Super Star Blogs!

Personal Finance 101- Part 2 (Debt Management/Investing)

In Part 2 of the PF 101 Series, I want to discuss debt management and investing. 

So after graduating school, you’ll have to debate between the following options: 

1. Pursue higher education immediately after school

2. Take a gap year

3. Enter the workforce.

For the majority of people reading this, you are probably somewhere between 1 & 2. If you are graduating your final level of schooling, then you are looking at 3. But either way, there are usually options for everyone. But let’s look at the general gist of debt management and investing before making a decision as to what we’ll do. 


Debt Management

  • The question to ask yourself is: Am I new professional with little to no debt or one with a lot of debt? This determines your direction with regards to debt management. 
  •  A lot of people tend to favor the avalanche method of paying off debt which basically states that you pay the largest amount with the highest interest rate and go down from there.
  • This method allows you to pay the least amount of interest in the long-term while getting rid of your debt.
  • You are also to able to do a loan consolidation which is basically when an institution pays off your debt for you and allows you to pay them instead, sometimes for a lower interest rate. However, with this option you may see a temporary decrease in your credit score because this option requires a hard inquiry towards your credit (more on Hard Inquiries later). But with on-time payments and etc, this decrease will lose its effects over time.
  • This method is best reserved for student loans or at least 10,000 dollars in debt.

Also ask what type of debt is it: Credit Card debt, student loans, personal loans, or the dreaded ~collection~ 🙁 

While I will dive deeper into these metrics for the last part of the series, in general, I would recommend budgeting to pay  above the minimum payments on all with an emphasis on paying off credit cards first then loans. We’ll talk about collections and how to handle those in Part 3. 

Anyways, onto investing: 

  • In 2020, there are many ways to begin investing and you can start with as simple as $1 so there are virtually no more excuses for not being able to invest. I formerly used CashApp to invest into the stock market. It was simple, easy to use, and you also have the ability to invest fractionally which means if a stock cost $1,000 (looking at you Tesla), you wouldn’t have to buy the entire stock. You could simply just buy a $1 worth of stock and still reap the benefit percentage wise.
  • However, obviously just buying a dollar worth of stock and leaving it there won’t build any sort of real wealth unless you give it like 50 years but even then..
  • So what I would recommend you do is to just round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invest that PLUS set an arbitrary amount that you’ll invest every week. Let’s keep it at $20. Assuming this totals out to be $27 dollars a week you invest, you’ll have invested $1,404 by the end of a year. Now if we assume a 5% increase in your portfolio by that time, you’ll have earned $70.20 which means you’ll be left with $1,474.20 at the end of the year.

Some investing platforms include: 

CashApp (https://cash.app/help/us/en-us/5000-investing)

Acorns (https://www.acorns.com/invest/)

Schwab Stock Slices (https://www.schwab.com/fractional-shares-stock-slices)

Robinhood (https://robinhood.com/us/en)

WeBull (https://www.webull.com/pricing)

“So Jay, what do I exactly do?” To which I respond, it all depends. There isn’t necessarily a one size fits all. 

Create an excel sheet to track your monthly expenses and see what you would prefer to tackle first. For me personally, I take on whatever could damage my credit the most and what I will be able to work out over a longer period of time (since credit honestly matters more than your salary to be honest).  

I am a graduate student with a fair amount of student loan and I know more student loan debt is coming around the corner, so I emphasized paying off any sort credit cards and the biggest, highest interest rate student loan I have currently with a plan to just exclusively use scholarships and federal aid  for future education that I will be able to defer payments on and consolidate later. 

Any money I do earn along the way is to take care of that big student loan with a huge interest rate as well as invest into the market. 

That’s just me though, I am not a financial expert. Just a kid who knows a thing or two about finance and wants to open you up to the potential of managing your finances properly. 


Please take your time, however, to do your own research and if possible, discuss finances with a financial expert of some sort. 


Anyways, catch my last installment of personal finance 101 next weekend where I’ll be discussing the overwhelming importance of credit. 

Peace Out, 

Jevaughn Henry


Personal Finance 101- Part 1 (Savings and Financing Your Education)

Being a student can be overwhelming at times. Between maintaining good grades, extracurrcicular activities and a social life- we sometimes lose track of our health and financial wellbeing. However, these two factors are paramount to living a fulfilling life and maximizing your potential in life.

In this particular article, I’ll be going over the personal finance aspect of your life that you may have been neglecting (the aspect that I’ve pretty much neglected up until little over a year ago to be honest). My goal in writing this article isn’t to necessarily educate you because I am not a finance major or financial professional; what I would like to do is introduce you to some general things about finance that I’ve personally overlooked and wished I had thought about sooner.

I’ll break this down into three parts over the course of the next two weeks: Savings & Financing Your Education, Debt Management/Investments, and Credit.

 Savings:

You ideally want to start by opening an high-interest savings account that is FDIC Insured. What do I mean by high interest? Yearly interest rates are usually below 1%, however, there are a few savings accounts where the interests are above 1.3-2.05% which would be considered high-interest.


After you find the right account for you, you want to create an emergency fund for yourself. This is usually defined as a safety net of 3-6 months worth of expenses that you can use in the case if you lose your job, get sick or etc. If you are a high school or college student and don’t really have defined monthly expenses, I would say start by trying to save $1,000.

From there, assess and create a general goal for yourself to save up to. 

If you are working, it is usually recommended that you save roughly 20% of your check and put it towards this until you’ve hit your desired threshold

Financing Your Education: This is deserving of its own article so I won’t go into too much detail. However, the following holds true:

  • Start by filling out FAFSA completely and ASAP and listing your potential colleges. This allows you to lock in the best possible federal aid options for financing your education if you need it.
  •  However, you should scoping out scholarships and grants from your institution (known as internal aid) and outside of your institution (external aid).
  • After you’ve maxed out all scholarships then you can exhaust federal options that you secured from FAFSA as needed while making sure you aren’t taking more than what you need.
  • If you are unable to afford the price tag that University ‘X’ is giving you, don’t be afraid to go to community college. There is a wide range of benefits of going to a two-year college first then transferring versus going straight to a four-year that a lot of people overlook due to the stigmas of going to a community college. I promise you that in the grand scheme of things, either option is acceptable.
  • Last but not least, private loans. Unless you have amazing credit or can secure a cosigner with amazing credit; I would recommend avoiding this method as much as possible and if forced to use this method, borrow the minimum amount possible. You don’t want to be caught in a high-interest loan with a lot of money owed on it.

Here’s a video to watch on good savings accounts to look into but again, it’s always good to do your own individual research: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvgDorJU21E)

Here’s FAFSA General Guidelines for Federal Aid: (https://studentaid.gov/sites/default/files/funding-your-education.pdf)

Here’s a slightly more in-depth version of how to finance your education: (https://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/08/affordable-college-education.asp)

Be on the lookout because I will be making my next post on debt management/investing sometime next week! Other than that, stay safe on this 4th of July! 

Peace out, 

Jevaughn Henry

The Unfair Advantage 

Does hard work truly equate to success? Yes it does (Sort of). I would say the math works out to be “Success = Hard Work x (Working Smarter + Luck)”. And in general, we know that if we increase any of these variables within reason, our success will be much greater! The Unfair Advantage by Ash Ali and Hasan Kubba discusses how we are all born with a set of ‘Unfair Advantages’ that can propel us into living successful lives. This advantage deals more so with the Working Smarter + Luck end of the equation to success. We can only work so hard in 24 hours between all of our responsibilities but working smarter allows us to get more stuff done within this 24 hour window and having luck means being able to skip steps towards success. Let me explain:

The start of the book begins with a quote from Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel on how he was able to reach his success: “‘**I am a young, white, educated male … I got really, really lucky. And life isn’t fair.’**”. And he isn’t wrong in saying that, Spiegel grew up and used his already available resources around him (affluent parents, strong education, and big-name connections) to make Snapchat and become successful. So was he lucky? Yes. Could his circumstances be copied? No. Can we still achieve success in life similar to his or in our own right? Of course! But we need to identify our Unfair Advantage and work towards that.

Another polar opposite the book starts off with relatively early with is Oprah Winfrey. A woman who we are all fairly familiar with as being a black North American multibillionaire. If you are unaware with her backstory, she didn’t have anywhere near as good of a childhood as Evan Spiegel unfortunately growing up in an extremely low-income household, having to deal with colorism inside of her own family plus a traumatic past of sexual molestation and assault. However, her parent did something that catapulted her into her amazing future career which was teaching her how to read extremely early in life. This later allowed her to be a top student in school, get major scholarships for college, have her own radio show which later turned into a television show that we know her for today.

They both had very opposite starting places but both are in very amazing positions today. The book discusses the MILES Framework of Unfair Advantages which can explain that phenomenon:

(M) Money: the capital you have, or that you can easily raise. (Spiegel had this)

(I) Intelligence and Insight: includes ‘book smarts’, social and emotional intelligence, as well as

creativity. (Oprah had this)

(L) Location and Luck: all about being in the right place at the right time. (Spiegel had this)

(E) Education and Expertise: our formal schooling and also your self-learning, which gives

you intellectual and technical know-how. (Both of them had this)

(S) Status: social status, including your network and connections. It’s your ‘personal brand’ ‒

in other words, how you’re perceived. It also includes your inner status, which is your

confidence and self-esteem. (Spiegel had this but Oprah grew this for herself as well)

Everyone has at least one of these unfair advantages and in most cases, can cultivate some of the others! For us individuals chasing medicine, I would argue that we definitely have the Intelligence but maybe we need to cultivate Education (This goes beyond taking classes. This means reading on your free time or using the internet to teach you about certain aspects of the application process or gaining mentorship as you are doing with this site.). From there, you can leverage your Location/Luck. Maybe you go to school fairs or pre-med/research conferences, meet with people and then build your Status. And then leverage yourselves into the right positions of power and success. That’s an example of pinpointing your unfair advantage and using it to cultivate other advantages based on that.

For me personally, it was really the intelligence and location. My Mom was always running behind me when I was younger, putting me in school as early as the age of 2 where I practiced reading and writing. Then also me going to school in NYC allowed me to have a decent education while working in some of the best hospitals and shadowing some of the best doctors in the country. From there, I leveraged myself into getting better with other unfair advantages.

I know in light of current times with the black community under fire between police brutality and the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affecting us, we may feel powerless. But believe me when I say, we still have the potential to be great and things are still trending in the right direction (albeit we still have a lot of work to get done in the communities). However, rather than just working hard, we need to change our mindsets into working efficiently to maximize our results in life. If you have any questions or thoughts to add, please feel free to comment down below. I hope you enjoyed and stay safe!

-Jevaughn (Jay)

Conference for premeds

African Americans in Health (AAIH) at USC is having their first conference. It’s going to be a good opportunity to learn about applying to medical school, studying for the MCAT, and exploring gap year options.

Zoom link: https://usc.zoom.us/j/97015881554

Virtual Health Ambassador Summer Internship

Attention: Middle School, High School, College and Graduate Students

You are invited to attend the

Mentoring in Medicine

Virtual Health Ambassador Summer Internship

with a special track for Spanish-Speaking students

Dates: Monday, July 13 to Thursday, August 6

Monday to Thursday from 10am to 3pm EST (no class on Fridays)

Register: https://mimsummer.eventbrite.com

You will have a chance to:

Learn from leading healthcare professionals

Conduct biomedical research and write a scientific publication

Launch a walking club or weight loss challenge

Design and promote public health campaigns

Attract scholarship dollars

Earn service learning hours

Create a new dance trend

Design video games

Produce a radio commercial

Build a YouTube Channel

Cost: ^FREE^

Option to make a donation is available when you register. The sessions will be recorded.

Register: https://mimsummer.eventbrite.com

Pathways to Health Professions

Mentoring in Medicine Speaker Series Presents

PATHWAYS TO HEALTH PROFESSIONS

with

Mekbib Gemeda

Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion

Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS)

Date: Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Time: 8pm – 9pm EST

Learn how to:

* Explore various paths towards health professions schools

* Examine ways to own, construct and tell your story

* Explore ways to find strength and persistence

Register: https://mimpathway.eventbrite.com

(A recording will be made available)

Speaker: Prior to joining EVMS, Mr. Gemeda served for eight years as the Assistant Dean for Diversity Affairs and Community Health and the founding Director of the Center for the Health of the African Diaspora at New York University School of Medicine. Mr. Gemeda has more than a decade of experience in national and local efforts to reduce health disparities and increase diversity in the biomedical workforce. Learn more at https://www.evms.edu/education/masters_programs/medical_masters_program/

Should I Study or Protest???

In these racially challenging times, should premeds be going out to join the protest or should we stay buckled down and study for our MCAT exams? This question was recently posed by a member of the PreMed Mondays group.

The murder of George Floyd is taking a HUGE mental, emotional, and even physical toll on our country. Black individuals and those who sympathize with the struggles faced by the community are stepping up to say enough is enough. Peaceful, safe, and law abiding protest is highly encouraged, BUT this leads to a dilemma for premeds who want to be a part of this movement but already have a full plate (e.g. applying to medical school or studying for the MCAT). So, the question arises…How should you spend your time? How can you make the biggest impact?

There are a few things to consider when evaluating these questions. The first is, what does your heart tell you. One of my mentors is constantly reminding me to function from a perspective of no regrets. There are certain things in life that you know you’ll regret if you don’t pursue. You’ll have to decide if being out in the crowd is one of those things.

A second thing to consider is how you join the movement. Every person has his or her own role to play in promoting justice. It is true that functioning on one accord is essential for success, however, that does not mean that everyone does the same job. I imagine that most respectable members of the community would advise premeds NOT to disrupt their studies in critical times and to get the job done to get accepted to medical school. 9 out of 10 would likely say you’re more needed as a doctor than a protester. For most of us in the medical field…that would be our larger impact. As a physician, you’re needed daily to advocate for your patients and community. You’re essential!

Now, with all that said, you should keep in mind that doing both may be possible. If you’re focused and use your study time wisely, it is possible to peacefully and lawfully protest as well. These two things are NOT mutually exclusive.

REMEMBER…IF YOU PHYSICALLY JOIN THE CROWD AND PROTEST…PHYSICAL DISTANCE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE AND WEAR A MASK! IT’S STILL COVID SEASON!!!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Protest or study?

image credit:  https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/01/protests-coronavirus-pandemic-295285

Keep pushing. This Road is not easy!

What up guys! I am shouting out today to talk about premed and doubts. 

So why am I going to talk about this topic.. well I have been there multiple time and it will probably not be the last time. Our journey is long and so hard. But there are hundreds of people taking the same journey. Do not be afraid to reach out to your fellow pre med friends chances are they are going through the same page as you. Many times people has told me Alex are you sure you want to take this journey or I do not  thing this is the right path for you! This really hurt me and I left the premed track at a few times but the thing is at the end of the day I am always going back to medicine and  it absolutely does not matter what people say. if you want it bad enough it will happen. My GPA is around a  3.0 and that is of the lest few semesters I have worked so hard and so long and made great grades. I will me at ole miss a little longer then expected I  am a senior. And that is ok take as long as you need to get the grades you want and if your GPA is not where you like it for the MCAT then get you fellow classmates, teachers or what ever resources you can find   to help you study and  get the best MCAT score you can. And if you need to peruse higher education then do it. Because at the end of the day we want to become doctors. We love the world and want to help repair it and  for me the  look on peoples faces when they have good news is one of the reasons I want to peruse this career. We do not look at the money it about our passion. So seek help. Keep moving forward. This road is not easy nor will it ever be. We are is a challenge most people say no we are not smart enough to do it.  we are all in this together! I believe in you and that you will shine! Do not ever forget why you want to peruse medicine!

The Perfect Letter of Recommendation

Hopefully, by this time those applying to medical school this upcoming cycle have requested for their letters of recommendations. The letter of recommendation can be neutral but may also make or break your chances at getting into medical school. One bad letter can ruin everything even for the otherwise flawless student whereas one solid letter from the right person can take even those with lower scores to the top of the pile. Half of the students who have approached me for a letter have demonstrated great etiquette while the other half have been… lets just say, pretty alarming. For those who have procrastinated and for those future applicants, I have listed a few tips below.


1. Choosing a Letter Writer

Types of recommenders include professors (science and non-science), physicians, premed advising committee (if offered by school), research director, principal investigator, graduate program director, or medically-related extracurricular supervisor. If applying to osteopathic programs, it’s nice to have a letter from a DO. It is always better to have someone who knows you and thinks highly of you over someone well respected. They need to be able to speak highly on your qualifications, competencies, unique characteristics and why they think you will be valuable to these programs. It is not fair to ask a professor you do not know and place them in an awkward position. This is a big reason why Dr. Dale and I always preach the importance of office hours and getting to know your professors. It is also a big reason to stay in touch with people. If you did well in the class and established a good relationship make sure that professor knows your goal is to become a doctor and that you would love if they could stay in touch and they could write a letter for you when the time comes.

2. How to Approach

It is best to approach your potential letter writers for the first time early on, at the end of a semester after you have received your final grade or after a shadowing/volunteering experience you enjoyed. This way you are on their radar. Share with them your plans to become a doctor and that you would love a letter from them in the future if they are willing. Ask if you may stay in touch with them. Approach the letter writer again roughly four months before applying. My recommendation would be face-to-face meeting > email > phone. There is a good chance the letter writer is popular and teaches a lot of students so you want to be memorable and don’t want your message buried or placed at the back of the line. You may ask to meet the letter writer during office hours or depending on your relationship, over a cup of coffee.


3. What to Ask

Hopefully your potential letter writer knows you well but if not, it is important that you first start by introducing yourself and your link with them. A little bit of flattery always helps. Let them know how you enjoyed their class or your experience shadowing. You may even share a memorable moment or something you learned. “Are you willing to write a very STRONG letter of recommendation for me?” Simple as that. There are way too many students who will get awesome letters. You want someone that is super impressed with your work to write this letter or at least someone who is willing to learn a bit about you in order to appreciate how awesome you are. There is little to no benefit in a so-so, mediocre letter. If they are honest with you and aren’t able to write a strong letter, be gracious for their truth and don’t be offended. Simply move on to the next. Make sure to let them know when you plan to submit and ask if they are okay with a reminder.


4. What to Give Them

Be prepared to provide your recommender your CV, transcript and personal statement or brief summary/reminder of who you are. You may do this via email or bring with you in person. I am a huge proponent of including your Diverse Medicine profile link and/or your LinkedIn Profile link in your email signature. This will help them learn more about you and place a face with your name. You do not want to overwhelm the writer with too much info but if you know that they are the type that would want a little guidance you may provide them with the AAMC guideline.

5. How to Follow-up

As mentioned earlier, you need ask the letter writer if it is okay to follow-up at certain intervals. You may check in on them with an email 1 month before you plan to submit. Make sure you do not have any embarrassing or incriminating data online. There is always a chance your letter writer or anyone evaluating you throughout the interview process will search for you. Clean up your social media and make sure your email address is professional and unassuming. It is also important not to burn bridges along the entire application process. If a recommender hears something troubling about you, they may feel obligated to rescind their letter or contact the schools to warn them.


6. Other Important Information

It is important to waive your rights to see the letters in order to protect the letter writers and allow them to be fully transparent with the school. Programs such as Interfolio may help in organizing your letters. However, this is way after my time so check with other premeds on the site about their experience with this. Don’t forget to thank your letter writer afterwards. Update them along the application season. You never know if they have connections at a program you are waitlisted on or one you have not heard back from. Also, make sure to contact the medical school recruiters on Diverse Medicine if you will be applying to their program and feel free to ask them specifics about their school.

Any tips on getting that perfect letter? Feel free to share with your peers.

Compound Your Effort

Can you think of an overnight success? So often we hear this phrase. The media uses it for companies, actors, musicians. But is this true? Are these people and organizations really overnight successes?

Usually they’re not. Rather they’ve worked super hard for several years and benefited from a little concept called compounding interest. Compounding interest is really a banking term that explains how money grows exponentially over time. In other words, the small daily contributions will eventually grow into a large sum.

This concept extends beyond money and into all other areas of life. As it pertains to the medical field, becoming the best doctor possible is a step wise process. It’s a real grind that at times feels extremely unrewarding. Social media has trained us to desire immediate gratification. Put up a post and get a like. It’s kind of like the mouse pushing the button and getting the cheese.

My message to you today is simple….let your efforts compound on themselves. The hour of work you put in today will one day be worth a medical degree. Value every minute. They all matter! The power of compounding is among the strongest as it pertains to ultimate success. So those days and nights when you can’t make sense of why you’re studying an esoteric subject….just remember that it’s all part of your compounding effort to reach your pinnacle of success.

@

Not recently active