Podcast: Joe Saul-Sehy, founder of Stacking Benjamins
Episode 59 of the NewRetirement podcast is an interview with Joe Saul-Sehy — the founder of the Stacking Benjamins podcast and community — and discusses Joe’s story, what he’s building, and his new book, Stacked.
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Full Transcript of Steve Chen’s Interview with Joe Saul-Sehy:
Steve: Welcome to the NewRetirement podcast. Today, we’re going to be talking with Joe Saul-Sehy, the founder of the Stacking Benjamins podcast and community. Joe’s 25-year career started as a personal financial advisor, then moved on to being a media spokesman, and, finally, he’s now an award-winning podcast host. We’re going to be discussing his story, what he’s building, and his new book, “Stacked.” Joe joins us from the Basement in Texarkana, Texas.
Joe Saul-Sehy: Yes I am. How are you, man?
Steve: I’m good. How are you doing?
Joe Saul-Sehy: I’m great. I’m so happy to be here. Thanks for having me, and I’m sure being a fan of the discussions you have, Steve, I think we’re about to have some fun.
Steve: Yeah, should be good. We have set the expectations real low here.
Steve: All right, here we go. So Joe, just for our audience, would love to kind of get some background on, kind of, what got you interested in money and financial literacy and planning to begin with.
Joe Saul-Sehy: Yeah. When I first got involved in the business of financial planning, actually, which horribly was before I actually got my own financial house in order. I, initially, in high school and in college, Steve, I was so interested in these people that would show up on the morning shows, like the Today Show. And they could tell you about how to work a grocery store so you didn’t spend a lot of money or how to pay your credit cards more effectively. Although, I didn’t really know what a credit card was, at the time, and, like your utility bills, I just thought these people knew magic stuff. And, at the same time, I’m a product of the ’80s. I grew up when the movie “Wall Street” came out. And, of course, this idea of Bud Fox and Gordon Gekko and trading stocks and trading Hong Kong all night: waking up, watching the sun go up, I made a ton of money.
Joe Saul-Sehy: I’ve got … Daryl Hannah’s my girlfriend. All this stuff, I thought it was amazing. And, like a lot of people, I thought that would be a very sexy profession. So even though I had horrible money habits and knew nothing about it, I had a friend that worked for a financial firm and like a lot of people, because as you know, Steve, these big firms are just all about, “recruit as many people as possible and see who makes it.” I was recruited by a friend. Actually, it’s funny. The quote that he said was, the quote was, “We normally don’t hire people like you, but I think you’d be good at this,” because I was an English major. I was not great with money, but I’ll tell you this: if I had known, if I hadn’t grown up in the small farming community in Southwest Michigan and been a little bit less naive, I have very much of an engineering brain, engineering mentality. I love to study and get in the weeds on stuff.
Joe Saul-Sehy: I love dissecting a financial plan. I love logistics and how the dominoes fall, but I didn’t know any of that. And Mark, is my friend, knew that piece of me. And so I think that was really true, and, so I did really well helping other people. Well, one day, I had gotten so bad with my money that one day, I was going home from an office that was across town, and I ran out of gas. And I’m driving this late model, Aerostar minivan with maybe 220,000 miles on it. And any car with 220 is a long way. A Ford Aerostar is just … it shouldn’t have been on the road anymore, and I had no cash. But not only did I have no cash and was stranded, I had no way to get money anymore because I was so, so bad with money.
Joe Saul-Sehy: I’d run into a bunch of credit card debt, starting right in college. I didn’t know how taxes work, so I owed the IRS a bunch of money from being a good financial planner for other people. I was making money, but I was 1099. And so I didn’t realize what I could write off. And so I learned a lot of money through the school of hard knocks, and it was there, as I’m digging through the back seat and underneath the chairs of my minivan, trying to put a couple of dollars together to get enough cash, to get home, that I realized that I’m living this double life. It’s maybe 1996 at the time, and I’m a sham. I’m a great financial planner helping everybody else, and I’m not applying any of this to me. So I did what I advocate now, which was, I started paying attention to who was smart about taxes, who was smart about budgets.
Joe Saul-Sehy: And I started hanging out with those people, and I began surrounding myself with groups of people that would help me get my financial house in order because it couldn’t work that way anymore. And so I went to an all-cash system and ended up turning things around in, actually, a pretty short time, just a matter of a few years. I was on the right path and within seven or eight years, I was rolling. I actually, though, in the … I was at year 15 of being a financial planner, and I had this mentor in the business who wrote this letter and said … and I was still at a big firm. And at the big firms, you may know, Steve, that you don’t write a letter and tell everybody that you’re resigning, give your two weeks.
Joe Saul-Sehy: These are the kinds of places, like if anybody’s seen Jerry Maguire, you take all the client files, you leave at midnight and at 6 a.m., everybody’s calling the client to see who goes where, right? He didn’t do that. He wrote this wonderful letter that said, “I like being a financial planner. I don’t love it. I think I can only live one time. And if that is true, then … and time is valuable to me.” He said, “I think I have other mountains to climb. So I’ve done very well. I’ve got a nest egg of money, and it’s time for me to go.” And I realized, because I was turning 40, I realized that that was the same for me at that point. I got my own financial house in order. My business was worth quite a bit of money. I was managing about $60 million, so not a huge practice, but not a tiny one, and I decided, “I need to sell my business.”
Joe Saul-Sehy: And what’s funny is, when Chris said that he had other mountains to climb, he really meant it. He climbed Mount Everest twice. He’s climbed most of the high peaks around the world. And yeah, he’s just this hell of a human being. Now, he runs an adventure travel company in Colorado, but, for me, I wanted to be a high school teacher and a track coach. And so at age 40, I sold my business. That turned into a blog, blog turned into the podcast and here we are. And then, I got to talk to Steve.
Steve: That’s where we are.
Joe Saul-Sehy: My life is over.
Steve: That’s what we got here. Yeah. It’s interesting. I think many folks in the, kind of, FinCon, personal finance influencer space, they have that experience of they’ve almost hit bottom, right? And seen everything to do … they do everything wrong possible. And through that process, they learn what to do right. And it’s cool to hear the story that … and, then, they fix it up. Many of them achieve financial independence, and they find, kind of, a great way forward, which they love. And in your case, that’s kind of educating lots of people through the podcast and through the community. You’re doing amazing stuff. So yeah, actually, let’s jump into Stacking Benjamins a little bit, I’d love to … I saw that you’re kind of approaching, I think, 700 episodes, or maybe it’s more than that?
Joe Saul-Sehy: No, we’re actually at … officially, we’re 1,042, I think, goes out tomorrow. But we had two shows before that, and we also had problems with our numbering. So we’re probably close to 1,400, 1,500 epsiodes.
Steve: That’s amazing. And how many downloads so far?
Joe Saul-Sehy: We are, just for Stacking Benjamins, we’re at 30 million downloads.
Steve: That is kind of incredible.
Joe Saul-Sehy: I feel very blessed, very grateful. You just get happy. It was funny, our friend, our mutual friend, Paula Pant, who’s been on your show. Paula is on our show almost every Friday on a roundtable discussion that we have. And Paula, whenever I get a little cocky, we’re good friends. She sends me this email that I sent to her, which was from one of our first episodes, maybe episode six or seven, where … Steve, I’m ecstatic because we had gone from 65 downloads to 69 downloads. And I was so excited and still, today, I still think … I can imagine a room with 70 people in it. That’s a lot of people. These numbers, 30 million. I don’t know what that means. I have no idea, so I’m just happy one person is listening, and, if we help somebody … listen. When it comes … you can have your show, my show, all the personal finance shows put together. Throw Dave Ramsey in there with his 2 million. That doesn’t … there’s how many hundreds of millions of people? Nobody’s listening to personal finance, so we need as many voices with as many episodes as we can possibly get.
Steve: Yeah. Well, clearly some people are listening. 30 million’s no joke. I mean, that’s amazing, right? I get nervous thinking about speaking in front of a hundred people.
Steve: So I know you’ve got some kind of … you actually kind of pivoted the show partway through, and you have some pretty strong opinions about what makes a successful show and keeping people engaged. I’d love to, if you could share that with our audience, what your approach is.
Joe Saul-Sehy: Yeah. That’s interesting, because at first, I thought that … so we came at it from blogging. The blog was going okay. We had the podcast, we kind of a little bit, we’re leaning into humor, the idea that this show would be from my mom’s basement, the idea that my mom’s neighbor, Doug, was going to be a little part of the show and just make it kind of fun and have the sense of place.
Joe Saul-Sehy: I like community. I believe that we’re social beings. And so if we can create this warm place for people to share ideas, instead of … and, by the way, no offense to a Dave Ramsey or Suze Orman. It’s just not me, right? I just don’t want to yell at people about their money, and I want people to come to me, hoping that I yell, at them, about their money. I just want this surround sound idea. So we got a couple of years into the show, and we’re kind of embracing stuff, show was going okay. And then, I went and I saw some really good podcasters talk at a conference. And no matter what you do, I think it’s important to go to conferences and surround yourself with people that are best in class. And I was sitting next to another mutual friend of ours, Roger Whitney. We’re sitting in the front row and we’re watching this guy, Roman Mars talk about his podcast. And he has a great show called 99% Invisible about this design that you don’t even think about. Right? And Roman is going through how they make 99% Invisible. And at the time, and I still am a little bit cocky, right? A defensive of my product. Think I’m doing it as well as everybody else. And like everybody else too, I’m looking up the rankings at other podcasts ahead of me. And I’m throwing in a bunch of steak at these shows. I’m like, well, I’m better than that show. I’m better than that show. I’m better than that. How come people aren’t listening to me? And then I hear Roman Mars and what he’s doing. And I think I’m a professional.
Joe Saul-Sehy: This guy, the way he puts his shows together was so much more professional than what I was doing. And that was when I realized two things. I wrote down and actually shared it with Roger. I wrote down, you have the ranking you deserve. Like, don’t get me wrong. There’s a few shows ahead of me that maybe shouldn’t be, but there’s a hell of a lot of shows where they’re just doing better work than I am. So I realized that I had to go from part-time to pro and we quit blogging. We quit doing everything else. And we just leaned into the show. We also realized that it needed to be funny where.
Joe Saul-Sehy: We were a couple of guys that thought we were funny, my co-host and I, but we’d never studied comedy. And how can you have a good show without actually being a student of the thing? We’re two guys that are students of finance, but not students at comedy. And we’re presenting ourselves as a comedy show. So we immediately started taking comedy classes. We studied what works in comedy and what doesn’t, and it didn’t get better overnight, but we leaned heavy into the fact that this need to be light and approachable. And I’ll tell you what happened, Steve.
Joe Saul-Sehy: We lost within the first six weeks about a third of our listeners. They all went bye bye. And I got the meanest, meanest emails. And in fact, one email I’ve shared with these from a person that you and I know, right?
Steve: That’s currently on our team.
Joe Saul-Sehy: But it was a wonderful email. She’s like, “You ruined the show.” And I wrote back to her that we’re not good at this yet. You just got to give me time. But I believe that if we lean into light and approachable and a show that is going to be this community-based show that it’s going to be a lot better. And what’s cool is, is that in her defense, six months later, she wrote to me and said, “I love the changes.” And it wasn’t her. You could see the hockey stick. All of a sudden people were listening. They were paying attention. The awards were coming. People were talking about us, but I don’t think that’s… And not to monologue too long, but I don’t think that’s a mistake.
Joe Saul-Sehy: I just read a study that said that 65% of people have cried about their money. That’s a huge number, and you think by the way, that’s associated with poverty or low income. And it is more with people that are impoverished than with wealthy people. But they also looked at the spectrum and people that made over $250,000 a year, 45% of those people have cried about their money, almost one in two.
Joe Saul-Sehy: So people are incredibly stressed out about cash, about not reaching their goals. They’re confused about where to go. So I think that laughter and humor, it’s not a mistake and it’s not a side product. I think it’s essential to lighten the mood so that we can better learn from each other about what works and what doesn’t. So co-host Jesus, still a certified financial planner has a practice. He jokes about he messes up his money all the time. We love talking about our mistakes because I feel like we need to do that more often, and then we’ll be a little less stressed.
Steve: Yeah. Wow. Yeah. You kind of give a great kind of a stream of consciousness about some of the challenges out there and how to think about this. But a couple of things jumped out. One is I think the power of community. I saw it first, I think mostly in the choose of five Facebook group, just how these people… And also places like Mr. Money Mustache, where they’re out there and sharing the wins and the losses and the lessons and this idea that you can crowdsource good behavior and get reinforcement. And I think that amplifying it through the podcast and just building community in general. I know when I was talking to Paula Pan, one of the things she said is like, “Listen.” I was asking her, “What are you building?” She was like, “We’re building a community,” which was like, okay, that actually got my attention.
Steve: Because I think where I was thinking, we’re building a product and we’re building a platform, but really what is it? You really got a bunch of people trying to do better. So I think community is a big thing. And I think that a big thought that comes out is like helping people really understand the relationship between money and time, getting control of their time. We all spend our lives like trading. We’re born with a bunch of time, hopefully. We trade that for money. No one really understands. I mean, you understand the direct mechanic of getting wages, but then how you make your money work for you, no one gets it. No one’s really taught it.
Steve: Everyone has to fumble around and get ripped off by credit card companies. I mean, basically everybody in the financial services industry was trying to take your money or make money on your money. And then some people like yourself figure it out and do much better. But that’s the exception, right? That’s what’s so crazy about this whole current setup we have.
Joe Saul-Sehy: And that’s what I love about not just community, but also the power of podcasts. I feel like when we were blogging, it was much more data-driven. When I read, I like to read data, I like to read studies. I like to read that stuff, but podcasts are about stories and I feel like we’re hard wired for stories. I don’t remember the data in a podcast, but I certainly remember the feeling of somebody getting out of $35,000 of credit card debt or somebody that finally got to financial independence. And whenever we can tell those stories, it’s just so damn fun. Isn’t it? It just it’s super fun.
Steve: Yeah. Yeah. It’s awesome. It’s super empowering. And I think there’s just a level of trust when you hear it from people that have gone through it or other people that are kind of in a similar phase and they’ve made mistakes and they’re kind of saying what works. No one knows who to trust. That’s the problem. I think that’s why personal finance bloggers and podcasters have taken off because they’re real people. They’re not like here to make money on your investments, but they’re building an audience. They’re doing it kind of in a different way.
Joe Saul-Sehy: Yeah. Agreed.
Steve: So I know you have some pretty strong thoughts about kind of financial literacy, financial planning, and how it should change and be better in the future. We’d love to kind of get your view on that.
Joe Saul-Sehy: Oh, man. Yeah. I think you and I could probably talk about this topic for a long time. So boy, I feel like there is such a gulf being one of the few people I know that is… Which really you’re in this boat too. One of the few people I know that are in this boat, that you kind of straddle the line, right? I’ve seen what the pros are talking about. And now I see what the consumer engine talks about and consumer media talks about. And they’re usually two totally different things. And it is so frustrating to see that people that really know great money management are having completely different discussions than consumers are having.
Joe Saul-Sehy: So I think there’s got to be a way to bridge that gap. And by the way, I thought about 16 different rabbit holes while I was even saying that sentence, because there are so many, but the problem with the industry is that they’re attracted to assets under management and assets under management is what pays. And so if I, as a financial planner, you know what I say, at the top of this, I managed $60 million. That was a great way that I got paid, right? Fee-based financial advisor, $60 million bucks. People had me be a Shepard for their money, but I think that’s not while those people need help. And I liked helping those people. There’s a whole bunch of people who aren’t being served, because they’re still playing to use a baseball analogy, single A or AA baseball. And they’re working their way up to the majors.
Joe Saul-Sehy: And yet I feel like the industry goes, yeah, you figure all that out on your own. And when you do, we’ll be here to leach off you. And I feel like the calculators, I think you’ve done a great job of bridging this gap. I think Jason Parker is working on a nice calculator. I think there’s a few people that are working on products that are kind of bridging the gap between the cool stuff I saw when I was a financial planner that was really robust. And the really just craptastic stuff that consumers that are trying to put it together themselves are forced to use. Because I think if I don’t have assets yet, the way to build assets is through having a good, comprehensive plan about how I’m going to get there. Right? And there’s even a subset of that, Steve. I also don’t think there’s enough help on people that today just need help with one or two little things that will lead to a comprehensive financial plan.
Joe Saul-Sehy: Like I think a comprehensive plan is different for 30 year old than it is for a 50 year old. A 50 year old should be really granular. I know what I want in retirement. Here’s some really good granular stuff that I think I’m going to do that I need to have. But at age 25, I just need to save directionally for this thing that’s going to get me there at 50, 55, 60, 65, whatever. And I think we’re just starting to recognize that. I think that’s where financial planning needs to go. A little bit less concentrated on assets and more concentrated on helping people get these little questions answered that lead to big, full financial plans, which maybe for some people do lead to assets under management, but for other people just leads to better financial health, doing it themselves. Or with somebody looking over their shoulder a couple times a year.
Joe Saul-Sehy: Not enough people charging other people in the industry charging to just look over your shoulder twice a year. And I think there’s a huge market for that. I also think one more thing here. I also think that banks are messing it up as well. It’s not all financial planners. Banks are offering services that don’t help people become better customers. And I feel like banks have so many opportunities to help people with their career. As an example, help them make more money. Right? You see not just the wage gap between men and women or people of color and people that are white, but also just the age gap between anybody and what they’re worth. And so imagine if a bank had a career counselor or a wage negotiation counselor that could help me figure out how to present myself to make more money that I’m going to deposit in the bank, right? And I think they could even charge for that. So I feel like there’s some things, there’s some services that even banks could offer that could help the community more.
Steve: Yeah, these are pretty interesting ideas. I mean, I totally agree with you on the misalignment in financial services. I mean, the whole industry is, one, focused on accumulation, so, “Let’s help you try to build more money so that I can then make money on your money.” And so hey, if you make a lot of money, there’s going to be plenty of people to help you manage it and they’re more than happy to, but they want to charge you 1% of assets, which ends up being a tremendously high fee, even though it doesn’t sound necessarily that bad. But then for most people who aren’t there who are less wealthy, there’s tons more providers that are like, “Well, I’ll give you credit card debt or payday loans or whatever it is.” Lots of ways to kind of get your dollars or high transaction fee products that aren’t are quote, unquote suitable, but not necessarily a fiduciary fit for you.
Joe Saul-Sehy: Yeah. But you know what though, Steve? While those are big, I really feel like, by the way, that that’s what consumers focus on. And I feel like that is because… The whole fee argument is because of the fact that a lot of financial writers, and I’m about to rip a group of people here, a bunch of financial planners know nothing else to talk about so they focus on fees. I think you and I know that, while there can be egregious fees and horrible fees, when I was a financial planner, I saw many people get where they were going, even though they were being charged egregious fees. And you know why? Because they saved money and they figured out how to get more money into this crappy thing that still got them to their goal. There is so much focus on that dragon of fees.
Joe Saul-Sehy: And I feel like it’s the third thing down, or the fourth thing down. The biggest thing that we’re not talking about his behavior. Ever since I went from the pro side to the financial media side, I have met so many broke professors that know a bunch about a bunch and they haven’t saved any money. The behavior is number one. Worry about the fees once you’ve actually saved a dime, and then let’s have a talk about it. Even Vanguard, to stay on my horse here. Even Vanguard who the Bogleheads talk about. “Well, we can’t have high fees.” Vanguard says having a financial planner in your corner adds 3% to your end return, 3%. That’s a big fat number. So even Jack Bogle’s team is saying, “Have smart people around you.”
Steve: Yeah, and I agree. I mean, I actually looked at that study. Most of that 3% is, 2% or two thirds of it is from behavior change. Getting people to not screw up, sell at the bottom, get them to save consistently, get them to invest in an appropriate, diversified way. So for sure, there’s a huge amount of value out there in kind of getting people to have better behaviors. I think that the challenge that you and I are trying to tackle is like, how do you help millions of people improve their behavior and achieve better outcomes? Through different ways of reaching them, podcasting communities, writing and so forth.
Joe Saul-Sehy: Better tools.
Steve: And tools.
Joe Saul-Sehy: Better tools, yeah.
Steve: And better tools, for sure. Yeah. Would love to actually go to your book. So, Stacked, right? Coming out, I like it. It’s coming out December?
Joe Saul-Sehy: December 28th, just before the end of the year. I was thrilled when a Penguin Random House called me and my coauthor, Emily Guy Birken, who’s a great financial writer, has several books that you’ll already find on the bookshelf, including The Five Years Before you Retire, which is a great book. They called us in, they were originally going to put it out in September, apparently, the end of the year. And there’s no pressure here because they said that they’re pushing it to the end of the year because that’s when more people buy finance books and they think it’s going to be a big deal. So hopefully.
Steve: Yeah. Can you give us a little bit on why you wrote it and maybe some of the big lessons that you got from writing it?
Joe Saul-Sehy: Well, the one thing that you and I see a lot, well, we see a lot of people and a lot of different philosophies. And whenever you write something, you don’t just put something out there that reads just like everybody else. I didn’t write a book for the longest time because I didn’t think I had anything to say. I didn’t have a podcast for a long time because I didn’t think I had anything to say. And much like the show, I realized that there was a hole in one area, which is humor. And I think bringing more humor to financial planning makes it easier to consume. Our whole show is built on the science of play. And I think that if you keep it light and keep it fun, people will get through this information that we all need, far greater than if we take issue of…
Joe Saul-Sehy: The Harvard Business Review, I love. But for the people that you and I serve, I don’t think a lot of my audience is looking for the Harvard Business Review of financial books. So here’s how I created it, this is where the idea came from. I’m in Portland, Oregon, and I’m at Powell’s bookstore. Have you ever been to Powell’s? This thing, this bookstore is a block long. It’s huge and it’s four stories high, and you just get lost in it. And so I’m wandering and I love wandering through bookstores, just because it brings these ideas to your head that you didn’t even think about. And so I’m just wandering around, getting lost, and I made my way to the kids’ section. And I saw this book that I carried around when I was in fourth grade, everywhere.
Joe Saul-Sehy: It was the Hardy Boys Detective Manual. And it was written with the help of a retired FBI agent. It taught me all these cool things, like how to do fingerprints or footprints, how to capture those. How to tail the bad person, how to crack the code, all of this cool stuff. And my brother and I, we would mess around with this and I loved it. And I wanted to be an agent who did this stuff, because it was so campy fun at that time. Then I get home from Portland, back to at the time I was living in Michigan, and I get back. And while I was gone, my mom left a box of my stuff on my kitchen table with a note that said, “Listen, you’re 50 years old, I’m finally going to give your stuff.” It was just my little league pictures, the bowling trophy with one arm off it now that my dad and I did this bowling tournament together.
Joe Saul-Sehy: And there was the Cub Scout Wolf Guide, and the Cub Scout Wolf Guide starts off with every achievement starts… Well, first of all, achievement, right? Gamification. And how fun is it when you play a video game or you’re doing something and you go through these… I’ve got this Garmin watch and it gives me achievements all the time when I… “You broke your 5K record. Now you’re only super slow, not super, super slow.” So, gamification is fantastic, I think, and the Wolf Guide did it very well way back in the day.
Joe Saul-Sehy: Gave you the things you’re going to need, wrote out clearly what you would do to achieve this achievement, cross off all the things you need to do to prove that you had some competency in it, and then there was a place in the bottom for your mom to sign it. So that was the original idea for Stacked: Your Super Serious Guide to Money Management. We walked through everything from stacking your first Benjamin to building a stack of Benjamins, to stacks and stacks of Benjamin’s. Those are the three sections of the book. And so everything from understanding your credit, getting your budget in order, all the way to finding a good financial planner and getting your estate plan done.
Steve: Yep, awesome. Well, for sure, I think giving people a method and a recipe for doing this stuff makes it a lot easier, showing them how they’re making progress, super important. Yeah, today people are kind of wandering around trying to figure it out. Some of them get lucky or they’re really disciplined and they do it. But again, that that’s by far the exception.
Joe Saul-Sehy: And having your mom hold you accountable, I think is always important.
Steve: That’s right, that’s super important. Cool. Well, that’s good. We’ll have a link to the book out here. As we look forward and you look forward, what’s your vision for where you want to take the podcast, any huge guests you want to have on board? Where do you think this thing goes over the next few years? I know you’ve got recently a pretty big syndication deal, right?
Joe Saul-Sehy: Yeah. We’re now on Westwood One, and they’re changing their name to Cumulus. It’s the second biggest radio network in the country. We still own the show, but they distribute us now, so that was really neat. My goal is just to create a… Roman Mar set it back best that day, Steve, in Fort Worth at this conference, when I realized that we needed to make a better show. He had this great quote that said, “I’m embarrassed by the shows I made a year ago. And I hope like hell a year from now, I’m embarrassed by the shows I’m making today.” And that’s my feeling today, is that I want to be embarrassed by the things I’m making today. So we’re constantly wondering, how do we make a show that is more fun, but also incredibly educational at the same time?
Joe Saul-Sehy: And as you know, those two things don’t always fit together. So sometimes it’s wacky and not at all interesting, and on the other side, it can be really interesting and people are falling asleep because it just isn’t fun to talk about this stuff. So I’m always working on finding that intersection. And I think the guest thing is a combination. I don’t know about you, but I’m more interested in stories. I am way more interested in stories. That’s what I liked about the book, when the book comes out, is that the book has some great stories about how Emily and I messed up our money, the things that we screwed up.
Joe Saul-Sehy: A story at the very beginning of the book about there’s one idea that rules them all, and this idea is, and you know this because we talked about financial planning, begin with the end in mind, right? Timeline out your goals and work backward, and then you don’t have to worry about all this different stuff. So if I can loop back to those things on the podcast, but also bring on guests sometimes that challenge me. I know coming up on the show we have Kevin Rose, who knows a ton about crypto, and I’m still wondering, like maybe you are, how the hell do you fairly value crypto? How do you even start down that path of thinking about fairly valuing crypto? Is it high now? Is it low? I don’t know.
Steve: Right. I don’t actually have an opinion on this, so well, it’s interesting. So this actually brings us back to the beginning of the show when you were talking about Wall Street and how you saw that movie, and you all inspired like, “I want to make a bunch of money trading.” I feel like the crypto brothers or the crypto bros are out there kind of living out. They’re like, “Oh, I can a 24/7 trade this stuff. It’s super volatile.” Some people are getting really rich and it’s kind of a crazy wild west out there. So they’re living that experience right now.
Steve: But we had Jack Brennan, the former CEO of Vanguard on the show, previous guest, just went up, and we talked about this a little bit. And he had a great question. He’s like, “Okay, thought experiment. So what’s the intrinsic value?” He’s like, “Would you want to own a 100% of something?” He’s like, “Well, for my house, I’d like to own a 100%. For Amazon, I’d love to own a 100% because it delivers stuff and it makes money. But if I owned a 100% of dogecoin,” or whatever it is, “how does that work for me?” Right? And I think that’s the question. It has value so as long as other people are willing to buy it from you or trade something of value for it. And that is the question, does that persist? If not, there could be problems like we saw in the last couple of weeks where you saw a 30% draw down in these currencies in a few days.
Joe Saul-Sehy: Yeah. You wonder … Well, and on that point, as you’re talking, I’m just thinking, you also wonder as it becomes more valuable, people want to hold it and this is supposedly a currency. So do I really want to spend my dogecoin on a sandwich or do I hold it? I think having something as a currency and having it as an investment are diametrically opposed. So when people say they’re killing it on Bitcoin, what does that mean?
Joe Saul-Sehy: I don’t know.
Steve: There’s definitely an incentive just to buy and hold, and that’s what most people do. They have the people out there that you’ll see on Twitter. But I also think like Elon Musk called out, “Hey, the energy cost to mine the stuff,” which is basically ensure the strength of the cryptography behind it, “is massive.” I actually was doing some back of the envelope math. And so I think for one, Bitcoin to kind of mine it, it’s like 72 gigawatts, which-
Joe Saul-Sehy: Oh, man.
Steve: … I have solar in my house. And I was like, “Okay, much solar do I produce? It’s 36 kilowatts.” I’m like, “Okay. So I need two million houses to mine one of these things like a …” I don’t know. Anyway, it was, you’re like, “This is huge.” I mean, and Elon Musk came out and said, “Oh, okay. Well, actually, because the energy cost is so high, it’s really bad for the environment. And guess what? We’re not going to take Bitcoin for Teslas anymore, even though we started to do it.”
Joe Saul-Sehy: It’s funny because he’s not the only person who said that. So it leads me to another thing. And I don’t know the answer to this either because it feels like that’s all a new argument that I hadn’t heard until recently, right? But now it seems very sticky. Is there somebody that is anti-crypto, who’s decided it’s time to spread this to kind of knock it down or is this … I mean, don’t get me wrong. I think that the anti-environment thing is great, but it seems like it’s bad for the environment now. It was bad for the environment a year ago. Why the hell aren’t we talking about it then?
Steve: Yeah. Good question. I mean, look, I’m not a crypto expert. I think that there’s just more awareness of what’s happening. There’s more cryptos. There’s like 4,500 coin now.
Joe Saul-Sehy: I need you to answer this today, Steve. We got to solve the universe before this podcast is over.
Steve: I’m going to get at Google right now. But yeah, I mean, look at a high level, I don’t think it’s actually going away, crypto coins, but I think that it’s definitely for people. It shouldn’t be a big portion of your … If you do dabble in it to keep it small, right, a very small portion, not more than a percent of your net worth or something like that at most.
Joe Saul-Sehy: We were talking about this literally this morning, and I thought of this analogy. There’s a friend of mine here now that moved back to Texas that loves to go to the horse track. And we have one in Shreveport about 75 minutes south of us, and an grand old, beautiful place called Oaklawn, where they have one of the lead-ins to the Kentucky Derby, the Oaklawn Derby in Hot Springs, just 90 minutes north of us. So because my friend likes to go, I’ve gone with him to these places. And what’s funny is I show up at these things with money in my wallet, that I’m incredibly 100% prepared to lose all of it, right? And I go there and I get these sheets and the sheets tell me … have you been to a horse race?
Steve: It’s been a long time, but I went as a kid. So I know you got the odd sheets and stuff like that.
Joe Saul-Sehy: Well, not only that, they give you statistics on this how many times this jockey’s won. This is every jockey’s record. And for every horse, they also tell you, does the horse go out fast? Does the horse go out slow? How does the horse do in these different conditions? I get all this flipping data about money that I’m going to go bet that I’m just spending for entertainment, right? It’s like going to a movie. I’m going to go bet on horses. And then I hear people yolo-ing their entire life on some investment and on some crypto. And the only thing they know is my buddy has a Lambo. And he says, “It’s going up.”
Steve: Yep, right.
Joe Saul-Sehy: Right?
Steve: Yeah. Well, people are making … The thing is that with social media, some people are making a bunch of money or they’re out there on Twitter saying, “I did this or that” or whatever. There’s always assets that are going up and down and volatile. And I think crypto’s latest version, but there’s been day trading. Okay. Well, cool. As we wrap up here, any final things you want to share with our community about Stacking Benjamins or other tools you like, or people and influencers that you think are worth paying attention to?
Joe Saul-Sehy: Oh my goodness. Oh, boy. That’s a loaded question. There’s too many people. There’s … Yeah. No. I just think that looking at the broad spectrum of all the stuff that is this, of all the voices, go out and find a new voice from time to time. I love when I go for a run to just fire up a podcast I’ve never listened to before and give it a shot and don’t turn it off if it challenges your thinking. I think having your … I think that’s another place that the industry needs help in. I don’t think there’s enough people doing coaching. I think there’s a lot of people that are doing leaching. And I think there’s a lot of people that are doing asset gathering, but actual coaching?
Joe Saul-Sehy: But I also think, Steve, that we’re not really … We haven’t been taught that. I was never taught that in my training. I was taught how to manage money, asset allocation. I was taught, of course, a proper diversification, tax work, estate planning stuff, how to create a budget, but in terms of coaching technique and this philosophical side, I think … And there’s been a lot of work in that end of the spectrum, but there could be a lot more. Besides that, let’s keep making it fun.
Steve: Yeah. That’s awesome. Okay. Well, cool. Well, look, I totally agree with you on the coaching as well. I mean, we’re, for our business, we’re leaning into that, trying to help people find coaches that just understand their own behaviors, be accountable to somebody else. It can be a to yourself or a community better, or a coach, but also a great to just make positive changes in your life.
Joe Saul-Sehy: I totally agree. Surround yourself with smart people and you’ll go places.
Steve: Exactly. All right. Well, great. Look, I’m going to wrap it up. So Joe, thanks for being on our show. It’s great to have you here.
Joe Saul-Sehy: Thanks, man.
Steve: Yeah. Davorin Robison, thanks for being our sound engineer. Anyone listening, appreciate your time. And if you’ve made it this far, definitely check out the link. Go reserve a copy of Joe’s note books, Stacked, and check out our site, newretirement.com. Check out Stacking Benjamins. Any reviews are welcome. You can also go to our Facebook community or our Stacking Benjamins Facebook community, and kind of find like-minded people that are trying to do better with their money and time. So with that, thank you very much.