Who Am I?
My name is Sean Stark, and ever since middle school, I knew I wanted to be a naval architect. I was accepted at the University of Michigan and Virginia Tech. Since Michigan was the highest ranked naval architecture school and I wanted to see what life was like away from home, I chose Michigan. Unfortunately, I did not know the value of money and no one illustrated the significant difference in cost between in-state and out-of-state tuition.
My family told me they were planning on using the home equity line to pay for my school, but I graduated from high school in 2007, right as the housing bubble was bursting. Suffice to say, that option was no longer on the table, and I was never shown just how big of a hole I would be getting myself into. I ended up paying for almost the entire 4 years via private loans since I qualified for the bare minimum in federal loans.
Graduating school with $140,000 in debt was a rude awakening for me. My only exposure to financial education was the personal management merit badge I earned on the way to becoming an Eagle Scout, which I believe helped get me through college without living beyond my means. However, once I realized that my minimum monthly payment was $1,000, I knew I needed to become more disciplined.
Not knowing what a financial coach was, I went to a variety of different people in an attempt to learn more about how to manage my finances. Most of them didn't have my best interests in mind. After my wife and I got married and we became more financially stable, we hired financial planners who we thought were supposed to have fiduciary responsibility. They recommended large whole life insurance policies for us that I later learned would give the planners significant commissions and were completely inappropriate for people of our age and income.
I've always enjoyed helping and teaching others, so after learning so much about personal finance through my own journey, I began sharing what I knew with friends and family. Around the same time, I also became the treasurer for my church where I learned more about current bookkeeping practices. It's now my goal to share what I have learned with you so that you can understand where your money is going and how to achieve your financial goals.