The Truth (of Financial Education) Will Set You Free

It’s human nature to want what you don’t have. It’s human nature to want to have a good time. My guest today recounted how his childhood desires for wealth perpetuated his young adulthood. It was all fun and games until he realized he was swimming in debt. 

In this podcast episode of Money Memories, I interviewed Warren Gosling, a conqueror of debt and self-taught investor. Read on to learn about Warren’s amazing turnaround and how he uses his experience with debt and finance to help others.

The Grass is Always Greener: A Memory That Left Him Wanting More

Warren has mingled with money his entire life.

As an alert young boy, he observed the stark income disparities between himself and his friends. His observations compelled him to study economics throughout his adolescence. Then, as a young professional, he entered the banking industry. During this time, he accumulated and settled a substantial debt. After clearing his debts and pivoting to investing, he created a financial education channel on Youtube.

As you can see, Warren has had a lot of time to reflect on money’s role in his life. For our interview, he split his money memories into three parts: his earliest memory, his first impression, and his most impactful memory.

Warren’s earliest memory set the stage for a recurring theme that persisted throughout his adulthood. As a child, he recalls going to his friends’ houses after school. He saw a glaring difference between himself and his schoolmates.

“The other kids were mega-rich,” he notes, “They had lots of money. They lived in these huge mansions.” While Warren and his family lived in a small flat, his friends lived in beautiful, spacious homes.

Warren is the third generation of his Caribbean family born in the United Kingdom. When he thought about his memories of money within his family, he couldn’t find one. “It was just something we didn’t have,” he states, “Money wasn’t a huge factor in our house, in terms of how it was discussed openly.”

His family’s attitude towards money is a product of culture. “Within the Caribbean community, financial literacy isn’t an area that we get enough education on.”

The afternoons spent with his better-off friends gave him a glimpse into what money could do for him. “My first impression of money was wanting to have more. “I always remember wishing, ‘I really want to have money when I grow up so that I can live in a house like that. So that I can have nice stuff.’”

A life with lots of money seemed perfect; his friends were comfortable. They had their own rooms with nice furniture. They had new clothes and neat toys. From a young age, Warren wanted those things for himself. He realized money was the tool you used to get what you wanted. 

No doubt these desires influenced his future professional and financial ambitions. If money was a tool, it seemed prudent of Warren to enter the financial sector.

“Of course,” he laments, “Money is a lot more complicated than that.” Although Warren seemed to have made it for himself, he succumbed to the paradox of lifestyle creep. And thus he began his steep descent into debt—£10,000 to be exact.

“My most impactful money memory,” he begins, “Was coming out of debt, actually.”

Lifestyle Creep and the Descent Into Debt

I pressed Warren to tell me more about how he went into debt.

“It’s kind of ironic, right?” He muses, “‘Cause I work in banking.” Prior to that, he earned his Bachelor’s in economics. “I’ve never considered myself as a person who would just go and get swept away with trends or what’s going on.”

To Warren, it seemed there was no excuse for him to go into debt. “But we all know that going into debt isn’t necessarily correlated with your industry or what you do.” He added, “Anyone can go into debt.”

Warren traces the start of his debt back to his first career-role in banking. “I was earning a good wage. I had money and was living at home, so I didn’t have huge expenses.”

But after seeing his colleagues drive foreign cars and frequent upscale restaurants, Warren felt the pressure to maintain a certain image. “When you’re in that sort of banking sector crowd,” he says, “It’s very much image-based. There is a certain subculture.”

His colleagues flaunted a facade that assured onlookers they were well-off. Their flashy fronts reminded him of his childhood memories of wanting what his friends had.

His desires were reiginited. “I wanted to keep up with everyone else. I wanted to enjoy myself. I wanted to go to clubs. I wanted to go to the restaurants. I wanted to have nice things,” he explains.

“It came from a good place,” He adds, “But nonetheless, it’s very dangerous.”

But the reality was Warren was a recent graduate. His colleagues were recent graduates. They were all living well above their means. And unfortunately in this case, faking it until you make it didn’t work out in his favor.

Warren’s increasing expenditures were unsustainable. He was playing a precarious dance with his income by shouldering his expenses with credit.

“I thought, ‘There’s no harm. I’m earning X per month. I’ll spend beyond my means, but I’ll always pay it back.’” To Warren, his habits were justifiable.

His debt seemed non-threatening in the grand scheme of things. “I’ve got loads of time,” he remembers thinking to himself, “I’m young.”

But when it was time to address the debt he accrued, it was too late. “It sort of snowballed,” he shrugs. Without realizing it, Warren was buried in debt. 

The Tipping Point: Time to Make a Change

Warren has a proverbial way of speaking about debt. He likens his dance with debt to swimming carefree in the ocean.

“In the beginning, it’s very innocent and unassuming. But by the time you’re halfway through, it’s like getting swept out to sea. You don’t notice it. But once you’re far out,” he cautions, “You can barely see the shore.”

Sticking with his marine theme, Warren pinpoints his turning point following a vacation to Miami. “I had no idea how expensive Miami was,” he recalls. “No idea.” Warren paid for the entire trip with credit, totaling around £3000 on his credit cards.

Remembering the weight of his debt, he says, “It was very demoralizing. I was around £10,000 in debt. It got to the point where I was paying hundreds of pounds in interest per month.”

Instead of surrendering to helplessness, Warren decided something had to change. “I was like, ‘This is ridiculous. I need to do something about this.’”

Getting Serious: How to Be in Debt and Optimistic

Warren was determined to climb out of debt faster than he slid down. His goal was ambitious, but I was much more shocked by his attitude.

He knew all about the cultural stigma associated with debt. “When you hear about debt, you always hear about the negative sides of it,” he says. “So-And-So lost their house. Horror stories.”

But Warren had a different outlook. “I think I surprised myself with how optimistic I was.” To Warren, managing his debt became just another step towards reaching his childhood dream of having nice things. Framed by this perspective, debt became an obstacle instead of a misfortune. 

Even though he was driven to beat his debt, Warren still admits to missing his old lifestyle. “There were still loads of things I wanted,” he admits. But his itch to keep up with the Jones’ was waning. He says, “My desire to come out of debt trumps all of that.”

Warren’s optimism helped him tackle his debts seriously. He set out to find the fastest and most effective way to come out of debt. “Coming out of debt was a turning point for me in terms of how I understood money.”

Once he started on his journey, he couldn’t stop. He was calculated in his efforts to tackle his debt. He adds, “It kicked off my whole appetite and quest for learning about money, building wealth, then about debt.”

Warren attributes his freedom from debt to education. Like many millennials, Warren turned to the internet to empower him with information.

Warren consumed podcasts and Youtube videos voraciously. He went back and forth between topics, he combed through many strategies and types of debt, money management, and finance.

Warren attributes his eventual success to his self-driven nature. “I was so determined to switch my situation around,” he says, “In terms of the plan I set out for myself, I pretty much stuck to it.”

What Am I Going To Do On the Other Side of This When I’m Out of Debt?

Warren asked himself this question many times while tackling his debt. He was no longer satisfied with the stale cycle of working a full-time job to earn a salaried income. He wanted to make his money work for him; he wanted to work less for more.

He pondered how he could make the best use of money. He was starting to rethink his lifestyle and leisurely spending habits. This time around, he began exploring activities that would add to his wealth.

As Warren exited debt, he entered investing. Investing was an invigorating way to apply his background in economics to his aspirations of making money work for him.

I admire Warren’s realistic attitude. Though free from debt and successful with investing, he refuses to downplay his follies.

He chuckles remembering his initial losses in investing. “I dabbled in crypto, but I got quite burned by that. But it was a good experience.” Even when he failed, Warren still made it a point to learn from his mistakes.

Aside from investing, Warren continued to explore other viable sources of income. He settled on creating a Youtube channel. In addition to growing his wealth, Warren hopes his channel will serve as an invaluable resource to others who may have been in his shoes at one point.

Warren’s Mission

Warren is very aware of the financial literacy disparities among ethnic minorities. Growing up in a Caribbean community taught him a lot about the lack of resources available to learn about finances.

His experiences as an adult have shown him that people across all socioeconomic backgrounds share a similar desire: “Everybody wants more time. Everybody wants more freedom. Those are the two things that I’ve learned that money does bring.”

Acknowledging this mindset, he urges, “Money isn’t a dirty topic. Don’t be afraid to bring it up and discuss it. Talk to people about it.” He’s decided he’s tired of the cultural avoidance of talking about money.

Today, Warren uses the lessons he learned from his debt, payments, and investing to create educational content on his Youtube channel: Warren Gosling – Wealth Matters. He’s proud to use his channel as a platform to represent and guide minorities like himself.

Helping others become financially literate is the heart and mission of Warren’s channel. “If I can save just one person from making the same mistakes as I did when I was younger, it will be all worth it.”

With Money, Perspective is Everything

Warren is living proof that debt changes your life. But it doesn’t have to change it for the worse. “Money is a tool,” Warren says, “Money doesn’t make you happy, but it allows you to do a lot of things. And for me, it’s more about freedom and time.”

With a little optimism and knowledge, debt can make you better off. It may even turn you on to investing.

These days, Warren happily stays out of debt and continues to grow his investments. If you’re interested in learning more from Warren, follow him on one or all of his social media accounts.

Twitter: @WarrenGosling

Instagram: @warrengosling

Youtube: Warren Gosling – Wealth Matters

If you liked this blog post, listen to the full podcast interview on Money Memories here.

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