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Financial Freedom Through Decades of Hard Work and Hustle with Carol Scott

The BiggerPockets Money Podcast
52 min read
Financial Freedom Through Decades of Hard Work and Hustle with Carol Scott

Carol Scott has a successful real estate investing company that she runs with her husband, Jay. They have two children, live where they want, and enjoy life on their own terms—free from the stress of having a “real” job, a boss, and all the time constraints that come along with it.

But it wasn’t always this way for her. Carol grew up without a lot of money. Her financial journey really began at age nine, when her mother told her if she wanted to have nice shampoo, she had to figure out a way to earn money to buy it.

Enter Carol’s hustle. Whenever Carol wanted to buy something, she started a new entrepreneurial endeavor—face painting, calligraphy, anything related to art was fair game for young Carol. At age 15, she hopped onto her bike and rode up to the convenience store, all but demanding to work there.

She graduated college into a job where she had regular access to the C-Suite. Mentorship opportunities abound. Carol’s focus turned to learning, and she picked up tips from every person she encountered.

She’s here today to share many of these tips with you and to inspire your journey through her own. This is a tale of never giving up and not being satisfied with what life throws at you. Now go out and grab the bull by the horns.

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Read the Transcript Here

Mindy: Carol, Scott, welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast. How are you today?

Carol Scott: Awesome, Mindy. Thank you so much for inviting me. Scott, so good to see you.

Scott: Yeah. Thanks for coming on.

Mindy: I’m super excited to talk to you today because we have spoken with your husband J on past episodes. Whoa, you would think I’d be prepared for this, since I knew you were coming on. It’s not like I just made this up. J was last on our episode number 70 when we announced a new podcast called BiggerPockets Money. Maybe you’ve heard of it. I’ve heard good things about the show.

Scott: [crosstalk 00:01:19]

Mindy: What, Scott?

Scott: BiggerPockets Business.

Mindy: Oh, crap.

Carol Scott: It’s okay.

Mindy: I quit. Carol, you [crosstalk 00:01:27].

Carol Scott: No, you don’t.

Mindy: Goodbye.

Carol Scott: You are not quitting. Get back. Do it over. Do it over.

Mindy: Carol Scott, welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast. How are you today?

Carol Scott: Doing great. Thank you so much, Mindy. Thanks, Scott. So great to chat with you guys.

Mindy: I’m super excited to talk to you today. We’ve had your husband, J Scott, on the show a couple of times, most recently episode 70, but we’ve never had you on the show. And J’s story is great, but that’s J’s story. That’s not really Carol’s story, at least not until a few years ago. How long have you guys been married?

Carol Scott: We’ve been married since 2008. Oh my gosh. I’ve tolerated him for 11 years? Are you kidding me right now? Whoa. That’s crazy talk.

Mindy: Yes. So, for the last 11 years, your lives are much more similar. But in the beginning, you had a very different life. So, I want to know about your journey with money, and where it begins in your life.

Carol Scott: Okay. Yeah. Thanks for asking. I’d love to share.

So, I grew up in a little, teeny tiny, one-stoplight town, population 5,000, 90 people per graduating class, and I’m just going to cut to the chase. We were poor. Like, we had no money whatsoever. I was the oldest of four kids. My mom had me really young. My dad was always trying to do entrepreneurial things that never quite panned out, and so he went to work in the factory. He was a supervisor or something. And so along the way, he just really didn’t make any money. My mom was a stay-at-home mom. They took really good care of us, but frankly, there was just no cashflow. It was really that simple.

So, we grew up with… Wow, this is the first time I’m actually saying this in a large scale, publicly, right? We were on food stamps. We had the government cheese. We got free lunches at school. I mean, seriously not even joking. At the age of nine or 10, my parents were like, “Got to figure out a way to start… You want some nice shampoo? Got to figure out a way to make some money.” At age nine, right, which now, for me, of course… because that’s the age of my kids… that’s incomprehensible.

But it just was what it was, back in the day. Right? And I guess the one good thing that came out of that is my parents were very much like, “You’ve got to have a good work ethic,” and so they made us start working when we were young, right? So I, for example, at age nine, I’m like, “What can I do at age nine?” And so I always was really artsy and stuff, right, so I think I kind of started my entrepreneurial journey, if you will, even my financial independence journey, I guess, around that age.

My dad, on the side, he did a lot of woodworking, like up in the wood shop, and we thought that it was really to make money. In retrospect, I think it’s just because he wanted to get out of our teeny tiny house with, you know, Mom and four kids and a dog running around. He just wanted to escape and make stuff. That said, he would go and sell stuff at craft shows. So I would get some little paints or whatever and I would set up a little stand, at age nine, and do face painting on other kids who were at these craft shows. So, I had to learn how to make my own money.

That said, back then, I could paint a kid’s face for, like, 10 cents, right? So at the end of the day, if I were lucky, I’d come home with, like, a buck 25, which doesn’t do you a whole lot of good.

So, yeah. We grew up crazy poor. There just wasn’t anything to go around. It was really that simple, and we completely had to fend for ourselves. So, yeah. That’s kind of where my financial journey began.

I’m going to be completely honest. It was awful. I hated it. Some people will be like, “It was okay, and we all had everything we needed,” and so on and so forth, but we didn’t. We didn’t have everything we needed. You know? I remember once the church came over, for example, and donated a lot of used stuff to put under the Christmas tree, and I remember my mother being just completely mortified, and we’re like, “It’s okay, Mom,” and we were trying to make our mom feel better, and that type of thing, which was a strange role to be in when you’re a kid. When you’re a kid, you see this going on and you see the effect it has on your parents. And me being the oldest of four, feeling like I had to step it up to be able to help out, help raise the little ones.

So, yeah. It was not the best situation growing up, at all. There really just was no money, and I wanted to make sure that some day I was not stuck in that situation any longer.

Scott: Well, what did that look like as you got a little older and started having a little bit more control over making money, like going into middle and high school?

Carol Scott: Yeah. So, once I was a little bit older, then I was like, “Well, now I can actually start making some more legit money, right?” So I did a couple of other things in addition to… Of course I worked really hard in school, so I always… again, I wanted to make sure I was never stuck in this position, so I was always like, “Let’s work really hard.” So I worked really hard in school, always had really good grades, always did all the extracurriculars, all that stuff, but then as soon as I would come home from, like, volleyball after school, for example, I would babysit almost every night of the week, so I would make sure I would babysit, and then I would ask those people who I babysat for if they needed their house cleaned, because I’d be like, “I’m babysitting, but if you want me to clean your house too, I’m going to charge you some more.”

And then the second I turned… I think back then, you only had to be 15 to work. I think you didn’t have to be 16… the second I turned whatever age that was, I just literally, I rode my bike a mile up the street to the one little convenience store, and I literally just went to the owners of the store, and I’m like, “I need money. I need a job. Can you hire me?” And thank God they did.

So, yeah. I started… I worked babysitting, I did cleaning, I did that, and I also looked for… remember how I said I did the face painting thing and stuff when I was little? I started realizing that I could take that in different directions, so I started doing calligraphy for all the sports awards and all that stuff, and I would charge people to do calligraphy. I could make signs and all… I could make signs. I could still do face painting. So, anything art-wise and stuff, I started finding ways that I could really start monetizing that, even when I was in middle and high school.

So, I’d get up early, go to school, curriculars, work, work, work, and make as much money as I could until it was time to go to sleep and start over the next day.

Scott: This is amazing. This is an all-out approach to doing everything you can in every direction in what you described as a town with few people and, I would assume, relatively limited opportunities to make lots of money. You were making the most of it and finding all these incredible ways to do that. What were you doing with the money that you were earning?

Carol Scott: Well, a couple things. Not to sound all weird about it, but some of it literally was to buy groceries for our family, right? So that was just the unfortunate reality. My dad left when I was 15, and so it was… My dad was gone, my mom had been a stay-at-home mom her whole life, so she had no skills.

This is an interesting little tidbit. Up until my dad left, my mom didn’t even have her driver’s license, right? Her grandparents or something were killed in a car accident right around the time she would have learned to drive, but she was totally traumatized, so she couldn’t.

Excuse me.

So, Dad’s gone. Like, up, leaves, no child support, no nothing. My mom is left with four kids, four completely crazy kids, right? She’s got no skills. She’s got to figure out how to drive. She’s got to figure out how to get some type of job, so on and so forth. Four kids are all taking care of each other. I’m the oldest, so I’m doing what I can.

So, a lot of the money was going towards, literally, putting food on the table for the kids, helping the little ones get whatever kind of clothes they needed, that type of thing. But then, also, I’ve got to be honest. Here I was. I’m a teenager, right? A lot of people will tell their financial story and like, “Well, we didn’t care about this stuff,” and I cared about this stuff. I love makeup. I love hair. I love clothes. I love jewelry. I love corsets. I love handbags. All that stuff, I love that stuff. So, wherever I could, whatever was left over, I would do whatever I could to try and be able to keep up with everybody else and the stuff that they were wearing and go and buy nail polish and makeup and whatever kind of clothes and stuff that I could so that I could keep up with everybody else as much as I possibly could.

Scott: That’s unbelievable. This situation that you’re coming from, and just the amount of work that you’re putting in to support your family, and then I think it’s completely reasonable to have some wants that you’re going to take care of with the leftovers from that [inaudible 00:10:15] what you’re looking for. It’s just an incredible backstory and situation that you’re coming from in this place.

What does that transition look like from high school to college? [crosstalk 00:10:30]-

Carol Scott: Yeah. Great question. So, I started out, in college… like I said, you’ve heard me talk about all this art stuff, right? So I decided, in college, I was going to go be a graphic design major. Right?

I’m just going to be completely honest. I was a ridiculously not good student. So, my first year of college… so I was, like I said, you can tell from my background and stuff, it was a lot of work, a lot of just work, work, work, grinding, grinding, grinding, I guess is the popular term now. [inaudible 00:10:58] is just kind of what I had to do. Right?

So, when I went to college, I partied my butt off. It was ridiculous. The first year, I was this graphic design major. All I wanted to do was party and have fun because I finally had an opportunity that I could be away from everybody. See, now, also, something that’s… It was good for me getting to college, but in retrospect now, it’s kind of really bad. I got all these scholarships because I worked really, really, really hard. That said, my first year of college, I did it because of my scholarships. I only had to work about another 15 hours a week in addition to all of my classes. So here I was, partying way too much, working another 15 hours a week, going to my classes, but at the end of my freshman year of school, I had all Cs and Ds. It was really bad. It was really, really, really ugly. Right?

And so, yeah. My mother was… oh my gosh. We got into so many wars on the phone over it. She’s like, “What are you thinking? Do you want to end up in a bad situation again?” And I was like, “Of course I don’t want to end up in a bad situation,” but a couple things happened with that, right?

So, first of all, I don’t know exactly how, but there was a really big transition that happened between freshman and sophomore year, okay. So, I wanted to come and live back at home between those two years, and my mom said, “Of course you can come live back at home, but there’s one condition.” She said, “You need to work at my nursing home.”

And so my mom finally, like I said, she didn’t have many skills, but she worked her way up to being a business office manager in the nursing home that’s in the little town where we grew up, okay? She got me a job where I had to be there every single morning at 5:30, and from 5:30 to 2:30 I was doing laundry, I was cleaning toilets, I was scrubbing floors, literally on my hands and knees, I was dusting and cleaning… So, I would do laundry and housekeeping at a nursing home from 5:30 in the morning until 2:30 in the afternoon.

Then I would get on my bike and I would ride up to the store, the convenience store that I worked at as a teenager, and I would work from 2:30 until 9:30 or 10:00 at night. And I worked and worked and worked and worked and worked, and so it was the biggest eye-opener, for me, right off the bat, where I’m like, “If I keep up this partying type of situation, I’m going to end up right back in the same situation that my parents were in,” and I just absolutely won’t do that.

So, I go back to school, when I was a sophomore, and the other thing I did, in addition to realizing that I couldn’t party and stuff anymore, is I changed my major right off the bat. So, I started as a graphic designer. I’m not exactly sure how I got this clarity, because I was only, what, 19 years old or whatever, but I’m like, “I don’t think, realistically, as a graphic designer I’m going to be able to make a lot of money, and I want to make a lot of money.” It’s really that simple.

So, I changed my major. I didn’t want to switch schools. Became a communications major simply because I knew there were so many more avenues that I would be able to go down if I went down that road instead. So, I worked a lot harder and still did the same thing, where I worked a lot more hours outside of school, went to school, had a good major. And then I made sure, when I was a senior and I was eligible for an internship, I went back to my working really crazy hard to make sure I could get the best possible internship I could, which ultimately led to me getting an amazing first job that I was very fortunate to get, and that’s what kind of propelled my work life, my career, before we started investing.

Scott: What college was this?

Carol Scott: It’s called Rochester Institute of Technology up in Rochester, New York.

Scott: Got it. And what was this internship that you got, and what was the first job?

Carol Scott: Yeah. So, I got really lucky. I worked… There’s a company called Bausch + Lomb. They make contact lenses. They’re still around. They’ve been around for a gajillion years. Back when I worked there, they also owned Ray-Ban. So, they did all the Ray-Ban sunglasses, right?

So, I worked in the contact lens division. Because I was a communications major, I focused on a lot of writing. So, they brought me on board to do a lot of internal employee communications. So, I started out, my internship was literally just to write articles for the employee newsletter. And it was a big company. I don’t remember how many thousands of people around the world. Many. But I would write articles for that, was how it started, and so I would work, I think about… I would go there for about three hours a day.

Just another little interesting tidbit, I think, which it goes back to the whole… I still had a whole heck of a lot of nothing, so to get to my job at Bausch + Lomb, because I had a car for a little while that cost $500 and eventually died, like, 10 minutes later, I would have to take four buses. Like, literally four buses. So I would get on one bus which transferred to another bus and another bus and another bus, and after the fourth bus, because the office was in the city, I would still have to walk, like, 10 or 12 blocks.

And this is in Rochester, New York, where it is freezing in the winter, and anyone who knows me knows that if I’m anything below 80 and sunny, I’m just miserable. But I would do it, every day, because this was just such… It was a great opportunity.

The best thing that happened with that job is that, that internship, is they offered me a full-time position the second I graduated from college, and the really nice thing was that I got… I’ve always been very lucky, Scott. I’ve always been… When I had my jobs, before we took this entrepreneur journey, I’ve always been in positions where people have, for whatever reason, just decided they want to take me under their wing, right?

So, I had the head of HR for the entire company, and here I was. I was… Yeah, I had just turned 21, so I graduated from college when I was 21. I had just turned 21. She kind of took me under her wing and she worked really closely with the CEO of the company whose office happened to be literally 30 feet from where our office was, and she made sure, whenever she could… His name was Hal. I don’t remember his last name, but I remember his first name was Hal, and he was like 150 years old, and so… which in reality is probably 50, you know, but when you’re 21, everyone’s 150.

But she would take me over to Hal’s office and we would chit-chat about what we were doing, and so on and so forth, and he gave me more opportunities in the company. So, here I am at age 21, dressing up in a suit and wearing heels and acting like I’m all important and stuff, with the CEO of the company. And so that just… It really opened my eyes, because there I was, again. I’m 21 years old, I grew up with nothing, and I get into this situation where it may not sound like a lot now, but this was back in 1993. I was making $25,000 a year, which in 1993, for a communications major that grew up in a farm town making nothing, was like, “Oh my gosh! This is so much money!” I was like, “This is incredible.”

And being surrounded by all of those people, by those C-level people, by all the EVPs and all that, and I saw the type of stuff that they had, I’m like, “I’m on a path to what I want to be doing, because there are so many opportunities here. I can make a lot of money and I will never have to be in this situation that I grew up in.”

Scott: So, what’s your financial position at this point? Do you have any savings? Do you have a lot of debt that you come out of school with? And also, second question on this, is the same company that you got your internship at?

Carol Scott: Okay, great. So, yes, it’s the same company I got my internship at. But I’m glad you asked this question, because this, I think, is a very important part of the story that I somehow managed to forget about until you asked me this question.

So, this is also back in the day when I was a freshman in college. Back at that time… this is so ridiculous… you literally walked into the dining hall and there would be vendors set up with credit card tables. You sign up for a credit card. You didn’t even have to be 18 years old. And if you signed up, you also got, like, a free T-shirt and a six-pack of beer or something, right? So I’d be like, “Boom! I’ll take this one and this one and this one,” and I came out of college with, if I remember correctly, something like $35,000 in student loan debt, and if that weren’t bad enough, I had even more than that in credit card debt, right? So I had nearly $40,000 in credit card debt when I graduated from college, in addition to all of my student loans. It was atrocious. But it was just… It was this whole kind of rebellion thing. I’m not making an excuse for it. I mean, I was just downright stupid with money back in the day, because I was like, “Wow. Look at all these opportunities. I can finally buy all this stuff that I’ve always wanted.”

So, yeah. Lot of money that I owed a lot of people.

Mindy: But did you have any sort of financial education before they hand you this credit card?

Carol Scott: Zero. Zero, Mindy. Like, right now, it’s amazing that that was legal. And I assume that that’s not legal now. I don’t know for sure, but oh my goodness. As a parent, if I were to find out now that my kid goes to college and you’re going to hand them a credit card with, like, a $10,000 limit, I’d be like, “Are you people completely insane?” I mean, that’s just setting people up for failure.

So, no. I had zero financial education. I had no idea even how to write a check, how to balance a checkbook. What does that even mean? All I knew was money comes in, money goes out, because that was really all there was to it.

So, zero financial education whatsoever.

And when I had this first job, interestingly, I was thrilled that I was making that much money, but I wasn’t responsible with it by any stretch of the imagination. I would pay my bills, but I didn’t understand that whole concept that you have to pay more than your $6 minimum a month. That’ll take you 47 years to pay off. But I’m like, “I’m paying my bills, so I guess it’s all okay.” I didn’t know. I had no clue.

Mindy: I don’t know if it’s still legal to give credit cards to 18-year-olds.

Carol Scott: I have no idea. It shouldn’t be.

Mindy: Scott, did you get credit cards at college?

Scott: I’m sure it’s legal, right? I mean, you’re 18 years old. You’re an adult. You can go into the military, you can vote, you can get a credit card. Right?

Carol Scott: Yeah.

Mindy: But, I mean, at college, they’re giving them out. Like she said, you walk in and there’s like, “Which credit card do you want, or which…” Like, all of them.

Carol Scott: Crazy.

Scott: I mean, how old do you have to be to buy tobacco?

Mindy: 18.

Carol Scott: Yes. It’s probably the same.

Scott: [crosstalk 00:21:08] right? So, or 16 or 18. It’s one of those. Yeah. I think that there’s a lot of things… there’s a lot of very bad things that you’re allowed to do once you turn 18 that…

Mindy: Okay.

Carol Scott: Fair enough. Fair enough.

Scott: But I agree, it seems like it… It’s clearly taking advantage of people that are just uneducated in this space.

Carol Scott: Absolutely.

Scott: What I think is really interesting about your story is, you know, we have a lot of people on this show and we hear about their money story as one component of their overall life story. It seems like, in your case, the lack of money you grew up with and then how that influenced your behavior was really a major component of who you were coming out of college, to a certain degree. Is that too much of a stretch to say, or was your life really influenced by that [crosstalk 00:21:59]?

Carol Scott: It was one million percent influenced. I mean, it’s almost embarrassing to say, but it’s just my reality, that every decision I made at that point in my life was all based on money. Like, “What can I do within my power to make as much money as possible?”, right?

So, I gave up, for example… like, you heard me. I always come back to the art thing. Right? I was always like, “I want to be an artist, I want to be an artist, I want to be an artist.” Nope. I’m not going to make any money doing that.

In retrospect, I could have, because who knew that the internet and all that stuff… I mean, there are lots of opportunities now. But I didn’t have the foresight to figure that out, so I decided to do other things that I didn’t necessarily love doing. I mean, I did this whole corporate thing, and did I like the corporate thing? Sure. Did I love the corporate thing? Oh, God, no, but I made a lot of money.

And so, yes, the fact that I grew up with no money influenced my behavior substantially. Every decision I made, truly, was all about what kind of financial position will I be in if I take this job, or if I take this promotion, or whatever it was.

I mean, you’ve probably heard J say, back in the day, a million years ago, we were working 100-hour weeks, flying around the world, doing all this stuff. Just working, working, working. And jobs that we never necessarily loved, but they made a lot of money. So, that was definitely the driving factor behind a lot of decisions.

Scott: Okay. So, there’s two parts I want to hear about next. One is how you began making lots of money. $25,000, I know, was a lot, but how does that go to becoming more and more as you progress through your career? And, depending on where the timing of that comes in, when did you start building our your net worth position with a high degree of intentionality?

Carol Scott: Yeah. That’s awesome. Okay, so, let’s see. So, I went from that job, and I think you heard me mention, a bit ago, that I always got really fortunate in that I was always exposed to C-level people, right? And so I really kind of started working and I realized there’s a lot of potential here, and then I would always, always, no matter what kind of position I was in, I would always look for the next big opportunity at work. So, an entrepreneurial-type thing was never really… My sights were never necessarily on that. I was always like, “I’m going to be that corporate person who’s just going to work really hard, work my way up, and be CEO of some Fortune 100 some day.” And that was always my thought process, right?

So, it was literally, I started out doing writing, and then in an internal communications role, but then I realized that because… Okay. Internal communications is, I think, kind of interesting, was within the HR function, so being in the HR function, we were able to see whatever… It’s just back in the day, I mean, I just had access to see what everybody was making, and so I saw, “Ah, who makes the most money in this company? The marketing and sales people do. Well, I guess that’s what I’m going to start doing now. I’m going to start doing marketing and sales.”

So, I would start looking for different opportunities that I knew would make more money, and so as I progressed in my career, I went from Bausch + Lomb over to… I relocated down to North Carolina for a smaller company, but they needed somebody to head out their marketing for an architect firm down in North Carolina, so that’s when I did that.

So, I think right after that first job, when my eyes were opened up to the different potential types of salaries people could make in different positions, that’s when I started being like, “I’m going to start being more responsible, I’m going to make as much money as I can, start paying off some debt, start finding as many opportunities as I can to make as much money as I can and, of course, increase my net worth.”

It really just kind of happened naturally. I never necessarily had an education around it. I think it just came from being around those high-level people and seeing what they did and seeing what they had, and me being like, “I want that stuff too.” Right? So I very intentionally looked for different career moves to move up that ladder, and I worked my butt off. I worked really crazy hard and kept doing that, so I went from this architect firm, I went to… I had an interesting little stint with… this was North Carolina, and what was the big thing in North Carolina at the time? NASCAR.

Now, I’m the least NASCAR-y type of person you’ll ever meet in your entire life, but those guys made a ton of money, so I was like, “I’m getting in on that industry,” which ended up being a beautiful thing because they did all their business deals on boats out on the lake, so I’m like, “I want to live that style and make a lot of money,” so I figure out a way to weasel my way into that situation, and so I did that, and then after that I… What did I do after that? Then there was a NASCAR… Mattel, the toy company, they decided to start a little NASCAR car division, and so as soon as that started, I was like, “Oh, heck. I’m going to go work for Mattel. They’re a huge toy company. There’s all kinds of opportunity there.” So I made that leap over there.

And then all throughout those experiences, an interesting thing happened, I think. I had always done all the leadership courses. The company had always paid for all the leadership courses, training, conferences, seminars, and stuff. And one that kept coming up was FranklinCovey, and they’re like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People company, if that sounds a little bit familiar.

So, I’d always taken all of those classes. Because I was fortunate enough to be exposed to these high-level people, they saw a lot of leadership potential in me, they sent me to these classes, and I was often the youngest one in the room. That was pretty typical. I would be the youngest one out of lots of people doing this stuff.

And interestingly, FranklinCovey started trying to recruit me as early as my Bausch + Lomb thing was [inaudible 00:27:28]. I was like, “No, I’m not moving to Utah. No, no, no. No, no, no, not doing it.”

But then eventually, one day I’m like, “Yeah. I think it’s time.” And so I went and worked on the marketing team over at FranklinCovey, and that’s when my whole world started shifting exponentially, as far as my views on money and the things and getting my priorities straight.

Scott: And how many years into your career was this?

Carol Scott: This was, let’s say, probably eight years. Eight years into my career, I went over to FranklinCovey, because I started Bausch + Lomb at 21, 29 I go over to FranklinCovey. So, yeah. Eight years in.

Scott: Okay. And then one thing I was wondering is, you mentioned you were starting to pay off debt and all that kind of stuff.

Carol Scott: Yes.

Scott: Would you say that you intentionally brought down the cost of your lifestyle in pursuit of paying down that debt, or that your income rose so much that you were able to begin paying down the debt without making lifestyle changes?

Carol Scott: It was a combination of both of those. So, I made lifestyle changes and I… Okay, two things. So, I made lifestyle changes. I made sure, for example, I’ve always… At that point in my life, I always liked the things, so I can’t lie. I’ve always liked the things. I love the experiences. I love going out and having a good time and so on and so forth, and I always… At first, like at Bausch + Lomb, and when I was there, for example, I’m like, “Oh, great. I’m making $25,000 a year. I can get my own apartment and it’s going to be really pimped out and it’s going to be beautiful,” and so on and so on and so forth. But then, when I started becoming more conscious of wanting to be just more financially, just in a better off position, I’m like, I just did the whole thing. “I’ve got to have roommates.”

So, even that, in and of itself, was a huge… It was just a huge change, right? I also started just not going out and partying and stuff as much at night, right? So that’s a big change right there.

The other thing, though, to start really paying down my debt, is in this journey to advance my career, I also knew that since I had so much debt to pay off, my strategy for doing that wasn’t that type of thing where you just pay a little bit more and a little bit more every month. I’m like, “I want to nail this chunk at a time over and over and over,” so I made sure I sought out positions that had signing bonuses, that had quarterly payout bonuses, that had big profit-sharing bonuses, that had big awards with bonuses. That was always a very conscious choice along the way in my career, was so that every once in a while, in addition to my regular salary, I would get a big chunk of change all at once, and I would use that big chunk of money and use that to pay down my debt so that by the time I got to FranklinCovey, within I think my first three or four months there, I had erased every penny of debt that I ever had before.

Scott: Wow. So, on that note, with the bonuses, bonus opportunities, profit-sharing, all that kind of stuff, what would your advice be for someone who’s looking to get into a job that offers that? Does that come at the cost of base salary? Does that come at the cost of expectations of more hours worked? What were the trade-offs that you made, if any, to have access to those?

Carol Scott: Yeah. That’s a really great question. I would give the advice that… Bottom line is, I know… I feel like we live in a day when we see all these overnight YouTube success stories. We see all kinds of get-rich-quick stuff, and so on and so forth. But I’m still going to hammer into, you just have to work. I mean, it’s really that simple. Some people may not agree. I one million percent agree. You’ve got to work your butt off.

So, the way you get the base salaries that are high in the beginning, the way you get those bonuses, the way you get those sign-ons and so on, is by making yourself… irreplaceable is not true. There’s no such thing. But making yourself become so completely in demand that those companies will understand that if you work really, really hard, they’re going to reward you for it accordingly.

So, I recommend negotiating those things upfront. If you want to be able to get to be in the type of position where you’re getting large sums of money throughout the way, I very much recommend even going in, negotiating a lower base salary, and proposing a performance-based payment structure moving forward, and if you are smart about it, you can find a way to propose to your future employer what that package will look like, because a lot of times, it’s not even necessarily… Like, the smaller companies don’t necessarily look at that as a great way to structure their payment, right? They might not have those systems and processes in place. But if you can be really wise about going to your employer and positioning it as a win for them, you know, “I’m willing to take a smaller base salary, but along with that, I would like the opportunity, once a quarter, if I meet these types of goals, I would like a payout in addition.” You’d be amazed at how many companies might jump on that type of strategy.

Scott: It’s lower risk for the companies.

Carol Scott: Absolutely lower risk, and then really, at the end of the day, as long as you have a contract, you have that in writing, it’s all really, truly performance-based, and as long as you’re willing to work hard, then they’re going to do that, they’re going to see it, and they’re going to do whatever they can to retain you and keep paying you more.

Mindy: You’re just blowing my mind with all of these tips. Where were you 20 years ago when I was first starting out? Oh, you didn’t have… There was no such thing as podcasts [crosstalk 00:33:04]-

Carol Scott: A pod what? A what?

Mindy: Yeah. What’s a pod?

Yeah, no. This is really, really fantastic. I’ve heard a lot of these tips, but I’ve also gotten a lot of really great tips from what you’re saying. I never knew that I could negotiate a lower base salary and higher performance bonuses. That wasn’t a thing that I’ve ever been told before. And I’m hoping that if people are listening right now, they’re thinking of people in their life. “Oh, my niece is just getting ready to graduate from college. I want to share this episode with her,” because this is full of really fabulous information. You sought out positions that had signing bonuses. I never had a signing bonus, but I didn’t even know that was a thing.

Carol Scott: Yeah. Oh, it’s absolutely a thing. And a lot of times it’s specifically for the types of positions that are in really high demand. I mean, interestingly, I just came across something online yesterday that was offering signing bonuses for plumbers, and I just thought that was an interesting, just a little side note there or a tangent. It’s just interesting to see that we’re now in a time where more of blue-collar laborers are in such demand, because tech has changed so much, right, that so many people have gravitated to those types of roles.

So, point of that story is, traditionally, I think, a lot of those signing bonuses and such would be reserved for positions that are really in demand, where there are a shortage of workers. That said, if you work really, really hard and you can prove that you can be valuable to that company because of things you’ve accomplished with other companies, things you’ve accomplished in your past, then they know, the company who’s pursuing you, the company that you’re going to interview with, they’ll realize that they’re going to have to up the ante if they are going to be lucky enough to get you to come work for them, so they will offer those bonuses.

But, again, you have to work hard to do it. You can’t just be some joker kind of phoning it in, showing up when everybody else does and leaving when everyone else does, and just being perfectly happy with, you know, a three on a one out of five performance review. A lot of companies have performance reviews. You’ve got to get the fours and fives, or straight fives, if you want to achieve that. You’ve got to work. It’s really that simple.

So, Scott, you asked what you had to sacrifice. I mean, I worked a lot of hours, put in my heart and soul into these companies. A lot of people might say that that’s just not worth it. For me, it absolutely was worth it. I knew that wasn’t sustainable for my whole entire life. I knew that wasn’t the deal. But at that point in my life, it absolutely was, and there was nothing else I wanted to do. I put off having really good, solid relationships. I put off having children so that I could be in a good financial position.

Scott: Got it. And it sounds like that this… we pay off debt and your career is going very, very strongly at this point where you enter the FranklinCovey program. It sounded like you were getting to that… That was a turning point in your financial journey [crosstalk 00:36:03] right?

Carol Scott: It was.

Scott: Can you tell us about that?

Carol Scott: Absolutely. So, where it was a turning point in my financial journey is FranklinCovey… it’s changed a little bit over the years, but they had a couple of books. Their big ones were The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and that was the really flagship program about time management and getting you to be more effective and so on and so forth. But there was another program, another book they had there. It was called… and I’m sure it’s still around… it’s called What Matters Most. And between What Matters Most and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, they really make you take a deep look into what are the things in your life that really matter, right?

And so that was when I really started being introduced to the whole concept of what’s urgent versus what’s important, looking at building relationships, and really kind of getting a bigger overall view of what matters in life. And so I’d been through this interesting journey where, growing up, we had absolutely nothing, and it sucked. It was really… There was nothing fun about that. Then when I started finally being able to make money, I took a complete shift in the opposite direction. I’m like, “Look, I have money and I’m going to get stuff and I’m going to buy so much stuff because I never had stuff.”

But then it kind of came to a happy medium, I think, when it got to FranklinCovey, because I was so entrenched in this whole concept of figuring out for my own personal self, what are the things that matter in life? Where do I want to be in 10 and 20 and 30 years from now? Really taking a deep look into those things, and that really changed my whole perspective exponentially.

Scott: Got it. And so what did that change about where you put the income that you were earning, or how you began managing your money?

Carol Scott: Get this. I actually started saving money. I mean, that was huge, right? Not only had I paid off my debt, I’m like, “Wow! Maybe now it’s time to start actually doing that whole 401(k) thing that I’ve never been doing before.” Right? All those years, I was making all this money, but now I’m like, “Wow. I’m actually going to start…” And I don’t want to say I was investing it. I wasn’t that clever yet. So, I hadn’t even… Investing was still a foreign concept, but at least I was saving, and that, in and of itself, for me personally, was a really, really, really big deal.

It also made me realize, at this point, I was about… what was I… a year or so into a couple years… I’m just over 30, and obviously that’s not old by any stretch, but I was also like, “Okay. I’m going to really start planning for the future now, because I know I’m not going to have kids for a bunch of years, but when I do want to have kids, or when I do decide to get married and I want to have kids, I want to be able to spend a lot of time with them, because I know what I’m doing now is not going to be sustainable when I have a family, if I’m going to be the type of mom that I want to be.”

Scott: How aggressive were you about this saving, and then when did that mindset of investing take hold, or how did the next… or what, I guess, maybe-

Carol Scott: The next part?

Scott: What’s the next phase from there, given-

Carol Scott: The next phase is where it got really good. So, I was doing really well at FranklinCovey. That company treated me really well, but it was awesome. eBay was… The eBay office, so there was a big eBay office in Salt Lake City, and I passed it back and forth on my commute every day, and this was in ’90… I don’t know… ’98, ’99 or something like that. Again, I was, like I mentioned, I had always looked for what’s the next big opportunity in my career?

And I knew tech was big. I was not a techie person, but I was really good at marketing and I was really good at public relations and I was really good at employee engagement, and I literally was like, “I’m going to drive down to that eBay office and I’m going to go talk to people until I can figure out something that I can do at that company.” Right?

So, I get to eBay. After a month of bugging everybody on the planet, they finally hired me. I was very fortunate, like incredibly fortunate. I got hired right after they did an IPO, so it was back in the day when it was still really new. The growth was just completely crazy. And I’m like, “Okay. This is my time to really rock and roll with this whole financial thing.”

So, I negotiated a package with them where I had a very reasonable base salary, but I also had a big sign-on bonus, and I negotiated a ton of stock options, so that was a beautiful thing. And so, again, I’m not going to say I ever had a financial education. I just kind of figured it out along the way by talking to people and just, and again, just figuring it out. So once I was there, for about four or six months, I started just putting away as much money as I could.

I also, because we were automatically set up, at that time, with [E*TRADE 00:40:32] accounts as employees, I was like, I didn’t have any experience in the whole stock market thing, but I’m like, “This sounds fun. Let’s start playing with this.”

So, literally, I would spend some time at work every day just looking and following trends and patterns and seeing what different companies were doing, and I would take some money out of my stock options and put it into other stocks and just kind of see what happened. And I don’t want to say I was incredibly aggressive, but I was reasonably aggressive, so it was a beautiful thing to just watch in my stock portfolio, to see where it started and just watch that stock go up and up and up, and watch my net worth go up and up and up, and it was… I don’t even know the right words. Euphoric is a little extreme, but it was frigging cool. I was just like, “Oh my gosh.” All these things I’d been working really hard for, and now I’m making smart decisions with money, kind of by accident, just by asking questions and talking to people who had a lot of money. It was awesome to see what happened.

And so, during the five and a half years that I was there, yeah. My net worth went up exponentially, to the point where I’m like… And I was still… I was frugal as heck, right? So even though I had all this money coming in and everything, I wanted to buy a Coach bag, for example, because Coach was really cool back then. I don’t think it is now. But I would make sure, I would still go to the clearance section in the Coach store. I still wasn’t going to buy… And, I mean, at this point in time… I don’t want to share the exact number, but I was making a ridiculous amount of money. It was insane, between my stock options and everything else. But I would still always shop on the clearance rack. It’s just what I did.

But a couple years into that, I’m like, “You know what? I’ve been really good about making good decisions and making good choices and being a responsible grownup,” to the point where two, two and a half years in, I decided… There was this little BMW Z4 convertible that I wanted, and I found it on Craigslist that was barely used, and I bought it in cash one day, just for something to do, and so I was really proud of myself for that, and so it was my one thing to reward myself for all of this hard work that I had put in and in being smart about… I was really proud of myself, honestly, for figuring out how to invest and how to grow this bank account and this stock market account that I just kind of figured out on my own.

Mindy: How long were you at eBay?

Carol Scott: Five and a half years. Five and a half.

Mindy: Wow. Five and a half-

Carol Scott: That’s where J and I met. Yeah. J and I met there. Go ahead, Scott.

Mindy: Oh, I didn’t know that.

Carol Scott: Yeah.

Scott: Well, what about… you said this was ’98, ’99, and the market for technology companies in particular kind of took a big dip in 2000, 2001, right? So how did you handle that from an investing perspective? You were talking about… You used the word “euphoric,” or “pretty cool,” to describe the feeling of watching these stocks go up. How did it feel for you as kind of just being introduced to this world of investing for a year or two or three, or maybe going into that… seeing those stocks take a dip?

Carol Scott: Yeah. Well, interestingly… J talks about this, too. We’ve also always been very fortunate in just our accidental timing of things. Like, we fall into things that, timing-wise, we don’t realize until afterwards, “Wow. We just hit that perfectly without ever necessarily intending to hit that perfectly.” So, when I went over to eBay, that was in 2001, maybe? Maybe 2002-ish?

Scott: Okay, I was off a few years.

Carol Scott: You’re okay. No, I was at Franklin… No, you were right. It was… But the thing was, this is what’s important, Scott… you’re totally right on… is that when I got all these stock options was when all of that stuff was as low as it could possibly be, right? So again, I negotiate this package with all these stock options, which I didn’t really know what they were. I had just kind of read about it, and I’m like, “This is interesting. Let’s see what happens with this.” And I had some friends who did other techie stuff, and I talked to them about it.

So, the interesting thing was, when I got all these stock options and I was able to start trading my stock for other stock options in other tech companies, it was all as low as it could possibly be. So then, I got to watch that grow. So it was, again, my timing was just really, really… Frankly, I was just really crazy lucky.

Scott: Okay. So, you started investing right at the bottom of the market, basically.

Carol Scott: Yeah. Unintentionally. Didn’t mean to.

Scott: Yeah. And in a huge way, because of these options.

Carol Scott: Yes.

Scott: You’re basically given equity as part of your job here, and that’s exponentially increasing. So that’s what you mean by exponential increase. Solid base, but huge upside from the value of your equities.

Carol Scott: You got it. From the equities as well as the bonuses. So, while I was there, I also just… I knew that the numbers that were possible with different profit-sharing bonuses, and so on and so forth, so I worked, worked, worked like crazy to make sure every quarter, I got a huge check at the end of every quarter and invested that back in.

Mindy: Okay. You just said you got crazy lucky, and I totally disagree. I mean, maybe your timing at eBay was really lucky, that you were there at the bottom of the market, but you worked really, really, really hard since you were nine to get where you were. It’s not like you were just, “Oh, wow. I got this job, and wow, this CEO really liked me.” No, the CEO really liked you because you worked hard.

Carol Scott: I did. You’re right.

Mindy: The HR person liked you at Bausch + Lomb because you worked hard, not because you had pretty hair. I mean, you worked really, really hard at this, so don’t say you were lucky.

Carol Scott: Thank you. That’s really sweet. I did work hard. I’m not going to lie. I mean, realistically… and people will think this is kind of crazy talk… all these jobs that I’ve had along the way and stuff… and again, I was single, and so I didn’t care. It was… I’m a morning person, so it was not atypical for me… You know, you hear a lot of people, you come home and work, and that type of thing. I was the opposite.

I would get up at 3:00 every morning, and I would work and work and work and work and work in anything that needed to be produced, like if I needed to write, if I needed to produce a PowerPoint tech, if I needed to produce a presentation, if I needed to put together some type of whatever it was. I would do anything that required work that I didn’t have someone on my staff able to do for me, anything that I couldn’t delegate. I would set it up in such a way so that I would get all my production work done from the hours of 3:00 in the morning until 8:00 in the morning, then I’d jump in the shower, whatever, and then I’d go into work so that I could spend my days at work talking to people. And I don’t mean talking to people like chit-chatting about the cover of Star Magazine, which I did. I’m not going to lie. We did some of that.

But that way, I found that if I spent my production time, if you will, before the rest of the world got up and before the rest of the world was at work, then I could spend my time at work talking and networking and plotting my next career move, if that makes sense, so that my time was maximized. Because you learn early on that your success in your career, in my opinion, anyway… it’s just success in your career, the success in just your whole world, is all about the relationships that you build, right? And so I made sure that I spent all my waking hours maximizing that potential while not producing. I spend those hours talking with other people so I could build those relationships and be more successful.

Mindy: So, I want to recap that little bit that you just said, because I can hear somebody zoning out for a second and not hearing the whole, “I got up at 3:00 in the morning and I did five hours’ worth of work before I went to work,” so you could spend time… I mean, your job was communicating with people. It’s not like your job was making PowerPoint presentations, and you just chatted everybody up.

But throughout this whole episode, I keep hearing, “I worked hard. I took the initiative. I didn’t wait for an opportunity to come to me. I sought it out.” And that’s how you get ahead.

Carol Scott: Totally. Yes.

Mindy: You [crosstalk 00:48:24] just sit there and wait. Oh, did Bausch + Lomb call you up and say, “Hey, Carol, are you looking for a job?” No. You went to them and said, “I’m looking for a job.” eBay didn’t see you driving past them every day, put up a big sign one day, “Hey, Carol. Come talk to us.” You took the initiative to talk to them. And I think that a lot of people sit back and wait for things to happen to them, and-

Carol Scott: Oh, totally.

Mindy: … things happen, but better things happen when you go and make them happen.

Carol Scott: Absolutely. And that’s… The thing is, that’s another thing I learned at FranklinCovey, right? They teach this whole thing, the whole concept called abundance mentality, and it’s all about, there’s plenty out there for everybody, right? And so, yeah, I’m frugal with a lot of things. I’ve got to find the best deals and all of that. But in reality, I know that there’s… Even though the way I grew up, that’s just because of different choices that my parents and stuff made, and different decisions. I’m in this mind frame where there’s plenty of money out there for everybody. You’ve just got to go find a way to get some of it into your bank account, right?

And the other thing, so, number one, remember there’s abundance mentality. There is no lack of cashflow going on in this world. Number two… And this is something I talk about in our negotiating book and stuff too, right? You just got to get out there and ask people. Just get out of your comfort zone and remember the very worst thing that anybody can do is say no. Who cares? Who cares if somebody says no? It really just doesn’t matter. Just get out there and ask. You’re never going to get anything if you… I mean, yeah, some people get stuff handed to them and whatever, and good for them. That’s great. But if you want something, just go ask somebody for it and people are happy to give it to you if you’re showing that you deserve it because you’re going to work hard for it. So, there’s plenty of it. Go get it.

Scott: That’s a great tip. I agree wholeheartedly. It doesn’t happen unless you go make it happen, and you got to negotiate for yourself with that.

Carol Scott: Yes.

Scott: What happened after eBay? What was the next phase there?

Carol Scott: Yeah. The next phase was… So, J and I met at eBay. He’s my knight in shining armor, rescued me from all the craziness. So, we joke all the time that the reason we… I can’t believe [inaudible 00:50:44] this in my life… was the reason we got along so well when we first met is because we were both working so much, we never saw each other. Right? I’d be, literally, I was at this point when I was at eBay and I was flying around on the company private jet, flying around the world with all these C-level people doing whatever we had to do, and so my lifestyle was such that at this time, I’m running around. It would be like, high five each other in the airport. “Hi, honey. Be real good to see you. I’m off for four days.” And then we’d reconvene, whatever.

But then we decided we wanted to get married… he’s so sweet… we’d get married and we wanted to have kids. Ah! [inaudible 00:51:19] get all steamy now. And my big thing was, I can’t do this anymore, because at this point, when I met J, I was 36 and we got married, I think I was 37. I’m like, I want to have babies, and I don’t want to have just one. I want to have at least two, and I was like, “I’ve worked so hard for so long to make sure I can be in a good position that”… And I said to J, I said, “I don’t want to keep working like this. I can’t work 100 hours a week because I want to have little babies and I want to spend all my time with them because I don’t want to work all the time and I don’t want to put them in daycare.”

And so he’s like, “Well, that’s great, because that’s what I want to do too. So, super.” So, we just quit. I mean, full-on, we were just like, “Let’s just be done.” Right?

So we were 37 or whatever. We get married. We’re living out in Silicon Valley, and our friends thought we were completely insane. They were like, “You’re going to leave this?” And we’re like, “Yeah, we’re going to leave this.” And then, you’ve probably heard us tell this story in different forms along the way, but yeah, literally, we’re just like, “Yeah, we’re just going to kind of sit back and be semi-retired and just kind of see what happens.”

But then one day the whole famous thing, I’m flipping through the TV, I land on HGTV, and that’s the day I said, “If these morons can flip a house, then we can certainly flip a house.” And that’s how that whole thing started. Right? We’re just like, “Let’s become real estate investors.”

That said, neither of us had ever owned a piece of property. Neither of us had any construction or anything skills. We had no idea, but I knew that I was good at talking to people, and I was good at making things look pretty, and J was really good at doing spreadsheets and building out businesses, and that’s when we’re like, “All right. This is what we’re going to do. We’re going to become real estate investors,” and we just kind of grew. We just kind of figured it out, and that was, what, 2008? So that was 11 years ago.

And without… Sometimes I feel bad saying it, because I don’t want to sound braggy, but I’m going to be completely honest. Right now, we really… I hate even saying it because, again, we kind of are living the dream. We’ve got this thing where we’re working really hard, but it is very rare that I’m away from my kids. J’s always with the kids. We’re with the kids all the time, to the point where I think they’re really kind of sick of us, right? They’re eight and nine and like, “Seriously, people, back off.”

But seriously, I mean, we’re in a position now… We’ve altered our lifestyle a bit, but not substantially. I have really nice things, but I think that frugality, or the… I don’t actually like to call it frugality. I like to call it resourcefulness, right? I’ve always been really resourceful, so I talk about, for example, we built this amazing just beautiful, stunning house, and it’s gorgeous, and we’re selling it and getting ready to move. One thing I love more than life itself is my light fixtures. As silly as it sounds, we have these amazing, gorgeous light fixtures that just add so much to it. I got them all on, like, Amazon Warehouse deals. I got them on overstock.com. Things that are just… you know, like, $600 and $700 light fixtures that I managed to pick up for, like, cheap Home Depot prices. I’ll get them for $80 and $90 for these $600 and $700 and $800 light fixtures. Right?

So, it’s just a matter of being resourceful and knowing how to do that. So, even though I still have my things, the things just really aren’t important now, right? So, you go through this whole journey where I grew up, I’ve got nothing, all I want is the stuff, and then I go through all this stuff and I’ve got all this stuff, and then it comes full circle because I’ve got little kids and I realize that I don’t care about the stuff, I just care about the relationships and I care about my family and I care about my kids. And I just want them to be financially responsible and never have to worry about money, so we constantly, we’re talking to the kids about money and we teach them to be little entrepreneurs every step of the way, and it’s really fun. It’s really fun how it’s come full circle.

Mindy: Okay. You said you don’t want to sound braggy. You just said how you’ve worked hard since you were nine. It’s okay to live the dream. It’s okay to quit a job that’s having you fly all over the earth to work 100 hours a week. It’s okay to quit that and stay home with your kids.

Carol Scott: Thank you.

Mindy: You put the time in, and you still work. Like, not a real job. You have your own company.

Carol Scott: We have our own job now. Yeah. Thank you. I appreciate that. Yeah.

Mindy: You still do stuff. You just don’t work for somebody else now.

Carol Scott: Exactly. We truly are. We’ve got financial freedom, and we talk about this a lot on our show and your show and all the shows. It’s all about, you know, you get to a point in your life… a lot of people do, thank goodness… and all of us are in the same mindset, I think. It’s just like, you get to this point where it’s not the stuff that matters, it’s the people that matter, and it’s the experiences that matter, and we worked really hard to get to this place where now… Oh, yeah, we work a lot. I mean, we’re not a two-hour work week. That’s not us. We’re not two-hour work week. We work, but we maximize the time the kids are at school. I mean, I still get up at 3:00 in the morning, sometimes, and work. It’s just reality of how life works.

But when the kids get up, you know, we hang out in the morning and we make Nutella pancakes together and I drive them to school and we have a good old time, and when they need volunteers at school, J will go and volunteer at school or he’ll go on a field trip or I’ll do that, and we’re always there, every single day, to get them off the bus. And whenever we go on work trips or whatever, it’s a family event. We just take this kids out of school and we make it a fun work trip, because, yeah, we did. We worked really hard for a lot of years to get into this position that we’re in now where we can… We frankly kind of do have it all, so we’re very grateful that that’s worked out that way.

Mindy: Yes. Well, you worked hard to have it all, and that’s kind of the whole financial independence journey. The whole goal is to live the life you want. It doesn’t mean quit the job that you hate, although when you’re living the life you want, you don’t have to work at the job that you hate anymore. But it’s just living the life that you want. I wanted to stay home with my kids, so I did, but now they’re in school, so I work at BiggerPockets, but it doesn’t feel like work. I get to talk to people all day.

Carol Scott: Exactly. Exactly. It’s like, this is fun! This is so much fun, and having the financial freedom affords us to… Like, I love interior design. Am I an interior designer? No. But do I think I am? Of course I am. Why not, right? So I love, for example, you know, our neighbor, just the other day, he bought an older house here, and I walk in. I’m like, “Hey, Brandon. I want to spend some of your money.” So I sit down and I’m just going to redesign your house for you. And I get to do that stuff because it’s so much… It’s just fun, and then of course, that just leads into, of course he wants to hire me out to do that, to put together all the plans and that type of thing.

So, being in this position allows me to do… It goes back to, remember, I talked to you about going back to that, my passion was always doing the artsy stuff, but then I realized I can’t really make a whole lot of money doing the artsy stuff. Well, guess what? Here I am, all of these years later, and I’m getting paid by going out there and finding ways to get my creative on, and so it’s doing stuff that I love and creating opportunities doing the stuff that I love to do. So, it’s a really good blend.

Mindy: From instant success in 40 short years, 35 short years.

Carol Scott: Exactly. There it is. There it is.

Mindy: 35 short years of extremely hard work to get anything you want instantly. There you go. [crosstalk 00:58:57]-

Carol Scott: There you go. That is accurate, and it’s totally worth it. Honestly, people are like, “Do you wish all those years you wouldn’t have worked so hard?” Oh my gosh, are you kidding me? It was totally worth every little last bit of the hard work, one million percent yes, because I wouldn’t trade what we’ve got going on now for anything. We’re in a really, really fun place right now, and I’m loving it.

Mindy: Yeah. I love it. I love it. Scott, do you have anything else you want to add before we move on to our famous four questions?

Scott: No. I’m excited to hear the famous four.

Mindy: Carol, these are the same four questions and one command that we ask of all of our guests. Are you ready?

Carol Scott: I’m ready.

Mindy: What is your favorite finance book?

Carol Scott: I can’t remember the author, but it’s called Smart Couples Finish Rich, so it’s a really good one. It’s got a picture of a man and a woman on a beach together, and it’s just really good financial advice for couples.

Mindy: Yep. That’s David Bach.

Carol Scott: Thank you.

Mindy: He’s a great author.

Carol Scott: Agreed.

Scott: All right. So, we heard a couple, but what do you think your biggest money mistake was?

Carol Scott: Wow. My biggest money mistake, without a doubt, was the whole credit card thing. And so, not even just taking the credit cards when I was 18 years old and having no idea, but in my mid-20s when I knew a heck of a lot better, to keep putting stuff on my credit cards, and just paying the little minimum thing every month. We tell our kids now… because we of course put everything on our credit cards so we can get our Southwest points so we can fly for free… but our kids already know right now, use a credit card and you pay it off every month. They don’t even know that there’s any other option, so that’s my little tip to anyone out there. If you’re going to use a credit card, just pay it off. Simple as that.

Mindy: Exactly. And if you can’t pay it off, unless it’s an absolutely emergency, you don’t need it.

Carol Scott: That’s right. That’s right. You’d be amazed at what you don’t actually need.

Mindy: My parents gave me a credit card when I turned 18 but it was… totally dating myself… it was a credit card/calling card, because-

Carol Scott: Of course it was.

Mindy: … this was before cell phones, and this was before the internet and all of that, and they didn’t want me to be stranded someplace with a flat tire and no way to call them and no way to pay for a new tire. So, they gave me a credit card but I had to pay it off every month or they would take it away. So-

Carol Scott: Thank goodness.

Mindy: Yes.

Carol Scott: Thank goodness. They did it the right way. That’s a beautiful thing.

Mindy: They did it the right way, and they… Oh, they cosigned for me, which-

Carol Scott: Oh!

Mindy: Because I didn’t turn… I graduated high school when I was 17, so they put their name on it too. I don’t know if you know this, but their 800 credit score transferred to me, like, two months later, so I’m 17 or 18 years old with this crazy high credit score.

Carol Scott: Wow. Mine was, like, 212. Mine was so bad. Yeah. Mind-boggling. Mind-boggling.

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

Carol Scott: For people who are just starting out, take a look at what you really, truly need, because stuff, really, if you’re just starting out… I know, when you are just starting out, you want stuff, but from an older, wiser version of me says, “This stuff just doesn’t really make you happy.” I mean, yeah, the new car might make you happy for a couple days, and then you’re going to get bored of it. The bright, shiny new handbag might make you happy for a little bit, but then you’re going to get bored of it. So, just be smart about choosing what it is that you really need to spend money on.

Scott: Good. What is your favorite joke to tell at parties?

Carol Scott: Okay, ready?

So, did you hear how J got started in real estate investing?

Scott: Oh, man, a specific person joke? Wow.

Carol Scott: Yeah. He got fired from the calendar factory. Isn’t that ridiculous? All he did was take a day off.

Scott: Ah, man.

Carol Scott: That was impressive.

Scott: I like it.

Mindy: That was. I’m like, he got fired from the calendar factory? I don’t get it. And then it continued. Some days I just don’t get these jokes at all.

Scott: Been there.

Mindy: Okay, Carol. Where can people find out more about you?

Carol Scott: Well, my favorite new place everyone can go to find out more about us is to listen to the BiggerPockets Business podcast! We are loving it. J and I are having a great time, so just go onto BiggerPockets or go into your favorite podcast app and look for BiggerPockets Business. That’s our new favorite thing. You can also find out more stuff about us in general at 123Flip.com. We’re on Facebook, Insta, Twitter, all that good stuff. But BiggerPockets Business. You’re going to love it. We talk to so many fun guests.

Mindy: Wow. Are you qualified to talk about business, Carol, with that business degree since you were nine, or whatever?

Carol Scott: Not at all. I just make stuff up as I go and wear pink and hope for the best. I have no idea.

We love it. Seriously, guys, I can’t tell you how much fun we have hosting that show. We talk to the most inspirational people. The tricky part is, every time, after we’re doing recording, we’re like, “Oh, we’re going to go start that business too.” So, seriously, every week, we’re like, “We’re going to go start another one and another one and another one.” These people, they just give you the most actionable tips, and they’re so inspirational, and the stories that are on there are just phenomenal. So, yeah. Go listen to BiggerPockets Business.

Mindy: Yes. And you can find BiggerPockets Business at biggerpockets.com/bizshow. That’s B-I-Z-S-H-O-W. And you release new episodes every Tuesday.

Carol Scott: Every Tuesday.

Mindy: So, we release on Monday. When you’re done with the money show, go listen to the business show, and you, too, can start up a business doing insert industry here every single week.

Carol Scott: Love it.

Mindy: Yeah. I love that show.

Thank you, Carol. This was fabulous. Anybody who is listening right now who has somebody who’s getting ready to graduate high school or getting ready to graduate college, or just even in college, in high school, this is a really great show with lots of real-world tips from, “I’ve been there, I did this, this is the success I had.”

This was really, really fabulous, and I hope that everybody shares this episode. This is a great episode, sister episode to Scott’s book, Set for Life.

Carol Scott: It absolutely is, which is an amazing book. If you haven’t read it, people, go read that book. It’s amazing.

Mindy: Yeah. That’s an awesome book too.

Carol Scott: Amazing.

Mindy: Yep. Amazing. Okay.

Scott: Well, thank you [inaudible 01:05:29].

Carol Scott: My pleasure. One million percent my pleasure.

Thank you guys so much for having me on. This was super fun.

Mindy: Thank you, Carol. Have a great day.

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • Carol’s background with money
  • Starting her financial independence and entrepreneurial journey at age 9
  • The importance of having a work ethic
  • Calligraphy, face painting, signs, and artsy stuff to earn money
  • What she did with the money she earned
  • Her college journey
  • The big transition that occurred between her freshman and sophomore year
  • The first internship she got
  • Coming out of college with $35K in student loan debt and $40K in credit card debt
  • Exposure to C-level people
  • Looking for the next big opportunity at work
  • How growing up with no money influenced her behavior
  • How she began making lots of money
  • Taking leadership courses her companies pay for
  • Moving to Franklin Covey 8 years into her career
  • Her advice to those who are looking to get into a job that offers a high salary
  • What’s urgent versus what’s important
  • How she began managing her money
  • How she handles her investments
  • What she does post-career at eBay
  • The importance of being resourceful
  • The importance of spending time with the family
  • And SO much more!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show

Tweetable Topics:

  • “Every decision I made was all based on money. Like, what can I do within my power to make as much money as possible?” (Tweet This!)
  • “You just have to work.” (Tweet This!)

Connect with Carol

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