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Now his goal is to build his own financial kingdom.

3 minute read

Chris from Duke of Dollars remembers his teenage years fondly. He mostly played video games, swam at the park pool, and floated down a local river while fishing.

“As a teenager the biggest worry I typically had was how to finish my homework quickly enough to play video games after sports practices,” remembers Chris. “I didn’t work except on Sundays, where all the extra money I made went towards things I enjoyed, like video games or food.”

But things quickly changed when Chris started college. His parents suffered some financial hardships, and Chris realized that he couldn’t rely on their financial assistance any longer. He still opted for a four-year college and the student loans associated with it.

“Back then I knew nothing about student loans or loans in general,” Chris says. “But I did know that taking out loans meant paying them off later. But in those years the short-term was all that mattered.”

He applied for on-campus work, so he could have his own cash for books, food, supplies, and other expenses. He worked in the computer labs and had an internship on campus that related to his information technology major.

His New Life

Chris’ new life didn’t include video games or going out to eat. He says, “My checking account never saw more than two zeros in it, I lived on off-brand pancake mix, peanut butter and jelly and cheap pasta dishes.”

Except for one night. Chris says, “It was a normal Thursday for the most part — lectures, campus work, and assignment deadlines. But there was one huge surprise… I only had barbecue sauce and rice for dinner.”

After eating his barbecue and rice meal that night Chris says, “The feeling of having no money in the bank with each bite tasted like a vile fear factor challenge. That night in bed trying to fall asleep, the same question came up over and over again — ‘How in the world can I not afford to eat?'”

Making matters worse, his parents already took back his hand-me-down car so, unfortunately, he had to buy another used car. But he couldn’t afford parking. “I walked 30 minutes to and from class in the rain, sleet, or snow every day because I couldn’t afford a campus parking pass.”

Changing His Life

As Chris worked as an intern during his junior year, he met his mentor. And things changed.

I began working as an intern and met the other author of Duke of Dollars,” Chris says. “He introduced me to a different mindset and thankfully it started me towards a smarter path with finances.”

He couldn’t do much with his money during college, but Chris says, “My time was coming.”

After graduating college, Chris qualified for a great job and he began his new life.

“I began to build my financial kingdom,” Chris says. “I began budgeting my new income and made a commitment to be better, and followed that up with contributing to my 401(k) match at work and started building my emergency fund.”

Chris hardly goes out, bought drying racks for his clothes to save on electricity, hits the library for free entertainment and went on a shopping ban.

“I have only bought new clothes twice in the last year and a half with a total cost of less than $300,” Chris says.

It also took only one year to build up three to four months of his expenses for an emergency fund. Now Chris is working on paying off his $50,000 in student loans and becoming debt free. He told me about his debt pay off plan.

“I’m utilizing what we have termed the loan-pool strategy, mixed in with the snowball principle,” Chris says. “A loan pool is a savings account that I’m adding new dollars into each month. As I make payments on my debt and add new money into the loan pool, eventually the loan pool will be greater than the debt account.” 

His goal is to become debt-free at 28. I asked him for advice for managing money better. He told me:

  • Keep it simple. Use mint and high level categories to track your money at first. It is the small steps that brings the early positive results.
  • Define your why and goals. These will guide you to make better decisions and give you the reasons required to say “no” throughout the journey.
  • Follow the Kingdom Roadmap. We believe the steps in this roadmap will change your life, leading you to financial stability, less stress, and the Duke of the life you want to live.

Check Chris out and let him and his partner help you “build your financial kingdom.”

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About the Author

Brian Bienkowski

Brian Bienkowski

Brian Bienkowski has been writing about personal finance for over 15 years covering debt recovery, fraud, and credit topics. He has worked on several personal finance books and guides that help consumers navigate the US credit system. When he’s away from the keyboard he enjoys craft beer and fishing — and once enjoyed a cold Sweet Water IPA after catching a sailfish.

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