#80 Life Is A Race But Some Have A Headstart

This is a sensitive subject, but I think it's important to talk about these types of topics once in a while to remind ourselves of how fortunate we are.

I watched this video today. It started with a teacher standing on a football field with his class in a perfect line ready to race to the other side of the field. The prize for crossing the finish line first was $100.

All the kids got excited.

Before the race began, the teacher made some statements and told the students to take two steps forward if those statements applied to them.

Those statements included having both parents married, having a father figure at home, having access to a private education, a free tutor growing up, never having to worry about your cell phone being shut off, if you never had to help with the household bills, if you got an athletic scholarship, if you never wondered where your next meal was going to come from. 

Statement after statement, some kids took steps forward while some kids just stood there unmoved. Then it was time to race. Of course, the kids that took steps forward will have a better chance to win the race, to win the $100. 

Whether you have privilege or not, you don't always recognize it. You don't know other peoples stories. But whether you have privilege or not, you should still try to win the race.

Do What You Can With What You Have

Privilege can help you and hinder you. But undeniably with it, you will start a few steps ahead of others. In the end, some of the kids that didn't move from the original starting line ended up passing a lot of the kids that had a headstart. 

In my grade 12 career and personal planning class all those years ago, I came up with a quote that said, "Do What You Can With What You Have". Turns Theodore Roosevelt had a similar quote "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." I didn't know until after the fact that I had such a similar thought as Roosevelt. 

But the take away is that, whether you have privilege or not, you should still try to achieve your dreams, and realize that even when the chips are stacked against you, you can still succeed. You might not get there as fast as someone with more privilege than you, but you can still cross the finish line.

Confidence Is A Game Changer

Some people will land a great job out of school and be on track to Early Retirement, others may struggle out of school to find that opportunity and delay wealth accumulation for a few years.

I got my economics degree in 2009. Apparently, economics as an undergraduate degree doesn't open up many opportunities especially at the peak of the Financial Crisis. All the relevant jobs required a Master degree. I was jobless for over a year. It wasn't until May of 2010 when I got an admin job at an insurance company. I was so happy to get my foot in the door in an office environment.

I got promoted to be an underwriter within 8 months which gave me the confidence to go back to school and switch careers. Long story short, I got lucky, I got the job I wanted that paid enough money to save a lot towards my Early Retirement goal.  It took a few years to find my footing, and certainly, there were many people my age that were way ahead of me, but I got there eventually. 

I'm also privileged to have married a girl that is equally capable at making money as me, which helps a ton when it comes to saving money. Sharing the biggest costs of living, but bringing in essentially double the income.

I was born with a lot of privilege but still struggled out of the gates. You have to be lucky with a lot of things in life, including privilege, but you also have to have confidence in yourself if you want to make use of your privilege.

Pass Those That Have A Headstart

When you become an adult, you will realize that age and time are less important. Your friends will not all be the same age as you anymore (like they were throughout your school days), your co-workers and community friends will likely be much older and younger than you but could be at a similar stage in life as you.

People go through highs and lows in their life progression, so if you keep working and keep pushing, keep learning, and keep saving, you can pass those that had a headstart on you.


Save Money Retire Early is written by Jon Lo, a barely 30 something change optimist, and personal finance guy. I believe anyone can be rich or poor, it's what you save that makes the difference.

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