Wealthsimple is an investing service that uses technology to put your money to work like the world’s smartest investors. I bought a house in Las Vegas, a classic cookie-cutter house in the suburbs. We weren’t the family that was flying to Europe on ski vacations.
In “Money Diaries,” we feature interesting people telling their financial life stories in their own words. At 14, I started working at the climbing gym, belaying birthday party kids and cleaning up, just doing scrub work. As soon as I had a job, my dad took me to the bank and opened a retirement account.
Our family vacations were road trips across the States to visit my mom’s family on the east coast, my sister and I tucked in the back seat.
My financial life has slowly gotten more steady as the climbing industry has really ballooned. I never felt like we wanted for anything, but I never really wanted much, either.
I did it because there’s no income tax in Nevada, so I save enough on my taxes to help with the house payments. If the house burned down and it wasn’t covered or something, that would be a financial disaster. When you add up the house in Vegas and my family’s cabin in Lake Tahoe that I bought and my other accounts, I might be worth not far off $2 million. My parents were both language professors at the local community college in Sacramento.
I didn’t have any furniture at first, so I lived in the van in the driveway for the first couple weeks. I think I’m the world’s highest paid professional rock climber, but the sport has a minimalist ethos about it. Buying the house was just an adult strategic maneuver.
It seemed a bit overeager, since I only had $400 or something. When I was 18, I enrolled in an engineering program at University of California Berkeley. That summer I placed second in the youth division at the National Climbing Championships.
After that, my dad died of a heart attack and some of the pressure to stay in college went away.
My mom espoused a bit more of a “follow your path” philosophy.
I took a semester off to train for and climb at the World Youth Championships in Scotland. I’d wound up with my mom’s old minivan, and that was my base.
I’d use it to drive to Joshua Tree to climb or I’d drive to LA to see my girlfriend. I destroyed that van fairly quickly; it died on me one day, and for the next year I lived just on my bicycle and in a tent.
From 2004 to about 2009, I lived off less than a thousand bucks a month.