I was cleaning out my Inbox and ran across somebody who was wondering if my money was from my parents or other gift/inheritance. So I wanted to expand upon my initial About Me post and share some more about my financial past.

Let’s start with college. My parents did help me through undergrad, but I still took about \$8,000 of students loans for each of my four years. So, \$32,000 in total. I worked part-time every single year in college, working everything from restaurant host to tutor to parking lot attendant. This mostly went towards food and spending money. I also worked full-time every single summer. I’d say each summer I’d earn about \$3,000 net, and \$1k (edit: towards loans) from during the rest of the year.

So that left me with about (32-4*4) = \$16,000 in debt leaving college. I then went to grad school for three years, earning between \$15k-\$17k gross per year being a professor’s slave. Nowadays I’m amazed at how little I spent. I probably paid off about \$3k each year, so leaving grad school I had about (20-3*3) = \$11k of debt. Also had cash savings and started an IRA too. Off to being a working stiff. I proceeded to paid off the rest of the student loans within 12 months. Summer 2004, got married and then had two incomes (and higher standards of living). According to my calcs – here as an updated Net Worth versus Time graph (see old one) for me/us:

So, I guess the answer to the e-mailer’s question is – Yes, my parents did help me partially through undergrad, but since then I’ve been living on my own and haven’t received any assistance. They also gave me a used car as a graduation gift, which I’m still driving today. I’m happy to say I have no car loans, home loans, or student loans. Well, mostly happy about the home loan part.

1. Matt says:

In reference to your statement “So that left me with about (32-4*4) = \$16,000 in debt leaving college.” I am confused. You used the \$4k you made each year in college only for paying off the \$8k in loans you were taking out each year? This contradicts using it for food and spending money.

2. Thanks for sharing this info: I wish more of the financial bloggers would talk about this– it’s something on my list to post about soon on my own blog. Not everyone starts at square one– most people may not have trust funds to live off of, but family help with education can make a big difference. And having to help support parents who make less money than you is also an issue for many people. Current salary and net worth are just the tip of a life-long iceberg.

Matt- I made more than \$1k per year during the school year, most of the money was spent on other things like food. But, I also managed to save \$1k of it for student loans.

Madame X- You’re welcome; I agree, I think it helps put things in perspective. Some people get full rides from scholarships or parents, some people work full-time during college.

4. Great effort in only 2 years!

5. It’s good to hear about how you built up your assets. I was lucky in that I didn’t have any student loans (thanks to scholarships & grants) + I worked 20-32 hrs a week in college. But in my case it was a necessity because not only did I not get any monetary assistance from my parents, I had to help them out financially. All my friends had wealthy or well to do parents and they assumed I got money from parents just like they did. Some of them would laugh and tease me when I rushed off to work. I never explained my family situation but I left college not only with no debt but with a strong work ethic. Today I have \$165k in net worth and I built that up from scratch. There’s a sense of accomplishment in that that people with trust funds may never understand.

6. Thanks for the post!

I’m going to post my story as well. I agree that we don’t all start at “0”. I didn’t have any help in school and neither of my parents thought college was really all that necessary. I’m just glad that I did it because it drastically changed my earning potential. (and meeting my wife there was a huge bonus too)

Hazzard
http://elym.blogspot.com

7. I posted my mini-money autobiography at http://myopenwallet.blogspot.com

and enjoyed reading MMB’s and Hazzard’s too…