CHRIS PRATT: Welcome to Gen. Z Green, where we talk personal finance and investing for the new generation of wealth builders. I’m your host, Chris Pratt. Today we have an awesome guest. She has spent more than seven years working in the finance industry, and she’s paid off about $57,000 in student loan debt. What a great accomplishment. By the way, her name is Carmen Perez. Welcome to the show, Carmen. How are you?
CARMEN PEREZ: Hey, Chris. Thank you. Very, very good. Thank you for having me.
CHRIS PRATT: Thank you for coming on. Uh, so, uh, you have a blog called Make Real Cents and you’re super active on Instagram and everything. And we’ll get into that in a minute. But I wanted to just start and let everyone get to know you a little bit. So, who is Carmen Perez? What’s your story growing up? How did you end up getting into finance? Ah, maybe you could start with, like, what were you like in middle school and high school or your interests? What were you doing?
CARMEN PEREZ: Yeah, so my background. It’s not the funnest start. I guess to any childhood, but So I grew up in a single parent home. My mom raised three kids, um, came out of a domestic violence situation. So that had a big financial impact on her and obviously are starting off in that realm of just like branching out. Um, so domestic violence household, My mom, you know, put everything on her back. Finally got out of that situation, just started hustling like killing it. And I think she was like, a big demonstration of what I am today and how far I’ve come just fixing her, like, kind of cross of this whole of just just horrible things. I don’t say that lightly, but, um, she worked her tail off, went on to get her associates degree then her bachelor’s degree than her master’s degree with three kids and then middle school is where everything kind of shifted for me. That’s when we were really out of the situation with my dad and all of that stuff. And I was coming into my own, like, experiencing new things, figuring this whole world possibilities out there for me, and then in high school, the same thing my mom like, encouraged us to do different sports like anything that we wanted to do. She encouraged it just because of the situation that we were in prior to that, it was so controlled and like not a great environment. So she did not force us to just branch out but just encouraged us to branch out. Try different things. I was in sports and doing all that jazz and where my attention started shifting because when I was five years old, I wanted to be a paleontologist. No one could tell me anything.
CHRIS PRATT: That’s dinosaurs right?
CARMEN PEREZ: Yes, dinosaurs yes, people would ask me. They say, Oh, you want to go to Egypt? I said, No, that’s an archaeologist, it’s Paleontologist. I want to think this is the funniest story because you were like this little six year old, like saying, no, you want to do dinosaurs so…
CHRIS PRATT: I could just picture that. Yeah, that would be so cute. Oh, my God.
CARMEN PEREZ: Like so there a battery. So in high school, I started shifting towards, I had a teacher, my economics teacher, and he told us a story about how he invested in a penny stock, and he’s just like this penny stock exploded. I mean, he had, like, hundreds of shares, exploded to like, I’m gonna make this up now, because I can’t remember what it was, it’s something ridiculous. It was, like $30, $40 a share, it exploded to. And then he pushed the envelope. He wants to stay in just a little bit longer, and then it, you know, ended up tanking. And he didn’t capture that spread. And I just thought that was really, really interesting. So in high school, that’s when my thought process shifted from wanting to be a paleontologist and then to a director and then, like Ohh I want to really focus in on how money moves throughout the world and what that means. And what looks like.
CHRIS PRATT: This teacher that was in high school?
CARMEN PEREZ: High school, yeah. He just told us this, you know, this anecdote story about, like, this is what he does with stocks. And it was kind of like off topic, but I thought it was really interesting. I saw, like, you know, the Wolf on Wall Street. All that stuff sounds like that. That is something that I want to do. And I’m really good at math. It’s kind of like it was brainless for me back then. So is either, like, maybe I’ll do mathematics or something more interesting, like economics or major and finance. So that’s where I like shifted and went on to major in finance And then everything went from there
CHRIS PRATT: because you said you wanted to be a director Like a film director.
CARMEN PEREZ: Yeah,
CHRIS PRATT: So you went from paleontologists to film director to finance?
CARMEN PEREZ: Yeah, those were the only, my only career. Those three in progression.
CHRIS PRATT: I think that sounds better than mine, though I think my first goal when I was like five years old was to be a garbage truck driver because I thought it looked so fun to be the guy hanging off the back of the truck and like, hang off the back of a moving truck. I didn’t realize some of the problems that my mom would keep telling. She told me that she kept trying to kind of shift me away from that. She was like, How about a firefighter? That’s cool too.
CARMEN PEREZ: That’s very popular, I think amongst like little kids, your average short guy is like number one. I’ve seen a lot of my friends. Kids like, definitely they are obsessed with the garbage guy. Come in. And like looking out the window and saying hi when they go.
CHRIS PRATT: Yeah, I would like the mailman, even. Yeah.
CARMEN PEREZ: Yeah
CHRIS PRATT: Yeah. Ah, and then I don’t know what the rest of my progression was. I think I wanted to be a snowboarder at one time. And then I realized I broke my hand. Right, learning in the park. And that’s when I realized, Yeah, I don’t want to keep breaking bones and stuff, cause you almost I mean, you have to. It’s almost a rule to get injured. Multiple. Yeah. I mean, you’re going to get hurt when you really are progressing in that. So I realized I don’t want to do that. And I got into computers and did computer science. It sounds so yeah. I mean, it’s kind of interesting hearing people’s like progressions in how they decide to pursue what they want to pursue. Anyway, you go through high school. You’re like, OK, I love math. I’m really big on math, too. And I want to go to college for finance, right? Yeah. Where did you go to college?
CARMEN PEREZ: So that wasn’t as clear cut as my decisions in careers. So I went to Florida Atlantic for a year. I went to Rutgers for a year, and then I ended up graduating from the University of South Florida in Tampa.
CHRIS PRATT: Oh, wow. So now you go from Florida to Rutgers is in New Jersey, right? Florida to New Jersey, Back to Florida. Is Florida Atlantic near Daytona Beach?
CARMEN PEREZ: It’s Boca.
CHRIS PRATT: Boca?
CARMEN PEREZ: Yes. It’s like a little further down. But,
CHRIS PRATT: Got it? Got it. how did that happen? Because I was just talking to, I was just talking, interviewing someone who said that, you might know her, Ashley Feinstein Grossly. and she said that she transferred from, I think it was Tulane to Penn. And I was asking her about the transfer experience. And that’s something that I think a lot of listeners might wonder about is transferring schools and that experience. You did it twice. So what was that Like?
CARMEN PEREZ: So The first to be honest, like my high school experience. I definitely put more emphasis on working during my time in high school. So athletics was a big thing for me. Um, working just to like just pay for my car. Car insurance.
CHRIS PRATT: Like working in a job ?
CARMEN PEREZ: Yeah, working in a job. So I did well in school. I graduated with a 4.0 but it definitely I don’t think it was the most challenging high school.
CHRIS PRATT: 4.0 in high school.
CARMEN PEREZ: I hate to say that. But at that time, Yes.
CHRIS PRATT: but that’s an accomplishment. Hey,
CARMEN PEREZ: yeah, no, no, it I think it’s great. But then college. I didn’t do so high, uh, because I put focus on all this other stuff, right? So FAU was a choice by kind of default. I was actually on the way or wanted to go to DePaul, Was planning on running track for them, got a knee injury, had some surgery, got really depressed, um, from the surgery because I was missing out on improving my times as far as track is concerned. And then that everything fell through with that BO
CHRIS PRATT: So you were a student athlete ?
CARMEN PEREZ: Yes.
CHRIS PRATT: Yeah. Were you on scholarship?
CARMEN PEREZ: No, no, So I wanted I was actually on my that path to getting and running at
CHRIS PRATT: Got it, Okay.
CARMEN PEREZ: Um, and everything fell through with that. So FAU was literally like, Are there any Florida schools? I had a Florida scholarship. So there was a bright future scholarship. Um, and that is a scholarship that you can get. I don’t know if they still do it, but depending on your test scores and your GPA, you can either get 75% of your tuition paid for or 100%. So I have a 75% because my test scores, we’re good, But they weren’t like, you know, you needed a 40 and plus B’s like the A’s for the SAT’s. Right. Um, so I just started trying to apply. Figure out who was still doing, like, late stuff, and FAU was the school that I could get into very late in the game. I’m talking like. I feel like I applied. I ended up April, May. It was something ridiculously late like that. You know, I had no other fall back whatsoever.
CHRIS PRATT: You applied when most people were getting their decisions in on if they get into schools or not. Got it? Yeah.
CARMEN PEREZ: Um, So there was that and then FAU. Since that was just kind of like a default. That wasn’t my plan. Um, I stayed there for a year and then transferred to Rutgers, and that was pretty seamless. My credits for the most part transferred over, and I was on track. To graduate, roughly, like, six months to a year early. Um, if I would have stayed at Rutgers, uh, went to Rutgers for the year. It was hand down the hardest, Worst year. I probably had a since I don’t even know whether it’s what other times was like really rough.
CHRIS PRATT: So maybe I missed this. What made you transfer to Rutgers?
CARMEN PEREZ: Um, I always want to go up north. That was just something that I wanted to pursue.
CHRIS PRATT: Yeah, sure. Yeah.
CARMEN PEREZ: Just get away from Florida and figure it out and see if I could, you know, make it up there one and two. New York is the hub for finances. So doing that, I think, was just a strategic move on my part. Um the close I can get to New York easier. It’s going to be for me to get a job.
CHRIS PRATT: That makes a lot of sense. And then in. So then it was really difficult for you.
CARMEN PEREZ: Yeah, it was terrible. Um, I took out my $30,000 student loan when I had 75% paid for in Florida. Why? That was my first financial estate. Right? Second, um, that’s the loan that I got sued for So actually, I got sued for this student loan that I took out at Rutgers.
CHRIS PRATT: Whoa. You got sued for taking out a loan?
CARMEN PEREZ: Yes. This is this now at this is after the fact, But, uh, the loan that I got sued for later in life is the one that I took out a record. Okay, My mom went into the hospital for through there for roughly a month, month and 1/2. Um, that took its toll. There were just a lot of things I had secured an internship but That internship was then, um, me paying my personal bills, what at college, you know, trying to get food and all that stuff. And also helping my mom at home, trying to catch up with everything that this medical, uh, thing had basically, like, halted her in her life. So it was just a really rough year. I was taking 18 credits with no books because I couldn’t afford it. Well, so I was I was borrowing from my roommates from classmates. A teacher finally was just like, Hey, you’re really smart. I don’t understand. Why you’re coming here every single time with no book like I don’t understand. I broke the gun in her office. I’ll never forget it. I just started crying and said, Hey, look, I can barely afford to, you know, to get food. My roommates are bringing me into the cafe to, you know, give me their extra meal. You know, those extra meals that you get Sometimes I was getting those just because some weeks I just wouldn’t have any money. So it was a really, really rough year.
CHRIS PRATT: Really? what year was that? Your sophomore, junior year?
CARMEN PEREZ: Sophomore junior? Yeah. Then I ended up transferring…
CHRIS PRATT: it was like, your second year.
CARMEN PEREZ: Yeah, my second year. But I was taking so many credits to like
CHRIS PRATT: that. You were kind of a Yeah, Yeah,
CARMEN PEREZ: But turn entered back to USF on. And then that’s when I lost about SEO, because some of the things that I was taking didn’t translate over, um, for the degree requirements for USF so I ended up graduating, Still on track with when I was supposed to graduate.
CHRIS PRATT: So that sounds like, you know, you went through a lot of hardship in college, which everyone struggles in college. Everyone does. Even people with you know, these people have crazy. Could have 4.0, gpas, right? They struggle. We all do. Um, and it sounds like you you’ve come out of it better because of it. Um, but what like, what do you think you would give as advice to someone who is thinking about transferring schools? Because I think you have a lot of wisdom to share in the experience that you went through in transferring twice. So
CARMEN PEREZ: my big thing would be taking inventory of, like, your current situation. And I say that because I left a good situation being that scholarship on the table, just to like, get away from home and, you know, discover things and figure that out. In all actuality, I was already away from home by being at FAU. I’m originally from Tampa. It’s a for 3.5 hour drive down. Um So I am away from home, and I could have taken that 75% scholarship that I had on the table and really maximize that to my benefit. So by the time I got out, I would have you know, less than $12,000 student loans. Possibly, Um so I would say, like before you transfer, definitely take inventory of like where you’re at and where you want to possibly be. Um, after you graduate. And that is taking inventory of what? Your major. Is there a good income prospect directly out of, ah college or when you graduate, that will come in from that degree? Uh, and if not, if you aren’t transferring to a cheaper school, then it might be, uh then you might just want to reassess your reasons for doing it. And if they’re really, um for lack of a better word, kind of superficial, like My friends went here, my friends, you can always catch up after you know that four year block, you are going to school for a reason. Get the degree and then you can move and have the freedom to do whatever you want afterwards.
CHRIS PRATT: and that that I mean, the friend thing, I think, is really hard part. I know. Ah, lot of people make the decision on where to go to school based on where their friends and family are going or have gone. Um, despite the fact that it may or may not be the best decision for them to go there academically. Right? Um so, yeah, that’s that’s definitely a big one. And then I’m glad you brought up the, um the job prospect part of it, too, because, you know, I know there’s a big debate. There’s a lot of political debate about whether we should be paying for people’s college. There’s a lot of political debate about, um if people should even go to college if going to college is a right and what not. Um, but just making an individual decision for yourself, regardless of your political beliefs. Obviously, you want to go to college with the hopes of making more money after college, right? I think that’s why a lot of people go to college. Um, if you’re just going purely because you want to learn right, you don’t even have to pay for it If you just want to learn. You can just go in and an audit and sit in. Yeah, um and so I think
CARMEN PEREZ: I don’t know.
CHRIS PRATT: I want to talk to people who More people who are in, like, um, majors that don’t have a clear career path, right? Like my sister. She went to college for, um, psychology, and she didn’t want to go to grad school or anything like that. Which is kind of what you have to do for the kind of career path that she was thinking and that really like threw her for a loop. But of course, when she was 17 18 deciding to go to college, she wasn’t really thinking about that. She was just thinking psychologist, kind of interesting. And, um and, ah, you know, my dad and my mom are telling me I have to go to college, so I’ll go where my friends are, and I’ll do a major with something that I think is kind of interesting. And that’s fine, right? Um, but, you know, try to think about like, Like, what do you want to do after college? Ah, and I know that, like for me, I’m a senior in college, and I’m going to start working in a couple of months here, Um and so for me, it’s front and center. But it didn’t become front center until I was a senior in college, Um, which which well, Actually, that’s not true for me. I did focus a lot on on working on, on on finding a good job in a good career. But for a lot of people, like, they don’t even start thinking about it until at least their junior year of college. After they’ve gone, you know, $50,000.100,000 dollars, sometimes even in debt, right? It’s like, if you’re gonna take on that, that much of a debt burden, you know, try to think about and I know it’s hard, you know, you’re young and you don’t really know, But try to think about, um, of those things. So I love being able to hear that from you, who’s been through it and has experienced it and ah and all that. Anyway, that was a big, long tangent
CARMEN PEREZ: that was added value.
CHRIS PRATT: Okay, you got value. People think so. After college. So you go through college. You have this experience. A college graduate in four years, Um, with a degree in finance, which is a really valuable degree. What did you do after college?
CARMEN PEREZ: So just like backup in college. And this is for any I think this is advice. I hustled hard for internships, so I wasn’t an internship group called Inroads On and they play SEO. Yeah, it’s a minority. Like intern placing group that they’ll put you in a summer internship with a fortune. You know, 500 or even 100 company, Which is very nice to have early on because it teaches a lot of things like office etiquette. How to write an email business, lunches like things that you may or may not pick up in in, um, high school or, if you go to, like, etiquette school, all that So I was in that group and I started getting internships early on which, if I don’t know if I would be as successful in my career if I didn’t do that, Um, if that makes any sense, So
CHRIS PRATT: Oh, yeah.
CARMEN PEREZ: Started doing my internship early on, landed an internship at Goldman. I did two summers there, which is actually, One of them the hardest and most rigorous internships. I’ve probably never worked as hard in my life. Maybe up until, like, two years ago or a year ago. Wow. Um, that I the same time that I did at Goldman. It was a very tough internship because they treat you like you’re a first year analyst. Um, what is that?
CHRIS PRATT: I mean, I’ve heard the stories about about, ah, finance firms and and in all that and you know, we have a joke here that, like computer science students, computer people spend 80 hours a week studying in college, and then they spend 10 hours a week working after college. For finance people, it’s the opposite. But so what
CARMEN PEREZ: Right, 100%.
CHRIS PRATT: It’s like, What do you ?Why is it so hard and so intense? Because I hear that from everyone. And
CARMEN PEREZ: Yes, so Wall Street, like it’s already It’s like a shark tank. Anyway, um, so you have to get in there, and Goldman would be in. This is for basically any firm, but they made very sure to offer these numbers up to their analyst class. So each year, kind of on Wall Street. There’s analyst class that come through and these classes basically are like 1000 2000 people that will work in investment banking or throughout their whatever Wall Street firm you’re working up. And within that those analysts class, you kind of rise it similar to being in college. You rise to the ranks is like, you know, first year associate or analysts, and you graduate to an associate level, and then you continue on assistant Vice president, vice president, so on and so forth. Um, and you start with these people relative to your peers, relatives, your same age group when you graduate in all that, so doing an internship the reason why they’re so rigorous is because they offer you these positions with the understanding that when you graduate as a senior, you will come back. You already have a job offer in hand. Um, so you want to put your best foot forward, especially with these Wall Street and internships, because at the end of your internship period, you are either extended a full time offer. So you’re doing You’re here. You’re I mean, you’re you’re sitting pretty, right? You have at the end of your junior summer. You already have a job. Your only job is to graduate from college, and then you can go on. You already know your salary. You already know what you’re, uh, initial bonus is gonna be because that you get a signing bonus. All of that. So they treat you the first summer the same way they would treat you. I mean, by that, your senior. You understand that? Like you’re grown. Yeah, you know what to do or you don’t. And they’re gonna treat you like that. They’re not gonna treat you like, you know,
CHRIS PRATT: They wanna know what you’re gonna be like when you actually exit over here. Yeah.
CARMEN PEREZ: Yeah. So that’s where they’re so rigorous. So, you know, they make you work long hours or that that’s expected. You get paid the same amount that you would as a first year analyst. So they’re putting a lot of money into you. Think about ah, you being just, uh, a temp worker. Um,
CHRIS PRATT:So What do you do? Yeah, What do you actually, uh, and I hate getting asked this question. I Yeah, I got hired as a program manager there. Like, what is that? I’m, like, you know, I don’t even know,
CARMEN PEREZ: It hard to articulate it but on any given day. I mean, you walk in and they’ll give you projects, or like we were doing so I worked at Goldman. I did the, uh, futures. Um, account derivatives. It was under the derivatives team. Is futures and futures account management or maintenance? Sorry, maintenance, futures account maintenance. And there was, like, enter day brokerage calls, um, for margin. There are margin calls. That would happen. So Sometimes they would give the interns those where you’re monitoring people, different accounts at different firms and calling to ask for more margin on the account. Um, I had a project where there are things that just
CHRIS PRATT: And margin is basically like a loan for investing, right?
CARMEN PEREZ: Yes. Okay. Yes, that you put it that way. That’s great. That’s great. That’s
CHRIS PRATT: Yeah, it’s simple way to put it.
CARMEN PEREZ: a simple way to put it.
CHRIS PRATT: So you, as an intern, were calling companies that had hired Goldman Sachs to ask them for what?
CARMEN PEREZ: So you would call another analyst and say, Hey, there’s we’re doing a margin call on this account you need to fund it and enter day margin calls, Um, and they would send over the money,
CHRIS PRATT: So they would call like an option.
CARMEN PEREZ: Yeah. So I worked in derivatives. So is the futures account maintenance. any future stuff as far as related to any margins calls?
CHRIS PRATT: What are what are futures, then
CARMEN PEREZ: Contact this, now see we’re driving.. I’m happy to go, like, way back.
CHRIS PRATT: I mean, this is investing right. And people, I think people get really scared when they hear all these words, and they’re like, Oh, my God, what is this? I can’t learn all this. I’m too dumb for this, like, right. And,
CARMEN PEREZ: No you’re not. I honestly don’t recommend futures or option or any derivatives …
CHRIS PRATT: Right, this is not, This is more, uh, advanced,
CARMEN PEREZ: A little advanced.
CHRIS PRATT: But like, even if you go on like CNBC, right, which, you know, it still amazes me that, um, CNBC is so dense as like, a media, because, you know, you want to see CNN and they put things in pretty simple language, and you go on CNBC like, what are they saying? So, like what? Yeah, what is a future? It’s a contract, but What does that mean?
CARMEN PEREZ: So it’s a contract. So you’re even to so today. I was watching CNN, CNBC, and they were saying the oil contracts were up. Um, and I guess they were negative. Ah, So people were actually taking the physical delivery of a derivative, which can be like corn, ethanol, whatever, whatever you can get a derivative contract on. So a future is basically yeah, like a contract that you’re putting in place saying, Hey, I’ll pay an x amount in the future on this contract for whatever physical delivery of something that I want to take. So if I want if oil is I could be completely butchering this cause this is like, 10 years ago,
CHRIS PRATT: You could be hypothetical numbers. That’s alright.
CARMEN PEREZ: So no one come for me on this one. So, you know, I have a pack of gum. I say, Hey, we could put a contract in place. Ah, I want to buy some gum in the future for, ah, $5 a box for like, 25 right? And cause gum right now is, um, $7 I think that it’s gonna go down or whatever. So that would be like a futures contract I put in place like I’m gonna take delivery of these 25 sticks of gum, regardless of what The prices in the future. Yet for $5 So people just use to to kinda hedge those kind of those pricing fluctuation.
CHRIS PRATT: So Then does the company buying the future? I’m sorry. Is the company selling, like, in this example, the gum. Do they agree to that, too, at the time.
CARMEN PEREZ: But it’s a bilateral agreement.
CHRIS PRATT: Okay. Wow. I didn’t know all this, by the way.
CARMEN PEREZ: Yeah, and I could again be completely butchering this, cause this is like So my career ended in foreign exchange and I said, Just remember this basic stuff, but I’ve been so far away from futures and options.
CHRIS PRATT: I think it sounds like conceptually, you know, you’re correct. That sounds right. Like, yeah, sounds spot on conceptually right. And like I said, Well, like you said, you know, we’re not going to be regular. People shouldn’t be really trading futures anyway, so but just having understanding of what? What the word means and understanding that, like, um, I think it kind of takes a waste. Like I said, some of the fear that people have around all these these fancy words when really it’s it’s just people doing things because they want to one of the ways of trying to make money.
CARMEN PEREZ: It’s an agreement today to buy something in the furute. You and I come to terms on whether that works out for you as the seller or me as the buyer. Who knows?
CHRIS PRATT: So yes. Oh, that sounds really intense. Your basically helping people take out loans on I imagine These are Very large orders or large contracts.
CARMEN PEREZ: We weren’t doing the trading. We were just saying, Hey, this accounts on margin. You need to fund it. Just meet that regulatory requirement of how much money needs to either. That was one aspect the biggest aspect in project that I kind of worked on. Um was uh basically, there’s payments that there are payment requests that come in and out of a bank on any given day. And sometimes if the wire instructions for those accounts are incorrect. They’re called the wire request, goes out to the bank and it might come back like a returned mail. It might come back to the bank saying we don’t know where the what these funds are. What is this for?
CHRIS PRATT: Some of the information is incorrect.
CARMEN PEREZ: Yes, some of the information is incorrect. So what I did was worked on a project to basically calculate how much the futures department was short changed or how much money was known as they’re called DK’s, so don’t know fun, literally. They’re called DK’s, so don’t know funds were outstanding in trying to basically do investigative work as to wear those funds. Needs to go or who Otis money and then writing emails and getting on the phone with people at different firms. Say, hey, you actually miss this number. It’s this, um here. They’re wire instructions. Send us this money advice. So that was actually really cool project because you’re physically getting money back to the firm and clearing out all those like messy accounts. So we owe somebody, but we didn’t get the wire instructions or somebody owes us and they didn’t send the correct instruction the device for
CHRIS PRATT: Sorry, I’m fixing on this. I just think it would be so cool to be able to, like work with just really large amounts of money even if I never like the money is not mine, right? Obviously, the money’s not yours, but, like, just to just to, like, work with those kinds of numbers, I think I don’t know. It’s just maybe I’m just too nerd. I’m a super nerd. I’m just really weird, but I just super cool to me.
CARMEN PEREZ: So we were in our early twenties. It’s like it was wild and I’m looking at it wasn’t just in U S. Dollars were converting this, Yen, the euro. We’re looking at all different currencies across like the futures department and getting that money back in. And it’s cool. Like I mean, millions of dollars at these banks means nothing at the end of the day. Like, is that like it’s pennies to them but it is really cool to be handling that. Especially early on.
CHRIS PRATT: Yeah, yeah, yeah. AwSome. And so you’re you, um you did as an internship, And then did you got a full time? Ah, job offer?
CARMEN PEREZ: I did. So I got a full time job offer in ‘08 from Goldman. And, um,
CHRIS PRATT: Oh maybe that wasn’t the best time to get
CARMEN PEREZ: It wasn’t the best time, actually. Sorry, I got into in ‘07. It wasn’t the best time because I had transferred back to SF lost that momentum of like, Oh, I’m gonna be a senior. Oh, which I was projected to kind of graduate again. Graduate early. Um, so I said, Hey, I’m not graduating early anymore. Can I come back another summer? They said, Yeah, absolutely. ‘08 That’s the summer I came back. I didn’t get an offer the second time. And actually a majority of the interns class. The internship class did not, because the market was so bad. We were literally, like on the floor when Bear Stearns was going under.
CHRIS PRATT: Wow. So you were you were working there when that kind of
CARMEN PEREZ: Ah, yeah, well, there’s TVs everywhere. I mean, you like market news, and you’re just seeing people like what is happening. Um,
CHRIS PRATT: Was just like shocked on the on the floor.
CARMEN PEREZ: Yeah, just people are like, uh, what is this meeting it? It’s kind of like a straight out of you feel like you’re in a movie. Um, and that’s yet. So it didn’t get an offer back. Uh, thankfully, though that just experience at Goldman helped with me getting my first job at Citi. Um, my manager looked at my resume and said, Hey, did an internship at Goldman. I know. It’s very tough to get an internship there. Do you want this job?
CHRIS PRATT: so that yeah, that will open some doors for you. So you were, you know, working in Citi after college, right?
CARMEN PEREZ: Yeah.
CHRIS PRATT: OK. And you work there. How long?
CARMEN PEREZ: So I was there for three years.
CHRIS PRATT: Three years? Okay. And When did you, um, start like because there is one thing to do finance we’re talking about, you know, features and all that, which is is, you know, you’re doing that for the company, and that’s very different from your personal finances. So when did you really start to Focus on your personal finances.
CARMEN PEREZ: Ah, fast forward to 2016
CHRIS PRATT: 2016. Okay, so what’s that? 8-9 years after you graduated from college? Yeah, yeah, yeah.
CARMEN PEREZ: So I graduated in 09 so seven years.
CHRIS PRATT: Okay. And what made you decide? Like, ok, it’s time to get rid of all this debt and and start this blog make real sense. Ah, and do all that.
CARMEN PEREZ: Um So I had always been like a really big fan of personal finance when after I had graduated was always reading all these books and all that stuff, but just never really applied it. Um, and then what really was the catalyst was 2016 is when I got sued for my student load. Um, I had actually right before that. I said, You know what? I needed this start changing up my finances and getting everything in order because I make too much money to be living paycheck to paycheck. This is kind of ridiculous at this point, Um, and when you know better, you do better. So I started trying to turn that around and right when I started, I mean, literally three months into me, Like putting together a budget and sticking with this. I got sued.
CHRIS PRATT: Wow. And then listen, guys, listen, Carmen, you are very smart, intelligent person, obviously, right? And even. And you had assumed you had a lot if not all of the knowledge that you needed to be successful in your personal finances and you weren’t for a period of time, right? And I think that’s so important that there’s a very big difference between and There’s something I’ve learned a lot over my four years in college. There’s a very big difference between learning about and being educated about something and then actually applying it in your own life and actually doing it. Ah, for yourself. And I would argue that the ladder actually doing it for yourself is much, much more difficult. So okay, so now you get sued, right? Imagine this is a pretty crazy story. Yeah. What is that all about? How did you get sued for a student loan?
CARMEN PEREZ: So this is everyone asks this, and I’ll just keep this one really quick because it doesn’t necessarily apply to a lot of people. Um, my situation. When I had transferred from Rutgers to USF, I was apparently supposed to inform which this isn’t necessarily case. I was supposed to inform them every year that I was a full time student until I had graduated so they could start collecting on this particular debt. What ended up happening is they apparently couldn’t find me in the National Clearing House where they actually you’re supposed to go to. The onus is on the lender to verify that you’re still in school or your full time student. They couldn’t find me in that system for whatever reason. And so while I was a now junior at USF, they had defaulted the student loan because I hadn’t been paying it. W hich is crazy, right? Cause you’re I’m in my mind. I’m thinking it’s a mistake when I see these bills now, coming to my mom’s house for the better part of, like, eight months, they were still going to my Rutgers dorm address.
CHRIS PRATT: So you weren’t just getting…
CARMEN PEREZ: No, I wasn’t getting. So by the time they had made it to my mom’s house, this was already like a pink notice. Like my student loan had gone into default. And I’m like, This is ah, you know,
CHRIS PRATT: This is years after you took the loan out, right?
CARMEN PEREZ: Yeah. You know, Well, this is literally direct. So think about my sophomore year. Uh, they defaulted at my junior year.
CHRIS PRATT: Okay so it was a year later.
CARMEN PEREZ: Yeah, Yeah, it was a year later. So I’m thinking like, this is a mistake. This this is their clearly I’m still in school of a full time student like this makes no sense to me. Um, call him up. They said, Oh, yeah, You’re supposed to show us proof. And I said, Okay, so I sent him something, and then I thought it was done. Like I’m a still I’m a junior. I’m gonna be here for another year and a half. Fast forward to 2016. Uh, I hadn’t heard anything from this loan. Really? They actually called me one day when I was at work at Citi. Um, they’re like, Hey, this is in collections. And I was like, OK, well, like set up a plan, and I had done some stuff, but, like, really, literally, just kind of forgot about this, put it on the back burner and was paying my other student loans on time and fine. I don’t know why I neglected this one, because I was like, Oh, they messed up to begin with, you know, um, then they sued me, so that was just wild. I got a notice at my apartment, um, saying hey, you owe us 30,000. The original amount was 20,000 that I take, you know, you owe us 30,000 for the student loan. And here’s the notice. And that’s how It was
CHRIS PRATT: So was it the original lender or as it the collection agency?
CARMEN PEREZ: It was the collection agency on behalf of the original lender. So this particular alone in New Jersey, the NJ class loan. And it’s one of one of two, if not the only one in the United States that acts like this Weird. It’s this weird semi private, um, government loan. So it’s backed by the New Jersey taxpayers. Um, it’s just the weird It’s a very predatory, weird both loan and in a nutshell, stories like, Hey, I haven’t graduated. They defaulted, and we’re trying to already collect the money. Um, so you have a soon me and
CHRIS PRATT: sounds like I it has some politics. Are, you know, bureaucracy? If it’s ah, it’s Ah, New Jersey State loan. Uh, sounds weird.
CARMEN PEREZ: Yeah, it’s a very weird loan, and a lot of people, I mean, the if you go on like message boards and stuff about it. They’re like the You can’t discharges loan. Even though it’s semiprivate, it’s there’s a bunch of different things Anyways. Long story Short got sued, and I had to get a lawyer for that. Um, she actually wanted to get it thrown out because they had violated the terms of the promissory note. Because I had evidence that I was actually, despite all this time that had passed, they originally defaulted me. While there’s still a full time student period, they had just violated it. Um, so, yeah, I said, hey, no, I took it out. I owe it. And that’s not something. I want to get discharged. My lawyer was kind of pissed about that, ? She’s like, they this is there. I’m telling you right now, we can get this off you and I was like Hey, I want pay back what I owe. I don’t want to pay back all those interests that this is really caused me harm. Um, it’s cause me harm. As far as my credits are concerned, It looks like I defaulted on a loan when actually, had it had ramifications before I even I started off my path into finance because it was showing a default was my sophomore year. Uh, anyway, so, yeah, that’s when you know, I decided to get all my finances together and said, I need to just go ahead and tackle this debt so I don’t ever have to be in this situation again.
CHRIS PRATT: That was kind of the turning point for you. Yeah, Yeah, I could imagine that. That would that would do it for you. And it sounds like you’ve made a really big turnaround. You’re you’re debt free in 2018 Correct? Yeah. So two years after you, you got served papers with a lawsuit. Wow, that is insane. Wow. All right, so we’re really running low on time. But you have this this blog and you’re super active on Instagram with make real sense everything you wanted to talk about, like your blog and your Instagram or anything that you really think like people should know about personal finance and about you.
CARMEN PEREZ: Yeah. So I mean, obviously everyone is not gonna make the same mistakes and can’t relate to every part of my story. But if I can encourage anyone, especially in college, or just have just having graduated, um, to put certain financial things in place now because you’ll be thanking yourself later, I definitely encourage. And those things would be, you know, figuring out a budget even if you are currently a student starting to get in the habit of putting a budget together for yourself and managing your money a little bit more, even if you don’t make a lot of money. So even if you’re you know, uh, doing this work study program, um, just writing out money, period, and putting that into a budget is a great thing. Second is saving as much as you can. Um, and just putting even 5 $10 aside and not touching it, which I was notorious for, Uh, just letting that, you know, build up, because then, you know, by the time you’re 25 26 37 you’ll have a little cushion to get you started in the world in three is. Definitely. Start paying back your student loans as soon as possible. Even if it seems like crazy Impossible to do so. Some folks won’t be coming out with law school debt. Are, you know, med school. Ah, get on a plan. Call up. Don’t be lazy about this. Be proactive, call out your lenders figure out what’s going to be the best plan for your income where you’re at right now, and then start trying to pay over that if that a plan allows for it. But those are the biggest three things that I wish anyone would have told me to take this seriously because, well, you know when you’re 28, 29 getting sued for $30,000 with little to no money in the bank. The very scary feeling…
CHRIS PRATT: We’re kind of, you know, were kind of laughing about it now, but I imagine that is not something that you would recommend anyone to go through. That was not a…
CARMEN PEREZ: That’s why I started make real cents , I don’t want anyone to Have to go through that.
CHRIS PRATT: Yeah, well, I think what you’re doing is great. Sharing your message, sharing your story. Um, I love seeing, ah, people of different diversity people of color women. Ah, people of different sexual orientations. Really getting involved in getting active, um, and showing that anyone can be responsible of personal finance. I love what you said earlier that you were making good money and you were still living paycheck to paycheck, right? And So You don’t need to be making a ton of money to be good with your personal finances. And even if you are making a ton of money. Uh, you still might be in very deep disarray, so,
CARMEN PEREZ: yeah, you can always be doing better, too.
CHRIS PRATT: Yeah, we’re always learning. Always growing, always, always pushing for and striving for better. Thank you so much, Carmen, for coming on again. You can find her on Instagram at @makerealcents that’s cents with a c, e, n, t s. And she’s also on Twitter, Facebook, and her website makerealcents.com Thank you so much for coming on, Carmen.
CARMEN PEREZ: Thanks so much, Chris. I appreciate it.