In an effort to get this site up and running, I provided a quick and dirty personal story of how our family got to be in the 1% of income earners in America. I wanted to take this time to delve deeper into my story, provide some background into my childhood. I may not be what you envision…sitting in my corner office, wearing a top hat, and smoking $100 bills, so I hope through this story, you will be able to get a better understanding and appreciation for this 1 percenter.
I grew up a lower middle class household in Philadelphia. My mother worked for the US Post Office and my father was a lab technician at a hospital. My mother stayed at home with my siblings and I until we were all in grade school. As a kid, I knew money didn’t come easy, but we always had everything we ever wanted and needed. We were well fed, well clothed, had toys, and a care-free childhood. However, we never, ever ate out at a restaurant, or bought name brand anything. We occasionally shopped at Aldi (for those that don’t have an Aldi, this is a grocery store that only sells generics i.e. No Skippy Peanut Butter, just “Peanut Butter”).
I started my first job at age 13 cutting lawns for family members. My father would help me lug my lawnmower in his car and would wait for me as I cut lawns for $5-$20 at the time (early 90′s). At age 14 I begin delivering Dominos Pizza flyers door to door for minimum wage. I remember sweating in the summer heat after 1 hour and wondering if it was worth the $4.25. At age 15 and 16, I worked at a telemarketing company conducting surveys on the phone. The was extremely painful as I had to log every call so I literally was counting down the hours at work minute by minute.
Prior to attending college, I took a break in the summer so that I could enjoy it with my friends. I also took a break after my first year at college so that I could take some extra courses at the local community college. At age 19 is when I began to work consistently until present day. Over the course of the next 5 years (from age 19-24), and until I graduated, I worked at local pharmacies and hospital pharmacies to get experience in jobs close to my college major. Unfortunately, this was during the dot.com boom, so naturally I shoveled everything into the market and lost most of what I worked for. This was a wake up call for me to not chase get rich schemes, and that the a slow and steady “Buffett” approach was more reasonable and Biblical.
The Real World
After graduation, I did a 1 year residency program (making 1/3 of what a pharmacist typically makes) so that I could break into the pharmaceutical industry. During this time, I worked part-time on the weekends as a pharmacist. I watched most of my friends working full-time at pharmacies, making a lot of money, and buying fancy cars. I continued to drive my 1994 Acura with over 120,000 miles at the time. After the residency (~2003), I moved into a sales rep position making about 2/3 of what a typical pharmacist makes, but I had a company car (Ford Taurus) and moved out of my home. I continued to see my friends from college making really good money, getting married, and buying homes, but I had a plan. I knew I had the talent and passion to build a career in corporate America. After 2 years of sales, I finally moved to a role specific to my major at another company. At this point, I am now on par with a typical pharmacist, but my salary grew in leaps and bounds afterwards. After joining my current company in 2005, my total compensation grew year-over-year by 12.5% in 2006, 10% in 2007, 30% in 2008, 25% in 2009, 2% in 2010, 10% in 2011, and 18% in 2012. This includes a relocation package that I received, stock options, bonuses, 401k matching, pension, etc. I now earn probably over 2x what a typical pharmacist makes.
I don’t say this to brag, but to tell the naysayers out there that things didn’t come easily for me. I worked hard and sacrificed a lot to get to where I am today, and it pains me to watch us be vilified in the media. Some people don’t aspire to being the 1%, and that is fine with me, but when they begin to voice policy changes that affect me, then I have a problem. We live a comfortable lifestyle now, but it wasn’t always easy. I feel blessed and thank God for all that he has provided. Although we are highly leveraged and are in the market for a relatively expensive automobile, we are not buying diamonds and eating caviar. We vacation at the Jersey shore. We live in a nice home, but not extravagant. I drive a car with over 100k miles on it. But we are also now in a position to give back as much as I can to Him (through the church) and to help others in need.
I hope this makes my blog a little more personal and give people an understanding of why I feel a certain way about certain issues.
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