How To Pass A Class, Even If You Fail A Test

I thought my first Physics class in high school would be a breeze. My Mom majored in Radiation Physics in college, and always told me I had a knack for the subject. So you can imagine I was surprised when I got my second test of the school year back, and a big, fat “F” graced the top right corner of the page.

At this point, most students would freak out, and fall into a death spiral of fear and confusion over a failed test. But lo and behold, when report cards came out, I had a solid B in my Physics class, which eventually turned into a B+ for the semester.

Many people believe that learning occurs at a smooth and consistent rate, and a student struggling to maintain a C in a class should slowly progress to a B in the class, and eventually an A. But learning is actually a rollercoaster ride of epiphanies and mental blocks. Especially in a math based subject, it can take one person five minutes, and another five hours, to learn the same concept.

However,  as you gain more knowledge in a specific concept, you can apply the strategies that allowed you to learn easy concepts to harder concepts, and over time, lower the time and effort it takes to absorb those more difficult concepts.

When I failed that test, instead of continuing on with a study strategy that obviously didn’t work, I looked at ways I could change my approach to produce a better result. Luckily, I got a B on my first test, so I simply compared my study strategies for the two tests. When I got the B, I spent a large portion of my preparation time doing practice questions. When I failed, I spent the majority of my time studying class notes.

Obviously, doing practice questions was more effective than studying my class notes. So by doing practice questions before each test, I began to get higher grades on my tests.

If you fail a test, know that it’s not the end of the world. Consult your classmates and your teacher. Research study strategies and try different techniques. Find what works for you! Don’t look at a low grade as a reflection of your self-worth, or even your effort. Instead, see it as an opportunity to improve not only your intellectual capabilities, but also your ability to overcome obstacles in all areas of your life.

-Andrew

Life Lesson: Prioritize and Execute

After a tough day of school and Tennis, I always enjoy having a break at dinner. I usually take 45 minutes to sit down, eat, and enjoy a book. Recently, I have had the pleasure of reading “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. I highly recommend the book to anyone looking to improve their lives. But last night a particular passage stood out from the rest: Prioritize and Execute.

This particular lesson applied to my homework situation last night. I had two tests, a quiz, a project, and 100 pages of reading all due the next day for school. I was tired after conducting interviews for the school newspaper and giving a half hour speech in Chinese, and I had no idea how I could get all the work done and be well rested for my tests.

While I won’t spoil the book for you, Jocko Willink was in a much tougher situation when he learned this lesson. But instead of panicking, he kept a calm head, gave orders to his soldiers to solve each problem, one at a time, and escaped enemy territory with no casualties. If you can learn to prioritize your tasks, then you can get through the day without suffering any financial casualties, or in my case, GPA casualties.

First, I figured out which assignments would be most important. The two tests made up the highest percentage of my grade, so I spent my first 90 minutes of studying preparing for each test. After completing the highest priority task, I looked at what I had left: The project, the quiz, and the reading. The quiz was to be administered last period, so I decided to skip the review and plan to do it during study hall the next day. Finally, I spent another 60 minutes completing the project and doing 40 pages of the reading, since there would not be a quiz on the full 100-page reading the next day.

Through prioritizing and executing, I took what seemed like an insurmountable amount of work, and completed it in two and a half hours. That’s a pretty good deal at my school, where many students are lucky to get 6 hours of sleep.

Let’s see how much time I saved compared to someone who didn’t prioritize and execute:

Physics Test Review: 45 mins

History Test Review: 45 mins

Chinese Project: 30 mins

~40 Pages English Reading: 30 mins

~60 Pages English Reading: 60 mins

Chinese Quiz Review: 30 mins

Total Time: 4 hours

Compared to the average student, I saved a whole hour and a half on my homework through prioritizing my tasks! And I was able to use that extra time to get a good night’s rest, and stay focused during the tests and the quiz I took today. And now that the weekend is here, I’ll have plenty of time to complete the work I didn’t get to during the week.

When faced with e-mails, meetings, and all the other jazz that goes along with a busy career, things can seem overwhelming, and impossible to get done. But by keeping a level head, you can pick out your highest priorities, accomplish them, and then continue down the list until you complete everything that needs to get done that day. And before you know it, you will have a less packed, more focused schedule, and get more done than you could ever imagine!

-Andrew

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.

-Andrew

Dealing With (Stupid, Annoying, Mean, etc) People

It looks like I haven’t posted anything on this blog in three weeks… Boy, am I lazy! But I’m back, and better (actually more tired) than ever! One of the reasons for my absence has been my high school Tennis season, which requires regular travel and 2-3 hours of practice a day, 6-7 days a week. While I train year round, the expectation my school sets takes it to a whole new level. And to top it all off, my coach is a complete jerk!

He gives me a lot of advice that makes no sense, yells at me all the time, and, in my opinion, significantly depresses the potential of our team. Unfortunately, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon, since he’s not breaking any actual rules. And when he yells at me, I get a strong urge to give him a piece of my mind! I could easily tear him apart and escalate the situation to it’s breaking point.

But that isn’t the smartest thing to do. You see, when a young man disrespects an authority figure, things end badly for the former, more often than not. So instead, I suck it up and deal with the situation.

When you are dealing with mean people, you begin to look at things through an emotional lens, and start making irrational decisions. You also think that situations and events are worse than they really are. After a confrontation, instead of acting quickly and rashly, take 24 hours to cool down and look at the situation logically. If you are patient, you will likely find solutions to the problem that you didn’t see in your initial haze of anger.

If you have to deal with someone in the long term, learn to work with that person instead of making your relationship with them worse. Be respectful. Find easy things you can do to make them happy. If they’re your boss, do what they tell you to do, or at least make it look like you are doing what you’re supposed to. As the famous saying goes, keep your friends close and your enemies closer!

Have you ever had to deal with someone you couldn’t stand? If so, how did you handle it?

-Andrew

 

The Snowball Effect, Saving $3,000 by Senior Year, and Setting Long Term Goals

Now that I have finally received my check for my last shift at work, my savings account balance sits at approximately $1,005. Success! But where do I go from here? My next goal, which I set in place at the beginning of my journey along with the $1,000 goal, is to save $3,000 by the end of Senior year. And even if you have not reached the $1,000 mark yourself, you should still plan ahead and set your own $3,000 goal.

Long term goals are just as important, if not more important, than goals you can reach in the near future. Your short term goals (Anything that takes one month to a year) should build a foundation for your long term goals (one year to five years) which should build a foundation for your major life goals (i.e. Buying a home, paying for your kid’s college, or buying a Lamborghini if you’re like me). There is no point to achieving a minor goal unless it eventually leads to greater things.

While this mindset can be applied to many challenges in life, it is especially important when trying to be financially successful. All fortunes are made $1 at a time. But eventually those dollars add up! Once you begin your journey to financial success, you must have an end goal in mind, even if that goal changes overtime. You need to have consistent goals so that each time you reach a milestone, you feel a sense of accomplishment. Otherwise, you will be embarking on a journey without a destination.

Here’s a rough list of my financial goals:

  1. Save $1,000 by the end of Junior year (Done, ahead of schedule!)
  2. Save $3,000 by the end of Senior year
  3. Save $100,000 by age 25
  4. Save $250,000 AND put a down payment on a home by age 30
  5. Save $1,000,000 by age 40
  6. Save $5,000,000 by age 65*

*(Not adjusted for inflation, so that goal will probably end up being closer to 10 mil!)

“But Andrew, $100,000 is SO MUCH MONEY! $1,000 was reasonable, but I can’t do that another 99 times!”

Well, if you follow the 4% Rule for retirement (which won’t work for most people, anyways), you will have a grand total of $40 per year to live off of for the last 30 years of your life, if you decide to not save anymore money. And in America, no matter how frugal you are, it’s impossible to survive on 11 cents a day!

One of the great things about saving money is that it will grow exponentially over time if you play your cards right. By continuing to lower your expenses, and progress in your career, the flow of money into your savings account will increase dramatically. Let’s say Bob made $3,000 a month Post-Tax last year, and saved $100 a month to achieve his goal of $1,000 in savings. This year, Bob continues to cut back, and lowers his expenses to $2,500 a month. He also gets a raise at work, adding $400 a month to his Post-Tax Income. By the end of this year, Bob will add another $10,800 to his savings, or over 10x what he saved last year. By cutting costs and expanding cash flow, you can increase the amount of money you put into your savings every year.

Once you have enough saved, you can begin investing and experience the “Snowball Effect” of growing money. Through investing, you can make money, and have that money make money, with almost no work! Let’s say Bob wanted to invest in the stock market and put his entire $1,000 in savings into Walmart Stocks (not recommended!). Let’s say the stock produces a 5% return every year. At the end of his first year of investing, Bob will have $1,050 in Walmart Stocks. Now, Bob decides to buy another $10,800 worth of Walmart Stocks (Again, not recommended!!!). By the end of his second year of investing, Bob will have $12,442 dollars in savings , and a profit of $592 for the year! So, if you save more money, and invest more money, you will eventually be raking in massive amounts of cash by letting your money work for you!

I know that was a lot to digest, and a lot of what I discussed here cannot be fully understood from just a blog post. But by committing to learn about investing and saving your money wisely, you can set seemingly impossible goals, and reach them through hard work and perseverance.

-Andrew

Why You Should Get Good Grades, Even Though 2 Chainz Didn’t

I actually just lied to you in that title. Tauheed Epps, aka “2 Chainz”, aka “Tity Boi”, was the salutatorian of his high school class and went on to get a 4.0 GPA from Alabama State University. So I guess all the baby boomers who complain about the stupidity of modern music were valedictorians!

OK, are all of the adults gone? Good! This article is geared towards young people anyway. And I’m sure that like me, you want to be the next Kanye West or Jay-Z. Or am I the only one who wants to be a famous rapper?

Whether you want to become a performer and have millions of fans, or go to medical school so that you can perform life-saving procedures on others, you want to try to get the best grades you can. Even though many people end up being successful without a traditional education or a top GPA, getting good grades gives you more opportunities to make money and life a happy life, compared to those who are less educated.

The main goal of an education is to gain knowledge. And with knowledge comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes money. A basic education provides you with a strong base to develop business ideas. While school may not be fun, it trains you to analyse and synthesize information, which will be extremely helpful in your future endeavours.

Furthermore, to be successful in business, you must constantly teach yourself about investing, industry, and other fields of practical and intellectual value. People become rich because they know things that most people don’t. If you devote a significant amount of time to teaching yourself, and understanding concepts that most people can’t grasp, you will eventually have a breakthrough idea for an innovation or business.

Some people become wealthy without an education. A lot more become wealthy with an education. If you want to be not only financially successful, but also live an intellectually fulfilling life, stay in school and try your best, no matter how boring it is!

-Andrew