BiggerPockets Money Podcast 223: How ‘The Rich Immigrant’ Went from $10/Hour to Wealthy Globetrotter

BiggerPockets Money Podcast 223: How ‘The Rich Immigrant’ Went from $10/Hour to Wealthy Globetrotter

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Dee Olateru doesn’t have the traditional FI story, but it didn’t take her long to catch onto the concepts that now allow her to live a life exactly how she sees fit. Dee immigrated to the United States from Nigeria when she was sixteen. Without the ability to get student loans, Dee had to work throughout school, apply for every scholarship available, and borrow money from friends and family to pay for her undergrad degree.

While she made it out of college without student debt, she still had some credit card debt that needed taking care of. She amassed $10,000+ in credit card debt to help her pay for necessities like groceries throughout her years in college. But now she had a business degree, so clearly, she went on to get a full-time job in her field, right? Actually, she didn’t. Dee graduated during the great recession and had to take a $10/hour job at a local factory.

Dee says that many people don’t believe her about the factory job because of the high-level position she’s in now, but it taught her many valuable lessons. As Dee made more and more money, she started looking into finance blogs to see where she should be saving and investing. For the better part of a decade, Dee has been maxing out her Roth IRA, 401(k), and investing in individual accounts, all while she travels around the world!

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Mindy:
Welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast show number 223, where we interview the Dee Olateru from The Rich Immigrant and hear her journey with money.

Dee:
And I think people see me today and I don’t believe that part of my story but I think it’s such a rich part of my story and I think we think about money and financial independence and I say, “Don’t be afraid to start small. I mean, start where you are with what you have and that makes such a big difference.”

Mindy:
Hello, hello, hello, my name is Mindy Jensen and with me as always is my graduate of the fine institution of Vanderbilt University co-host, Scott Trench.

Scott:
That opens a whole bunch of doors to Vanderbuilt puns there.

Mindy:
That 14 people look at.

Scott:
You don’t really need to get Vanderbilt’s mascot in order to get there.

Mindy:
Yeah, I-

Scott:
Shout out to all the Vanderbuilt fans out there.

Mindy:
Yeah, fortunately, everybody who works at BiggerPockets went to Vandy. Scott and I are here to make financial independence less scary, less just for somebody else. To introduce you to every money story because we truly believe that financial freedom is attainable for absolutely everyone, no matter where or when you’re starting.

Scott:
That’s right, whether you want to retire early and really travel the world going to make big time investments in assets like real estate or start your own business, will help you reach your financial goals and get money out of the way so you can launch yourself towards your dreams.

Mindy:
Today we talk to the Dee Olateru from The Rich Immigrant, about her journey with money, Dee graduated from college in 2008, which is not the best time to ever graduate, took a job outside of her field of study, and then went on to get her master’s degree. She has since traveled the world, and just enjoys a super rich life while investing, making mistakes, and recovering from those mistakes to continue on her journey, She’s probably going to retire within the next 10 years or so, but the opportunities open to her are so vast simply because she is conscious of her money.

Scott:
Yeah I think her story, she was immigrant, but there’s nothing unrepeatable about Dee’s story, other than hard work, discipline, basic values around money. And look, she’s going to retire in the next seven to 10 years and she’s already hit 56 countries around the world as a tourist and someone traveling there, and I think that that’s really cool and something very special, I think there’s a lot to just learn from the simple approach that she takes to managing her wealth and moving towards fire.

Mindy:
Yes. And it really the simple path to wealth, not only has that played a big part in her journey, but it’s also her journey is a simple path to wealth and she’s got so many things opening up for her. Dee Olateru from The Rich Immigrant, welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast, I’m so excited to talk to you today.

Dee:
Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Mindy:
I love your story. where does your journey with money begin?

Dee:
Ah, I’ll say it starts in two parts, right? So the first part I would say like anybody is influenced by my family where I was raised and I was raised in Lagos, Nigeria. And while my parents never told me anything specifically about money I observed what they did. My dad was the first person I ever saw had a big notebook when he tracked his expenses, and my mom, not so much, she didn’t track anything. And that was all well and good but then I observed my mom be just a very generous person. And then I came to America at the age of 16, and I had no idea what I was getting into. And I went through college, had credit cards, still didn’t know what I was getting into financially and then I graduated and I did not have a job. And then it hit me because adult think we’ll hit you like a ton of bricks and I was like, “Wait, what’s going on, I have debt. I don’t have a job, I have good grades, what happened?” That’s when I really started to dig in and start to learn about paying off debt, credit cards, and all of that, and so that triggered my financial really awareness.

Scott:
So what was your position at graduation? Did you have student loan debt? What was the what was the situation there? How did you get a job?

Dee:
Okay, so I couldn’t have student loan debt because I wasn’t an American so I didn’t qualify for student loans, I would have loved to have student loans. And so really paying for college was my parents, saving, sometimes borrowing money in Nigeria. My sister donating and me working through college, applying for every scholarship under the sun. But even with that, I had credit card debt because sometimes I could only pay for food with a credit card. And so I had about 12,000 debt at the time I finished undergrad. I would still go on to get more debt. By the time I graduated, I had $10,000 in debt I had my last semesters tuition to pay off and I needed to pay that myself. And so I took a job in a factory, that’s what I did to start to find my own financial path.

Scott:
What did you study in college and where’d you go?

Dee:
Yeah, I went to a smaller school in Minnesota called Winona State University, and I studied accounting and business administration.

Scott:
Okay, and what’s the factory and you said you didn’t have a job after graduation. How long after graduation did you take this job?

Dee:
Yeah, so within a month, because I was like, I have bills to pay and I’m not one to, and I think many immigrants are in this position, I’m going to do what I need to do to pay my bills and so I had a boyfriend at the time who knew someone that ran this light fixtures factory. And I said, “Can I got a job for $10 an hour,” and they said, “Yes.” And so I took my summa cum laude degree and I went to a factory floor and I worked for $10 An hour and I did overtime, and I made light fixtures and I made my first budget.

Scott:
All right, and so what happened… Go ahead Mindy, you’re about to say something.

Mindy:
I was going to say, I love that. I have a degree in Accounting and Business Administration but I can’t find a job so I’m going to go out and get this job that isn’t glamorous, it isn’t… I bet in a factory, you worked a whole lot harder physically than you do now in your cushy accounting job.

Dee:
Yeah, and I have strong arms I mean, I developed strong arms working in the factory and I think people see me today and don’t believe that part of my story but I think it’s such a rich part of my story and I think, we think about money and financial independence and I say, “Don’t be afraid to start small. I mean, start where you are with what you have and that makes such a big difference.”

Mindy:
Yes. Okay, sorry I’m jumping in here. Okay, so you’re working at a light fixture factory, you’re not making very much money but you’re taking overtime. Where are you living?

Dee:
Yes, so I kept living as a college… I stayed in my college town and so I was renting a room with roommates so that also kept costs low. And I also made a promise that I would not put things on my credit card if I didn’t have to. And so I made my first budget on a pen and paper and I made a plan to start paying off the debt, bit by bit, but I was living with roommates at the time and renting a room.

Scott:
So how long does this continue for?

Dee:
Yeah, so this goes on for about a year. And in that time I’m coming up with Plan B right because that’s what you do. I said, “Okay, what’s the next step? How can I position myself?” Right? Because sometimes you have the skills, which is what I had, I have the skills I have the good grades, but I wasn’t positioned to get a job in my degree that would sponsor me for [inaudible 00:07:58], that’s what I needed. So also in the evenings, I’m studying for my GMAT to apply to grad school. And so that’s what I did. And so it took a year to continue working at the factory. That factory job allowed me to go home to Nigeria for my sister’s wedding, I could pay for my ticket. And I had a whole year working in the factory and then I applied for grad school and then I went back to grad school to get a master’s degree.

Scott:
Now, were you able to pay off any of the debt during that year?

Dee:
Yes, I paid down some of that credit card debt during that year, right? And I also paid for my applications to grad school, I was able to go home for my sister’s wedding but I did not pay off all of my debt in that time just because $10 an hour, there’s only so much you can do and I always want to give space to people knowing that it’s okay if you can pay $10,000 in one month that’s great but you can pay what you can and do the best you can where you are, I think that that makes a difference.

Scott:
So what was your day to day like during that year?

Dee:
Yeah, it would be… I needed to be at work at 7:00 AM, right? So I was working 7:00 to 5:00, sometimes if there’s more overtime I would work more. So I’d go to work at 7:00 and then in the evenings I was studying for my GMAT also writing essays and all of that to get into grad school. That was what that year was like and I was also still applying to jobs, I will say, I mean I tracked, I got more than 500 rejections in that year. So I was-

Scott:
What year is this?

Dee:
I graduated in May of 2007. And so it was May 2007 to June 2008 I went back to grad school in the summer of 2008.

Scott:
So the market was really bad during this time and so I want to point out that that was unusual but you just kept persevering and paying off debt and grinding and having what seems like 60, 70 hour weeks when you factor in your studying and your GMAT preparation in addition to the overtime you’re working at your job.

Dee:
Yeah, when you put it that way. Yeah, that’s absolutely right, yeah.

Scott:
Very impressive.

Mindy:
Okay, so what happens at grad school? How did you pay for grad school? Did you continue to work through grad school? What are you studying in grad school?

Dee:
Yes, okay. So grad school, I mean I have to be strategic right because I’m on my own, my family’s not supporting me for grad school, undergrad was tough enough. So I apply to programs, I applied to the best accounting programs in the country, in the US, right? And I also applied for scholarships and thankfully, I got a full ride to the University of Illinois’ Masters of Accounting Program. And of course, I mean I always worked, I worked while I was on campus and all of that so I always had a part time job while I was on campus but I got a full scholarship because of my grades and leadership in my undergrad [inaudible 00:10:41].

Mindy:
That’s awesome. So you graduate with master’s degree in accounting.

Dee:
Yeah, in accounting and finance, yes.

Mindy:
And, how long is a master’s? Two years so this was what?

Dee:
A year, it was a year so I also went for a shorter program so it was the summer of 2008 and then the fall and summer and spring and then I graduated in May of 2009.

Mindy:
Okay, so now we have some debt leftover from the credit card, but no new debt.

Dee:
No new debt. Well, then I got a job, I got a job, that’s a good story. Things start to turn around, I got a job at a professional services firm one of the big four accounting firms. And so I got a full time job as an associate and for that job I would need a car, so I had to take a car loan, right, and so that brought my dad back to about $23,000.

Mindy:
Okay. And what area of the world are you living in with this job.

Dee:
Minneapolis in the US.

Mindy:
Okay.

Scott:
Were you able to pay down debt while in grad school while working with a part time job, or was it?

Dee:
No, the part time job was helping me with like my daily expenses and all that. So really the rate at which I could pay down my debt had to slow down while I was in grad school but then once I got that full time job, then I attacked my debt and paid it off in two years.

Scott:
So how much debt do you have on graduating grad school?

Dee:
Yeah, after grad school and getting the car loan, it was about $23,000.

Scott:
Okay, and how much was the car incremental?

Dee:
10,000, so yeah I had about 13,000 in debt and then 10,000, so it was 23,000.

Scott:
So you purchased a very reasonable vehicle you needed to have for your job, that’s I’m getting that from.

Dee:
Correct.

Scott:
It wasn’t like a $25,000 car purchase.

Dee:
No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Scott:
Okay great, so what happens next? Now that you’ve got the job in the car and the new situation in Minneapolis.

Dee:
So I got a job, I got the car, so I go back to my budget, right, this time my budget’s have gone from being on paper to being in Excel, we’re getting fancy here. And at that time I made a [crosstalk 00:12:59].

Scott:
Grad student.

Dee:
Yes. I made a plan to pay off my debt, and then at the time I think I mentioned at the beginning, when I was in that factory and I saw my debt and I saw the bills I had to pay and I first created my first budget, no one in my world was talking about it, right? I didn’t even tell my friends that I felt overwhelmed by everything I had going on, and so I ended up finding personal finance blogs, that’s really where I started to find a way. So some blogs from like however many years ago is where I still have the budget, and write about 401K’s. And so when I graduated, I had my full time job and went back to what I learned two years before and said, “Okay, put enough to get your match in your 401k and that’s how I got started and open an IRA,” and I opened an IRA I could only do $50 a month, but that’s what I did.
So I think those foundational seemingly simple things, people weren’t talking about it in my world and a lot of my friends are also immigrants is just not conversations we have, and I think that the lack of conversations around money is costing us, it’s so expensive right, that the ignorance is expensive, it’s costing us time, it’s costing us generational wealth, it’s costing us opportunities, it’s costing us the lives that we could live. And so when I taught that, when I got my job, I at least started to do what I’d read about all those years ago. And that’s how I start to, I paid off my debts, I started building my retirement portfolio, yeah.

Scott:
So when does this kind of change begin? Is it right as you start the new job or how much time passes here?

Dee:
Yeah, right as I start the new job I knew I wanted to pay off debt because while my parents didn’t tell me anything about financial education, they also didn’t live above their means and they didn’t borrow money unnecessarily, so in my mind I was always like, I didn’t like debt, feeling like I owe something. And so I was personally motivated to pay off that debt, and I started putting money in my 401k right away because all those blogs told me to do it so I just did it.

Mindy:
So here’s the question. Clearly the 401k is available, not just to US citizens, it’s available to anyone who has US income or anybody who has…

Dee:
Full-time [crosstalk 00:15:18] in the US.

Mindy:
Okay. Well, I think that’s important to note is that… I don’t know how to say this without sounding ignorant because I am ignorant so I don’t know but is that like well known in the immigrant community?

Dee:
I think your company offers you the 401k, right? And so then you may or may not opt in, but it may sound like I think growing up my parents always think, okay, real estate because the stock market in Nigeria never really did well in my parents time so for us the stuff they don’t really trust the stock market, right? And so I think that mindset can sometimes permeate the immigrant community because it’s like, “I’m throwing my money into something that I don’t know about.” And so I think just even how people just have [inaudible 00:16:10] to say here’s what the 401k is, here’s why you should at least contribute to get the match because you’re walking away from free money, and also ground people in the history of the stock market to say here’s how the stock market has done over the last century right and this is why it’s an okay place for you to put your money and for you to start your investing journey that way. When I think about IRAs, because I think that requires even more independent research I think many people are just not aware about the IRA. People might hear about the 401k, if their employers offer, but the IRAs and even for entrepreneurs like a solo 401k and all that stuff I find many of my friends don’t even know about these [inaudible 00:16:49].

Mindy:
Yeah, and I don’t think that that is exclusive to the immigrant community, I think in general, people just aren’t aware. The stock market is scary and I don’t know how to invest in stocks, I don’t know anything about it so I’m just not going to do it or they you know they think about it they say something to a friend who isn’t very experienced and they say, “Oh, I lost all my money in the stock market.” I have a friend who’s 60 years old, and he got super burned, I don’t know if he put his money in the day it crashed in 1987. He has never put any money in the stock market ever again. And I’m like, “What are you doing, you’re losing all this growth.” But his experience is so terrifying to him that he won’t put any more money in and I don’t think that’s just limited to people who didn’t grow up here I think it’s everybody, it’s a scary thing. So where did you learn about 401k? Do you remember the name of the blog that taught you or did you talk to your HR department? I think there’s a lot of value in talking to your HR department but again I’m not always the most knowledgeable.

Dee:
I can’t remember the specific blogs. I think there was one about, there was one written by a girl that love shoes and I love to do so I like we didn’t reply and it was [crosstalk 00:18:14]. Another guy, he was based in, and he’s like punched in the face. Yes, there was one guy called Punch Debt in the Face.

Mindy:
Punch Debt in the Face.

Dee:
Yes, way back when there was him. At some point I watched the Suze Orman Show, so I listened to her at some point, not as much anymore but I think, many times, I don’t necessarily follow like one financial guru but I think there are bits that we can pick from everybody so it’s like a buffet. When you go to a buffet you don’t eat everything but take what serves you and leave the rest, right? And so yes I started with those blogs, and I didn’t talk to HR and so then I got into a point where I was just kind of coasting, right? Whenever I would get a raise, I would put 2%, I’ll take my raise and increase my 401k contribution. But I realized that it wasn’t really growing in my financial knowledge so I feel like that can happen to where you get to a point where you’ve paid off your debt you’re coasting, but you’re not putting your money to work for you for you as well as it should. And I think that happens to me.

Mindy:
Oh, so what happened next?

Dee:
Well, the year was 2014 and I decided, I’ve been increasing my 401k every year and I’ve now maxed out my IRA every year, but then maybe I should look into investing in the stock market and all that stuff and so first of all, rookie mistake, I thought you needed thousands of dollars to have a brokerage account so I waited until I saved $5,000 and so I saved up that much and then I said, “Okay, I’m gonna open a brokerage account.” And so I opened it and then I put $5,000 in there. And then I froze because, I had done the 401k, use target date funds, and I was comfortable with that, but I didn’t have the knowledge to decide what was I going to invest in, index funds all that stuff. The other day I found a spreadsheet because I’m analytical in nature, where I was going through a couple of different mutual funds in 2014 and I never made a decision so I froze and that $5,000, that’s in that account until 2018.

Mindy:
It just-

Dee:
It just sat there, I never invested it.

Mindy:
Not invested in anything, it was like a bank account that paid 0%.

Dee:
Yes. And so they actually closed the accounts for me. I went to the UK for work and I came back after two years and then I decided I’m done with them just passive about this. And so yeah, they had closed my account they sent me a check for $5,000.03. That’s the money I’ve made in those four years and then I decided to okay start putting more money, I opened a brokerage with Fidelity, started investing in stocks and index funds.

Scott:
So you graduated from grad school in 2010, right?

Dee:
2009.

Scott:
2009.

Dee:
Yeah.

Scott:
And so five years later, what’s your position? You said, you were in 2014 here and you decided to open the brokerage account, what’s the rest of your position you have a lot of large amount of IRAs, like what else is going on here in your financial [crosstalk 00:21:09]?

Dee:
Yeah, so at that time, I had no debt, I had IRA that I’ve been maxing out since 2012 is when I started maxing out my Roth IRA, and then when my 401k every time I got a raise, I put most of that raise to do was increasing my 401k contribution. So I think at that time I was putting 15% of my income in my 401k and maxing out my IRA.

Scott:
Okay, great. And then do you have an emergency fund as well?

Dee:
Yes, so early on I think I started with about a six month emergency fund. Yeah. Now, today I might have three months just because I feel comfortable with that, right?

Scott:
Well, great. So what happens from here and what happens between 2014 and 2018? Do you continue investing in IRAs like that or do you do other types of investing?

Dee:
Yeah. So within 2014 in 2018 So yes, I continued, I had the $5,000 for brokerage that I put in a brokerage and did nothing with but I continued to do my Roth IRA, and then my 401k, and then an opportunity came up for me to move abroad for work. And so I moved to Scotland, right, and when you’re outside the US, you can’t really do a 401k because you’re not earning income in the US. So there was a pause on that but I still maxed out my IRA in that time. And then when I came back to the US, the I set it up right in 2018 when I returned to the US.

Scott:
What was your wealth position in 2018 and when you’re returning from Scotland?

Dee:
Wealth as in how much did I have or?

Scott:
Yeah, what do you have at that point? I imagine you’re continuing to bring in more than you spend. How are you allocating that?

Dee:
Yes. And of course I took I took a pay cut to go to the UK, that’s another thing people don’t expect so coming back, making US dollars I was very excited and I came back in June 2018. But I will say the decisions I made in the years from 2009 to 2014 positioned me to be able to even take a pay cut to live abroad. But then coming back I was going to go full. So in 2018, I came back in half a year maxed out my 401k, maxed out my IRA and every year since then, maxing out both vehicles.

Scott:
Awesome. How did things progress from 2018 I guess from there. What I’m hearing you say is like. “Oh yeah, I paid off my debt, I kind of move these things forward with this but what was the goal? Did things change, was there an inflection point moment with this when you began like really grinding it out or how did that work for you?

Dee:
Yeah, so I’ve always been a person that if you ask me, even when I started my career I always said, I want to retire at the age of 50 I didn’t know there was a term for it called fire, but I always wanted to design my life in a way that works for me. Right. And so now I know it’s called fight he was actually when I was abroad I really looked more into the fire movement and understood what that was, but really the driver is me decided well, you know what I’m gonna retire early, what do I need to do now to position myself for the future. Right, I think that that for me was a flexor funny saying okay, here’s the life that I know I want to live. What decisions do I need to make now so that my future self will be proud of me. And when is that decision point reached.
I would say 2018, on my return is when I made the decision to start actively putting things in place to to make that happen. And so, yes, I always said I wanted to retire at the age of 15 now I would say 45 Right, so I come closer, and I’m one that enjoys working I enjoy what I do I want to contribute to my community and so for me it’s not that I’m running away from something, it’s just being able to have control about what I do with my time and to be work optional. That’s the goal so even to spend the time with the people that matter the most be able to have the resources and not, not have money be a deciding factor. I think and that freedom for me that that’s important.

Scott:
Okay what’s your position when you return? What kind of your net worth or around there and how does that accelerate in the years following 2018?

Dee:
Yeah, I don’t know that I have my exact net worth from like 2018 but I know that from then on to now is maxing out those vehicles, I would say my net worth has, I think I hit six figures in my 401k when I saw that I hit that when I came back and it’s it’s more than doubled since then, right? And I have that brokerage account where now, every month, I’m putting money into index funds and every couple of months I’m buying some individual stocks right. And so I think looking at my fire calculator, I’m on track to retiring in in the next nine years right if I continue to do the things that I’m doing now. And knowing that at that point, I don’t know what my work situation will look like, but I’ll have the option to do that.

Mindy:
The option. I love that. I’ll have the option, not the obligation to retire, but I will have the option to retire if I choose. It sounds like you enjoy your job.

Dee:
Yeah, I enjoy all the things that I do, my full time work but also the other things that I do.

Mindy:
Yeah, so I love that.I love that.

Scott:
What are some of those other things you do?

Dee:
Well, I have a podcast called The Rich Immigrants and that was my response to the pandemic where a lot of people around me were losing jobs and I felt like, man, we don’t talk about money enough and so the pandemic was what pushed me to start talking about money, I was talking about it like with my friends in a safe space, because I don’t want to be that person that, that’s like obsessed with money but I think money is a tool, and we should, I want to help people use that tool to work for them and so I have a podcast and a blog called the rich immigrant where I talk about that from the perspective of an immigrant, but I also talked about just living in whatever countries you’ve chosen to call all my views on four continents now. So I talk about those experiences. I also have a travel blog, like into 56 countries. So I help people show people how to travel the world but also do willing they’re curious so I enjoy those things I try to spend the time doing that as well.

Mindy:
How do you balance travel with work, because that’s the 56 countries you. Seems like you’re traveling frequently.

Dee:
Yeah I mean when I went to the UK for work right and so I lived in Scotland for almost three years and in that time I was in Europe like traveling for work as well, but also, I mean I tell everybody when I was living in Europe I was either working or I was traveling, not much not a lot of sleep. So my friends and I just, again, it’s, I want to leave fully right so, and when I say talk about the fire mother when I first heard about it, it seemed like, oh my gosh leave in a box, eat ramen and you don’t enjoy your life, and I want to do both. I am adamant about living fully. So I just tried to take advantage of whatever it is in front of me. Of course, I have a budget I stick to it but yes I do all these other things and I, overall I think they helped me live a full life.

Mindy:
I love it. What do you think is the biggest issue facing people today with regards to where you are and where they aren’t and how they can get to where you are?

Dee:
I think a lot of us can be just intimidated, right, by what’s the head like I was, I think I told you I froze when I thought about investing right, it seems like this whole this black box that nobody understands or that is only for certain people. And I think for me I think that’s a big, you know that’s a big deterrent for many people, right, immigrants are not it’s just not understanding something so I think just that awareness, and that education but I also think that that maybe there’s a bit of shame around, admitting that you don’t know what you don’t know, but I think about people, I think the former 2020 was the year of like full moon investing by ever solid, and people were jumping right into things that they don’t understand. So I think that can be a big deterrent, it’s just not understanding things and jumping into it but the other thing is just awareness, awareness, like my sister and I have so many conversations on the talk about man we knew better. So I think education is also a big deterrent for people.

Mindy:
That FOMO is investing in this last year has really been hard to watch. The Bitcoin people who have come out and they’re not investing because they believe in it, they’re investing because everybody else is invested in it. And of course that makes the price go up. But then something happens and all of a sudden it drops like a rock, and people who didn’t know what they were doing, are now left holding the bag or losing large sums of money. And it’s heartbreaking to see this happen. Or the, what was the, was it a Gamestop?

Dee:
Gamestop, yeah.

Mindy:
Drive it up and maybe the movie theater.

Dee:
Yeah, AMC, right?

Mindy:
AMC. And if you can get in, watch it rise and get out that’s great but how many people did that? How many people took the money and ran as opposed to investing money that they don’t have, the people were talking about borrowing money to invest in all these…

Dee:
These Gamestops, crazy.

Mindy:
Yeah. And what happens? You still have to pay your loan even though your Gamestop stock went to zero or whatever that now, I don’t know. So I get the whole, and then there’s people who are watching those people do it wrong and losing money and hearing that story just like my friends that never put any more money back in the stock market, and they’re like, “Well, I’m just not going to do it anymore.” And I really like JL Collins The Simple Path to Wealth. That book is a great place to start if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s a Simple Path to Wealth. What a great [inaudible 00:31:22].

Dee:
And it can seem boring but boring is good, you don’t want to be up all night looking at your investments because you don’t understand what’s going on so I think when it comes to investing, boring is good.

Mindy:
Boring is the best. 1%.

Scott:
Investing’s very boring but you’ve been to 56 countries and don’t sleep much.

Mindy:
And will be retired in nine years.

Dee:
I will be, yeah.

Mindy:
Yeah, the best investments are boring investments and if you want these exciting investments, put 1% of your net worth into the exciting sexy one. I think I have 0% of my net worth in exciting sexy stocks and everything else is it boring stuff. And that’s the best, the boring company that the Tesla reference Elon Musk reference, I think we’re ready to go to the famous four.

Dee:
All right, let’s do it.

Mindy:
Okay, Dee it is now that part of the story where we get to the famous four questions. These are the same four questions we ask of all of our guests. Number one, what is your favorite finance book?

Dee:
I have a couple, right, I’ll share a couple and you mentioned one called The Simple Path to Wealth because I think that’s just a great place to start. I also like, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, right? And then another one that I like is, Bola Sokunbi’s book right, it’s a newer book, I wished she wrote it 10 years ago, grow your money, right, on invest and it’s just don’t relatable to me I felt like it was written with me the millennial investor in mind.

Mindy:
Yeah Bola’s a really great author.

Dee:
Yeah, she is.

Scott:
Yeah, I haven’t checked that out but I’ll have to go and pick up a copy. What was your biggest money mistake?

Dee:
Oh I stared one of those, I guess that the 2014 putting money in freezing and that was one, right. And then the second one though, was not knowing, to get into the real estate market during the last recession, right. I began, it was that nobody in my circle was talking about it I was just focused on paying off my debt and putting money in that 401k But it could have been a starter home at the time, but I guess, you live you learn and you move forward.

Mindy:
I’m going to correct you and say that that time was a very scary time. I have been investing in real estate since the late ’90s, and I did not get into more rental properties during that time. It was a very scary time. So, I’m going to say no, that wasn’t the biggest money mistake.

Dee:
Okay, I’ll take that.

Mindy:
And the people who were able to be visionary and see the future and oh this is great, good for them. I’m glad they were able to generate a lot of wealth by doing that, But it was an incredibly scary time.

Dee:
Okay, thank you for that.

Mindy:
You’re welcome.

Scott:
I’ll observe as well that both of those are opportunity costs mistakes.

Dee:
Yes.

Scott:
And that tells me you really feel like you’ve handled your money to the best of your ability for the most part over the years, which I think is awesome.

Dee:
Yeah, for the best part I think there were times when I didn’t I mean, from the year that I came to America till I graduated, I mean I use my credit card for things that sometimes I shouldn’t have, but I didn’t know and in that case you live, you learn, you move forward.

Mindy:
You graduated with only $12,000 of credit card debt, that’s pretty good.

Dee:
Yeah.

Mindy:
Okay, Dee, what is your best piece of advice for people who are just starting out?

Dee:
I have a couple of pieces. So I’ll share a couple of pieces of advice. I always say to start where you are, with what you have. Right. A second thing is you know don’t invest in things you don’t understand there’s so much information available today you know their podcasts their blogs, their Instagram so just commit to that in a bit more today than you knew yesterday, and it makes a big difference, right. And the other thing is change your circle, right, if you look at what you’re following on social media curate your feed to be what feeds you, right. So, if you don’t have a safe space in your world because I didn’t feel like I could talk about money with my friends if you don’t have a stick at the time. Now I do all the time. Right. I don’t feel like you have a safe space in your world and your circle where you can ask questions where you wouldn’t feel stupid not knowing certain things there communities online that will be willing to welcome you with open arms, please find your community, right and then go ahead and start your journey and don’t be intimidated by people paying off a million dollars in two days, that that happens and that’s wonderful but they’re also people that make slow progress every day and you can be a part of that.

Mindy:
Oh, love it.

Scott:
That’s like what this whole community of financial independence, retire early, of which BiggerPockets and BiggerPockets Money is a small part, that’s the whole point is exactly the five things you just described there.

Mindy:
Love it.

Dee:
We’re on the same page.

Scott:
Yeah. What is your favorite joke to tell the parties?

Dee:
So. I’m not one to tell jokes but I always have a travel story. So that’s what I’ll usually time in trouble starting to do and the one that’s, that’s common it’s the time I have to pay $400 for an apple in New Zealand, and the story is that you know I bought the apple in another country, right, and I brought it back to New Zealand and they’re very big on don’t bring fruits and vegetables and I totally forgot that I didn’t eat the apple, the apple was actually important to the other country from New Zealand and so I went through security, and they called me out, starting off on the apple, and they fined me 400 New Zealand dollars for an apple. I mean, you know I like to think I’m one that can you know kind of just, you know handle these things but one little tear drop because…

Mindy:
I would have cried too.

Scott:
And that’s the biggest money mistake.

Dee:
Oh man, it still hurts every time I think about it. But yeah, that’s one of the stories I share.

Scott:
That’ll hurt you right to your core.

Dee:
Oh man.

Mindy:
Oh, that was awful Scott. They wouldn’t just let you eat it right then?

Dee:
Oh, she was gonna throw it away. I said, “No, bring my apple I’m going to eat this thing right in front of you.” She’s gonna throw it out.

Mindy:
They’re gonna cheat it. Yeah, if you’re gonna throw without them don’t fine me $400. If you can find me $400. I’m gonna eat that apple.

Dee:
Yeah, so I sat there, I ate it, I cried. That’s one of the trauma stories I share. They are happier ones but that was one that kind of ties in with the money topic.

Scott:
And we were able to get a good old BP money pun in as well.

Dee:
Yeah, there we go.

Scott:
Dee, where do people find out more about you?

Dee:
Yes, you can find me on The Rich Immigrant Podcast, it’s on everywhere you listen to podcast. I talk about money, it’s about living abroad and thriving wherever you call home. It’s also an Instagram, or at therichimmigrant.com. But if you’re more about my travel life and my career. I’m @wellwornheels.

Mindy:
Wellwornheels. Wellwornheels.com or wellwornheels on Instagram?

Dee:
Both.

Mindy:
Oh, okay, well we will link to all of this in our show notes which can be found at BiggerPockets.com/moneyshow223. Dee, I am so glad you were able to come and chat with us today. I just love your story.

Dee:
Thank you so much for having me, this was a fun conversation, I loved it.

Scott:
It was just great.

Mindy:
Well thank you. Thank you. Okay and we will talk to you soon.

Dee:
All right.

Mindy:
Okay, Scott that was Dee from The Rich Immigrant, what do you think of her story?

Scott:
I thought it was great, I think it was, like we mentioned earlier, a pretty simple but effective path to building wealth. And again just kind of reflect on a certain set of values that she has with money that allow her to become wealthy while living but what seems to be like an awesome lifestyle, traveling the world, seeing all the sights and becoming wealthy at the same time.

Mindy:
Scott, I really am excited for what she’s doing. I love that she took it upon herself early on to be curious about money, to continue searching. She started reading finance blogs, oh what does this mean? What does this mean? She went down all these rabbit holes to self educate, so that she could put herself in this amazing financial position. And, yes, he made some mistakes, the 2014 to 2018 $5,000 gaining three cents at the end of the four years is better than spending that $5,000 on frivolous things. But now she’s learned, she’s taken steps and she’s educated herself a little bit more, she knows what she wants to do. She’s investing now and that’s sometimes you have to take a four year freeze in order to really be comfortable doing all the things that she didn’t fall into the FOMO trap of last year, which was so heartbreaking to watch. I just think she’s doing a really great job of getting the money story out there getting the money education component of it out there.

Scott:
I agree, I think she’s doing an awesome job and a really fun episode today.

Mindy:
Yep. Near the end of the show, she mentioned that if you don’t have a group of people to talk to about money, you should find a community. We have created a community for you. It’s called the Facebook group of BiggerPockets Money. You can find it at facebook.com/groups/BP money, and we would love to have you join us there and ask the questions that you’re not sure about, ask for advice, ask for what would you do in this situation, and you might get 57 responses that are all different, but you might start to see some serious trends and patterns where everybody invests in index funds. Well, that’s kind of done all the work for you just put your money in there and set it and forget it. Maybe you want to ask about a specific stock, I think there’s a lot of people who, hey want to invest in a stock but they don’t want to invest in the stock, they don’t want to lose money, nobody wants to lose money. So ask questions and see what our lovely amazing listeners have for advice.

Scott:
Sometimes they will also tag me and truly terrible jokes, as well.

Mindy:
Yeah, so apologies in advance for all of the officers in the group, but to come join us anyway and talk with fellow money nerds and frugal weirdos. Okay, Scott shall we get out of here?

Scott:
Let’s do it. From episode 223 of the BiggerPockets Money Podcast, he is Scott Trench and I am Mindy Jensen saying, gotta go friend, this has to end. But we can continue the conversation on Facebook.

 

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In This Episode We Cover

  • Having a “debt payoff plan” so you know exactly how and when you can get rid of debt
  • Joining online communities as a “close circle” for financial debates and idea-sharing
  • Maxing out your Roth, 401(k), and other retirement accounts as early as possible
  • Never falling into FOMO and only investing in assets you understand
  • Seeing your financial journey as a way to “start with what you have”, not what you wish you had
  • And So Much More!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned from the Show

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