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This week we got to talk to Douglas Boneparth, a millennial CFP, CNBC personality, founder of Bone Fide Wealth, and author of The Millennial Money Fix, about student debt, marriage, kids, retirement, and all the other life events that younger generations have on the horizon.

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Hello, everyone.

It is Chelsea Fagan. And I am back with another episode of The Financial Confessions.

This time, with an unusual guest, a man, someone we rarely see the show, but also someone who is an incredibly astute and-- dare I say-- even funny expert on money. So he should make for a very interesting conversation. But first, I wanted to give a quick hello to our beloved partners with whom we create every episode of The Financial Confessions.

So as you guys almost certainly know by now, we make this show in partnership with Intuit. And if you have not heard of Intuit, you have almost certainly heard of a lot of their amazing products. I am personally someone who has used Mint ever since the very first moment I decided to get good with money.

That is a full year before I started at thefinancialdiet.com. And it was the only app that ever allowed me to really confront my money. So I really immediately fell in love with Intuit's products and wanted to learn more about what else they offer.

And lo and behold, I ended up filing taxes with TurboTax, which totally simplifies the process. Another great product they make. And I now use QuickBooks every single day to manage my business's finances.

And of course, I still use Mint on my personal accounts. Basically, Intuit has become an indispensable part of my financial life. It helps me make my decisions.

It helps me manage my goals. And it helps me just get a very clear picture every day of the exact state of my financial health. Intuit basically makes everything you need to do money better.

If you can't wait to get started, check them out at the link in our description or our show notes. So as I promised, we have a man in the studio. Who let him in?

He is a CFP. In fact, I've heard you maybe even referred to as the millennial CFP. I'll take it.

He's a New Yorker. He is someone who loves a good tie. He's an expert on money.

He tweets. His name is Douglas Boneparth. Hey.

Hi. What's up? Not too much.

Welcome to The Financial Diet. Thank you so much for having me. Tell our audience a little bit about you.

Sure. Sure. I'm the founder and president of Bone Fide Wealth.

It's a wealth management firm that specializes primarily in now older high-achieving millennials. So we don't care how much in assets you have. We care about where you're going and what goals you want to accomplish.

And I was one of the first people to go out and say, hey, I'm going to work with millennials. And if you did that seven years ago, you got laughed at in the profession. Right.

But look who's laughing now. Is it you? Yes.

Are you laughing person? Not. I'm not-- I think my wife's the one laughing really.

Mostly at me. Uh. Yeah, yeah.

We should have a little counter up for how many times you mention your wife. For those joining us, so Doug is a man who loves his wife. Yes.

Mentions her a lot. And so hopefully, we'll hear a lot more about this elusive person. She'll probably come up a lot.

A lot of her financial story is our financial story. Oh, how nice. We co-authored a book together.

So I guess that's the next part. Look at you guys. We wrote The Millennial Money Fix in the three months she had off after having our first child.

Yeah. OK. Yeah.

Yeah. We really-- I got tired just hearing that. Right.

Right. We really-- you know? If we're not going to sleep, then we might as well be productive.

So my wife and I wrote this story to pretty much address the massive amount of student loan debt that we've taken out respectively. And we wanted to show you that if you do understand personal finance, you can get organized enough to get out of really precarious situations. Right.

Something that was very unique to millennials is the average amount of student loan debt on their heads. And we wanted to show that you can still achieve your great things in life despite these financial realities and obstacles that are kind of unique to our generation. So she's an attorney.

Yes. And you're an MBA. Yes.

Got it. So how much-- do you ever disclose how much student loan debt you have? Yeah.

Yeah. We're very forward about it. It's right in the book.

Right now outstanding balance is just shy of $300,000. Woo, buddy. Yeah.

Good gracious. It's a lot of money, right? That is a lot of money.

Goodness. But if you work hard enough and are deliberate about how you want to build your career and go after your goals, and prioritize them right, you can deal with stuff like that. There's-- you know, humble brag, not really, but you've got to have a lot of income to deal with that expense and still put two kids through daycare, and buy a house, and afford living in that house.

So for all the flak that the generation gets around millennials don't own homes, and they can't do x, or start families, settle down, and get married, I'm here to tell you that that's just not true. And there's some real practical things you can do to get on your way. I think there are-- I think that's not totally untrue.

I think there is some reality to it for a lot of people who maybe have similar levels of debt, but perhaps not the earning potential to go with it. But we can get to that in a bit. I'm curious in your particular situation, so that's quite a significant amount of debt.

Is there any element of your education or how you took on the debt, how you went through school, that you regret? For me and my decision to go get an MBA here in New York, I have zero regrets about that decision. I think it was always a goal of mine when I moved to New York.

And I think it was necessary to acquire a few things that I would need to continue building my business. It was a very calculated decision, down to how many clients I would need to acquire within graduating to make that student loan payment, you know, a wash. And then how to make money on top of that.

And granted, I went to business school after Heather went to law school. She, as we write in the book, is the cautionary tale of what happens when you make perhaps uninformed financial decisions that load you up with student loan debt and what you need to do to overcome that. And she faced tremendously-- well, a lot more obstacles than I did, because she graduated right into the middle of the recession in 2010 and what the job environment looked like for her.

And I do understand your point that you wanted to make earlier that-- look, people make decisions to put huge debt stacks on their balance sheet, and their income is just not going to alleviate, or the profession that they chose doesn't offer that type of revenue to justify the expense that they're going to have from their loans. And for those particular cases, it gets more extreme with ways to solve for that. But I do feel that.

I do work with clients in that position all the time. And I'm going to continue to toe the line that there is a way to plan around those types of situations. You might not like the answers, but-- Yeah.

I mean, but that being said, there are also a lot of situations that people can find themselves in that are kind of totally out of the realm of preparation. One thing, for example, being huge medical burdens. So I don't think-- for the record, I mean, if I were a fatalist about this sort of thing, I wouldn't be in this business.

I obviously believe that for a huge number of people, including millennials, there is a good amount of individual choice that will go into the life you can have. And I even think that-- I think that even for someone who is scraping by, even if you're taking in $10 a month, I think you should have a nice itemized budget for where that $10 is going. No question.

So I definitely agree with that. But I do think one of the things that our audience will often have kind of like a bit of an eye-rolly response to, because audience is, I would say, very different from the vast majority of personal finance people, that they'll kind of eye-roll about is hearing people who are success stories talk to you about how they can also be a success story. And obviously, the path that you have with your wife-- she's an attorney.

You're a financial advisor. That is a pretty lucrative set of married people. So I guess what is maybe your most salient tip for people who have maybe not such great earning potential, but a ton of debt?

Yeah. I think it goes to fundamentals and mastering things like cash flow. It squarely comes down to putting in the work on these foundational areas to set yourself up for success.

It's step one. If you don't know-- as you just perfectly said, if you make $10 and you spend $10 and you don't know where that $10 went, you're not in control. And if you're not in control, you're going to have a very difficult time achieving any goal you set out to achieve, whether that's affording an apartment, building a cash reserve, buying a home, whatever it may be.

And this applies to everyone. Right. And cynically, I think we as a society are terrible at personal finance.

Typically, we do very bad in this category. But the one area that deserves the most attention and the most work is cash flow. And people don't go through 12 months of their expenses, generally and broadly, at the very least, categorize them and start learning about their spending behavior.

Now, I don't want to tell people how to spend their money. I want them to know how they're spending the money so they can make informed decisions about where they want to cut, or not do anything. But at least then the decision is an informed one.

And if you're not doing that, you're shooting from the hip. You're reactionary in every single decision you're making around your money. And that's going to set you back.

So it's those fundamentals that everyone, everyone can get behind, regardless of how much money you're making, how much debt you took on. It's just get to know yourself. Know yourself from a monetary perspective.

What typically brings people into your office for the first time? So for me, it's when responsibilities have gone up so much that free time has gone down to the extent to where they no longer can afford the time to focus on their own finances. They want to outsource that part of their life, or just get organized around it.

So basically, enough responsibilities come, whether it's someone's pregnant, a promotion, death in the family, a big life event, or success, or even failure that says, hey, I need to get organized around my financial life. I should find a financial planner. Do you often see people coming in with very similar mistakes, similar bad approaches?

Yeah. There is a commonality across the board with everyone, circling just right back to really cash flow. Forget budgeting for a second, because budgeting should be based around the actual data, right?

A lot of times I see people come in with a budget and I know it's totally bullshit, because it's not based on actual data. Well, it was like, I think I'm spending-- other than rent, which you know, or the mortgage, or the big reoccurring monthly items-- like the rest of it is what you think you're spending? And that's just not going to help you be disciplined and systematic with savings, right?

Because it all comes back to then that. Well, what can you afford to save? Great.

Can you do that consistently? And what are people often doing right when they come in? They-- that's a great, great question.

Nothing. Yeah, no. The first thing they're doing right is acknowledging that they need help in this area of their life.

And they're going to seek out that help. There are a lot of people who come in. And you have to understand I work, yes, in your older, high-achieving millennial space.

So naturally, there's a lot of things that they've done right in their lives and careers to get to the point where they feel they need that level of organization. So I generally see-- despite shooting from the hip a lot from the budget side, I do see good behaviors in terms of not YOLOing the crap out of their paycheck every month. I do see clarity in the goals that they want.

I think that's probably the big one. They know what they want for themselves. And that's a very difficult question for a lot of people to answer.

I see you often-- so you guys should check out his Twitter. We'll link it in the description and the show notes. It's very humorous, but it's also-- it seems to have kind of this almost exasperation with financial media.

You often, I think, are kind of a little bit roasting the way that the financial media talks about things. Yeah. That's a fine line I walk, because I do so much financial media.

Yeah. I just came from Bloomberg here today. Yeah.

You don't want to bite the hand that feeds you. Right. Primarily having good relationships with the actual people writing and producing the articles is a good hedge against telling the truth.

Sure. You're telling the truth. And they're-- it's what we call financial pornography.

Right. You know, you've heard about this. And not the fun kind.

No, not the fun kind. This is the one where like, oh, I did this in these five steps, and you can, too. Right.

It's like no. No, you cannot do these five steps. You literally cannot do that.

You know, it is very-- that is very kind of rare, or individualized to the person telling that story. But it makes a great headline. Yeah.

It will get clicks. And if you're not overly critical and try and remain objective, you can read these articles, and find the nugget. I mean, god knows how many articles you will see my name in that have headlines like that.

And I'm sure there are more than several dozen you could pull out. But if you don't get too caught up in it, you can actually pull out nuggets of information. I mean, generally, personal finance articles are helpful in that they're trying to help people take control of their financial life.

Right. And there's still news organizations trying to make money. So yes, it takes something sensational to click and start to see what's in that article.

I mean, that's the world we live in. We've BuzzFeeded it, you know? Yeah.

As far the way we go about it right now. I feel like our audience is pretty attuned now to being like, this millennial saved 200,000. And it's like paragraph three, grandfather died, or whatever.

Oh, I hate it. I hate this. And I feel like those, we're good at ignoring.

But I do feel also-- so I feel like I see on your Twitter a little bit of criticism and pushback against a lot of the market reporting. And I feel like-- or the way that we talk about the market. And I feel like a lot of our audience probably still feels like, I don't know what to listen to.

And I don't know what's really worth me following. And what news is relevant to me? So how would you recommend someone can be a thoughtful and conscientious consumer of market news?

Yeah. Yeah. And let's talk about that.

It's market-- Let's. There's a difference between news articles on the markets, like how did the S&P 500 do today? Why did it sell-off?

And I think as a financial planner, we're talking about investment planning. And it's just one piece of the overall financial life of an individual versus articles about personal finance in general, the budgeting, the fundamental stuff. So what's interesting is that forever investments will be the sizzle of personal finance.

It is the absolute sexiest part. I think that should give some indication as to how unsexy this industry is if that's the sex part. Exactly my point.

Like, yeah, you could scream, buy, buy, buy, sell, sell, sell. Look how Tesla did. Look how Microsoft did.

Oh, my god. It's gone parabolic. You know, the short sellers got roasted on this.

I mean, I could go on and on and on. You can't do that for cash flow. Right.

You can't do that for life insurance. Sure. You can't do that for estate planning.

OK. Now you have to do a will. You have to go see the attorney and draft these.

Right. That's a fun day. We have to pay a lawyer.

I think it's fun. I mean, you and I do, but most people to go-- I'm morbid. Same.

Most people who are going to sit down with an attorney, they don't want to do that. They've got to then pay them money. Definitely don't want to do that.

Yeah. To talk about death and incapacitation. If it was an amusement park and that was a roller coaster, it would be the worst ride in the park.

Yeah. Right? So you know?

Death and incapacitation. Yeah. The death and incapacitation coaster.

To stay on the markets for a second, though. Sure. When can people feel like, "I can tune this out" and when should they be like, "I should really pay attention to this"?

Yeah. So I have a system or something I call earning the right to invest. Ooh, tell us more.

So everyone wants to talk about investing, but I truly feel there's a number of checkboxes that need to be checked before you would even consider putting risk on your money. Do you include retirement in that? Yes.

Even tax advantaged retirement? I mean, absolutely. If you're getting a matching contribution and you consider that, quote, unquote, "free money," if you can afford to get that matched, then yeah, don't leave that on the table.

But I even mean-- and this is may be contrarian of me. I even mean putting money away for retirement. I feel like that's such an older generation thing, like it never ceases to amaze me that we hear from boomers who are older, like you should save money for retirement.

You hear like mom or dad. And this is coming from generations that notoriously have done a bad job saving for retirement. Right.

You know? And it's just this like drumbeat of put money away in these 401(k)s and these IRAs. Meanwhile, younger generations are just looking to sleep well at night by having a cash reserve, make sure they understand their cash flow.

We're holding out compound interest, and like, if you have time on your side, your money will grow better. Get it in there earlier. And I'm just like, hold up.

Let's actually build strong financial foundations before we go putting risk on any dollar. To circle it back to the initial question. Yeah.

Is there a way I get-- or maybe there is no answer to this question-- is there a way to be a thoughtful consumer of market news or no? Yes. How does one do that?

We really deviated from that initial question. We did. Twice, in fact.

But I'm glad, because both other answers were interesting. Third time's the charm. Third time's the charm.

Look. If you're going to consume news of any kind, whether it be financial, political, or otherwise, I would encourage you to take your news in from multiple sources, whether that's mainstream media, people in the Twittersphere. You.

This video right here. Look, a lot of the mechanics are very straightforward stuff. A lot of this has to do with knowing thyself and how you take that information and apply it to your life.

So just be broad. Not any one place is going to solve this. Certainly not the personal finance subreddit, you know?

Certainly-- Those fuckers are crazy. They're not a good bunch. It's extreme.

But go take a-- listen, go take a peek in there. Take a peek. Maybe a small 3% allocation of your time.

Put some gloves on. Yeah. It's pretty wild in there.

But if you look at all of these sources, there are a lot of truth tellers out there. I think there's a lot of amazing financial blogs. My friends at Ritholtz Wealth Management put out a ton of that content.

And there's a lot of truth tellers over there in terms of giving you a real objective way to look at the markets and personal finance. Yeah. So you mentioned that.

Well, are there any others that you think are really great sources that people should include in their media diet? I'm going to plug myself here. Yeah, a weekly blog over at Bona Fide Wealth.

But a good place to find an aggregator of the financial blogosphere, abnormalreturns.com. My friend Tadas does an amazing job every day aggregating great financial news. So maybe that's a really good way to find some objective stuff.

Out of pure curiosity, what do you think of Dave Ramsey? Uh. What a good noise.

You really got-- yeah. Way to put me in the corner on that one. I have to respect all the OGs in personal finance, because at the end of the day, if the mission is to make a more informed society, I've got to give a thumbs up to that.

Now, I can be very critical of the approach in doing that. What specifically in the approach, do you think? Because we have a lot of audience-- I would say, actually, we have-- we don't have a ton of overlap, but we have some overlap.

We had-- we recently interviewed Graham Stephan, who's a huge Ramsey acolyte, and loves him. And we-- Graham and I shared a lot of audience, so I can only imagine that by association there are a lot of people who follow him. My philosophy on so many things is probably the polar opposite, but I'm curious as to what parts of the specific financial strategies you might take issue with.

Yeah. Sure, I do take issue with some of that gospel, which primarily comes around debt repayment strategy. So he's a big snowball fan versus avalanche.

I just don't like the notion that people are too stupid to make the decision that puts more money in their pocket. I know the Harvard study. I know it psychologically works.

I still just believe people can be trained up to do what's financially in their best interests. I'm a financial advisor. I've studied this stuff enough to show people how to put more money in their pocket, and you're literally pushing something that doesn't?

I have an issue with that. I even wrote about a hybrid strategy. Look up "How much money"-- and someone wrote about it.

They called it the blizzard. I then took it one step further. I'm like I found a calculator that would show you how much money you would save using snowball versus avalanche.

You'd save more with avalanche. And I said take half of the money you would save and go buy yourself something to remind you of the great job you're doing, and take the other half amount and plow it into the loan. So that way, you could get the psychological benefit of doing a good job.

Right. And actually save money in your pocket. So that's one big area that he puts out there that I disagree with.

And that's OK. There's obviously two camps here. Sure.

And now a hybrid camp. And the biggest one is when you see a 12% rate of return assumption being used. That should not be allowed.

Yeah. The 12% assumption marker, I find that to be pretty borderline unethical, personally, because I think the average person who has no real context for what they could expect, unlike a 10-year, 20, whatever, that sounds normal. That sounds reasonable.

It is-- And it's not. It is irresponsible. When we are doing retirement plan projections for our clients on a historical 80% stock 20% bond mix, we're assuming 6 and 1/4%.

Right. And that's before a 2% inflation. Just to make sure everyone's with us, will you just explain what we're talking about.

Sure. So when we're trying to solve for what it would take for someone to be able to retire, one of the assumptions we need to use is what kind of rate of return would people get on their investments. And the 12% is what we're so against people using, because it's abnormally high, or irresponsibly high.

When we look at what diversified portfolios really return and use in our analysis, we're using something that's almost half of that. And that's before we take into account something called inflation. Right.

Right? Purchasing power at 2%. So this is where, again, a little terminology here, real returns versus nominal return.

Right. So the real return is when you factor in inflation, which brings us down to 4 and 1/4. There is a huge difference between 4 and 1/4 real, and even if they're 12 is nominal, it means 10.

That's huge. There's a huge, huge-- Literally more than twice. Like when you start solving scenarios or goals with a return that high, what happens is you're showing things that are super achievable.

You're giving a false sense of what it would take to get there. Right. And I'm not trying to make-- like if anything, I believe a planner should make it look a little harder.

Be be more conservative. At least like from the professional standpoint, at least I underpromised and over-delivered, right? There's actual upside here.

Yeah. It's much harder to do it the other way around. I mean, you don't want to be wrong.

You don't want to be "bigly" wrong either way here. It's true, but it's-- yeah, I mean, there's a lot there. I think one of the issues with financial media that we try to fight against here is that in addition to obviously the nature of like wanting to do things that people will click on and read and be interested, so you have to go for the hyperbole.

You have to find the most interesting story. I think there's also a sense when people are in a bad financial situation, that they almost want to, in some way, kind of punish themselves. There's a lot of extreme advice.

Another topic that we come on a lot on this show is the FIRE movement. Yeah. But also, any kind of financial advice that really centers around the idea of really working down one's current living situation as much as possible.

Yeah. And I feel like that in many ways can give people a sense of control, but I also think for people who maybe feel that they've made financial mistakes, or that they're not where they want to be, it can sometimes be a way to punish yourself, to approach this in a very sort of restrictive way. Yeah.

Because it's easier sometimes to approach things in that extreme fashion, because it does get you closer to control maybe more quickly than if you did the thing that's more difficult. And I'll say this about personal finance. I think one of the hardest things in all of personal finance is finding the balance between a subjectively comfortable lifestyle and consistently saving towards your goals.

Yeah. Well, actually, on that note, what do you think of the FIRE movement? It's a choice.

Yeah. Well, that's true. It's a choice.

Again, in all of these extreme settings, whether it's David Ramsey or Mr. Money Mustache and the FIRE movement, I think the marketing is terrible. You have Financial Independence, Retire Early, and then a whole article on how it's not about retirement.

I just think it's a branding problem. Yeah. There's no going back on it now, but like-- That ship has sailed.

If you have to write an article and get it picked up in MarketWatch to explain how the thing you named your movement isn't the thing, you might-- I'm just saying you might have a marketing problem on your hand. That's my-- so that a knock on it. But again, going back to even some of these extremes.

We might have to clickbait this video-- Doug Boneparth Drags the FIRE Movement. FIRE. Yeah!

Yeah! So I have in a previous time been very critical in a lot of tweets and jokes at the-- I wasn't aware of this, I should say. Yeah.

It goes-- I was totally [INAUDIBLE]. Yeah, it goes way back. But I also kind of feel like the limelight has shifted a little bit away from the FIRE movement.

It's like so 2018. Yeah. But coming back, so again, people taking control of their financial lives, even if it's with a zealot-like fervor, if it's net positive in being-- in having greater control around your financial life and making constructive financial decisions.

I think my favorite tweet of all around like the FIRE movement was like, what it must be like to be the boyfriend or girlfriend of someone in the FIRE movement. I was just going to say that. I was just-- that is like-- I have to say this is one of the most.

You're like, honey, I noticed you didn't get the final drop of toothpaste out of the tube. Are there like actual like significant other fights around that in the lives of FIRE folk? But it's also-- even just outside of the FIRE thing, like, obviously, so our audience is about 90% women.

Yep. Our entire staff is women. Everyone's a woman, except Ryan, our one man.

But so we, obviously, being in this space and having that demographic makeup, audience, and staff, like our perspective on this is also different. And it's kind of impossible not to notice that the vast, vast majority of other media properties, of other even just sort of movements within personal finance are extremely masculine. The profession is 83%.

I mean, you know, law, finance, all of it. And I do think some of that is just kind of self-perpetuating. When more men are interacting, of course, they bring their friends.

Whatever. But I do think a lot of this has sort of like an unspoken assumption in many approaches to personal finance and life planning, that either assume the existence of a sort of unspoken domestic fairy who is handling an enormous amount of tasks around the home that are not maybe income generating. Yeah.

Oh, I'll take it here. And listen, you want to have kids, or you don't want to have kids. That's your prerogative.

I'm not to push, you know? Me personally? No, not you personally.

Anyone. I don't know your stance on this. And you never will.

Fair enough. Retreating slowly. No.

A lot of the articles about the couples and how they're doing on FIRE, I can't help but notice there are no kids involved in the particular situation. And again, that's your call if you wish to have kids or not. I'm not here to talk about that.

But I am here to say that, yeah, it's a whole different financial ball game. Yes. You know?

And the calculus changes. Or having to deal with maternity leave, or the diminished earning potential of mothers, or any of these things. All of that.

Heather and I once when we were pushing-- we were still living in the city. We had Hazel here. And we were pushing her around in a stroller, going for a walk.

And Heather looks over at me. She goes, how much money would someone need to make in order for them to consider like literally leaving their job and just raising the kid? Obviously, very, very geographically biased.

We're talking about in Manhattan. And I like back of the enveloped like that number in my mind on our walk. And it was like $70,000.

That-- what? I'm sorry. In other words, it would be more beneficial for a parent to stay home with their kid than hire a nanny in New York City and like forgo a $70,000 salary, because of the cost of childcare was so high.

Or it is so high. Oh, my god. And we just kind of looked at each other. (WHISPERING) $70,000?

That's a lot of money. That's a lot of money. You say that to a lot of people throughout the entire country.

It's a huge sum of money. Anyways, I guess that's another critical point that I have about a lot of those stories that fall into the financial pornography, specifically around the FIRE movement. Yeah.

There's perhaps a good dose of privilege in those things. You hear the-- oh, it's all Silicon Valley bros cashing out from Uber, or wherever they worked. And they're 35, and going FIRE.

And it's like, OK. That's a choice. But listen, no matter how many dependents you do or don't have, you need to file those taxes, baby.

Tax time is just around the corner. And maybe it's not your favorite topic to think about, but think of it this way. If you do it right and efficiently, you're about to get a little money back in the mail.

And that always feels great. But in order to have that peace of mind when you're doing your taxes, you need to make sure that you are doing them properly and getting yourself the maximum refund that you're entitled to. So Intuit has created the perfect tool that you have probably heard of, even if you haven't yet used it, called TurboTax.

Basically, TurboTax helps demystify and simplify all of the various elements of filing your taxes. It walks you through the process and helps ensure that you will get the maximum possible refund you're entitled to. And now they also offer TurboTax Live, where in addition to being walked through the process, you have access to their certified experts, who will help answer questions, walk you through the process, and make sure that you are getting all of the money that is yours.

And you communicate with them through one-way video chat, which means you get to reach them and see them. But they don't get to see you. So you can look like a mess, which I always love.

If you're coming down to the wire on tax time and still haven't started, you should check out TurboTax at the link in our description, or the show notes. You know, it's funny. I often think about when we talk about looking at your life and your financial decisions through a prism of what you can live without.

I think often that misses the point a little bit. Yeah. Because I think that still kind of centers around a perspective of deprivation.

Yeah. And a perspective of abstinence. 100%. It's austerity, you know?

It's austerity. And I think it's much more healthy to get to a place where you're able to fully invest in the things that make you happy. And you no longer feel like the things you don't have are missing from your life in any way.

I feel like a lot of people are deprived, but they still want that thing, if that makes sense. Let me ask this big question, perhaps going kind of a callback to 20 minutes ago or so. What if they don't know what they really want for themselves?

I think most people don't. Yeah. I think that people spend their entire lives trying to figure that out.

But when you're cashing out and think you don't need to work, I don't know if that answers the question of, well, now what? And that was one of the other criticisms was like you find out they're still working. Right.

Then, yeah, show me your blog now, and what adver-- you know, how to get clicks for money. And I think that kind of like-- just to get into it a little bit more, that was an area of it that-- so as a financial professional who can claim they're a financial expert, a lot of it started to then encroach on my territory in a way, where like, OK, you've done this thing. It was extreme.

It worked for you, and now you're claiming to be a finance-- you know, a personal finance expert. And I'm cringing. Right.

Like I'm absolutely cringing over that. And I would be much happier-- and this was specific to those who monetized their experience through a blog, where everyone's happy to show how much their blog made that month and how much they spent, and like really in real-time show their cash flow to everyone. I'm impressed by those who've monetized it and make an amazing living, or sold their blog for a huge sum of money.

You're not a financial expert. You're perhaps an online media expert. Right.

That truly is your-- follow the money. A very important lesson in finance. How are you making your money?

Right. It wasn't on selling financial plans and giving financial advice. It seems that way.

No, it's on internet traffic. Right. So call it what it is.

It's funny. And own that. Yeah.

When you first walked in here, you referred to me as a financial expert. And the first thing I did, I was like, I'm not a finan-- and I have no interest in becoming one, for the record. But it's important to make that distinction, and I make it all the time.

And it's funny, because I-- so I personally share my salary all the time, but I mostly just do it for accountability to my employees, and also to the audience. I gave myself a raise this year. I think if you guys are checking in, it's 90,000 now.

Very exciting. Yeah. But it's-- but I do that out of a pure desire of making sure that everyone knows where I'm coming from, that we have a huge sense of transparency with regards to everyone in the company, and they can know that.

But I don't get any thrill out of it for the thrill itself. I don't-- you know, I don't get any-- and I feel like there's a-- we like people to share numbers on this show, because it's almost always people who never share numbers, who don't talk about money, for whom this is not their world. But I have found that often that focus in the personal finance world around net worth, showing growth, things like that, it's become almost like about the gamification of the number.

Mhm. And a really sort of almost like a vacuum view of the number, completely devoid of what that number may entail in your actual life. And for many people, like I know that if I earned twice what I was earning today, obviously, that would imply a lot for everything around me and for everyone around me who's getting paid.

And to get there, it'd be easy for me to get there, but it would have a serious impact on my life. I work a 40-hour week, and I would not be able to do that at that point, at least not right now. Correct.

So I'm not so interested when people share that number. They're like, oh, I have a 4.5 million net worth. OK.

What does your life look like? What are you actually getting out of that? Do you find that people who come to you are often very focused on the number or not focused enough on the number?

I think they're focused on the thing I talked about that's difficult is finding the balance. I think the balance between what their lifestyle, that subjective lifestyle, what they deem to be comfortable in the context of their goals is what they're looking for. That function there allows them to not exist in a place that is defined strictly by the number.

And I kind of want to call myself out a little bit on that and say because they're high earners, like they've already kind of blasted through the floor of sustaining life. And they know somewhere deep down they're going to be able to live a subjectively comfortable lifestyle anyways. On the other side of that coin is folks who make $750,000 and have very little to show for it, and folks that make $100,000 at a household and are crushing their goals.

Right. So you've got to be careful even with just putting it out there from the top line, from the income point of view. Right.

But I'm fortunate in that I'm working with kind of folks that have already put themselves in a position to balance things out a little bit. But from a professional stance, and even from what I'm putting out their stance, yeah, don't eat ramen noodle every night and say, yay, life is great, when you can-- if you can afford to live a more balanced life financially. OK.

So maybe you will eat ramen three nights, you know? Or maybe not at all. Maybe you guys will learn how to cook finally.

Yes. It's huge. Yes.

It really is. And usually, if you get good at cooking food, it tastes real good. Can't deny that.

Food does taste. Yeah. Big win.

That's true. But yeah, maybe it doesn't need to be three nights, whatever. It's knowing-- now we come full circle to that cash flow-- knowing what these decisions you're making around your money mean to you.

Right. Exactly. Again, connecting them to the goals.

That's the format. And we don't put those things together usually. It's true.

We don't. And I also feel like for so many people, and-- god, this is true of myself, even though I try to do everything I can to prevent it-- lifestyle inflation is almost completely unavoidable. And it is so difficult for people to not calibrate that on a day-to-day basis and not see it coming.

I don't think it's respected by a lot of people whe-- I'm not trying to do too much boomer bashing or older generation bashing here, but-- Bash those boomers. Yeah. OK, boomer.

Grandma and grandpa didn't have a data plan. That's true. They didn't.

You know? When they were storming the beaches of Normandy. Grandpa actually didn't do Normandy, but he served, and he did the whole deal.

And you know, I guess he peaked at VHS tapes, you know? Elaborate on what you mean-- Yeah, I want to break that down. What is the takeaway on grandma and grandpa not having a data plan?

That there are expenses in our lives that are literally-- they must be paid in order to live. Can you not have a data plan-- Right. And function in 2020?

Probably not. Not well. Not well.

Yeah, not if you want to create or be pro-- not if you wanted to keep your productivity really low. Right. Right?

So there are-- so when you say inflation on the expense side-- there's this one graph. Maybe we can find it. It shows the cost of TVs and cars.

Right. And it's like, college education, and all the things that have gone up. The Fed says there's no inflation, but there is.

There truly is. And it's primarily from a lack of wage growth over the last 40 years, and that there are certain things that we need in our lives today that weren't needed 20 or 30-plus years ago. But there's a lot of stuff that's not like that.

There's a lot of stuff that's just like pure, pure convenience, or what you've gotten used to, or what you now define as a need that even a month ago was a want, and a month before that was unthinkable. By the way, fun fact, just before we started filming, I was like I like your Vineyard Vines ties. He turns it around.

It's Hermes. So clearly, you're a man-- That's a flex right there. That's a flex.

I'm not going to deny it. But so clearly you're a man who likes nice things. Yeah.

That you don't necessarily need. How do you keep a lid on that in the sense that you are not just letting it continually snowball to justify things that are not worth it? So that's the nugget here of how people can live this lifestyle that they want.

You have to remember, you have to keep your eye on the prize. And that's the goals that you want to achieve. Like go ahead and judge, but if I'm executing on all of our goals to send kids to college, or have a-- so let me talk about this for a second.

Talk about it. This is the first year that Heather and I will feel that we've earned the right to invest. To us, nothing was going to provide us more comfort in our own financial skin than having a very robust-- we went for 12 months. 12 months-- Of an emergency fund.

Of living expenses, which, yeah, and to your point, we like our lifestyle. OK? We have big sacrifices that we make, namely vacations, like we're always tacking our getaways on the heels of business trips and conferences, which for all of you who want to stay married a long time, don't keep doing that.

Actually go get a vacation. But that's been our big sacrifice. I mean, our last time we really traveled was our honeymoon six years ago.

What? Yeah. Like really traveled like that.

Get out there. Well, Japan is the goal for our 10th anniversary in four years. The kids have to be old enough, too, to actually like stay here.

Oh, you'd go with the kids. I'm not going with the kids, but I can't leave. Yeah. 100% not going with the kids.

Fuck those kids. On that note, I do not want to travel with my kids until they can appreciate what we're doing. Oh, yeah.

And I have a 10-- we have a 10-month-old now. So it's going to take-- I need Ruby to be Hazel's age before I can like trust grandma with them for 12 days, because I'm not going to Japan on this epic trip that I've been waiting seven years of my life for to have to rush home after four or five days. Totally.

We're going all in on that. That's the-- yeah. So that's like, OK, that's like a vacation goal.

But I'm talking more about, hey, are we funding the retirement goal? We've worked so hard in the cash management space since leaving New York City for the suburbs. It meant being able to take advantage of low rates and refinance those student loans.

There was a time that it was an average 7 and 1/2% interest rate on those Federal Graduate PLUS loans. Now they're 3 and 1/2. Right.

And instead of seeing a day where they're all paid off in my 60's, it's going to be while my kids are hopefully still under my roof. I can see that. I can feel that a lot more.

But that was all cash management. That wasn't investing. Right.

That was building the cash reserve, and taking bonuses, and good months, or good years, or side deals for influencer or corporate partnership type stuff, and doing that, and hedging bets left and right, knowing that we, again, have a certain lifestyle that we deem comfortable and are in control because we know our numbers. We sit down and we look at them. And very often, it's like, we have to pull back on everything.

It's like, OK, let's accept and acknowledge that this is what it is. Then how does that relate to what it is we can save? What are the goals?

And have these deliberate planning conversations that I hope couples that truly love each other and want to accomplish great things together have. And again, cynical Doug would tell you it's probably not happening. More often it's not happening than it is.

Yeah. It's interesting. My husband and I, for New Year's Eve, we spent the first half of our New Year's Eve doing a quadrant-based couple assessment.

Yeah, yeah. Where like we did like our financial plan, our travel plans, all the different plans. Right.

And to your point. So we-- he and I both feel-- I mean, there's always recession talk. You can never time it.

But we do feel that it's probably more likely than not in the next maybe two years that there'll be some kind of a little something-something happening. So we're-- You've been saying that for the last three years, right? But listen, we'd rather be safe than sorry in this situation.

Bingo. Our approach to it is right now we're keeping a lot of cash, because if and when that recession hits, a lot of-- Opportunity perhaps. A lot of opportunity there, which is dark, but true.

Very true. I think for us the risk is more income risk, meaning the ability to make money than asset price risk. Right.

So the market dropping. If you can continue to make money and watch the markets fold 28%, 30%, certainly an opportunity. So if you're holding that big cash reserve and you feel good about your income, you can look to that cash as that opportunity.

If you have a portion of your current investments in bonds, fixed income, you can rotate it out into stocks. So these are the conversations from a planning and investment management perspective, a little kind of a look under the hood of the conversations we have with our clients. Right.

And what we're just preparing them to think about, because things are good now. And they want to continue participating, but they also want to know and sleep well at night, knowing that if something were to happen, that they're prepared for it without creating an alarmist type situation. I guess it's using just the right amount of fear.

Yes. But I also-- I mean, I find it incredibly comforting to feel that we are going to the logical endpoint of our worst fears as a couple in the sense of like, well, what if we're in a position where it's another 2008? And what if someone gets laid off?

What if my company folds? All of these horrible things that you never want to think about, force yourself to think about them. And then draft up a plan that would allow that to be manageable.

I mean, that's how it's done. I mean-- Yeah, that's it, man. I quit.

You're in. I get aggravated by folks who don't want to take ownership over their life and literally say, this is what I want to do. And look, I can't live anyone's life for them.

But there's so much you can do. And I don't know. For someone who does a lot, I almost want to-- I want people to have that can do attitude, that moment of, I can make this happen, which is opposite of that deprivation austerity kind of thing, right?

It's so much better. I think it's almost positive. It's a positive light.

And I will say, obviously, it's easier when you have a spouse, because you're automatically a team. But like we made that activity fun for ourselves. We were like at this really pretty bar.

We had cocktails. We got a really pretty new notebook. Yeah.

And we like-- half of the things were serious. Half of them were like-- Absolutely. You know, very serious financial decisions.

But the other half was like, where are we going this year? And like, do we have any new hobbies that we want to pick up this year? So you can make it something that feels like part of a fun activity.

I want to touch on something that's really important right there for all of the couples out there who are trying to have money conversations. Even in my own relationship, timing is such a critical factor, in other words, the time that's set aside for this. I would encourage everyone to do exactly what you did.

You created a space for this conversation to exist. Conversations around money are often emotional ones. It's hard to separate these two.

I think it's one of the things that separates good advisors or good professionals. They're able to help people separate those two, the feelings of money versus like just money. And what you did is you created that safe environment.

And back to what I was saying, in my own relationship, like there are a countless number of times we both have chosen the wrong time to talk about it. To talk about it. Yeah.

Like don't do it right after a long day, you know? Or right before-- or late at night, when everyone's tired, or the first thing in the morning on Saturday when you're just trying to kick it with the kids and watch cartoons. Yeah.

Make it its own thing. Set a time and place. I remember she called for the state of the marriage summit when we went down to Florida, you know?

No one should ever do anything in Florida. Well, I grew up there. Oh, no.

Where? Boca Raton, Florida. I was born in West Palm Beach.

Really? Yeah. Jupiter Hospital.

Oh, my goodness. I was born in New York, but grew up down there in Florida. We've probably-- Between Long Isl-- were you from Long Island?

My parents-- my dad was from Harrison in Westchester. My mom was Yonkers. But I was born in White Plains.

I don't remember. We moved when I was two. There is like a speed tunnel between New York and Boca.

My mom's family, too. It's the sixth borough. Yeah, it really is.

We probably crossed each other in Town Center Mall when we were kids. It's possible. 100% possible. You're a hair older than me, but it's possible.

Thanks. Thank you. So in any event-- now I lost focus on what we were just-- it was a good one.

Creating that space. You were down in Florida, having a state of the marriage summit. Yeah, I was down in Florida, having-- it was a big convo.

It was a big-- At Mar-a-Lago. Yeah, it was a big-- no, it was in some restaurant that was terrible in Boca. We were going-- Is there any other kind?

I'm sorry. Jeez. I'm going to stop hating on Boca.

So this was before our first daughter. I think we were having that real honest conversation about timing around kids and preparing ourselves to do that. And we were down for her college roommate's wedding in Miami.

So we were just saying hi to my parents for the night before. And I think-- I believe we conceived Hazel that weekend. Whoa!

Yeah. So yeah, that escalated fast. We'll need a separate bell for that.

Yeah. Ring. We have the bell for when people share a number, and the bell for when people-- All I know is nine months after her friend Julia got married, we welcomed Hazel into the world here in New York City.

Listen, I can't-- Careful what these conversations might bring you, right? That's a first. But at least we had-- no, in all seriousness, we had that conversation obviously nine months before anything-- Right, right.

Literally popped off. So at least we had that conversation and knew exactly what we'd be doing to handle the situation and welcome a child into the world. That's awesome.

We had that conversation to not welcome a child into the world. Do you. So these are our rapid fire questions.

Yes. Everyone interprets that word differently. So you know, err to the shorter side, but if you need to go long on something, you can.

Lightning round. (SINGING) Ba ba ba. OK. Pew, pew.

Number one. What is the big financial secret of your industry? And let's call it financial services/financial planning.

That only wealthy people can work with financial advisors and financial professionals. Out of curiosity, do you do a fee or a commission structure? No commission.

Fee only. And do you have a sliding scale for people who maybe have less money? It's all based on complexity of plan.

It starts with an annual financial planning fee. What is it? $2,000. But let me say this.

Worth every penny. Probably. But the bigger thing is to make sure that people before they would even spend $1 working with any financial professional know how to get the value out of them, and more importantly, know if they're ready to do financial planning.

If they're not, they get free materials. And I'll see them later. And I want them to come back.

Nice. Number two. What do you invest in versus what are you cheap about?

Well, clearly ties. Yeah. Invest in ties.

Invest in yourself. I think I've spent the last 10 years investing in a business and myself and a brand and building this thing where-- oh, my god-- like there's no benchmark. You don't know how high or low you are.

It's as a fellow entrepreneur here, like when you yourself are your own benchmark, you can literally go insane at times. So invest in yourself. And have that cash reserve.

That's not an investment. That's cash, but I'll throw it out there. And what was the second half of that?

What are you cheap about? What am I cheap about? Yeah, we're cheap about-- it was denim.

I never bought expensive-- Denim? Jeans? Yeah, like I never bought expensive jeans.

That's changed. I think I already told you, we're pretty cheap about the vacationing thing. We've-- that's more of a sacrifice than cheap.

Man. I feel so the opposite. I would forgo so many things before I would forgo vacations/travel.

I think we regret it, honestly. Yeah. But you know, to some extent, there is regret, but I think we're much more happier with where we are right now in having done that.

Number three. What has been your best investment and why? It's going to be lame if I'm like myself again.

Yeah, don't do that again. The best investment I've made is-- here it is. I was going to be cheesy again, and be like-- Your wife?

Yeah. I mean, it's fine. You can say that.

I said my dog, actually, when I was [INAUDIBLE].. I'm going to stick with it, not for the cheese factor, but because, truthfully, she's a North star, like-- That is so [INAUDIBLE]. But it's true.

It just is true. People, whenever I tell people like, oh, I would just be lazy if I didn't have her. And they're like, OK, I don't like you, because you're the least laziest person from the looks of it.

But all I know is we've been together for a very long time, from 19 forward. I mean I, used to do like one or two really stupid things a year, like in my adolescence. I was a really good kid, but there would just be that one thing, one time.

Like what kind of thing are we talking about here? I got pulled over for going like 85 down A1A one night to get to a party with girls in the back. I thought I was, you know, hot shit.

I thought it was adorably tame. And like the police chased me through two towns. And I didn't even know they were behind me.

And by the time they caught up to me, like it was a complete disaster. It was very embarrassing. It was a rough time.

I should not-- it was dangerous. It was just stupid. It is a really stupid thing to do.

And stuff like that, like being a kid. But no, there were some pretty stupid decisions. And ever since I met her, going back many, many years now, like these things never-- they don't happen.

She is just incredible at organizing everything in our lives respectively. And because of that, I don't think the success that I've experienced would even exist. I tell people that all the time.

I'm like TFD would literally not exist without my husband, because I didn't take in a salary for two years. And he paid for that-- Yeah. By like allowing me to live at his house, and also, he took a three-month sabbatical, or a month's sabbatical off work to build out our ad infrastructure.

Look, she took jobs-- she's taken jobs and made decisions in her career solely around allowing us to have the opportunity to invest in my business and get it to where it needs to be at the detriment of maybe more creative things that she would like to do. I know she loves what she does, but she's had her own sacrifices in that department. And I would love nothing more than to reciprocate that.

Same. It always makes me feel so sad, though, that like life is so rigged for married people. It's so unfair.

If you are at a point in your life where it's maybe not necessarily in the cards for you anytime soon, like-- I don't know-- find a platonic life partner so you guys can go in on each other's dreams, because it's so much easier having another person. There you go. That support system pays massive dividends.

Yes. And actually, you know what? To her credit, like my co-founder, Lauren, she lived on my couch for those four days a week that my husband was out consulting, and like quit her job to help build TFD, too.

So like, that's a plat-- my business partners are my platonic life partners in a sense. Life is easier with the buddy system. Yeah.

Find a buddy. I've come to really appreciate mentorship, as cheesy as it sometimes sounds. It's true.

But I can look across the different areas of my life from people who work in media to mentor me and get my game up there, from running the business, approaching relationships, and just going, oh, I have the real answer. A therapist, I think, is the best investment that I've made in the last like-- Oh, my god. Shoutout, Dr. [BLEEP].

Yeah, there you go. Seriously, the best investment I've made in the last 12-plus months has been weekly seeing a therapist. Yeah, same.

What is your biggest current money insecurity? Yeah. So it's the catastrophication of everything, like the business I've built will be taken away from me.

Like as much as I've overcome 2008, I think that stigma, that fear, that catastrophe moment, it's really implanted pretty good. It also comes from family and watching businesses boom and bust, and things like that. So this is my sickness.

This is why I go to see therapy and really kind of take-- create the space to own the success and the hard work you've done. Heather will always joke, like I'll have a great day, pick up a great client, secure a great deal, and she's like, are you happy? And I'm just like, no, because I don't know where the next one is.

And I know like these are first world problems here, but that, I do wish I could just like take a minute, live in it, enjoy it, and then move on. And I don't do that very well. That's interesting.

I'm so the opposite. I throw a party for myself once a week. Yeah.

Our goal is to celebrate more. Yeah. That is literally like a mantra or a theme.

It's like-- Yeah. You know, life's too short. These moments come, and they're so fleeting.

Let's celebrate everything that we can. Yeah. That's the-- that's it.

I like that a lot. Yeah. But that's the greater theme of, for me, this year it's getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.

The only way to do that is to do the uncomfortable things until it flips around. That's very true. What has been the single financial habit that has helped you the most?

Let's take it right back to cash flow-- knowing where the money is going. It has taken a lot of the emotion in conversations with my partner. It takes a lot of the emotion out of the entire money equation.

Yeah. When people know-- when you're in control and you know where it's going, you're good. Yeah.

You can build everything from that. And lastly, when did you first feel "successful," quote, unquote, and what does that word mean to you? I first felt successful when I survived 2008 working in finance and had just moved.

I walked-- What were you doing? I walked off the plane. Same thing I'm always doing.

Oh, OK. Yeah, yeah. So I've only done this.

And so the long story is I left my-- the short version of the long story is I started my career working with my father and told him I didn't want to work in the family business. I wanted to be with Heather. I left October 2008 from South Florida to New York City.

And I think Lehman collapsed the day I got off the plane, when I got off the plane at JFK. So I'm like, good job, Doug. You're going to work in finance in New York City.

And it looks like the economy is coming crumbling down. You really know how to pick 'em here. I think when I got to 2010 and I was still paying rent in an apartment and a paycheck was coming in, I said to myself, we're going to make a legitimate go at this.

Nice. And the rest is history, as they say. Very cool.

Out of curiosity, where did you go to school in New York? NYU Stern School of Business. Nice.

All right. Well, listen, we certainly learned a lot about Doug. About money summits and restaurants and South Florida and what happens.

No. But this is always-- I love talking to real money experts, as I am so decidedly not one. It's a breath of fresh air.

You are welcome back anytime. Thank you. Where can our audience go to find out more about what you do and maybe even how to get in touch with you to work?

Absolutely. You can Google Douglas Boneparth. And if the money I'm spending on SEO is working well, it will lead you to me.

But I think the best place to connect is Twitter. I live there. It's an addiction.

It's true. He does live there. @DougBoneparth. Get some chuckles around money.

It's mostly dank names and dunking on my own millennial dumb and profession. And I just want to make it. I'm just there for the laughs.

The laughs. Well, thank you so much for your time. Thank you.

And we'll see you guys next week. And as I've said before on this show, the very first thing I ever did to get good with money long before something like talking to a CFP might have been in my cards, I downloaded Mint. Mint is a budgeting app that helps get all of the different elements of your financial life together in one place so that you can understand them and master them.

It helps you set a budget. It helps track your cash flow and spending, which is something we obviously discussed here as the most important fundamental. It helps you get a good look at your net worth, see the kind of progress you're making on your goals, and just generally be in control of your financial life.

I downloaded Mint when I was completely avoidant with money and didn't want to think about it. And it made the process genuinely less scary and more easy for me. And lo and behold, I still use Mint to this day.

So clearly, it works. If you've been thinking about getting a hold of your budget and want the perfect tool to do it, I highly recommend Mint. And you can check it out right now at the link in our description, or our show notes.

So thank you guys as always. And we will see you back here next week, same time, same place.