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President of USA and financial struggle?  Seems odd. We feel that such a person would have had no struggle especially financially.  But no, Obama’s also had to struggle financially. In earlier article we wrote about the financial advice from President Obama. ( Read here...) We tried to find out how had been the financial journey for Obamas.

A brief summary of  life of Barack Obama. Barack Hussein Obama II (born  1961) is the current President of the United States. His  father was from Kenya and his  mother from Kansas. He was raised with help from his grandparents. His grandfather served in Patton’s army, and his grandmother, worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle management at a bank. (Her advice on money is the most important financial advice that Barack Obama believes-Read here...). He worked his way through college and Harvard Law School with the help of scholarships and student loans.

His wife Michelle was raised in what she describes as a “conventional” home, with “the mother at home, the father works, you have dinner around the table”. She joined Princeton University and says “I remember being shocked, by college students who drove BMWs. I didn’t even know parents who drove BMWs”. She met Barack Obama in a law firm. Their relationship started with a business lunch and then a community organization meeting where he first impressed her. They married in October 1992 and have two daughters, Malia Ann (born 1998) and Natasha (known as Sasha, born 2001)

Obama family

Now for their financial struggle.

Both Obamas graduated with significant student loan debt.  “We left school with a mountain of debt,” Mr. Obama said in 2008. “Michelle I know had at least $60,000. I had at least $60,000.( New York Times)

Michelle felt that her student loans constrained her career options. She resolved to leave the law firm and mentor young people from the neighborhood she grew up in. But she was daunted by how little money she would make, and feared she would not be able to pay back her sizable student loans. Obama convinced her that if they married and combined their incomes, they could afford a more frugal life. Newsweek

They had to struggle financially“And I have to say, when Michelle and I were first starting a family, that we had to navigate a lot of these financial decisions, whether it was buying a first home or paying off our college loans or putting a lot of debt on credit cards. Obviously we were a lot better off than a lot of families, but we still often found ourselves confused or finding ourselves in tough situations as a consequence. So we’ve got a pretty good idea — I personally have a good idea — of how this can be difficult and sometimes confusing for the average consumer.” Ref

In Dec 2000, Barack Obama was thoroughly humiliated at the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles. He had recently lost a congressional primary in Chicago, and both his political and personal bank accounts were empty. “After I had lost my congressional race I had been running on broke and I got talked into going to Los Angeles. I got to the airport and I tried to use my card but it was declined,” Obama said. “It’s not that far from being normal, that’s my point.” Reuters. He failed to get hold of a floor pass and ended up watching the proceedings on a big screen in a car park.

Michelle Obama has told women that when she and her husband left law school, the monthly payments on their school loan debt was more than their monthly mortgage payment, and that they only got out of that debt when Barack Obama wrote his two best selling books, The Audacity of Hope and Dreams from My FatherUSA Today.  The royalties from these books secured their precarious personal finances.(He also wrote a children’s book  Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters)

Brisk book sales lifted President Obama’s income to $5.5 million in 2009( his first year in office). They collected $2.7 million in 2008, and $4.2 million in 2007.  In 2006 they had $991,296 in annual income. and  $1.7 million in 2005, a total also boosted by a book deal.


Barack Obama financial position in 2008


What a financial journey it has been for Obamas! It makes one realize that they are mortals like us . And reminds us : I cried for new shoes until i saw man without legs. Has  your financial journey been as difficult as Obamas? What are the financial lessons that we can learn from their life?



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