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By Tanisha A. Sykes
If there was one money lesson that Beck Bamberger’s parents instilled in her, it was this: “You make money and you save money.”
“At 7 or 8 years old, my mom opened a checking account for my sister and me,” says Bamberger, now 32 and the CEO of BAM Communications, a public relations firm for tech start-ups in San Diego. “I learned that you go to the bank, deposit money, and it stays there.”
Despite her parent’s upbringing, they ran a dental practice for 20 years and retired while she was in high school.
“For years, I was shown how to pay off homes, make stock investments, save $2 on milk using a coupon, and numerous other behaviors that showcased the ‘reward’ of retiring in your early 50s,” she says. In fact, she bought Starbucks stock as a pre-teen.
By then, Bamberger says, her savers mind-set had taken root.
At 19, she graduated from UCLA, thanks to acing AP exams and earning college credits while in high school. By 21, she graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with an MBA, and worked in television.
By 2008, she launched BAM Communications.
Today, she runs a multimillion-dollar firm with more than 20 full-time employees that focuses on telling the stories of tech start-ups.
Although her business is growing, she drives a 1999 corvette with 100,000 miles on it. Like her parents, Bamberger keeps things until they fall apart. “I don’t need a Tesla. I love my car,” she says. Another lesson: Spend on experiences, not material items.
A big saver, she is socking away 60% to 70% of her salary. Plus, she owns four pieces of real estate — including her office space and residence — has no debt, and always hunts for deals. “I still shop at Marshall’s,” she says. “I was constantly reminded that you’re looking for savings no matter what level of success you attain.”
Her portfolio consists of cash, a 401(k), a Roth IRA, and a handful of stocks that she cherry picked. “I’ll probably never be able to shake this saver mentality, but then again, I’m planning to retire at age 40,” she says.
With the help of a business coach, a financial planner, and mentors who meet with her yearly to review goals, she is on track to retire early.
For other Millennials saving for retirement, Bamberger offers this advice: “Yes, live in the now, but plan for the future.”
Rianka R. Dorsainvil, a certified financial planner and founder and president of Your Greatest Contribution, a financial planning firm in Washington, D.C., says Bamberger is a great example of someone taking the right steps with her money. Here’s some additional advice for entrepreneurial Millennials making moves.
- Get a financial education. Bamberger’s parents played a huge role in how she approaches saving and investing. “Early exposure helps with understanding how the stock market works and eliminates the fear that I often see with Millennials who don’t invest,” Dorsainvil says. Only one in three Millennials invests in the stock market, according to a 2016 Bankrate survey. Two good places to learn investing basics are NerdWallet and KhanAcademy.
- Identify your money values. “In my experience, people who have first-generation wealth like to display their wealth through tangible items,” Dorsainvil says. “It’s a mentality of ‘My parents didn’t have money, and I do, so I want to show it.’” Bamberger, a second-generation wealth producer, took the financial wisdom that her parents sowed and grew her own empire. To better understand why you make certain financial decisions, take this Smart about Money Quiz.
- Automatically save 15% of your income. While everyone can’t live off of 40% of their income like Bamberger, “making saving automatic is a step in the right direction,” she says. “If you are 22 years old, coming out of college and told to live off of 85% of your income, then by the time you are 30 years old, you will likely have more freedom to choose what’s next.” Instead of buying a new car and upgrading your apartment, live modestly so that you can do what you want down the road.
- Draft your starting five. Often, entrepreneurs are working in their business every day and can’t always see the big picture. “Advisors such as a CFP, a business coach, a CPA, a mentor, and an estate planner will act in your best interest and will tell you what you could be doing better,” Dorsainvil says. “Even if you can’t start out with all five, add each expert as the company grows.”
- Protect your assets. Many owners are so wrapped up in the business, they don’t think about a succession plan until a year or two before they are ready to exit. “Speak to an estate planning attorney who can help with shielding your assets from estate taxes and provide your family with clear, concise direction,” she says.