Chris Vallejo, EA, CFP®

Financial Advisor
Chris Vallejo

My Story

I walked up to what looked like a stone castle for my first guitar lesson with a new student. The long driveway led to a heavy steel front door that towered over me. As I got close, Greg stepped out of a side entrance and led me through a large patio. He was kind and sincere, but my shoulders were tense as I followed him.

Greg was a high-level executive at a major bank, so high up that his compensation had to be publicly disclosed. The year I met him, he earned $5,000,000, which was a hundred times more than me. As a musician, I felt like our stories couldn’t be more different. As we walked through the hallways of his home, I passed Mona Lisa-level artwork and stone sculptures that rivaled the Statue of David. I might as well have been on a museum tour. My insecurity only deepened when we sat down and it was time for me to lead the lesson. 

Growing up, I learned about money through murmurs behind closed doors and expressions on my parents’ faces when they dropped me off at a wealthy friend’s house. With money, the idea of enough was a major hang up of mine. Enough to pay the bills, enough to raise kids, and enough to still have fun. When I met Greg, I couldn’t help but see an ultimate enough we all aspired to. 

Sitting with these thoughts, the words burst out of me: “So why guitar lessons? Why now?” Greg’s expression was gracious as he answered, “Music has always been a passion of mine. Maybe learning more about it will help me connect more deeply with my son.” He looked down, quietly adding, “Something I’ve put off for far too long.” Chills ran through me. My shoulders finally relaxed.

I caught a rare glimpse that day. The more I learned about Greg, the more I understood the foundation of his self-worth had almost nothing to do with his wealth. Even after achieving what many would consider great professional success, he still had voids to fill. Two weeks later I met Greg’s son and saw how the joy of music genuinely connected them. Greg wasn’t aspiring to be a music legend, he just wanted to be a rock star dad. 

That was enough for him.

How I’m expanding what’s possible with money

I’m encouraging people inside and outside of Abacus to have more vulnerable conversations about money. I’m challenging those close to me to be more intentional and start with “Why?” regarding their finances. Personally, I’m saving toward goals that prioritize the people and experiences in my life.

Outside of work, my passions include

I’ve been playing guitar since I was 10 and it has remained a creative outlet for me and my close friends. I also find time throughout the week to rock climb at my local gym. In between, I stay current on as many horror films as I can.

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