• Di Ma

How to save $50,000 in 8 years

I watch a lot of “educational” content online. I am disappointed by a lot of the videos, especially when someone has a class to sell. Allow me to say the information is out there. Knowing who to trust is problematic. Those professionally licensed might not jump at the chance to give online advice because they don’t want to jeopardize their credentials. This only leaves the scammers and, quite frankly, those who succeeded but probably should not teach. My issue is not with rich people or educators online. My 1st issue is there are A LOT of bad and even illegal advice out there. I absolutely called out Tiktoker user “rich.convo” because I do not think he should be a licensed financial advisor. He gave out completely illegal tax advice on a bigger Tiktok video and refused to take it down when attorneys objected.

My 2nd issue is people don’t want to learn about money or the economy. I read a quote that said “people want to know what stocks to buy and when.” I don’t make content for those people. I rather reach 1 person who truly want to make a difference than sell many online classes. There is no secret to money. Other people complicate it. I will attempt to share what I’ve learned:

  1. We create our own problems. The movie that changed my outlook on money was Office Space. A character asked “what would you do with $1,000,000?” One man answered “go fishing” and another said “have a threesome.” Neither cost $1M. ;)

  2. Living below means. I will release a free spreadsheet that anyone can make. I used to track my annual budget by specifying all of my fixed costs according to the recommended percentages. It was important to me to stick to my expenses. And it was most important that I was cash flow positive. In order to achieve this, I absolutely felt lonely at times. I was surrounded by people in debt (for whatever reason) who kept on arranging happy hours and hosting engagement parties and collecting for retirement gifts. I would not even contribute to the water club at work (state government). In law school, I learned to live with the fact that “someone has to be the bottom 90%.” I know how ugly this sounds. I do not know how to make it nicer. I am not teaching anyone to be happy or successful. I am only teaching savings, which is constrained by maths.

  3. Start small. If you have 0 savings, set aside $192 biweekly. If this seems like a BIG number, start with $100 or $20. Please adjust the timeline accordingly. I truly believe money is a mindset and people who struggle need to change their mentalities but I also know how crazy that sounds. Please allow me to explain the Second Marshmallow mentality using true stories: Right after our divorce in 2015, my ex husband took his girlfriend to Las Vegas for a Valentine’s Day weekend and spent $2,000. I did not agree with his decision but it was outside of my control. I am still a very petty woman who likes to be right (again, I’m not an angel and should not be your influencer). So I spent $2,000 to buy 5 shares of Amazon stock at $350 per share. Three years later, those 5 shares equaled more than $10,000. Plant your marshmallows!❤️ People think it takes a rich relative to get started or we should only celebrate big accomplishments like graduations and promotions. Celebrate the small wins. That’s how most big wins are built. This exact story is how my daughter ended up with a higher net worth than the First Marshmallow type of adults...

  4. Start a portfolio. For this blog, I will focus on 529 accounts (https://www.nysaves.org/home.html) because there are sometimes state incentives. For me, New York allows $5,000 to be deducted from my income every year and I maximize this amount. Even when I was broke in law school, I started setting aside $192 every 2 weeks the year Elle was born (2012). The math is simple: $192 X 26 = $4,996 I made good money as a law associate but it was part time. I don’t have a lot of costs so I could focus on school with 1 or 2 jobs. If I had to focus on money, I would have gotten a commission-based job and hustled a lot more. Please feel free to lower your amounts to something realistic. Never kill yourself over money because you’ll develop a negative relationship with it. Here’s where the magic happens: $4,996 X 8 years = $39,968 This is how much money Elle is supposed to have. Here are her actual numbers: (I rounded my numbers for this blog but please use actual numbers. I am a big proponent of listening to people who can show you the numbers!)

Please note the “Earnings” number. :) Make money work for you.

5. Trust the process.❤️

The question I get asked the most is what do I invest in? Here’s a repeat story. In 2013, I had $9,000 left in a 401k account from Las Vegas employers. Being a good Law of Attraction student, I wanted to “think my way” into $100,000. In a moment of desperation, I bowed my head down to cry and tears could not come out. I looked up and saw 2 products I used every day: Apple (MacBook Air) and Facebook. At the time, Apple was priced around $350 so I bought 5 shares. Facebook was priced at $27 and no one on Wall Street would touch the stock. I thought to myself “all that personal data must be worth something!” I bought 183 shares of Facebook. I don’t need to explain the math. You know what happened with AAPL and FB stocks (I don’t own any right now).

You have expertise. If you play Roblox, track the company before paying into the game. When I saw people jump on e-commerce on Tiktok around March 2020, I bought 1 share of Shopify which I have since sold. But Etsy returned 60% for me so far. I originally only bought $2,000 worth. But remember what I said about celebrating the small wins? I wish many Etsys upon myself because Facebook at $27 doesn’t come around every day. Invest in what you know and double down on your own expertise!

6. Ask for help! I have looked into financial advisors and have not selected one for myself simply because very few people invest like me. I don’t diversify. Please note I am NOT your financial advisor and this is not the Warren Buffet way. I only look at industries I know and when I am sure, I bet BIG on myself. For example, when Canada became the 1st developed nation to legalize marijuana, I made a killing because I got Canopy Growth before Constellation invested. I only made the bet because everyone around me was using marijuana (I was not at the time but I’m not going to ignore obvious signs). Then I found out all of my friends were still buying from other sources so I sold the stocks. Turns out, marijuana grows best in California.

While I didn’t seek professional financial help, I did learn my approach from real professional investors (reading articles & books, never watching videos from online influencers). No matter who you trust: always invest in what you know!

7. Watch international news & stay on top of trends. There is no transparent news in America. I say this because I used to sell ads. I love international news and talking to people directly. I’d like to take this opportunity to shout out Brett and Vanessa Means in California. Brett is my Tiktok friend @mylifeisacomedy_. We chat about trends and stocks all day. I trust him over Jim Cramer. Because of chats with him, I made a bigger than normal investment into Nio which has yielded more than $15,000. Do I blindly follow others? Never. But you learn to separate the Robinhood warriors with people with experience who have seen a bubble or 2.

Sounding like a broken record, pay attention to the right things. In 2009, I sat in my graduate Finance class at University of Nevada Las Vegas. The recession was HARD for everyone then. My classmate said “I bought shares of Venetian at $1.50 because the physical assets are worth more in a bankruptcy.” In that moment, I thought she was dumb. Who buys stocks in the middle of a recession when the company is going bankrupt? I also had 0 money. Well, look up LVS and you can tell me who the dummy is. I remember that time period. I wrote down the stocks, the conditions, the political actions, etc. What I learned is taught in every Economics 101 class: cash has the greatest utility. This means I rather get $20 than a CD. Because I can use $20 a lot more than a CD, logistically speaking.

Fast forward to 2020, I am watching CEOs discuss the downturn in March 2020. The lesson remained the same: the companies that are properly capitalized will survive. #CashIsKing

8. Don’t compete with others. The most financial freedom I felt was in my early 20s. I made $12/hour plus commission. My rent was half of $350 because my then boyfriend and I split a house with 2 other guys. My brand new red 2005 Mazda Miata convertible was paid off. Life was perfect.

Even now, I know some people will read this blog and say “that’s so much money!” I feel a lot more pressure. I make a lot more money but I also lose a lot more money. In March, I lost probably $10,000-$20,000 gambling on biotech stocks. When you see me looking homeless, I probably was at my wealthiest with my car paid off, no mortgage, and next 2 years’ expenses already saved. When you see me flashing my designer duds and eating at fancy places, I probably turned down A LOT to save up for that one obnoxious moment. As the book “The One Thing” preaches, “a single yes has to be defended by a thousands nos.” Say yes wisely!

These are my humble thoughts. If you need individual attention, please consider joining me live on Instagram on Sunday nights at 7:30pm EST. Shameless plug: buy a Love bracelet from me and I will set you up with the basics. Regardless of whether you want to engage with me or not: I wish you health and wealth. Health is the only thing money can’t buy. If I can help demystify money for you, then I am at your service.

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