How Savings Helped This Teacher-Turned-Artist Change Careers

by the editorial team at Citi |October 14, 2020

In her sophomore year of college, Nasrin Jafari was down to 23 cents in her bank account. It was a financial wake-up call.

In the following five years, the Los Angeles, CA, native prioritized and tracked spending to pull her finances out of the red and build up $50,000 in savings. After graduating with a degree in education and politics, Jafari took a teaching job.

But, just as she was launching her career, she faced another pivotal life event: her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Her mother's illness and eventual passing led Jafari to reassess her own life path. She decided to tap into the nest egg she built and change the course of her life. "I knew that was going to be the opportunity where I could really lean on the savings I had created for myself," says Jafari.

Jafari quit her teaching job to volunteer at a nursing home and work with Alzheimer's patients. It was there that she started to pursue graphic design as a new career path. She also began work on a book, as an homage to her mom, that would express her encounter with the disease in words and pictures.

"I wanted to create a resource that people could use to help them navigate Alzheimer's… and in a way that brought some light and some lightness to this illness," Jafari shares.

Jafari has worked hard to save money and, in turn, create a life that allows her to pursue her passions. "Having savings is so important to being able to pursue that path with confidence, patience and kind of with a calmness," Jafari says.

Try her smart saving tips:

  1. Set your savings goal. Think about your values and lifestyle and set a goal that works for you. "Understanding what your lifestyle is, and figuring out how much money is required to keep that up is really important to know when you're trying to save," Jafari says.

  2. Track monthly spending. Once you determine your long-term savings amount, commit to making it happen over time and track your spending. "Keep that number in mind and then think about how much you would have to save every month to be able to reach that goal over the next three, five, six years," Jafari notes.

  3. Prioritize where your money goes. Make a list of your monthly expenses, then set aside your designated monthly savings. Spend the remaining amount on what matters most to you. Whether that's taking a trip, eating at a new restaurant or paying down student loans faster, feel secure knowing that you are still saving towards your goal.

  4. Invest in yourself. Spend your money in a way that invests in your personal long-term growth. "Focus on what you want out of your own life, what goals you have, what dreams you have and how your money can make that possible," Jafari says.

To learn how to create meaningful savings in your own life, check out the video above.

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