This is the latest in our “More Than a Number” series, which profiles individuals and shows how each person is truly more than just their finances. Please leave a comment or question for Syed below! And if you’d like to be included in a future profile, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My name: Syed Hussain
My biggest goal in 5 words or less: Live a full life.
My biggest challenge in 5 words or less: Balancing present and the future.
Can you tell us who you are?
I’m an optometrist trying to find the best way to get out of student loan debt, be a great father and husband, and live an enjoyable life with my family. I graduated in 2009 and I love my job and the opportunities it presents. I got married in 2010 to my wonderful wife Sophia. We currently have an 8 month old boy as well. His name is Naqi and he means the world to us. I’m an avid fan of martial arts, basketball and football. Trying to balance work, family and hobbies is certainly a challenge, but it helps having a wife who supports me.
What’s your general financial philosophy?
Don’t depend on your future self to cover the current bills. Plan for the future, but find out what you can do right away to optimize your financial situation.
What has been your biggest financial hurdle or challenge?
Getting out of the student loan debt hole. I’m grateful for my professional education and the opportunities it presents. But graduates now are in a much worse position financially than graduates 10 years ago were, and this is solely because of rising tuition and the subsequent student loan debt.
What are some of the strategies or lessons you’ve learned from taking on this challenge?
Not all debt is bad, but any debt that you have trouble paying off certainly is. Paying off your highest interest balances first frees up income and reduces your debt load. This is the most powerful way to pay off debt in my opinion.
Do your finances control you or do you control your finances?
There was a time where I would say my finances controlled me. Knowledge is power, and learning about personal finance and taking positive steps to control my finances has put me back in the driver’s seat I feel. Learning how to budget with You Need a Budget has really given me a new perspective on money as well. Every dollar that you make should have a job and you can adjust those dollars as the situation changes. This was a pretty eye opening concept for me.
What is the hardest expenditure in your budget to maintain at a reasonable level?
Money spent on food. I’ve gotten a little better with trying to make lunch at home, but it is still something I’m working on. I also plan on learning to make some dinner dishes to take some of the pressure off the wife.
What would you tell yourself if you could go back and in time and talk to “you” from 10 years ago?
Read, read and read some more. It is the only way to increase your knowledge and to read about mistakes others have made so you can avoid them. Financially, I would have opened a Roth IRA early on since my tax rate was so low at the time.
Where do you want to go from here? What are your goals for the future?
I feel like I’ve come a long way since graduating from optometry school, but I have a long way to go. And I’m looking forward to it. We recently had a baby boy so most of my goals revolve around him and making sure he is happy and healthy. My financial goals include paying off my student loans and being able to fully fund my Roth IRA and 529 plan every year. I also plan on taking some international vacations with my family for leisure and to broaden my son’s horizons, along with my own.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I recently started a blog at thebrokeprofessional.com. This is my first foray into the world of personal finance blogging after reading other blogs for many years to learn about finances. With my website I will try to help anyone interested in improving their finances by sharing the lessons I have learned during my journey, focusing on student loan debt and how it has affected my life and how I plan to get out of it ASAP. Please feel free to share and leave a comment. I’m grateful to ReadyForZero for giving me the opportunity to share a little bit of my story. I use ReadyForZero to help me keep track of my student loans and keep me motivated in paying them off quickly. If anyone hasn’t signed up yet, I highly recommend it!