Often when you hear of celebrities and their money in the news, it’s all about extravagant lifestyles and occasional bankruptcies. There’s one celebrity, however, who is changing the game. He doesn’t own a yacht. He doesn’t own a Lamborghini. His lifestyle is modest, and his money habits revolve around a set of strongly held values.
Meet Dee-1, a former middle school math teacher turned rapper known for his hit music videos “Sallie Mae Back” about paying back his student loans and “No Car Note” about life with a 1998 Honda Accord.
Life Lesson: Lifestyle Should Revolve Around Your Income
When Dee-1 was small, his uncles paid him to count the cash payments they received from their employer. Not only did this task help solidify his math skills, it also taught him to value money he earned and to spend it carefully. Even as a kid, he learned to save for items he wanted like an autographed Shaquille O’Neal card.
Later, as an older kid, Dee-1 recalls both of his grandparents’ cars breaking down at the same time. Initially, Dee-1 thought it was funny and asked his grandpa how he was going to afford to fix both cars. His grandpa got the last laugh, though. He took him to his music room, pulled out a record from his collection and out dropped $25,000. This was money he’d set aside over the years for times just like this.
“I can never forget moments like that,” Dee-1 said, “And it always instilled in me [that] I need to be prepared for a rainy day. So as I started to get older and actually have more money of my own to manage, it just became something where saving was something I enjoyed and I enjoyed understanding that my lifestyle should revolve around my income. It shouldn’t be that I pick a lifestyle that I want and then whatever my income is, I just accumulate a bunch of debt to accommodate my lifestyle.”
Before There Were Music Videos And Record Deals There Were Student Loans
Dee-1 graduated with a bachelor’s degree and a heavy load of student loans. From there, he began a career as a middle school math teacher. He did his best to keep up with his minimum student loan payments but was still barely putting a dent in the principal amount.
“Debt feels like a cloud just hanging over your head,” Dee-1 said, “And I really don’t like that cloud. I hate that cloud. I think life is too short and life is too amazing and too great to have a big cloud that’s kind of blocking some of that light. And that’s how debt feels; it just feels like this dark cloud.”
After a few years of teaching while working as a musician on the side, Dee-1 signed his first record deal. What happened next is what he describes as one of the best days of his life: he paid off his student loans with the money he earned from that deal.
Still A Teacher
Dee-1 eventually went full-time as a musician. While he no longer spends his days with middle school math students, he still considers himself a teacher. His choice to live modestly with no car payments and no debt is for himself but also, ultimately, for his students.
“Although I’m not teaching in the classroom, I still feel like I’m a teacher,” Dee-1 said. “With that being said, I think it’s a powerful narrative to tell people that I could buy that stuff if I wanted to, I could, I definitely could, but I choose not to because there are smarter things that I can do with my money.”
Dee-1 uses his lifestyle and his music to tell kids they are worth more than what they own. There’s more to living than expensive cars or name brand clothes.
“Too many kids are growing up thinking their value to this world is defined by their material possessions,” Dee-1 said, “And that’s the problem when you have people who think ‘I’m not as cool as the next person because I drive a 1998 Honda Accord but they drive a 2017 Chevy Camaro with 22-inch rims.’”
Trimming Your Budget
For those looking to achieve Financial Freedom, Dee-1 has some sage advice. He says, “Live Within Your Means.” Sound familiar? If you don’t have enough money, you’ll never be free. So take some time to look at your expenses to see where all the money is going.
“I think we all have to look at our expenditures,” Dee-1 says, “And see where can trim up our budget, where can we get the fat out of our budget and squeeze some extra money out that we can therefore use.”
The best place to start, he says, is eliminating credit card debt. He also recommends selling an expensive car to get rid of car payments and purchasing a car with cash. It’s all about finding those places you’re spending too much and getting rid of them.
It’s never too early for you to start on the path to Financial Freedom. If you’re interested in learning more about MindShift.money, check out our Financially Fit Bootcamp program here. And, in honor of Dee-1, use the promo code Dee1 for 10% off!
images courtesy of Dee-1