my money story

My Money Story

Henry Basics, Financial Education, Thoughts of a Mastermind 35 Comments


Everyone has a money story. Everyone has a story behind their relationship with money. I want to share my money story with you today.

my money story

I Love Me Some Money! 🙂

Financial Education in the United States

Do you deal with finances on a day to day basis?

I know I do, we all deal with finances on daily basis whether we want to or not.

Ironically, I bet you have never taken a formalized course on personal finance!

Usually, money management and personal finance courses are electives in school.  Most financial education has been from people who don’t know anything about personal finance: our friends, our famliy, and the media. There are no personal finance questions on standardized testing.  So much for No Child Left Behind… most adults are being left behind.

My Money Story

I’m going to share with you my money story. I’m going to be vulnerable with you and share my upbringing and how I learned about money. In addition, I will share with you how personal finance has became a passion of mine.

A Child Math Whiz

I loved math growing up.  At a young age, I would spend time with my dad by going through addition and multiplication problems at the dinner table and on car rides.  I would answer problems like 9 x 7, 4 x 4, 12 x 12, etc. This was very fun for me and something I practiced daily (yes, I  am a HUGE NERD :)).

When I was doing these exercises with my dad, I didn’t realize I was learning the most important concept of personal finance: COMPOUNDING. 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16384, 32768, 65536, 131072, 262144, 524288, 1048576, 2097152… This is the power of compounding. I didn’t realize it, but I was being exposed to such a powerful concept. When compounding is used appropriately, it can build tremendous wealth.

This was my first exposure to the magic of compounding.

compound interest

Compounding is amazing!

My First Interactions with Personal Finance

Fast forward to my first “real” job at 15, I was bagging groceries making $7.15 an hour plus tips. Back then, life was simple. My money was spent on food, movies, video games, and activities/adventures.  But, I was living paycheck to paycheck. As soon as I got paid, I would go eat at Chipotle, see a movie, or go buy a new video game.

Then I started dating  and my expenses really ramped up… there was twice as much going out to dinner, buying flowers, and oh yeah, jewelry for special occasions!

As a sophomore in high school, I took a Personal Finance class.  We covered the details of compound interest and the simple rule of 72.  We also learned the basics of building a budget, adjusting that budget, and writing checks for expenses!  This is when I started to take control of MY MONEY.

My First Big Purchase

At this point, I had some powerful knowledge at my disposal. I already knew how to spend, and now I knew how to budget and save!

xbox one

My First Big Purchase

The first thing I saved up and bought was an Xbox. The Xbox was $300 plus another $60 for Halo.  This is a lot of money for a high schooler working 15 hours a week. It took me about a month to save up the money and buy it.  When that day arrived it was an invigorating feeling: not only did I have an Xbox, but I earned it myself!




Learning Finance (Not Personal) in College

In college, I majored in accounting and took every high level finance class I could. What’s interesting, the concepts taught in these classes are not applicable to individuals. Finance and accounting majors can tell you about the tax treatment of some obscure business transaction. Most of them probably can’t tell you how to budget and save for your goals and dreams. This is not right.

My Self-Taught Personal Finance Education

The fact that many people don’t know anything about personal finance bothers me. I have always loved talking about money and the exchange of money. I would play Monopoly with my brother for hours, I used to barter with other players in Runescape, and always traded to get the best candies after Trick or Treating during Halloween.

My free time in my early 20’s was spent reading personal finance books and self-educating myself. When I realized most people were struggling with a tremendous amount of debt and living paycheck to paycheck, I realized I needed to wake up and get educated.  “Keeping up with the Joneses” was not how I wanted to live my life.

I learned about real estate and bought a house at 25. I realized to be financially free, I would have to save and put my money to work for me. Compound interest is a beautiful thing!

Still, There Was Something Missing

I never understood why people are so hesitant to talk about money.  As I grew up, it dawned on me more and more, money is a taboo subject. It’s not acceptable to talk about money. This frustrates me.

Politics used to be a taboo subject until recently with our new President. I’m glad to say many people are waking up and looking to get in control of their lives. This being said, the topic of money is not brought up as often as it should be.

We Need Better Personal Financial Education

WE NEED BETTER FINANCIAL EDUCATION – especially, personal finance.  Our world is dramatically changing with improvements to technology, access to information, and the abundance to literally do almost anything you want.  Yes, there is even a market for Pet Psychologists!

Many people are being held back from pursuing their passions because they are stuck in a job to pay down debt, to put food on the table, or because they want to “Keep up with the Joneses”.

According to The Conference Board as of 2014, 52.3% of Americans were unhappy with their jobs.

According to the National Institution of Health, Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S.. These anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults, 18% of the population.

Could this be a mere correlation or is there something in common with both of these scenarios? I will speculate and say if people had the financial means to pursue their passions, many more people would be happy.

Something has to change.

The Mastermind Within’s Calling

My hope and goal is to humanize personal finance and make it acceptable to discuss your finances with other people without being judged. Who cares if I make $50,000 and you make $70,000. Who cares if you have $10,000 in credit card debt and I have $2,000. We can all grow from having these conversations.

We at the Mastermind Within are passionate about helping spread financial education around the world. The strategies of personal finance are a truth which very few people know about. We want to help build people’s financial knowledge by creating a community where information and ideas can flow between members.

Right now, Erik and I are working on a 5-day free Mini Course on Personal Finance which you will not want to miss out on. This will be an in-depth crash course on personal finance as it applies to your personal situation. Look forward to this in the coming weeks!

I’ll leave you with a quote that is very powerful for me. I truly want to help others. Personal finance is also a passion of mine. I will combine these two to create something wonderful.

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.” – Steve Jobs

Thank You for Reading My Money Story

Thank you for stopping by and for reading my money story! I really enjoyed writing this post.

What’s your money story? Why is money a taboo subject to talk about? What has to change for people to wake up?




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Comments 35

  1. Personal finance involves quite many small tasks, for example saving $10 every week. Some people think it is too easy to act. Managing personal financial is dull task every day. More people prefer to watching TV or playing games. Not everyone is interested in FIRE.

    1. Hey Rich Growth Tips, you are right, personal finance is not exciting or sexy.

      That being said, it’s important and that’s our calling! To make it known! Thanks for the comment.

  2. There is definitely a severe lack of personal finance education. We will all have to face money issues growing up and leaving college. It’s inevitable. Why it’s not up there with all of the other “essentials” in modern education astounds me. I know people like Dave Ramsey have curriculums offered to schools. But, that’s a case by case basis. It should be universally adopted because of how crucial it is to life. Money isn’t everything, but understanding it is vital.

    Love your story. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hey David, thanks for sharing your opinion and stopping by. I don’t know what will change it! That’s where we come in!


  3. Hi Erik and Henry! Always good finding another banker in the personal finance blogosphere (I just read the about page).

    I too wish we had better personal finance related courses in school growing up. It’s a shame really, such an important topic that so many folks ignore and completely mess up on.

    My interest in personal finance came in college when I took it upon myself to learn. I began reading a number of books, magazines and online articles which was really my background in financial literacy.

    1. Hey The Green Swan! Glad you stopped by.

      I agree with you, it’s sad that we don’t have a better financial education system in place. At least we are lucky that we were exposed to it earlier rather than later.

      Thanks for sharing!

  4. Great post Henry. A few things that I find interesting when people talk about money are the judgement, comparison and resentment. If people stop doing these things when they talk about money, then we will all be sharing a lot more knowledge.

    1. Post

      Definitely Leo. People compare themselves to others and part of that is the taboo nature behind personal finance. Discussion helps breed curiosity and by bringing Personal Finance into the light it can help a lot of people understand and grow. Life is not a zero sum game, you can succeed along with others!


  5. Great post! Unfortunately I don’t think many schools are open to discussing money with students because many of the staff are practicing bad habits and not qualified to give advice on the subject.

    I think the biggest opportunity would be educating young adults in the first 2-3 years of their career, before they become parents or are set in their ways. I’ve recently started talking to a few executive level types in my professional association about the subject and some of them are coming around to the idea of hosting free lunch and learn brownbag seminars at their office to help their younger employees learn about personal finances. I’m planning to speak at one of the upcoming sessions about 401k mutual fund options and the benefits of total stock market index funds with low fees.

    1. Is 2-3 years into a person’s career a little late? A lot of credit card debt can be racked up in a short amount of time!! I’m playing devil’s advocate here.

      Thanks for sharing your opinion. I definitely agree with a brown bag seminar in the office – I did a personal finance presentation for my floor at work. I had 50 year old coming up to me and asking for advice and help…


  6. Great post. I too wish they would focus more on personal finance in school. When I think back to high school (I know the dark ages) I see an irony. Up until my Senior year I was in Honors English classes and usually a year ahead. They had at that time optional literature classes I really wanted to take. My senior year they canned them leaving me with two choices: AP English with a teacher I did not like, or business English with the kids who were barely able to graduate. I chose business English. In that class they taught resume writing, how to write a professional letter, and how to balance a check book. You know what’s funny? In 18 years of schooling including a masters degree in business, that is the only class I’ve ever had that covered those topics. Something is wrong with our education system indeed.

    1. Thanks FTF, glad you enjoyed it!

      At least you got some personal finance schooling… I agree with your comments… Most “honors” students are pushed towards Environmental Science, Psychology, etc and many of the non-white students end up taking business classes.

  7. You’re absolutely right, Henry. The more we feel comfortable talking about money, and the more we approach the conversation with a ‘how can I help’ attitude, rather than ‘who’s is bigger’ attitude, the better off everyone will be. Which is why I love the recent explosion of personal finance blogs!

    1. Thanks Daniel, appreciate you stopping by. I love it, “How can I help” should be the first words out of everyone’s mouth regardless of the topic!!

  8. So true about the lack of education about personal finance. I had this book when I was younger called “If You Made a Million” that taught me about compound interest, no joke — a book meant for kids 4-8 years old teaching the magic of compound interest. I had very financially responsible parents to help me learn. 🙂

    1. Hey Felicity – I’ll have to check that book out!! I love reading.

      Starting early is a great way to learn, kudos to your parents for setting you up for success! 🙂

  9. You’re lucky you had personal finance education in high school and how wonderful that you were motivated to read up on it in your 20s. Your goal to reach the masses and to offer a free course is fantastic.

    I don’t know why the subject of money is taboo. Parents don’t discuss it enough around their children. And employers discourage conversations about salaries among their employees because it keeps them in control. That’s something I’d like to see change.

    1. Post

      Thanks Mrs. Groovy, I believe part of the reason it’s taboo is ironically since it’s not taught. Many people learn from their parents, and their knowledge is affected by their socioeconomic class. People who are able to learn the basics of financial education (especially compound interest) if they actively pursue it.

      “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.” Albert Einstein


  10. I loved this insight into your story with money, Henry! I echo many people’s comments above in wishing that there was more financial education taught to young adults as they are entering the “real world”. Although I think that it would be difficult to find a qualified individual, whatever qualified may mean in terms of a financial teacher. When my younger brother wanted to go to college for business school, my dad (a small, successful business owner) said, “Why would you pay thousands of dollars to be taught how to run a business by someone who has never run a business?”

    The comparison game hit home for me also! It is the main reason that I have kept my blog anonymous. I am sharing our real numbers and what my husband and I truly make and spend. I fear the judgement, resentment or criticisms would fly if our identities were exposed.

    Thanks again for another wonderful post. I truly enjoy coming back each day!

    1. Hey Mrs. Daisy,

      I appreciate your kind words. I’m very happy that we are able to provide great content for our readers.

      That’s awesome what your Dad said. I echo his comments – this is why I’m looking to self-educate and build a business on my own! Grad school is so expensive these days!!!

  11. I’ve always been interested in finance, and at a young age was always wondering what people did for a living, how they got their money, etc. It ultimately led me to getting a degree in finance and working in corporate finance, plus all my personal finance side hustles.

  12. I love reading the backstories of how financial bloggers got to where they are. I have a similar story of loving math and being a huge math nerd. Unfortunately I neglected my writing skills which is why I started the blog. I definitely needed to beef up in this area if I was going to move up at work. Anyway thanks for sharing!!!

  13. Great post, Henry! I completed my masters degree in electrical engineering when I was 23 and landed a high paying job. However, I didn’t know a jack about finance. When my credit cards were maxed out is when I realized that I needed to get my act together, and get myself out of the mess I had put myself in.

    “most adults are being left behind.” – this is SO TRUE!

    I was fortunate to have my “Aha” moment early in life to correct my mistakes at 23 and become a DIY personal finance dude.

    1. Michael congrats on the electrical engineering degree and the transition to DIY personal finance! Have many intelligent friends who are pursuing advanced degrees and have GREAT jobs! Though most are racking up 100’s of thousands of student loan, car payments, and credit card debt and want to appear successful. (They are just not from a financial independence stand point).

      It is exciting meeting like minded individuals and one of our goals at the MasterMindWithin!


  14. I really like the framing of learning personal finance basics through high school spending. I spent much of my high school income on CDs and I listened to music all the time. I listened so much that I would wear out my discman on a pretty regular basis. I quickly learned that if I didn’t want to go an extended period of time without my music, I needed to keep an emergency fund on hand to buy a new $50 discman whenever mine would kick it. Since there was nothing worse to high school Matt than not being able to listen to my music, I quickly internalized the importance of an emergency fund and never had to relearn that particular personal finance rule later.

  15. I didn’t take a financial course in high school. The option was there, but the general consensus was that you only needed to go if you didn’t know how to balance a checkbook or didn’t have a job yet. Basically only the non-college track kids took it from what I remember because it was an “uncool” course. It’s now a requirement in that state.

    Thankfully my parents had been good resources & I learned most my lessons through personal experience.

    1. Thankfully becoming a “Nerd” is cooler these days! We really only get a financial education through our parents, though unfortunately that topic isn’t broached in many families.

      Ironically, many non-college kids are actually in the short-run better off due to lack of debt and having that education. It will be interesting to see the developments of mentorships / trade professions over the next 20 + years as college costs continue to rise.

      Thanks Josh for sharing your experience.

  16. I couldn’t agree more that there’s a severe lack of personal finance education. I made many, many money mistakes in my early 20s. Luckily, I learned from most of them. Now, I make a concerted effort to manage my money effectively.

    I have invested in rental properties, own a flipping business, and have generated thousands through blogs and websites. I’m launching this new one, Miter Saws and Mary Janes, in an effort to finally make my blogging passion a full-time career. It’s exciting to have options, but it’s even better to have those options while on a sound financial footing!

    1. Thanks for sharing Willow –

      Experience is the best teacher, failing fast, and failing often!

      Amazing you have been investing in rental properties and your blog, you have many experiences to share with others.

      Congratulations on shifting your passion to a full-time career and it’s true being Sesame Street Smart 🙂

      Thanks Henry

  17. Oh how true it is. The stigma around money. I openly talk about money and I can tell that bothers some people. It drives me nuts. The financial education in schools is pathetic and governments should be ashamed. I think dave ramsey is really the u.s out from what I understand. Helping teachers with the material to teach the students. I never use algebra and yet it was a requirement. Simple math/finance course would of went a long way.

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