While it may seem like Joe, OG, and the gang are messing around, we’re all actually deadly serious about financial literacy. Literacy rates around the world are dropping, and this podcast is meant to help foster much-needed conversations about money.
Since 2012, Stacking Benjamins has used the science of play to make finance more approachable, interesting, and fun. Our hope is that people will think more seriously about money and about financial well-being. While some podcasts hope to be the final expert in the chain of money lessons, Stacking Benjamins hopes to introduce you to the broad spectrum of fantastic ideas, concepts, and technologies available that can help you lock in a better financial future.
We joke that “you won’t learn anything on Stacking Benjamins” to keep it light. We hope the show always has a warm setting to make money friendly. Our characters mess up with their money and share mistakes often to show that even pros sometimes get it wrong.
Discover more about Joe Saul-Sehy and Stacking Benjamins at https://www.stackingbenjamins.com
For a complimentary copy of The Millionaire Choice: Millionaire or Not. You Can Choose. and the Creating Millionaire Families eBook, visit themillionairechoice.com.
Episode 11: Learning to Stack Benjamins with Joe Saul-Sehy, Host of Stacking Benjamins Show
Announcer: Is money slipping through your fingers. Are you missing your opportunity to become a millionaire? Welcome to the millionaire choice where we talk to millionaires and future millionaires about how to build wealth and what to do with it once you have it. We're here to help you do two things, make your millionaire choice and create your own millionaire plan. Here's your host, speaker, wealth coach, and author of The Millionaire Choice. He made his choice, and he created his millionaire plan at age 25; now it's your turn. Welcome your host, Tony Bradshaw.
Tony: Welcome back to The Millionaire Choice show. And today on the show, I'm super excited about our guest. He's a friend of mine and has been working in the financial industry for many, many years. He is the host of Stacking Benjamins podcast, one of the top 10 money and investing podcasts on the net that you're going to find. It's one of the most fun, entertaining, and financial literary shows you'll ever come across. This show has been recognized by Kiplinger Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Forbes, and Joe is the former financial advisor and money man at Detroit Television Station Seven. So Joe, thank you so much for coming on the show and spending some time with us and sharing your wisdom and you know, eight years of podcasting on personal finance. You know, congratulations for that.
Joe: Well, thanks for joining us. I mean, thanks for becoming a podcaster. It's about time we got a good one here.
Tony: Well, time will tell on that, right?
Joe: I don't know, man. After reading your book, I think it's going to be a natural for you. So congratulations on the show.
Tony: I appreciate it. So you actually have some really big news that you were just telling me about. Why don't you share that with our audience?
Joe: I do. Yeah. So the, uh, one of, uh, the biggest radio networks in the nation, Westwood one, if you're a sports fan, you might know Westwood One. They're really known for all the big sporting events. I remember, in fact, Tony, Westwood One from working on cars in my garage with my dad. I was the kid that held the light. I handed him the screwdriver, and we'd listened to, you know, "you're listening to Sunday night baseball on Westwood One" or "you're listening to March Madness on Westwood One." So when Westwood wan came calling about six months ago, I tried to be objective, but I was pretty thrilled. And, uh, as we're recording it this week, we are on Westwind One, we're not on the radio, but we are part of their podcast build-out, part of the Westwood One podcast family. So after eight and a half years of podcasting, we're going from indie to the big leagues. Which, I will say this, it's kind of funny. So I've heard this, this radio ad they've been doing for us, and you know, we're always, we're the show that's live from my mom's half-finished basement. You've been to the basement before, Tony. It is, it is. We sit at a card table; we talk about money. It's rickety. Now we've got this guy who's the stereotypical 95.5 hot FM DJ. Like, I don't know who he is, but the commercial for us is "Financial news talk that just might make you laugh. Stacking Benjamins odd Westwood One." It's so weird. It's so surreal.
Tony: Yeah. That's exciting, man. I think what's cool about that is, you know, the stats, you know, and this is my, I think we all have to work together to do this, but the statistic is 78% of people are living paycheck to paycheck. And you know, that number was the number that was there, you know, 27 years ago, 28 years ago, and Dave Ramsey started.
Tony: It's the same number today. And, and I think it's going to take for that number to actually change. And the statistic to change. We need people like you who are teaching personal finance and sticking with it, right. And reaching more people and just continually trying to reach, reach, reach more people. And that's what excites me about that announcement of yours.
Joe: Well, that's the biggest, the biggest problem, Tony, I totally agree with you. The biggest problem is, is that frankly, nobody's listening. I mean, we, uh, there's this, uh, uh, uh, group called pod track that looks at and examines all of our audience sizes, and they show that roughly 145,000 people know who. Who I am, who we are, right as a show. Um, and that's not people that listen all the time. That's just people that colloquially know who we are. There's, we're in the top 10 podcasts in the investing space on iTunes. Um. Uh, and so you take us, you take Dave, you mentioned Dave Ramsey, Dave Ramsey, colloquially, uh, I have heard has, uh, just over a million listeners an episode just to the podcast.
Then probably maybe another 3 million people listen to. Listen to the show, you know, you can take Dave's 3 million, throw in our 145,000 throw in all the other podcasts out there and still Tony, nobody's listening. So whenever somebody says to me, they're like, "Ooh, which financial shows don't you like? Like, give me some dirt about the people you don't like." I'm like, "We need more. I don't want less." We just need more. And everybody brings something different because people learn in different ways. So I'm with you, man. We just need more.
Tony: Yeah. And I agree with you about the more people we have there. You know, my, my story and my message is anyone can become a millionaire. Why not you? And, and I really do believe that. You know, I grew up in a low-income family, uh, doing the same broke stuff that my parents did. And had my wake up at age 25 and you know, became a millionaire at age 40 and I thought I was pretty special until I met the guy who made his millionaire choice decision at age five. He realized his parents were broke at age five, and he didn't want to be that way. And so he's like, "I'm going to be rich." And you know, and he thought about it for 25 years and worked on it, and you go, how, how can that happen? You know, it can happen. It's, you know, this is America. And I was looking at some statistics the other day, and I had never seen this before, but roughly 40 to 50% of all millionaires in the world live in America.
Tony: And so think about that. You know, we only have about 330 million people that live in America, which is a very small percentage of the world's population, but 40 to 50% of the millionaires live in America. This is the land of opportunity. It was. It is. And hopefully, will always stay that way. But as we, as the message gets out there, you know, I'm hoping that more people will grab hold of that and start to believe in that message of anyone can become a millionaire if they just make the right life and financial choices. And I think it's, you know, guys like you just continually working on that every single day faithfully for eight years, reaching more people and just staying passionate about, you know, helping people, which is the heart that you have.
Joe: Well, that's the that is the frustrating piece for me is, is when I encounter someone, when someone who writes in and, and they go, uh, I had an email like this last week, actually. A guy telling me, he's like, "Hey, you're not telling the secrets. You're not telling us the the what, the what the real secret is like how you got here. (My cohost), OG, got, got there. Like how you need to tell us the secrets." And I just wrote back to him, I'm like, brother. The secret is hide money from yourself. Make it automatic. Save into your 401k, like what? Whatever the secret is.
You already have it. The secret, the secret is, is stop thinking about it so much and do it. Yeah. I mean, it's so funny. One of the frustrating things I've found among real real real money nerds is they get. They get really analytical about fees, right? Well, what am I going to pay for that? What am I going to pay? How much does it cost? What would I have to pay? And don't get me wrong, Tony, fees are important, and looking at and controlling your fees and understanding the give and take between what you're getting and how much it costs. Understanding the ratio is super important, but. But that's not why we fail. We fail because we just don't put money away. Right? You could put money in something that is a high fee, not that good product, and be a millionaire. In fact, when I was a financial advisor, I'd run into these people all the time when I would first meet them they, they had become millionaires very inefficiently, and I realized it wasn't controlling your fees that got you there. It wasn't having the secret sauce or some expensive hedge fund that only super-rich people can use. Man, you can do it with regular old mutual fund off the shelf that anybody can get and a savings account and a paycheck. And you can be a millionaire.
Tony: Yeah. And I think that's the thing, you know, and I liked that you said, it's not a secret. There aren't any secrets to it. It really comes down to, and I think that's one of the reasons I wrote ten keys instead of ten secrets because they're not secrets. They've been being taught for 50 years. Plus, it's the same principles that, uh, you know, the multimillionaires use, the billionaires use. The principles are all the same, you know, spend less than you make. Um, put it away. Keep your expenses low. I mean, millionaires, there are people who made hundreds of millions of dollars and end up broke, and so they were millionaires, and they're broke. And it's because they didn't obey those keys or those principles. Just like you said. You know, you have a saying. I love this saying that you have, "it's called personal finance is personal, and we're all trying to stack," and I love that. And how it ties back into your show Stacking Benjamins, where did you come up with that?
Joe: From my 16 years as a financial planner. You know, I would have about 10 to 15 meetings with families a week. So I got to see Tony. I got to see a bunch of people's money situation. I've been through many retirements. I've been through lots of college graduations, you know, helped a lot of people do all those things. And what I noticed was how person A got there was not the same way that person B got there. There are some truths like you said, there are some keys to follow, but, but for all of us, there is this personal journey that we're on. It's going to be a little different, so I think that helps us be a little less judgy, you know, of somebody else. Like you said, where you started from is different than where I started from. I started from a middle-class family. We had plenty of money. My dad was a supervisor and then an assistant plant manager to a GM facility. We we didn't have problems like that. You know what our problem was? Every time that my brother, sister, I walked into the room, my parents would stop talking about money immediately. And not only that, they would tell us it was not our place to be in that discussion and to leave the room. So I went to college like middle-class kids do, and there was an American Express card booth. It right there in Mark Clark Hall at the Citadel in Charleston. And I, uh, the first week of school, like I could get a credit card. That is awesome. And I applied for an American Express card, which is crazy because I didn't have any money. And I'm at a military college. I can't even have a job. I'm wearing a uniform.
But you know what's crazier? They gave me a card.
Tony: And a T-shirt.
Joe: It was a Frisbee, I don't remember. So cool. Yeah. So a Stadium, Blake. Yeah. So I got my credit card and. The first weekend that we had any leave. I took all of my friends out to lunch, and of course, you know the bill came, and I had that green card out. I had no idea how it worked.
I just knew it was magic. The server took the card. All my buddies love me even more cause I paid for everybody. I went to Nordstrom, and I bought a sweater. Once again, I'm at a military college. I can't even wear a sweater. I still have the sweater. I should've shown it to you. I should've run upstairs to get it. But the, uh, it is ugly. It is 1980's ugly, and it was really expensive. And then the bill came 30 days later, and I called my mom, and I said, "Hey mom, I got a problem." I actually didn't say, "I got a problem." I said that thing from the one-minute manager series. I said, mom, we got a problem, and my mom quickly said, we, it's like, no, you got a problem. You created it; you solve it. Of course, I was at a military college, so I couldn't solve it. Within 90 days, my credit card was gone. My credit was wrecked at 18, and then when I got my summer job, I had to pay back a collection agency. Yeah. So my story is way different, but it's personal. So back to back to your original question, we all start from different spots, and we all make some big mistakes. We make different types of mistakes. So, uh, I think we all got to remember that about each other.
Tony: You grew up in different States. I think the two things that we all start with is we pick up what our parents have. Like, you know, transfer. It sounds like your case, you, you had some, some access to some financial knowledge, but you, it didn't transfer to you. I really didn't have access to financial knowledge. I got to do, as I say, not do as I do, which is how you should save money, but we're not saving money, you know? And so that didn't really transfer, you know, going into debt did transfer. But everybody starts in the same place about getting money. Smart.
Everybody has to; if you're going to be good with money, you got to get money smart. And I think that's the very interesting thing about our, you know, the, the world system or the educational system is we spend, you know, 18 years learning about math, English, and science, but very few of us really get exposed to financial principles. The majority of us don't. And so we're left to figure out those things on our own. But, you know, even the richest people had this been, they all started without money knowledge. They just got exposure to get money smart sooner.
Tony: Or in a different way, and then applied it. So you have to if you want to get over that. And so how did you go about getting money smart? I mean, it was, that was that American Express card, kind of the pivot moment when you said, "Hey, ah, that's a bad deal. I don't want to do that again." Is that, was it that or did you kind of repeat some things?
Joe: Oh, it got worse than that, my friend. It got, it got a lot worse than that. So from, from there, I, uh, I continued down down the spiral.
I left the Citadel after my sophomore year; I was on a not even really relevant. Went to Michigan State, I was on a track and cross country scholarship. Our coach Tony thought that I was a diamond in the rough when he, uh, brought me on the team. It turns out there was no diamond there and I, sophomore year I was injured, and I wasn't helping the team.
So I went back to Michigan and Michigan State. Uh, and I started paying my own way. But while I was there, I took out a student loan. I had three jobs. I really did need to, to help pay for my, well, and I was paying for all of my own school. My parents weren't paying for any of it, but that's not why I took out a student loan was to pay for school. I took it out because in the early nineties. There was this cool computer game called the railroad tycoon that I absolutely loved. So I needed to buy a computer, not for homework, but so I could play some computer games. And so got myself in debt that way. After college, I was working at a water treatment company, and a friend of mine called and said, and this is a direct quote, he said, "We don't normally hire people like you, but I think you'd be good at this." And so I was recruited to become a financial advisor, even though, by the way, my finances were horrible. Were absolutely horrible. You know, people like Susie Orman, I remember saying, don't hire brand new financial advisors, and I remember being all indignant about that before going, "No, no, no, no, no, no. New financial advisors are fine." I will tell you, don't agree with Susie on a lot of stuff. I completely agree with Susie. If your buddy's becoming a brand new financial advisor, I will tell he or she thank you. Tell me when you get to 10 years, cause you just got to see stuff over and over. You got to make mistakes, and you don't want an advisor to make them on you. But anyway, a mistake I made my first year was it turned out I was really good at it. I didn't know. I'm from a farming community; I didn't know what an engineer was. I thought it was somebody that drove a train, but I very much have an engineer kind of personality. I like how the funds work. I like digging into finance and how the system works. I like figuring out how to conquer the grocery store, you know, the little things, how to, how to save money on your utilities. I thought all this stuff, how a good budget works, and how to make that happen. And I could explain it like the guy next door, cause I was the guy next door. I wasn't a finance major; I was an English major. My first year, I made a bundle of money while I was; I was a 1099 contractor. Just before taxes were due, I went into this account that was recommended, and the guy comes back and says, you owe $30,000 to the government, and I'm like 30... what the hell are you talking about? And he said, well didn't you ever withhold any money. Did you hold any back for taxes? I've been a financial advisor, Tony, for a year. I have no idea you have to withhold money for taxes. That's so, so now, now I am in a heap of trouble. So I did what any rational person would do. I decided to ignore it, and I took his work, and I put it in a drawer, and I just didn't file my taxes. And by the way, to back up on that story a little bit for everybody listening, not only is that horrible and you shouldn't do it, and the penalties are unbelievable. What I also didn't know where there were a bunch of of business write-offs that I could have had. Business owners do have some tax advantages, right? Everything that I use for the business, this microphone I'm talking in right now, right? That off these headphones I'm wearing, those are business expenses. It doesn't make them free, but it's the cost of doing business, and I'm allowed to file those against my income. I haven't done it. So when he told me that I owed $30,000 in taxes, I probably owed seven, eight. Now, don't get me wrong, I still didn't have it, but my tax bill would have been a lot less. So I didn't file. And then the next year I didn't file. And then I was in a world of hurt. During that second year, I didn't file for a different reason. It was this, I had found back in those days, it was all commissions. There was no such thing... there were a few fee-only advisors like we tell people to go to, but they didn't exist then very much. And so I got this huge commission from this monster client, and I used it to pay off all my debt except for the tax bill I had. And the client then came in right after I paid off all my debt and reversed everything we did. And so next thing I knew I owed my business because I had accumulated I that student loan, I had a car loan, I had credit card debt, so I'd accumulated over $50,000 in debt elsewhere. So all of a sudden, I have $50,000 I owed the company I worked with. And so for, for the next ten months, I've made no money and I've got overdue taxes. And I have initially, because I had nowhere to turn, I turned right back to the credit cards. And so within three months, I'm getting calls from the credit cards asking, where the heck is my money? I told people I was dead, and I kind of wished I was dead. Uh, but I remember the worst day I was driving down the road. In this beat-up minivan that we had, my wife and I, and we had these two, these these young twins, and I'm driving from a client meeting, and I ran out of gas. And I had no credit. I had no money in my bank account, and I had to dig in the seats for change to try to get home. And I realized as I'm digging this, not only am I, am I screwing up my own finances, I'm a flipping financial planner, right? I mean, I've helped other people do well with their money. And by this time, by the way, by my third year, I was really getting good. Like I was really, and I'm like, I'm giving out all this advice, and I'm taking none of it. I'm not doing any of the stuff that I'm telling people to do. If I'm such a wizard, why am I walking to a gas station? I'm trying to convince the dude at the gas station, because, because he wanted me to give him a credit card to hold so that I wouldn't steal his gas can. I'm not going to steal your plastic gas can. So he finally let me give him my driver's license. I took 85 cents worth of gas, put it in the car, went back, got my driver's license back. Thank God I didn't get pulled over and then drove home. And it was that day at the bottom that I knew everything had to change. And that was when, Tony, then then everything did change.
Tony: Yeah. Thanks for sharing that story. Just I can't; I can just imagine, empathize with you a little bit. Just the amount of pain you must've been going through in that moment when you just had the, your reality, your financial reality just intersected with your life in such a real way. And I think that you know; unfortunately, I think that's where most people get to when they do have their financial wakening. It's, you know, this place of this extreme place of pain in their finances, whether it's with their, their spouse, their family, or digging through the change in their car, having to, you know, I guess essentially go beg for gas at that point. Right? And it's sad that people have to get there. And I think a lot of people, all right in that moment, and I would just encourage the audience listening, man, don't let it be that way. You know, you can make a change a lot sooner than that. It doesn't have to be at that place of that great pain point. And you were what, 23, 24, 25 at that point?
Joe: I believe offhand I was probably, I was probably 25.
Tony: Yeah. So, yeah, so about the same time is when I was, and you know, oddly enough, we mentioned Dave Ramsey earlier. Dave Ramsey was going through that same kind of experience at age 25, where he was filing bankruptcy. And you know, you guys can go hear his story as well, but he was at an extreme place of pain too in his finances, which caused him to make that shift and go out there and start to get money smart. So when that happened in, you know, you're there, you're getting your change. And you know, what was interesting going through my mind is, I don't know if you know this about me, but my mother used to manage convenience stores and, and so I used to work in those convenience stores at age 15, 16 you know, 17 and. And I had quite a few people who came in and, and couldn't pay for stuff and they had to leave their driver's license with me or their, you know, whatever that piece that they needed to get that gas. So, you know, you're bringing back memories for me as well as a teenager. But what did you do at that point? You know, your, your finances, you realize that's a problem. What, what shifted for you in that moment?
Joe: I realized that my top clients, I looked at what they did with their money and not just not just saving it with me and me helping them save it. So automating was fine, but I had a long way to go to automate. Right now, I have a ton of debt. I've got a bunch of debt and collections, I've got the IRS breathing down my neck. I got all this stuff. So I realized that my top clients always surrounded themselves with great people. And the first thing I did was I realized I needed to create a team. So I found a fantastic CPA, a woman that I'm still very indebted to, and I remember sitting down with her and just baring, "Hey, I got this big problem."
And she said, "The first thing we're going to do is we're going to talk to the IRS, and we're going to tell them exactly - exactly where you're at. We're going to just lay the cards on the table, and we're going to show them everything." And I remember how that day, just knowing that I had a plan, and then she, by the way, because I was doing, you know, basic financial planning for individuals, for families. She started walking me through business, financial planning, and how taxes work, and all of a sudden she's, she's showing me, you know, all the things that I should be doing with my business, how we should keep my records. I think a lot of times; people take for granted; my first CPA had definitely taken it for granted that I knew all this stuff. She didn't take anything for granted. She told me every little thing to do and man, did I follow it. Cause she was, I felt like she was my lifeline. I was drowning, and I just needed to hang on to whatever Sue told me. So we came clean with the IRS. We got on a payment program. I ended up paying; we figured out that I probably owed the IRS and reality over those two years, Tony, I probably really owed them maybe 15 or $16,000 I paid them $85,000, and I call that my stupid tax. Right. But the $85,000 I really feel like was a lesson in surrounding yourself with good people. Understand the rules before you do things, make decisions fairly quickly, though. Like, don't get stuck in decide land. I was so paralyzed because I didn't know what to do with it. I did nothing. Doing something is better than doing nothing. So, and, and Sue Sue taught me that also. So I also found a separate business coach who is still with me to this day, by the way. I love Mary Lou because of the fact that she thinks about the world differently than I do. Uh, Mary Lou is somebody that sometimes I have a hard time stomaching on a personal level. Uh, because she looks at the world differently than I do so differently. But that's why I love her, cause she always tells me when my, when I'm stinking it up. You know what? I'm not doing the stuff that I should be doing. And it's not just my business with Mary Lou; she coaches me on other stuff. I remember I got so involved then I'm making money later and the system was working so good and it was, it was intoxicating that I was forgetting my twins as they were growing up and I was missing their childhood. And, uh. It was because of her that I became the scout leader for my son, and I became the soccer coach for my daughter. So that I had this time that was just for Nick, or time that was just with Autumn. We got into board games as a family. I played board games as a kid. We started playing them together. Um, you know, dinner times Friday night became really important, you know, stuff like that. But surrounding myself with better people, and that's something that I still believe today. Once again, a lot of times, people will talk about fees, and they'll even do that with financial advisors. I don't know if people need a licensed financial advisor, but you should. You should try to be the dumbest person in the room.
And for me, if I've got to pay for that, I will. I will pay to be the dumbest person around me, and I find that that is very valuable. I still want to be fee sensitive. I want to make sure that that I'm getting something, but man, the amount of money I pay for coaching now, Tony versus what I, you know, then I was paying very little, but it was all that I had. Now I pay a ton, uh, for coaching, but I need to surround myself with, uh, with some really smart people. And that's, that's kind of the cost.
Tony: Yeah. And I love the way you explain that, and I want to highlight that a little bit because you hit a couple of the keys that I actually mentioned in my book. One is a millionaire key number three, which has gotta get money smart, which you, you made that transition and you go, okay, I've got to go find a way to, to learn more about money. And you had done that through the financial stuff. But also you touched on a, what I call millionaire key number four, which is find a money mentor, and you reached out to your CPA and to your business coach as well. And so you surrounded yourself with those people that were smarter than you. You know, I didn't do that as early as I should have. That's, that was a key that actually learned after I got a little bit farther along, you know, it probably five or six years. Before I had somebody in my life that I would consider a money mentor. Prior to that, I was more of a, a loner growing up. You know, that's how my parents were trying to figure it all out on my own, which you can do that, but you're just going to make more mistakes that way. And so you can make more progress faster by drawing on other people's wisdom and knowledge. You know, as I say, a money mentor, which you know, you're doing it, and I actually, this year. This last year just hired my first two. I mean, actually using two business coaches right now. I have my, what I call my ultra-expensive business coach, and then I have my affordable business coach because I need a little bit more help and accountability. So, uh, but yeah, I think those are great things to do, but I just hate to say that I waited until I was in my late forties to get those coaches around me.
Joe: But it's great now, isn't it?
Tony: Oh, yeah. It's a huge, it's like, man, you just think about what you could do. I would; I wouldn't recommend anybody do that, you know, all the way down into their twenties. Right? Even around your marriage, you know, my wife and I, uh, started having a marriage counselor in 2015. Uh, for the first time, we'd been married 15 years, and I'm like, wow, I should have started that day one. Right. And you know, it just helps iron out the creases and everything and make everything a lot smoother. But yeah.
Tony: And then I loved how you talked about your family too. I think that's something, you know, my wife would, if you talked to her, she would definitely go, "Hey, you, you didn't pay attention to the kids." And when you got six of them, that's easy to do, especially during the Coronavirus outbreak, right? Try being crammed in a house with six kids around 24/7 it's; it can be a little rough. But yeah, really that comes back to me. I like to say this, as, you know, there's more to life than money, and I think a lot of people need to realize that you can go be successful, you can be a millionaire, but you gotta realize that there's more to life than money.
And, and for me, that's the relationships.
Joe: Yeah. More is not a goal, you know? And, and, and it's, it's also frustrating when I meet these people. W my first meeting, when I'd meet with people, was, uh, the very first question was, "so, so what are you doing? What are you trying to achieve?" When somebody would give me that answer would give me, "I just want, I just want to grow my money faster. I want more." Nope. We're not trying that cause a) we're going to pick the wrong stuff. You can only get in the car and start driving if you know where you're going. I mean, don't get me wrong, you can go, but, but you're not going to go anywhere. It's so much more efficient and frankly fun to set yourself a place that you're going and then set it up, and it makes it easier. You know, if you don't know where you're going, you can take any road. Cause it doesn't matter if, but if you, if I know that I'm going here where I'm sitting today in Detroit and I'm headed to see you, I know I get on I 75 South, you know, I know exactly the road I don't get on this road. I don't get on that road. And often, when people ask about investments, that's the first mistake they make. They're like, "Joe, what investment should I invest in?" My question all the time and the question everybody listening should always ask themselves is, where are you trying to go? And believe it or not, for every destination, there is a group of investments that historically have got you there. There's a group of investments that historically will never get you there. So, so I'll give you, I'll give you a perfect example. They have these ridiculous risk assessments. When you start a job, right? You get into your 401k at a job or your retirement savings, whatever it is, and they get the first thing the person does give you a risk assessment. The risk assessment. Don't get me wrong. It's important to know how much risk you can take. But for me, I don't like any risk. So, so if I just take this risk assessment and it says that I, that I don't like any risk, it comes back, put my money in the guaranteed savings account that pays one or 2%. Right? I can tell you that in that guaranteed savings account, Tony, you're going to very safely go nowhere. You're going to very safely never reach any retirement goal. You'll be incredibly safe. And so, so there's this, uh, equation you got to look at, which is, I need so much return times so much money that I prepared to invest to get a goal. And each part of those three can change. So if I take less risk, that means either I have to push the goal back or down, or I have to save more money. So now, I know whether to look at my budget or look at my investments. And now as I start notching that up, and I look at over long periods of time, stocks and real estate historically have done it right. You can diversify collection of stocks, diversified real estate portfolio, historically have done over long periods of time, uh, have got you there most consistently. And so those are reliable. They're horrible short term investments. You don't want to buy a house and then try to sell it six months later, the fees will kill you, the stock market, and in one year's like a rollercoaster, you know, it just, you might as well go down to the casino and put your money on black if you're going to invest in a stock for six weeks. So, uh, but longterm, it's much, much less volatile historically you've gotten there. So over the long term, those are fantastic places to be. But now look, if I know the goal is 15 years out, I'm looking at, okay, which stock-based investments or real estate investments, what collection of those is going to get me there?
If it's a one-year goal, which savings account is going to get me there? And all of a sudden, instead of getting all panicky about this huge field of investments, I'm now laser-focused on just a few things, and it makes the homework so much easier. Uh, so, so much easier if you know where you're going.
Tony: Yeah, I agree with you, and I think you've got to figure out a piece at a time. Right. And don't be scared of the financial world.
Tony: I think that's one of the big things I find is, you know, even in my family circles and friends circles, you know, access to the stock market is just something the common person doesn't think about or believe they have access to. They think it's for rich people and it's not for rich people. You know? It's for anybody can get in there and makes money at it. You don't have to be a super genius. You just have to make a few decisions. But the main thing is you got to learn and take a little bit of risk right. We might make some missteps at the beginning. You may make some bad decisions, but you're going to learn from those bad decisions, and the next time you do something, you're going to make better decisions. And if you get people around you, you're going to be wiser.
Joe: To your point, I've been listening to a book on audible call, uh, which is about having a growth mindset, and I love this idea and what the author, I believe her name is Dr. Carol Dweck. I think it's D. W. I. E. K. A. I'm going to pull it up, but, um. But regardless, what she says, and I totally agree with this, when you have a growth mindset, you accept mistakes. And, and I think the problem isn't that we're going to make mistakes, Tony. It's that we don't accept, we don't give ourselves the room to make mistakes. And yet the author of this book says, you don't grow if you don't make mistakes. And by the way, if you have a growth mindset and you mess it up, you go, yeah, okay. I know not to do it that way. Now that's a lesson. It's a cool lesson, and now you can tell that story to other people and go, yeah, man, I tried to save into a savings account for my retirement, and I'm 28 that was horrible. And then I learned that that's not what to do. So I left it there for two years. Thump on the head, right? Me, me, me telling your audience today going, yeah, I didn't pay my taxes for two years. Head thump cost myself a big old stupid tax. Don't do that, you know? But having a growth mindset allows you to keep going forward and realize that we're always iterating.
We're always, you know, we're always adjusting.
Tony: Yeah. And I think if as long as you make more out of the way, I like to say it is a, you know, failing forward is one of those things that's out there as it replicates what you're saying or mirrors.
Joe: It's a good way to put it.
Tony: Yeah. Yeah. Failing forward. But also, I think. Make more good decisions than bad decisions, and as long as you're okay with making bad decisions but make more good decisions than bad decisions, you're going to keep moving forward in a positive direction. When I made my millionaire choice at 25, I didn't have it all figured out. I just had enough figured out to get going. And I started popping money into mutual funds automatically, and I believed all the hype of this particular advertised mutual fund. And they did great the three years before I got in, but for the three years after that, not as great, you know, so I like broke even. So my mathematics didn't work out, but Hey, you know what I did do?
I did save money every month, build up $18,000 in that mutual fund. And even if it didn't grow, I had changed my financial position from being $16,000 in debt to being $18,000 in mutual funds with no debt. That's a pretty good turn around.
Joe: Well, no. And you did learn that mutual funds aren't just for rich people, and you learn how a mutual fund worked, and you learned which one's not for you. Like, like how to start, you know, how to start filtering, which ones actually are going to meet your goal. Valuable lessons. And I would say, and I'm sure you'll agree, the quicker you make that mistake, the better. Right? By the way, I just looked it up, and people might've heard of my microphone, had accidentally started playing, cause I was trying to look at the name of the book is just called Mindset. And it's by, uh, Dr. Carol Dweck, D. W. E. C. K. So I can highly recommend that for, for people that, uh, she, she quotes a lot of studies about people that have a fixed mindset who think that, you know, after 14, our brain is in shape and we can't change. Yeah. And then talking about people with a growth mindset who are 85 and still growing and studying and vibrant. My wife's uncle is like that, and he is 85 and he, uh, I'll tell you what, man, every time I see him, he's so spry, and he's always investigating something. He's always exploring something like looking for something, you know? And in the back of my head, I'm like, you're 85 why? Why? Why are you looking all this stuff up? You know? But he's never thinking about where he's been. He's thinking about where he's still going. And I got to believe Tony, even though like health-wise, he doesn't eat the best. He doesn't, you know, take care of himself as well as he could. I think he's still going to live a long time. And I think it's that growth mindset.
Tony: Yeah, I like that you're saying that because the older I get. The more I think about that, like, what am I going to, what am I going to lose it? You know? But I love the example of Colonel Sanders too. I believe he was in a 60, 65, 67 when he founded Kentucky Fried Chicken. And so while a lot of people are thinking it's their retirement years, he's like founding one of the top restaurant chains in American history. And that's just an amazing story. And you just keep, keep plowing ahead. And you know, the more, the deeper you look, you find these people that are 85 years old running marathons.
Tony: And I'm like, I'm never going to run a marathon in my entire life. I'm just not going to do it. It's not going to happen. Um, but yeah, all these people that just have that growth mindset, like moving forward.
Joe: Well, it, it's actually funny you bring up marathons cause cause that, that triggered a thought around what we were talking about before about surrounding yourself with the right people and how important it is having those mentors. So before I moved to Texas, so like I said, I ran cross country track in college, but then I became a financial planner. I got fat and happy, but, but, and I didn't move hardly at all. I would every once in a while do the 5k thing, but, but definitely was not the athlete I was in college. But in my head, I was, right. But, but I really wasn't. We moved to Texas. I made new friends in this little town of Texarkana; we moved to. All my friends, Tony, all my friends were long-distance runners. And now they all run these crazy ultra marathons, but because they were long-distance runners, guess what I did? I lived there for a decade. I ran 11 marathons in eight years. I had no desire before I moved there to run any marathons. But if all your friends are runners. You're going out running on Saturday morning. And what was cool was when I actually finished the first marathon, like, you know, I didn't really want to do the marathon at first, but I signed up for the Disney marathon, and I got to the end. And, uh, you end going around Epcot and just by the big golf ball thing that hit the front of the Epcot, there's, there's a gate that goes out to an area that's usually reserved for just staff people, but the racecourse cuts out there, and you go through this little backstage area, and then you kick out to the parking lot where there's these big stands. Well, when you go into the back area, there was this choir in robes. And they're all going back and forth, and they're singing, you are my hero. And I lost it. I just absolutely lost it. And there's, there's, my wife has pictures of me running down that final straightaway, and Mickey and Minnie mouse and goofy and Donald duck are standing at the finish line, and I'm bawling my head off. I am just crying like nobody's business. Cause I ran a marathon and I was apologizing to the persons. They're trying to give me my medal. I'm like, "I'm sorry I can't stop crying. I just ran a damn marathon." But then I ran 11 and eight years. So, so mentors, surrounding yourself with the right people. You know, if you don't want to run a marathon, well, what I should have done was I should have surrounded myself with donut eaters cause I really liked donuts.
Tony: Yeah, two different goals. Two different results. Right?
Joe: That's right.
Tony: So yeah, I think that's amazing. And I think the cool thing about that is you never intended to run the marathon, and then all of a sudden it took you into a place that you never expected or even really had a vision for, for your life. And I think that's what finances are. When you make that decision, you're like, Hey. I don't have to be broke the rest of my life. Let me dream a little bit here. Surround myself with some other people, and let's just see what magic can happen. And you know, for me, there's a purpose behind building wealth. You know, enjoy life. I like to believe you.
You need to enjoy life. And I like to believe you have money to help other people who need it. There's a lot of Navy people out there. Um, we've had several families. We've tried to support other people all over the world that need help, and you know, to serve God depending on your faith. But, you know, money is money's just a tool. And the more you have of it, the more you can build, the more you can do, the more people you can help. And really, the more you can help transform the world. And I think there's a pure motive if you have the right motive around while you're trying to build the wealth or become a millionaire. Uh, and just have that right mindset. It's a very healthy, altruistic, and very noble thing to do versus the way a lot of people view wealth, which is, you know, a dirty, bad thing.
Tony: And, you know, I hate that part about our society. So let's turn a corner here. You mentioned something earlier in the show, which is habits, right? And, uh, I like to believe that, uh. If you have more good habits than bad habits, you're going to end up in a really good place. And you mentioned, uh, kind of this automatic mindset about building wealth, like setting up these things. Let's talk about some of those for the audience. You know, I was 25, and one of the first automatic habits I set up was, Hey, I'm going to take $500 out of my paycheck every month and put it into a mutual fund. I'm going to make that automatic. I don't even have to think about it; it's just going to happen. I didn't know what a 401k was; my company didn't have one. I didn't have a simple IRA. My only mindset was I did what I knew, which was stick this money somewhere that's going to grow. And so, what are some of that habit? And some of the other habits that you kind of see is very beneficial for people trying to, you know, improve their finances.
Joe: That is the number one habit. If you decide to cut the cord on your cable TV to save some money, we see people do that all the time. Tony, what did they do then? They end up spending the money because it just all, all of a sudden, Hey, I got the 70 bucks that I was spending on cable TV now in my wallet, and people don't, don't grab that money when... when it's around. If you go to a cheaper cell phone plan, you don't grab it. So it's actually habit number one for me is that one-two punch. Cut the cable, take 70 bucks, that's very next call. Very next thing you do is set up an automatic savings of 70 bucks a month. So instead of paying the cable company you're paying you, you go from $200 a month to $50 a month or $20 a month on your cell phone bill. Take that. A hundred bucks, 50 bucks, 20 bucks, ten bucks, whatever it is, automatically save it.
That habit. It was magic for me because, for me, what I know about myself is I love to talk about money. I like good money stuff, but I also know that if there is, if there is money in my wallet, I'm the opposite. You know, a lot of people say carry cash and don't carry plastic. I'm exactly the opposite. I don't know what it is about my brain. I do not like taking the credit card out. I do not like doing that. So I have a credit card right now in my wallet. I do not have any cash because I know that I will never use that credit card. But if there's ten bucks, baby, talking about donuts, you and I, and I'm buying, I'm, I'm back to buying again. I'm buying donuts for every whatever. If I can make it $9 and 98 cents worth of donuts and coffee? Um, um, I'm doing it. Maybe chocolate milk too. But the, uh, but the second habit that Cheryl and I started, which was super important if you're planning with somebody, is we have a weekly money meeting. And, and it's not something you're talking about. Monthly money meetings will be, we'll talk about quarterly now. We need it to be weekly. So two things. It has to be fast, and it has to be fun. So for us, we're not big drinkers, but it's a Sunday afternoon, and it's either and sometimes the Saturday morning like if we're going to be busy with family or with, with stuff, we'll do it Saturday morning instead. So if it's Saturday morning, it's over pancakes. If it's Sunday afternoon, it's with a little glass of red wine. So it's either wine or pancakes, depending on the time of day. Never, never both. And, uh, and, and we have a rule that it's never longer than 20 minutes, and it's very basic. We, we look up back in the days when we got paper statements from, um, from bills, you know, that we had to pay. We'd wait. We pay the bills together. Now, of course, all that stuff is automatic, but, but I've got this app that I use an app called Tiller. And it's on my phone. And I just, uh, we looked through every expense we had that week, and we talk about them. We just go through all of our expenses. And what we found is that we find mistakes and we found a lot of them at first. And, uh, but even more than finding mistakes, we start talking about the expenses and why we have it. And by the way, then the next thing we do is we look at the next week's expenses, and we say, Hey, what are we going to spend money on this coming week? Um, and then the third thing that we do for our family is back before streaming, my wife would always come home from the grocery store with a DVD, and she'd watch the thing once or maybe twice. And it drove me crazy. I got addicted to board games with my kids, and I started having guys game night every other week here in the basement we have guys game night. And it's really fun. All of our spouses know where we are, and we're playing a board game. So, but, but I'll tell you what, I would show up with a board game. And my wife is like, what the hell? And so I'm pointing at her with her DVD addiction. She's pointing to me with the board games. And so what we decided worked for us was we have an allowance. We have an allowance. That's our money. I get that DVDs make her happy; she gets that board games make me happy. So we, we decided on a number for an allowance, and at the end of our meeting, we dole out our allowances to each other that we don't we don't talk about, and I got to save my allowance for three weeks to buy a good board game. So it kind of shows you about how much, much, much we get. And then once in a while I say, forget the board game. I'm taking us out to dinner with my allowance. So date night on me, on my allowance. So w we have some fun with it. And this thing may or may not work for you, but really what it does, it doesn't actually matter what we talk about. I'll tell you what happens because the meeting is fun and it's fast. We got into the habit then to talk about money all week. That little short discussion then led to bigger discussions all week long about, "Hey, here's, here's what we want to do next, or what about the vacation we're going to take?" Well, what if we decided to do, you know, stay with friends instead of stay at a hotel or we, we, we started having these crazy fun conversations, and all the money fights disappeared because of that habit.
Tony: That's interesting that you say that. I would say it probably created a lot of unity. If you're in unity, you're not having those kinds of fights and things like that. Uh, so I have to ask, uh, board games, Axis and Allies?
Joe: You know, it's funny, this is the second time in 24 hours we've, I've had this discussion. A friend of mine was telling me yesterday; we were having some socially distancing fun of it, a fire pit out behind my house. And I had a couple of guys over, and we set the chairs kind of in a triangle, and we just sat around the campfire, and he talked about Axis and Allies. And you know what? I've never played. I've never played.
Tony: Yeah, I played that. It was one of those things that people liked to play in college and pick up.
Tony: And I played only a couple of times, but pretty sophisticated. But, uh, it's pretty fun.
Joe: We played, we played Risk.
Tony: Uh-huh. Oh, Risk is like, it's not even comparable. It depends on how it depends on how complicated you want things to be, right?
Joe: Yeah. Yeah.
Tony: Axis and Allies is fun. Well, Joe, man, I really appreciate your wisdom while you're doing and for being on the show with us today. Is there, how would people get in touch with you and maybe pick up on some of your financial wisdom and what you have available?
Joe: Sure. I don't know about wisdom, but we have a lot of fun. So, um, we have a joke among our podcast listeners that if you, uh, expect to learn anything or if you do learn anything, keep it to yourself cause you ruin our reputation. We don't want that. Anybody talking about learning something from us? We just want to have some fun talking about money, but you you can reliably find me on Twitter or on Facebook. Uh, on Facebook, we're just Stacking Benjamins. It's facebook.com forward slash I stack Benjamins is our community. We actually have a Facebook community called the basement, which is a lot of fun. If you like bad dad jokes, some people come in, and they're really serious about money, and they don't know what they're getting into. So, uh, our show, Stacking Benjamin's, is three days a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. We also have a short light, 15-minute show, six days a week called Money With Friends, which is just explaining some of these financial headlines like the fed lowered interest rates. What does that mean? I don't know what that means. So we peel these headlines, and then we talk about what lessons can we learn from them. Lately, we talked about J crew declaring bankruptcy, and you know, we didn't get into how J crew did it, but we did talk about how J crew has this whole plan around bankruptcy, and they decided that that was right for them, but it was after all of these other strategies. And so we kind of take these business things and apply them to personal life.
Tony: Well. That's awesome, man. Once again, thank you for being on the show, talking to our audience, and just helping people move forward with their finances.
Joe: Well, thanks for joining the ranks of pod-casters, man. Like I said at the start, we need great voices like yours. I really forward to hearing more.
Announcer: That's a wrap for this episode of The Millionaire Choice. Remember, wealth is a result of getting smarter with your money. Wealth helps you enjoy life and help people. For resources, tools, and a community that will accelerate your millionaire journey, go to themillionairechoice.com. The Millionaire Choice Show shares the opinions and experiences of people and should not be considered financial advice. Before making your own financial choices, please seek out the registered financial advisor or certified financial planner.