My Path to Generational Wealth: Start Early and Educate Yourself

TikToker and financial educator Rachael Kim discusses learning about investing and teaching others to do the same.
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A lot of people only start to think about generational wealth when they’re looking toward the future. For Rachael Kim, a 17-year-old high school student and TikTok influencer who runs @financewrachael in Buena Park, California, it first meant looking toward the past.

“My parents came to America at 15. Because their parents were first-generation immigrants, I think they kind of lacked that guidance when it comes to finance,” says Kim.

Kim became motivated to start building generational wealth when she saw that her parents didn’t have retirement accounts or investments. She took it upon herself to learn about personal finances and investing to start setting herself and her family up for success in the future.

From high risk to high reward

Kim, like many other investors of her generation, got started through meme stocks. But she quickly learned that wasn’t the path toward building long-term wealth.

“My first-ever investment was in AMC when I was 15," says Kim. "I put in all the money I had, which was a couple hundred dollars. And I saw a 300% profit. That kind of got me started in day trading and swing trading. And I was kind of into that field for a while, but I saw a loss in profit after a certain amount of time.”

Kim then asked her parents to open a custodial Roth IRA for her. Since then, she’s been investing mostly in diversified exchange-traded funds that track the major stock indexes such as the Nasdaq and the S&P 500.

Kim grew her investing knowledge through books like “The Richest Man in Babylon” and “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” YouTubers and Reddit — and from hands-on experience in the market.

“For a little while I got addicted to the adrenaline of day trading and seeking that kind of aggressive profit,” says Kim. “But as I began learning more about actual investing statistics, history and the data around it, I learned that 80% to 90% of professional investors, like asset managers, can't beat the market long-term. And so I realized that if I'm going to be spreading knowledge, I should also be living the way I speak. I didn't want to tell people, ‘Oh, investing in the S&P is the best thing to do,’ while I personally go on and try something else behind the scenes.”

Kim’s investing strategy has changed a lot since her first forays into the stock market, and her TikTok videos highlight everything she has learned. They are relatable and break down confusing concepts such as what a 401(k) is and the benefits of a Roth IRA. She even has a playlist titled “Explained like ur 5.”

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Building for the future

Instead of a get-rich-quick scheme, Kim now sees investing as a path to create generational wealth for the future.

“Generational wealth, to me, would mean having a level of financial stability that would provide access to whatever educational and career opportunities that my children would want. And I'm kind of building that right now, by getting into investing,” says Kim.

And unlike many “finfluencers,” Kim isn’t looking at investing as a way to avoid high school, college or the corporate world, but as another piece of her future-building puzzle.

“Even beyond investing, since I am 17, I think I try really hard to be a good student so that I have the most opportunity when it comes to my college major and career plans. I'm trying to set my future up to make sure I am able to enter into the career I want and then continue building.”

Kim has big, specific plans for her future: She hopes to study economics, finance or business, work in management and strategic consulting, get an MBA and eventually reach the C-suite of a Fortune 500 company.

Influencing others

Kim hasn’t stopped at trying to build generational wealth for herself and her family. In addition to running her TikTok account, she also founded Build Up, an organization that sends out a free weekly newsletter to help increase financial literacy and teach people about all things personal finance.

“I think the best systematic way to educate people is legislative change and to make sure it's a requirement for states to have personal finance courses in high schools, which is something a lot of states have been doing recently,” says Kim.

Kim believes that, even beyond financial education classes in schools, one of the best ways to increase financial literacy is to end the stigma of talking about finances.

“Making it an open, transparent and casual conversation for people could help on a societal level.”

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