Looking at things as an Opportunity; What do I Have to Lose?

These blog posts will focus on a few topics around money and happiness. The first one will be about where we live, the second will be about the lifestyle we want to have and the opportunity costs associated with that choice, and the last one will be about creating a calm and peaceful financial life. Hope you find something useful in them.

Note: This is a guest post written by Uziel, who started working with me recently, followed by my own comments and perspective on the topic.

Let me first introduce myself, my name is Uziel Gomez. I am Dr. Timmerman’s new intern. I attend California State University, Northridge. My major is finance with a focus in financial planning. My relationship with Inga started when she sent out an email to all financial planning students about a year ago. The email was about an opportunity to intern as a financial coach at the Vita Tax Clinic on campus. I was ready to apply for the position, but I was discouraged when I read “Priority will be given to graduating seniors”. A few days past and the email was sent out again, so I applied with the mentality of, what do I have to lose? I interviewed with Inga and got the position. The internship finished in April and Inga offered another internship, working with her at Attainable Wealth. The experience has been amazing, thus far. 

I never saw myself as an opportunist, I’ve always thought that I somehow get lucky. Yet, I’ve learned a lot about myself the past few months. When the pandemic started and the quarantine in Los Angeles was announced, school transitioned to online. The first few weeks seemed like a vacation, I binge watched two different TV series within the first 2 weeks (yes, it was a lot of hours in front of the TV). I then realized that my job would soon end and that finals were right around the corner. I had to start applying to new jobs and study countless hours to finish the semester strong.

Fortunately (because there is always a fortunately when things do not go as planned), I never got a job since many places had already hired a wave of people. With no job and plenty of time on my hands, I didn’t know what to do. I knew I had to somehow invest in myself and to become just a little bit better. Another opportunity arose, an externship hosted by the Financial Planning Association (FPA). The sign-up fee to join the association was $50 (best investment I have ever made). Again, I felt skeptical about doing an externship online. I didn’t know what to expect. The externship was made up of weekly guest speakers from the industry, access to financial planning software, and a chance to practice on mock clients. The externship was about a month long, I committed about 15-20 hours per week.  I certainly gained much more than the $50 I spent. I learned a lot about the industry in that one month; but more importantly I learned more about myself and what I intend to pursue in the future. Hearing from the diverse speakers, seeing that there are successful advisors with backgrounds similar to mine inspired me to set big goals. Prior to the externship, my mentality was to always work for someone else. I didn’t dream big… And now, I can’t get the idea out of my head that one day I will open my own financial planning firm.

On top of the externship, I began studying for the series 65 exam. The series 65 exam is a license that many advisors need to hold, depending on what their position is. Since this is my graduating semester, I’ve been trying to boost my resume with anything that makes me more attractive. I was committing about 10 hours per week to study for this license. This is still a work in progress, but this is something to aspire, something to work towards.

I realized that I don’t get lucky, I see an opportunity arise and I take it. I also don’t wait around for something to magically happen. My self-investments might not return in an immediate manner or even in a monetary figure. I know that this will help me out in the long run, I’m more knowledgeable than before. I can add the externship to my resume along with a certificate of completion for a finance software we used. I intend to take the series 65 exam soon and add that license as well. Investments aren’t always about investing in a security or property, the greatest investment is investing in yourself.

And here is Inga’s perspective

Uziel does not give himself enough credit. He is not coming from a wealthy family where financial planning was front and center. He is coming from a place where he had to fight and learn and try to do his best in life. He is no different than many of us, someone who did not grow up being comfortable around money or knowing what to do with it. But that does not mean that this is the end of it, that we cannot make it better for ourselves. From the five financial coaches we had last year at CSUN, Uziel was the one who went after helping people; trying to improve their lives just a little bit, even if they did not know where to start. He also told me that I need to get on Instagram, (something I am not sold on but let’s give it a try).  I would like to welcome him and hope that he has a good experience working together.

This post is an introduction to a series I will be working on about money in times of COVID. This can also be used to look at life and money in times of change. Investing in yourself is something that we all need to and should strive for. For some of us, it is about getting a new license or a new professional certification. For other, it is about taking a few hours to start doing yoga or sleeping an extra hour per night.

COVID has not been fair. If you are a single 30-year-old who now works from home, you may have found yourself with more time on your hands than you know what to do with. A workout class? Sure… Learning Japanese? Absolutely. For others, the last six months have been a nightmare. I am in a mom group where all of us have soon to be 4-year olds…. Many of us have another kid or two as well. Most of these kids had to stay home and either be homeschooled or kept alive while mommy is still expected to hold a full-time job on Zoom. Let’s be serious.  No one in that group was learning ay new languages or reading new books. But this does not mean that life stopped and there was no investment in yourself. There is always a way, it might just look a little different. That happy hour we had on Zoom and talked about the stresses of life while our kids were running wild  around us ? That is an investment in ourselves. That new understanding that we can handle and do much more than we gave ourselves credit for? This is an investment in ourselves.  New insights, new ideas and new perspectives on life is what COVID has introduced to many of us. Yes, working moms will never be as productive as childless males… and they may be even resentful of their friends who are doing yoga instead of scraping bananas off the walls. But no matter what our circumstances are, we can change, we can evolve an we can invest in ourselves.