore. After a mini-life crisis, I made new goals.
I wanted to:
- Travel more
- Own a house
- See the northern lights
Owning a house was always on the back of my mind and I knew it was attainable. My dad did an incredible job at teaching me about a savings bank account with compound interest. When I was 18, he opened my Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) and constantly reminded me to save my money and make it work for me. He taught me that money in a chequeings account does nothing. It just sits in the account until you spend it. A few times a year, we would sit down and see how my investments were doing.
Fast-forward 6 years. At 24 I had saved enough money for a 20% down-payment. My financial adviser at the bank seemed surprised, and maybe a little bit impressed. He looked at my finances and told me flat-out that they were a mess. My portfolio was all over the place, I was paying fees I didn’t need to be paying, and every financial term he used went over my head. Despite how little I knew about investing, I still managed to have enough money to buy a house. So trust me when I say this; if I can do it, so can you! Anyone with basic math skills can learn how to invest, budget and save.
Naturally, people were curious and asked me how I managed to buy a house at 24. My secrets:
- Change your spending behaviors
- Put simply, say you make ~$40,000 CND, live like you only make ~30-35,000. Do this by: budgeting, cooking at home, taking public transit, buying second hand, looking for deals, and being thrifty.
- Research investment options
- Look into Mutual Funds, Dividends, Stocks, Bonds etc. Make an appointment with your financial institution and tell them you are serious about saving money, they will point you in the ‘right’ direction.
- Pretend the money isn’t even there
- For 6 years, I put money directly into savings accounts and knew that I would not touch that money for at least 5 years.
Honestly, it’s cheesy; but you are in control of your own life. You decide what you want to do. Once you set your mind on something, find ways to get there. Don’t limit yourself.
If some poor-ass, Mexican immigrant girl, with no financial knowledge who also dropped grade 12 math and had super-strict Catholic parents can travel around the world and buy a house, I am confident you can achieve your goals.