Why Won’t I Post My Picture?

Take a quick tour through the most popular blogs and you’ll notice something: a picture of the blogger. So why don’t I post pictures of myself?

I realize that many of you are new to this site. Welcome, readers both old and new! I’m humbled that you’re reading these words. But, you’re probably wondering who I am.

I don’t post pictures of myself or my family mainly because when you publicly post a goal to give away $1,000,000, you bring upon yourself some “interesting” situations that I’d rather not disclose. I’ll share stories when we get together over a beer.

So since you don’t have a visual, let me paint a picture for you of who I am.

A Portrait of the Blogger as a Young Man:

I’m just a Midwestern son of Asian immigrants, raised on the West Coast, now having lived on the East Coast for over 16 years. Pretty easy to follow, right?

I grew up poor. My mom sewed clothes while my dad worked at a 7-11. Friends from my run-down neighborhood in Los Angeles were gang members (both Bloods and Crips — yes, it got awkward when we were all in the same room). I wear this poverty like an ugly Christmas sweater: a source of shame and pride.

I’m an avid sports fan and draw upon my experience playing on my high school football, basketball, and track teams in some of my writing. Although I got some college recruiting attention, track was my best sport, so I thought about walking onto the track team but was told my 400m times were 2 seconds too slow by Olympic medalist Meb Keflezighi. (Plus, my 6′ then 160 lb frame wasn’t built for the rigors of college football. I’ve since gained 15 much needed pounds.) The rest of college was spent immersing myself in studying (and ostensibly living out) the gospel with InterVarsity, and failing my way through pre-med classes before finding my way to economics.

In New York You Can Be a New Man:

After college, I sold my favorite possession, a taxi-cab yellow MG Midget convertible to fund a move to New York City without a job or an apartment lined up.

Since NYC landlords need to see 40 times income to monthly rent, and I only had $700 to my name from the sale of my car and no job, I had a problem. (That’s right, you’d need to make $100,000 to afford that small, $2,500 1 bedroom walkup with no amenities) So I lived in a hostel in Spanish Harlem while hoping to convince some sucker to hire me. I got rejected from job after job after job (even J. Crew!). I worked at Banana Republic to cover my $20 a day hostel fee.

Despite graduating from a very competitive college, it was not considered a top-tier feeder school (i.e. Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Wharton, Stanford, MIT) to Wall Street — plus I was considered a one-off candidate since I didn’t participate in their summer internship programs. As I watched my money start running out, I finally found an entry-level job at a financial firm that would lay off my entire team within a year. But it was enough to help me score a 300 sq ft rental.

I meandered through various financial firms and kept persisting until I found my way to a multi-billion dollar hedge fund where I worked mostly with Ivy Leaguers and some of the highest formerly elected officials in the land–people who would be featured on magazine lists for “most powerful” this and “most influential” that.

When it finally seemed that I would be set up for the very, very good life, the financial world (and my net worth) fell apart in 2008 and I was set to be laid off right before the birth of my first child. After some soul searching (and before they could fire me), I decided to trade time for money, taking a significant pay cut by joining a smaller fund that would allow me to be home for dinner with my wife and soon-to-be-arriving daughter, Zuzzy, all the while keeping my charitable giving % the same. It forced me to think a lot about personal finance, savings, and the legacy I wanted to leave to my children. I learned a lot.

Then we moved to Philadelphia.

 

Philadelphia (Fatherhood) Freedom:

Today, I am a happy husband and father of 3 (Zuzzy, Zack, and Liza) living in Philadelphia. I’m not quite a Tiger Dad, since I’m less worried about them getting into Princeton and more concerned about equipping my children with the tools they’ll need for a joyful, abundant life. (To be fair, I haven’t read Amy Chua’s The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother yet, so I might be all wrong about what is a Tiger Mom or Dad.)

I’ve been teaching my children what I know about money and don’t know (yet) about how to thrive when they’re adults, regardless of what they want to do with their lives. I believe that technology will create a radically different future for our children from what we see now, changing how we work and interact (just like our parents would have never imagined the smart phone and importance of virtual connections via social media). Fortune favors the prepared, so I believe that it will be vital for us to teach our children how to become creative and entrepreneurial, even if we’re not.

I’m trying out business models that already leverage technology and, along the way, track my progress and share what I’m learning so that my children (and you) can learn from my successes and mistakes. (If I make any money from these businesses, I will give a large % of profits away to charity.) I’m basically starting from zero, and I’m not going to teach anything unless I do it myself. I’ve got a lot to learn.

Snapshot:

I was poor. I made a lot of money. I lost a lot of money. I made it back. I gave a lot of it away. I want to give more radically. I learned a lot along the way. I have a lot more to learn.

I hope to share both lessons learned and to be learned, and more of my story as a father.

Who am I? I’m the guy who walks by you on the street that you don’t even notice, and that’s how I like it.

But, the most important question here is not, “who am I?” but “Who are you?”

I want to write about topics relevant to your life.

  • What gets you out of bed in the morning?
  • What keeps you up at night?
  • What do you wish were invented that would make your life easier?

Let me know in the comments section or drop me an email at justmakingcents@gmail.com.

I read (and relish) every email my readers send me!

 


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12 Comments

  • Cyndy February 8, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    Jay Tee love today’s topic and blog! You were an amazing guy in high school and it’seems nice to hear your story. Thanks for keeping it real and I definitely need your money guidance!

    Reply
    • JT February 8, 2017 at 5:18 pm

      Thanks Cyndy! High school — heady days they were!

      Reply
  • Joleisa February 8, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    What a thriller! Seriously though, I’m in awe of you and can’t wait to hear about your success. One day your kids will rule the world! All the very best.
    A tad disappointed that you didn’t mention much about your fairer half and what she thinks about your journey. But loving the suspense. Would love to hear some of the frugal tips you share with your kids and whether it seems to you now that they’ll follow in your footsteps. Lovely piece!

    Reply
    • JT February 8, 2017 at 5:20 pm

      Thanks Joleisa! I couldn’t do any of this without my amazing wife. She’s the one who encouraged me a few years ago to do my own thing. She also takes the kids for a few hours when I need to write. I’m very very fortunate!

      Reply
  • Michael J February 10, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    JMC,
    Very interesting background. I’m ahead of you in age, but it seems you have gained some valuable wisdom from your experiences. I’m sure I would enjoy that beer discussion.

    Reply
    • JT February 10, 2017 at 10:54 pm

      One day soon, I hope, Michael!

      Reply
  • Mustard Seed Money February 10, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    This post reminds me a little bit of Francis Chan talking about living a radical life. Sounds like you are well on your way 🙂 I love hearing your background of where you’ve been and where you’re going. Fascinating read!!!

    Reply
    • JT February 10, 2017 at 10:56 pm

      Thanks so much MSM! I must say that I get equal enjoyment reading your blog!

      Reply
  • Olivia Espinoza February 10, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    Jay Tee! What an amazing read! I’m impressed by your persistence and drive. I think we have a lot to teach our kids. Thank you for being such a great role model and thoughtful human being. I’m so proud to call my friend.

    Reply
    • JT February 10, 2017 at 10:57 pm

      Oh, Olivia! The places they’ll go. I can’t wait to get our families together one day. Then I can tell your kids funny stories about you way back when!

      Reply
  • John R July 22, 2017 at 8:43 am

    @JT what an interesting background that you have & have lived which I trust that you can pass all the good bits onto your children.

    A snapshot, of who are we…

    My wife & I are 70 years old, we are children of the children of the depression. We were born post war UK devastation, we lived in social housing in a surrounding of blue collar working class families, most everyone walked to school, work & the shops. The children we went to school with all wore rags, were undernourished, scruffy & were scrappers (scallywags) just as we were.

    Our childhood was routine, same day in, day out – school, play in the street, mostly a bread diet, little meat or fruit. From the earliest days till we emigrated at age 20 our wardrobe consisted on 2 pair shoes, 2 pairs, pants, 3 shirts, 2 changes of underwear.

    Holidays or vacations away or to a theme park never existed because our parents worked & never had the money for that sort of thing.

    We were taught at a very early age ‘ if you don’t have the money to buy it outright, then you can’t afford it’. No such thing as credit or buying things on the ‘never-never’

    As you can imagine we have seen a few things in our lifetime.

    The age of Black & white TV, Jet passenger aircraft, technology that controls peoples lives.

    We have witnessed several crisis, The early 70’s high interest rates, Black Monday 1986, Dot.com, 911, the 2007/2008 meltdown. We remember when gold was $30/oz, when the FX was double what it is today, when rent was 20-25% of an average weekly wage or a house could be found for 3x an average yearly salary.

    We made it to retirement with many bruises. We live a frugal lifestyle not much different than when we emigrated at age 20.

    We have simple technology in our life consisting of a 15 year old laptop, a 25″ glass screen TV, one (phone calls only) flip cell phone with buttons, a 15 year old SUV.

    We have 7 years (in cash-cash) emergency money in a cookie jar – one year gets added to the cookie jar since 2010 the day I no longer answerable to a boss. We shop thrifty for everything, markdown, grocery price matching, including at the thrift store for all out outer garments, hardware, dishes, pots & pans.

    Financially we are mortgage free, our expenses to income is approx 31% of our mediocre income.

    We pay for everything cash, we don’t have a bank/debit card or do anything direct debt, we don’t use ATM’s, we each have a bank book, pay all the bills that come to the house including utilities & property tax at the bank, face to face with a teller.

    Large store purchase items over $500 are paid for by check

    We do have a credit card that gets used for travel booking use only

    Life is good in every which way.

    Reply
  • JT July 22, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    John R, loved reading your story! Love this quote: ‘if you don’t have the money to buy it outright, then you can’t afford it’

    You have certainly seen a lot! Please keep sharing your wisdom, lessons learned, and frugal tips! We can all benefit.

    Reply

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