Jaspreet Singh never had a personal finance education growing up and, consequently, experienced a handful of money misfortunes. But, he sees his financial mistakes as lessons. In late 2015 Singh took to YouTube and started vlogging about his financial blunders, officially creating the Minority Mindset channel in 2016. He uses the platform to educate others about personal finance and highlight his own money moves. He’s since grown Minority Mindset into a personal finance content hub and media company. We caught up with Singh and asked him about his first hard financial lesson, the biggest mistake he’s seen other people make and his take on the “secret to building wealth.”
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This interview has been lightly edited for style and clarity.
How did you learn about good money management?
I grew up in a very traditional Indian household where I never learned about money. When I was growing up I was told that if you want to be financially successful, all you have to do is study hard at school and become a doctor. And that was the extent of my financial education.
But I always had this entrepreneurial bug and when I got to college I wanted to start some sort of side businesses, as a hobby. I was reading these books about money management and investing, and I was like, what is this investing thing? I had never heard about it. I never learned about it in school. My parents were very unfamiliar with the topic because they're immigrants.
I started investing when I was in college and I got involved in real estate investing. That's when my mindset started changing. From there, I became very interested in the whole idea of financial education and investing because I had to — I was very naive to it.
What events led up to creating Minority Mindset?
When I started working on the concept of Minority Mindset I was in the midst of launching a different business. And when I went to launch that company, I was scammed and lost out of thousands of dollars. I was young and I was hurt. I felt like, man, I’m just trying to start a business.
I didn’t even know to look out for it because I didn’t grow up learning about how to start a company and honestly, entrepreneurs do get scammed. So I started this thing called Minority Mindset to help people like me who thought differently than the majority of people. My goal was just to help people not get screwed over the way I was.
How did that change your relationship with money?
I've always been a very trusting person. I still think I am, but I have been a little bit more cautious with things because as you grow and get into more businesses, you unfortunately have to be a little bit cautious. And when you’re naturally a very trusting person, you go against the grain, but you learn to be a little bit more cautious.
What financial lessons should everyone learn?
First thing is, if it seems to be too good to be true — it probably is. We have a big generation of people that are looking for an easy and quick way to get rich. I think a lot of people want to build wealth, which is good, but it takes time. It takes work. And when we get attracted to the shiny object, it's much easier for you to fall into scams and schemes.
Second, understand that becoming wealthy is a marathon, not a race. This is something that's going to take time. It really comes down to three things — I call them the three keys of money: spend less, earn more and invest like crazy. The first thing we can all do. If you want to fast track your way there then spend less money.
On the flip side, work on earning more money because the goal is not to limit the pie because there's a limited amount of savings you can do. Work grows the pie. The third part is taking what you’re earning and spending, finding the difference and investing it. Because investing is the real “secret to building wealth.”
What’s the biggest financial mistake you've seen other people make?
The biggest one I see is a car. People are getting into the ballgame of driving a nice car to look rich, which cars are. But a car is a triple punch: It’s a liability, loses value very quickly and you’re paying interest. On top of that, it doesn’t pay you — so you’re paying interest to drive something that loses money and doesn't pay you.
What should people do instead?
Drive a beat-up car in good working condition. Find a beat-up used car you can afford in cash, take the difference and make monthly payments.
Right now the average monthly payment for a car in America is around $550 a month. Take the extra $550 a month and put it in the bank. Or put it directly into your investments, that way you’ll be able to build wealth much quicker. Instead of making the bank and the car company richer, you are making yourself richer.
Do you have any financial regrets?
I don't really have regrets, just lessons. I don't believe in financial regrets because every mistake I made helped get me where I am today. I’ve made every mistake you can ever imagine — I’ve made the worst real estate deal ever, I've been sued by a tenant for six figures. And you know, these were tough lessons, but they are lessons at the end of the day.
What’s the worst financial advice you’ve ever received?
My math teacher in high school told me that the best place to invest your money is with a bank certificate of deposit, which pays you next to nothing. If you're going to invest your money, do it somewhere else and get a much better return.
What’s the best financial advice you’ve ever received?
Take a risk, invest and believe in yourself.
Image: Nastia Kobzarenko