Alvy Macias shares what he spends in a month as a 27-year old millennial in Portland, Oregon. From growing up in a household that had to use credit cards to stay above water to getting on track to be a first-generation millionaire, read one millennial’s journey into financial independence.
Watch an Interview with Clo Bare and Alvaro Macias on YouTube
I’m real excited to share the next guest post in the Bare’s Millennial Money series. If you’re new here, last year the Bare started sharing the money stories of millennials across the globe and this week? We’re bringing you the amazing story of Alvaro Macias.
Alvy has an incredible story, from dealing with debt collectors after his father’s death to working on paying off nearly $20k in student loan debt in just a little over a year.
This dude is killing it and I WISH I had started my journey when he did.
Anyway, in his post he talks about when his perspective on money changed for him, how he is paying off those loans, and exactly what he spends his money on each month. He even includes a bit of information on how to pay off your student loans early, even on a salary of $40k a year.
I love his vulnerability and his total realness, and I think you all will too.
Hello, Clo Bare Squad!
My name is Alvy Macias. It is with great honor that I write to you all in order to share my story with you, and hopefully show you all that you are not alone in your struggle. I’ll also share tips that have given me much success in my journey to becoming a first generation and millennial millionaire.
When Everything Changed: The Death of My Father
They say that few things in one’s life have a greater impact on them than the birth of a new life and the death of a vibrant one.
For me, the death of my father was the moment when I realized that I HAD to get my finances in order. I wanted to make sure that my future family never had experience the heart wrenching toll that is explaining to a credit card company that your father was dead and that his debt to the company was now also dead.
Now, please do not misinterpret the above paragraph for my father’s negligence. My pops came to the United States as an immigrant from Mexico. He had no money and high dreams for his three kids.
Millennial Money: Using Credit Cards as a Means to Survive
My old man used credit cards as a means to survive, pay rent, put food on the table, and let us children believe that all was well.
I knew growing up that we were in a lower middle class but I never truly understood that narrow, NARROW margin that kept us off the street. It wasn’t until my late teens that I understood my parent’s salaries weren’t enough for us to pay the bills, even though we were paying the bills.
Enter credit cards. They were a necessity and the tiny pieces of plastic kept us off the streets at the time. They weren’t used for luxuries and shopping sprees– they were used to pay for everyday bills like food, water and gas.
Back in the day, the running joke in my household was that you used one credit card to pay the balance on another. This shaped my view on finances and ingrained the “scarcity mindset”. I started to believe that there will never be enough, resulting in feelings of fear and anxiety that lasted well into college for me.
Student Loans and The Move to Oregon
Now, let’s fast forward to 2017.
I am a college Junior at the University of Oregon and freshly transplanted from my childhood hometown of Seaside, California to Eugene, Oregon. I start a life where no one knows me and I realize something that’s key.
EVERYTHING from I do will now be a result of what I chose to do or not do.
Talk about a wake-up call.
What would any 23 year old think to do in a town where no one knows them with this opportunity to mold a new identity do?
If you guessed “learn how to become financially stable”, you are CORRECT!
Ok, maybe not every 23-year old. But luckily, it was the realization I came to.
Call it the new air. The new city. Or the fact that I was going to graduate college with student loans and that I did not want to pay those suckers off until I was 45, but something in my mind clicked.
I knew that if I was going to have a life that I LOVED, I needed to learn the CORRECT way to handle money and avoid the pitfalls that confined my family to debt.
How This Millennial Learned About Money
Now, I had a lot to learn, and how does anyone know a day’s learn something new? Googling-it. (Yes, google-ing is a verb and you know you use it too.) I typed in: “HOW TO PAY OFF STUDENT LOANS FAST” and up came the infamous, Dave Ramsey.
From the moment I heard Dave’s no-nonsense type of advice, I was hooked.
Don’t think of this as entire praise to Dave because there are many things that I disagree with him on. But when I first heard Dave talk about his Baby Steps, I knew I could follow those steps easily.
And it’s important to note– I think where most of us fail when it comes to personal finance is the fact that we do not seek out different perspectives. Dave Ramsey and I may not share the exact same views on everything, but he’s helped a lot of people and his differing perspectives have helped me out.
One of the things that helped me out the most were the following questions.
- Do I feel happy about my fiances?
- Could I improve saving, budgeting, etc?
- Do I have a plan for my life 5 years from today?
I was someone who did not know those answers back in 2017. And that sparked me to learn more. Once I started seeking information and found actionable and attainable goals for my money, my life was forever changed.
Paying Off $17k of Student Loan Debt in a Year
It was the introduction of the Baby Steps that have begun my journey to personal finance nerd-ism. I read, watch, and consume as much information about personal finance as I possibly can within any given day. So much so in fact, that I have driven my girlfriend crazy enough that one day she encouraged me to start a YouTube channel about personal finance. My girlfriend claims that it was because she wants to be supportive but secretly, I think she suggested the YouTube thing so I could talk to the internet about money and not her.
Now, I am on the verge of something that to many my age believe to be unattainable: Paying off my student loans within one year of graduating college. When I graduated college in September of 2019 with my undergraduate degree, I owed $17,773 to Great Lakes. As of December of 2020, I owe $2,000. With a few more 10-hour workdays, I should be 100% student loan debt-free by the end of 2020!
How have I been able to kick my student loans where the sun don’t shine, you ask?
How to Pay Off Student Loans Fast AF
Here are some of the things that I have implemented in my life and have helped me be laser-focused on eliminating debt and on my way to becoming a first generation millennial millionaire:
1. Live Below Your Wage
Just because you get a new “big boy” or “big girl” job, that does not give you a reason to go buy designer handbags, shoes, clothes, a newer car, a highrise apartment, etc.
Sure, I COULD go on a vacation this year or get a newer laptop but I choose not to because I want to be 100% debt-free! I refuse to compromise my long term goal for short term satisfaction.
Some of the ways I do this include:
- Living with roommates or parents after college to split housing costs.
- Not worrying about how many vacations some else has had this year (our time will come, I promise)
- Having a limit on the number of times I eat out a week.
- Explore new restaurants via happy hour specials instead of dinner time.
- Keeping a car payment at or under 5% of my total income
2. Get on a damn budget.
You had to have known this was coming.
Listen, this is not hard.
Take your paycheck and figure out how much you need from that check to cover your “need these to live” expenses. Rent, car payment, water, electricity, phone bill, grocery store, etc. are all things that you need every month to live.
After you figure out the “need these to live” expenses, then DAMN NEAR EVERY OTHER PENNY YOU HAVE after that should go to paying off your debt! What do you need a vacation for? My rule of thumb is, I have not earned ANY VACATIONS while I still owe any debt!
3. Earn as much income as humanly possible.
You do not need to have a $100,00+ income in order to become wealthy or pay off your debt. If you have a $40,000 income (like me) you can look into working another part-time job in addition to your 9-5. Overtime should be your best friend because if you can get paid time and a half at your current salary, that is all money that can go to your debt. If you need to leave your current job for a higher paying position, DO IT! You need to do everything within your power to earn as much as possible.
4. Stay away from debt.
NO, WE DO NOT NEED THAT 2020 FUCKING COROLLA!
The 2015 version with 30,000 miles has already depreciated and is probably 40% less expensive yet equally as reliable. So help me god, if I hear another person justify the Apple upgrade program for iPhones, I am going to LOSE IT!
Debt is the #1 thing that will keep you poor and will ensure that all the hard-earned money you make leaves you every payday.
Millennial Money: What I Spend in a Month
Here is how I break down my expenses for those of you spreadsheet aficionados, like me:
- Rent: $1,087.00
- Phone: $72.00
- Insurance: $109.00
- Gym: $35.00
- Car Note: $199.00
- Subscription Services: $25.00
- Food (groceries and eating out): $180.00
EVERY other penny that I earn goes to paying down my student loans. Since I follow the debt snowball method of paying off debt, my student loans are my sole focus at the moment. Once my student loans are gone, my car note receives all my money after my necessities (outlined above) are met. Just as a reference point, I make roughly $3,400 per month and am paid every two weeks. Therefore, one paycheck goes to my “I need these to live” fund and the other paycheck goes to paying down my debt.
First Generation Millionaire: Personal Finance is Supposed to be Personal
Always remember that first word in personal finance. It is PERSONAL for a reason! What works for me, may or may not work for you. That is the beauty of personal finance and all the people who want to talk about the topic.
You can listen to what I share, listen to what Clo Bare shares and there is no right or wrong answer!
Take what you want.
Take what you learn and implement things you like, disregard the things you don’t because at the end of the day, YOU know your finances better than ANYONE! All I hope to do is help you obtain your goals as quickly as possible and have you on your path to becoming a first-generation millionaire.
In the end, I believe that ALL OF US have the ability to achieve and obtain a level of wealth where we are comfortable. I understand if you do not want to be a billionaire or trillionaire but that does not mean that you should not be wealthy. I want to become wealthy because I want to buy my mother a home, donate millions to scholarships and local non-profit organizations in my hometown and ultimately, help educate the next generation of millionaires.
What’s your why?
Where can you find Alvy Macias on the Interwebs?
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Interested in guest posting on the Bare and sharing your financial journey as well as everything you spent your money on in a month? Drop Clo Bare a line by heading over to Clo Bare’s contact page. Be sure to include “Guest Posting” in the subject line.