After 2 ½ years at the Personal Money Management Center, I'm sad to say it’s time for me to go.
Why did I start working here?
Personal finance has always been a huge passion of mine. When I was sixteen, I said to myself, “forget reading my class textbooks, I want to read personal development books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and Secrets of the Millionaire Mind.”
Because of my passion for finances at a young age, in high school, I submitted a One-minute Public Service Announcement on Financial Literacy to the Utah High School Film Festival and ended up taking second place receiving a $2,775 scholarship to the school of my choice. I attended Utah Valley University and took a course in Personal Finance that didn’t count towards anything. I simply wanted to learn more about the subject. My ultimate plan was to get a business degree from the University of Utah.
In 2014, I returned from an LDS mission. While there I decided I wanted to help people with their finances. My first week of being home I sat down with an independent financial advisor and he told me if I wanted to get into the financial planning world I needed to take the Utah Health and Life Insurance exam. I studied hard for the exam and failed the first time. I studied it some more and failed it a second time. Insurance was my interest which may have been why I didn’t grasp the concepts. I decided to look for other opportunities.
I interviewed with many companies in the financial services. Transamerica, Primerica, Northwestern Mutual, Fidelity, New York Life, etc. and many more. None of them were a good fit. I’m not saying they are bad companies I just didn’t see myself fitting in there. Each wanted me to start contacting friends and family and sell insurance. Other bigger companies wanted me on the phone Sunday’s and graveyard shifts. I wasn’t into that.
My second semester at the University of Utah, I noticed a flyer for a workshop hosted by the Personal Money Management Center. I thought it sounded interesting. So I went. Afterward, I set an appointment with Tiffany. She helped me create a budget;). She mentioned the IDA program at the end of our appointment. I went and I qualified. After the eight hour workshop, I spoke with Ann and asked her how to manage a credit card properly (little did I know I would be teaching an hour section of the IDA on credit within a few months).
It was October 2015 and I had a feeling to see if there were open positions for the upcoming semester. What I liked about the PMMC was I could tell Ann, Tiffany and the peer mentors simply had a desire to teach and educate about personal finances. I didn’t have to sell anything to help people. That attracted me. I didn’t care how much money I would make, I simply wanted to help others and I felt like I could do that there. I also wanted to deepen my own understanding of money and become a better presenter. So I began as a peer mentor on Jan. 6th 2016 at $10 an hour.
I started out running the front desk, setting appointments, and answering phone calls. I went around campus and gave presentations and spoke with other students at events. This helped my organizational skills, my soft skills and my ability to public speak. After a few months, I mentioned to Ann I wanted to meet one-on-one with students. I sat in on appointments to get a feel for becoming a financial counselor. I studied for the AFC exam. I read books on counseling, debt and bankruptcy and a textbook on personal finance. I strangely enjoyed reading them because I learned so much for myself.
The summer of 2016, I barely passed the exam. It was a hard test but I passed it! But, I needed to complete 1500 hours of counseling in order to get my certification. May of 2017, I became an Accredited Financial Counselor®. I plan to always keep this certification. It gives me credibility as I work with my other people. During my time counseling, I met with 218 students, all from different backgrounds and financial situations. I learned so much helping peers my age with their money problems. At the same time, I gave over 25 presentations reaching over 600 students. Some of my highlight speeches being the football team, women’s basketball team, women in prison, Physical Therapy students, and all types of college students and staff members.
Opportunities that came from working at the PMMC was first and foremost, all of the relationships that I’ve build with people. From those that I’ve worked with to those I’ve counseled. In the end, this has been the best opportunity. At the same time, if I didn’t work at the PMMC, I wouldn’t have received the Student Union Leadership Scholarship for my involvement in the Union. I wouldn’t have attended conferences in Louisville, Kentucky, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and San Diego, California. I wouldn’t have met people at these events and explored different places. I wouldn’t have worked on campus in a job that was flexible with my school schedule. Which allowed me to hit two birds with one stone by going to classes and working up on campus on the same day.
Even though the income wasn’t enough to support my wife and son, I continued to work there and find other ways to make money because of the opportunities that it gave me. I learned how to operate the PMMC, from the marketing, evaluation, counseling structure, meetings, and getting the word out about financial literacy. I had the opportunity to book some of the best financial educators in the country and get to know them as they came to campus to present to our students. Speakers including, David Bach, Adam Carroll, Phil Town and Anthony O’Neal. Many have inspired me to know that it’s possible to teach financial literacy and make a decent living. These opportunities are what made working at the PMMC worth it to me.
I plan to follow my passion for financial education. Too many people in our country go throughout life without thinking about how to make the better financial decisions. They fall into debt by going on vacations they can’t afford, borrowing too much in student loans, and waiting to save and invest so they don’t look back later in life and wish they had started sooner.
To help people to the best of my abilities I decided to pursue a Master’s in Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University. It’s a two-year program that begins this fall (2018). I’m taking my wife and son to Lubbock Texas to live for a few years. I don’t believe I need a master’s degree to be successful nor am I doing this to just do it. I wouldn’t recommend everyone do a master’s degree in order to make something of themselves. But I love options and I love to learn. There is more to learn and I want to be the best financial planner I can be.
I’ve secured $10,000 in scholarships and qualified for in-state tuition. If I work for the university, it will cover ⅓ of the cost. It’s an affordable degree I probably wouldn’t do if I had to borrow tens of thousands of dollars to complete it. But I should be able to graduate debt free. We’re willing to take some risks in our life and we’re treating it as an adventure. Plus, we’ve been looking for an excuse to move back to Texas:)
I recently began working for a financial planning firm that’s based out of Lubbock, Texas. I’m going through training and when we move to Texas I’ll have a place to work on day one. I’m excited to work with this firm. The firm is Amicus Financial Advisors who specialize in financial and settlement planning. From what I’ve learned, they’re a different type of financial planning firm with a great mission. One that aligns with my values. I’m excited to work there while I complete my master’s degree and see what it turns into.
My long-term hopes and ambitions are to continue to educated underserved younger people and middle-class Americans. There’s a gap between people who need sound financial advice and those that are able to pay for it. I want to reach a large audience of people at no cost to them through writing and speaking while at the same time having a few good clients that work with me on a regular basis. I’m sure things will change but these are my plans as they stand.
If you’ve made it this far reading … I’m proud of you! I invite you to check out my blog at www.simplifinances.com. Follow along on my journey and join a community of people that are striving for financial independence!