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My personal finance journey. Part II: Getting Frugal

My friends were studying their butts and thinking how fortunate they were to go to a prestigious school at such a low-price. Looking back, I was still in my rich mentality and still lived carefree. I should have known that my lifestyle would eventually catch up to me.

Up to that point in my life, I felt as if I was entitled to two things, being on the football team at Cornell University and spending my parents money.

Read more of Part I of Max’s personal finance journey.

Max’s journey with money: Part II

By: Max Martinez

Getting into the frugal mindset.

I eventually realized how fortunate I was to be in my spot. It changed me and allowed me to focus on the right things. I dedicated myself to being the hardest working person I could possibly be in all aspects of my life. I got back into the good graces of my football coaches, made the weight room Wall of Honor and got my GPA the highest it had ever been. Still, I needed a way to make money, and after a lot of thought, I realized what I wanted to do.

In January 2012, I started my first business, MaxyClean, a pickup and delivery laundry service that served Cornell. I was proud because I did this on two hours of sleep a night while having football workouts at 7am and going to an Ivy League school. Not only was it successful and sold in a little over a month, but it taught me so much about money and xposed me to different types of hard working people.  Along the way, I figured out social media and I found myself discovering a side of me…entrepreneur.

I employed three persons that I paid $8 per hour, $0.75 more than minimum wage, for 5 hours a day. Two of them were women, one 40 years old with 7 kids and another who was 19 years old with a kid. Here I was, the boss of a woman who was the age of my mother and of a girl who could be my sister. They were grateful about life and had an appreciation for every dollar. It’s a position I was never exposed.

[Read more on My personal finance journey. Part I: Careless]

One day my 19-year-old employee asked me for an advance so that she could pay for baby stuff. I was heartbroken so instead I bought it for her. It was seeing these types of things that made me realize how good and hardworking people struggle with money in this world.

I’ve done community service for organizations but seeing people work so hard and clean clothes for very little really struck a chord within me. People are willing to work hard all they need is the opportunity to work so they can get money. I realized that’s what I was meant to deliver to the world.

After that, I really knew I wanted to help people by being an entrepreneur. This was a new type of leadership for me. I had peoples’ livelihoods in my hands. All I wanted was the best for them.
 With this leadership, came the responsibility of running an entire business, and social media helped me create ideas for advertising campaigns and also introduced me to someone I would have never met.

A man named Jason had seen one of my tweets retweeted by a mutual friend and followed me on my journey.  He would send me tips. I didn’t know him, but I appreciated that he knew and supported what I was doing and wanted to help me. I slowly began to fall in love with entrepreneurship, social media, and helping people.

It took a rough time in my life to realize what I loved to do, but I figured it out.
 These people taught me the value of money and after that experience, I began to carefully think about my financial decisions. Seeing these people work so hard for so little made me start being wiser with my money. Slowly, but surely, I was becoming frugal.

Phroogal Max donating to charity, Cornell, Cornellious

Discovering Phroogal

With my revitalized attitude and football career ending, I needed to find a way to combine my passions of helping people through entrepreneurship, except this time I wanted it to be something that lasted at Cornell as a thank you. I decided to create Cornellious, a Cornell college humor website that sold t-shirts with all proceeds going to a different charity every month.

Instead of completely enjoying my last semester of college, and first without football, I slept 3 hours a night while taking 18 credits. I wanted to graduate on time but instead of partying hard, I decided to help people around campus laugh while giving back to the community.  I realized that money didn’t materialize through a swipe. My parents worked hard and spent so much money for my education. I began living on bread, eggs, cheese, and ham. I wanted to save as much money as I could. It was hard being around so much good food and having to live so frugally, but I adapted to it.

I built Cornellious using social media and it became a very successful website. We raised over $3,000 for 3 different charities in just 3 months and became a hit on campus. Over 20% of a 16,000 person school liked it on Facebook and I really began to understand what people enjoyed on the internet. I had really built a lot of ideas and influence over social media, but there was one follower/friend that I talked to on a weekly basis that wanted to give me advice and bounce ideas off of me. That guy was the Phroogal Jason.

Jason was building a website called Phroogal. He was so passionate about what he was building and was a night-owl like me, so we would talk quite often. I was excited about the concept. Jason had become a mentor to me when it came to business and social media, but he was also pursuing his passion. His idea was an amazing concept and I couldn’t wait to see it.

Cornellious taught me that social collaboration could help build things up. Without the submissions and feedback from social media, Cornellious would not have been what it is today. I was helping people, I was giving back to the world, and I was using the internet and social media to advertise and make people laugh. I started to understand the idea about social collaboration and the Phroogal lifestyle. You are living life, being surrounded by family and friends, making a difference in the lives of others and experiencing the world all through how one manages money.

Up next the Final chapter. Part III: Joining Phroogal

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About Max Martinez

Max Martinez is a Cornell University graduate, ex-football running back and entrepreneur. Max helped cofound Phroogal and helped successful meet Phroogal's crowdfunding goal in 2013. Follow him on Twitter.

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