Our journey with money can take a number of twists and turns. From being completely dependent on our parents for financial support to navigating our own way to financial self-sufficiency. There is so much information to learn. Mistakes are made and corrected. Some money mistakes are repeated. Some lessons are learned and others need a bit more time to sink in.
[Find out the 7 things you wish you could tell your 21 yo self about money]
How many of you would like to send your 21 yo self a message about money? What would you say?
Max Martinez’s Journey with Money: Part 1.
By: Max Martinez
Back in 2009, I was an 17 year old kid living in Miami, Florida. I was surrounded by wealth and fortune. I went to a private school, lived in a beautiful home, and enjoyed as much food as I wanted to every night. My first car was a brand new 2008 Ford Mustang GT and I never once had to pay for my own gas. I lived a privileged life that my parents had given me.
To me, all of this was normal. In Miami, wealth is power and it gets you anything you want. You can argue…that’s the case everywhere. However, Miami takes it to a whole new level. One of my friends drove an Aston Martin and another one lived in the biggest house in Miami-Dade County (actual fact). On the weekends, my friends would use their 100$ fake IDs to get into nightclubs where they would proceed to spend their parents’ money. I embraced it and was proud of being from Miami, such a trendy and superficial place.
Although I grew up around all of this, I maintained focus on my goal to become a college football player at an amazing school. I earned a scholarship (which in the Ivy League is just a spot in the school and on the team, not monetary) to play football at Cornell University. After a great high school football career, I became a ‘YouTube sensation’ for setting the all-time high score at the Nike Combine in Miami. These days, if you were a 5’9, 185lb, hispanic kid from a small private school and had just beaten the likes of Reggie Bush and Michael Vick in something sponsored by Nike, you would gain 4,000 Twitter followers and everyone would follow you on Instagram. However, times were different, and social media had not even come close to where it is today. Most people still thought Twitter was for celebrities. Parents and adults hadn’t really found Facebook yet.
Until that point in my life, I had grown up with rich kids who had rich tastes and lifestyles. It wasn’t until the day I left to Ithaca that I realized that I was one of those kids.
When I got to Cornell, my world was turned upside down. I was no longer in a big city with rich friends. My teammates, who will forever be my best friends, were from all different types of backgrounds and ethnicities. I had a friend whose dad was a cop in South Chicago. Another one who was a farm boy from Johnstown, Ohio. You get the point, we were all from different places and saw things differently.
When we went out to parties, I wore Polo shoes while some of my friends wore scuffed up Nike basketball shoes. When we went out to eat, I would buy as much food without thinking about how much it costs, while my friends were looking for the “2 for $20 deals” to share. When I wasn’t in class or at football, I was online using Facebook, the ‘newly-cool’ Twitter and shopping. My friends were studying their butts and thinking how fortunate they were to go to a prestigious school at such a low-price. Looking back, I was still in my rich mentality and still lived carefree. I should have known that my lifestyle would eventually catch up to me.
Up to that point in my life, I felt as if I was entitled to two things, being on the football team at Cornell University and spending my parents money. For all of you astrology fans out there, I am a Taurus, which means I am stubborn and it takes a hard lesson for me learn something. My hard lesson came in the form of an incident that almost got me kicked off the football team and one of my parents taking away my credit card. These were two things I felt I needed in my life, so it was either time to crumble in the face of personal adversity or rise above the pressure and start growing up.
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