Life Lesson: Know Your Audience

Last night, I spent a few hours hanging out in the game room of a resort I am staying at. After acquainting myself with half a dozen other teens through some heated ping pong battles, I pitched 17 to Financially Free to them, hoping to gain some more viewers. Unfortunately, I don’t think any of them are gonna check it out anytime soon.

I told everyone about how important it is to be financially secure, and that consumer debt is severely restraining the middle class in America. I had the pleasure of watching their eyes glaze over, and eventually look back down to Snapchat stories and Instagram feeds. Even after mentioning that they can look up the mobile version of the site on their smartphones, none of them bothered to do so.

After walking back to my room, feeling defeated, I had an epiphany: Why the hell am I trying to get teenagers excited about eliminating credit card debt and living frugally? 99% of kids my age don’t care at all about financial stability; they care about spending cash and having fun! The title of the first personal finance book I ever read was “How to Be Richer, Smarter, and Better-Looking Than Your Parents”, not “The Dangers of Consumer Debt in America’s Middle Class”!

From now on, I’ll include some more exciting aspects of personal finance in my pitches: Being able to afford sweet rides, big mansions, and exotic vacations. While most members of the personal finance world don’t have these goals, it will definitely get young people excited about saving money.

The main thing I learned from this experience is to know your audience. Steve Jobs turned Apple into a technology empire by making his products appealing to millions of American consumers. The perception people have of your product or service is just as important, if not more important, than the quality of that product or service. So no matter what you are pitching, focus not only on the idea, but also on how you convey that idea.



Welcome to 17tofinanciallyfree!

The first thing I must admit is that I am starting this website in the middle of my high school midterms as a way to distract myself. Procrastination at it’s finest.

However, I am not just some kid who has no idea what he is doing, trying to tell strangers online how to manage their money. I have extensively read the work of many financial experts, from the 1996 hit “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas J. Stanley to the modern blogs “Mr. Money Mustache” and “Financial Samurai”. My goal is to draw the core lessons from these various sources and explain their practical applications to people just starting out on their journey to financial freedom.

I will also be posting lessons from my personal life and my own journey to financial freedom. While there is no clear path for me at this point, considering that I am still in high school, there are still choices that people my age and older can make to start preparing for not only a secure retirement but also big ticket purchases such as a vacation or a down payment on a home (or my friend’s old Chevy that I so desire!).

As time goes on, I will continue to get more specific about what I will be posting, and explain my own financial goals, tips, and tricks in detail. Until then, happy saving!