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The Truth About Entrepreneurship with Matt Giovanisci

The BiggerPockets Money Podcast
56 min read
The Truth About Entrepreneurship with Matt Giovanisci

Matt Giovanisci is a serial entrepreneur. He decided early on that “working for the man” was not in the cards for him, and he set out creating side hustles that generated income so he could be his own boss and do things on his schedule and his terms.

But entrepreneurship isn’t always the pie-in-the-sky fairytale that it is sometimes made out to be. On today’s episode, we talk to Matt about the successes and failures he’s had as an entrepreneur—from the pool/spa care website he took to $100K in yearly revenue in just five short years to the podcast he quit after one episode.

This episode takes off the rose-colored glasses for a realistic view of how entrepreneurship actually looks.

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Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Scott: Welcome to Bigger Pockets Money Podcast Show #45 where we interview Matt from moneylab.co.

I was ok with bootstrapping and my mom used to get on me because she would say “How are you going to make money? What happens when employment runs out? When are you going to get a job?” I’m like I’m not getting a job, this is my job, and my job is going to be this. I’m going to make money by myself, I’m going to be a freelancer, at the very worst I’m going to own my own website and make a ton of money passively at my very best. And I said I’d rather honestly live in a cardboard box than work for anyone else other than myself.

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Scott: How’s it going everybody? I’m Scott Trench with my co-host Ms. Mindy Johnson. How are you doing Mindy?

Mindy: I’m doing fantastic today Scott! How are you today?

Scott: I am doing great. This is a very fun interview and I’m very excited to get to it. I think that it really highlights some of the challenges that come with entrepreneurship. We paint it as this kind of big end goal to become self-employed, work for yourself, you know not have to work for the man kind of deal. And I think that Matt has been extremely successful in doing that but not without a large amount of challenges, hurdles to overcome along the way. So I think this is a really good perspective for people who paint that as the grass is greener on the other side.

Mindy: Yes! And you know that’s something that I think people don’t really realize that when you work for yourself there’s this different mentality than when you work for somebody else. When you work for yourself, you’re going to make your job successful and make your side hustle your entrepreneurial pursuits successful, it’s still work, you just don’t have someone else telling you what to do and that’s great, that’s really liberating but that’s also all the stress on you, all the pressure on you because if you are the one who messes up, you are the one who has to pay for it as opposed to when you work for a company, you mess up you’re like “oops!” or as you say “whoopsies”.

Scott: But with that said if you want to be an entrepreneur and you want to go through this Matt will be a good source of information, extremely helpful perspective in general because it does highlight a very different outlook on how to handle money and approach finances that’s not unnecessarily wrong it’s just different.

Mindy: Yes and Matt definitely has a different way of approaching his finances. And you know I really like this episode because he’s taking off the rose colored entrepreneur glasses and telling you the real way it is: this is what I did, how long it took me, this is my experience with running my own company and it’s not always glossy and beautiful.

Scott: Absolutely! Well should we bring him in?

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Mindy: Ok here’s thanks to today’s sponsor. Matt whose last name I can’t pronounce properly, welcome to the Bigger Pockets Money Podcast! How is it going today?

Matt: Good thanks for having me!

Mindy: Would you please tell everybody your last name? I always pronounce it wrong and it’s not you, it’s me.

Matt: It’s Giovanisci.

Mindy: Ok Giovanisci so it’s Matt.

Matt: Or if you’re really Italian its Joe-bi-ni-ci.

Mindy: Yeah I’m not either. So Matt tell us about you.

Matt: I was born in a small town in South Jersey not like Jersey Shore Jersey but like Philadelphia Jersey. So I had my first job when I was 13 years old, I worked in a pool store, a local pool store in my town and I did that from 13 to 17 and then I moved to another pool company and I was the youngest employee ever at that pool company and this other bigger pool company and I had prior experience in the pool industry and they we’re like “How is that even possible?”, I was like yes I know how to test water, I know what the chemicals are.

So I got hired there and worked there for a super long time with them and was a system manager at one point and then got poached by another pool company and was the manager of this other pool company for a year and then got poached back by the same company and worked there. And then I got pulled away, was a website designer for another company for 6 months and then got poached back to the same pool company but this time I ended up in the marketing department in the corporate headquarters and that was when I was 25. So like I’ve basically been in the pool industry from 13 to 25, stocking shelves, testing people’s pool water and doing all those things.

Mindy: So you have worked in the pool industry since you were 13. I find it interesting that you said that at age 17 you were the youngest employee at the new place but you didn’t mention that at age 13 you were the youngest person there. Did they have a 12 year old there?

Matt: Yes I don’t think I was the youngest. I’m serious. I’m serious. But I was told multiple times I was the youngest in the newer company. It was a family owned business. The first one was a family owned business, the second one was not.

Mindy: Thank you I was going to clarify that to the listeners who don’t know already your story.

Ok so now you’re in the marketing department. I’m assuming this is some foreshadowing to your future life?

Matt: Yes so I’m in the marketing department, you know I know how to do web design. I know how to do video, graphic design, I know all these things so I parlayed that into my own business which is called swimuniversity.com which still exist today, it is my bread and butter nowadays and it’s a website where I teach people how to take care of their pools because I know that world very well. Took my knowledge of pool care and my knowledge of building websites and I passion-mashed them together, here we are in what I do so yeah that’s sort of how I got into the make money online space but prior to that I was not pretty good at that.

Scott: I’ve got a question here. So from 17 to 25 you’re working full time in the pool industry. What were you doing with your money during this period of time?

Matt: Spending it uncontrollably. When I turned 18 I got a credit card in the mail and it had a limit of 500 dollars, I remember that, and I remember I showed my parents and they were like “cool throw it out”, I was like “Why?”, “because you shouldn’t have a credit card”. Of course I disobeyed them I used the credit card, immediately used it and spent it all at Target a water fountain for my desk, some candy, beef jerky, whatever. I spent 500 dollars in a single day at Target on this credit card. And then didn’t pay it for, I don’t know a year? No one taught me that I needed to do that. So I went into credit card debt almost instantly.

Scott: That was the first moment that you could have possibly done it, at 18, screw up your credit card.

Mindy: Yes as soon as you can screw up your finances. I think you’re the youngest financial screw up that we’ve had so far so congratulations.

Matt: See I’m youngest at that too.

Mindy: Although I do want to point out that spending $500 at Target in one sitting is not some sort of unique thing.

Matt: If you knew what I’d spent it on you’d be like “that’s impressive”

Mindy: Well the essentials?  A drinking fountain for your desk, candy, beef jerky, like what else do you need? Soda? And then you’re golden.

Matt: Yes pretty much it

Mindy: Ok so you were a financial dead beat. So when you said you didn’t pay your credit card for a year, did you mean that you paid the minimum?

Matt: No.

Mindy: You made no payments at all so your credit score’s like zero? Like 4?

Matt: Yes, no payments at all. Friends said to me “You know you have to pay that every month right?” and I was like no, no it’s credit so it just sits there and I pay it when I have $500 I’ll pay it. He goes that’s not how credit cards work. What do you mean every month you’re owing more and more each month. Not to mention I’m killing my credit score. Again, didn’t know. No idea because I mean, not blaming my parents for everything but they just told me don’t get a credit card. So didn’t learn in school, didn’t learn it from my parents, and learned it from my friend who’s a person who’s same age as me, so.

Mindy: Well in your parents benefit they told you not to and you disobeyed them. So what happened when your friend said you do need to pay this and you said oh really you didn’t know that? What did you do then?

Matt: I remember I think it went up to $1500 I owed on it.

Mindy: Oh my God!

Matt: Yes I originally owed 500 on it but I didn’t have 1500 just laying around so what I actually did was I did it again. I opened another credit card because I was out of the $500 I went up a thousand and a 26% interest rate I think if I remember correctly and racked that up, didn’t pay that off either so yes I had 2 credit cards.

Scott: You just spent a thousand dollars on?

Matt: That I don’t remember. Probably more fountains for my desk and bubble gum and beef jerky, dumb things for my life, I don’t know.

Mindy: Scott why is this guy on the show?

Matt: Well I will say that I was basically no education on money, finances, whatsoever. I also was working full time, I was not in college. I did go to college twice for 2 weeks so that means that in 2001 I went to college for 2 weeks and dropped out, and then I tried to go again the following semester and went for 2 more weeks, also dropped out. Community college, nothing crazy so but I was working, I was making money so didn’t think I need a college. I was good in school but I just was not good in college because I was a ham and none of the teachers liked that. Yeah they don’t like a class clown.

Scott: How much were you making at this pool job? In that period?

Matt: It was probably $20 per hour maybe at that time; I mean we’re talking about close to 15 years ago so pretty good for a 17 year old.

Mindy: That’s really good. I earned $10 an hour when I was 17 and I think that I was just the cat’s meow.

Matt: Yes I just kept going up. I remember when I was finally 25 and working in corporate I was doing 40 to 60 somewhere in that thousand per year and so when I turned 25, I bought a house, I bought a condo, a brand new condo. Talked about this on Bigger Pockets before actually, I am an accidental landlord because I bought a condo with no money down, my credit score was 5, 75 maybe? And this was October 3rd, 2008 so black Monday as is now referred, the day the stock market crashed and I was closing a deal on a brand new condo.

Mindy: And how much was it?

Matt: 180,000 yes good value for the condo.

Scott: Where is it again?

Matt: It’s in South Jersey yeah 20 minutes outside Philadelphia so still own it because I can’t sell it because I still owe money on it and now it’s under litigation so now I really can’t sell it so the builders are being sued by our HOA so it’s just a nightmare. But there was this moment I think 25-26 years old, I have this side business, it’s making some money, university.com side business. I got fired from my pool job because my boss found out that I started this pool website on the side and thought it was a conflict of interest and let me go.

Mindy: So wait the pool place that you were working at, what did they do?

Matt: They sold in-ground pools, above ground pools and they owned 4 retail stores.

Mindy: So you’re teaching people how to take care of the products that your company sells? I don’t see this as a conflict of interest.

Matt: Yes I don’t either but they did.

Mindy: I guess their opinion is the only one that counts.

Matt: Yes so that was fine because I had a job lined up for a couple of years and for those couple of years I was doing marketing but it was for a restoration company so, property restoration, and I ended up getting laid off from that job and I had a year of unemployment basically.

I decided to take that year and focus on building my side business to full time. But not only that I also decided to learn how to be better with money because I was sick and tired of living pay check to pay check. I was sick and tired of being a dead beat not even in the credit card world, I think in the credit card world they call people who don’t pay their credit cards on time dead beats but I was not that person so I just was tired. And I was in debt, credit card debt, probably about 10,000 dollars in credit card debt and I’m like I can’t start a business, I own a BMW. I was like making 60 grand, I was first in my friends to own a house, first to have a paying job because everyone was in college at that time so I just decided that if I’m going to start my own business and I have to boot strap it then I need to really get into my personal finances. And no one could help me and no one in my life was really good with money that could be my financial mentor so I started reading books and that’s how I learned everything just like through reading books and getting better with basically how I handled my money because again I’m really terrible at it.

Scott: So what year was this, you’ve just gotten fired, you bought the house? What’s the time frame of you left the job and kind of said I’m going to turn around here?

Matt: Yes I think I was 27 because I bought my house when I was 25, 2 years in and 27, 28 years old when I was finally like ok, I was making good money, I was living pay check to pay check. I was making good money but my credit score was pretty low and I had no savings, I had nothing in retirement accounts or any of that stuff. And I just basically ended up figuring out that the books that I read, specifically the first book I read was the Simple Dollar, his name’s Trent Ham I believe, who wrote that book and I read I Will Teach You to be Rich and those were the 2 books.

I remember I Will Teach You to be Rich was the one like taught the automation stuff and I was in the internet world so the automation of your finances really helped me figure it out and I started doing the debt avalanche method for getting rid of credit card debt so I had a white board of all of my credit cards and I started with my highest interest credit card first and worked to pay that off and worked to pay the second one off and I went in order of credit card interest, high interest to low interest, not the other way around. So I was able to do that relatively quickly because I was working part time as a freelance website designer and I had employment coming in and I had a little bit of income coming in swimuniversity business and I decided though that was like probably 40 grand a month so with my condo and my BMW and all these expenses I just felt really bad and stupid having all of those things while I was on unemployment so I got rid of them. I ended up renting out my condo and moved in with my younger brother. He has a house and I moved in with him. And I sold my BMW for a cheap Honda Civic Coupe and basically lowered my expenses to 4500 a month to 1300 dollars a month. And I did that for 2 years. I focused nonstop on building everything else.

Mindy: Ok I’m going to stop you right there and say by taking your property and renting it out, getting rid of your expensive BMW to go with a cheaper car; you took your expenses from 4500 to 1300 dollars. I read from the bigger pockets forum and I hear from people all the time that “I don’t know what to do my housing is so expensive, my car is 600 dollars a month” all these things I’m like sell the car, “oh I just got it”, sell it, it’s $600 every month, you can’t have it.

Matt: I had the BMW for 1 year

Mindy: Sometimes you make that decisions

Matt: And I took a bath on it like for sure. So no I moved in with my younger brother, he was charging $500 a month for the room in his house which is pretty much all I paid. I didn’t pay for utilities or anything but my alternative was moving back in with my parents. And I also have no problems doing that because to me it was more important that I start my business and make money on my own terms than I care where I lived at that time.

So I was ok with bootstrapping and my mom used to get on me because she would say “How are you going to make money? What happens when employment runs out? When are you going to get a job?” I’m like I’m not getting a job, this is my job, and my job is going to be this. I’m going to make money by myself, I’m going to be a freelancer, at the very worst I’m going to own my own website and make a ton of money passively at my very best.

And I said I’d rather honestly live in a cardboard box than work for anyone else other than myself. And that was just my driving force of doing this. Now granted I have no kids, I had no significant other, I had a dog. I had a dog that my parents now have because they have a yard and I didn’t have anywhere else to put him and they wanted him so he lives there now so yes. I did it I gave myself one year. To supplement the unemployment that I was getting I was also doing website design work so I was getting freelance clients. I took that money and paid my debt off with it. I had low monthly expenses and so I’d use the rest to just get rid of my credit card debt as fast as humanly possible and that was everything.

Mindy: The debt that you are talking about is the $10,000 in credit card debt? Was there anything else?

Matt: No I don’t have student loans, I didn’t go to college. Yeah that was pretty much it so as far as debt goes I would call myself lucky because I know a lot of other people who are in credit card debt and still have student loans. I can’t imagine at all. I’m so thankful I didn’t go to college to be honest because where I am now I would not be here if I went to college for sure.

Scott: Alright so this is awesome, great story, not knowing about money, having that turning point, reading, educating and making drastic changes to the obviously big leverage in you’re spending, paying off a lot of debt. Let’s go to the, I’m assuming this is the success part here right that were just getting to. Meteor rise of your legendary career.

Mindy: You’re assuming there’s success

Scott: Not to spoil any surprises

Matt: Yeah so

Mindy: Spoiler alert Matt’s life doesn’t continue to suck forever

Matt: Yes it doesn’t. I will say that it’s not a meteoric rise I believe meteoric like, nothing happened fast, it was incredibly slow and I’ve never had that hockey stick moment of like all of a sudden Nielsen Tyson linked to SwimUniversity and I started having all this traffic and now I’m making all the money, no, absolutely not. I mean there’s so many ups and downs.

I’m such a scatter brain dreamer when it comes to this business stuff so on the first year I was gun hoe on SwimUniversity, like working my ass of on it and I ended up starting, I remember I started up a website, it built a social network for dogs for like a couple of months. That was like oh people are putting their dogs on Facebook and talking like them so what if I built an entire network of that and then so I did and then I was like, wait a minute, I don’t like dogs this much, so why am I getting into this business so I shut that down. But that was like the detour from what I was supposed to be working on. And then maybe like the first full year of you know unemployment eventually ran out and I think SwimUniversity was making about 20,000 dollars a year at first year.

The rest of my income came from the freelance website stuff and then I started a podcast with my buddy Andrew called Listen Money Matters that took 8 months for it to see any success but that’s where all my time was and I was helping build the site meanwhile SwimUniversity was up there and I was kind of hoping oh I’d have Swim and Listen Money Matters and that would be my thing and then we started doing a daily podcast and it really blew up. It had a hockey stick moment where we were getting a lot of downloads and we could get sponsors and then I just got super burned out by the end of the year and we just hadn’t made money the entire year and so I quit the whole project and looked at SwimUniversity and said hey now I’m back at Swim, you need to make money, I’m talking to a computer screen at this point. You have to make money and so I spent the next year after that trying to take Swim to $40,000 a year and I did that which was still not a lot of money but I was still living with my brother at that time and then after that just started to slowly go up.

Scott: Let’s walk through how you were making money form Swim and what did you do to double that on your online business?

Matt: So at that time I had 3 revenue streams. One was affiliate links, so I had affiliate links to this company every time I mentioned a chemical that I recommended or a pool cleaner that I recommended I would link to the company and they would buy it and I would get a small commission through marketing.

The other way I did it was through sponsorships so I had a decent sized email list maybe about a thousand people and I had traffic to the website that was pretty good. The only third party unbiased website, not third party but unbiased website in the pool industry so I was able to take sponsors because I had no affiliation to anyone and so I did some sponsorship work meaning I had banner ads on the site, banner ads on the emails and stuff.

And then the third way was I actually wrote a book at that time called the Hot Tub Handbook, eBook that I charged I think $19 for. And I ended up writing another book so now I currently have 2 books on the site, both are $29. So that’s one revenue stream sponsorships and affiliate marketing. And then to ramp those up I did a few things- one, as just kept writing content on the website to improve its traffic, the more traffic the more people can look at my affiliate links via my products and the more I could charge for sponsorships but then I also built my own plug in to keep track of and display links on my own website.

And I am not a programmer, I’m not a pretty good programmer but I have something together using the Amazon API, that took me like a month and a half to figure out but you know that’s my full time job so I had a full month and it was my income so I put everything I had to building this thing and it certainly helped because it allowed me to display the products within the content and their pricing and their pictures in a nice big button so that really helped drive up the amount of affiliate revenue that I was earning from that site.

Mindy: Wait so you’ll mention a pool chemical and your self-built plug in goes and grabs it from Amazon? This is what it looks like; this is what it is, click if you’re to order?

Matt: Yup.

Mindy: Oh did you sell that later on?

Matt: Yes.

Mindy: Ok.

Scott: Spoiler alert!

Matt: Yes so that basically that was the base of it and I just grew by, at that point it was just all about traffic so getting as much traffic to the website as much as possible through writing more content so I was doing a lot of writing, filming videos for YouTube I was doing that a lot, posting Pinterest images, all the social media things. So it was really just that for a long time.

Mindy: So how long were you working on Swim? Like how many hours a week? Was this your 40 hour week job, your 10 hour week job?

Matt: Yes certain years because I tend to flip back and forth between projects, I get very bored but the consistency of it was I had started Swim in 2004. I built it for 2 years but didn’t do anything with it, I lost the domain name and I had to buy it back. I started officially in 2006 and I kind of worked on it at night when I still had a full time job and it was really hard because I don’t like writing, I’m not a good writer so I was writing like these 200 word articles, pretty awful but I was doing like info graphics so a lot of that helped the site early on and I was sending it all on the site so again I was working a full time job at a pool store or even in the corporate world doing the website for the pool company and then I come home and do more pool stuff so it was kind of all I was doing for a while.

I get burned out on that and that’s where you start building social networks for dogs and you start the podcast for personal finance among these other things but it’s always been there and every time I kind of divert and do these other projects the Swim kind of always sits there, always slowly builds traffic because it’s like one of the only games in town to learn pool information so I say like when I’m really focused on it, it’s absolutely more than 40 hours a week now. For an entire year I filmed a rap video on how to take care of a pool, I did info graphics, lots of info graphics that would take me weeks to make, I would write and writing was such a nightmare for me so they would take me very long and I coded the whole site from scratch and did everything. I mean I did every single piece of it that I could. So that was definitely more than 40 hours a week and obviously like you have to promote it and you know I’m still doing website design on the side so there’s just a lot of work to do all the time and you know I still have my diversions, I’ll see a shiny object and I’ll go do that for a while but Swim kind of always remains there and slowly grows over time.

Scott: This is like the classic entrepreneurial hustle right? 80 hours a week between your time gig and your business here so you can avoid working 40, right? When do you see the lifestyle result I guess or the income that you’re looking for? It sounds like you’re really dived full time into this in 2010 at 27. When do you start seeing the results start piling up to where you can start supporting a lifestyle rather than living with your brother or parents?

Matt: 2015

Scott: So it took you 5 years?

Matt: Yes what I normally tell people if any one’s starting an online business for the first time it takes 4 years to do and so for four years you’re not going to make any money and I mean developing a content site, there are other ways to do this much faster and you were a programmer you can build a sass program and do it much faster but it takes 4 years.

Everybody I’ve ever talked to and my self-included, with any project it has always taken 4 years for it to get significant. So for me 5 so you know I stayed in college for that 1 extra year because I didn’t know what I wanted. So 5 years and I was finally, I think at 5 years I was making $100,000 a year from it and I remember because I was living with my brother, I had my own room,  a white board and I had one of those red marker with a thermometer and on top of the thermometer was written $100,000 and so every month I would fill in the thermometer when I got there and that was my goal for the year in 2014 my goal was that and I achieved it but by the skin of my teeth.

I think I really did like $99,410 just slightly under, I filled the rest in. what’s another $500. And then I met my girlfriend at Fincon because she was also in personal finance and at that point I was making enough money from swimuniversity that I had a lifestyle business but I never considered it to be the hours or trying to be striving for the 4 hour work week, I love all of this, it’s a hobby. Like I wake up in the morning and go to my computer because I want to. I actually enjoy working on Labor Day which I just did so it is a hobby and I don’t get like work, sometimes it can get really frustrating and more times than not its stressful. I am more stressed out now working for myself than I ever was working for anybody else.

So that’s the trade off, I don’t have a boss but now if I don’t make money one month it stresses me out or if Amazon changes their business model I get screwed and that’s stressful. If my internet goes down I’m stressed. All that. It’s just much more stress.

Mindy: So are you still working 40 hours a week?

Matt: Yes 100%!

Mindy: Is it only 40 hours a week? Is it more than? I know that you love your job if were my job I would probably work more than 40 hours a week but you know it is what it is.

Matt: Yes I try to take off on the weekends. Obviously some weeks are more labor intensive than others because if you look at my site it has challenges where my head down for multiple days and I’m a zombie like you can’t talk to me I’m just in the zone but for the most part yeah I try to take off, try to have fun if I can.

Mindy: Of course. If you didn’t do anything at swimuniversity for today or next week, how long could it run by itself?

Matt: It could run by itself for probably 5 years. I mean again I’ve been doing it for 10 years, it’s a resource site, it’s a book that lives online, and as long as Amazon doesn’t change their online structure and maybe some plugins need to be updated here and there in the website, obviously some things change on the internet, sometimes you have to do code tweaks but it could be a passive site but that’s not how I treat it.

I do have a small team of people that consistently help me create content on it and help me create more products but it’s a small team of 4 people, it’s me and 3 other people and I want to keep it going and I want to nurture it so I do work on it. I’ve been recently doing videos for it and I still do some of the social media stuff mainly because I like it. If I let it go it could last for a very long time. And I could sell it if I wanted to.

Scott: Awesome. What are you doing with your money while you’re accumulating it right now? You’re earning all this money you’ve earned up to 200k years ago. How are you kind of managing it? What’s your goal on your personal finances?

Matt: Well that actually all changed yesterday so I would like to say that before that I was paying myself a salary of I think $5,000 a month through a payroll company so what am I making maybe 3500 dollars a month right? And most of that money was going to paying staff so I had a lot of staff before and I was trying to build a digital company.

I wanted to build a big digital company similar to like Fox, Buzz feed, Times those kinds of companies but more on the very niche-y pool, home brewing and coffee space which was websites that I ran so I really was hoping to do that and I spent a lot of money last couple of years.

The company was doing very well and so I though let’s re-invest that money into trying and really grow it and I failed at that because ultimately when it comes down to it I consider myself like a craftsman and I was trying to be a businessman and I’m very quick to spend money for quality stuff but very slow to see if it’s actually paying off or not.

So for that reason a lot of the money that I was making was really just a little of it going to a betterment account, so I have 2 accounts there. I have an IRA which I’ve had for multiple years so I max out my IRA every year and I have a brokerage account through betterment which I put $500 a month into my IRA for like 5 or 6 years and I do about, on a good month, because you know I have a seasonal business during the summer time I make more money than I do winter times about swimming pools.

I try to put more away in the summer in brokerage account, less in the winter time when I don’t have money so those are the 2 places that I do investing and I have a checking account that I use to pay my bills.

Recently I decided to be more of like a lifestyle business. I tried to build this massive company so I downsized our staff so it’s just a small team of us. And I’m going to take some of that money for myself to invest it into savings account so I put a lot away in a savings just like you know high yield savings account and obviously add more to betterment.

If I can maybe start another type of retirement account, like a 401k or maybe another IRA I’m going to do that as well. And I’m trying to save up to buy a home because right now I’m renting, you know, after I moved out of my brother and I met my girlfriend we decided to move from South Jersey to Colorado and we’ve been living in Colorado now for 3 years and we’ve been renting so now I’m kind of like, I already own my own home back in Jersey I want to buy one I kind of want to die in, that’s kind of the way I’m looking at it so I’m not looking at an investment property I’m looking at the home I die in. It’s morbid but yeah.

Mindy: Wow yes but it’s a happy though. So what are you doing for health insurance right now? You don’t have a real job where you go, you know what I’m sorry, I shouldn’t say real job, not because of you but I don’t want to offend other people who are listening who are maybe working for themselves that don’t have a boss.

Matt: I don’t have a real job you’re right.

Mindy: I know that but for people who are listening who may be in the same situation.

Matt: I’m self-employed.

Mindy: You’re self-employed so what do you do for health insurance?

Matt: I pay for the state of Colorado’s big catastrophe insurance so I basically pay it’s like $335 a month that might be entirely accurate to basically not have to be penalized through my taxes at the end of every year which keeps going up so yeah that’s just my base health insurance, I don’t use it, I pay everything else in cash so I just went to the dentist and had crown replaced and I had to pay $3000 out of my pocket to get all that done. I replaced 4 cavities, 2 deep cleaning and a regular cleaning and I actually buy the health insurance they offer their own version of plan at this one dentist that I go to and so I think it’s like $350 a year but I get 2 free cleanings, well it’s not free I’m paying for it and 20% off any procedure that needs to be done and I need a lot of procedures done so I paid for it out of pocket.

You know I had to go to the foot doctor once and paid for that out of pocket and I’ve been doing that for years. I mean even before mandatory health insurance I just didn’t have it; I just paid cash for things. But now that its mandatory I do pay into the system because I want to and I do like the idea that if something horrible happens the cap at least with my deductible so catastrophe insurance is fine for me and I don’t have any other, I don’t take any prescriptions, I don’t wear glasses so I don’t have any recurring medical bills I need to worry about too much so it’s ok right now for me to have pretty low insurance and pay for things out of pocket but you know obviously as I get older that may change so I may move to a more aggressive health insurance plan.

Mindy: Ok we have recently spoken to PT Taylor from Fincon and his family is on the health sharing plan, one of those like Liberty, I don’t know what the name of his wife is

Matt: Is it through a church?

Mindy: His is through a church but the other ones that don’t have such a stringent religion aspect of it have you ever considered one of those or is that just not good for you situation?

Matt: I just want to make it kind of easy on myself. I don’t have a family so right now I’m ok with paying what I’m paying. You know I have money now so it’s much easier for me to say this but I usually pay for convenience. And so if something costs more money its convenient for me I’m going to pay for it.

I don’t like doing a lot of research, I’m not a tax dodger, you know I’m not looking into my taxes like oooh how can I change this and do that, shave a little of the top for myself. I tend to just go like hey whatever I can just click a button and pay is fine you know that’s kind of like how I approach a lot of things. I have this anecdote that’s really stupid but milk costs $3 but to walk to the back of the store to get it as supposed to a $5 milk at the front of the store, I’m the guy who’s going to pay $5 for a gallon of milk because I don’t want to walk to the back of the store.

Mindy: Oh ok so Matt and I are different people.

Matt: Yes I am not frugal in any means. Comes from my previous life you know I spent $500 that I didn’t have so I am not a frugal person but I use money as a tool for an easier life and more fun life and so you know if money lets me not do something that I hate doing I’m going to use it for that. If money is going to help me avoid stress, I’m going to do that, and so I’m not hoarder, I’m not like pinching every penny, I’m more concerned about well-being as a mentally you know going through the rest of this life.

Mindy: And that’s valid I mean you have to be able to live the life. People really try to clip coupons and I did that once and I’m like yeah I’m done with that just to save 25 cents.

Matt: Yes well because I’m uninterested in that you know. If I were interested just like for me my time is better spent and I have more fun working on my business and increasing my income versus I have a static income and I have to make every dollar count. The way that I built my life I actually spend time the other way, like if you have a real job; it’s kind of hard to make money more faster because you kind of have to ask for a raise versus. As for me I can sit at the computer 30 days straight without showering and make more money as long as I put the time in.

Scott: I love it and what you’re talking about is basically like it’s very common sensical in a lot of ways in a sense that you unlike maybe most of the listeners to this podcast have control over your income, you can get the leverage there and increase and drive that versus your full time, upper middle class wage earner, you got your pattern set. Here’s your salary, you’re looking at 5, 10, 15% raise you’re really good over the next year and how do I built wealth? Well I have to save and spend a little as possible and invest that as efficiently as possible in order to move my financial position for it. You, saving could be irrelevant, I can double my income next year if I work my business and apply the correct pressure in the correct spots.

Matt: Yeah and I also used to have this mind set of why save, what if I get hit by a bus tomorrow? All that saving is for nothing.

Scott: But we just talked about why you save right?

Matt: I know.

Scott: You may not consider it saving but you got started in this business by staying on 1300 dollars a month and selling off all things that we’re a drag at your finances and enables you to put this business together that you don’t need to but had you lost your business you’d be right back to that frugal lifestyle and then you’d do it again until you didn’t need to anymore.

Matt: To be honest yeah 100% I used to say that, I don’t say that anymore obviously but that frugalness still applies, yes I may not be frugal in the milk scenario right? And we’re talking about $2 there. When it came to my business even when my business was doing 6 figures plus I was doing very well and I was still making less than what I was making at my second job because I was putting all that money back in the business hoping to grow it even more, later I could even make more money but problem is you get stuck at this trap of constantly adding more to your business and not giving anything to yourself and that’s self-sacrificing so recently I’ve decided that maybe it’s time to sort of like scale back, I don’t have to push this business as hard as I need to, I don’t have to turn it into a real quote and quote business because I like the term lifestyle business but let’s be honest that’s essentially what I’ve built and if I stop spending money to grow it aggressively then it is a lifestyle business and if that money is going to me and it’s making decent money and if I use my own hours to pull those leverage to make more money then great.

I could also use the money as a tool to hire somebody else, pulls leverage for me and that would work to which ultimately I failed that recently and so I’m kind of going back the other way so even as early as last year I was struggling with income coming in you know because I was paying much out of pocket to have things done so now I’m sort of re-evaluating that and going well it’s ok to sit on my computer where I can pull those leverage myself and maybe give myself a bigger cut and actually reap the rewards of the actual thing I’m building for 10 years finally and then look to buy a house.

Scott: So what you said in a nutshell is I’m not frugal; I have a spender’s mentality

Matt: Yes, I just give myself any money and I invest all of it in my business.

Scott: Yes that’s spending though right?

Matt: That’s investing; it’s investing when it works. It’s spending if it doesn’t.

Scott: I think you’re embodying sound financial management, right? You’re saying I can’t do this I’m a spender at heart but you’re not giving yourself a chance to spend any money because you’ve been investing in your business. You’re paying yourself first basically in some form.

Matt: Yes I mean you’re right, fundamentally you’re right. I sometimes find it hard to see it that way because it’s literally dollars going out of the door but yes you’re right. That was all the money was basically being reinvested in the business and could absolutely pay off in the future. And still might pay off in the future even if it didn’t work today. But you’re right the thing is that spending mentality is just me throwing money out the door , like I’m very quick to just make a decision and I just throw money at the problem, just throw money at it yeah, yeah, yeah. And more recently now I’m thinking maybe not do that so much. So willy nilly for lack of a better term.

Mindy: Ok I’ve got like 27 questions. Really quickly what does lifestyle business mean? I’ve heard that term but I actually don’t know what you’re talking about.

Matt: I think lifestyle business means that you have a business that allows you to do whatever you want to do and that’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Usually means having a small group of people or being a solopreneur in some cases and basically having your hours freed up where you don’t have to work, you can work a 4 hour week of course if you really wanted to or 80 hour week if that’s what you choose to do.

Mindy: Ok you took Swim to 20,000 dollars a year to a 100 thousand a year in just 5 short years so what were you doing differently that made the income so much more?

Matt: Yeah the biggest thing, there was 2 changes made. One was I started writing better content and I can give you literal examples of that. Early in my career when I was starting SwimUniversity I was writing 300 word articles that were terrible, I’m not good at English.

So what I did was I learned English online, I just you know read a bunch of blogs, read some books on how to write and learn grammar again. I guess I think I never really learned it in the first place. I was pretty bad at English even in high school. And I started writing longer form articles so I started writing from 300 words to more like 3,000 words and I was targeting key words that I already targeted but were just weak and really the content itself so I spent so much time writing words which is so boring to me but that’s what I had to do.

And on top of that creating graphic aid, for a lack of a better term again, to showcase like what I was teaching. Like if I were talking about how to get rid algae out of your pool water I would create an info graphic, these little graphics to explain what is algae, how does chlorine kill algae, whatever.

And then the second big thing that I did which was also content based is I stated making YouTube videos. And when I started making YouTube videos no one else at that time was doing it and to be honest no one’s really doing it that well now in my particular industry and so that was my competitive edge and I was able to grow the traffic significantly from creating content that was just better than everybody else’s and so that grew the traffic and that started bringing in the sponsors to my face and they knew who I was and impressed with my work and I was just getting more traffic which worked for my affiliated links, made more money.

And then the final part of that was I wrote books, I actually created my own products which I hadn’t had for the first 6 years of my business. When I created my own product it started to bring in a little more income. So it was really just doing better work actually.

Mindy: Ok.

Scott: Makes sense. Here at BiggerPockets we’re a company as well in the online space. You know the business when you look at it from a metric perspective how many people are you reaching, and then how many dollars are you generating per visit. And those are the 2 ways to kind of measure the business. Sounds like you applied 2 pressures in the business and I thought how to get people to my site and then how do I make more money per visitor providing useful content and features in front of each my visitors.

Matt: Yup exactly how I did it but the first 4 or 5 years was, I learned some bad things and I was reading some bad books and I was writing a lot of crappy content, a lot of it. when I say I was writing 300 word articles it wasn’t just like one I wrote hundreds and hundreds of 300 word articles and posted them everywhere. None of them paid off. So I was doing a lot of work it was just the wrong kind of work.

Scott: So how can I, supposed you put yourself in the shoes of somebody listening on bigger pockets money podcast to somebody who’s working towards financial freedom, got a good job or starting to save up some money to invest. How do you use things that you’ve learned about building online business to advance your financial position?

Matt: That’s a tough question. And I’ll say this the thing for me was focusing on my existing strengths so like at that time I started my online business I knew how to design a website, that I knew.

The biggest hurdle to start an online business is actually just starting a website, you know, people don’t know how to do that technical hurdle and I already had that knowledge that was what I based it on. The other thing I knew was pools.

I already had that knowledge so that was the industry that I chose to go into. Right? I was a terrible writer but was good at graphic design and I was good in making videos and that was ultimately what I later decided my strength was.

Now I’m saying that you know in hind sight these are the things I would have focused on early on in my career I would have focused less on words and more on video having known my strengths at that time.

And so if there’s someone out there who wants to start any kind of online business no matter what it is, it’s really just like shut the lights off, sit in a quiet room, light a candle, I don’t care, and just be honest with yourself and practise some self-awareness and figure out what are you good at, just what are you good at, what does your friends tell you you’re good at. Maybe it’s cooking maybe you’re just like an awesome pie baker, you know? So maybe your website should be about pie or maybe you start a pie business that’s not online, maybe I don’t know.

The biggest thing you have to do is not try to emulate somebody else because you see success. If I saw somebody else out there, I’ll give you a great example, I mean you guys are BiggerPockets, investment properties is what you guys do, what you guys talk about and if I followed you guys kind of like in a distance and go “oh those guys, yeah, property investment that’s where the money’s at ok yeah I’m going to do that” I would be in so much debt, I am, currently in so much debt it is my one thing I don’t like real estate, I don’t like any of it interesting but here I am thinking “look at those people they’re crushing it” and be like those people and I have no previous strength in that field whatsoever, I have no interest. People know that so I go down this path and I’m stressed constantly whatever versus you know just being along and going what am I good at and just kind of like taking that and scaling that experience and that skill set.

Scott: So I have a question for you. One of your businesses is the dog social network.

Matt: It never ended up becoming a business but I did build it.

Scott: So is this a good example of what maybe you didn’t have previous experience in?

Matt: A 100% yes a classic example of I realizes I don’t like dogs that much. And the reason I built it was my girlfriend at that time was like that. She carried her teacup Yorkshire terrier around, it was her daughter whatever, and she knew other people who were like that so oh my gosh there’s a community of these kinds of people who want to embody their dogs. It’s a thing and I’m like I need to capitalize on that and it turns out like after I built it I was like wait a minute like my dog’s cool and everything but I don’t want to talk as him. I don’t post pictures of him at all on Facebook so I wasn’t target customer and I knew nothing about that world.

I realized that after building the whole thing so yes. The one strength I had was actually knew how to build a website but I actually had to learn how to develop a social network site so that was 2 things that I was bad at, one was dogs and two was building a sass product base.

Mindy: See now I lived down the street from you Matt and we live in an area where people are just like your ex-girlfriend very, very much in love with their dogs. I think you can make a boat load of money throwing it back up online now. You still have all the code right?

Matt: I don’t. it’s so dated, it’s so bad. Never put it back up online. I’m not saying I wouldn’t like doing it but I just wouldn’t like it.

Mindy: Just put it out or sell it

Matt: Could do that but there’s stress in every level of it and I know that now because I’ve done so many projects. I’ve done 2 software companies that I was like I am bad at this and I’ve done it twice and I’ve sold both. I give that advice in hind sight right?

I was definitely not the person years ago who sat in a quiet room and went and thought what my strengths are. I was not that person. It’s going back to the last 10 years and going oh yeah that worked because that was a previous strength of mine, oh yeah that worked because of that, oh that didn’t work because I was never good at that and never liked doing that and you could be like why did you even do that.

Again you see people out there building sass products making a ton of money, you’re like I could do that I could be that, and then I do it and then I’m struggling with that and I don’t know what I’m doing, give up or worse life could fall apart.

Scott: That makes so much sense like so many people think oh I’m going to go out and start this online business one of these 50 ideas I heard that’s a good idea but has nothing to do with my skill set, nothing to do with what I’m interested in. and I’m going to have to completely learn new, hard skill that is just completely going to be the side and completely tangential to my work. Why would you go down that path? Very impractical to my path very irrelevant if you can just think through it. What is it that you’re good at and know how to do and will come very easily to you while you pursue this interest the next 5 years and make no money.

Matt: Yes I mean the why is so simple I mean why do people start selling Herbalife you know, they heard someone else made a ton of money. Do you drink like health shakes? No. Do you care about any of these stuff? No. Ever sold anything ever? Probably not. But you heard one nobody, one probably fake story of nobody going from zero dollars to a million dollars in 3days, it’s like their why is so simple even I fall for it.

Things that I fall for are not money fast schemes, oh I don’t know that could be true I see somebody out there who made a word press plugin and in 6 months they’re making $500 a month I can do that, hell yeah, without even thinking about what my skill set actually is.

My skill set isn’t those things and maybe those things you learned later down the line like I had built this plugin that I have told earlier and I ended up selling it later. But later I found out that wow I’m actually incredibly stressed because I have hired a developer and I don’t know the terminology for some things and the skill set, oh wow I have to answer consumer service questions, this sucks, you know this is not something I want to do with my life and I found all of that like all these by-products that people online are like oh yeah a sass product you can make a billion dollars.

They’re not telling you the crap, all the stress involved with it. And when I started money lab and I started doing these experiments, you know, doing little sass products and doing big challenges and small challenges. My whole goal was I’m not going to tell you how to do anything; I’m just going to show you what I’m doing. And I’m going to show you even the worst bits of this even when everything goes to hell or I am just at my wits end that I’m stressed out or I’m going to tell you when I give up because those are the things you don’t hear about in this space when you build an online business. You don’t hear about, I would assume like the whole reason I would ever get into real estate investment is because I’ve only heard of good stories. You heard a slew of miserable stories, basically if you heard my story a billion times from a billion different people you’d be like wow that seems to be the worst thing ever but you don’t hear that you hear all the positive and that goes for every industry.

I mean negativity does not sell. It’s like positivity is what sells. And there are a lot of more successful people with these things than I am and so I definitely minority in that case but I think I’m not the minority in the online business space. I think there’s a lot of people out there who try and fail especially in business in general like 90% of all businesses fail. You just hear that number but you don’t hear those individual stories all stacked up against one positive one.

Mindy: You know I hear that comment 90% of small businesses fail the first 2 years. I hear that comment all the time and I think about this clothing company that opened up by my house when I lived in Wisconsin and they were selling like gangster rapper clothes in probably the whitest neighbourhood on the planet.

Matt: Yes we have one of those too.

Mindy: So like everything about this business model was awful. I could tell it was going to be a failure by the zero people that were ever in the store. It’s like opening up a bikini store in an Amish neighbourhood, you have no clients, and your customers aren’t there.

Matt: You know what; you know what that could be? You know that saying of like “he sells ketchup popsicles to a woman in white gloves” it’s like saying oh that guy can sell bikinis in an Amish neighbourhood like that’s how good that sales person is.

Scott: The point of that is that that’s not the place to do business and a lot of people build businesses that are just like why you going there

Matt: Yeah I think it would be like trying to start a pool company in the Pacific Northwest it just doesn’t make sense to do it up there because it’s constantly raining and usually below 70 degrees right?

Mindy: Yeah but I think that really helps that what you’re saying is know you’re strengths to do what you’re going to do well. That same bikini store is going to go out of business in Amish country and going to flourish in San Diego because that’s where your customers are so.

Matt: And it depends on what that person is good at. Are they good at bikinis? Are they good at crafting bikinis? Because if so then you can craft bikinis online and sell them. That’s what you’re good at and a skill set you’re utilising. If you’re good living in intercourse PA, I would say that’s not a skill but cool it looks like the bikini market is blowing up in San Diego, let me bring, you know I see it from a distance doing well without any context or whatsoever and then trying to replicate that with zero knowledge. And that’s where people get in trouble.

See the success stories and they have no context as to like what happened there. I have this whole bet on money lab where it’s like how I built a mildly successful 6 figure business in 14 years you know and the idea was like how i built a business in like 30 years overnight.

You know it’s like this idea that if I just told you my story from yesterday to today, you’d be like wow that feels like you did that overnight and sure because I gave you all the context. And then if I told you it took me 10 years you’re like wow only 10 years that’s great. I could spend 10 years doing that like wait hold on let me tell you about how many times I cried and every time I got yelled at by my boss or every time my parents would say when are you going to get a job, when are you going to get a job, when are you going to get a job, and when I was out of money, let me tell you I stack all those stories up on beside each other it’s like whoa I don’t want any of that, that sounds terrible, I’m just going to stick working here at the Amish bikini store.

Scott: And by the way this is not the first time I’ve heard this story, you are an entrepreneur, you’re self-employed, you’re an entrepreneur you’re building businesses, you’re working for yourself, you’ve done this for a long time right, almost everyone I know in that area has gone through similar types of pain and struggle. And at certain points had to practise extreme frugality.

Matt: Yes we heard from that

Scott: And frankly I’m an employee right? I work here at bigger pockets and I will never have the experience of pain and suffering that you’ve kind of went through because I just saved up some money and bought some investments that worked passively for the past 4-5 years. And so I think that there’s a big case of like don’t go down this path if it’s just the money that you’re interested in right because there’s easier ways to get the money.

Matt: You hit it in the head. Yes I was just going to go down that road with you and you just said it. If you’re motivation for starting an online business is to be rich or to make more money. You’re doing it for the wrong reasons. And I say that because my reason for doing any of this was actually a negative. I wanted to never work for someone else again. I would have done anything and that was my only metric was like hey am I not working for someone else today, I win.

But how much are you making? Don’t worry about that you know I’m making 500 bucks per se. That was never my metric so even the year I was making $20,000 a year and had to sell all of my assets and move in with my younger brother, I was still winning. The metric was met at that moment. Even when I was unemployed, I won, because my metric was met immediately. I was like guess what I’m not working for anybody. Yeah you’re a dead beat. You’re getting unemployment but I’m not working for anybody.

I got you so yeah I think the motivation of getting rich quickly or thinking you’re going to make a ton of money, I mean I thought I was going to make a ton of money but it wasn’t my motivation. Yeah definitely not at that point but now it’s definitely better than most. I mean I’m not in the 1% probably not even in the top 10% and I have way more stress than the average person, at least I think I do but yeah from the outside looking in looks pretty great. Looks pretty great.

Mindy: It does yeah I’m sitting here listening to you say all this stuff and this is the best thing to do is to start your own online business to make no money and have way more stress than you would if you worked for somebody because according to Matt you’re winning. If you’re not working for anybody you’re winning even if you’re no money.

Matt: If that’s you’re motivation, that was definitely mine.

Matt: Ok Matt this has been super, super informative and a really good look on what it takes to start an online business. It isn’t just oh I’m going to review swim products, now I’m a millionaire. I started it yesterday like that’s not going to happen. It can be a good source of passive income down the road, like you said you could let it run for 5 years and it would go by itself easily so you can take a break.

Matt: Yeah just like property. I mean look I own a property but right now it’s not making money and I know in 5 years it will. Hard for me to live right now and go ugh this is costing me money right now but I know in my heart of hearts if I just hold on, I am not a long term thinker by nature, I have to train myself to be a long term thinker, when I do all of these things will pay off if you nurture, you pay attention, you care for it just like a pool. Like anything else the more you take care of it the more it will last and the more it will pay off over time. So it is an investment, it is an investment in time for sure.

Mindy: Ok now it’s time for our famous 4 questions. This is the same 5 questions that we ask every one of our guests. What is your favourite finance book?

Matt: Yes I would say I Would Teach You How To Be Rich changed my financial life.

Mindy: Ok and that is, I’m going to make you pronounce his name too.

Matt: Ramit Sethi

Mindy: Set-hi, I’ve always read that as Sethi until I heard somebody say it and I felt like an idiot.

Matt: Yes it’s kind of a I would say a bad title; it feels very warny, scammy sort of title but it is anything but. The base substance that you’ll get from it is I think the automation piece of it is now that we live in a digital age, you know instead of you having to be responsible for 10% for yourself you know the first sort of mentality is that there’s actually a computer that would pay yourself first for you.

Scott: What was your biggest money mistake?

Matt: I think I mentioned that, too, the a credit card.

Scott: But that was like 500 bucks right?

Mindy: At first it was just 500 bucks

Scott: At first it was funny but…

Matt: I would say my house, my condo was my biggest money mistake and the way I look at it now is, I don’t know if this is true, but a lot of people would say oh I regret going to college because I’m not even using my degree and I owe 34 or 82 thousand dollars in loan debt and I made this mistake when I was right out of high school and I’ve been paying for it ever since.

That is sort of how I feel about my condo as I bought it without any knowledge whatsoever of buying a house. I didn’t deserve to own a house, I had no money, I had a terrible credit score but I just wanted a house and they were giving out houses like candy in the bank. I just took it and I’ve been paying for it, definitely less than a student loan mortgage because I have a renter in there but is been a burden for the last 6 years now or no yes 6 years and I really don’t see signs of it paying off anytime soon but I mean fingers crossed, long term thinking just keep going.

Scott: It’s really sad and alarming that hey I bought this condo at the worst possible date in history to buy a condo and it crashed and its way better than having a huge amount of student loan debt. You could put a tenant in there and it’s just like it’s an amazing statement that hey the worst financial decision you’ve possibly made at that time you know if you were trying that’s still not as bad as having a student loan debt if you’re going to come out with a job income that you were earning or if you’re not even using the degree or the job that you have now is not even the job you trained 4 years for.

Matt: So yeah you’re right I can put a tenant in there so I absolutely did and it softened the blow for sure but it’s still blow you know I’m still spending money every single month to have that place so it is my biggest financial mistake I think.

Mindy: What do you think is the best advice for people who are just starting out?

Matt: I think the best way to start out with finances I mean the way that I did certainly helped me it was just like first of all you have to want to be better, you have to want to be better with your money and then you will read.

I think you should read books. I don’t think you should read some blogs because I say that now of the wild west internet that we live in right now where we don’t know what’s good or bad.

You know as being recent in this industry Google did a huge update August 1st and just crushed a lot of sites and a lot of them where in the personal finance space and the medical space so if you have contact to any information there that may not be good. I think time tested books that people have been reading forever I think are great. I think the Richest Man of Babylon is a great book, You Can Grow Rich is a great book, I think I Will Teach You to be Rich has been recommended thousands of times to me and look for book recommendations that have been recommended to you by people who are not in the same situation as you. You know I would say if someone’s like hey you should read the Millionaire Next-door or you should read Rich Dad Poor Dad, you’re like but you’re poor, yeah maybe don’t read that one. Maybe read something that a rich uncle or a rich aunt is like yeah this is the book that got me off the grounds, ok she know her stuff.

Scott: Yes get advice from people who have money who knows how to think about money.

Matt: Yes, yes.

Mindy: I think that’s like one of the tenants of Richest Man of Babylon.

Matt: And it might be yeah. I know one of his tenants is pay yourself first, I remember that.

Mindy: Pay yourself first, invest in people who know what they’re talking about, and take advice from people who know what they’re talking about

Matt: Yes and I guess as far as business again focus on your strengths you know, sit down with yourself, figure your what you’re good at and capitalize on what you’re already good at.

Scott: Alright what is your favourite joke to tell at parties?

Matt: I don’t have one

Mindy: What?

Scott: Oh no.

Matt: I honestly like being funny at parties. I try to be the center of attention, I’ve tried to make people laugh constantly, and I don’t have any go-to jokes. Like I just don’t have any jokes. And my dad’s friend would come over like every other day and he would tell me a different joke, I would crack up laughing and I would never remember how to recite them. And the ones that I do know I can’t recite them here.

Mindy: Thank you so I would say that Christy is going to save your backside today and she wrote in, some of our listeners write in their jokes and share with us, so Christy says: How does the hamburger introduce his girlfriend?

Matt: Hey bun? Hi Patty?

Mindy: Meet Patty. Did we do the pirate joke? What is the pirate’s favourite letter?

Matt: Yeah I know this one.

Scott: What is it?

Matt: The person would say Rrrrr but you’d think it would be Rrrr but actually it’s the C.

Mindy: Wow that’s like word for word do you have access to my document?

Matt: I guess. I don’t tell that jokes at parties I’ll tell you that.

Scott: I tell that joke at parties.

Matt: That’s a good one. Good ice breaker.

Mindy: Ok did we talk about why the pirate put tape on the squid?

Matt: No.

Mindy: He was afraid it was cracken

Matt: Ooh you have to know that there’s like certain, you have to be smart to get that, you have to know what a cracken is. Man do people know that an octopus is a cracken? I don’t even know if that’s true.

Mindy: I think more of a thing recently there’s sort of a thing that’s going on in the

Matt: There’s a rum.

Mindy: Well yeah there’s a rum but there’s also the little kids know it. a kid knows what a cracken is not because of the rum.

Matt: Is it SpongeBob?

Mindy: Could be!

Scott: Yeah or Pirates of the Caribbean.

Mindy: Yes so anyway that was Logan Fast, I want to give credit where credit is due or blame where blame is due and now I’m out of jokes so if you have an amazing joke and you’ve listened so far to these horrible jokes please send them to [email protected] or [email protected]. Matt G. where can people find out more about you?

Matt: Well people can find out about me if they go to moneylab.co where I share everything about myself, my businesses, I do challenges, I do experiments, I also run a podcast there, it’s a money lab podcast and the other places I’m found is I’m on iTunes I have 2 podcasts I have the money lab podcast and I have another podcast money matters which I do both of which with my co-host Andrew Filbert. So want to know about personal finance, entrepreneurship and that’s where you can find me.

Mindy: Awesome Matt, thank you so much I really appreciate your time today. This was really fun.

Matt: Yeah thank you for having me, yeah this is awesome.

Mindy: Ok well enjoy the rest of your day and we’ll talk to you soon.

Matt: Thank you.

Scott: That was Matt from moneylab.co. what did you think of this episode Mindy?

Mindy: I really liked how he really like lays it bear and funny guy but he’s not like hey this is easy you should totally do it. He was like hey heads up it sucks and this is what my experience was and I really love that he shared the true story of his overnight success in short years.

Scott: What I really loved and what I mentioned earlier in the episode is that Matt has a different idea of how to manage money that’s correct for him. And I think in the Fi community there’s some that get into preachy-ness about how frugality is the key leverage point or…

Mindy: The only way to go.

Scott: Yeah or index fund investing is the only way to go or real estate investing is the only way to go. You have different sub segments of the community that are really I guess they idolatrize certain methods of getting to reach financial freedom and I think that it doesn’t really matter. You see all these people achieving success in different ways by pulling the leverage that makes sense for them.

Frugality applies to certain people as an important lever. It doesn’t really apply to business owners who have businesses that are earning 6 figures right it’s just if you spend 30,000 or 60,000 it’s not going to make the material difference in your wealth accumulation that does make a difference if you’re a full time employee. Right?

Mindy: Right.

Scott: And Matt recognizes that and he applies the pressure to his businesses. He builds and sells and scales businesses that he creates over the last short ten years, overnight.

Mindy: Yes and generally what works for one will work for someone else. But personal finances and personal entrepreneurship is also a personal journey and what works for you is really all that matters.

Scott: Absolutely.

Mindy: Scott this episode ran super long today so we should get out of here. So from episode 41 of the BiggerPockets Money Show, this is Mindy Jensen and Scott Judge and we’re leaving.

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • Matt’s journey working in the pool industry from age 13 to 25
  • How he built his online business, Swim University, and what it’s all about
  • What he did after he got a credit card at 18
  • What he did about his lack of money and finance education
  • How he bought a condo at its peak price at age 25
  • The reason he got fired from his pool job and what he did after
  • How reading books helped him to handle his money better
  • How he cut down his monthly expenses from $4,500 to $1,300
  • His take on freelancing
  • How he makes money from Swim University
  • His personal finances goals
  • How he uses money as a tool
  • How he manages his finances
  • What “lifestyle business” really means
  • Two changes he made to increase his income
  • Things you need to do to build an online business
  • The importance of focusing on your existing strengths
  • His motivation for building his online business
  • And SO much more!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show

Tweetable Topics:

  • “I use money as a tool for an easier life.” (Tweet This!)
  • “I’m not going to tell you how to do anything, I’m just going to show you what I am doing.” (Tweet This!)
  • “Negativity does not sell.” (Tweet This!)
  • “Don’t go down this path if it’s just the money you’re interested in.” (Tweet This!)
  • “If your motivation for starting an online business is to be rich, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.” (Tweet This!)

Connect with Matt

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.