So I am hoping to make this section my third pillar of the blog where I will discuss things about life and how I try to live it to the fullest. This might entail of stories of how I cheated the system to travel the world subsidized by CMU, or it might be practical financial advice in areas I know well like credit cards. It could be more self help like how I managed to find a career I care about while making real money. I’m not 100% sure but the main thing I want people to see is how I live my life and hopefully learn a few things to better their own lives.
Understanding Your Opportunities
In no ways am I a rich man at the same time in no ways am I a poor man. I discussed it a bit in my first post on digital marketing where my parents came as immigrants and I grew up seeing us achieve the American Dream. While most of my life I lived in the middle class families of Long Island, I initially grew up below the poverty line in Queens where a lot of my ideals on the world was shaped.
A story I often tell is how growing up we didn’t have much and no one in my community had much either. For example, if you were interested in music my elementary school, P.S. 79, had a very lacking music program that consisted of you sitting in a room with a recorder and that was it. Fast forward to Long Island, and all of a sudden I was blessed to have schools with full bands, full orchestras, chamber choirs, and all sorts of great facilities I never would have gotten in my school in the Queens. Even tho I was maybe 8 or 9, this stark difference was something I realized came with money but to my amazement many students had no idea how blessed they were. So while people opted out of these resources, I did my best to try everything I could whether it was joining clubs, participating in sports, and taking advanced courses. In the end all of these things shaped who I became and propelled me to study hard and go to a great school.
No, I’m not writing this story to brag about how much of a perfect asian kid I was. What I’m trying to say is that many people including me often forget how blessed we are in life. Having loving parents, having the opportunity to go to college, having the opportunity to explore my passions like traveling. Once we realize these blessings it’s so much easier to embrace life head on with a smile.
Living Life Large on a Budget: BEAT THE SYSTEM
No more serious talk, LET’S TALK ABOUT HOW TO BEAT THE SYSTEM. I’ll definitely write a specific post about this but here are some examples of me taking advantage of things.
- Study Abroad: If you are in college and you aren’t planning on studying abroad…. you messed up. No matter how much you are spending for college I GUARANTEE YOU CAN GO ABROAD. If you are paying full tuition, guess what schools around the world are super cheap compared to USA. A semester at CMU costs ~30,000 a semester at a great European school costs ~10-15000. If you were like me and got financial aid, GUESS WHAT IT TRANSFERS. I didn’t pay anything extra to go to Singapore, in fact I ended up saving money because the cost of living was cheaper than at Pittsburgh. Often times schools will give you the financial aid money and you pocket the difference going abroad ;). ALSO Its usually super easy to get scholarships to study abroad. I got $2000 to go to Shanghai which covered most of the school fees so I just paid for cost of living which was cheapp in China.
- Free Travel is Always Worth: Outside of my two study abroad experiences, I’ve been to Qatar and Rwanda free through volunteering and signing up for CMU events. If you want to see the world, chances are there are opportunities at your school like volunteering where you can go free/subsidized. There are downsides of course. I had to give up my Senior spring break to go to Qatar for a case competition, but let’s be honest you can party any week. The chances of going to Qatar for free is a much rarer opportunity I would not give up.
- FREE MONEY IS EVERYWHERE: One thing I can’t stress enough is that there are always opportunities for free money. For example the obvious like if you aren’t using credit cards you are a fool. I think of credit cards as global 1.5%-2% off anything discounts. Sure it seems like such a small percent but face it you probably spend $1000-$3000 a month which is $20-$60 a month of free money out there. Of course this comes with the caveat that you need to be smart with credit card debt. Never spend more than you have and you will be fine. There’s also other penny saving tricks like using your old iphones to mine ads, etc. We’ll cover some of those at another time.
This post is getting a bit long so I’ll end it here. Don’t worry free money is a passion of mine so I’ll keep you all updated on my quests to beat the system.