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Change Your Personal Finances (& Your Millennial Money Mindset) with Paychecks & Balances

Change Your Personal Finances (& Your Millennial Money Mindset) with Paychecks & Balances

57 min read
The BiggerPockets Money Podcast

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Rich Jones and Marcus Garrett are the men behind Paychecks and Balances, a podcast aimed at helping Millennials figure out their finances. And they should know a little on the subject—both Rich and Marcus made some pretty epic money mistakes in their youth.

From Rich just not looking at his bills to Marcus actively going into almost $30K of debt in 72 hours (NOT a typo!), they know what owing money to someone feels like. Marcus details his D.E.B.T. plan so you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and pay off your debt for good.

Are you looking to be debt-free in 2019? This episode can help you formulate a plan that works for your specific situation, with tips for staying out of debt once you arrive.

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Welcome to the BiggerPockets Money podcast show number 56 where we interview Rich Jones and Marcus Garrett from Paychecks & Balances.

‘2018 has really been that year for me where I have had that intentionality which I think is the most important part of it is having that goal and having that vision. For me, I always talk about having an emotional connection to whatever goal you are setting for yourself.’

It is time for a new American dream, one that does not involve working in a cubicle for 40 years, barely scraping by. Whether you are looking to get your financial house in order, invest the money you already have or discover new paths for wealth creation, you are in the right place. This show is for anyone who has money or wants more. This is the BiggerPockets Money Podcast.

Scott: How is going everybody? I am Scott Trench. I am here with my co-host, Miss Mindy Jensen. How are you today, Mindy?

Mindy: I am doing fantastic, Scott. Over the weekend, I ran a 5K. I do not want to share my time with you because it is a blisteringly slow 15 minute miles. No, I came in at 43 minutes because running is not my thing, but I finished.

Scott: That is great.

Mindy: I finished and that is better than not finishing.

Scott: What is your end goal? Is it a half or a full marathon?

Mindy: Oh, half marathon. I am not crazy.

Scott: Half marathon, nice.

Mindy: Just a half and that is in May. Hopefully, I will be able to. I have not decided exactly which half marathon I am running yet. It is somewhere in the Colorado area, northern Colorado, because that is where I am at. There was this one that looked really fun but you have to start at six o’clock in the morning and it is an hour away. I am like, yes, no. Really fun relative.

Scott: Yes, that does not sound very fun.

Mindy: I am super excited for today’s show. Rich Jones and Marcus Garrett from Paychecks & Balances. I am a huge fan of their podcasts, I think they give a lot of really great information. They have a lot of good guests that come on their show and I met them at… I first saw them at FinCon like a hundred years ago. They were talking and they were just so engaging and I just really enjoyed hearing them speak. I learned a lot from them. When I met them again at podcast movement, I got up the courage to talk to them and they are like, ‘Yes, we would love to be on your show.’ That was very very exciting.

Scott: Love it. Yes, I am very much looking forward to this as well. They had a great energy, great stories, great advice. Just very very overall fantastic show. If you are looking to pursue financial freedom but our maybe starting from a position of having a significant amount of personal debt.

Mindy: Yes, they give a lot of tips for just even changing your mindset over it. Rich did not have any idea how much debt he even had because he did not want to deal with it. He does never looked and then he decided, ‘You know what, I do not want to have this debt anymore.’ He looked, he made a plan and paid it off. Marcus, you know what, I do not even want to tell Marcus’s story. I want to let him tell his story because he has a very fun way to get into $30,000 in debt in 12 minutes or something like that.

Scott: Yes. Let us bring them in.

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Mindy: Okay. Huge thanks to today’s show, sponsor. Rich and Marcus from Paychecks & Balances, welcome to the BiggerPockets Money podcast. How are you doing today?

Rich: Doing well, thanks so much for having us.

Marcus: Awesome. Thank you for having us.

Mindy: Thank you for coming on. I am super excited. I met you guys or I saw you, I did not meet you guys, I saw you guys at FinCon a couple of years ago. Rich, can you show your t-shirt and Scott show your t-shirt?

Scott: Yes.

Mindy: Scott and Rich actually both wore the same shirt today which is kind of funny.

Rich: It was not planned.

Mindy: It was not planned. I bet you guys call each other up on the phone. ‘Hey, I am going to wear my FinCon shirt.’ ‘Yes, me too. We are going to look great, we are going to match.’ It would have been better if Rich and Marcus matched. Marcus, you kind of ruined the vibe, sorry.

Marcus: That is my fault, that is my fault.

Mindy: Okay, let us jump into it because I have a feeling this is going to go for a really long time. Can you walk us through your journey with the money began?

Rich: Yes. For me, even how I thought about personal finance and just really thinking about personal finance was not something that I strongly considered too a few years ago and I am 35 now. It feels kind of crazy but I know a lot of folks that have a similar story. Growing up, I can remember seeing my parents sit at the kitchen table, paying bills and they would not always pay the balance in full. I got used to seeing them pay the minimum balance and for it to be okay to carry balances on credit cards over the course of years. Even when I first got to college and I thought about money, I was one of those people that went to the financial services office and asked for a loan to get a refund check that I would use for things that were not actually what you were supposed to use a refund check for in college. Then even after graduation, I have always been more of a spender. I know a lot of people talk about spenders versus savers.

For myself, I have always been someone that is like to spend money, especially when I am going through things. It is something that I have gotten a grip on over the past couple of years where I have said, alright, I have these goals for myself and these things that I really want to accomplish so I need to put myself in the financial situation to make those things a reality.

Mindy: Awesome. Marcus, where does your financial journey began?

Marcus: I was like, oh, I am up. I guess it is a three part story for me and I will try to keep it quick. The one that I told him on the podcast before was right after, shortly after, I must have been. Well, I do not want to say the age because I do not know what is inappropriate to know when Santa was not real. But whenever I found out Santa was not real, I just started harassing my parents directly and I was like I was obsessed with this remote control car that I had to get and they were like, ‘Yes,’ And I harassed him for months. Like I am an auditor now so maybe I always had that personality growing up. But like September I was like, Yo, Christmas. I had a little… I took the picture of the car, I was like, do not mess it up. I want this one, it was red and black. I put it on the refrigerator and I was like, ‘Dear Santa,’ which is my parents, I was like I want this.

My dad who had turned down several Christmas gifts up to that point, he was like we will go half and I was like, ‘Half? What kind of scam is this?’ Santa always just brought the gifts. I was all upset and we went back and forth for months. It was actually my first budgetary lesson because like I must have been old enough to somehow accumulate money. I cannot believe it was at a job or if I was doing an allowance but somehow I came up with my half of it and I think I played with that car two times and it was like my first budgetary experience. Then you flash forward probably 10 years, I was 27 before I actually put a budget together. By that point, for those who already know and listened to the show, I was $30,000 in debt. I was at rock bottom and I was like, I got to do something different.

That is something different is like my last year of college when I learned to study. Might actually get me higher grades. I was like, I got to get out of here. I always wait until I am like at the very worst rock bottom scenario before I finally react. I was 27 before I finally put a budget together. Then to answer your question, which brings us closer to the future, I did not really know about “personal finance” until Paychecks & Balances when I kind of learned about this ultimately and great community and that it existed and people were actually achieving financial freedom and financial independence at my age or younger. That was the first time I really learned about the FIRE and financial independence in that people could actually achieve it and what it could look like and that started putting a plan together for that although I do not really consider myself right a… I do not know if I consider myself a true FIRE, but I am working towards financial independence, I do like the concept.

Scott: Could you quickly walk us through some of the things that for those of us who do not know your story, how did you tackle that $30,000 in debt? You put together the budget, what insights did you get from that and what did you do after that?

Marcus: Because I am a dinosaur, I use an excel spreadsheet. There was not like all of these apps, there was not like all these great online things. I put the plan together myself and still to this day my most useful tool is actually this little white board that I bought from Walmart from like $9.99. I do not know if I could plug Walmart, you all got to delete that out. It is like the most frequent thing that I use when people are always like what is your favorite app and I do like math and I have all these electronic means but the most useful one to me is this, I erase it every month, it is a monthly calendar.

I erase it every month and I write down all my bills and that is why Rich knows I complain on every show because pretty much consistently someone, and I am not going to drop any names, they know who they are because I am mad at them right now, they erase like $6 here, $5 there. I just got another $5 fee on a cell phone company which is really large and probably number one. Like I always know when like they are nickel and dime you but I feel like most people just do not know what I call now or I have heard is not my term like money leaks. At 27, I put together something similar to that but excel. Then I also did which some people like, I took a piece of paper, literally a notebook, I am old school, and I wrote with a pen. That is what people use and they did not have apps for the younger listeners. I wrote on the left side needs and I wrote wants and I folded it hot dog style. Then I left it alone for a few days and then I came back and I notice a lot of the needs were actually wants and I read distributed accordingly. Then I put my budget together. I mean I kept it simple.

I looked at how much money I was making, where I wanted to be in a few years and I told myself as I achieved different goal, I guess informally I was using the snowball method. As I paid off different fields, I buy something from the wants column. But over time, when you go so long without a want, you realize it is not really a big priority in your life and so it was really easy for me to go without. I will quickly say this story, although you would probably have a follow-up question, I forgot to mention this, how I got into all that was primarily was actually one weekend. I had about $9,000 in debt when I graduated school, $26,000 of that came in one weekend.

Scott: Whoa, what was that weekend?

Mindy: Okay, you cannot just say that and be like, okay, bye.

Rich: That is a great teaser.

Marcus: I realized I opened it in the end verse. I was like, yes, I will put this budget together but the short version of it is I graduated school, I had about $9,000 in debt. Of course, in my mind, I am 22 years old. I just got my bachelor’s degree in business. Of course I am like everybody makes six figures, that is why I got a business degree. I am about to go out here and make it rain because that is what people do. That is why I went to school. They sent me a, what I did not know at the time, a consolidation loan, marketing letter. I think I chose the one with like the most colorful envelope and like most representation. I was like, this guy looks like me. I sent off for this, I guess it must have been a $10,000 consolidation loan and for whatever reason I thought they would pay off the cards for me.

I actually forgot, I only think I was thinking about it and then there is $10,000 check came in the mail and I had what was then a pretty high maintenance enabling girlfriend, shout out to her, she is an ex now. We were like let us make it rain. Like we went on this notorious shopping spree. It is probably till talked about in this small town we are growing up in at the time, but everybody was willing and who was able to drink drinks. It is it is actually surprisingly difficult to spend $10,000. Like somehow, like woke up on Sunday and it was still there. I went out and got a,  remember it, a $13,000 used Toyota Camry 2005. With rims of course, because I have my standards. I did not even negotiate. Like I walked in the lot. I was like, I want that one. The guy was like, ‘Whoa, you want to go inside and talk figures? I was like, I do not negotiate. I got $10,000. I bought the car and he actually turned out, it was a small town, he actually turned out to be my third financial lesson. He kind of walked through the loan.

He is like here is what the loan means and here is all the details and turned out I was really bored, I was rolling my eyes. I cannot believe this dude is talking to me about loans and money and like he does not know that I got $10,000. I did pay off one card. I paid off one credit card. I now have the $10,000 consolidation loan, that is $13,000. For the people keeping track at home, the car was about $13,000 and I believe it is 7% interest rate if I remember correctly. Then because I guess I was just bored, I went out and got a flat screen TV, which people still do not believe me. It was $3,000. Like when they first came out, they were $3,000. Like the same TV you can buy today for about maybe $200, these Black Friday specials. It was $3,000 and then that plus interest got me up to my $30,000. That is kind of what I tell the book in the story about.

Scott: That is awesome. How long did it take you to pay off all of this?

Marcus: It took me seven years to pay off 72 hours.

Scott: Oh, man. Geez.

Marcus: Yes.

Mindy: Oh my. I like that quote, ‘I do not negotiate, I for $10,000.’

Marcus: Yes, I will say this because it is probably a frequent question and people always ask do you regret it? It is a complicated story like but for it is weird. It is like that dichotomy, those parallel timeline. But for that story, would I be here today? Would I be working with Rich? Would I be in the personal finance community? Like what would I be talking about? It was the best weekend of my life. I mean, can you imagine somebody walking up to you and saying, ‘Hey, you have 72 hours to spend this $10,000, what will you do? Like this ABC scenario. I was like, beat. I do not know, it is difficult. I cannot say I regret it, it was a really great weekend.

Rich: It is funny because Marcus has the glamorous story and my debt was all just accumulation over time. It will be small things, buying food, buying video games, buying clothes. I am a tech geek so buying a lot of gadgets here and there. There was a stretch for many years where I could not even tell you exactly how much that I had because I had it spread across multiple cards. I ultimately got to a point where I said, what am I doing? Coincidentally that point was probably around the time that we started this podcast. I also use spreadsheets and I can remember making a list of all of my expenses and what I have learned over the years is that what I budget versus what I actually spend, those things are not the same.

I have tried to be in the past a lot more optimistic and stern about my budget and I have gotten to a point where I accept that there are certain things that I am going to spend more on, there are certain things that I can do without. I now optimize my budget around those things that I accepted I am going to spend more on those things that bring me happiness, which is something that we talk a lot about, because a lot of the story that is out there or a lot of the stories that you hear about personal finance there are more so the struggle stories where people are eating cheese sandwiches, no offense Marcus because I think you were doing that, or people are living in the basement and that was not my experience.

I have had professional jobs, I have had income, so I have never been in a situation where I felt like I was struggling but I have been in the situation where if one thing happens, if one thing went wrong then I might find myself in financial struggle or financial trouble. That is part of what really got me going. Having that stress of I know I am okay right now but if something goes wrong I could suddenly find myself in a bad spot.

Mindy: Rich, what was your total amount of debt before you finally figured everything out and started paying it off?

Rich: It was probably about $20,000 total. There was a stretch where I was paying down one car that probably had about $11,000 on it and then the other car I probably had about $8,000 or $9,000 on it. I started making a dent in that in 2017 and at the beginning of 2018 I had about $8,000 of credit card debt to start the year which I ultimately ended up paying that off in July of this year so I became a completely credit card debt free.

Scott: Awesome, congrats.

Mindy: Nice. I noticed that neither one of you graduated with a ton of student loan debt. How did you pay for college?

Rich: Yes, for me, I went to school at Cornell University and fortunately the program that I was in, it was considered an instate end program. I was able to take advantage of kind of the instate tuition amount and I also had some scholarships going into undergrad. I really loved that because I think when I graduated I had less than $30,000 of student loan debt and I paid it off a number of years ago and it kind of just paid it off and it just happened. I did not think anything about it. Then I realized how much that some folks have out there from education. For me, it was probably $90 that just came out of my monthly funds and I just got used to it over the course of years and then a few years back, I mean, it is probably five years ago now, I realized that my student loan debt was paid off. I understand that in some ways that is a privilege and that is an advantage compared to folks who are walking away with hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt.

Marcus: For me, I need to actually praise my parents cause they are probably mad about that remote control car. They listen to the show and they texted me about their thoughts.

Scott: Mine too.

Marcus: I need to thank them for paying for my college education. Texas is actually in some, and I have actually been recommending this to people over the years, this particular fund went bankrupt and then they brought it back with a different branding scheme of course because branding is everything. But Texas is used to have, they still call it this, but it is the Texas Tomorrow Fund. If you are a student in Texas and you went to a public school, you could purchase, well now as it is set up, you can purchase credits going towards the school at the current rate. If you buy it in 2018 but just your child goes to school in 2040, you bought it in. You locked in the rate for 2018.

My understanding, and obviously my parents would probably speak to this more articulately than me is back in the day it used to be you would buy the credits and then you could go to any school regardless of what it costs which of course we all know that school has like quadrupled in costs so that is why the fund went bankrupt. It paid for my first four years of public school. I started off in the University of Texas and ultimately graduated from Sam Houston State University. Because of that transfer I had to take about I think it was a another semester of school. I had about a $3,000 loan but I mean as people might imagine that I was pretty small and like rich city, I just paid it off. Naturally, I paid it off early. I did it as part of that getting out of debt journey.

Scott: Let us move into the mechanics of paying down your debt. You mentioned the phrase debt snowball. Can you describe what that is and how you applied that?

Marcus: Specifically, debt snowball is taking the lowest payments, and I believe it was popularized by Dave Ramsey so of course I will give credit there, but you pay down or you take all your payments that are outstanding and you pay down the lowest first and then you roll any payments remaining and to pay the minimum with all your outstanding and you roll or snowball your payments toward the remaining payments until all of the payments are paid off. There is also an avalanche. It is basically the opposite of that formula and that you either take your largest outstanding balance or your largest outstanding balance with the highest APR because that is usually where you are paying the most costs.

Then you pay down from there and the avalanche towards the smaller, which of course you know avalanche or going down a mountain, you pay down those smaller bills until those are paid off. Most people like a snowball because it is a smaller payment, you get those mental wins. It is actually typically really difficult for people just to stick to a debt payment plan. I mean honestly that was my course as well. While I think formerly I might have used the snowball, it is not like I sat down and intentionally set out to do the snowball method of payment.

Actually, what I did is I sat down and now I just kind of break it down into four steps. I use the acronym DEBT. D, define the problem. E, establish a plan. B, budget for success and T, trust the process. What I did there is define the problem. I used annualcreditreport.com. You can download it for free. It is still readily available. People will come to me with all these other fancy apps and websites, I am like whatever, as long as it is free because it is really no point in paying at this point.

But like I said, I would like to keep it simple. For me, establish a goal we already talked about. I use bank rate a lot actually and I know they are still around but really it is just you need a reliable debt calculator. I do not really get caught up in which one is the best. I was like you just need one that works. The best one is the one that works. Then budgeting for success is I changed the budget as necessarily. Like some months I am like, you know what? Yes, I am supposed to pay the student loan this month but it would feel better to pay the credit card. I bought something that I feel emotionally bad about. I need to pay that off this month. People get caught and no, I am falling off the plan and this and that and the other.

I am like it is your plan to stick to or fall off or get that gone. I really adjusted from month to month. Like I wanted to make something over the minimum payment on every bill, or excuse me, on the most important bill to me that month. Sometimes that align with snowball, but sometimes it was just like I went out and bought and I think that I feel guilty about now. It feels great at the time when I buy it, 30 days later, I am like I need to pay that off. As long as you are making progress, progress not perfection.

Scott: I love it. Rich, a lot of people I find when I am talking about debt kind of seem to be in your situation where you were at the beginning of this where you do not even know what debts you owe. I assume that to define the problem part of that was the first kind of major step for you and kind of going through that. What was your approach for tackling your debt?

Rich: Yes, for me it was kind of a hybrid approach. I think about snowball and I hear Marcus talk about paying off the smallest balance first. For me, when I have a car that has like $9,000 on it, that does not smell like, that does not feel like a small balance. But for me it was really about the intentionality because I was carrying debt while I also had the money to be able to pay more and I chose to have that cash and use it for other things as opposed to actually tackling that debt. What I did was start with the card that had the $9,000 balance on it. It was also the oldest card and every time I came across a chunk of cash or whether that was through tax refunds, whether that was through performance bonuses at work, if I was doing consulting work on the side, if I got a gift of some sort, I would take that chunk and apply it to that credit card.

Then once I got that card paid off it, it probably took me over a year to be able to pay that off, maybe even two years on that first card. Then with the second card where I had probably $10,000 or $11,000 on it, it was very much the same process. What I noticed is that there was a stretch where my savings account was growing and it felt good to look at how much money was in there and be like, okay, now I am in a better spot and if something happens I can cover it. But then I got to a point where I said, you know what, what is the sense of having this money in here if I am continuing to pay credit card interest and it was applied with this other card where I was paying over a $100 a month in credit card interest. I just got tired of looking at it and I got tired of seeing that notification every month that you are now paying $125 in interest.

I applied that same system where anytime I got a significant chunk of cash, I would pay that or I would pay more than the minimal. Oftentimes, I would pay $200 or $300 more if I had the money to start making a dent in that. Then, I decided that with my performance bonus, rather than just put that in savings and be able to look at it, that I was going to apply most of that to my credit card debt which is why at the beginning of 2018 I had about $8,000 but that is also considering that I have taken a chunk of probably $3,000 that apply to that to make it $8,000 at the beginning of the year.

Then over the course of the first few months in 2018, again, every time I got money or if by chance I got something additional at work because one thing that is part of my compensation, and it is particularly common in Silicon Valley, is to have stock or RSUs. Which a lot of folks look at it as an investment and it is an investment but I said, ‘Hey, I am in a position where I can cash out a few shares of stock from work and apply that to pay off my credit card debt and as much as I would like to see this investment grow, I would much rather my personal credit card debt be at $0. I ended up cashing out a few units and that is what allowed me to be able to pay off the debt in total this year.

Scott: Love it. I think that the purpose of an emergency fund in my mind, if you have bad debt, right? The only thing worse than bad debt is even more new bad debt, right. That seems to kind of what the purpose of that emergency fund is. What was your kind of thought process on how much cash in kind of an emergency fund or savings account or whatever that you were comfortable with before you started to apply everything else on top of that to the debt? What was that kind of threshold for you?

Rich: Yes, for me it was a couple of months of living expenses. I know we commonly hear three to six. Once I had a couple of months of living expenses stocked away, I felt pretty good about if anything came up and I went through all the scenarios of terrible things that could happen and I knew that I would be able to, like for example, if I lost my job I would not have enough money to live for a couple of months and then of course I would also be scrambling to find a new job which I did not worry a whole lot about as long as I knew that I had that couple of months of living expenses saved up. Then, once I had that, it was all about how do I become debt free?

2018 has really been that year for me where I have had that intentionality which I think is the most important part of it is having that goal and having that vision. For me, I always talk about having an emotional connection to whatever goal you are setting for yourself because I think a lot of times we will set goals arbitrarily and I have done this a lot in the past. For me, when I really started thinking about what I wanted my life to look like and how I want it to feel on a daily basis and how it would feel to achieve that goal, to have financial independence, to be completely debt free, to be in a position to save more money or even being in a position to make more money whether that is through work or extracurricular pursuits.

Once I have really had that outlined in my head and I could see myself getting there, then having extra money and knowing what to do with it became an easy decision of it.

Scott: Love it. What happens to you guys’ credit scores during this process?

Rich: Yes, for me, my credit score has gone up significantly. I think right now depending which bureau you look at, it ranges somewhere between 800 and 825. During the process, I noticed it would go up a few points here and there and there were times surprisingly where I would pay a chunk of debt and maybe not pay off the balance in full and I would go and look at my score and expect it to jump 20 points, there were periods where it would actually go down. It might go down a point or two or it might go up five points here and there but I did notice generally when I look at the chart or the graph, the line graph that shows your progress over time, there were dips but ultimately it trended upward.

Marcus: Yes, in similar, we actually just wrote a post about how we both, and because we took different journeys to get there, we both broke into the 800 FICO club. Oh, I do not what broke in is the appropriate word but we did. It has been more difficult for me to cling to the 800 for some reason, actually I think I know exactly what the reason is. Mine has fluctuated between 750 and 800 and then I also talked about in that post with full transparency, is it even worth the journey. I feel like it is a really millennial friendly like stand on the ground type of thing. Like, yes, 800 FICO and then you fall it. It is like when your 4.0 GPA goes down, it is actually very hard to maintain.

I also talked a little bit about is it even worth the headache? But it was not a nice accomplishment to have. I will also want to talk a little bit or expand a little bit on Rich’s point in addition to your question. I do not know about rich, but for me, I am also a natural spender. I will probably actually probably more so a natural spender than Rich if you all could tell by that story. When people would kind of hear that, they are like, well what changed? Fundamentally, I am still the same person. I am slightly more mature. I am definitely older, I am way older, I am slightly more mature. They have not like correlated together.

Rich: Yes, that is what my hair line says too.

Marcus: I automate everything. Like Rich knows this. The easiest way for me to be financially responsible is to get all the responsible money out of my hands as quickly as possible. By the third of the month, the 401k is funded, I am also in government. I have a pension fund and I am looking to invest in that. I invested in another one separately in a previous job. By the third, all the responsible that I need to do in my life are done so that technically for the next 28 days, I should be responsible. But if I am not, all the responsible things are taken care of so I can really not do too much harm to myself other than spending all of my checking account.

I bring that up because the reason I was able to do that, and actually this thinking has changed, modifying the plan is change the plan, not the goal. I tell people, and I do not know about Rich, but I work in a fairly secure environment. My pay does not fluctuate. There was one day I sat down, and this is depressing, and I just forecast it, what I would make with cost of living increases for the next 20 years because it is all public record. That is one of the gifts and curse that comes to working in the public sectors. I could look at all the pay bonds and everyone can, it is right there on Google. I can go, okay, if I stayed in this career field for the next 25 years, here is my life. I was not very happy with the result. I think that was another motivating factor for like what does financial independence look like for me and what does multiple income streams look like within that life?

Scott: I got a question. I suppose I am $30,000 in debt and I see a long way back to getting to zero, much less financial independence. What advice would you have for someone who is listening in that position for conceptualizing getting first out of debt and then beginning to build an income stream which maybe seems like a completely insurmountable challenge?

Marcus: I would actually probably would not look at that way. I guess you can have that as a long-term goal, but I would focus on whichever one of those is your priority first. I say that because that is why it is hard and I really do not like when people give these universal one size fits all approaches to life is if you are… Let us say you are mid-career, you have done well for yourself and you are making six figures, you might be able to do both. You might be able to plan for financing, you might be able to do all three. You might be able to allocate some money today, put some in savings, establish an emergency fund and save for retirement and financial independence.

If that is a lucrative way and you have that money available to you, you might have to make some sacrifices on the back end. I paid off my vehicle early, for example. I know Rich has done the same. For me, that was it, that was a Toyota Camry at the time. That was $350 back in my pocket that was being allocated at that 7% interest rates. That was $350 that I could either put towards debt, I could start investing. I believe in that scenario. I actually started putting it towards the debt but that is what I am talking about is look at your lifestyle and where your money is going and say can you do all three? Most people cannot. That is why I have got to say instead of, I would say Rich and I if there is levels to this, we are at the third level. Not in a bad way, but we are 15 years, well I am almost 15 years into my career, I do not speak for Rich, he is a little bit little younger than me. He likes to point it out all the time.

Rich: About like six months, man, come on now.

Marcus: Like I said, he likes to point it out all the time. I can look at my scenario, and not giving it an example, I like to look at my whole year and break it down by quarters because that is what has worked for me. I have a whiteboard for this, I have taken pictures of it, and for me last year I was like okay I have not really been prioritizing having an emergency. It is actually, in full transparency, it is near zero right now and I am trying to get it up to a $1,000 to answer your question because I have a secure job, my savings account paid less than 2%, and I am looking at the stock market which last year was averaging 20% although I think it is like 5% right now before people try to write in and call me out.

When I am looking at 20% in the stock market investing and 2%, that is a very simple scenario. I allocated 80% of my money, 80% of 20% towards investing because that is what was important to me last year. Now, that scenario might be changing where I might be looking at 5% versus 2%. To Rich’s point, okay, maybe now I need to start funding the emergency fund because an emergency is more likely to arrive. It is like playing the odds, playing the probability and taking calculated risk. I guess more accurately and specifically answer your question, which risk are you going to take? There are all risk and what I usually see is people take no risk. They are like I am just going to sit here, I am going to do nothing, I am $30,000 in debt, I am not going to save because that is scary, I am living paycheck to paycheck, I am not going to put anything in the stock market because that is scary.

Then five and ten years passed and they are still equally squared five or two years later. I am like, well, you did not accomplish anything other than perpetuating your fear. Definitely, do not do that. Whether it is financial independence, retirement or savings or debt, choose one. Make that your focus, automate it will take care of itself. Like I said, trust the process.

Scott: Yes, I love what you are talking about there. One of the risks that goes undefined by a lot of people is if you do not start attacking your debt or investing or building up an emergency fund, what you know is going to happen is you are going to continue to live in this like situation that like where you are stuck, you are completing to pay interest. The snowball is working against you, things are compounding, that is the worst possible scenario, right? I think, besides accumulating even more so than anything, anything that goes on with hey I am going to start accumulating more cash and somehow deploying it in an advantageous way to move me into a better situation.

Whether that is an emergency fund, whether that is paying down debt, whether that is making an investment. It does not matter is what you are saying is as long as you are making a choice there that you think is the best for you and you are applying that consistently and aggressively in them. Because that is the thing, we talk about all these different investing and interest, you know how to pay down debt, no. What matters is get your savings rate up and apply that money consistently and aggressively and the way that makes the most sense given your personal preferences and then the odds of success, the probabilities that you are rolling. I think it is great.

Marcus: Yes, I mean to put it very simple, actually this is one guest that we had on the short recently, Jason Brown. Number one, if you are doing nothing, how is that working out for you? Do something. It is 1/4 probability, it is literally four things, choose one? People get caught up on those which one is right and I would say any of them is right but nothing is wrong. Choose one and then what Jason said is like, as far as on the job front, things like that and he was talking about passive income and increasing your income through investment is he talks to his people.

They are like, well, you know it is scary and risky and I do not like it. He is like, ‘You do not like your job now. What is a different scenario to doing this other thing you do not like which might possibly allow you to leave this former thing you do not like?’ I mean it just kind of… I talked to people about everyone has excuses but typically they break down into valid-invalid. Let us remove all the invalid excuses and let us kind of focus on those valid excuses. If there is four things you need to choose from, choose the least risk and then choose one and start moving forward on it then you can tackle those other three later.

Rich: A big part of it for me was also thinking about the fact by paying off or paying credit card debt and then also having a car note is that was money that was tied up every month that I wished could be used for other things. I was listening to a podcast a few months ago and it was actually the impetus that led me to cash out a couple of stock units and pay off that final amount on the credit card and then also to pay off my car note two years earlier where I am like man I have $325 every month that just goes out the door. It would be great to have that money to invest whether it is in stock or whether it is in a personal interest or whether it is in entrepreneurship, it would be great to have that money every month versus just accept it. Hey, I am just going to be paying this for the next two years, next three years, next four years.

For some folks who have a high amount of debt, like that is going to be part of the process. Maybe you will be paying it over that chunk of time but if you have a choice and you know that there is something that you are interested in, in which my case, entrepreneurship, is something that I think about a lot and there are a lot of costs that go into starting your own business and running a business. I just kept thinking, I am carrying this debt for this car now. I am paying this every month. This is money that could be going towards something that is ultimately going to allow me to make more money. That is why it was such a big motivational factor for me.

Marcus: I will give one more example because I like to keep it really simple and Rich just reminded me. I was actually looking at this this weekend, or last week now, I was actually asking myself should I pay my car off earlier? My car loan is like 1.99% or something to that effect, which again, these things it is ironic that all these responsible decisions actually go. Money does actually make you more money. I am able to get this low interest rate. As you hear, new car interest rate was lower than the 7% I was paying in college. I bought this new car and I am like okay, to Rich’s point, it is actually not that much of my budget but it is just painful to make a car payment.

I went five years without it and now every month I regretted it. I was like what was I thinking man? I should have just drove that camera into the ground. It had 180,000 on it, I could probably put another 200. That being said, I am here now and I was like alright, I just do not like making this car payment. Is it smart to allocate more to this car payment? I went into excel, Microsoft Office, however people feel about it. It has thousands of templates. I typed in loan schedule, and guess what? Ten popped up, one was a car payment loan schedule. It allowed me to figure. It is a loan amortization if anyone wants to look it up. I was like, okay, I started playing with the numbers. How much I would put towards this car extra each month to pay it off early. I think I was looking at paying it off a year or two early.

I am about halfway through the payments now and it would save me money obviously but even in totality it is $2,000 in interest. I am like alright, I am going to allocate a lot of money each month to get maybe $1,000 back extra. I think I can do better than that. I started looking at okay, should I pay down my debt or should I put towards savings? Should I fund that emergency fund? It just was not the best decision. It would be nice to have that car payment back in my pocket from month to month but frankly, that is an emotional decision. It is not a mathematically low risk. Honestly, most responsible decision I can make right now for me. But that might be different for somebody who is maybe in the scenario I was 10 years ago. Well, that just dated me. When I have that used car at 7%, that might have been a different calculation. I might have come to a different conclusion.

Scott: I will chime in. I actually have the same exact decision in my life. I bought a 2014 Toyota Corolla at the end of 2013, that is a new model comes out, right? I financed the entire thing, zero down, and got a 2% interest loan which was, hey, do I pay this down early? It is $320 a month or do I let it continue? Thankfully, I just had my last car payment last month because five years have passed now. But it was the same thing. It was like, oh, this is terrible. I would have this money in my pocket, but I think I can do better investing my money elsewhere rather than paying down this particular note early.

Marcus: Another thing I want to point out on this is we talked about this on the show all the time, it is that either adjusting for cost of living but maybe even more importantly just adjust for the cost of where you live. Or maybe, I guess that is the wrong terminology because it is where do you live in, how should you live there? Because the most common scenario, and probably some people even listening are going to be like, well why do not you sell the car? I was like I live in Texas. Like this is not a very public transportation friendly area. I guess I could walk to work.

When I lived in Denver, which is a city I lived in seven years before this, that was not a great scenario. Part of the reason I was able, I mean shout out to Denver. They have a great public transportation system, it gets you all over the city. You do not even need Uber or Lyft or like both. I never used them. In fact, I only drove my car on the weekends. I did not even think about how many miles, how many maintenance, how many oil changes was put back into my pocket simply because I took the train to work five days out of the week.

Now that I am back in Texas, that car had 180,000 on it, it had been paid off. It kind of stalled the mileage that I was putting on the vehicle and so I brought it back to Texas and within a few weeks I am putting thousands of miles on this car because everything is thousands of miles from each other in Texas. You could drive one hour and still be in the city of Houston. Everybody who does not believe me, try it. You could  drive an hour straight and never leave the city of Houston. That scenario, that is what I am talking about. I was like I need a vehicle.

Now, there is some arguments about do I need the vehicle that I have, that was a personal choice but I was like I look at it like well I kept my last vehicle 10 years, I am probably going to keep this one 10 to 12 years. I am going to buy the vehicle I want in the next 10 years. If I pay it off in five, I am not like man, I got this crappy, great deal that I do not want to drive or another five years. No, I want the vehicle that I want that fits within my budget.

Scott: Going back to that discussion about interest rate, right, that we were talking about. You and I both chose not to pay down a very low interest rate loan early, right? With this conscious decision, we are going to put the money elsewhere to try to get a bigger spread on that return.

Marcus: Yes.

Scott: How does that apply to your thinking if you are where is that cutoff for you guys? Where do you kind of do? Is that 2%, 3%, 4%, 5%, 6%, 7%, 8% interest at some point in there? I assume that the math shifts in your head and you say, ‘No, I am going to pay it off.’ How do you kind of determine that?

Marcus: I am laughing because it is a great question and Rich and I are both doing it up into the left eyes like, hmm. I will go first just in case he is still formulating his answer. I guess I do not really have a cutoff. It is not like, okay at 3% this is when I make the transition, at 2% here is when I make the transition. Now, I cannot say it is fairly simple when it is such a huge spread. Like in that scenario where I was looking at, okay, this year… Last year now, 2017, I get the years correct? The stock market was averaging about between a 14% to 20% return. I think ultimately it came in at 14%. That is a simple decision because my savings account was paying 2%.

Now, in present, this will be 2018, whenever this hit in your ears, when it maybe 2019, now that it was averaging about 5% I am like, ‘Okay, that is a 3% different.’ That is a little bit and there is inherently some calculated risks about being in the stock market. Where is your savings account? Very secured. It is monetary and I am assuming it is going to be around 2% since they are raising interest rates. That is a little bit simpler decision to make. I guess what I am saying is the easier decision is when the spread is more narrow and when it is more wide. When it is highly in your favor, that is an easy decision to make. But you said something that I think is really important and it is a conscious decision. Being thoughtful about what you are doing with your money and just the fact that I have already thought about all these scenarios and I can easily weigh them because I have done it five, ten, and twenty times over the years now. It is easier for me to make that decision.

Rich: Yes. Quite honestly, that is not something as far as the interest rate that I thought about. For me, it was about financial freedom and it was about being free of all debt. It was also thinking about the fact that I have aspirations outside of my day job. I want to be able to take the leap into entrepreneurship full time at some point. I needed to have that money to save it, to start getting things in order for my business, and so I did not really think very much about the interest rate and how I could stretch that money out. It was more so about the longer term goal that I have for myself and being able to get there as quickly as possible.

Scott: Got It.

Mindy: Yes. I use this for the mortgage payoff versus the keeping the mortgage. There is a huge debate on the BiggerPockets website about should I pay down my mortgage or should I not? I have a 3.25% interest rate on my mortgage and that is historically low. I am not sure exactly how old you are, Rich. Marcus you have made several comments that you are old, I got both of you beat, I know it but my first mortgage was 7% interest rate so I am right there with Marcus, I do not negotiate. I do not negotiate, I did not negotiate. I thought I was some hot snot girl getting a 7% interest rate because that is so awesome and now you see these 3.25% rates in here or you did if you do not see them now. It sounds like it is so silly to pay that off early.

In my opinion, because I could do something else with that money. I can take the money that would otherwise be sitting a basically dead equity in my house and invest that in the stock market that is returning 14% to 20%. I will pay 3.25% to make 14% any day of the week. But I can also see Rich’s point of view where you want to be debt free. There is this huge mental shift where I do not mind having a mortgage but some people that just weighs on them and they cannot sleep at night and it is ultimately it is what you can do and what you can live with and if you cannot live with being any sort of debt then pay it all off and work out a plan to pay it all off.

Rich: Yes. I think for me, debt is not freedom. Freedom is the thing that I value most. I had that feeling where it was weighing on me and I would be making payments and being like, oh, this money could be going to something else. Like so much more valuable. This could be going into savings, this could be going into investments, it could be going to all of these other places but instead it is going to a creditor. I think in many cases, it really just comes down to personal preference and personal choice but for me I saw the debt as shackles.

Marcus: I will also say this, going back to that emotional aspect, I have struggled with this myself and I know other people are struggling with it as well, one of the other differences that you are really starting to get into the nuances about like a car loan payment, maybe even a student loan payment, even though they tend to be, well hopefully they are smaller, and a home loan payment is… Let us say I decided to pay that car off early, and I have actually worked in this scenario before, and I make an early payment for 59 months to 60 months car loan. If I do not make that 60th month, they do not care about those 59 early month payment.

They are going to take their car just the same as if I made zero payments and whereas with a credit card are I guess are rotating a loan, which typically is going to be a credit card for most people, if you an early payment your balance is affected typically on most cards and you make over a minimum payment. It is effective next month, you can see an immediate return, I could see my balance going down. I know some people are going to be saying, ‘Well, yes. My principal is going down on the low, I am building equity in the home, and my principal is going down in the car. But the differences if I do not make the credit card payment, they may come looking for me. They may make my life difficult but they are not going to, well, I do not know what they are going to take. I mean they do not recoup anything. There is no home to come kick me out of, there is no car to go steal while I am at work I guess if the reality shows are correct.

That is why I tell people typically for the average person who is not in that six figure income where they can do all three or all four, I mean that is kind of that luxury that comes. The luxury that comes with more money is that you can inherently take more risks because you have got more money to spread around. I mean that is one of the benefits that come with it. When you are either paycheck to paycheck or near page check to pay check, you got to monitor every single dollar.

For most people, that is going to be paying those high interest credit card loans, those I will call them creditory although I will not say any company, those creditory loans clearing off any of those balances where they may be in collections right now. Then you can start talking about these other scenarios about the home and the car, what should I pay down earlier to start weighing the pros and cons of well where do you want to allocate your interests. But for most people, it is just tackling that immediate debt where they can see an immediate benefit. It also gets you in the habit.

Now, at this point, when I walk through the store, and it is funny when I go through this scenario, I am just in the habit of being responsible. That responsible voice starts talking to the back of my head like remember 10 years ago, man? Remember that 27 year old folk, remember that remote controlled car. Because I am in the habit of thinking in that manner and like I can, well most days more easily talk myself out of those things. Just build those responsible habits, start with step one.

Mindy: Okay. Well, yes, but building responsible habits is a good first step. Let us say somebody comes up to you and or somebody who is listening to this show and they have a ton of debt. They are living paycheck to paycheck, they do not know where to start. How do you build a responsible habit? Like what is a good first step for somebody who is really just scared to make a move because they had got this tenuous string that they are hanging from that they are just if I stopped doing this then everything is going to collapse. For me, again, it is tying it to your personality, my personality. I am an auditor so we write everything down, we like to triangulate everything, to collaborate that evidence on top of that evidence.

For me, it is writing it down. I like coming up with a plan and I will give an exact scenario. One year, I was getting really overwhelmed. I think it was like 2016 and I was like falling back into some old habits. I was like, oh no, it is happening all over again. You know now I am buried under the snow, I need to avalanche, I need to snowball. I wrote it down, I took out… That is when I bought this whiteboard that I used and I wrote it down and I could not even fill up the year. After like three months, I would be back to where I needed to be. I was like I was just overwhelming myself with these really worst case scenarios and life is falling apart and you have not learned anything.

For me, it is just seeing it. I am a visual person by nature so seeing it spread out I was like, okay here is what 2017 is going to look like, we need to get it together. I like got through March and I could not even think of what else to do. Like the year would take care of itself if I just did some responsible things for the next three months. I did and it was able to get me out of that spiral that I was getting into mentally. Then if that does not work and you still do not feel comfortable and I think we are demonstrating it here, we do it so in the shows, talk to someone. I mean I did not even know this community existed five or ten years ago. Seeing the people my age and finding people who look and resemble like me doing it gave me the confidence to say, ‘Oh, maybe I can do it myself too.’

Rich: Yes. I also think you need to understand, particularly for thinking about getting out of debt and you are living paycheck to paycheck, that it is going to take time. It is okay to start small. Because we see the stories of someone so paid off, a $150,000 in debt, etc., in 18 months. It does not have to take you 18 months, it can take 24 months, it can take 36. Of course, the sooner you pay off that debt, the better. But if you are paying the minimum payment right now then pay $5 more than the minimum.

Pay $10 more than the minimum. Start building that comfort level with increasing how much you are paying overtime and accept that it might take you a little bit longer to pay it off but over time you will say okay, I was able to pay $5 more. Okay, I was able to pay $10, $20 and that is what really starts building the momentum. I would tell people, do not worry about making these huge payments. Worry about taking steps to slowly start building that habit and in getting you there. That can just be $5 or $10 more per month that you are putting toward your outstanding debt.

Marcus: I will quickly say, because some people are going to hear, ‘Yes, $10. What difference could that make?’ There is a company out there, I will not name drop but you could just Google it, it was just $10 a month. They said if you had $10,000 on a credit card, just paying the minimum would take like 15 years I believe and paying an extra $10 would be four years. You can save 11 years just by paying $10 over the minimum. People think it has to be this astronomical number to make a difference in their lives and it does not. It is mathematically incorrect.

Scott: I love it, write it down.

Mindy: That is awesome.

Scott: Talk to some people and take small steps forward. I mean like that is it, that is all you got to do to make dramatic progress in this game of finance.

Rich: It feels good. When you start taking those small steps and then you say, well, I was able to pay $5, $10, $15, $20 more, that then forces you to start thinking about the other things that are possible because you are like, you know what? I did not think I could do this before and I am actually doing it. How much more could I put towards my credit card debt? How much more money could I save?

In the process of paying more, I have also realized that that there are some things that maybe I do not need as much or there are ways that I can save money that is going to allow me to put even more money toward off this debt. You can make it fun as well. Let me see if I can get to a point where if in a year I am paying $25 or $50 more than the minimum. That is why I really encourage people to start small because once you start… It is almost like going from crawling to walking to running. I mean, I ran track, so I guess that metaphor would make sense for me.

Mindy: Okay. It is time for our Famous Four Questions. These are the same five questions that we ask everyone, four questions and a command. We will command you at the end. What is your favorite finance book? Rich, I am going to tag you first.

Rich: Yes, my favorite. Ooh, that is a good question. I am going to go with I’ll Teach You To Be Rich which…

Mindy: Ramit Sethi.

Rich: Yes, yes. Which I read a number of years ago. It was probably the first personal finance book or money book that I ever read. It was really helpful for me in terms of even thinking about the mindset and what is possible in terms of personal financing. One thing that we did not talk about extensively on the show is that I was previously in a long-term relationship and I was engaged in that whole dynamic and the impact that that had on personal finances. I remember that being the one book that we spoke about together and really kind of looking at some of the principles that are in it and then also saying, okay. Like what is this future that we want to create and how can we apply what is here to ultimately get where we want to go? I’ll Teach You To Be Rich, it is also probably the only book that I have out. It is on my shelf, that looks pretty bare otherwise.

Mindy: Did you pick that book because your name is Rich?

Rich: I did not. I actually picked it because I saw it on a blog somewhere.

Scott: I will teach you to literally be rich.

Rich: I will teach you to be me.

Mindy: Yes, there is no I will teach you to be Mindy, I will teach you to be Scott. Okay, Marcus. Since nobody is going to teach you how to be Marcus, what is your favorite finance book?

Marcus: I will start with a plug. I am actually reading 15 personal finance books and did a review at Paychecks&Balances.com/books. My favorite, still on the list, is actually The Millionaire Next Door by, I had to look it up, Thomas J. Stanley, for two reasons. One, I read it in high school and it is sort of impacted my thinking but it had a much more impactful thinking now that I read it again in my 30’s. The reason I liked that book a lot is it shows what simply making cutbacks in your life could lead to and that it kind of destroys, I guess is the word that we will use, the stereotype of what a millionaire looks like.

It kind of shows how you can still build millions by living a fairly simple life and I think there is a quote in there that no one likes or people who do not like to do not read the book is that anybody who has an a steady income get a mass million dollars within their lifetime. Everybody hates that but he proves it, it is true, it is hell true, it is still true and current people have reviewed this book all the way up to 2018, I am sure they will do it again in that 2019 and it still hold true just by the math that they could present in that book.

Scott: Love it. That is also one of my favorite books.

Marcus: Yes.

Scott: What was your biggest money mistake? I think we covered this to a certain degree for both of you but…

Marcus: Yes. Yes, it was my 72 hours, $26,000 in two nights. I have to say.

Rich: Yes, that is a good question. For me, it is just a series of little mistakes and for me it was just consistently putting things on a credit card and saying, ‘Oh, I will pay that off, I will pay that off, I will pay that off. It was like making a mistake every single time and then next thing you know I have got a $20,000 of debt, total. I cannot think of one specific thing but I can think of all the little things that I have done over the course of the years that got me into debt in the first place.

Scott: Rich, would it be fair to say that maybe it was the failure to pay attention to your finances holistically during that period?

Rich: Yes. There was a stretch where I had multiple accounts and I had business accounts mixed with personal accounts through a previous venture that I was part of and even just understanding what was actually going out every month versus what was coming in, it was years before I really did that exercise. It is something that is right there on the bank statement and it is something that you can see out there via apps so easily. For years, I just had no concept of what was going out or what was going in and I think some of that was even related to fear, having to accept that I had been so irresponsible for so long and I think that even delayed me in terms of taking steps to get myself out of debt in the first place. Yes, having that holistic understanding, definitely something that I did not have. I mean that is how I ended up there. I did not have the crazy weekend that Marcus did but just over the course of years just making a bad small financial decisions that ultimately added up over time. I guess that would be a different type of snowball.

Scott: Love it.

Mindy: What is your best piece of advice for people who are just starting out?

Marcus: Well, I have said it a few times and it is because people never do it. In fact, some people will listen to the show and still not do it. The best piece of advice I would give for starting out is to start. People are like, Oh man, that was a really great show. Then they come back a year later and they are like, man, I still have not done that. Start to take whatever financial nugget or wisdom or pieces of advice that applies to you from the show. Start somewhere like we talked about that four part plan or whatever the case you may be intimidated by. Start, start.

Rich: Actually, I am going to jump back to that previous question real quick. One thing that I just thought about within the previous relationship, I added my partner at the time as an authorized user for a credit card and we never really had a conversation about finances and about money and we had completely different philosophies in terms of how we thought about money and that also ended up being a factor in why the relationship ended. I was probably overthinking the question, but looking back, I am like we should not have done that. The biggest financial mistake might have been not having a conversation money in the first place.

Actually, it was not something that we talked about until the end of the relationship which is pretty crazy. As far as the current question, understand your values. I think that that is something that often gets overlooked. I have heard people say that if you look at your bank account and where you are spending, that will tell you what you value. If you look at your bank account and you see where you are spending and it does not align with that… For me, I do love food but there are things that I like a lot more in terms of how I want to live my life. I think it is important to understand what your values are because those are then going to inform your goals. And then those are then going to be your guiding light for the decisions that you make whether it is financially, personally or professionally.

One thing I said earlier is freedom. Debt is not freedom, freedom is my number one value. Now, I make decisions throughout life that put me in a position to maximize the amount of freedom that I have. Understand your values and from there have goals that you can look forward to, have goals that you can have an emotional connection to because those are the ones that are going to stick because you can actually feel what it is going to be like to achieve them and that is what is going to keep you going when things get tough.

Mindy: That, I love.

Scott: Alright. What is your favorite jokes to tell at parties?

Rich: I mean, is this an explicit show? Because the jokes that I will tell… I will go there. I am like, I am like, oh uncomfortable laughter. Marcus, I am going to let you take this.

Marcus: Actually, it is very easy because I do not tell jokes at parties. I guess the best jokes I tell at parties tend to be stories about myself, a very self-deprecating. When I tell the story, I am actually dead serious and people were like, ‘Oh, $26,000 in one week?’ I was like it actually hurt a lot. There is a lot of tears and like he was crying. I was like, yes, I cried some nights. I guess the stories about myself tend to be the best jokes.

Mindy: Okay. I am laughing at your delivery, not your comment.

Rich: I do not have go to jokes but I am really good at when people are having a conversation, I am very good at finding like a pop culture reference or a song reference and tying that into the conversation and people will randomly look at me and be like, how did you even come up with that? I do not even have a good example. It could be something about hip hop, Soulja boy, Soulja boy has not had a song in a long time, but it could be about anything and I will find a way to come up with something and I am also known to just like randomly say words and people would look at me kind of weird.

I might just be talking to some people that I might just say sausages and then people will be like, ‘What is wrong with you?’ I guess that is also my way of making uninteresting conversations interesting and then it gets into a whole conversation about the way people think. I realized I am going way too deep here so I am going to fade out.

Scott: Moving out of the realm of debt, what do you call a hippies’ wife?

Rich: Oh.

Mindy: I do not know.

Rich: What is it?

Scott: Mrs. Hippie?

Rich: Oh, come on.

Marcus: I want to say my guilty pleasure lately is dad jokes and that would have nailed it. I would not have made it either, you have got a point there because I laughed.

Mindy: Oh my God. No, Rich, you are officially my favorite guest ever because you grow to. I hate these jokes, Scott thinks they are awesome. I have another one because sometimes our listeners who do side with Scott, even though they are wrong, they will send us jokes. How many software engineers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Rich: This feels like a real world interview question where I am at but…

Mindy: None, it is a hardware issue.

Rich: Oh, come on man. That is like… These are the jokes were the answer was just so straight forward that it is almost like it is infuriating. It is like I am sitting here wracking my brain trying to come up with this creative answer and it is like the most obvious thing. It is the thing that I immediately went like I feel beads of sweat in the bald spot on my head right now. Like, come on.

Mindy: What do you mean a bald spot? You have no hair on your head at all. The whole thing is a bald spot.

Rich: Well, actually there is like this little spot in the middle that is like a little bit more bald. But yes, I guess I… You know what? My whole head is sweating. Oh, man. That is good. I got to work on some of those because I need some go to’s to make people grow or to make people go, ‘Oh, come on.’ There is someone on Facebook who is in the podcast community and they managed to come up with one of these jokes everyday, very easily. He manages to come up like one every single day and I am like, ‘Dude, how do you do this?’ Like do you have like a random dad joke generator? Maybe that is why I need to start. I just need to have a daily jokes sent into my inbox or something.

Mindy: Well, you can just go ask Jared to send you a note every single time. Yes, well, are either of you dads?

Marcus: I am not.

Rich: Not that I am aware of.

Scott: I love that response.

Marcus: I am not going to speak for Rich. I will try not to get myself in trouble but as the show has grown, we are not famous. Who are we? We keep it very humble but like more and more people from our past are contacting us. Like I get a lot more like… I get messages on LinkedIn at this point. Like, ‘Hey, saw the podcast on Yahoo Finance.’ I am like, why are you reaching out? What is this about Facebook messages? I am waiting for that one like he looks just like you. If it comes, it comes. I am here to collect, I hear you are financially free now so you could take financially free this child I have been hiding for 11 to 15 years apparently.

Mindy: Okay. Now, for the command. Tell me where people can find out more about you.

Rich: Yes, you can find a Paychecks & Balances, the podcast, on your favorite podcast player. You can also find us at paychexandbalances.com. We are on Twitter and Instagram at paybalances and on Facebook at Paychecks & Balances. My individual Twitter account is, IamRichJones and you can find Marcus at theMarcusGarret with one T on Twitter, two T’s everywhere else on earth.

Mindy: The Marcus Garrett, I am so excited to have spoken to The Marcus Garrett. You are Rich Jones. Thank you guys for coming on. I am a huge fan of your show and I am super excited to have you on my show.

Rich: This was awesome. Really appreciate it.

Scott: Yes, thanks guys.

Marcus: This s a lot of fun.

Mindy: Okay. We will talk to you soon.

Scott: Alright. That was Marcus Garrett and Rich Jones from Paychecks & Balances. Mindy, what did you think?

Mindy: I love talking to them. I love their story. I do not love their story. I mean, yes, they have debt, but you know what? Everybody has debt, not everybody. Most people have debt at some point in their life and ignoring it is not going to change it. Apparently, you can get a $10,000 check from a debt consolidation company and go blow, what they say, $26,000 in 72 hours? But then, you have to be an adult and pay it off and formulating a plan, Marcus had some great tips. His DEBT acronym is super helpful for just getting in the right mindset to pay off your debt because ignoring it does not work.

Scott: Yes. I think that just like starting small, you can see what the results that have paid off for both of those gentlemen as they started small, took action and slowly pay off this debt. Now, the enthusiasm that they are approaching their financial future with it is just awesome as a result of what they have been able to achieve.

Mindy: Yes. I am super excited for both of them and I know that they are going to hit all their goals.

Scott: Yes, no question. They need to work on their jokes though.

Mindy: Yes, they do need to work on their jokes.

Scott: Alright. Well, should we get out of here?

Mindy: We should. Okay, from episode 56 of the BiggerPockets Money podcast, this is Mindy Jensen and Scott Trench and we are leaving.

Scott: Goodbye.

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • Marcus and Rich’s money journey
  • How Marcus spent $26K in just one weekend
  • How Rich optimized his budget around things he wants versus the things he needs
  • The concept of the debt snowball
  • Rich’s hybrid approach to tackling his debt
  • The purpose of an emergency fund
  • Advice for being financially responsible
  • The importance of focusing on priorities first
  • Their advice for people on paying debts
  • The importance of being conscious about your decisions, especially when it comes to paying debt
  • Building responsible habits
  • And SO much more!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show

Tweetable Topics:

  • “It’s better to make progress—progress, not perfection.” (Tweet This!)
  • “Debt is not freedom.” (Tweet This!)
  • “Change the plan, not the goal.” (Tweet This!)

Connect with Rich and Marcus