Living in Financial Ignorance

I was watching a recent episode of Black-ish called “Keeping up with the Johnsons”. So much of the concepts they touched on struck a chord with me that I wanted to share this story about my first interactions in the finance world.

During my first job in college, I had a little bit of extra cash available that I had been socking away in my checking account. My stepdad suggested that I put it into some investment account with a financial advisor he was using. At the time, I was 19, didn’t know anything about saving or investing, so I just wrote him a check every time I got paid and went back to living my study filled engineering student life.

By the time I started my first ‘real’ job, I was still getting statements from this financial company. I never opened any of them. If I did open one, I most definitely didn’t know how to read it. I was still living that ignorance is bliss lifestyle. As far as I was concerned, I was already doing the right thing. I had been putting money away for years now.

One day, my mom suggested I talked to a new financial advisor she had heard about through work. I met with this guy and he gave me a whole rundown about investing though a bunch of colorful graphs and charts and whatnot. For the most part I followed what he was saying and honestly I was intrigued because this was all brand new information to me.

The shocking news was when he explained to me how poorly my college ‘investment’ had been performing. I was earning about as much as certificate of deposit through my previous investment portfolio.

I figured I had enough education now. I decided to trust this guy because my parents were using him and he seemed like he knew what he was talking about. I moved all my hard earn college money into a bunch of investments he suggested.

I never wanted be shocked about my finances again. I didn’t want to just blindly throw my money somewhere. I knew I still had a whole bunch more to learn and decided, partially out of personal curiosity, to learn as much as I could about the finance world because I realized no one else around me was going to be able to teach me. It sadly seemed like my family knew the same or less than I did.

Does this sound familiar?

From talking to other friends, my family fits a typical profile of a middle class immigrant family. Your parents believe in limitless hard work to ‘make it’, wanting nothing more than their kids to do well in school and get a great job. You get tons and tons of advice but, never about money.

Trust me I’ve heard every lecture under the sun from my mom, from what types of friends to hang out with to what type of foods are best to eat. But we never ever talked about money. I didn’t know how to make it, how to save it or how to grow it. In mother’s defense, down the road, I realized she never taught me because she didn’t know herself, which is unfortunately all too common.

What’s a lesson about money that you’ve had to learn on your own that you wish your parents or anyone had taught you?




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