We had the good fortune of connecting with Hersh Chopra and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hersh, do you have a budget? how do you think about personal finances?
I didn’t always have a budget, but I grew up being a numbers person so by default I resort to calculating my expenses whenever I felt guilty of spending too much. Math was my favorite subject, so I didn’t think twice when choosing Accounting and Finance as a focus for my undergraduate and graduate (MBA) degrees. Even while being a numbers guy, one thing I didn’t fully keep track of was the amount of student debt I was accumulating over time and what kind of an impact interest rates were going to have on my balance. After having paid down most of my undergraduate debt, I still ended up $125,000 deep in student debt upon completing my MBA and ironically without much education on how to tackle it. Once I decided to aggressively pay down my debt within 5 years, I realized I had to make a plan. This is when I officially created a Budget for myself.
So in short, yes I do have a budget and I’m so glad I stuck to it. A budget and my mindset played a major role in eliminating my student debt, that too in 3.5 years versus my 5 year goal.
There are 2 major keys to financial success – your Mindset and your Habits around Money. Most people don’t think they’re capable of making a lot of money, and those that do, don’t know how to hold on to it. Remember it’s not how much money you make, it’s how much you keep that determines your financial success. This is why financial education or coaching is so important. 80% of Americans are in debt because they either didn’t grow up learning about personal finances or weren’t disciplined enough about managing their money.
Most people get intimidated by the thought of personal finances because the thought of money management scares them. “How will I figure out how much I’ve spent in the last few months?” “Do I really want to see how much I’ve been spending?” Most people let their money control them instead of the other way around.
I like to think of personal finances like a video game I need to win at. You have to start at Level 1, and continue to beat each level (financial obstacle) to elevate to the next level. And with each level under your belt, you compound your wins and grow one step closer to going up against the boss (your retirement). I make lifestyle and spending decisions in the same way. I question every purchase unless I know I need it or I know it’s going to help me get to the next level. If not, then I either don’t buy it or I return it (in case I let my emotions get the best of me). There’s no shame in saving money because only you are liable for your own financial journey. No one else is going to pay for your bills or your lifestyle. If I’ve been on top of my finances, then I sometimes splurge or treat myself for a job well done (in moderation of course). I believe in having a balance between building wealth for a comfortable future and feeding my present desires that make me happy. A budget allows you to create this balance for yourself.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I’m a financial coach, and I help college graduates and young working professionals overcome the ‘American Dream’ lifestyle that begins and ends with debt. I help empower them to start their journey to financial freedom through mindset transformation, education, and customized money management tools so they can set goals, make sound financial decisions, track their progress, and take action towards their debt, saving and investment goals.
College education in the U.S. is so expensive that many students suffer from stress and anxiety post-graduation due to accumulated student debt balances ranging anywhere from $40K to $500K depending on their profession. I experienced the same stress and anxiety until I decided to take an aggressive approach in paying off my $125K student debt within 3.5 years. Realizing that not even one class taught me how to manage my finances or pay off debt, I started coaching college graduates to achieve similar results of becoming debt free so they could live a more meaningful life without the stress and burdens of debt.
Of course it wasn’t easy getting to where I am today, but I’m proud to be part of the solution to this major problem and look forward to coaching and helping more people to shift from a fear to an actionable mindset, and work with them to create a robust financial plan they can follow to become debt free and start building wealth. The biggest challenge comes when a person doesn’t play full out in their own financial journey. For that reason, I make sure the client and I are a mutual fit through my FREE initial call I offer, and only work with those who are in it to win it, and ready to take action towards their financial wellbeing.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is an easy one, only because I’m a huge sucker for nature and scenic views. And while I’m a terrible swimmer, which is probably because I decided to not perform the final test of jumping in the deep end for my swimming class I took when I was 11, I do enjoy water activities that don’t require me to swim… unless of course I fall in. The first place I would take my best friend is Marina Del Rey, and enjoy some paddle boarding, kayaking, or rent out a powerboat to just cruise around and enjoy the views.
If I had to play tour guide for a week, I would add in a hike (Los Liones Trail or Hollywood sign are amazing!), a couple brunches to enjoy the amazing food options in LA (Sonoma Wine Garden is a great spot with views and a live DJ), a bike ride along the beach, wine tasting in Malibu, and add some balance with walking through Rodeo Drive and volunteering to feed the unhoused in DTLA with Good Karma LA. Of course all these plans would be taken with caution during the pandemic.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for the support and positivity of my family, but I think a lot of my success with clients has to do with the altruistic values that my parents and grandparents instilled in me. I’ve grown up with teachings around helping people around us regardless of the color of their skin or their financial status. We’re all human beings and are constantly tested for how we treat others around us. This is the same reason why I go above and beyond for my clients, and ask that my clients pay it forward by teaching others what they learn from me.
I would also love to thank my mentors Tony Robbins, Dean Graziosi, Ramit Sethi, and Jay Shetty for pushing me to take action towards my goal of helping as many people as I can and spreading kindness through learnings from their live events, courses, books, and podcasts.
Ryan Hartford (Ecliptic Media Photography)