How it Started
Last year before fall semester started, my friend Jonathan and I sat down in a room with a big whiteboard like we usually do and we tried to figure out what we were going to do with our lives. We were both involved in way too many projects, and we had to figure out which ones were the most important to focus on. We knew we wanted to make a difference somehow in the lives of the people around us, and we knew we wanted to work on a project together, but we didn’t know exactly what it would be.
I’ve always been awestruck by the lack of financial education in our schools. We spend our whole lives working for money, but few of us learn how to manage the fruits of our labor properly. Ever since I became the only one responsible for my expenses, I was scared about how I would provide adequately for myself and my future family. I had no idea how to budget, pay taxes, write checks, pay for insurance, or invest my money. I felt like I was dropped in a new world and I had to learn a new language called money.
I was happy to find out that there was a slew of personal finance books available to me, from books about saving pennies to investing in hedge funds. I dove into this sea of books and quickly realized that there was some very basic money-management principles that most people agreed on. I started following those and then looked into more advanced strategies. But the crazy thing to me was that those very basic money-management principles that I found in the first few books didn’t seem to be anywhere else. I had never heard of them before! It’s no wonder that young people don’t know how to manage their money very well. I was eager to share what I learned to other people.
I still think of myself as a personal finance amateur, but I feel like I can still help people get on the right track to financial freedom. Jonathan felt the same way. As we talked about this problem, we started to envision what we could do (even as beginners ourselves) to help other people manage their money correctly and learn how to be financially free.
The BYU Club
BYU is a pretty awesome place for entrepreneurs. The business school is one of the best and I’m pretty sure Provo was ranked as one of the country’s entrepreneurship hotspots. There are great ideas floating around everywhere and ambitious students making things happen. It’s the perfect place to start changing the way people view money and encourage people to follow their passions.
Any student can start a club, and BYU has a bunch of marketing already set up for clubs to use, like club week and digital signs. So we figured we could start a club and get people together to discuss personal finance and financial freedom, in particular. So many students have awesome ideas and passions, but feel like they can’t pursue them because they need to follow the process: work their way through school, get a degree, and get a secure job. There’s is nothing wrong with that, but it’s so liberating when you find out that it’s not the only way.
Last semester we talked about a new subject each week. We kicked off the semester by talking about vision boards. Vision boards can seem pretty cheesy, like something you’d do in kindergarten, but they are SO helpful. I see my vision board everyday and my goals stare at me all the time. It’s hard to forget where I want to go when it’s in front of my all day. Before you can make your way to financial freedom, you need to know what that means to you. These vision boards were a way to do that.
We spent the following weeks talking about those basic principles that I was talking about earlier. Each week we saw new students understanding the vision where were trying to create, and that was so exciting.
At the end of the semester, we got Bob Snyder to speak. He’s an entrepreneur that has started multiple companies and knows what it’s like to be financially free. Thanks to our incredible club leadership, more than 100 people came! This sparked even more interest in our club, and it’s been growing since then.
We kicked off this winter semester with another guest speaker, my friend and mentor Nate Lambert. The subject was “How to Travel the World on Any Budget.” Tons of people were interested in this and Nate was the perfect guy to talk about it. He’s visited over 30 countries on nothing but a broke student or professor’s salary. He got emotional toward the end of his presentation, urging young people to seize the wonderful opportunities that are around them. Life is meant to be full of rich experiences. We should see the world as a place of abundance, not scarcity.
We had over 150 people come to this last meeting, and most of them were interested in learning more about what Nate does.
I just had to write about this and share my feelings about this awesome movement that we are seeing. Seeing Jonathan and my idea (mostly his) materialize into a group of inspired students further illustrates the power of a simple idea and some motivation. It’s proof that you really can make your passions into more than dreams in your head or more than scribbles on your class notes.
If this financial freedom movement is something you’re interested in promoting, reach out and we can figure out how to work together to inspire more young people.