BiggerPockets Money Podcast 138: Financial Blunders to Financial Buff: How Farnoosh Torabi’s Money History Grew Her Career

BiggerPockets Money Podcast 138: Financial Blunders to Financial Buff: How Farnoosh Torabi’s Money History Grew Her Career

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Farnoosh Torabi grew up talking about money. Her parents are from the Middle East, and in her culture, they “never miss a moment to talk about money.”

As the go-to girl for finance advice among her friends, imagine her surprise when she sat down and looked at her financial situation to discover tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt! Farnoosh realized that paying for everything with a card, then paying the minimum balances didn’t lead to debt free life.

Not wanting to continue a life of debt – mainly so she wouldn’t have to tell her mom – she hustled during school. Taking class notes and selling them on her school’s notes system, babysitting, bird sitting, anything that would generate income so she could throw money at her debt and pay it off.

Graduation took her to New York City and a stroke of luck found her a shared apartment with a married couple for $500 a month. Definitely less than she could find on her own. She started off making very little, and strategically increased her income to offset the fact that she “isn’t a good saver.”

Farnoosh has parlayed her own financial knowledge into a career teaching others how to manage their own finances. From books, to podcasts, to television, Farnoosh is everywhere, educating this oh-so-important skill so that others can work toward their own financial freedom.

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Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Mindy:
Welcome to the BiggerPockets Money podcast, show number 138, where we interview Farnoosh Torabi from So Money, and really dive deep into her money story.

Farnoosh:
Start wherever you’re at. I think you can get very easily overwhelmed with all of the things that you want to accomplish. You get obsessed with the finish line. So that can create a lot of analysis paralysis. You can get overwhelmed, and then you get stuck, and then you don’t move forward.

Mindy:
Hello, hello, hello. My name is Mindy Jensen and with me as always is my finally got a haircut co-host, Scott Trench.

Scott:
Oh, thanks for noticing it, so that I can comb through money stories better with you on the show here today.

Mindy:
Scott and I are here to make financial independence less scary, less just for somebody else, and show you that by following the proven steps, you can put yourself on the road to early financial freedom, and get money out of the way, so you can lead your best life.

Scott:
That’s right. Whether you want to retire early and travel the world, go on to make big time investments in assets like real estate, start your own business, or just learn about another fantastic money story, we’ll help you build a position, capable of launching yourself towards those dreams.

Mindy:
Scott, I am so pumped to have Farnoosh on the show today. I first met her 100 years ago in 2014, when she wrote this book called When She Makes More, and I was just so impressed with her. She’s Farnoosh, she contributes to Oprah Magazine and she was on CNBC, and her list of things that she’s done is longer than my arms.

Scott:
This podcast is just so money. So you’re going to really enjoy it. It’s going to be fantastic.

Mindy:
I really feel like this is a story about Farnoosh that nobody else has ever heard before. She seemed to really just get excited about sharing all the little things that helped shape the way that she has her relationship with money these days.

Scott:
That’s right. Yeah, it’s a great episode, and I think you’re going to absolutely love it.

Mindy:
I think so too. And it goes a little bit longer than our normal episodes, but that’s okay, because it is action packed from start to finish.
Farnoosh Torabi, welcome to the BiggerPockets Money podcast. I’m super excited to have you on the show today. You are the author of three books, and you have a podcast called So Money. And you’ve been on various TV shows, and I really want to know where you learned about money.

Farnoosh:
Oh, well, first, thank you so much for having me on your show. I’m such a fan. I think I would say I learned about money in two major ways. The first was growing up the daughter of immigrants, particularly Middle Eastern immigrants. So culturally, Middle Easterners, we don’t skip a conversation about money. We love talking about money. We love talking about how much things cost, real estate, jobs, how to get a discount, negotiating. We’re big on money. We just love the topic.
It’s unlike here in the United States, I think where it’s a taboo topic. I’ve heard people tell me on my show, I grew up thinking money was an impolite topic. No, we just go there.
And so that cultural background and exposure for me was, I think fertile ground to develop a curiosity around money, and to be not intimidated by finance and ask questions. I really give a lot of credit to my family for giving me that leg up.
And then I think just growing up, when I realized what it meant to be independent, I knew that it meant being financially solvent and independent. I would watch my mother, for example, who had on and off jobs, and my father who was the steady breadwinner in our family. They had a bit of a power struggle in their relationship.
I didn’t like that. I witnessed that. And so on the one hand, my parents were really open about money, but maybe a little too open, because they exposed me to a lot of the conflict that they had in their own personal relationship around money. And it always seemed to be about the fact that my mother never had it. And my father was trying to decide for the family how to design the family and use the money and she always felt like she was out of that conversation. She always said to me, make your own money, make your own decisions.
And that for me was again an earlier education on what the true value of being financially independent meant. And so, I think we’re all a patchwork of all these memories. We arrive at adulthood with all of these stories. We may not connect all of the dots, but then you get asked a question on a BiggerPockets Money podcast, and there you go. You’re like, wait a minute.
My mother said these things and my parents acted this way and I think that really set me up more for success than anything else. I leveraged all of that. And then of course, you go to school and you meet people and you experience life and all of that adds more color and layers to your education and pursuit of being who you want to be.
I always wanted to be a helper. And I think that finance, money for me, I identified this as a way to be in service to other people, where I was that girl in the group, that didn’t mind talking about money and noticed that I was the odd one out here. And knowing that money’s important and realizing maybe there’s a void here that I can fill, I can be that girlfriend that go-to gal, that go-to person for helping first maybe my friends with their money, but then actually, could I do this as a job? Turns out you can.

Mindy:
You sure can. So it sounds like you’ve always been perfect with money.

Farnoosh:
No. To the contrary, you learn through your lessons and your mistakes. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I had debt, I had a low paying job. I definitely, I remember in college, before apps, before really the internet was what we know of it today, before mobile phones, I would use the ATM as my financial advisor. I would go and just get the receipt and find out how much money was in my bank account. That’s how I kept a running tab of whether I was in the red or in the black.
The ATM receipts are not so up to date. And so then I had a day where I had literally nine or 10 overdrafts in my checking account in college and it was negative $25 times nine. I’m 20 years old. How did this happen?
But then the Middle Eastern woman in me called up the credit union and was like, look, obviously, I didn’t do this on purpose. I have been a good customer, I get it one time, but can you please erase the other eight or nine negative withdrawal fees, overdraft fees? And they said, sure.
So I learned quickly and fast and hard that you need to be your biggest advocate, when it comes to your financial health. That mistakes will happen, but you need to quickly learn from them. I had $30,000 in student loan debt after graduate school, which I actually think relative to student loans and everything, I think it was a lot to manage, making $18 an hour before taxes, living in New York City.
But my peers had six figures worth of student loan debt, because they had college, undergraduate debt and graduate school debt. I felt lucky somehow that I didn’t have that magnanimity of student loan debt, but at the same time, it’s all relative. So it was really hard for me to get out underneath that.
The way I did it, was I just took on a lot of side hustles. I babysat, I bird sat. I also did, while I worked in New York and lived there, I didn’t spend a lot of my social time there in the beginning, because I knew I was just going to get robbed. I was just going to piss away all that money at a bar or restaurant.
You leave the city. It’s like immediately you spend $20 as soon as you leave your apartment. You don’t know what happened, you come home and you have less money, and you don’t even know how it happened. I would go home and stay with my parents, I would take the Greyhound bus and just go home and go to a quieter place, where I wasn’t around so much temptation.

Scott:
In a lot of folks’ journeys with money, there’s an inflection point where you decide, hey, I’m going to get back in command of this journey and really in control. And it sounds to me like you maybe weren’t in command at that moment when you found all the overdraft charges. Would you say that that moment or when was that moment for you where you began to really assert that control over your money journey?

Farnoosh:
Yeah, I was a wreck in college. I got a bunch of credit cards in college. I was actually making money in college, so I guess there was that, but I wasn’t learning how to live within a budget. I was using my credit cards as basically income to go and spend on, not necessities, let’s be honest.
And it was a phone call that my mother made to me one time, I was in my dorm, I think it was junior year, and she had no idea that I had thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Had no idea that I had mismanaged the cards and that I was only paying minimums on my balances, and she said to me, unbeknownst to that, she said your cousin, I was talking to my sister, my aunt, she was having a conversation.
And the topic turned to money and the kids. And my aunt confessed that her son, my cousin, had racked up something like $30,000 in credit card debt over the course of college, and had no way of paying it back. So they bailed him out, the parents. And so my aunt is calling my mom to gripe about it.
My mother immediately picks up the phone and calls me, doesn’t know anything about what’s going on in my life, but she says, can you believe your cousin? Let me tell you something, Farnoosh, if you ever get into this much debt or any debt, we are not bailing you out. I was like, yeah, of course. No, I’d never imagine ever coming to you. Wow, that’s terrible. I can’t believe he did that. Wow, what a loser. Can I call you back?
And going back and really, okay, now I have to come up with a plan, because I can’t go home at Thanksgiving. Somehow they find out that I have all this debt because I’m also the type of daughter who can’t keep secrets. My parents, from a very young age, were very clear about telling the truth, and I can’t hold a secret around my parents.
I call it the fear of God, that my mother basically put in me. And my mother is responsible for a lot of my fear driven, responsible moves.

Scott:
I love that, that’s that’s a really powerful inflection point. So what was your behavior like? We have a little bit of a picture, but could you describe your behavior prior to that phone call? What changed about your money behavior following it?

Farnoosh:
I was living in denial. I think I thought, well, I’m not, not paying off my credit card bills. I’m paying the minimum. I’m doing what they’re telling me to do. I didn’t have any education on what a credit score was, or how this was going to impact my credit or why credit would even be important.
And so while my father, I remember had said some things in high school and growing up about the importance of establishing credit, I didn’t really know. As a young woman in college, who wanted to go out and party and my parents had put me on a very small stipend in school, this is your little stipend to go and get the pizza, whatever you want off campus, but any more than that, you need to get a job.
And so I did work a lot in college, but I still didn’t know what it meant to live below your means. I think that that’s a real hard transition for a lot of young folks going to college, having been afforded everything by their parents up until that point, or not everything, but living a life where someone else is paying for you. And now you’re in college and you’re on your own and you’re accustomed being able to maybe eat out or buy a shirt, but now you can’t.
And so you’re walking on campus, and this credit card marketer, delightful lady tells you open up one of our credit cards, we’ll give you a T-shirt, we’ll give you some shot glasses, you’ll get all these points if you use the card and it’s like great, sign me up. I remember graduating from college years later for the first time checking my credit report, and realizing I had all these credit cards that I had not been keeping in my wallet. I don’t even know where these cards were. I was in another place in college. I probably went down College Avenue at Penn State and opened up six credit cards, came back to the dorm with all the goodies and never opened and never used them.
But I think that I like so many college students, just had to learn the hard way about what it means to be responsible with money.

Scott:
So it sounds like after that call, things more or less continued with the spending or what was the-

Farnoosh:
No, I was woke, I was afraid of facing my mother. Have you met my mother? She was a scary lady. She’s kind and sweet, but don’t cross her. She’s a woman who sticks to her words.
And so I knew, it’s very black and white when it comes to things like this. And so I just hunkered down. It’s a privilege to be able to rack up credit card debt and not really have a lot of consequences, except for the fact you have to hunker down and not spend, and you still can go to college, and you still have a dorm and you still can go to the cafeteria and eat.
So my commitment at that point was to just stay low. Keep it on the down low, don’t go out as much, don’t socialize as much. Try to avoid those temptations and just work more. So that is something that has been really constant in my life. I’m not the best saver. The best way for me to save is just automatically do it. If you give me $10, I’m going to spend eight of it if I can, so best to just automatically save that before it hits my bank account, or before it gets into my hands.
And so I would earn more, and I’ve all through my life been really good at earning more to make up for the fact that maybe I’m not the best saver, but I’m a really good earner. So it balances out.

Scott:
So it would be fair to say that you began to think about ways to earn more and maybe spend a little after that, and then what did you do with that money? Was it just breakeven or was it paying it down?

Farnoosh:
I paid it down. I paid it down quite a bit. I think I still graduated from college with about 1,000 or 2,000 in credit card debt. The mistake was I didn’t stop using the cards while I was trying to pay them down. I think that was also a hard lesson learned, but I took on so much work sophomore year. I was working in a restaurant, I worked at the school newspaper, we had this company called Nittany Notes, you could go to class and take notes. And then they would publish your notes and let the other students buy your notes. This is an actual business, and it’s still, there’s a lot more of these, these days.
And multiple revenue streams. I was a hustler in 1999, and so much so that I came home holiday break just exhausted, thinking I need to transfer schools, I’m not happy. My mother was like let’s evaluate your schedule. You’re taking on all these courses, you have three jobs, you need to dial it back.
I dialed back the course work, I didn’t over schedule my courses, but I kept on working and that definitely helped to eliminate a lot of the debt. I wish it had eliminated all of the debt, it should have, for all that I was working, but I think that it was still a tempting time. You’re 19, 20 years old, you’re with your friends and I went to Penn State, where I was in state paying in state tuition, I had a scholarship. I was fortunate in that way.
But a lot of my friends were out of state. They were wealthy, my dorm mate or my neighboring roommate, her parents would just come and drop hundreds of dollars. Here you go. She had a drawer full of cash. I’ll never forget, this 19 year old girl in our dorm. Kind of dangerous, right? And she would just open the drawer and be like look at all this money my parents give me, I don’t even know what to do with it. And I’m like…

Mindy:
I know what to do with it.

Farnoosh:
I know what to do with it. Can I have some of that? I have debt. So I think that it also taught me to be mindful of who you surround yourself with. Here’s a woman who, my friend, who had access to a lot more money than I did and didn’t really know, also didn’t know what to do with it, but at least wasn’t spending it all. Maybe she was someone I should have hung out with more, I could have learned from her, how to save and avoid temptation.

Mindy:
You should interview her on your podcast.

Farnoosh:
I know.

Mindy:
See what she’s up to. First get the story. If she’s blown it all, that’s not such a great story.

Scott:
I just keep refilling it, the dresser. This is awesome. So I’m glad we spent some time there. Because it sounds like this is absolutely imperative to your money story and your outlook with money.
So what would you say that is the next inflection point or the next leap forward in your story, skipping forward to that period in New York City, or is there something important in between that we should highlight before we get to that?

Farnoosh:
Well, when I arrived in New York, it was to go to graduate school to study journalism and in journalism school, this was also 20 years ago, the mindset, the philosophy was we’re going to graduate these students and we’re going to teach them how to become journalists, the best journalists in the world. But stay in a lane, pick a lane, you’re either going to be a radio journalist or a writer for a magazine. Or maybe you’ll write a book and you’re going to have a career as an author.
But there really isn’t any overlap. They didn’t really teach us how to think entrepreneurially within the industry of journalism. I don’t fault them for that. But that was a shift that was happening in the media landscape. People were returning to freelance work and patchworking their jobs together as journalists.
I had the great advantage when I graduated from journalism school, to work in a magazine, but under a woman who was an editor there, who was doing so much outside of writing, but still under the umbrella of financial advice. You may have had her on your show, Jean Chatzky, who would be on this Today Show one morning and then she would go finish her book and then she would write a column for the magazine. Then she’d give a speech and then she’d get on a plane and go film something in Los Angeles.
And that was really fascinating to witness. Really told me how much potential there is to expand your horizon as a journalist, and be more financially secure. So you don’t go to journalism to become rich. You don’t go to journalism school to become rich, you don’t go to journalism school to retire early. This is not the track.
I finally was like maybe there is a better way to pursue your passion, my passion of journalism, but not feel like I was always just getting by. And I think the key to that was expanding the way that you tell your stories and the way that you think about your skills, that they don’t just belong in one lane.
I think that was a real awakening for me, because I did very consciously from there, pursue jobs that would give me the training and the exposures and the platforms to do all of that and at the same time. I went from magazines, at Money Magazine where I was initially, then I went to television, and I worked as a producer and as an on-camera reporter, but also continued to write, so then I was combining two of those things.
And then I went over to digital, and I worked at thestreet.com and learned how to report live from the New York Stock Exchange, and really help them launch a video platform. So learning, getting startup skills, and all of that, and then eventually writing a book. And then eventually getting laid off, which was the next chapter in everything where I think that for me was another pivotal time, because I could have either maybe gone back to trying to find a 9:00 to 5:00 job or saying, what if I built over the last six years, seven years? I know this is going to be a scary path to be independent and to try to be self-employed. But what are the pluses to that?
I ultimately ended up starting my business in the recession in 2009, shortly after getting laid off, and I haven’t gone back since. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to having a 9:00 to 5:00 job. It’s been great.

Scott:
Nice, just to dive into a couple of themes here around this. So when you started, you mentioned earlier that you started your first job at $18 an hour, after grad school, at $18 an hour with 30,000 in debt. Could you just give us a walkthrough of how you were able to break even at a very high level and then maybe if you were able to start saving even at that point in time, how you were able to do that, where you applied excess cash, so we can get an insight into your philosophy that you’ve applied to your money story?

Farnoosh:
So I don’t think I was saving a whole lot, to be honest, in those early days at Money Magazine, $18 an hour. I was however able to stay in New York by living in an apartment that was rent controlled, came with a caveat. I had to live with a married couple. So if you’re willing to do that, there are options for you in the Big Apple.
$500 a month was my rent, which that is unheard of for a nice building in a nice, safe neighborhood with an elevator. I had a bathroom in my bedroom, a lot of privacy. I tried to stretch that. I took that apartment in graduate school, begged to stay on an extra couple of years to buy me more of an ability to address the debt. And so that was a huge helper, was not spending what is typically 40% to 50% of your income on rent. I was able to do that very affordably.
Second, I took on extra jobs. I was babysitting. I bird sat an old professor of mine’s parakeet from time to time. $60 here, $80 there. Like I mentioned, wasn’t spending a lot of my leisure time in the city on weekends. I would go home and stay with family or friends and just chill out. I wouldn’t be tempted to go and get the $11 cocktail.
I would come back on the Greyhound with bags full of groceries and food from my parents’ pantry. I snuck food out of their house and toilet paper, and the debts, I got out of that credit card debt pretty quick, as a result of that. It was a few thousand and then also while I was at work, so the job didn’t pay a lot, but there were some perks that helped to open up some cash in my own life.
So, one was dinner. If you stayed at work past 7:00, they paid for your dinner and your car ride home. I did that almost every night or when I could, because, well, it was an opportunity to also get to know my colleagues better, work harder on some… what else was I going to do? Go spend the money at a restaurant?
I was living by myself and I figured, let me do this. I would stay till 7:01. No, I’m kidding. They got their money’s worth out of me, let’s just put it that way, but I was able to… So there was some corporate perks like that. But I wasn’t at that job for very long, that wasn’t a sustainable situation.
And I think within six months, I started job searching and found another job, that would end up being the job that I would open up the first 401k and actually start making a little bit more, and with the benefits and everything else. I remember I was again at a point where I thought, I’m either going to look for a new job, or you guys are getting a lot of old Farnoosh here. I’m going to go overseas and report from the Middle East as a stringer, a stringer is like a freelancer, it was the Gulf War. It was the Iraq War, sorry. I’m Middle Eastern, as we know, journalist, I’ll go to the Middle East and talk about all the things that are going on over there.
And my parents were like, please don’t do that, you will die. They will find you and they will murder you, and you will die. So please don’t do that. I’m like, what are you talking about? I’m Iranian. It’s even worse, your parents left this country and they’re not going to be fans. So please don’t risk your life and they weren’t just being, it wasn’t just lip service. It was scary times for journalists to be going to a battlefield, especially women.
And my father goes, what are your other options? I said, well, Money Magazine offered me to stay, and they would make me full time, and they’d give me dental and he was like take the dental. I was like, all right, but I didn’t and I actually ended up finding another job across town at a news station called NY1 News, where I got the real cool opportunity to work on television shows, and produce TV segments about business and the economy and the job market. And it was there, that I got to grow up a little bit more financially and get more of my bases covered, things like retirement.
And I think, still, I had to have a side hustle. I side hustled by writing every week for a local paper. That one assignment a week turned into two assignments per week. At one point, the editor had to call me and say, we need to downsize your column, because we’re paying you too much, you’re making more than some of our staff members. It’s getting awkward.
Because I was like are they going to figure out that they’ve been paying me? I just keep submitting articles and they keep paying me, but someone’s going to find out, certainly I’m running them dry. And finally they’re like you either have to just do one column a week or none. Because you can’t do these two and three and four.
I was up all hours of the night, writing for them, and banking it and banking it. And it was those articles that turned into a manuscript for a book, which is where a lot of this debt now finally goes to bed. Because I got an advance and I immediately just went to salliemae.com, click, click, click, delete, student loans be gone. I remember sitting at my small desk in my small studio, just sitting back and looking at that zero dollar balance, nobody’s around. It’s nine o’clock at night. I am officially debt free? Hey, this feels good. Maybe I’ll go get an ice cream or something. I don’t even know what I did. But I remember where I was.

Scott:
I love it. I know we have a couple of questions about what’s going on, current events, but I’m having so much fun with your story. I have one last area to explore before we get to some of those, which is, look, all right, so you’re at zero now or you’re at zero, in terms of your liquidity, it sounds like, give or take whatever the… But what’s it like then, what goes through your head? What do you start thinking about the approach to building wealth at this point? How does that work for you at a high level, going forward?

Farnoosh:
I don’t think the concept of building wealth was there yet. I’m 25 or 26 years old at this point. I think the mentality for a lot of young workers in New York is just how can I make this work? It’s not about how can I get rich, unless you’re working in hedge funds or Wall Street. I think that’s clearly the goal.
But for a lot of people in news and media, at least my peers, it’s really more about how do I… Eventually what happens is you end up working in public relations or something, because you realize that the news jobs aren’t paying and you’re like how can I get a job at a corporation where I’m making six figures? I had a lot of journalism friends that became executive assistants to CEOs, making six figures and they’re like it’s much less stressful, it’s a different kind of stress. But the perks are great. I’m like but you’re a journalist.
I’m like, but I have two kids. I live on Staten Island and a mortgage. What am I supposed to do? At some point, you hit a level where, and this is common. You ask any journalist who’s 50. Or was a journalist, who’s now 50 and they’ll be like, well, at some point, I had to get a job that paid the bills.
And so I think that was more of my thought process, how much further can I stretch this? I was feeling good about that, in the sense that, well, now I’ve got the book deal. And again, thinking about the woman that I worked under, Jean Chatzky, all of the things, what was the promise land on the other side of writing a book? It seemed to be like a lot of opportunities, speaking.
So my job was just to keep my head down, do the work, and hopefully the clouds will part, because the work is going to start to pay off. I really believed that and maybe that was naive. That’s not everybody’s path. But there’s a part of me that still believes and there’s an aspect to your success, which is luck, a little bit, but you have to create that luck. You have to put yourself out there, do the work, and believe that it’s good work, and that it is going to make an impact. You’d be your biggest advocate around this work. You have to go out there and shout from the rooftops, the great work that you’re doing so people notice.
My colleague at NY1 called it a victory lap, when you do a good story, no one’s going to know. Your boss isn’t going to come give you a high five, you got to tell your boss you did the story, and show up in his office when your story is airing on TV, so he can make a connection. And then remember that, and then you get the raise next month. You have to just really be at the forefront of all of that. And then hopefully, that extra cherry on top will occur.
And so your question was, what was your question? I don’t remember. It was something about-

Scott:
You answered it.

Farnoosh:
I did answer it, okay.

Scott:
My thing was, hey, once you get to zero, that’s a big moment. And it sounds like you weren’t even thinking about what comes next after zero.

Farnoosh:
No, I was thinking about how am I going to finish this book that I just got a book deal for? I think I was just starting to date, he’s my husband now, I just started dating my boyfriend and it was an exciting time to be alive. I felt like a lot of my friends were going through the quarter life crisis. And I definitely had, that’s another podcast, but definitely had moments of self-doubt and anxiety in this job that I was at. It was a bit of a big learning curve for me at this job. I wasn’t performing all that well in the beginning and then I was.
It was a lot, I considered quitting, I considered changing industries, and it was my father who was like you have two options, you can quit, or you can make tomorrow a better day for yourself. In other words, take the situation into your own hands. If you’re having issues with people at work or conflict with work, you got to go into work the next day, and just tune that out and focus on what is keeping you at work and making you happy.
Quitting for me was just never an option. All right, I guess it’s option B, and things started to get better from there. It was a mindset shift that had to happen for me. But it was probably not until getting laid off that I really realized my own potential.

Scott:
When was that in the context of what we just discussed? Is that years later?

Farnoosh:
This is probably not too long after I published the book. I get the book deal, pay off my student loan debt, working at this news station. Then I moved to work at a digital company called thestreet.com, negotiated a great salary for myself there, that was awesome. That story, I can tell you really quick.
I was making $46,000 at NY1 as a producer for several years. Nominal pay increases. Every time I’d ask for a raise, shut down. I did end up asking HR before I left, what’s my salary band? And she said $40,000 to $80,000. I was like good to know.
So when I went to the next job interview, they asked me how much I wanted to make. They didn’t know how much I was making. But they just said, how much do you want to make? I said, I want to make $100,000. They were well like, I don’t know if that’s really going to work. I knew that they had the money because I knew what I was suddenly worth. I asked my former employer, they said, I could have been paid up to 80,000. They weren’t paying me that. So I knew what the market was paying for someone with my skills.
So the next company, which was a richer company, a publicly traded company, a company that’s growing and hiring, I said I would like $100,000 and they said, we can’t do that right now. But how about 80? In six months, we can renegotiate. And I said, just give me 90 now and I won’t bother you in six months. Because the best time to get that raise is when you’re actually getting the job offer, you don’t get the raise in six months. Then they said, deal.
So I effectively doubled my salary in one negotiation, just knowing my salary band, which equates to my worth, and knowing about the other company’s capacity to pay me that and sticking to that script. I got the money and I was like, oh, my God, I’m 26 and I make six figures. I live in New York. How many shoes can I buy now? Unfortunately, that did cross my mind.

Scott:
Did the shoe collection expand?

Farnoosh:
A little bit, but not too great.

Mindy:
Of course, it did.

Farnoosh:
What’s interesting, and I don’t know if your other guests have talked about this or you’ve experienced this, but it’s like the more money you make, the less you want for. Or the things that you thought you wanted, they don’t hold the same place in your heart anymore. I started to value other things, like self-care. I invested in getting a trainer, I didn’t go and buy all the clothes and the shoes, but I was like how can I get healthier? How can I up my real estate game? I started thinking bigger. And that was a surprise to me.
I didn’t know that I was going to arrive, being in a place with more liquidity and cash and not really missing out on the things that I thought I wanted.

Scott:
Okay, we can keep going, this is great. I’m having a lot of fun with this. So I guess what I’m trying to get here is what did you invest, with the surplus? When was that point at which you began accumulating assets? And what was your mentality and approach to that over the years after you started getting the surplus?

Farnoosh:
We didn’t touch on this, but in 2004, after I came to New York and was living with the married couple and my parents were like you should buy something in New York. I was like do you know how much I make? Do you know I live in New York City? This is not a good calculus for a young woman buying a home in the city. And they said, well, let’s strategize. Let’s come up with a way, because my parents really like you guys, believe in real estate investment and just building wealth through home ownership.
And so this was a long time ago, different pricing and a whole different market. We were able together to find a studio apartment, my parents pulled some equity out of their home, paid for the house in cash, the studio in cash. And then I went to the bank, and I had the title and I went to the bank, and I got a home equity line of credit against the value of the home, paid my parents back for the most part, and then started paying back this HELOC, which I then refinanced into a mortgage. You following me? So now I’m a homeowner. Thanks to my parents.
And that home, I kept for 10 years, and I sold it at a nice profit, was able to then upgrade to another property, a new home. Now, I’m married in Brooklyn, and that home appreciated and my salary kept going up. So then in a few years into that, we bought the apartment next to that, and knocked down the wall, and now made a two bedroom into a nice spacious three bedroom, where we had brought home two children. And then we sold that after 11 years or nine years, we sold that, finally, that Brooklyn property, and have now moved to the suburbs in a pandemic.
But for me, real estate, thanks to my parents, from the early days, despite not earning a lot, they planted that seed for me. I was able to leverage that over the years to build more real estate, not into my portfolio, but really as primary resident just as a home, just keep improving our living situation. And eventually I’d like to get into some investment of real estate. Maybe that’s the next chapter.

Scott:
We don’t know anybody who likes to talk about that.

Mindy:
I was going to say I’ve got a place that I can send you, it’s called biggerpockets.com, we will teach you everything.

Farnoosh:
Check it out.

Mindy:
So you have alluded to a book, you have said, I was writing the book, the book, the book, and I first met you in 2014, when your book called When She Makes More came out. It is an older book, but it’s still, that was your third book.

Farnoosh:
Yeah, that was my third book. The weird book that I keep talking about was You’re So Money which came out in 2008, after that I wrote a book called Psych Yourself Rich, which came out a couple years later. And then the last book I’ve written is about female breadwinners called When She Makes More. It’s how we met at FinCon when I gave the talk about it.

Mindy:
Yeah. And I have to say, when I first got the book, I’m like why would anybody care? Who cares who makes more? But I’m coming from a position of, he made more, he made about four times what I was making and at that time, I was actually a stay at home mom. So I was making zero and he was making way more than me.
But it turns out that a lot of men and women care about the income disparity, when it’s in her favor. They don’t really seem to care so much when it’s in his favor, right? So coming from a place where I talked to my husband about this and he said, well, I don’t care, I’m not lean FI. I’m not fat FI. I’m wife FI, because she makes more. He’s like, I don’t care if you make more. I hope you make more, go out and make 50 times more, because we’re a partnership. And it’s not him against me. It’s us against the world.
I’m looking for advice for people who do care when she makes more. I think maybe there might even be, I don’t know, that’s probably a deep seated issue.

Farnoosh:
Yeah, how much time we got? I would just say, if you just listen to yourself, Mindy, that is a prescription for success. That is truly at the end of the day, I interviewed so many couples for the book, and women and men and the recipe, the bottom line recipe is mutual respect, understanding that the relationship is not a competition.
And importantly, that whether you’re the man or the woman, that you don’t assign arbitrary roles to yourself, because of your gender. And traditionally in our culture in America, men, when they think about providing as a role in a relationship, exclusively it has meant financial providing. That is just what we have been raised to believe. That’s what we have been modeled.
And so there is that expectation even in 2020, that you’re going to get into a relationship and as a man, as a good man, as a good father, as a good husband, you need to provide the money. And if you don’t, what are you doing? It really does mess with your sense of self-worth, and your purpose in the relationship. And if that is happening in your relationship, you’re not wrong and bad and misguided. You’re not alone. That is just how we have been conditioned.
But it’s not an excuse to continue the path. The work now is to recognize that and say, okay, I don’t like that about… this is disrupting the relationship. Ultimately, what’s more important to you? Sticking to this value, this weird value that doesn’t really have a place now in this relationship, or the relationship, the health of the relationship? You have to decide what is the most important thing.
And all these couples that are thriving, the most important thing to them is the success of both people in the relationship, the unit, the family unit. So whatever it takes, I use air quotes. That is the recurring thing that I heard from couples, we will do whatever it takes, whatever we need to do. If one person is going to be the breadwinner for a couple years, the other person plays a smaller financial role, in terms of earning the money, fine.
But if that means we’re all able to still live in this house and prosper and raise our family, great. I’m seeing this now especially in the pandemic, where I have a girlfriend and her husband, for five years, he has been in and out of the workforce, through a series of layoffs and consolidations and his industry is just one of those industries, that’s been very volatile over the last five years. Between the two of them, they have just been flipping and flopping all over the place. She makes more, he makes less, he makes more, she makes less, he makes nothing, she makes all of it.
But they’ve managed to make it work, because they’re flexible, and they’re committed to the goal of everybody is going to win. And whatever it takes, it’s not about my ego. It’s not about what I think I’m supposed to do, because I’m a woman. It’s not what my mother’s told me I’m supposed to do, because that’s the other thing too. You might be fine with it. It’s all the society and culture and family that messes it up.
You turn on the TV and you’re watching any show, most shows are still very much traditionally designed, where it’s like the husband makes more and the wife doesn’t work, or the husband is the breadwinner. And culturally, we are raised with a lot of these expectations.
And so, if you’re derailing from that, you can feel like an outsider. It can be hard to feel accepted. And all I want to be is accepted, it’s human nature, we want to be accepted, we want to be part of the tribe. This is something that is still not the norm. And as a result, you can feel like you don’t belong. And it’s very unsettling, as a result.

Scott:
I’m reaching here, and I couldn’t cite any of this, but I seem to recall discussing this issue in years past. Are there numbers that support, I assume that there’s a growing percentage of households where women make. Do those relationships, do they have different outcomes? Is there divorce rate differences and those types of things? I assume this is a real problem, right?

Farnoosh:
It is a real problem. It’s why I wrote the book. It is the crux of the issue. So we know that since the ’60s, the number of women breadwinners in our country has increased about fourfold. So, has gone from 4% to 25%. If you include single moms in that equation, it’s almost half of the country, a minimum of 40% of women are the either sole breadwinners or breadwinners in their marriages.
The outcome is that when she makes more, there’s a higher probability for a divorce. It’s not a causation, it’s correlation. And yet, when you talk to a lot of these couples that have been through divorce, and maybe she was making more for a few years or all of the years, they will cite that. And money’s already a very complex issue within relationships. It is the number one reason couples argue and is a leading cause of divorce.
So then you add to your money situation, another layer of complexity and nuance, which is she making more, and if they’re not really equipped for that and ready mentally and all the other ways, well, then obviously that’s going to create division. So they don’t communicate about it and the handwriting’s on the wall.

Scott:
Thank you. That’s fascinating.

Mindy:
I don’t want to just throw this at men. You’re the one that’s having the problem. I’m part of several female finance groups on Facebook, and I will see that, oh, there’s this guy I met, but it turns out he doesn’t make very much money. I don’t want to date somebody like this.

Farnoosh:
Dating down.

Mindy:
Yeah, I don’t want to date down. My advice is, look, if you like him, and he’s a loser who never wants to have a job, you shouldn’t date down, especially if you’re some successful woman. If he is in a field that doesn’t pay very much, he’s a teacher, but he’s truly passionate about it, I don’t really consider that dating down.
I know that’s really easy for me to say, because my husband isn’t a teacher. He’s unemployed is what I say, he’s financially independent. He doesn’t work anymore. And he’s wife FI. That still makes me laugh. But I think that a lot of women do have this, just the same societal, he should make more than me.

Farnoosh:
Absolutely. It’s on both sides.

Mindy:
Why does he have to?

Farnoosh:
Yeah, I would get letters in from audience members when I first came out with the book, like Farnoosh, I’m a woman, I went to Princeton, I’m a lawyer, I’m Nigerian, culturally. I can’t marry a guy who makes less than me. And frankly, I don’t want to, because I would feel like that’s dating down.
And I’m like I think we’re equating financial, what’s in your bank account as a marker for how good of a person you are and how husband material you’re going to be. I just finished watching Indian Matchmaking on Netflix. Have you watched this show? Just put it on tonight. You’re welcome.

Scott:
You should’ve been like, I’ve got a book for you.

Farnoosh:
And this one woman went on a date and culturally, I don’t know, I can’t speak to the whole culture. But the women and men who were on this show, many of them, many women expressed how they don’t want to marry a man who makes less, he has to at least make the same or more. And this one woman went on a date with a guy who is a podcaster. He’s been on my podcast. He’s well known in his industry. I think he went to a fine school and he just was a little bit of a late bloomer, he admitted that, he’s like I didn’t really figure out what I wanted to do in life until my 30s. I was just an explorer.
Meanwhile, the woman, she’s like type A lawyer, gets things done, doesn’t waste time. But they were fixated on the fact that he just wasn’t more rich and more successful. I was like, okay, you’re not a match, but it’s not because he makes less or he doesn’t have a fancy title for a job. It’s because your personalities are different and your goals are different. Can we focus on that? It’s about value systems.
Maybe to your point, Mindy, you could be a teacher, noble career, but obviously you’re only going to make so much money. Does that make you a bad person, not husband material, a bad father? No. So we need to get over these using numbers as markers for whether or not someone is a match for me.
It’s about is this person, do we have aligned values? Do we have aligned perspectives? Do we want the same things?

Scott:
Over the course of the show, we’ve had a number of very successful couples that have been on and many of those stories reflect periods in the relationship where one spouse makes more than the other, and the other spouse is earning nothing or starting a business, those types of things. And it just seems like, I wonder if it’s just hard in the dating phase to see that partnership aspect over the course of a long relationship and how that will play out. And maybe that’s impacting some of the judgments made in the first steps here.
So I don’t really know where I’m going exactly with that, but just something I’m observing with the healthy relationships, where there’s that partnership aspect, and you never know where someone will be in 20 years, and where you’ll be in 20 years with your career.

Mindy:
Yeah, 20 years ago, I didn’t think I’d be married to some unemployed guy. I thought we’d be working both until we’re 65.
So that leads to another question. When do you suggest people who are just starting to date, start to talk about money? Because, just like the gold digger, she’s only after me for my money. She only likes me because I’ve got a cool car and she wants to know how much money I have. And it’s not just how much money you make. It’s also how much debt do you have? Where do you see your finances going? And all of that.
But I don’t think it’s first date conversation. I’ve been married for almost 20 years. So it’s been a long time since I’ve had a date.

Farnoosh:
Same. I don’t think it’s first date material. But you can be very observant on the first few dates about things like how they talk about things that may be tangential to money like work and maybe a great icebreaker to find out about some of the things like student loan debt or credit card debt is to talk about college. Where did you go to school? Did you go on a scholarship? Talk them up, and see what they say. Oh, no, I got into all this debt.
I think that there are icebreakers that maybe aren’t first date material, but if you really want to know, because you are concerned is to ask these leading questions, but start with your own experiences. And so it does feel not like a confrontation, but more like a dialogue and you’re sharing and people are not so quick to talk about money. So you doing it first makes it feel like more of a safe place, and a more trusting environment.
But certainly I think by date five, six, seven, if it looks like it’s getting to be a little bit more going towards more serious paths, I would say asking about their goals is totally appropriate, and then all goals carry price tags. So if they’ve got big goals, you can say, well, have you put plans in place for these goals? If you want to buy a house in a few years, have you started looking? Do you know where you want to live? Have you thought about what kind of budget we’re talking about?
This is the thing, culturally, we were dating in a different time, Mindy. Now, I think kids these days, money is a little bit more topical, as far as our culture goes. And I think it was, I don’t know if it was FICO or another company that did a study that said people want to know about your credit score on the first date. It could actually be a deal breaker for some people, if you have a low credit score. So we care about this stuff, it’s just that who’s going to be the first one on the date to bring it up?

Scott:
I just imagine this conversation for me, which luckily, I hope never to have that conversation again. Here’s my five year vision, here are my three to five year goals. Here’s my one year goals, here’s my monthly goals, quarterly goals, weekly, daily and here’s my last five years of documentation. I would scare somebody off I think, right away.

Farnoosh:
But if they’d gotten to know you over five or six dates, maybe it wouldn’t surprise them because your personality with money is not exclusive to money, it’s your personality. If you’re a type A person who loves lists and likes to set goals, you probably have a nice impressive Excel spreadsheet, cashflow spreadsheet somewhere, I would guess.

Scott:
Great date material. Farnoosh, is there anything else you’d love to talk about before we move on to our financial scan and famous four? Any areas you want to cover?

Farnoosh:
Well, something I’m really excited about right now is, I’ve been writing a lot more, something that I’ve gotten back to doing, my roots of writing. And I’ve been writing for places like Bloomberg and I have been tapped to be the contributing editor to nextadvisor.com, which is a new personal finance platform in partnership with Time. It’s an interesting time. I don’t feel like I have a lot more time these days, but I have different kinds of time.
I’m not doing all the same kinds of work, but I’ve been giving myself more space to write, thinking about another book. I would encourage people to check out those pieces and NextAdvisor, I’ve written about our recent move to the burbs and how it worked in a pandemic. If you’re interested in following in our footsteps, what to prepare for, from the standpoint of getting the mortgage, actually moving, going to an open house. How does that work right now?

Mindy:
I completely missed you on that announcement. Because Tiffany had announced that she was part of this thing with Time magazine and I saw the picture. I’m like we’ve had Ramit, we’ve had Aaron, we’ve had Tiffany.

Farnoosh:
You’ve had us all.

Mindy:
No, I want to get them all. So now I can cross another person off. I completely missed that you were on there. I actually opened it up to make sure that, I’m like, wait, I totally missed her.

Farnoosh:
NextAdvisor in partnership with Time, I’m a contributing editor there and they’ve recently put out a list of financial experts to follow, their Time list of the year. And our friend Tiffany, The Budgetnista was on there, Ramit Sethi. I was honored to be on there.
What’s also cool about this new partnership is that I’m opening up to all these new faces and people that are in our space, who are more diverse and come from different backgrounds. I love where the personal finance space is going. I just got to say from where I started, almost 20 years ago to now, so much more interesting and colorful and exciting and cool. Everyone has their own story, we’re sharing, we’re unapologetic. There’s something for everybody. There’s a flavor for everybody in this space.

Mindy:
That is exactly why we started our show, because we want to show everybody that you can do this. So we’re interviewing everybody from all these different spaces and I’m from the country. I imagine it to be a square dance where everybody comes together and twirls around and then leaves again, and goes and meets somebody else. But there is a flavor for everyone and you can follow somebody’s story, who speaks to you.
Not everybody speaks the way that you want to listen and the way that you want to learn. There are people who are more brash and there are people who are more soft and there are people that you can just identify with more. I love where the space is going to. I think it’s really, really fabulous.

Scott:
Mindy’s from everywhere, so I thought it was Chicago, until recently.

Mindy:
I’m from everywhere. It’s been my 28th home.

Farnoosh:
What?

Mindy:
I moved around a lot as a kid.

Farnoosh:
Is that 28 moves?

Mindy:
Yeah.

Farnoosh:
Oh, my God.

Mindy:
All of them as an adult, I guess 27. I guess my mom carried me to the first.

Farnoosh:
I’m just hoping that one of those didn’t involve moving any furniture. I don’t know, because moving is so stressful. It’s one of the most stressful things they say in anyone’s life.

Mindy:
That’s what they say. But it’s second nature to me. I don’t know what’s stressful. The thought of teaching my child, again, when we shut down again is stressful, because that did not work the first time. That’s a tangent I am not going to get on.
So we have added a new segment to the show recently called the financial scan. We want to know what you’re investing in. Where are you planting your money, so that it grows for retirement? And there’s no one right answer, but we all know that it will take forever to become a millionaire, based solely on your W-2 job.
So I want to know what your asset allocation looks like.

Farnoosh:
Just changed it, guys, don’t kill me. I did not do the do nothing advice, which is, I just felt for where I was in my life, I was at a new place with the new house. And the pandemic definitely freaked me out and the recession, I felt like the market just was not making any sense. I just don’t think these gains are going to last and I’m so glad I hadn’t done anything up until now, because I got the benefit of the last six months, the climb.
But I recently reallocated my portfolio from what I would say was aggressive to more moderate allocation. I was about 87% or so in stocks, equities. I changed that to about 64%. My fixed income is at, I believe 27%, and then the rest is cash and other, which is, for me, I can sleep better at night. I know that most financial advisors I actually spoke to before and after I did this, they were like, wouldn’t have done that for us. But we totally understand where you’re coming from Farnoosh.
I was literally losing sleep over this. That is not to be ignored. You have to trust your risk compass. I was much more risk cool in my earlier life. And now I’m like I have a lot on my plate. I don’t want one more thing to worry about.
I do know that this is going to have trade-offs for me. So as a way to balance this out for myself, because I don’t want to not retire when I want to retire, with the amount of money that I want. I’m going to invest more of my cash in this portfolio, to help to offset the slower potential growth over the next 20 years.

Mindy:
I think that’s really, really important for people to hear. You are Farnoosh Torabi, you know everything about money, you’re so money.

Farnoosh:
Oh, my God.

Mindy:
And on episode 190 of our show, we talked to the Mad Fientist. It wasn’t right after the pandemic started. And he came on and said, you know what, I thought I was all risk whatever. And I have learned that I am a little more risk averse than I thought.
So right now, I am writing down how I feel, all of these things, I’m just keeping notes, because right now is not the time to sell. That was when the market was way down. He’s like I know, it’s not the right time to sell. But I want to remember this feeling, so that when we are back in a more normal situation, I can look at my portfolio and say, you know what, I don’t want to be 100% in Amazon or Enron or whatever it is he’s in.

Farnoosh:
Enron, is that still around?

Mindy:
No, I don’t think so.

Farnoosh:
I don’t think so. Okay.

Mindy:
I don’t want to be 100% in Enron and WorldCom or whatever. I’m trying to think of the other ones that are gone.

Farnoosh:
Tyco.

Mindy:
All of those, I want to have less risk. I am going to make a decision, not based on emotion. I think it’s really interesting that you being Farnoosh who is so good with money are also having these issues. I say this almost every episode, personal finance is personal, and it doesn’t matter what Scott is doing with his money. If you are doing the same thing, maybe you couldn’t sleep at night, and it doesn’t matter what I’m doing with my money. If Scott would do that, and he couldn’t sleep, all it matters is what he’s doing.
I love that you were freaked out and want to change that, because it shows that this is always evolving. This whole finance thing is really evolving.

Farnoosh:
I don’t like arbitrary advice, and I was giving it out. I was doling it out like everybody else. I didn’t take all the money out of the market like a crazy person. I was like how can I make this work for whatever what my rational brain tells me? I don’t want to take all this money out and put it in a CD. I know that’s not going to pay off.
But can I take a little bit off the table here? And then I can go back to sleeping? Because I got to raise these kids and that’s it.

Scott:
I just want to ask you a question around maybe you can relate to this. For example, I’ve got a book, Mindy’s got a book. I have interests in BiggerPockets and other things and that sort of stuff that it sounds like you have multiple income streams and a couple of books. Does that influence your decision-making? Because that’s aggressive asset allocation, in a lot of ways, that makes that a little safer allocation with the more traditional asset classes, maybe a little more appealing. Is that at all on your mind in that?

Farnoosh:
It is part of the reasoning. I have a risk aggressive career, I guess it’s how you look at it. I think people who have 9:00 to 5:00 jobs for a company are just as vulnerable as entrepreneurs in some ways, but like the stock market, my history has proven that I can ride out the volatility and I still believe in the stock market.
I think that I was just going 100 miles per hour on everything. And when I consulted with the financial advisors, they were like the thing that you did well, I’m going to brag here, yes. We wouldn’t have maybe done this for ourselves. But you didn’t just stop with the portfolio, you looked at everything and thought, this is just a piece of my financial life.
So here, I want to decrease the risk. But what is going to be the trade-off and what do I have to do? So does that mean disability insurance? I don’t want to tap this money if I have to, you don’t want a double whammy this, you don’t want to reduce the risk, which could reduce the growth, and then not maybe up your cash reserve. Because if you get in a pickle, you don’t want to have to tap this retirement account sooner than later, before it’s really run its course. And now you’re really compromising it.
So you need to as they say, lever it out. And so if you’re taking from here, where do you have to put more? Where do you have to… Maybe you have to revisit your life insurance policies, maybe you should revisit your mortgage and refinance that as well. Look at all the pieces, as opposed to just the investment aspect of your life, because it’s all connected.

Mindy:
Yeah, that’s awesome. I don’t think anybody’s ever said that, Scott, on this show.

Scott:
No, I think it’s great advice and a great different perspective. So thank you. Yeah, I think it’s wonderful and right. I think it’s great.

Farnoosh:
Thank you.

Mindy:
You are correct. Okay, in terms of annual spending, how much do you have in cash?

Farnoosh:
Oh, my gosh, so much.

Mindy:
This is just two years, 12 years.

Farnoosh:
You just heard me talk about my risk averseness. Well, I always have about a year’s worth of savings. And I think given what’s happening now I’m trying to dial that up to about 18 months. That’s also not going to mean keeping all my spending as is. I tell my husband, I’m like if the economy doesn’t pick up or if let’s say, I get no more gigs until the end of the year, we’ll be fine. But we also can’t keep a lot of the things that we’ve got going on, maybe we don’t have childcare. I have to take on the role of primary caretaker. That’s just the trade-off. So you’re not making money, but you’re going to save a lot as well.
I’m totally aware of all that stuff. For me, I think I’ve always tried to have about a year’s worth, as an entrepreneur, a year’s worth of savings, because if things fall apart, it’s not just me trying to feed my family, trying to keep my business afloat, too. I have a lot of responsibilities that need to be taken care of. I think now for me, more is more, again, maybe that’s my fear talking, but more is more. I’m the breadwinner, too. So it’s a lot that I’m taking on.

Mindy:
I started asking that question because when we were first… the pandemic, everything shut down in mid March and BiggerPockets has a forum where people can talk about real estate and I kept seeing these people saying, I’m freaking out about making my mortgage payment in April. I’m like, wait a second. You don’t have two weeks of mortgage payment? You don’t have at least one month of mortgage payments?
And so I just like to see what industry leaders are doing with regards to cash.

Farnoosh:
Yeah, I walk the walk, I talk it and I walk it and I just feel like if I was to get exposed, I pay all my taxes, I pay every penny. I don’t mess around. I’m like it’s not worth it.

Mindy:
Good for you. Okay, it is now time for our famous four, the same four questions we ask of all of our guests. Farnoosh, what is your favorite finance book?

Farnoosh:
Your Money or Your Life.

Scott:
Excellent book.

Mindy:
Vicki Robin’s, and I only ever remember, Joe Menendez. Excellent book, excellent book. She’s wonderful too.

Scott:
What was your biggest money mistake?

Farnoosh:
Starting a business with my own money. So not the business that I run now. But last year, I started another business, a side business with two other ladies and we were really hopeful about it. We took some of our own savings, we took out a line of credit, the business has not proven profitable, and it was only till later in talking to other real startup founders who were like you never start a business with your own money. You need to raise it.
And in retrospect, maybe that was right. I think I would have probably in hindsight, I would have been a silent advisor to this business, and not have put my own skin in the game because starting a business is very risky, especially with others.

Mindy:
That’s true. What is your best piece of advice for people who are just starting out?

Farnoosh:
Start where ever you’re at. I think you can get very easily overwhelmed with all of the things that you want to accomplish, you get obsessed with the finish line. So that can create a lot of analysis paralysis, you can get overwhelmed, and then you get stuck, and then you don’t move forward.
And so to avoid that, just do what you can. If you can’t save the full 10% or 20% in your 401k, do 1%. If you can’t save $100 a week, save $12 a week. Just start where you’re at, but start, flex that muscle to condition yourself better to save. I do think that when you start to see the savings grow, you get more excited, and you realize it wasn’t that hard and you then can up your commitment.

Scott:
All right, last and most difficult question. What is your favorite joke to tell at parties? And if you don’t have one, Mindy’s got one.

Farnoosh:
I took stand-up comedy a couple years ago. If you YouTube me, Farnoosh comedy or Farnoosh Gotham, you’ll find my very first stand-up. And I’ll take a joke from there.

Scott:
Uh-oh, we’re trouble. These will be better than ours.

Farnoosh:
Yeah. If you don’t laugh, I’ll be very upset, basically. So I have a very unusual name, right? This happens all the time, I say my name and someone’s like, what? I’m sorry. Can you say that again? And I’m like my name is Farnoosh. It’s very easy. It sounds just like it’s spelled, Farnoosh. All right, and then I say the Q is silent.

Scott:
That’s amazing.

Farnoosh:
Anyone can use this.

Scott:
What’s the reaction?

Farnoosh:
I don’t actually use that in real life. That was just my stand-up joke. But the audience loved it.

Scott:
If the audience reaction is like ours, that’s awesome.

Farnoosh:
What? The Q is silent.

Mindy:
That’s hilarious.

Scott:
Awesome.

Mindy:
Farnoosh, where can people find out more about you?

Farnoosh:
Somoneypodcast.com, nextadvisor.com, farnoosh.tv. Instagram too. I’m having a ball. I’m not TikToking yet, I’m not going there, but Instagram @FarnooshTorabi, that’s where I’m hanging out.

Mindy:
Awesome. Thank you so much.

Farnoosh:
You both have been so much fun.

Mindy:
This was fantastic. We will include links to all of those things and your stand-up at biggerpockets.com/moneyshow138, this was fantastic. I feel like I really dove deep into Farnoosh.

Scott:
Thank you.

Farnoosh:
I’ll come back anytime.

Mindy:
I am super looking forward to connecting with you for all of those other NextAdvisor financial people to follow.

Farnoosh:
Yes, I’ll happily to introduce you to them.

Mindy:
All right, that was Farnoosh Torabi from So Money, Scott? What did you think?

Scott:
I thought it was outstanding. I think because she’s such a big name in the world of money, just to hear her struggles with money and how that really shaped her life, the hustle, the drive, it was just fantastic. I really enjoyed her perspective, how the wealth building asset didn’t come until later, but there was a hustle and maybe a sentiment that we’ve had from a couple of other of our New York guests that have struggled in those early years, and then gone on to finally make those breakthroughs, get those income increases and then ultimately go on to achieve financial freedom.

Mindy:
I do think it’s really refreshing to hear that somebody who is so smart with money hasn’t maybe always been so perfect with money. I think if I was listening to this show, just came into this episode and maybe had debt, maybe was struggling with money, I think it would be really refreshing to hear that she wasn’t always perfect from day one.
And like other guests who are so good with money, they do make mistakes, everybody makes mistakes. We’ve all had financial mistakes and don’t let those define you. It’s okay to have mistakes in your past. Try going forward. Let’s do better today.

Scott:
Absolutely. Well, before we get out of here, we thought we’d just quickly ask for a little favor from those of you still listening, we’d love to get a rating and review from you on iTunes or whatever it is that you listen to podcasts. Those always mean a lot and if you enjoyed the show, we’d love to get your feedback there. So, go ahead and do that wherever it is that you listen to BiggerPockets Money.

Mindy:
Thank you very much. Okay, Scott, before we get out of here, I have a joke.

Scott:
What do you got?

Mindy:
What concert costs just 45 cents?

Scott:
Oh, no, I don’t know, what?

Mindy:
50 Cent featuring Nickelback.

Scott:
Oh, my gosh. That’s amazing.

Mindy:
Okay, Scott, how do you like that new haircut?

Scott:
Well, it’s grown on me. Should we get out of here, Mindy?

Mindy:
Yes, we should. That’s a terrible joke. From Episode 138 of the BiggerPockets Money podcast, he is the terrible Scott Trench. I am the wonderful Mindy Jensen, and we are out of here, because I can’t find any good haircut jokes that aren’t super stupid. Okay, bye.

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