YouTube: https://youtube.com/watch?v=dHBl7TunWOs
Previous: How My 4-AM Routine Saves Me Thousands Per Year
Next: A Therapist Answers All Your Toughest Money & Life Questions!

Categories

Statistics

View count:321,286
Likes:9,311
Comments:2,237
Duration:1:01:41
Uploaded:2019-12-16
Last sync:2024-06-28 00:45
This week we've got our most-requested guest of all time: Graham Stephan! Graham is a realtor, YouTuber, and personal finance personality who saves 99% of his income. Hear why, what shaped his worldview, and how this lifestyle really works.

To learn more about Intuit’s suite of products: https://intuit.me/2NS2yAq
To get started with QuickBooks today: https://intuit.me/TFD

Subscribe to The Financial Confessions podcast here: https://lnkfi.re/1QYK1e4R

Graham Stephan’s Website: http://www.grahamstephan.com/
Graham Stephan’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/grahamstephan
Graham Stephan’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gpstephan/
Graham Stephan's YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCV6KDgJskWaEckne5aPA0aQ

The Financial Diet site: http://www.thefinancialdiet.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thefinancialdiet
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TFDiet
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thefinancialdiet
Hello, everyone.

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

And I am incredibly excited about our guest today. In fact, it is the most requested guest that we got when we threw out the question on Instagram. And I cannot wait to introduce him.

But before I do, I want to just quickly give a little nod to our amazing partner that we create this show with every week. So as you guys probably know by now, we make every episode of The Financial Confessions in partnership with Intuit. And if you haven't heard of Intuit, you have almost certainly heard of all of the amazing products they make, most of which I literally use every single day.

They make things like Mint, TurboTax, Turbo, QuickBooks-- basically, every product you could ever need to help get your financial life in order, help manage your money, understand your budget, get paid on time, do your taxes. Like a mini CFO in your pocket that helps you do every financial thing you need to get done in a much better way. If you cannot wait to get started with Intuit, check them out at the link in our description or the show notes.

So as I mentioned, our guest today is someone who was no less than the most requested guest when we asked you guys. He is a real estate broker, a YouTuber, a personal finance celebrity of sorts. And his name is Graham Stephan.

Hey. [LAUGHS] Hello. For those who may not know, Graham is someone who earns well into the seven figures every single year, yet saves about 99% of his income, which I find incredibly fascinating, primarily because it's the exact opposite of my life. So for those who may not be familiar with you, Graham, can you give a little context as to those numbers, and how you got there, and what you're really doing every day?

Yeah. I mean, I started working as a real estate agent. And that was now [SIGHS] almost 11 years ago, believe it or not.

Time flies. I keep thinking it was a few years ago. It's 11 years ago.

I started working as a real estate agent, got my real estate license, saved all my commission, because the commissions that I was earning were so sporadic, I didn't know when the next deal was coming. So I just saved everything. Saved up enough money in 2011 where it made sense to start buying real estate.

So I started investing in real estate, buying these really cheap foreclosures, fixing them up, and then renting them out. And that continued. And as the market started getting better, my commissions started getting more frequent.

And I started selling larger homes, started saving all of that money, kept reinvesting, basically, all of it back into buying more real estate. And then, three years ago-- I've always wanted to make YouTube videos. So that was always a dream of mine to be, like, oh, I can make YouTube videos and talk about credit cards, and personal finance, and investing, saving money-- basically, all the things that my friends weren't interested in.

I could talk to a camera and then have internet friends that would like to listen to me. So I started doing that. And then that blew all my expectations.

And now, that alone earns over $1 million a year from just the YouTube channel. It's just me. And yeah, I would probably spend most of my day now making YouTube videos, and talking about personal finance, and reading about the markets, and reinvesting all that money back into more real estate which, oddly enough, gives me more content to talk about.

This is a naive question. But is there a difference between a real estate agent and a real estate broker? There is.

So a real estate agent is someone who's gotten their sales persons license. A real estate broker has their broker's license, which enables them to go and start up their own real estate brokerage, if they want to. And you're a broker now.

I'm an agent, but I've-- Oh. --but I've taken all of my broker's classes. I just didn't take the state test to become a broker because, once you're a broker, there's all these other fees that go along with it. And it didn't make sense for me to be a broker when I didn't have the intention of opening up my own brokerage.

Got it. Well, learn something new every day. [LAUGHS] Yeah. So I mentioned-- obviously, at the beginning-- that we, I think, in so many ways, have the exact opposite philosophical approach to money.

And I'm so curious as to how you came to yours. You save 99% of your income, thereabouts. Mm-hmm.

Why are you building wealth? I think it's fun. Hmm.

First of all, I think it's almost a challenge to save money. I get so much enjoyment over just not spending it. I don't know why.

It's like my brain is wired kind of weird. Even I made my own coffee this morning. It's just I revel in the fact that, OK, if I can save $3 on that and invest it over the next 50 years at a 7% return, it's going to be worth $200.

That's just fun for me. But I think, in the bigger picture, I think the more you save, and the more you invest, the more options you have. And being able to save stuff like that on things that, to me, don't matter.

It doesn't matter for me to get designer Starbucks coffee or whatever. But that gives me more options in the future that if I decide one day, hey, I want to go and travel the world for a year and not have to worry about a single thing, I can go and do that. Or if I want to live in Malibu on a beach, I can go and do that, if I wanted to.

So to me, the more money I save, the more options it gives me. And if I can cut back on the things that don't matter, like coffee, and spend it more on the things that do, I just get enjoyment from that. Do you want-- because I remember reading that you don't travel right now.

No. Is there a time at which you want to do that? That's a tough one.

In my mind I'm thinking, somewhere in my mid-30s I would love to take the time and travel, because I've never really been out of North America. I've been across the United States and Canada, but haven't really been further out from that. So it's a dream of mine to spend six months to a year and just travel the world.

I feel like, right now, I've built up so much momentum with my career that I want to continue that and I'm afraid taking a year off would kind of cut that. So right now, my career is a priority, versus traveling. But at some point, I will do it.

Now, this might sound like a joke question, but it's very much not. What if you die before then? What if I live? [LAUGHS] [LAUGHS] But I think it's-- for me, I use that as a very frequent motivating factor in my life, because I wouldn't say that I'm not frugal.

I definitely have a lot of things about which I am frugal. But I try to be very aware of the fact that the one thing we cannot guarantee ourselves is more time. And although it's very likely that I will statistically be alive at the age of 40, let's say, I don't want to have a version of my life where there's a before and an after, if that makes sense.

Like, after this point, I will do that, because it's not guaranteed. So when you're coming up with your before and after, how do you decide when is the after? I think, in terms of the thought that you could die tomorrow, I think you look at investing, you look at statistics.

What am I most likely to make money on? And if I were putting money in something, I would think, statistically, I'm more likely to be alive in 10 years from now than I am to pass away. We're going to knock on wood here.

And that's actual wood. Good. So I base my philosophy based off of that-- that I think I'm going to be more likely to live than die.

In terms of when is there an after, I don't know. I feel like, when I feel like it's the right time, and when I've gotten to the point where I'm like, I'm ready now, I'll do it. But at this point, I just don't feel like I'm ready.

What do you decide is worth spending on now? Yikes. [LAUGHS] I would say sushi-- Nice. --is my one guilty pleasure. Now I can spend a little bit more freely on sushi without having to be like, OK, we got to go during the happy hour.

Now I go to places that don't always have happy hour. And that's my guilty splurge. Honestly, it's been sushi.

Interesting. And what makes sushi make the cut and not other things for you? I love sushi.

There's something about it. There's something about the taste. And it's just enjoyable.

And I don't know. It's good for me. And how would you-- do you feel that you had-- because I think a lot of our audience-- we have very different audiences, notably.

Our audiences like 90% percent women. His is the opposite. And so I think people are sort of naturally drawn to-- whether it's a channel, or whoever it is, that they already identify with.

So it's very likely that a lot of people who watch you are already very interested in hyper-frugality. Is that fair to say? Yes, yeah.

A lot of our audience isn't. And I think, for many people, they could benefit from even just a year of living hyper-frugally. What are ways in which you could recommend someone train themselves to do that, or get more into that mindset, if it doesn't feel natural or naturally exciting to them?

Yeah. Well, I think one of the biggest things is to cut down on impulse purchases or things that really don't make that big of a difference. And one of the ways that I would do that is really just think about what you want to get.

And even if you wait a day before you buy something. Before you buy anything, for that matter. just sleep on it for one night. And chances are, a lot of what you would be spending money on is just, the next day you wake up, and like, uh, I didn't really need it that much.

I don't really want it that much. And that enables you to spend more money on where it does matter the most to you. Because if even after a week you still want something, then it might be worth it to look into it.

The other thing that I kind of think through is, what is this going to be costing me long term? So if I spend $100 on, let's say, a pair of shoes, I think, well, how much am I going to wear those shoes? Is it going to be something I wear twice and then never again?

And then I think to myself, well, if I just invest that $100 over the next 20 years, it's going to be worth this much. Would I rather have x amount of money in 20 years than the shoes right now that I'm barely going to wear? And sometimes, every now and then, I'd rather have the shoes.

Yeah. But a lot of times, I would just rather have the potential money you have in the future that would, again, give you more options to buy-- you could buy 10 pairs of shoes in the future. One thing that we mentioned just before we turned the cameras on that we feel kind of opposite about-- and it was funny because, this time, I threw out a number.

And he was like, what? So I strive to never work more than 40 hours a week for a lot of reasons, but mostly because doing other things besides work is super fun. And he was like, I could not imagine.

I could never. And I'm so curious as to what you love so much about work, and how much you work, and what drives you to work that way. I find it really fulfilling.

And I really find a lot of purpose in the work I do in bringing education of personal finance to people who are interested to learn about it. And if I can have a small part in improving someone's finances for the better, or helping someone get out of debt, or helping someone invest for retirement, that gives me so much joy. But besides that, there's something about it that just gets me in the zone.

It would be almost akin to playing music, or going to the gym, or meditating, where you just you get in that focused point where it seems like either time stops, or 10 hours can go by in the blink of an eye. And when you're in that zone, you just have so much fun, and you feel invigorated. And that's what gives me life, if that makes sense, is doing that.

Now, it's not necessarily work. I wouldn't call that work, even though it is work. But I just enjoy it so much.

I would like to be clear that I get no fulfillment or joy out of bringing people personal finance education. [LAUGHTER] I could not care less what you guys-- I'm kidding. [LAUGHS] So I actually threw it out to my followers on Twitter. My personal followers, actually, who are-- they're a vigorous bunch, let's say. OK.

And I asked them what they would love to hear from you. And we got all kinds of questions. So I'm going to throw them out to you.

Cool. Feel free to pass on some of them. All right, let's see.

Let's see what they're doing to you. All right. [CLEARS THROAT] I saw him in a Jubilee YouTube video earlier this year. And he agreed with the statement, anyone can become rich if they work hard enough.

So what are his thoughts on how privilege affects your financial life? What do you mean by privilege? How would you define that?

I would give a very-- I actually just, in our last interview that we recorded, gave what I think is a pretty clear-cut example, to me, of privilege. So I came from a background where I did not have a lot of money growing up. And I-- mostly through my own idiocy-- completely destroyed my credit, went into default, did a bunch of terrible things as a late teenager, early 20-something.

And I did take it upon myself to take steps to rehab my credit that were accessible to everyone. I got a rehab credit card. I took steps with my bank.

But the number one thing that allowed me to completely transform my financial life in a relatively short period of time is that my husband has excellent credit and was able to put me on his credit cards, and was able to-- Authorized user, yeah. Exactly. That's how you do it.

And very similarly, I was able to start what is now a profitable business that employs a lot of people, relatively, because I was able to not take a salary for two years because my husband has a good-paying job that had health insurance on which I was a domestic partner and, therefore, a beneficiary. So to me, those are all examples of-- Yes, of course, I think I had a good idea. I think I worked hard to build these things.

I definitely took as many steps as were in my own hands. But as a direct result of having that relationship in my life, I was able to achieve things that I never ever otherwise would have been, at least not in that span of time. So that, to me, is what privilege is.

Got it. I think we're, honestly, all born with strengths and weaknesses. And I think there are some people who are predispositioned for certain things.

I would say sports is one of those things. You could be a really talented person, but some people are predispositioned to be an amazing football player, or such a good basketball player, or be really good at boxing, or wrestling, or whatever it is. So I think we all have strengths that we can play to.

And I almost think of life, and making money, and stuff like that as almost a game of playing poker. So sometimes, people are dealt a really good set of hands. And they can play that really well just from the very beginning without much effort.

If you get two or three kings in the very first day, you're going to do well. But other people, I think, who have a pair of twos or whatever can certainly bluff their way and play to the strengths. In terms of me, specifically, I think I certainly had some advantages and some disadvantages.

If you looked at me from just being-- I had terrible grades. I didn't go to college. Statistically, I should not have been successful whatsoever.

But I had an interest in working hard, and making money, and saving as much as I can, and really taking an interest to investing. So I think that helped. So I think anyone can play to their strengths.

And I think anyone can learn. Especially, personal finance is something that you can absolutely learn. It's not something you're born with.

So I think anyone can be successful. And I truly do stand by that. Hmm.

Well, kind of on that note, actually-- and it's funny, because it's kind of become a meme at this point in the personal finance world. So most of the people that I would say follow TFD are not what I would refer to as personal finance nerds. They are people who are definitely looking to get better with money, but they're not into the gamification of money as much.

And so they're very much like-- I'm sure you've probably seen, there's this meme now where a story will go viral on Twitter that's, like, this 22-year-old saved $100,000. And then, by paragraph three of the article it's like, and then her parents gave her a small portion of their real estate holdings, or they paid off her debt, or what have you. So I think for the people who follow us, it's definitely become almost a trope of the personal finance industry that, once you scratch beneath the surface in success stories, there's often that kind of thing.

And so to that point, the most common question we got was some variation of this, which is, how did he get started with real estate? Did he get any startup money from family, friends, bank loans, anything? No, I did not.

I was really lucky that I had two parents that were really, really supportive of anything I did. And I was lucky to be born into a family where neither of my parents was abusive. Neither of them were into drugs, or alcohol, or anything like that.

And I grew up in a supportive household where both of them really encouraged me to pursue my dreams, whatever that would be. And they supported me from that angle. I didn't get any help financially from my parents, in terms of them going and giving me money, or anything like that.

But in terms of emotional support, absolutely. I think it was a 10 out of 10, in terms of that. So you financed all of your initial real estate acquisitions through money that you had generated through [INAUDIBLE]?

Yeah, even working as a real estate agent, I paid for all of that out of pocket. I started working when I was 12 years old, after school, doing marine aquarium photography. [LAUGHS] So weird story, how this started. [LAUGHS] As you do. I got a saltwater aquarium when I was 11 years old.

So yeah, so I did receive some assistance from my parents when I was-- That asset, your portfolio. --as a kid. No, really, my dad did end up getting me a saltwater fish tank for Christmas. And that got me so obsessed with saltwater fish, I went on those website called reefcentral.com.

It was a forum. Shout out. Yeah.

And it was a forum where people could go in and talk about the saltwater aquariums, and ask questions, and stuff like that. I had spent hours a day on reefcentral.com learning everything I could about saltwater fish. And there was this company that sponsored reefcentral.com and it was called the reefermadness.com-- or reefermadness.us, at the time.

We could bleep that out. It's a reef tank, you know? [LAUGHS] [INAUDIBLE],, bleep that out. [LAUGHS] They were one of the companies that was at the top, sponsored banner ads on reefcentral.com. And I just happened to randomly meet the owner, Chris, at-- it was one of these aquarium places.

And I was so into photography, and taking pictures of reef tanks, and stuff like this. And he offered for me to come by his shop, and I did. And I started taking pictures of his livestock, and stuff like that, that he was selling.

And he offered for me to come in after school if I wanted to take pictures of stuff. And he wasn't going to pay me, but he would give me little pieces of coral and stuff like that afterwards. So I would beg my mom after school to go and drive me so I can spend a few hours twice a week.

I would go on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, or whatever, taking pictures. But that evolved to, eventually, two years later, that I would be working spring breaks there. My mom would just drop me off in the morning and pick me up at night.

And I would work spring breaks. I would work summer breaks. I would work holiday breaks.

And I would do anything, I loved it so much. But it got to the point, eventually, where I started getting paid. And I started getting paid either hourly for the time that I was there, or I would get paid $1 for every picture I would Photoshop of their livestock and put it on their website.

So at that point, it was really so much fun for me to go on Friday nights. When I first got my driver's license, that was when I started skipping school, because I'd rather go there and work. But I would either skip school, or I'd go Friday after school, and work until midnight just taking pictures.

And it was fun for me to see how many pictures I could take. There were some nights that I could make $120 in a night. And doing that at 16 years old was so much fun.

But I saved all of it. And I saved a few thousand of that. And that's the money that I used to get my real estate license and to pay for all that stuff.

That is such a pure back story. Yeah. Oh, yeah. [LAUGHS] Man, I was expecting you to be like, my grandmother got hit by a truck and left me $100,000.

Well, honestly, good for you. Good for you. I'm really-- I have to say, I am very impressed.

But no, but I did have supportive parents. My dad even had the ability to go and be like, here's a saltwater fish tank for your [? bird. ?] And you know what? Yeah.

So stuff like that, absolutely. I know there's a lot of people out there that didn't even have anything remotely resembling that. And I think that's so important, cause I think a lot of people-- the privileges that I outlined, I think, are very clear-cut financial ones.

But a lot of people won't even acknowledge that to have a stable, loving, supportive home of two parents is in and of itself an enormous privilege that is not available to everyone. Something that we have recommended a lot on the channel for people who are looking to either get out of a bad financial situation or save a lot in a short amount of time, obviously, is to move in at home which is, I would say, amongst all the privileges, one of the more accessible, but still not accessible to everyone. Not everyone has a good home that they can move into.

I agree. So props to you for acknowledging that as a privilege. Thanks, of course.

What is the benefit of hoarding wealth? Does he feel an obligation to his community? And I think to further elucidate that question, another person said, there is a tangible benefit to spending money in your community rather than hoarding it, and it will help keep your local economy going and jobs plentiful.

I don't think it's hoarding money. I think people forget that I am putting money back in the economy. I mean, all my money gets spent.

I don't want to make people think that I'm just saving all my money, and doing nothing, and sitting on a pile of cash, or anything like that. Keep in mind, I spend almost all of my money back in real estate, in which I pay property taxes every single year. So you have to think, if I make $1 million, $2 million a year, all of that gets spent, either in taxes-- which, California, I'm paying over 50% in taxes on that top end, on a significant portion of my income, cause it's 50%.

You pay over 50% total? Yes. Wow.

Oh, yeah. No, because you're in California, 13.3% goes to that little miscellaneous S-corp fees. Plus it's a 37% tax bracket.

I mean, it adds up. So it's over 50% of my income does go towards taxes. But people forget that all that money goes back in the world's real estate.

So I'm giving it to a seller of a property, buying real estate in the economy, paying property taxes on a new assessed value of a property that is now bought higher than it was back when the seller bought it. And then, now it's in the seller's hands to go and do whatever they want with it. So the money goes back in the economy.

It's not like I'm sitting on a whole bunch of cash. So when you say that you save 99% of your income, that excludes the reinvestment in real estate. That includes it, because that I see as an investment.

So even though I'm spending the money, I'm spending it back on real estate. So I'll save all my money, as much as I can, 99%. And then, when I get that 99%, I'll save it up and try to buy another property with it.

So I wait for a good deal to come up that makes sense to buy. And then I spend it all on a property. And so that is not just the 1% of your income that's buying those properties.

That's in that 99%-- Oh, yeah, no, no, no. --that you did save. If I could buy a property with 1% of my income-- OK, I was like, these numbers are crazy. Oh, my god, no.

OK, so that does change it substantially, because I know-- I don't have the numbers off the top of my head. And I really should, because there's all those very clear economic studies about $1 spent at a local store provides x amount, or versus, and when holding it in the market tends to be one of the lowest general recent inflation. But even if you're investing, even if you put it in a broad index fund, you're putting your money back in the economy.

It's flowing through businesses. If they have more money, they raise the stock price, so they can do more things to the economy. They can create more products.

They can invest more in innovation or research and development. If someone is literally just saving their money and doing nothing with it, first of all, that's pointless. And financially, that makes no sense whatsoever.

But if you invest it, if you do anything else with it, it goes back in the economy. So I would definitely not call it hoarding. It does.

But when you put it in the market-- and, again, I really should have these numbers on hand-- it tends to generate a much lower amount of value for the average person. In the sense of like, if you are putting-- so if you give, let's say, if you put a dollar into a local business, which is going to likely go to those two people's personal incomes who own the business, which they will then almost certainly immediately put back into another business, where-- But from a market supply and demand standpoint, why would I go and put it in a local business when you could find it cheaper-- let's say, online. You can find a better deal online.

I just think that's market supply and demand dictating where people's money is going. If you find a better product at a cheaper price, that makes sense. My question about all of this would be about scale.

I couldn't tell everyone in my life to do this and everyone in the world to do this, because how would the economy have to refocus and re-shift everything? Especially if we were to shift all of our purchases to be online, then a lot of local businesses then would dry out. All local business would dry up and we would be outsourcing a ton of stuff.

So do you see yourself as having had a decision that you are going to be part of a niche that's able to do this, and you'll benefit from the fact that you'll be going against the grain? Or would you recommend that everybody do it? And then, if that's true-- I'm not asking you sociopolitically [LAUGHS] to solve the economy.

But what would the situation be if every single person was like, I'm doing this? They wouldn't. I mean, we could talk realistically.

Not everyone is going to save the majority of their income. Not everyone wants to. And a lot of people have no desire to.

And that's totally fine. I would say my encouragement comes from the people who do want to save money, and invest it, and build up a foundation for retirement. That's my target, and that's my demographic.

So not everyone will do it. There will always be a demand for someone going in a mom-and-pop. And I fully support that, because there is demand for that.

And there is a need for people who want something immediately, until drones take over, in which case you would press a button and a drone will come in a few seconds. Well, to that point, to answer your earlier question about what the incentive would be to buy from a small business where the cost of the product is going to be, in many cases, significantly higher to the point that, for people who are managing a budget, if you can get it on an online retailer for $3 and buy it at a mom and pop for $10, that's a huge disparity that does have a huge impact. And to your point, there is that law of, what are your incentives?

What's the supply and demand? But I guess, for me, the issue is, if I'm buying that thing at that rock-bottom price, often that will represent a lot of-- for example-- quality-of-life issues of the employees. Or it will mean, perhaps, that all of the production is outsourced.

Or it will mean that perhaps environmental practices aren't super sustainable. So I do feel like, when I think about the purchases that I'm making and the price that I'm getting it for, I try to think about, well, what are those dollars actually representing? Why does it cost this much more?

And is that higher price differential something that I want to support personally? I think, also, my other question riding on that would be-- altruism. Do you need to have-- for yourself, personally-- and this is not a value judgment, because I can't decide how your incentives need to go.

But do you need to have a tax incentive for you to donate a certain amount of money to causes you support? Or do you get a sense of personal satisfaction from doing that? Because I know sometimes I will donate more than makes sense for me on my taxes.

But it's because I know I can sleep at night thinking, I tried to help, you know? Yeah, I don't think it's just money. I don't think you just have to donate money.

And I don't think that money is the solution to everything. I think money can almost act as a Band-Aid to somewhat alleviate some underlying problems. But I think it's more important to fix the issue at hand.

And in terms of donating, I think you could just as easily donate your time. I think, regardless of how much money you have, it's important just to be a good person, to help other people out. Yeah.

You know, if you see trash on the ground, pick it up. And just, overall, be a good human. Oh, well, someone came in and was like, this is a bit misleading to someone who said it was hoarding wealth.

They were like, he lives a frugal lifestyle, so spends 1% of his income on lifestyle expenses. But the other 99% is used to grow his business in real estate. Yeah.

Another person. There we go. What is his day-to-day quality of life like?

Is he actually working most of the time and not ever treating himself to buying something nice or going out with his friends? I think the misconception is that, if I'm not treating myself, I'm not enjoying myself. Or that I need to go out and treat myself, or do something special for myself, to have fun.

And that is not the case. I have so much fun working. I had so much fun getting into reading the internet, and finding out what people are talking about, or what's the new trend?

To me, it's like playing a game of Monopoly online and just reading and seeing what people-- and getting involved in a community, the whole community aspect of YouTube, and seeing people get so excited. I had so much fun with that. So that is my way, in a weird way, of treating myself, is just immersing myself in business.

And I love it. In terms of what my day-to-day is like, a lot of it is spent working. Now I'm waking up at 5:30, 6:00 AM in the morning.

And [? I'll work then. ?] Was that natural for you, or was it hard to do? Now it's natural.

At first, it was not. But then I started doing it. And a week into it, I'm like, I really like it, for some-- In a week?

Yeah. I don't know. My whole life I've not been able to be a morning person.

Yeah. I find myself, now, I am a morning person, as weird as it. There's something about it being early morning, 6:00 AM, and the sun's barely coming up.

And you just feel like you're ahead of the game. There's something about it that is better to me now than working at 1 o'clock in the morning. Because before, I would shift my entire schedule.

I'd wake up at 9:00 AM. And I'd take breaks throughout the day, and then be up until like 1:00. But I found that, beyond a certain point, I started getting drained late at night, that waking up early in the morning just solves.

But in terms of going out and treating myself, seeing friends, I end up seeing friends once or twice a week-- Oh, nice. --and just going and hanging out. That's more than a lot of people. Yeah, mostly weekends.

I try to take as many weekends as I can off and not really do much. But yeah, I certainly don't feel like I've ever deprived myself. Well, that's good.

How much of your time is spent, when you're being super frugal-- you know, you see some of those TLC shows about extreme couponers. How much of your time is spent trying to find a deal for you to do something that you otherwise wouldn't splurge on, like a free ticket to Disneyland, or a happy hour? Probably too long.

That's probably not worth my time. Part of it is I enjoy it. Yeah, it's like a game.

It is like a game. It sounds so weird, but I save those coupons that they leave on your front door. Do you ever get those?

Oh, I just used one recently. I just moved, and they give you-- when you change your address-- [INAUDIBLE] --at the postal service, they give you a huge-- I just used a bunch of them. Yeah, so I've spent a lot of time saving those, and organizing them, and keeping them for special occasions. [LAUGHS] There's no shame in that.

Yeah, yeah. I have a question, actually. Is your girlfriend very much the same ethos as you?

Yes. OK. Did you meet because of that?

I would say we did. We certainly hit it off because I really like happy hour sushi, and so does she. So that, I think, is the glue that just all of a sudden bonded us together.

But she has a similar mindset as me-- that you don't need to spend a lot of money to have a good time. You can do things on a budget. And we enjoy saving money together.

And that, I think, is just-- that's so rare to find, I think. Do you know what her splurges are? Oh, man.

What are her splurge-- It's like The Newlywed Game. [LAUGHTER] Cheese. [SIGHS] [INAUDIBLE] I would say, candy corn. Candy corn? [LAUGHS] Oh, my god. I don't know what I was expecting.

I'm sorry. I'm sorry I exposed you. I was thinking manicures or something.

She's going to watch this. Sorry I exposed you. [LAUGHS] The most controversial candy, no less. [LAUGHTER] And by the way, no matter what your splurge or save moment is, you are going to need to track that budget. And one of the tools that will help keep your expenses in order if you are a business-- and do not forget that, if you just work for yourself, or you freelance, or you side gig a little bit, you are a business of one-- is QuickBooks.

QuickBooks, basically, helps you manage, and visualize, and understand every element of your professional finances. I start basically every day at TFD by opening up QuickBooks to check where we are in all of our different accounts, with our expenses, the invoices we've paid versus the one they owe. Just, basically, it's a little dashboard that keeps everything exactly where you need it at your fingertips to understand the finances of your business.

And trust me when I say that this kind of stuff is incredibly hard to keep track of if you don't have the right tool to help you. Before we used QuickBooks, we tried to do our entire business's accounting, and taxes, and expenses on actual pieces of paper, [LAUGHS] which was insane, looking back. Anyway, suffice it to say, QuickBooks is the best when it comes to managing your business finances.

And you can get started with them right away by clicking the link in our description or our show notes. OK, so I actually didn't know this about you. But a lot of people were implying in their questions that you're a big credit card points and miles hacker.

Yes, yes. So I consider myself-- I have recently become-- because I fly quite a lot. And one thing that's very important to me is the quality of my flight experience.

So I'm very now into my Delta status, my Delta miles, all that kind of stuff. But I haven't really gone beyond that very far, because I feel like it can be quite intimidating. What are some recommendations that you have for people who want to get into miles and point hacking but, like myself, may not be naturally inclined to do it?

I would start small. And one of the most basic cards that people can get-- and this is the card that got me into the whole credit card game-- was the American Express Gold Card. And I feel like that is a good gateway credit card for a lot of people to get into churning and getting points, is the American Express Gold Card.

It's a $250 annual-- I'm going to sell the card really quick. I'm not getting-- Oh, no. [LAUGHS] There's no referral links or anything like that. This is purely my excitement on the card.

Yes. There's a link out there. You have to find it.

You have to do some searching on Google incognito mode to find this thing. But there's an offer of 50,000 points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months on the card-- 50,000 points. You realize when you transfer to a partner called Arrow Plan, that's worth two round-trip plane tickets anywhere in North America.

Typically, it's Air Canada and United are the two main flights from those. But just consider it two round-trip plane tickets for free. In addition to that, there is a $250 annual fee.

But like I said, you get two round-trip plane tickets. Some of those can cost up to $500 apiece, so that's almost $1,000 in value right there. Plus, you're getting a $120 dining credit.

Plus, you're getting $100 airline credit, and all these other things. You'll be able to make $1,000 just from opening up this card right off the bat. Yeah.

But once I did that and booked my first flight, I'm like, ooh, what's next? And then, for me, it was the Chase Sapphire Reserve when they had 100,000-- Everyone's got that Sapphire, baby. --yeah, when they had that 100,000 sign-up point offer. And that was worth $1,500 in free travel.

Yeah. Right now, it's 50,000 points. But still, that's $750 worth of free travel when you spend $4,000 the first three months.

So it's really easy to get it. I wouldn't get overwhelmed, because you're so many offers out there. I would just stick with the big credit cards first.

American Express and Chase are really the best ones to start out with. That's what I use. Yeah, and just load up on points.

So I use everything. Amex partners with Delta, so I have one for business, one for personal. But I churn as much as I can through for the miles, just cause that's where it's most useful to me.

But one thing I've started doing, which I absolutely love, is getting tickets for other people with miles, because it's just such a great gift, because air travel is something that a lot of people won't treat themselves to. But you can be like, come out and visit, and I'm doing it all on miles. It's the nicest thing.

And I feel like the one thing that I realized with doing that that I didn't realize before is that something-- and I should really extrapolate this to other credit card strategies, because what seemed so intimidating before, now I can quote you a good mile-to-dollar ratio. You give me the two numbers. I'm like, bad.

Wait two weeks. Yeah, yeah, right. And so you can really internalize these things and start to-- it's almost like you speak the language a little bit, which is exciting.

Yeah, it is. Another question-- with the talks of a recession on the horizon, one, how should we prepare for that hit on our finances, slash, the real estate market? And two, what are the best tips and worst tips that we should adhere to?

I.e., I was told to buy, buy, buy because, when the market goes up, I can sell. I don't get any time people talk about, the market is going to go down. These recession talks-- there's always recession talks.

I remember last year, people were talking about a recession. The recessions is going to come in the next year. And other markets are up.

This year is something like 20%. Now, over last two years, the market has averaged 7%. Fine.

But still, how do you listen to these people in 2015 saying that the market was about to crash? You would have missed out on 35% of profit right there. Ignore all the recession talk.

I think it's completely useless. Everyone just keeps predicting a recession until, eventually, they're right. And then, all of a sudden, they're like, ooh, I'm a genius.

And they get all these book deals. And everyone listens to them, because they were right once. But they forget the 50 times they predicted the market was going to crash and they were wrong.

So I don't think I would ever plan, or strategize, or try to time the market in such a way to predict a crash, because chances are you'll be wrong most of the time. And overall, the market does go up more than it goes down. But I would say the best things you can do is just make sure you have an emergency fund of three to six months.

That way, if the market does go down, you're not going to need to sell off your investments to pay your bills-- so an emergency fund. To really optimize your spending as much as you can, and just cut out things that you don't really need that aren't really adding much value-- that way, you get your expenses down. And besides that, I would really just make sure you work hard and you make yourself as indispensable in your career as possible.

And that way, if there is downsizing of any sort, at the very least, they'll know that you contribute a little bit more than everyone else and will be less likely to be let go. Yeah. I feel like I-- so I do agree with that to an extent, in the sense that no one can predict the market.

If they could, there would be a lot more really rich people out there. [LAUGHS] But I think, more importantly than that, even if you could predict the market, you can't predict your own life and what is going to be happening at that time in your life. So I feel like more-- because, obviously, we do know that these things are cyclical and that it's likely that there will be some kind of a recession, eventually. Whether that's in the next 6, 18, or 50 months, we don't know.

But we know that it's likely to happen. Agreed. So I think my general philosophy-- and I think there are times that I lean into it more than others, when it seems more likely to be sooner than later-- is to keep your options open as much as possible, which I thank you very much agree with.

But also try to build in as much flexibility as you can to your own big life financial moments. As an example-- to not feel like you are so tied into when you need to own a home that you're going to be incredibly tied to how much those homes might be costing. Or if you, for example, were investing in the market, to grow your down payment fund, really beholden to when you're taking it out.

Or similarly, if you are going to retire in the next five years, doing everything you can to protect yourself against having to retire into a terrible market, whether that's potentially setting up a second job that you could hold on to just a year, if you absolutely needed to, to delay retirement, or whether it's really diversifying your streams of income for five years before that so you have a much bigger emergency fund cushion to live on before you have to take that money out. Whatever it is-- just making sure that you are not completely subject to the whims of the market. I agree.

Look at that. We agree. We agree.

I want to know how he prioritizes his mental health, including preventing burnout. How does he set boundaries in his life? That's something, admittedly, I am working on.

And I'm far from perfect on that. I get to a point where sometimes, oftentimes, I will work myself to burnout at a point where, all of a sudden, I am over it. That's bad, Graham.

It is. That's something I'm working on. And I fully acknowledge that-- that that is not a strength of mine.

So I've tried-- this is actually something I've been doing over the last month or so. So this is relatively new. I tried meditating, believe it or not, twice a day-- meditating for 15 minutes, and giving myself no distractions, no noise, no nothing.

Phone is on do not disturb, everything. Meditating, 15 minutes, twice a day-- which, I think, has helped. But beyond that, I've taken more time to myself.

One of the things is I really enjoy washing my car. So twice a week, I'll just go and wash my car for 30 minutes. And that, to me, is relaxing.

Going to the gym is usually three to four times a week. I'll go to the gym for about an hour. And that's just a way for me to tune out.

So I'm definitely improving those things. And some of the other things-- I want to get back into playing the drums, which is something that I've not done in quite a long time. And set up another saltwater aquarium is one of those things.

Ooh, that's so pure. Yeah, but that's my way of relaxing. I have not found a solution to that.

I have not found a balance to that, quite yet, that is good for me. I'm working on it, though. I'm very much of the opinion that everyone should go to therapy a couple times in their life.

I think most people have, I think, a misconception that you need to have some horrible thing wrong with you to go to therapy. But I find that it's often just really interesting to have that outside perspective on your life and habits. And often, you can find that, especially if you're someone who has a really, really hard time setting up those boundaries in your life or finding that balance, it could be good to get an outside view.

Also, I am a huge proponent, like I was mentioning, when I only work 40 hours a week-- part of that is cause I have a lot of hobbies. And I feel like it's really healthy to have-- not really so much the hobby, in terms of just the fun and entertainment. But I feel like, for people who-- obviously, we both own our own businesses.

Or for anyone who has a job that's very demanding, and involving, and passionate in that, it can become one of your only litmus tests of identity, of worth, of value, one of your only easy measurement sticks in your life. And I feel like when you have other hobbies that you're really passionate about, like the drums, you could be like, I am this much better at the drums than I was last week. Of course, yeah.

I don't know. It's good to diversify your own identity. I completely agree with you on all aspects of that.

So far, my mentality has really just been, this is the internet, and this is how I've grown my career. And it's so fickle. And I don't know how long it's going to last, so I may as well just run with it as long as I can, and double down while it's good, because I'm afraid that in the future-- what if it ends?

It's not long. Yeah. So I feel like it's such a short-term thing that I may as well, while it's good, just double down.

And so that's been my mindset so far. I agree it's probably not the healthiest to double down like that. But I also see it as something that's not going to last forever and is going to be short term.

Well, honestly that's a-- I'm, hopefully, wrong. Hopefully. [LAUGHS] I would like for this to last forever. But I also realize that, sometimes, I am just at the whims of an algorithm, that it's just a flip of a switch.

Everything could change. So I acknowledge that-- that I don't want to be caught in thinking it's going to last forever. That's a much healthier approach than I think a lot of creators have on YouTube, because I think-- we were talking about-- I interviewed recently Ingrid Nelson who's a beauty YouTuber who's been around for a long time.

And she was expressing kind of the same stuff. But it's pretty uncommon, this idea that, just because you are popular at a given moment, whether it's with the algorithm or with the audience, that in no way means that there is something that's going to be intrinsically popular about you. It's a moment.

It's a combination of factors. It's where the algorithm's placing you. And I think having a really healthy relationship to, this could be over tomorrow, and I have to be OK with that, both financially and emotionally, is extremely important.

I agree. And my goal, if I could have picked anything, is-- I really look up to people like Dr. Phil, as weird as it sounds like.

I love Dr. Phil. [LAUGHS] Dave Ramsey and Joe Rogan are the people that I look at. And I love the whole talk show formats.

I think a lot of those people have had significant longevity in their careers. So I look up to those people. I'm like, one day I want to be the Dr.

Phil of finance-- I would love that-- and combine the aspects of the spontaneity of Joe Rogan and just the groundedness of Dave Ramsey. So if I could just combine all of them and build my career from that, that's where I would love one day. This is going to sound very shocking to some of you, but I actually watch a lot of Joe Rogan.

It's so good. I do. And it's funny, too, because to me, I feel like I have this-- it's almost a parallel universe a little bit to me, because I think, similar to you, the vast majority of his guests in his audience are men.

And he speaks to a lot of different topics than I speak to. And he has a lot of different takes on a lot of issues than I do. But he's so profoundly popular.

And his words mean so much to the people who follow him. And I think one thing that I really like about a lot of his interviews-- and I have several that I've watched multiple times, because I think they're very interesting-- is that he's one of the few people that you can see interview someone like-- he'll interview a libertarian, and then he'll interview Bernie Sanders, and give both of them a really fair shake and be curious about both of them. And I think there are not as many shows as we would like to think that are willing to do that.

I agree. So it's really nice to have that. And I think, often, people tend to get in these feedback loops of wanting to only listen to things that they already agree with or strategies they already follow.

And although, obviously, we have a lot of different stances on things, I think it's ultimately beneficial to be able to talk about them. I agree. And I really admire, for Joe Rogan, the fact that he's so levelheaded and logical.

And I don't think he really lets emotion dictate how he interviews people. But he's just so grounded in that that I really like that. He has a very good interview with a guy named Johan Hari who wrote a book that I really enjoy that's all about the exploration of happiness, and what happiness really is, and how we get there, and why a lot of us are not happy.

Highly recommend it. Check it out. It's very interesting.

We got a lot of nice ones being like, this is the most ambitious crossover in history. Top 10 enemy crossovers, 2019. Yes. [LAUGHTER] Graham often critiques people for having moderate amounts of discretionary spending while already meeting generally recommended savings amounts, i.e., 15% to 20%.

And does he think, at any point, discretionary spending actually does improve quality of life? No, no, no. I think people sometimes take me out of context if they've never seen my videos before, especially the Millennial Money, or my reaction videos where I critique people.

A lot of that is satire. I mean, I'm not going to knock someone if they're spending $150 a month on their groceries. I will say, what? $150?

You can go and do that for $100. You know, it's funny. I think it's funny.

I mean, I just have a weird sense of humor. But I think, in the bigger picture, it gets people interested in personal finance if you could add in a little bit of humor to it. Whereas someone before would be like, oh, really?

I don't care about personal finance. But when you make it fun and exciting, and you just inject a little lightheartedness in it, I think it goes a long way. So I don't want people thinking that all my reaction videos like that are completely serious.

I don't care if someone spends $100 a month on hair extensions. I can make fun of it a little bit, because I think it's funny. But I don't care.

And it, in no way, will impact their future. But I think, again, if you can educate people, and make it funny, and bring in some satire in it, that's what it's about. You would tear my Mint to shreds.

You would be like, what are you spending on? We could do a reaction video if you want to do reviewing your finances. [LAUGHS] We'll break it down. The thing is that I feel like it would attract a lot of people being really mean to me.

You know what? The good thing is everyone, so far, who's commented-- everyone is so nice and so supportive. [LAUGHS] Sure, some people are like, you shouldn't be spending that much money on Diet Coke. But overall, the vast majority of it is either positive, or it's just lighthearted humor.

What do you think of the FIRE movement? Love the FIRE movement. I'm a huge fan of the FIRE movement. [INAUDIBLE] I think it's cool that it's finally becoming a thing and finally becoming more mainstream and trendy to be financially literate.

I don't know if it's just because I'm immersed in this that I'm starting to see more people into saving money and investing than I did previously. Overall though, at least anecdotally on YouTube, it seems like there are way more investing channels out there. There are way more people talking about personal finance-- even bigger people, huge channels that are talking about, oh, yeah, I save all my money and I invest.

And it's cool to see it becoming more mainstream. And more people are thinking carefully about where they spend their money and investing it. I think it's fantastic.

Have your saving priorities slash motivations changed over the years? That's a really good question. I would say not a lot's changed.

I mean, for me, I've really just been doing the same thing repetitively. I haven't really changed much. I don't spend much more than I did several years ago.

My motivation hasn't really changed that much. I don't think there's been much of it. I like to think I'm pretty much the same person as I was five, six years ago.

Same. Actually, no, I was a much worse person six years ago. Ooh, last question before we get to our rapid fire, which we do with every single guest.

If sometimes you are not spending any of that 99%, is it because you get anxiety at spending that money? Ooh. Wow, these are great questions.

Sometimes. And it's weird, and I fully acknowledge that this makes no sense. But I get more anxiety spending smaller amounts of money than I do bigger amounts of money.

I'll take the watch, for example. Now, it was a really sentimental watch. And I got this because my grandpa had this Zenith el Primero.

And this is the 50th anniversary watch that he had. When he passed away, I started wearing the watch. But yeah, the watch is, like, $19,000.

I didn't bat an eye at that. [LAUGHS] But I go crazy-- And you rip people apart for hair extensions. But it's two things-- one, it's sentimental. And second, these watches keep the value.

So basically, this is the equivalent of me keeping $20,000 grand, let's say, in a savings account. There is no difference whatsoever between a fine watch and a savings account. You're not going to lose any value on it.

It's not like you're going and burning $19,000. So from that perspective, it's a good investment. Typically, watches like that do sometimes go up in value.

It's usually with inflation. But still, it's a savings account. I get more anxiety about-- I missed happy hour by 10 minutes, and now the sushi is going to be $3 more.

And I think the reason why is because I perceive what under $100 could buy. I know, growing up, $20 would be I can get a subway sandwich, put $10 in the gas tank, and then spend $5 on something else. I know what the value is of $10, $20, $30.

I don't perceive so much the value of $50,000 or $100,000. Because to me, it's such an amount that I can't really comprehend what that would do or what that would buy. I know $50, just how much you can do with $50.

That is fascinating. Yeah. So I get more anxiety if there's something that's like a $3 Snickers bar at the grocery store than I would about spending, let's say, $8,000 on a really good insurance policy, or something like that.

Makes no sense, but at least I can kind of rationalize it that I have an easier time comprehending $2 and I do $20,000. Hmm. For better or worse, but that does mean that-- $19,000 watch.

Yeah. I'm going to do a reaction video about that. [LAUGHS] He spent what? [LAUGHTER] It's an investment, though. It's an investment.

Listen, but this is where we differ. You could spend on anything, and I have no judgment on you. So now we get to go to the most special and beloved questions of all-- our rapid fire questions which, this week, we are bringing to you in partnership with Mint, my favorite budgeting tool, which I'll tell you guys about later.

So Graham, let's get right into them. And here's the thing. They are, typically, rapid fire.

But you're allowed to go long on an answer if you need to. Don't feel like everything has to be one word. Live your truth.

Let me try. OK. Number one-- and let's go with the real estate industry for this one-- what is the big financial secret of your industry?

Yeah, I would say-- I wouldn't even call it a financial mystery or anything like that. But open houses, I would say, are mainly for the agent and less about selling the house. I very rarely sold a house from holding an open house-- rarely.

Most of the time, it's for an agent to meet prospective buyers or sellers that walk in the open house, because any person that walks in there is a potential client. Now, it's good exposure for the house, obviously. But I think the main reason people do it is really to pick up clients from it.

This is funny. I'm the worst for brokers, because one of my favorite hobbies is going to open houses in New York, because I just love to see them. And of course, I'm never going to buy them.

I don't want to. But I'm just like, yeah, here, let me poke around. And I'm sure they can sense it on me.

They're like, get out of here, you. [LAUGHS] All right, what do you invest in, versus what are you cheap about? Well, I think we all know that. Yeah.

OK, well, obviously, real estate is my number one investment. What am I cheap on? Obviously, coffee.

Clothes I tend to be a little bit cheap on. I try to always find-- this jacket was a Black Friday deal that was over 50% off-- Nice. --so I'm happy. And it fit me, which was cool.

Nice, it does fit you. But I would say clothes, and coffee, and just eating out, in general. How many properties do you own?

Do you even know? Six. Oh, six, OK.

Six, yeah. I thought you would be, like, 75. Oh, no.

No, six. Do you actively manage them all yourself, or do you work with-- All but one. Oh, wow.

One of them I have a property manager on. There was a vacancy, and I didn't want to deal with re-renting it out. So the only way to get it rented was to hire a property manager.

So far so good on that, knock on wood. It's been about a year and a half now with the property manager. Great.

The other ones I all manage myself. It's pretty easy. How much of your time is taken up just property managing?

Hour a month, if that. Oh, wow. Yeah.

Nice. You own your principal residence. Yes.

Nice. The trick, by the way, with managing a property is you get really good tenants from the very beginning and you, preferably, don't raise their rent. Because I have a lot of the same tenants that I've had for seven years.

And some of the tenants I just have not raised their rent whatsoever. And they choose to stay and take really good care of it. So for me, that means less I have to manage it, less turnover I have, less I have to go and fix it up when they move out.

So I'd rather keep a tenant in there much longer, even if I make less money, because it's easier for me to manage. Look at you. Yeah. [LAUGHS] So good.

What has been your best investment, and why? Best investment, I would say, has been-- ah, in terms of percentage return, probably the first property I bought. I bought it for $59,500.

I spent $12,000 renovating it. So I'm in at $72,000. Now the house is worth anywhere between $250,000 and $300,000.

And for the last seven years, I've made $1,200 a month from it. So that's been my best investment by far. Yeah, and yours is really precise in those numbers.

A lot of people are like, my dreams. [LAUGHS] Oh, no, no. When it comes to numbers like this, I am so on it with numbers. That's good.

Yeah. That's good. What has been your biggest money mistake, and why?

I would say my biggest money mistake so far was not getting a credit card when I turned 18. And I grew up with the mentality of credit cards were evil. And both my parents were like, you should pay with a debit card.

The people who use credit cards just can't afford it, and that's why they're using a credit card. So I really believed that mentality. But when I started investing in real estates, I was 21, never had a credit card before.

And I wanted to go to a bank to get a loan to buy real estate back then. And every bank denied me on a loan, because I had no credit history. Even though I had two good years of tax returns, I was working as an agent, and I could put 50% down on a property, no one wanted to give me a loan, just because I didn't have that credit score.

So that was a huge wake up call for me to be like, OK, credit cards are not bad. You just need to learn the system and play it. And that's when I got my first credit card.

It was a secured credit card for, I think, $300 or something like that. And then I started really paying attention to my credit score, and building my credit, and doing everything I could to now have close to an 800 score. Interestingly, probably my single biggest money mistake was getting a credit card at 18-- Uh-oh. --which I used to destroy my life. [LAUGHS] No.

Yeah. [LAUGHS] [INAUDIBLE] Yeah, exactly. Goes both ways, yeah. But that's something that's really worth remembering.

If you are a person who knows that you will really mess yourself up with a credit card, then you should find everything you can do to protect yourself from that. Like Dave Ramsey. Find yourself a good Dave Ramsey.

What is your biggest current money insecurity? I would say my biggest insecurity when it comes to money is realizing that you don't need to squeeze out every inch of profit and try to always pick the best performing investment at all time. And that, for me, is a big thing, because I always try to hold out for the best deal or to wait for that one unicorn deal every time.

And that gives me a lot of stress. And I've started to realize that, listen, not every single thing needs to be a home run. You can hit a third-base investment.

It's still going to be really good. And in the long run, it's not going to make a huge difference. But I think it's more important to have just sound investment philosophy from the very beginning than try to do the most profitable things at all times.

What has been the financial habit that has helped you the most? I would say it's really been tracking my spending. And this is a perfect segue into mint.com, which by the way-- Ah, [LAUGHS] we did not tell him to say that.

No, but for real though, when I heard Mint-- I use Mint. And I think one of the biggest things for me-- I'm not paid to say this-- but for real, it has been tracking my spending. And I've been tracking my spending religiously on Mint since-- 2012 is when I first started.

So I can go on my Mint account and look back at 2012 and see exactly what I made that month-- actually, what I spent. And that, for me, it gets you really thinking and really aware of where your money is going and how much you're making, how much you're spending. I don't think most people ever do that.

And I think people get a lot of just tracking their spending, even if you don't change anything. I think just you being aware of what you're spending is going to help. I fully agree with that.

I'm 2013, myself, for starting it. And it's funny, because I found that I was very avoidant with money before that and had intentionally no idea what I was doing. And I found that the second that I started looking at it, I felt waves of disgust and immediately wanted to do something about it.

But generally, if you're avoiding, it's because you know there's something to avoid, so-- Usually. --get looking. When did you first feel "successful," quote/unquote, and what does that word mean to you? Yikes. [LAUGHS] The issue that I see with that is that, at every level of so-called success, you see other people who are more successful than you.

And I remember thinking, even getting to the first $1 million-- I remember that day specifically, because I remember looking on Mint and seeing it hit a $1 million. Shout out. For real, it is.

And I remember seeing $1 million and being like, wow, I can finally call myself a millionaire now. And I went out with friends for happy hour sushi-- didn't tell them. I was just like, hey, guys, let's meet up tonight.

And let's get happy hour sushi. And I did. But then you start to realize, wait a second.

Unfortunately, $1 million doesn't go-- especially in Los Angeles, it doesn't go as far as you would expect. And it's a cool term to say. But then you realize-- well, then it's $2.5 million.

If you get $2.5 million invested then, at the 4% withdrawal rate, that's $100,000 a year. And then you do that, and it's just the threshold keeps going up, unfortunately. So at least, for me, I never felt so far long-term that I've made it or anything.

I think any feelings like that have been short-lived, because you feel like, OK, I reached this goal. Great. Now, what's the next thing?

And I think just we, as people, want to continue progressing forward, and just doing more things, and continue becoming the best person you can be, not only in terms of money goals, but just in being a better person, and giving more back, or adding more value to other people's lives. So I think there's always something else. And I should probably feel a little bit more accomplished than I do.

But I always feel like there's just something more to get out there and there's something more to do. I find that incredibly true. And that's part of the reason why I generally keep my salary quite low, compared to what my company takes in, because I already feel-- with what my husband and I combined earn, and what we have saved, and the value of my company-- I feel like there's nothing in my life that I want for.

There's nothing that I need. There's nothing that I can't do that would make me happy. Sure, there are times that I have to make sacrifices or choose between things.

And it can be a moment of a pinch. Yeah. But I feel like it's-- ultimately, on the whole-- much better to choose to do that if possible, because the alternative is just, everyday, your life gets a bit more comfortable, a bit more easy, a bit more-- and it's never enough.

And you suddenly will look back at what you did six months ago and be like, ugh, how could I have ever lived like that? And I feel like, to that point, it's so important to have goals and values and gratitude that is completely decoupled from money because, otherwise, you're just on a perpetual hamster wheel of having more so you want more. Yeah.

So I'm definitely very much on board. Well, Graham, this has been the most fascinating and exciting. I am so glad you came out.

Thank you. My followers threw a couple curveballs your way, but you handled them with such grace. So where can people find more of you if they want to?

YouTube-- Graham Stephan on YouTube, or GPStephan on Instagram. But YouTube is probably where it's at. Spell Stefan for us, just in case.

S-T-E-P-H-A-N. And Graham is like a Graham Cracker, G-R-A-H-A-M. Aw, like a Teddy Graham. [LAUGHS] Well, thank you so much.

And thank you guys at home. And we will see you next week. Thanks.

Well, listen, as Graham went on a unprompted five-minute rant about, Mint rules, Mint is a budgeting app that I use myself and have used for years and years. It's actually the first financial tool I ever got. It helps you track your budget, visualize your spending, understand your bills, makes sure you know when they're due, help automate your payments.

It just, basically, does everything you need it to for a personal finance tool to manage your personal money. It's particularly helpful if you're someone who has a hard time sticking to a budget or understanding your spending, because it doesn't just break down your spending. It puts it into these beautiful little charts so you can see oh, no, food is way too much of my money, and things like that.

Obviously, Graham loves Mint, too. And I could not recommend it more if you are someone who has been looking to finally get started on creating your own budget. Check out Mint at the link in our description or our show notes. [MUSIC PLAYING]