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This week we have: Todd from Invested Wallet!
Hi MikedUp Blog readers!
My name is Todd Kunsman, I’m the head of marketing for an awesome start-up company and I’ve also been writing about personal finance and investing since 2017.
I recently decided to launch my own platform called Invested Wallet, aimed to help educate and inspire beginners and beyond on investing and personal finance. If I can change my financial path with no former financial background or money, anyone has a shot to take control and better their future.
My marketing job and my blog have really opened up a lot of doors for me professionally, creatively, and now financially. It’s been a whirlwind of a journey and I have a lot of work to do ahead of me to get where I want. But I hope some of my setbacks can help you realize that while bad things happen, they may be a blessing in disguise.
My losses were a combination of not being prepared first before diving into independence and not expecting a big Christmas surprise. But, besides learning some good financial lessons, it also helped me accelerate my knowledge and led to my current career passion.
Being Independent too fast without really being financially ready
Being independent from the safety net of your parents household is certainly a good thing. At the same time, it’s probably not the best idea to be living in your parent’s basement like Chazz from Wedding Crashers until your 40s…
But, venturing out too soon, could also put you in a very tricky financial situation if you aren’t fully prepared.
I graduated from College in May 2010. By June I was lucky to get my first big-boy job and by August I had moved out.
I was excited to be done with school and have a job, even if that job was only $30,000/year. I also wanted to be independent and have a place to call my own.
Good for me right? Well not really
See, I had maybe $1,500 saved and maybe another $600 in my checking after bills. Also, once November rolled around I would be paying around $315/month in student loans.
Now, guess what I did a year into moving out?
Bought a brand new car!
So now add another $320/month on top of the loans, rent, utility bills, insurance, groceries, etc. Let’s just say there was not much left over for saving.
You can probably see that there was another hidden disaster waiting to happen, but more on that in the next section.
I had no solid emergency fund for unexpected bills and nothing really left to save each paycheck. I did start a 401k with my company at the time but I could not afford to put in much nor did I know anything about it. This leads to loss #2.
Being laid off a few weeks before Christmas in 2014
Four years later I still worked at the same company, moved around to a new gig within, and now was making close to $36,000/year. Big raise over that time, right? I got too complacent.
Anyway, I’ve managed to scrape by being independent, with still no real savings or understanding of finances at all. I will say, in September of 2014 I finally starting learning a bit, but it wasn’t enough to get me anywhere financially.
Then, in the first week of December, I was unexpectedly let go from my job.
Unfortunately, the company was known to do this, but it still caught me off guard and was right before the holidays. Merry Christmas to me! I did have severance pay until February, which helped but after that it was up to me to get a job.
I applied to over 150 jobs for 9 months until I got a full-time job. During that time, I also moved back home with my parents to try and re-evaluate my finances and start over.
Feeling defeated is an understatement.
The main takeaway from my losing experiences
I think the main takeaways from these two losses are a few things.
While it’s good to be positive, you have to think about the negatives or “the unexpected” ahead of time as well to be prepared. Life happens and it happens fast. I was too excited to become an adult, that I really didn’t think about unexpected bills or that I could easily lose my job and be stuck in a lease agreement.
The other part of this is while I set myself up for failure and I was down on myself, take time to step back for a minute and don’t let emotion get the best of you. In reality, when things like this happen it can be the best wake up call you never realized you needed.
The losses were rough, but could always be worse right? As much as it stank, it also was a learning experience that led me to where I am today.
Early independence into future financial wins
Not having a financial safety net (besides my parents letting me move back home and paying significantly less rent) was scary. I’ve of course was fortunate to have that option and many don’t.
But the point was that because I was just freshly out of college with a job that really wasn’t paying much, I should have taken some time to build savings and learn to budget better.
Yet, dealing with the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle made me put checks and balances in place and motivated me to care about finances and learn how to invest. I don’t think I would be where I am today if I had not moved out so fast and struggled.
It prepared me to find ways to make money and scrape by, plus I’m more grateful to where I’m at now. I’m not worried about an unexpected bill, or even if there was a sudden job loss.
Of course, I may have had more money saved now had I been smarter financially in the beginning. But making the mistake to be independent so fast without being prepped taught me to slow down on financial decisions. Evaluate the situation, formulate a plan, and see if it works with my budget.
Job loss led to motivation and a defined career passion
The majority of us have probably experienced an unexpected job loss. It’s scary when you are not prepared or don’t know where you’ll find work.
But as much as it was disheartening during the holiday season, it actually was the best thing to happen to me. During the four years at this company, I experienced a lot of different job duties. I also went to school for something I wasn’t even doing at my job.
Basically, I had no specialization and would be hard for companies to place me in a certain job.
But this job loss pushed me into finding my interest in digital marketing and start-ups. I ended up taking free online certifications, getting a small contract work for a music start-up working remotely while I applied for other jobs.
Even though I didn’t find full-time work for 9 months, learning on my own during that time is what led me to work for a marketing agency, which ramped up my marketing skills to the next level.
This then led me to find an amazing opportunity at a start-up that offered remote work and a good pay increase to help me extend my financial goals even further.
The main takeaway from my winning experiences
Being able to fail and make mistakes may be hard to deal with at first, but they generally can lead to something even greater. Without those challenges in my early to mid-20s, I don’t think I’d have been as interested in personal finance or would have discovered my career path.
Look at these type of situations not as the end and worse time of your life, but as a new beginning and opportunity.
Thanks, Mike for allowing me to share! It really made me think and put the last four years into perspective.
I really love how Todd took these seemingly difficult moments and totally reshaped his mindset around the challenges. Sure, they were probably terrible in the moment, but what Todd realized is that it is that fire that forges steel. The only thing that was left was for him to put his head down, be humble, and get to work. Kudos, Todd!
What do you think? We’d love to hear what stood out to you about Todd’s experiences and mindset. Please let us know in the comments below and we’ll keep this discussion moving!
Thanks for reading!