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The Worst Financial Mistake I’ve made + 2 Keys to Consider in Going to College

So, I’m Jacob Brad Johnson, I’m a ginger, I’m a Personal Financial Planner major at Utah Valley University(UVU), but was a Computer Science major at Brigham Young University (BYU) for 3 semesters before.

High School

After I graduated High School and I applied for many schools with my 3.86 GPA and 30 ACT score, I figured it’d be a cinch to get scholarships. I wanted to go to BYU, I wanted to study computers.

4 years later, I was wrong, and the worst financial mistake of my life was made.

“Congratulations Jacob on your submission to Utah Valley University,” the letter began. Later on it exclaimed these proud words, “The University would love to extend the Presidential Scholarship to you as you attend… This scholarship is renewable each year pending academic resilience each school year”

Presidential! I looked it up, screaming with delight at what I saw. This scholarship included full tuition, books, and partial housing reimbursement ($300 a month or something, as I recall for the housing portion).
2 days later I was reading another letter from BYU, my dream school. “You have been accepted to Brigham Young University, beginning Summer of 2012,” The words jumped out at me. YES! I’m IN!
I read the rest.
Reread it.
One last time to check for errors.
There was no scholarship, no anything. Oh. wait.
Nope, nothing. I received notification via email a few days later that I’d received a $300 book scholarship per semester for being a relative of some person who’d made a large scholarship fund for his descendants. That was good. ‘good’.

You Already Know What I Did

This is the moment where you all already know what happened. “Jacob, you’re such an idiot”, “What were you thinking!” “…” or other thoughts may have passed through your head.
Here’s the kicker, I had a 1/2 tuition scholarship to anywhere in the state because of the New Century Scholarship program, for graduating High School with an Associate Degree from a University. I’d have been PAID to go to UVU.

Mistake is made. BYU was attended. Computer Science studied. After a few years I didn’t like it. It wasn’t my cup of tea. Ended up transferring. Where to?

Back to Utah Valley University, studying Personal Financial Planning, sans scholarship.

Now, Money mistakes are a super common occurence, and there are much bigger mistakes that one can make (I’m talking more than $40,000 decisions). When you make one of those, you’ll know.

Do These 2 Things Before You Choose Your University

1. Know your Major. 

If you haven’t determined your major, how will you know what school is best? BYU had a better computer science program. UVU has a better Financial Planning major. If you still aren’t sure, try going to a community college or other cheaper college. Why pay the price of the expensive colleges when you can get the undergrad cheap at your local community college? It sometimes may make sense to get your associates from a different school before going to the one you’ve chosen to attend for your bachelor’s or higher degree.

If you don’t know which major to choose, or are struggling between a few, Act on THIS article I wrote recently. Basically, its how to get the thoughts and who you are down on paper to make decisions easier and with more knowledge out loud.

2. Know your scholarships. What are the implications of attending your school of choice? How will you pay for it? UVU gave me scholarships, BYU didn’t. Do you have to take on debt, is the cost that significant.

Will your major pay for the cost of going to school?  You need to know How Much Your Degree Makes to consider how much debt you could take on if you don’t have the scholarships.

Here is what I mean: Determine how much income your major going to bring, and how much debt it’ll take. Can that justify the debt you would get from going to the more expensive school? Here are 8 majors that just don’t justify their cost.

What’s your biggest financial mistake you’ve made! Share your confession with me here or tweet it at me @FinancialGinger and I’ll make it into a post you’ll see featured on my twitter and Facebook.

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A Personal Vision

The Realization

I cracked open a new self-help book, excited to read and learn the mysteries of sesquipedalianism and profundity.

When I read this,

“While we’re discussing self-help books, we wanted to mention a study… [asking if] ‘The Power of Positive Thinking”… [is] a real phenomenon?…
The Results? People with high self-esteem… were more optimistic… but participants with low self-esteem who intoned those five words” (I am a lovable person) “felt less optimistic than those who didn’t…
People with a negative self-image are reinforced in that belief when they try to will their way out of it.

-Belsky, G., & Gilovich, T. (1999). Why smart people make big money mistakes–and how to correct them: Lessons from the new science of behavioral economics. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Like many of you, I have my own worries and things that I deal with. I’ve experienced that desire to no longer be where I am. In minor ways, I’ve had times where I’ve felt no matter what I’m doing, It’s not good enough. Self-Help books that teach us about how we use time poorly, or manage money in odd ways, or anything won’t help us if we don’t help ourselves!

But enough of that! I’m a positive guy with a talent for including people! So this exercise is for everyone to do, to know YOU better.

Vision Pitching

I was reading from a book called “To Sell is Human – The Surprising Truth About Moving Others” by Daniel H. Pink. He talks about creating sales pitches, but I think its high time to create a personal vision pitch.

* NOTE* this is my personalized version, you can get  the original version at http://www.danpink.com/pitch
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Let Go of the Ground in Vision

A vision is supposed to be the tone and aura you carry with you, representing what your theme of life is, where you’re headed, your dream, you passion, and your love. You are not who you think you are; you’ll find that out as you clarify your vision with others. The reality is that you are more than anything you can imagine with more power than you think. Ponder these questions before starting the vision:

Where do I see myself tomorrow?

What will I be working on in 5 years?

How will I be serving those around me in 20 years?

What will people say about me in 30 years?

How much time will I spend on my passions in 40 years? What is the passion you thought about when you answered that question?

Now that that you’re ready, remember this is practice not permanent. The last thing to do right before reading and starting this next bit is to physically move yourself! Would you feel comfortable with getting up and moving to somewhere you never go and then start. It is vital to be in a new or different location. Maybe you can set a timer and spend 15 minutes on it right now.

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Travel Away for a Minute to Refocus

Writing

Get a piece of paper, or use a writing app on your phone, and start your vision using these steps:

  1. One Word. Write as many individual words as you can that describe you. Try for 50.
  2. Question. What question do you ask yourself that makes you think deeply? What’s your question that makes others think and act? Write at least 10!
  3. Rhyme. Give a rhyme for where you’re going! What rhyme defines who you are? Write at least 10! It’s totally acceptable to google search [or ninja search] rhyme sites to help.
  4. Email. If you were to summarize your vision with a subject that would get everyone to open and read it, what would it say? Write 20!
  5. Tweet. You have 120 characters to write your vision statement, your guide to life. Write this.
  6.  Story. Read Below, and write your own.

Your try: Once upon a time ____________________________. Every day, _______________________. One day ________________________________________. Because of that, _________________________________. Because of that, __________________________________. Until finally, ___________________________________.

-Pink, D. H. (2012). To sell is human: The surprising truth about moving others. New York: Riverhead Books.

Refining

Now take your list and share it with the 5 people you know best. Ask them to remove and erase half of the remaining extras in each of your lists, until eventually you get down to you. Your Vision.

Here is Mine.

 

  1. Confidence
  2. Do you feel that way now?
  3. To feel confident, you must be cognizant.
  4. Smiling? After meeting this guy you’d better be.
  5. Worried by the future, you want peace. What’s uncertain to you? Feel confident, find your dreams with me!
  6.  Once upon a time, there was a ginger boy who loved everyone. Every day, he would laugh and smile with his family because he was confident that he was loved. One day he wasn’t so sure about what he was going to do with his life. Because of that he became very worried. Because of that he searched and learned and grew! Until finally, He was a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) who could help each beautiful person to discover and feel secure in their future.
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What It Feels Like to Share Your Vision Draft

Your statement

The last thing to do is to revise from those 6 points a paragraph, or maybe even a page. This can be detailed in statements about what you believe in, beliefs you would fight for, career paths, medium term goals, long term goals, habits you’ll pick up, habits you already have, or things that you are good at. We’ll talk more about refining the statement later.

I am a planner. When I am secure and anchored I am a blast to be around and a great communicator. Everyone is my friend and I naturally trust everyone. I’m a trendsetter seeking to push social boundaries and what is accepted to create a better experience or more learning. As a Visionary who prides himself in social engagement, I tend to be a social butterfly with friends in every group. I want everyone to like me with a ‘woo’ factor and work hard to be inclusive of every individual around me. I have a natural ability to break ideas into pieces; it is easy for me to find ways to improve a process and maximize results. I see the value in each piece. The Visionary within has come to believe in Jesus Christ and to feel the power in the principles of the Gospel with a firm desire to involve Jesus Christ in maximizing both my ability to help others, and ability to feel secure and anchored in my own life. The Analyst in me is great at counselling with others, helping them to see and create their own change, and can effectively communicate steps and processes to enrich and empower them to feel secure and plan for success. It is my choice to fight for families, fight for confidence, and involve everyone in things that will bring them security, peace, confidence, and knowledge that will improve their lives. I am Jacob. I am a family man, I am a hard worker, I am consistent, I am a networker, I am trustworthy, I am a creator, I am active, I am an empowering friend, and I am a child of God.

Send me feedback! What could be better about my dream? I know it’s already been shaved down, but it sure could use more work. Share yours here and let’s become better at sharing our visions with each other. Let go of who you aren’t and become who you want to be.

I’ll post some of your visions (with permission) if you send them to me here! Or you can email it to me directly at [email protected]

Next week I’ll share Part 2 of this series,  An Active Vision. Now that you have a vision, let’s make it happen.

-Jacob Johnson
Student of Personal Financial Planning at Utah Valley University
Expected graduation in December 2017

Pounamu- Green Stone (Jade) from New Zealand
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“Ahakoa He Iti, He Pounamu”
Though it may be small, To me it is precious.

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Do You See Where You’re Going?