Jacob sits down with Michael Amalfitano and talks with him about how he got through college debt-free. They discuss simple things to do to make money and how to invest.
Making Money on the side
Getting through college
Learn about personal Finance
College Degree: Is it worth it?
Kalob Valle 0:12
Hey there and welcome back questor's of success quest. I'm Kalob ye. And today we're going to be listening to an awesome interview by Jacob. Now, I just wanted to say before I pass the ball to Jacob, that all of these interviews that we've been doing here on success quest have just been so awesome. And we're so excited about having people come on the show and give you questor's the chance to get some great advice and to hear some seriously fantastic stories. Before we begin, I just wanted to welcome all of you who may be new to the show. Because here at success quest, we believe that success consists more than just being financially well off. It means being successful in all the facets of life, the emotional side, physical spiritual event, and they're just so many assets Steps to Success, and far too often we overlook them. And in order to obtain true success, we just we must understand all of these aspects. So we are all seeking the ultimate treasure, true success, and we success quest are your resource to help you take steps to getting to that point. But we aren't professionals. We aren't truly successful yet. Either. Jacob and I were working on this, and we're on this journey with you. That's why we were looking for people everywhere just like you to share with us your experiences of success. And we believe that everyone has had some bit of success and that we all have something to contribute to each other. So welcome questor's, you are on the journey. So let's pass the ball of Jacob.
Jacob Harmon 1:41
All right. Welcome back to success quest everyone. Today we've got another interview three in a row for us. And the interview this week is with Michael Amalfitano. And he was actually a friend of mine. Before we started success quest we work together in college, we worked at different campuses is for a company representing the brand. And we kind of became friends. During that time, we had corporate trainings and things like that. And we ran into each other there. So I'm really excited to have him on the show and learn from him today. How you doing today, Mike?
Michael Amalfitano 2:15
Doing great. Good. Good day here in Santa Barbara, California.
Jacob Harmon 2:19
Yeah, I'm guessing it's really hot down there. Right.
Michael Amalfitano 2:22
It's like perfect weather. It's 80s.
Jacob Harmon 2:27
I feel like California is lucky because it's always perfect weather here. It's either too hot or too cold.
Michael Amalfitano 2:33
So yeah. So Cal every day of the year, I'm in flip flops and shorts. It's just, it's paradise here.
Jacob Harmon 2:39
And that's awesome. Cool, cool. Well, one of the big reasons why we wanted to have you on the show, Mike was because I feel like you do a great job at balancing the college life and work life. And also being able to save money and manage finances during that whole thing. So that's kind of what we're going to be talking about today. But But before we get into that, go ahead and just give a short little introduction to the listeners. So they know who you are maybe a little bit of your background.
Michael Amalfitano 3:08
Sure. So as Jacob introduced myself, Michael malfitano, born and raised in Southern California, and just graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in computer science. So I have a tech heavy background.
Jacob Harmon 3:27
What does success mean to you, Mike, that's something that we talked about a lot on this podcast,
Michael Amalfitano 3:32
I think you guys have defined it perfectly as just a good work life balance, you know, to be successful is is not just monetary success. It's also having close friends and a good family to always, you know, that's always around someone people you can always turn to, in addition to being financially stable and stuff like that.
Jacob Harmon 3:58
Yeah, that's that definitely something that we've touched on a lot. So far, during this little podcast journey we're on. We've really wanted to kind of teach people that it's not just about finances, even though that is important, though. And we don't want to degrade the importance of finances, either. We want people to understand that that is important. But it's not just about that. It's not just becoming rich. And so yeah, I completely agree. And that's something that you actually have done a great job at from the beginning. I mean, clear back. Well, in middle school, high school, you were already kind of doing entrepreneurial activities, right.
Michael Amalfitano 4:35
Yeah, that's right. So starting in, I'd say fifth or sixth grade, I would collect bottles and cans, not only like from my family, you know, the people in my household, but from some of my neighbors. So I would take those bottles and cans down to the local grocery store, and cash them out, you know, for the 10 cent payout or five cents, pay out whatever it was. And then after a while, my you know, brother and I, we had a nice little chunk of change saved up from doing that after a few months. And I'm not sure if listeners know, but the store Rei. They have a very generous return policy. And so at the end of every month, what they do is instead of sending all those returns back to their suppliers, they just sell their returned items at a discount. And I would notice because I was a boy scout, so I would go to the used gear sales at Rei to pick up camping equipment, I would notice there was always an influx of GoPro cameras, whenever GoPro would release a new model, people just go return their previous generation GoPro to Rei. And then they would sell them like dirt cheap at the US gear sale. So with the money I made from recycling, which was basically, you know, free money from trash, I just had to walk it down to the grocery store, roll it down in our little cart. I used that money to start buying GoPro cameras at Rei. And then I would flip those on Craigslist and like start doubling my money, which was great. Wow, yeah. And then I would use that money to in high school, I started buying computers on eBay, because MacBook Pros would go for like, a couple hundred bucks on eBay, even though the same model on Craigslist would be like double. And so I started doing that I would buy computers in bulk on eBay, just clean them up, wipe the software and make sure there's no personal information on them, and then turn around and sell them on on Craigslist.
Jacob Harmon 6:35
Right. And I know you said you're a computer science major, is that kind of where you got that interest for computers from from doing that, take getting those Mac books and wiping them and taking care of them before you'd sell them.
Michael Amalfitano 6:46
Yeah, that was definitely part of it. I'd say I've always been the computer guy just like in my house. I grew up with like an HP computer and things would always come naturally to me. And then my parents and brothers would always ask me, you know, help me print this, how do I convert it to PDF? How do I email this to him on and so I just became the computer guy from a young age and it always stuck with me. Yeah, I
Jacob Harmon 7:10
totally feel you there I was the same way. Always the every family member getting me to do do all the computer stuff. Sometimes it's a blessing. And sometimes it can be a curse, because everyone wants you to to fix their stuff.
Michael Amalfitano 7:23
Jacob Harmon 7:26
Cool. So I kind of see like this little trend of taking something that's cheap, like a bottle or a can making a few cents, and then buying something a little more expensive, being able to make a little more money from that. And then from the money you make, it's kind of like reinvesting that money that you're making into something a little bigger, something a little bigger, and then making even more and more money out of it. And I think I think that's ingenious. Is that something that you just kind of thought of Did you did you have some sort of mentor or someone who is helping you with these business ideas are it did that just kind of come naturally to you?
Michael Amalfitano 8:04
It definitely just came naturally, my dad from a young age would teach us you know, you got to spend money to make money. And so you know, we we'd go buy cups, and posterboard, and lemons and we make lemonade and we'd sell it. But then I realized, you know, you really don't need to spend money to make money, you can use things from around your house, to provide a service to someone else or you know, you can you can walk to someone's house and wash their car. And all you gave up was your time, you didn't have to put any additional investment into it. And so as a kid, that's what I would do, I would do the bottle of cans, I would wash my neighbor's cars, and just kind of developed into, like you said, reinvesting into bigger and better opportunities.
Jacob Harmon 8:48
And was it a huge time commitment for a middle school, high school kid? How much time are you putting into these, these business ventures versus school and studying and those types of things?
Michael Amalfitano 8:59
Right? I would say it wasn't a huge investment. Like time wise, I would say, Okay, well, I was part of Los Angeles Unified School District, which it's not the best in the country. But I always manage to get my work done before I left school. So you know, you'd have one or two classes that were just study hall or independent study, or whatever, they called it back when, you know, I was in school, and I always managed to finish my projects and homework assignments before I got home. So basically, when I was home, I was just sitting around playing with the dog or watching TV or something. And I realized, you know, like, I could be doing something. So I would do that, in addition to like, working part time as a barista for a coffee company and stuff like that.
Jacob Harmon 9:46
That's awesome. So I guess the, the important thing would be using your time wisely, so that you have a little extra time, first of all, and then making sure that you're investing that time wisely. Instead of just watching TV or are playing with the dog, you'd decided that you might as well do something better with that time and actually gotten and make some money. That's really cool.
Michael Amalfitano 10:08
Yeah, very, very well said. That's awesome.
Jacob Harmon 10:10
And so I guess, moving on from middle school and high school, since you just graduated college, I think a lot of our listeners are either going into that college area, or maybe currently, they're just left college. What are some tips you have for getting through college? I know that you had a job since we both worked for the same company. And you may have even had multiple jobs now that I think of it? How do you juggle all of that? How do you manage it? And how do you get through college, when it comes to finances? And then also just making sure that you're staying up? on your studies to
Michael Amalfitano 10:44
Yeah, sure thing. So I'd say prior to college, like my senior year of high school, after I submitted all my college apps, I you know, that was a stressful period, everyone knows the common app. And then if you're applying to different, you know, the US system, it's different. It was a huge mess. And I thought, Oh, I'm done with, I'm done with applications. Now I get to work on scholarships, it's not gonna be as bad scholarship applications were far worse. I applied to like 30 scholarships, they all ask you something different, you know, college essays, I felt like I was copying and pasting a little bit and just tweaking them a little scholarships, they would ask me just completely, you know, vastly different things. And so I spent a lot of time working on scholarships, both local scholarships, and, you know, country wide scholarships, and statewide scholarships. And so after applying to 30, or 30, plus, I don't know, I got eight of them. And so I got, I think I ended up with close to $10,000 in scholarships, wow. And so that really helped my my freshman year in college, pay for expenses and textbooks, and they all covered something different. They didn't all just write a check, you know, they mostly sent them to the school. So they would be put towards tuition and housing and meal plans and stuff like that. So that helped out freshman year. And late freshman year, I got my first job, my first college job, which was just working it on campus, and it's actually it for the housing department, which is neat. It's called resonant. I'm sure, different schools have different names. But I know in the UC system, it's called rise net. And I actually still work for them. To this day, just like four years later, it's the best job on campus. It's like, so chill, it's great. They pay well. And then over summer, as an incentive to stay for summer because it's it for housing. They give us free housing. Oh, wow. So it's like free housing and a meal plan over summer. So it's just like they set you up. So that's like, a nice little frugal tip for, you know, college listeners find a way find a job that will like not only pay you a paycheck, but also give you something in addition to that. And so, so that was freshman year, sophomore year through senior year, again, I was still working in it job. But then I started my second job working for Apple. And it was a great campus rep position. Again, I got more out of that than I ever thought I would just end it in addition to the paychecks, you know, the connections I made and all that stuff. But then you asked about balancing school. And at times, it was difficult, I would have one academic quarter where I was just swamped. My classes were very difficult upper division, computer science programming classes, and I just like I had to work less at my MIT job. But I always kept up the maximum amount of hours I could at Apple just because I knew that they would get me further after college. And so that's how I decided to divide my time. And, you know, it worked out, I was very fortunate through college, my, my parents agreed to pay my tuition. So they would pay my tuition. And I would cover all the other expenses, textbooks, housing, meals, utilities, for my apartment, all that stuff. So basically, in the end, and I'm very fortunate that my parents were able to put up that investment for me. And I'm happy to say that I was able to graduate, basically a debt free thanks to you know, my two jobs. And like I said, I never stopped flipping you know, computers, I did that all the way up until I started working for Apple when they told me you can't buy and sell Macs and do that anymore. So I stopped buying and selling Macs, but then I would, I wouldn't buy and sell other stuff I'd, I'd go to the local thrift stores. And they'd have you know, some Oh, they have like an Aruba brand, router or something. And it's like, cool, you know, five bucks at the thrift store sold it on Craigslist for 100. It's like, I would always find good deals like that. And so I'd say, you know, that's just how it I got through my work academically.
Jacob Harmon 15:03
That's awesome. So it's a lot of juggling. It sounds like a lot of prioritizing time here than there then kind of figuring out what is demanding the most of your time at that moment. And also, I liked when you talked about the importance of focusing on the job that you thought would get you further on that Apple job, because you felt that that was well invested time you really focus there. And if you had to cut hours on one of your jobs, it was that it job. And that that makes perfect sense. It's all it's all just a huge, huge juggling act. I have a question for you going clear back to the scholarships. Do you feel like all of that time was time well invested? Because I know that scholarship applications can take a lot of time. It's a lot of hours filling out 30 plus applications. But the money you got back in return, do you feel like that was well worth it?
Michael Amalfitano 15:52
Oh, definitely. Yeah, I'd say each application took you know, an hour to maybe start extra time if I had to drive to the local scholarship office, you know, whichever organization was doing it and drop it off or like, go meet with someone for scholarship interview or something like that. But in the end, the money I received from every scholarship, it was more than worth it. And even the ones I didn't get it's like it was well made up for by the ones that I did receive.
Jacob Harmon 16:23
That's something that I regret back. Going to college. I got like one scholarship. And then I got a few more later on in years as I did well in academics and everything. But I do regret not applying for more scholarships. So tell you high school seniors out there and current college students. It's worth it. Put all the time you can into scholarship, that's free money. It's just waiting for you.
Michael Amalfitano 16:48
Yeah, absolutely. I would say that. It's it's not just freshman year, like you said, You got a couple during your college career. As soon as freshman year hit me pretty hard. As far as you know, grade wise, my GPA wasn't where I wanted it to be. But as soon as I got it up to above a 3.2 or three point something I started applying to all these scholarships that you know, that was the minimum requirement. And I started getting scholarships while I was going to school, and that was just, you know, it was extra rent money extra textbooks help help cover, you know, living expenses.
Jacob Harmon 17:23
Yep, absolutely. In fact, I wish there were scholarships for people that were no longer in college. For people in the workforce, I'd be applying for scholarships right now.
Michael Amalfitano 17:33
Oh, man. Yeah, that'd be great.
Jacob Harmon 17:35
Awesome. Well, it's incredible. You mentioned that you got out of school debt free. That is a huge accomplishment. And I would say that is the definition of success right there. Being able to get out of college debt free is huge. And I know when we were talking even before we started recording, you mentioned a little bit of investing. And I know that especially for students, that's something that a lot of people say, oh, I'll do that later. I'll do that once I have a job. Do that once I have a bigger paycheck, something where I have more money that I can invest. But that was something that you did through throughout college writer. When did you start investing?
Michael Amalfitano 18:10
I bought my first shares of stock back in 10th grade.
Jacob Harmon 18:14
Oh, wow. So that's amazing.
Michael Amalfitano 18:17
Yeah, it was it was so fun. My dad, like was so proud of me. He drove me over to like the local Charles Schwab office, and it was like 20 minutes away, but he's like, let's go. Like he opened the account with me. He co signed and everything. And then we made the withdrawal from my bank account, and I bought two shares of Apple stock. And then a year later or two years later, they did a seven way split. So then I had 14 shares of Apple stock sitting in my account, and it has just gone up ever since.
Jacob Harmon 18:45
Yeah, well Apple has gone up a lot since then.
Michael Amalfitano 18:48
Oh, yeah. Yeah. So every year I try to buy, I try to buy like, twice a year, I bought some this morning. Yeah. Recently with, with our government imposing new tariffs and stuff, the stock market has been a little unstable. So we saw this huge dip. And that's like, just a great opportunity to buy, in my opinion, you know, my holdings went down. I was a little sad about that. But then you look at it like, Hey, you know, Amazon is $300 off. Right? So?
Jacob Harmon 19:19
Yeah, sure. And I mean, you've mentioned both Amazon and Apple, which are kind of bigger stocks, bigger companies, do you do mostly kind of those well known name brand companies? Or do you also invest in a lot of smaller little known companies? How do you kind of diversify your portfolio?
Michael Amalfitano 19:37
Um, let's see, I have a fair amount of tech stocks, just because that's the industry I follow most. So I'm always, you know, learning about, you know, this company or
Jacob Harmon 19:46
the industry or informed about
Michael Amalfitano 19:48
what, yeah, exactly. When it's time to ditch this company, or, you know, pick up this company, I never really do IPOs, just because they're so unstable, you know, take GoPro, for example, my public at 25, I think it hit 50. And now it's like, it's $4 and 30 cents, I'm looking at it right now. It's just so but I do have some smaller shares. There's like, New York mortgage trust is a good example. This stock is around $6. And it has been for years, but they pay a quarterly dividend have to have 20 cents. So at the end of the year, you get 80 cents back on a $6 stock, which is like insane. So another thing is my uncle, he told me about stocks too, and he'd say, you know, invest in things that people need, people are always going to eat, go invest in McDonald's, you know, it's not going to drastically jump in price, but you're going to get those dividends every year. And it's going to be like a great steady increase, that you'll see your risk stock. Yeah. So I do have a fair amount of tech stock. But I do also have, you know, the smaller guys, and I think I think I hold like Johnson and john and just stuff like that, you know, safe. That's
Jacob Harmon 21:05
cool. That's awesome. And for those of our listeners that have never invested before, they've never put a penny into stocks or anything like that, how would you recommend they get started, what's the easiest way to kind of get into it,
Michael Amalfitano 21:17
I would say download Robinhood. It's an app for you know, iOS and Android. and typical sites like Charles Schwab ameritrade, e trade, they charge you a minimum of $5 per trade. So if you buy 100 shares of stock, if you buy one share of stock, if you sell 100, sell one, the trade itself is going to cost you $5. When you trade with Robinhood, it's absolutely free. So you can buy one share right now, one share tomorrow, whenever you have the money. And actually, when you sign up with Robinhood, they give you a free share of stock, it's random, it could be you know, a $3 stock, it could be a $20 stock. It's also cool, like if you invite friends, you know, you both get a free share of stock. So that's a great way to start investing. And then you know, every month just put a couple dollars into it and see, you know, maybe this month I want to buy Coca Cola next month, you want to buy something a little bit bigger if you save up, you know, Boeing or something like that. But I know you guys talk about this in early episodes that like you need to plan your finances and and pay yourself first before you you know, pay others and stuff. So after you make your credit card payments and all that stuff, make sure to set aside stuff for savings and investments before you go blow it at a theme park or you know, buy that new big screen TV, make sure to save before you spend.
Jacob Harmon 22:47
Awesome, that's awesome, you'll have to send me that invite link. It's totally worth it totally worth of free stock.
Michael Amalfitano 22:54
They also introduced like crypto last year, but it's only a couple like big. And if you're in Litecoin, you can't buy all the small crypto is but it's a great platform for people buying and selling stock.
Jacob Harmon 23:07
Cool. Do you do any other investments other than stocks? Or is that? Is that what you focus on?
Michael Amalfitano 23:14
Yeah, mostly stocks?
Jacob Harmon 23:17
And is there a reason for that? Is it just more tangible with the companies? Or are you hoping to kind of get into other different parts of investing in the future,
Michael Amalfitano 23:25
I'm hoping to expand in the future. But as of right now, it's just I started this in 10th grade. And you know, it's, it's easy for me, I know, like the back of my hand, if I need to go buy or sell something, I can do it from my cell phone, versus like holding a bond or something like that. I'm not well versed enough to go out and buy something like that. So yeah, I would recommend everyone listening, go learn basic finances, if you're going to school, hop on, like sit in on a simple entry level finance class, and they'll teach you the basics of everything. I took one while I was in college, and it was very eye opening. They taught me just like, you know, at a 7% return on average, you know, your stocks will double after this many years. And it's just like, well, if I invest, you know, even just $10 today, what's it going to be worth in a couple years from now? So I highly recommend taking an entry level course.
Jacob Harmon 24:24
Yeah, I'll second that I took personal finance class, in college. And it was one of my favorite classes, I learned. It was probably the most practical class I took. I took a lot of classes with very specific levels of knowledge and things. And I use them every once in a while. But that class, literally I think about it. And I use the principles that I learned almost every single day. So yeah, I'll second. Go take a personal finance class, it'll, it'll change your life. Awesome. I do have one other question that I was thinking of, since we've been talking about school and college and everything. There's a new culture right now. And this is something that my partner and I Caleb have talked a lot about in the self education market versus college versus actually getting a real degree. And I'm just kind of curious what your opinion is, since you've gotten that degree, you've gone through college? Do you think it's worth it? Do you think it's something that people should do? Or is it getting to the point where we can kind of self educate and get into business without getting a degree and be fine?
Michael Amalfitano 25:31
I think it really depends on major and field. Like you can spend four years at UC Santa Barbara earning a Bachelor's in mechanical engineering, and have a very well paying job, come graduation, all lined up internships every summer, it's just like, the field is in high demand, and they pay well, and you will always have a job. And then there's other humanities majors that I have friends that are like they went to for four years at school with me, they paid the same intuition. They didn't learn, you know, as many marketable skills and they're not in as high demand. So I would say, as far as college and higher education, I would definitely recommend it, I would highly recommend going into a STEM field, something, you know, math, science based engineering, preferably. Because you'll you'll definitely always have work and you will always be in demand.
Jacob Harmon 26:32
Yeah, I, I still am not sure what my opinions are on this, this subject. I've been battling it because on the one hand, you see all of that really, really expensive tuition and people who are getting out of college with so much student loan debt, that they can't pay it off for many, many years. But then on the other hand, like my experience in college taught me so much, and it's more than just the degree, but it's the people. It's the expense. It's, I don't know, there's so much about that experience that I wouldn't want to lose, if I could go back. So I don't know, I'm still not 100% sure how I feel. But I like what you said about going into something that's more marketable. I'm a Spanish major myself, and I'm not using it. But I am happy that I speak Spanish. But I also have a minor in computer science, and I'm using that thing every day. So see, there you go. It's it's definitely something that I'm still trying to figure out. But I always want to get people's opinions on these types of things. So
Michael Amalfitano 27:33
yeah, I will add one last thing before we we wrap up. I know we talked about, it's not all about financial success and everything. But while you're in school, there's so many opportunities to make money, and just help you get by on a day to day basis. Even if it's not, you know, making you a millionaire, you can do research studies with your psychology department or economics department and stuff like that. And one thing I do every year is during move out, people just throw everything away. And you know, they, they don't throw it away, I don't go dumpster diving or anything, but they will just set you know, their mini fridge on the curb. And it's like, come on, no one, no one in your 10 person house wants this hundred dollar mini fridge. And so I'll just go around and pick things up that are that I think are worth something. And every year, I just get so much stuff, you know, just wipe it down, take a picture of it, sell it on Facebook marketplace, it's easy money. So I would highly recommend, there's always ways to make money around you. And it's, you know, it can also be a social thing I know so many, so many of my friends love, like flipping stuff. And we'll go to the thrift stores together and just like have fun. And so that's more than just money. It's it's, it's great. I've met a lot of people. And it's been fun.
Jacob Harmon 28:52
Very cool. Well, is there anything else, Michael that you'd like to share with everyone? Maybe? Where can people find you or what you're doing if they want to connect with you?
Michael Amalfitano 29:02
Yeah, if people want to get in touch with me, I'll send Jacob my email. And he can add it to the description of the episode. And just feel free to reach out with any questions and recommendations or anything like that. I love to talk to you guys. Okay,
Jacob Harmon 29:15
I will do that. Well, thank you so much. I learned a lot. And I'm sure that a lot of people listening have learned a lot. If you're already past that college stage, I still think this is an important episode. Because these principles can be really used at any stage of life, it's just thinking about things in a different way. And kind of noticing where there are opportunities and where you can make a make a little bit of money. And that's kind of just being entrepreneurial in general. Just finding opportunities and looking for them and, and taking advantage of them. So all right. Well, thank you so much, Michael, really appreciate it.
Kalob Valle 29:51
Thank you so much for tuning into this podcast with Jacob in this guest speaker. I think it has been incredibly informative. Super awesome stuff, I think knows a little bit longer. But that that's just the juicy nitty gritty of it all like, this is the best kind of stuff. This is what we're looking for. Um, if you guys you questor's who were listening, have similar stories that you want to share or comments, find us on Facebook and and look for the shared podcast and comments on it. And talk to us about what you thought about this, this interview in particular, how it applied to you and stuff. Also, don't forget to like our Facebook page and to keep tabs on our website, go on our website, and subscribe so you guys can be some of the first people to know and we're going to have our first event hint. This year we are going to be having an awesome first event. So I want you guys all to be aware of that we have a ton of email subscribers already. We just want to make sure that you listener right now are going to be subscribed to that so you guys can know when a success queen is going to be happening near you. So thank you so much again for listening guys. I hope you guys have a wonderful day and a successful day.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai