Living A Better Life Interview – The Finance Twins
In our brand new interview series, we are interviewing various individuals from across the web. This interview series focuses on how they are living a better life. They can be living a better life by pursuing financial independence, minimalism, simplicity, and many more aspects. Are you interested in being interviewed? Continue reading!
Want to be interviewed?
If you want to be interviewed about how you are living a better life. Contact us at [email protected] and tell us why you’d be a great candidate!
We’ll send you a list of questions to fill out and return to us.
Give us your best elevator speech!
My life started out as a fairytale. I was born in South America to loving parents and 2 incredible siblings. When I was four years old we moved to the U.S. and began our pursuit of the American dream. It was amazing. My parents bought a house, a car, and were establishing themselves in our community.
But everything unraveled when I was seven years old. My dad was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and had little time left. In the hopes of extending his life, my parents poured their life-savings into medical treatments.
My mom was left with three young boys and an empty bank account in a new country. To say she struggled financially would be an understatement. We grew up very poor. But the one thing we did have was each other. And a lot of fun memories growing up, even if we didn’t have much.
It’s hard to believe that I am now a graduate of two Ivy League universities including Harvard. My twin brother got his M.D. from the Mayo Clinic. Our older brother runs a successful business in Austin, TX.
Not too shabby for three Latinos who grew up in poverty!
How are you living a better life than you were last year? 5 years ago? 10?
If you compare my life over time, there has always been a clear progression. I have always prioritized education and learning. If you aren’t growing, you aren’t making the most of your finite human experience. It’s a lesson I learned the hard way by losing my dad at such a young age.
This has always pushed me to seek better jobs, more fulfilling relationships, and better ways to spend my time. Launching The Finance Twins with my brother earlier this year is a perfect example of that. I was in a job I didn’t love and wanted to use my passion for personal finance to help other people. I was extremely fortunate that I was able to quit my job and focus on growing this business.
In a few weeks, my wife and I will welcome our first child into the world and I know that it will easily be the most transformational experience of my life. Kids aren’t for everyone. But it’s something I’ve always wanted.
It’s hard to believe how different my life is than it was 10 years ago. 10 years ago I had just arrived at an Ivy League university with nothing but a single suitcase and a head full of wild dreams. You can learn more about what a crazy experience it was to be poor at an Ivy League university here. This makes me super excited for the next 10 years because I have never lost my desire to make the most of my time on Earth. My life isn’t perfect, but that’s what makes each journey beautiful and unique.
What would you tell your younger self?
That’s an interesting question. I would tell myself so many things. For many years I carried a lot of guilt about losing my dad and being poor. It’s as if I thought I had done something to deserve that. That I deserved to suffer for something I did. Now that I am older I realize that bad things happen to good people all of the time. So I’d start by telling myself that I didn’t do anything to deserve being poor.
The second thing I would tell myself is that everything will be okay. When I first got to college all I wanted was money. I was convinced that was going to be the key to happiness and fulfillment. This drove me to pursue a career on Wall Street after graduation. I was 22 years old and my first job paid me well over $100,000.
But I had to pay a price for it. I hated my job. I would arrive at my office in midtown Manhattan at 8:30 am or 9 am and I would be there working until 2 am or 3 am every day. If I got out at midnight I would be super happy. Working around the clock hurt my relationships with friends and family and it took a large toll on my happiness. So I quickly learned that money alone was not going to make me happy. I am glad I learned it when I was fresh out of college, but I would’ve worried a lot less about money when I was younger.
The third thing, and probably the most practical thing I would tell myself, is to learn how to make a budget earlier. The earlier you can start to save and invest, the better. It would’ve helped me a lot.
The last thing I would tell myself would be that I need to be more kind to myself. Self-kindness is nearly impossible in the age of social media. We constantly compare ourselves to others, and it can make people very unhappy. So I’d remind myself that I am enough. There will always be other people who have a lot more, and others who have less. I just need to focus on myself and making the most with what I can control.
What made you want to change the way you were living?
The first thing that comes to mind is growing up poor. I hated it. I hated feeling different. I worked extremely hard in school because I wanted to put an end to it.
I wanted to go to the best school and get the best job because then I would be the person other people would look up to. Now it’s easy for me to see that I was so focused on external sources of happiness that I would never be happy with that mindset. Caring what other people think about you is the perfect recipe for a life of unhappiness and discontent.
Does financial independence play a role? If so, how?
Absolutely. Financial independence has a lot of flavors. In the most basic sense, I have been financially independent since I got to college. I no longer needed to rely on anyone for financial help.
Financial independence in the personal finance context refers to having enough money, investments, assets, etc., so that you no longer need to work for money. I am not there yet, but it’s definitely a goal that pushes me. I would’ve gotten here faster if I wouldn’t have made these 8 money mistakes though.
I want my future kids to have the security of knowing they’ll always have a warm bed to come home to. I also want them to see that they are lucky and have control over the choices they make.
What advice do you have for others in living a better life?
The first thing I would say is that you need to think about what you want. Not what you think you should want or what other people want for you. If you don’t have a very clear sense for what you want in life, you will never get it. That’s the first step. Point blank. Know what you want.
The next steps are to find people who have it and seek mentors. Ask for help. Develop a plan to get there. Even if you don’t reach all of your goals, the process of getting them is where the learning, growing, and fulfillment takes place.
Lastly, don’t worry about what other people are doing or what they think. You might be spending frugally so that you can retire when you are 45. And that’s awesome. Don’t feel guilty that you don’t drive a sexy car like your neighbors do. What anyone else thinks besides your spouse and immediate family doesn’t matter. Prioritize the things that do matter (experiences and memories with loved ones!).
What books/podcasts/blogs have you consumed that lead you to this point?
That’s a great question. When it comes to money, these are the best personal finance books I have read. They still shape the way I save and invest.
From a personal standpoint, I grew up addicted to the Harry Potter books. I could always identify with Harry because he also went from being super poor to building this awesome life for himself. We both got so many lucky breaks along the way.
More recently, I also read Shoe Dog by Phil Knight (the founder of Nike) and reading the story of how he started his company was very inspirational. Open by Andre Agassi was also amazing. Seeing the amount of work and dedication that it takes to build something awesome was eye-opening.
What’s one area in your life you still struggle with?
Oh man. I feel like I struggle with so many areas of my life! I wish I stayed in better touch with my friends and family. I try to call my mom every night while I get ready for bed, but it doesn’t feel like it’s enough for all she sacrificed for me and my brothers.
I also struggle with imposters syndrome. It’s a feeling that you don’t feel qualified enough and other people will eventually find out you don’t know what you are doing. I know this sounds crazy coming from someone with an M.B.A. from Harvard and a finance degree from Wharton, but it’s true. And it shows that everyone feels this at some point.
I don’t think anyone who has any amount of self-awareness is immune from this at some point. But it’s also not necessarily a good thing, and I often have to remind myself to be confident and proud of who I have become!
If you had to give just 1 tip that you’ve learned along your journey, what would it be and why?
You can catch more bees with honey. It’s a saying about the way to treat others and leadership in the workplace. Treat other people with empathy, love, and kindness.
I have worked for people who try to get their employees to work hard out of fear. But no one likes that. And it doesn’t garner respect or loyalty. If you treat people with dignity and respect they’ll actually want to build a healthy relationship with you. And in this life, all we have are our relationships with others.
Lastly, just remember that you aren’t alone. Regardless of what you are going through or up against, someone else is facing the exact same thing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance. You aren’t alone.
Where can readers get in touch with you?
Follow me on Instagram. Email me using the contact form on our site. And finally, just simply check out our awesome site. It’s full of resources, articles and calculators to help you feel less intimidated by money and personal finance.
Check out other interviews here!
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