"Do you have a $20 I can borrow? I'm on E and don't have enough gas to get to work. I'll pay you back as soon as I can," my stepmom said.
It was 6am on some random weekday. The actual date is irrelevant - it wasn't the first or the last time this happened. I was 17 years old, Valedictorian of my class, on food stamps, and passing a $20 bill back and forth with my 34 year old stepmom. My dad passed away when I was 13 years old (he was only 36). To say that we struggled financially after that would be a severe understatement.
I can't even count the number of times that I came home to an empty house because my stepmom was in class or at one of her two jobs, trying to make ends meet. I also lost track of how many prayers I said to the gasoline gods driving on fumes, praying that I had just enough to get to work so I could make money to buy more gas. "C'mon, c'monnnnn. Almost there. Just a little further."
I learned at a very young age that no, money can't buy happiness, but a lack of it can sure make life miserable. When I should have been playing sports and hanging out with friends, I was waiting tables at a diner in town. For the most part, I loved waitressing. It gave me an excuse to smile on days that I really didn't have anything to be happy about. But I hated waiting on my fellow classmates. I felt like such a charity case. Oh well, bills had to be paid.
I continued to support myself through college, which was not easy at a place like Yale. My peers couldn't fathom why I was working past midnight at a lab at the medical school while they were out partying. But again, bills had to be paid.
Senior year, I decided to go into finance instead of med school. I couldn't even afford to apply to medical school (the application and interview process costs $10-$20k on average, and I only had 600 bucks to my name at graduation). So, I chose to tackle an area of my life that had scared and stressed me out for so many years: money. I wanted to learn how to manage it and how to make every dollar I made grow. Most of all, I wanted to learn how to build a solid financial foundation for myself and my future family.
When I accepted an analyst position in NYC, I vowed to never again let money control me. I promised myself that I would do everything in my power to become financially stable, and that I would be prepared financially for anything else that life or God throws at me.
I never want to be afraid to look at my bank statements. I don't want my husband and I to worry about every penny. I don't want our future children to get off the school bus and run inside to an empty home. I want to give them the childhood that I couldn't have. I want to live a life of abundance and share that abundance with people I care about.
That's why I started ReisUP. And that's what financial health means to me.