Is the secret to achieving your financial independence in taking a never-ending sabbatical? We’re thrilled to have sisters Sammie and Michelle Varghoose to discuss what they’ve learned about financial independence and how taking time off work can lead to greater things in your life.
In addition to financial independence, what other life and/or career goals do you have? How did discovering the FIRE (“Financial Independence, Retire Early”) change Sammie and Michelle’s trajectory, what can you do to reach financial independence earlier, and what are the benefits to doing so?
And how can you get on the fast track to financial independence from only your 9-to-5 job? In our headline segment, we’ll help you get closer to the financial independence you seek by sharing some best practices on how to ask for a deferred compensation arrangement – and demonstrate how it’s in your employer’s best interest to work with you. And in our Haven LifeLine segment, OG’s self-restraint skills are put to the test when he answers a Stacker’s request for backup to help his friend’s mother respond correctly to a financial advisor’s questionable recommendation.
Deeper dives with curated links, topics, and discussions are in our newsletter, The 201, available at https://www.stackingbenjamins.com/201
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Sammie and Michelle Varghoose
- What is the most popular Halloween costume in the United States?
Need life insurance? You could be insured in 20 minutes or less and build your family’s safety net for the future. Use StackingBenjamins.com/HavenLife to calculate how much you need and apply.
- Robert has doubts about the validity of the advice a friend’s mother has received from a so-called “fiduciary” financial advisor. It is all about the wisdom of rolling over an IRA to a universal life insurance policy. You don’t want to miss OG’s surly response to this recommendation.
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Join Us Wednesday!
Be sure to join us on Wednesday as we take you along for the ride to one of our industry’s biggest conferences: Podcast Movement. Hear some behind-the-scenes conversations from some of the biggest podcasters in personal finance.
Written by: Kevin Bailey
Miss our last show? Listen here: Use Mindset Magic To Transform Struggles Into Triumphs.
It’s Monday, Monday,
OG Doug and I are just singing to stop OG from singing. ’cause before we hit record, we’re like, dude, stop it with all the Kiss’s greatest Hits tunes. Feels like a crappy Thursday. Isn’t that sad? When it’s Monday morning. You’re already to third. Well, that’s good. It’s almost a weekend.
And you’re here. I’m already to the weekend. Yes. One more day. You think it’s Tuesday? Uhuh? Not for me. All right guys. You know how we start the week. Raise the glasses, gents. Raising. Got my coffee ready, sir? Yes sir. A caribou coffee in here, which I picked up in Minnesota. Yeah. Good day
mate. Look at OG Getting all funky with his mug.
This is a new one. The Cayman Islands. Oh, the Cayman Islands. The other side say Ritz Carlton. Or Four Seasons that says it.
They don’t have a Four Seasons
Caymans. Mine is. Mine is very close to the Cayman Islands Baltimore County Public Library. I mean, it’s a vacation spot that yes.
Sounds like the Garden of Eden.
On behalf of the Men and Women making podcast in the Real Garden of Eden, mom’s basement, eat even Eden, garden of Eden, uh, and the men and women at Navy Federal Credit Union, big salute to our troops. Thank you so much for your service. Let’s head out and, uh, stack some Benjamins together now this week.
Morning everybody. Let’s do it.
All right, here we go.
Hold your ears, folks. It’s
Live from Joe’s mom’s basement. It’s the Stacking Benjamin Ship.
I’m Joe’s mom’s neighbor, Doug. And today, what if you could ditch your corporate job and take a never ending sabbatical? We’ll hear the story of sisters who treat life like an adventure with the hosts of the Build A Wealthy Spirit Podcast, Sammy and Michelle Vargo. In our headline segment, are you asking for enough At work, we’ll talk about one of the hottest trends in executive hiring and in our TikTok minute we’ll do our part to help you keep those kids in the neighborhood organized so you don’t have to keep on pitching in for more school supplies.
Plus, we’ll throw out the Haven Lifeline to stacker Robert, who’s curious about the pros and cons of moving I R A Money. Wait for it. Into a universal life policy. And of course I’ll save time to share some spooky trivia. And now two guys who always enjoy a spirited debate, it’s Joe and Oh
brilliant. Simply brilliant to open. As usual duck. Hey everybody, happy Monday. I am Joe Sci. Hi. Ever show money on Twitter And this guy across the desk from me, all seat buckled in and ready to go. Mr. Og.
It’s happening. Ready to rock and roll?
I’m super excited. You know, I always get excited, og, when you meet these people that are just living their best life.
And Samie and Michelle who are upstairs stuck at a mom, they are living their best life while I am stuck down here with you two idiots. Well,
maybe this is your best life and this is the best you can do. This is, this
is it, buddy. You
gotta lower my standards. Exactly. And then you can tell everybody, well, I guess I figured it out.
This is as good as I
get. You know what the best part of my day is though. The best part of my day is well have a listen, and that might’ve been second best. This might be the best part of my day. Actually the best part of my day might be, uh, the headlines that are coming. The reason
that’s the best part of your day is ’cause every time you hear that, you hear a cash machine.
hear the fact that we can, well if by cash machine you mean we can podcast for one more day. That’s like,
that’s like dudes on this alone show that I watch where they catch a fish and they’re like, yes. One more week of surviving. ’cause I got one fish.
That is it. One more podcast now in the bucket with those two ads.
So let’s get this party started.
Hello darlings and now it’s time for your favorite part of the show. Our Stacking Benjamins headlines.
Our headline today comes to us from napa dash net. That’s the National Association of Plan Advisors, the people that run 4 0 1 Ks, uh, pension funds. It’s the website where they all meet and giggle.
Og I’m sure they all big tickle fight.
Do you suppose They have a whole call center dedicated to, to people dialing the wrong number, looking for a new fuel injector. Right Or spark plugs like wax for
their cars. Call ’em for Napa. Oh, I got your 4 0 1 K. It’s a
whole brilliant sales strategy of theirs.
They try to convert, do it yourself, auto fixtures into
advisors, into having a, into having a retirement plan. Yeah. This is written by Ted Godbout non-qualified plan sponsors focused on improving the employee experience. You know what’s interesting, og? We saw the Great recession a couple years ago. A lot of people quitting their jobs, and now according to Ted, the
big TED was a little more than a couple years ago.
Let’s be clear. It was what?
21, 22. Oh, you
said the Great Recession, which is Yeah, call the 2000 thousand eight seven through 2019. I
meant the Great Resignation. The Great Resignation, yes. Okay. Yes. Different thing altogether. Ambiguity or mixing up my words, whatever. But we saw the great resignation and now I.
There is, it seems this big move OG as people are. There’s all kinds of talent moving around and companies trying to grab onto some of these top people offering, uh, some cool benefits. The W T W Non-Qualified Retirement Benefit Survey of nearly 400 US employers found that more than half of employer respondents either made changes to their non-qualified defined benefit retirement plans in the past years, or they plan to even more employers, 75% changed their non-qualified defined contribution retirement plans in the past years, or they plan to, and this is a quote from Chris West, senior Director, head of Dallas Retirement and leader of WT W’S non-Qualified Plan specialty group.
He said, employer interest and non-qualified retirement plans is at an all time high. In fact, we’ve helped clients implement more new plans and redesign existing plans in the past two years than in prior years. These non-qualified retirement plans. So, gee, a lot of people might not even know what these are, but if you’re somebody who’s hoping to enter the executive ranks, this may be a great, uh, perk to put on the table that says, Hey, you offer one of these.
I might be able to, I might be able to help you out. I
think mostly we’re talking about like deferred comp plans, right? Where you have some of your salary and you say, I’ll take a lower salary today in exchange for that money being invested or set in a savings account or however they do it. Every company’s a little different.
Some of them buy their own company stock with it. That’s a different kind of risk. And then you tie your payout of that into the future so that you say, okay, I don’t want this $80,000 a year. I’m gonna go ahead and have that deferred. Pay that out to me starting in year 10. Yeah. And then pay it over five years or something.
And so there’s a lot of flexibility that you have, especially if you’re on the other side of the cashflow, you know, arc, right? Where it’s like, I’ve got so much extra cash, I don’t know what to do with it all. Well, this is one of the, one of the areas is you can set it aside for the future. What’s really intriguing from a planning standpoint is when you start timing those things out with cashflow needs.
So you say like, I’ve got a seven year old, I know that in 10 years from now I’m gonna need college tuition when she’s, you know, 17, she’s gonna be a freshman in college. So if I can defer some comp today, I’m basically saving for college without having to save for college. Right. I’m, I’m just like using that from a cashflow standpoint.
There’s some pretty big risks with it. Obviously the market risk and that sort of thing, but there’s also risk of the company not fulfilling on their obligation. Yeah. Most of them are like 4 57 plans, which are, I. Technically owned by the employer still. So the difference between like a 4 0 1 K or a 4 0 3 B and a 4 57 2 plans that some PE a lot of people are familiar with is that technically the 4 57 is an asset of the company in most circumstances.
So if they go bankrupt, that’s the big down that can go after the 4 57. Yeah. Which is your deferral money. You know, you kinda have to know what you’re getting yourself into. Well, that’s
why, and that’s why I think this isn’t definitely, you know, somebody listening to us today, going after their first job or maybe their first raise with a boss.
This is not for those people. But for somebody that’s like, listen, I’ve been in, I’ve been in the middle of this company for a long time. I think I’m executive material. You should be looking for this as a second tier. Thing and, and certainly there’s that downside that this is the company’s money, but the upside OG is you don’t have some of those rules like you have with your 4 0 1 k.
We don’t have a 59 and a half rule around this money. It can be five years, it could be 10 years, it could be whatever you wanna set it up as. So, right. There’s a lot of negotiating you can do here if you’re a talented individual to set things up that really fit your lifestyle. Yeah. The
cool thing is, is that there aren’t any of those rules, and if you’re on the front edge of it as kind of the organizer from your company, you can kind of, kind of design it however you wanna do it.
There’s also a lot more flexibility around the dollar amounts, right? Like we’ve got 22,500 that you could put your 4 0 1 k. There’s a lot more zeros you can use for a deferred comp
plan. I don’t wanna forget everybody else though. Og, my main reason for bringing this up is that heck, a, a lot of people don’t even know that this stuff exists.
And if you’re somebody going, you know, what’s my next move? I. This could be for you, but for people that are just entering the workforce here at the end of summer, early fall, you also should be thinking about, you know, maybe, maybe you just finished your first year, finish your first two years and nobody’s really talked to you about raises.
Let’s just talk about getting a raise. I got a piece here from indeed.com, which is a good piece to start with that I’ll link to Ear Must Doug in the, in the show notes, Doug wants three cups of coffee instead of two. Uh, how to ask for a raise in this guide. The very first thing it says is Choose the right time to ask.
And there were three guidelines they had there. What’s the financial health of the company? Doug? It’s horrible, by the way. A second. How’s your manager’s workload? We’re terribly overworked. This is not a good time. And when’s the best time of year to ask for a raise? It says some employers might conduct annual or quarterly reviews.
That’s a good time too. And to the fiscal year is another option to do it. But I’ll tell you this, og, I’ve had some managers that are busy all the time. And I think that, you know, I, I would just go, yeah, it’s not the right time. Yeah. It’s, it at some point. It doesn’t matter if it’s the right time or not.
You just gotta, you just gotta get it done.
Well, e e especially if you’re the one that has to bring that up, it’s always gonna be a, a little bit of a conflict, but it is very difficult to find really good people. You know, back to your great resignation thing and kind of people floating around and that sort of thing, and all the studies show that it costs a ton more money to bring somebody on and train them and get them all up to speed than it does just to retain your existing people.
It doesn’t mean you, you can take advantage of that. Well,
but to some degree you should take advantage of that. I mean, the next point on here says if you’ve successfully completed significant task or project right after that, go ask for your raise. Yeah. Because then you can say, see what I just did for you?
I would like I
to continue doing that. Yeah. I, I mean, don’t be obnoxious about taking advantage of it. Right? Yeah. You know, but if your request is reasonable, and I think it also helps to have facts, you know what I mean? Like, I was thinking about this in the context of like new jobs versus like existing people.
And there’s always that struggle when, you know, you get hired in the company and then you get your pay raises, right? And then you hear the stories of like, the person fresh outta college is making just as much money as the person that has seven years of experience. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s just ’cause the economy, the market, whatever, has just kind of commanded that.
I don’t know that employers are purposefully doing that. Like, ha ha ha ha ha, we got this Doug guy getting two cups of coffee, all the new guys are getting three. He doesn’t even know, you know? But it happens. And so the more that you can illustrate that in a, you know, respectful way, I think the better.
Obviously inflation is a super easy one to go after in the last couple years, right? I mean, inflation is, if you’re getting 3% and inflation’s six, you just be like, listen, you know, milk Brent Cheese went up six, so you, I gotta get something like that. But if you also have the data around, you know, here’s what new people are being hired at in this position and here’s what your competitors are hiring and that sort of thing.
I have a lot more, yeah,
a lot more, uh, leg to stand up. I’ll, I’ll tell you that probably one of the, the best ways that I ever had that done to me was when one of my team members sort of prepped me that, Hey, this discussion is coming. Don’t wanna have it now, but the next time we sit down and have a discussion, I’d like to have the opportunity to talk to you about why I deserve a, uh, increase in my compensation.
It’s a nice way to phrase it too. I love that. Because otherwise, most of the other times it feels like an ambush, even when you’re in,
Hey, you got a second, and you’re like, oh yeah, sure. What, what’s up? Right? And then you’re like, kind of doing stuff and it’s like, listen. So, um, I need some more money.
Wait, what? Unless it is absolutely your star player or somebody who has a skillset that you cannot afford to get rid of. Your natural response in that leadership role is to figure out how to, you’re either literally verbally saying, yeah, this isn’t a great time right now because of budgets or whatever, or at least, you know, physically you’re tensing up and thinking, how do I defend this assault?
Whereas the person who came to me and said, not right now, but the next time we sit down next quarter, you know, if we were doing quarterly reviews, I’d like to have an opportunity to talk to you about a compensation adjustment, then it feels much more like a, a conversation. It also gives you time to prep, and if I didn’t say no, but if your leadership were to say, yeah, I’m not sure really, you’re in a, in a position to be having that discussion now.
I know. Okay. They’re not happy with my performance. Just like you guys say to me, like, every couple weeks,
Right. Fresh out. So I really appreciated that approach that that person, uh, took with me. And did they get all
the money that they wanted?
Uh, that’s a great question. I don’t remember, but I know we came close.
I know we came really close, but I think in that case, this was going back a few years. In that case, we might have created some, uh, variable comp incentives to get to where they wanted to be. Right. But Joe, I loved your suggestion a second ago, which is, or maybe it was in the piece, I can’t remember how you phrased it, but, um, if you have a significant achievement, you just, you know, you were a project manager, you just were leading some big initiative and you brought it in on time, under budget or whatever, within a couple of weeks of that great time, Jump on it to bring, but don’t make it confrontational.
I don’t know if it’s television, movies, for some reason. It always, we we’re trained to make it feel like that needs to be a confrontation and you’re going into battle. Yeah. You’re, you’re pretty much setting yourself up for a No, I
think we’ve gotta remember what Maury Tepo, the negotiation expert who’s worked with the N F L Players Association and other groups, Wharton professor said when she was on the show, which is that often your boss does not have the ability on their own to say yes or no anyway, so treat it like a meeting where you are giving them the facts.
Yeah. You’re, you’re, and you guys are on the same team. You’re trying to get an
advocate for you.
Yes. Yeah. And, and, and man, that, that cooperative nature of that meeting comes across way better. Uh, uh, either way. Listen, we both want this, you know, everybody wants to make more money. Right. We all want me to have more, just like a
conversation I have down at the Sizzler.
We will have a deeper dive on this in the 2 0 1 newsletter tomorrow. Stacky Benjamins dot com slash 2 0 1. Our newsletter’s always free. It is, uh, has an amazing number of people that write to us about it each week. I love the discussions that we have around the 2 0 1. Stucky Benjamins dot com slash 2 0 1.
Coming up next are sisters who went to the right colleges, did all the right stuff in their twenties, and realized, you know what, while it seems like being on a boat in Ibiza, which I’m sure we’ll talk about that story, partying with the most lavish
people, it’s Aha Joe. Say it right. Aha. Stop. We’ll,
we will, uh, you mean it’s pronounced like, uh, what’s the city?
Budapest. Budapest. It’s pronounced like Budapest. Yes, it’s Aha. And Budapest Beest. And you should
order some bruta when you’re in Abi A on your way to pita press. Oh God. Isn’t it Bruschetta
strangle him. Og just strangle him. Bruschetta, bruschetta, I think is how you pronounce that.
Anyway, they’re on a boat. Realize that maybe this is not, uh, our best life. And to hear their redefinition in how they got there of their best life is. It’s amazing and it’s a great lesson in treating your life as an adventure. But uh, before that, we always have an adventure at this juncture, which is Doug’s trivia.
What’s our venture today? Doogie?
Hey there, stackers. I’m Joe’s mom’s neighbor, Doug, and today we have the ladies from the Build a Wealthy Spirit podcast joining us. So I am gonna commemorate the occasion by turning the basement into a Spirit Halloween store. I mean, for this year, if you don’t have your Halloween costume yet, it’s probably too late.
It’s practically Christmas shopping season already. But if I don’t get this set up soon, you’ll have to go as a plain closed police officer. Again, it was hilarious the first time. So before we’re ready to buy Valentine’s Day supplies, let’s talk Halloween. Originally, a Celtic holiday dating back more than 2000 years.
Yes, that’s how you pronounce that. It’s not Celtics. We’re not in Boston, it’s Celtic. Did the Celtics
have their Bruce Getta?
They as they were dressing. Yeah, probably with, why don’t you
come over for the Pagan dance and some
bruschetta with nice little like tomatoes chopped up finally on top and maybe some herbs.
Anyway, Halloween wasn’t commercialized until the first couple decades of the 20th century when the Denison paper company began mass producing paper costumes around that same time was the first documented trick or treating in America that must have been confusing for the neighborhood. Hey honey, there’s a kid here who says we all have a tiny Snickers bar.
We got any of those since kids first started dressing up and wandering out into the night in search of treats, the Halloween industry has grown into an over $10 billion industry with roughly 7 billion of that being spent on costumes alone. So today’s trivia question is, what is the most popular Halloween costume in the United States?
I’ll be back right after I go find my fog machine.
Hey there, stackers. I’m Twizzler Loyalist and Neighborhood Trick or Treat Champion Joe’s Mom’s Neighbor, Doug. The Halloween industry continues to grow every year with those spirit of Halloween stores popping up in vacant retail stores earlier and earlier. I’m shocked that during the break they actually turned me down.
Oh, I see a vacant Burlington Coat Factory works, but Mom’s basement doesn’t. She’ll have a few words for those people, but let’s get you today’s trivia. As costumes get more elaborate, one character holds tight in the number one spot. Today’s trivia question was, what is the most popular Halloween costume in the United States?
The answer. A witch, that’s my OG has been wearing that the past 12 years. And now let’s learn to build a life that’s aligned with your values, with Sammy and Michelle Vargos
and I’m super happy we finally have them coming down to the basement. Sammy and Michelle are here. How are you?
Hi. Hey Joe. Thanks for having us in the basement. We are super excited. Well, I’m
super excited that you’re here and just so people get to know your voices, Sammy will ask you a question first.
Which one of the two of you are older?
That would be me by a whole 13 months, and I’m very proud of those
You are Michelle. Does Sammy hold those 13 months over your head?
Oh yeah. She’s always trying to take care of me. She is very older sister, despite the fact that we basically grew up in lock stop with each other.
Yeah. But you guys have always been friends, haven’t you, Sammy? Do you guys have many fights at all?
I mean, we certainly
fight, but we are very close. Like people always ask us if we were always close, and there’s literally baby pictures of us just like sitting there hugging. And so yeah, we were
But we do fight. I think because we’re so close we can just explode. Mm-hmm. Have, you know, the tough conversations we need to have. And then we’re sisters, we’ll still be there afterwards. So we fight, but it’s never more than like 30 minutes.
yeah. And you guys, Michelle, have such an interesting story and the fact that it’s together is definitely where I wanted to start.
But it is this journey that a lot of people, frankly aspire to. I feel like you guys treat life as if it’s an adventure, but I, but I’m wondering how it started, did it start Michelle, when you got laid off, I think, or did it start with Sammy discovering the fire movement? Like where did it, where did this, this adventure really begin?
So I would say it started first when Sam e discovered the fire movement. So this was a few years ago, probably 20 15, 20 16. And we were living in San Francisco and we were living large. We felt like we had made it, honestly, we had checked Boxed our way to success. We went to the right schools, we got good jobs and we didn’t really have much of a personal finance education outside of that.
So we were making pretty good money and we were in San Francisco. So we did what we thought you were supposed to do, which was spend it on eating out, eating sushi all the time. Going to things like the Ice Cream museum, the Candy Museum, traveling. We went to Vegas all the time ’cause we were so close. I remember one time we were in Ibiza and we were on this boat party with our friends.
Oh my God. And it was so funny ’cause like in the terms, they’re like, we guarantee. At least one champagne shower for everybody. And it’s just, it was those types of ridiculous things that I think you see on television and you’re like, oh, okay. This is what it means to be in your twenties and in the city.
And then one day Sammy discovered a little bit more about the fire movement. She sort of had her and she moved all the fun. Yeah, that’s when we stopped having fun.
Well, let’s talk about that then, Sammy. So how did you discover, like were you just on the internet one day, you saw Mr. Money mustache post or what happened?
actually we were visiting one of our friends in Austria, another one of our travel trips. And this is why it’s so important. Who used surround yourself with? Because our friend, you know, we go to her home, her housing is actually subsidized by her work, but she’s renting out one of her rooms to Airbnb.
They’re growing their own herbs. They’re talking about finances, and I’m kind of putting together the. They’re being very conscious about their finances. So I asked her like, what is going on here? And that’s when she was like, oh, have you heard of the fire movement? From there, it was a rabbit hole that maybe on the outside looked like a killed all fund.
But we went deep. We went deep into that.
You certainly did. And so was then Michelle, your job situation, did that kind of then set the adventure in motion? I, I gotta believe that had a huge part to play in what you guys did
next. Yeah, that was a huge inflection point. So I had moved to Austin at the end of 2019, which was a great time to make a major life transition.
It was when tech, sales, my company shut down. But my team had never been doing that. Well. It was a new team and when Covid hit, it just accelerated the fact that everybody was doing poorly. My manager got fired about six months in, and what happened was like my team members were slowly disappearing and I went to my man, my new manager, and I was very confident and I told him, you know what?
I want you to know that I’m not leaving. I’m not interviewing, I’m sticking it out. I’m ready to be here. I was like dedicated to the job, and he looks me in the eye through our Zoom conversation and he goes, Well, maybe you should be. Oh my God. And we just had probably one of the most contentious conversations of my career and what ended up happening
was, wait a minute, wait a minute.
Hold on. Was it contentious because he’s not on your team and he thinks that you’re not a great worker, or was it contentious because he thought you were too dedicated to the company?
I wish it was the latter. I’m pretty sure now reflecting back on it, I think he inherited a team that had a lot of problems and he didn’t want anyone to stay that wasn’t dedicated.
So he put me in the hot seat and I think he, you know, if I left at that moment, he probably would’ve been like, okay, she shouldn’t be here.
Wow. But he didn’t even
get to know you? No, he didn’t know me at all. He was also a first time manager, so I think maybe, you know, working on the soft skills a little bit, but, and we, by the end, everything was good, but what ended up happening is Sammy and I come from a very positive family.
And so even though I think anyone else in that situation would’ve told me to quit, Um, my parents, I talked to one of my cousins, they were like, you know, you can only control one thing and that’s your output. And so they actually encouraged me to still double down. And they were like, at the end of the day, whatever happens, happens, but at least you’ll be able to like, have some integrity in your work.
And two things happened. One, I ran the numbers really quick ’cause I did have to know if I lost my job, would I be okay. And then two, I doubled down. I worked really hard. I pulled in my sales trainer. I had our solutions architect walk me through all the technology, and I actually improved and I started to do really well.
I got shout outs at meetings. People were reaching out to me for questions and asking me all these technical questions. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late. I wasn’t able to redeem myself, but my manager ended up throwing me a goodbye, happy hour. He had everybody say something nice about me.
Everybody reached out to me and like my people above me reached out to me to gimme calls on my last day. But all that to say is by the time I was done, I was like, okay. Even though things didn’t work out, I showed myself for the first time in a while that I could work hard and I can grow and I can get better.
And what would happen if I applied this energy to myself? And that’s when I started talking to Sammy and I was like, maybe I’ll take a little bit of time off. Maybe I could pivot my career. I am really stressed out. I wanna move back home for a little bit. And she was waiting there with her fire folders and her spreadsheets and she was like, you can definitely do this.
She helped me look at my numbers. And I I think that’s when you know you care about these things when your pants stop fitting. And I think that’s the moment where I was like, okay, now I’m, I’m taking this a little bit more seriously because I do have some savings left and I wanna be, I wanna do something that’s aligned with.
My values were my next step.
It’s funny, my, my situation was not the same, but the only job that I got fired from, I was fairly certain my boss had it out for me. And, and I read this great book about PR for yourself, about being a better, about really standing up for yourself. And, and I went from bad employee.
I, I was truly a crappy employee to a really, really, really good employee when I got fired and I had the same aha, which was, it’s all dependent on me. Like, and you’re right. If I can take this and I can channel this to an organization or to whatever I wanna do, whatever it might be, like I can do whatever the heck I want to.
I was, my turnaround of who I was was startling to me. I was pretty wowed. I’m like, I can’t believe that I did that. It feels like you had a very similar experience.
Yeah. One thing I realized, especially since I was in my role before that, for five years, I was very comfortable. I sort of knew what numbers I needed to hit to be successful, and so when I moved into this other role, I, I felt the same way.
I didn’t think I was giving my all the first six months and to actually challenge myself and to see myself grow like that, that was the first time in a long time that I had felt that again. And it’s so powerful. Like I think in that, that situation can sound so terrifying in some ways. Sure. When you talk about it, but at the same time, I think it’s those uncomfortable moments, those new things that you do, that you really see what occasion you can rise to.
Yeah. It’s funny because we have a lot of military listeners that listen to this show and you know, they learned that in basic training, right? You get to a certain point in basic training where you go, oh, they’re not gonna kill me. I will actually live through this. That things will be, okay. Sammy, what are you doing at this time?
So Michelle is struggling to keep her head above water in Austin. Where are you at? So
at that time I was living with my parents and I had moved in with them to, of course, save money. Save money.
you pay them
or anything? No, I did not. Wow. So one thing is we, we have Indian parents and. Because we’re Indian and
that’s a stretch.
That’s a big stretch. How did you get Indian
parents as Indian? Just, just do that. Um, that’s a life hack. That’s
our takeaway for this entire podcast.
And a lot of Indian parents,
like they’re obsessed with their kids and they want them to live with them forever. So moving back in with my parents was not that hard to convince them to do.
They were all about that. So fortunately I did not have to pay rent, and that is one of the big reasons I moved back in with
them. But there’s still, hold on, Sammy. There’s still parents in America. Is it hard to live with parents and like having them tell you to come and live with them is one thing. I love Mom and I love podcasting for mom’s basement, but I could stay here for maybe about four days before I gotta go back home.
And I definitely thought I was one of those people and my mom is a huge fan of the podcast, so just to cover your ears.
But honestly like I’m
like very Type A and my parents are, maybe you could say hoarders. And so living with them is not this easy thing. Like when I was first visiting them, they had visitors for like a month, so I just slept on the floor in the living room.
Oh my God. Yes. And you know, they’d come downstairs for breakfast, everybody would wake me up with their footsteps, try not to step on me. So it wasn’t like this simple thing. Meanwhile, I’m working as a physician assistant, so I’m going to work. I have hours of work to do after work. I’m really busy. I’m a professional adult, but.
I’m also sleeping on the floor at my parents’ house.
You, you must have been though. You’re saving it. It had to be then 90, 95% of your money.
Yeah, it was quite a bit of money. It, the most would be because I was commuting three hours a day. Maybe that took up, you know, the most biggest chunk of my money.
But I was probably saving, yeah, like upwards of 80% of my income. That was after text.
What was your goal? What part of the fire movement appealed to you? Was it at this point, because there’s nothing about this. This sounds fun. Don’t get me wrong. I love you saving Michelle’s mom and dad. I love you guys, but moving back in with parents does not sound fun.
I mean, it sounds like if you keep the end in mind, it’s something to do and it’s a great thing to do for people, but not fun. It’s, it also sounds like sleeping on the floor isn’t fun. Like you must have had this, you know what I mean? There had to be a horizon that you’re looking at, Sammy, where you, what does the horizon look at this point?
Yeah. You know, when I heard about the fire movement from my friend, It was so inspirational to me, and I think I thought about early retirement. I thought about getting more time freedom, and in the beginning I couldn’t even admit to myself that the real reason that that all appealed to me was because truthfully, I was burned out at my job.
I felt like I was working all the time, and the whole part of fire that really appealed to me is just this idea that I could have my time back and I could actually do what I wanna do with my time. So sleeping on the floor in my parents’ home with them and all their visitors was just a small thing that I would have to suffer through for a small amount of time to eventually get to where I wanted
to get to.
And the place you wanna get to is clearly back on a boat in Ibiza with a champagne shower. That, that you don’t have to go back to work ever.
Right. Exactly. Of
course, you know, goals change over time. But yeah, that was, that was the ultimate goal. But I will say over time we ended up moving to this desert town.
So ultimately, while I was living in my parents’ home, I got offered this job for, you know, a lot of money to move to the middle of nowhere.
Right. You guys, hold on a second. On a, on a recent podcast. You talked about the word wasn’t impoverished. What was the word that you used to describe this town that some publication had called it?
was impoverished. It was impoverished. Yeah. Impoverished Desert town Vis-a-vis the LA Times. They did a small piece and it, it’s pretty harsh, honestly. Yeah, but also relatively accurate. And it’s funny because now that makes it really easy to communicate to people like we live in a small town, but it’s an impoverished desert town.
So you get this, was it a recruiter then Sammy, that reached out to
you? Yes, and you know,
we gave recruiter emails all the time, and I usually never look at them, but this one, the pay was so high that I was kinda like, Ooh, you know, maybe I could live in the desert for a certain amount of time and build up some income.
I mean, I’m sleeping on my parents’ floor right now, so it
could only be up
if I only had a friend who’s dumb enough to go with me and split the rent that that might do it. So Michelle, what about this is attractive to
you? Yeah, so in that time I had lost my job and I actually had also moved in with my parents.
This seems like our plan, but honestly the second. Anytime we seem like we’re about to move, my mom is doing it right now too. Why don’t you move? We have a two bedroom apartment. You could, you could live there and you could bring your car here and. Why should we all pay rent? It doesn’t make sense. Come on.
And, and so since I wanted to take a little bit of time off anyway, it was also the middle of Covid, so I think I had a new appreciation for spending a little bit of extra time with my parents, um, which was nice. We, for about a year I was doing well. I would, you know, in the evenings make tea for them and we’d watch Jeopardy and Wheel a Fortune again.
But right around the one year point I told the family, I was like, okay, I’m, I’m ready to move. And coincidentally, that coincided with Sammy getting this new apartment or this new job opportunity.
Wait a minute, you wake up and one day in the middle of Jeopardy and go, holy crap, I’m not 70.
Literally, I was like, you know, I think it’s possible though.
I, I don’t think my next move was anything unlike a 70 year old snowbird, which is everybody in our town. Okay? So Sammy and I, I went with her to the interview. We are in this. I would say Ghost Town esque place. First time I’ve seen real life tumbleweeds. And she turns to me and she’s like, I’m not taking this job.
And I was like, eh, I was in Starbucks all day, it’s not bad. And she ends up taking the role and she turns to me again and she’s like, Hey, like would you come with me? And I was like, there’s no way. And then I run the numbers, you know, I wanted to move to a city. I still wasn’t working. And I was like, oof, man.
Rent from a one bedroom by myself in a city that’s going to eat up my savings pretty fast. And then I looked at living in this town and I was like, you know, I haven’t fully been successful at launching my own stuff. Maybe isolating myself from everybody having absolutely nothing to do and enjoying nice sunny weather.
Maybe that’s the change I need to make. Not to mention it’s a third of the cost. Yeah. So I decided to join ami. So we packed up our bags, our parents joined us and we just did for the drive. And we drove nine hours and moved to the desert.
The cool thing is, is that I truly get the feeling that you’ve liked your time there.
Like this has been a super good thing.
Yeah. I think we both kind of think of ourselves as like Henry David Thoreau over here in Walden and being in the middle of nowhere, and when we say middle of nowhere, some people are from a small town and they’re like, oh, I’m from a small town. 40 minutes out of a big city.
No, we are two hours away from any even remotely large town. Like my health insurance for my work comes with a helicopter pass. And just being away from everything, it really gives you a lot of time to reflect on your own life and the direction that you’re going
in. It’s funny that I think we busy ourselves so much.
Sometimes we forget to just be quiet and it’s so much easier. I think that to be quiet where, where you are obviously, ’cause there’s nothing to do, so, so you might as well be quiet. There’s gotta be some good hiking out there though, I would think.
No, no. I mean it’s, we’ve looked. Mm-hmm. Not really. Maybe if we go like an hour out.
Yeah. Or if we go to one of the major cities. But it’s also really hot. It’s 110 all week this week. So it is tough. We do walk around though, and it, it is beautiful. Like it’s a, it’s a desert we can see for like probably a hundred miles and that’s, that’s really nice. So it is really beautiful here. It’s beautiful desert sunsets.
Now, Sammy, when you and I have talked just just briefly about your job, it seems like you really like it there, like you get along with the people there. It seems like it’s been a good opportunity, but you guys are on the show today because you’re making another move, and you just talked about it on your podcast.
So Sammy, how did this transpire where you’re like, okay, it’s time to close the book on this
Yes. I think this is such a important example of knowing when to stop. So, you know, I always think of a raft that you used to get across the river. You then, once you’re over the river, don’t carry that raft with you for miles.
So it’s a tool to get you across the river, but it is not. Life, and that’s what I think about fire and the, you know, the financial tools. Now we’ve built up a good amount of wealth, but I still see, you know, I’ve accumulated a lot of patients here and I’m still working a lot and I still don’t have that time to do what I wanted to do, which is the whole reason I began this journey in the first place.
And recently I actually had to get my thyroid removed because it was being a little hyperactive. And during that time period, I, you know, I healed from the recovery pretty well, but I ended up having a really, really bad stomach bug.
So I got over that vomiting, but I was so tired for three days and I couldn’t even look at the light. So I was also in a dark room for three days and this was like a very, very low point. ’cause I was just feeling so weak and so sick.
And I think sometimes when you feel like that, you think to yourself, what if I feel like this forever? Even though you know that’s not gonna happen. But I think our brains go there sometime. And I was reflecting on how I ended up so sick like this. I thought to myself, I really feel like there was this small, small part of me that wanted to get more time off from work.
’cause initially I was enjoying it and that really scared me. ’cause I did not want my body to think that this is what it has to do to keep me out of work. And at that time I decided, you know, I’m gonna commit to an exit plan . And that was a really big turning point for me in actually putting it on the calendar and taking steps to move and take a sabbatical essentially.
Nothing like a medical aha. To make you like seriously to reframe. Like what’s important. What’s right.
Exactly. And I do think that those kind of incidents come into our life for a reason, and we kinda have to reflect on what we’ve also done to get ourselves in those situations and maybe what our body’s trying to tell us as far as the new direction we should be moving in.
You talk about this, uh, on your podcast and, uh, just a couple of, uh, episodes ago you begin talking about lifestyle inflation and about how you’re afraid that that could happen with where you move. But what I’d like to do is I’d like our stackers to get just a sample. Of the kind of discussions that you guys have.
So let’s play, let’s play a little clip, and this is the beginning of the episode from Build a Wealthy Spirit on lifestyle inflation.
One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about Sammy, as we think about moving from our small town to a bigger city somewhere
on the East Coast, is
I’m scared. Mm-hmm. They don’t call
it lifestyle creep for no reason. And let me tell you, it’s been creeping on me. Here I am working, making the good money, and I think to myself, oh my goodness, I’m gonna move there to that place with fancy things and I might spend money. I might be into things that I wasn’t into anymore.
I might slip and fall and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, you know? And the
you have, you’d already slipped and fall and spent thousands on thyroids, thyroid, right. Getting the hell out of, uh, away from thyroids. You keep calling this place, this place that you’re moving to on the East coast.
Have you been open with your fans about where you’re moving?
Not yet, but we have finally decided we were sort of circling around a couple different places, but we are pretty sure we’re going to end up in Charleston, especially since our parents are hopefully going to retire there. And so we won’t be living with them again.
But it’ll be nice to be near them. We can keep an eye on them. We can spend a little bit of time with them. So we think it’s gonna be Charleston.
Did they convince you? Were they like, you know, you can all move to Charleston? Oh
yes. That’s been going on for a long time
now. Your parents are gonna be there, but do you know other people there?
Like do you know a lot about the Charleston community? I. We
have one friend there, actually our same friend, she’s Italian. She’s friends with our friend in Vienna who had introduced us to Bayer. We had all gone to Europe together, so we’re pretty close. We’ve actually gone to her wedding a few years ago.
So even though she’s one friend, she’s a close friend of ours, but outside of that, we will be starting fresh. We will hopefully be new people in our apartment complexes. We are super social now because we have been living in a town by ourselves because
you’ve been deprived, you’ve been totally deprived.
Like, please, somebody talk to us. You’ll be assaulting people in the grocery store.
Literally. And you know, the funny thing about being in a small town is everybody knows you. And so we’re so used to, especially me, ’cause everyone knows Sammy ’cause she’s a provider in town. But I don’t really know anyone ’cause I just do my stuff on the computer at home.
And when I go to the grocery store, I swear I can feel like eyes on me. I feel like people may or may not know me. One time the cashier was telling me about how she was taking this natural allergy medicine and I was like, yeah, that sounds fun, I guess. And then after I was leaving she’s like, hopefully it works out well.
I was like, this is not medical advice. I’m not your P C P, just to clarify. But we’re so used to being a little bit, I think, avoidant ’cause we’re so used to being so popular, I guess, in town. Yeah. And. I think we’re excited to just one, go to the grocery store and not know people. And two, we still are very friendly so we can kind of pick and choose and make friends and build a community.
I think we, we’ve picked up and moved so many times that even though it’ll take some time to build, I think we have a lot of faith that we’ll be able to meet. Cool. Interesting people there. But the
last part of your venture, Sammy, was, you know, it was your spreadsheet, right? It was, this was a spreadsheet based move to move out to the middle of the desert Charleston.
And I’m referencing now back to your episode about lifestyle creep. A lot more expensive in Charleston. I lived in Charleston. People were waiting for me to mention that, by the way, to complete their bingo square. Uh, I won’t say where I went to school because I get crap about that too, but it wasn’t Charleston.
But it’s not a cheap town. Like how did you make this decision and um, how did you make it congruent with your feelings about financial independence? Yes,
it’s definitely much more expensive than our town that has nothing to offer as far as things to do. So there are much more opportunities to spend money.
Even the apartment we’re looking at, it’s a luxury apartment, so it is much more expensive than the apartment that we’re currently living in. So there is a lot of cost to consider, but I think as far as the bigger picture moving to Charleston is pivoting from a period of saving a ton, you know, where we’re both saving probably 50% or more of our income to now actually getting to utilize that money that we saved up even though I’m not fired yet, it’s like a mini retirement where I’m getting to take a little break and actually enjoy some of the things that we’ve built up so that we use it for what we actually wanted to use
What’s your plan work-wise going to be? Great
question. So first plan is at least for a few months, I do not wanna work at all. I just wanna take a break and enjoy, make friends rebuild my community that I’ve completely abandoned for the past like six years. And then after that I have been thinking a little bit unconventional.
So I’m on a student loan forgiveness program and I have about maybe like a little less than two years left. So I do have to work at a nonprofit. And normally, in my mind, that would obviously mean working as a physician assistant at a nonprofit. But now, because in my head I’m like, you know, I’ve built up a good amount of wealth.
There’s no reason I should be spending all my time working, or after work doing more
I’m like, I really want a job that like is confined to the 30 to 40 hours that it says that
it’s supposed to be confined to. And so I’ve
been really thinking outside the box. Like even working at the library as a library assistant that’s a nonprofit job or working at Goodwill as a retail worker, that’s a nonprofit job.
I have been like expanding my perspective on what a nonprofit job could be, just so I can finish out this term and also get to maintain
that time. You could spend more time working on the podcast. You guys are podcasters now. You know, podcasting has no profits. I mean, that’s nonprofit, right? I mean it’s not, it isn’t officially a 5 0 1 c three, but sometimes it feels like it.
I’m sure we could apply.
That is so interesting. It’s, it’s, it’s funny, Michelle, to see your sister go from something that was highly stressful and $8 time to these anti, I mean, you can feel the rubber band, right? That she’s going the opposite direction.
It’s crazy. Especially since I recently had time off and took my own sabbatical.
So I think one that’s sort of set a framework for both of us to think about. Oh, okay. Even though we were in savings mode, even though we were really into this idea of financial independence, I think one thing we realized, especially once I left my job and sort of tried to not work for a little bit is sometimes there’s this question of like, what happens after fire?
It almost feels like. A fairytale, you know, like the prince and the princess get married and they’re happily ever after and you reach retirement. And I think a lot of people, what I’ve realized now is that’s actually not the end of the story. There’s a lot that happens. We tie a lot of our identity to our work.
There’s a lot of introspection involved with that. And so I went through a lot of that in the past couple of years and came out the other end really happy and. Really excited, like I’ve been making the least amount of money in my life. But at the same time, I, I am at a point where I felt like I could really enjoy my life still despite being by the outside looking like we’re living in the middle of nowhere.
It gave me time to just like think about what I valued and create a life that’s more in alignment. And I think for Sammy, she’s given so much of herself to her job and it’s exciting to see that she’s taking a little bit of time back for herself. Because I think at the end of the day, things like fire are so focused on money, but really I think what a lot of people want is just to get more time back.
it also is funny because as you were talking and you’re talking about Sammy finding, getting the sabbatical that you’ve had, it isn’t just your identity, it’s the way the world identifies you. Because since the time I’ve known both of you, Sammy has had a job. Michelle, you’ve been on sabbatical. I didn’t even ask you what your next thing is.
I’m so used to knowing, you know what I mean? I’m so used to knowing you on sabbatical. I’m like, oh, Michelle, she’s just gonna do whatever Michelle does. And that’s, that’s, but that’s my, my Michelle I identity is doing sabbatical. My Sam identity is, how long is this gonna happen? Are you gonna go back to work?
Like what? You know what I mean? Like the other people identify you that way. So let’s ask you the question, Michelle. So when does your sabbatical end and, and you start looking for the next
step? Yeah. It’s so funny because now I talk so much about being on a sabbatical and it’s, it’s a nice shift. It’s much better when people let you just do what you wanna do than when you first leave your job and everybody wants to know what your next step is, and you’re like, I haven’t figured it out, but, and now I’m extra stressed out.
But now I’ve, I’ve honestly transitioned out of it probably at the beginning of this year, just because as I started to publish more with our podcast and writing and like joining online communities and meeting people online and who have similar interests or who are doing similar things as me, I’ve just gotten more involved in those communities and have taken on freelance jobs.
So I’m actually honestly pretty busy. Again, it’s funny how that happens, but it feels much more aligned with things that I’m interested in. So I’m gonna keep doing that. We’re basically shifting a little bit in this next season of our life. I’m gonna be working more and Sammy’s gonna have time off, so it’ll be interesting to see.
What that looks like, especially since I’m a little bit more type B and Sammy’s a little bit more type A. But yeah, so my, my sabbatical has mostly been done and I’m, I’m just gonna continue working on different projects that I’m interested
in. Well now I was just thinking, Sammy, it’s about, damn Tom, your younger sister took care of you for a minute.
Right. Come on, come on. I
know. I’m like, it’s sabbatical time
Michelle’s like, I have a lot of work to do. Actually. I, uh, it’d be fine if you edited the podcast once in a while, now that you have some time off. There it is.
See, that’s the fight we wanna see. Yes. Uh, your podcast is Build a Wealthy Spirit.
Well, the link to it stackers on our show notes page at stacky Benjamins dot com. But tell us what’s coming up, because you guys are documenting this journey, obviously, and the, the episodes you have, you’re going through your own thoughts about the things that you’re doing. It’s also well researched.
You’ll have guessed on sometimes, but tell us about maybe some cool upcoming stuff on the show. We’re
really excited, especially since we’re going to go into the season, we’ll have even more time to spend on it, and we’ve been tweaking it in little ways, telling more stories and chronicling our own journey.
And so a main thing with our podcast, like the main thing that we always want to express to our community and hope to provide some tools around is this idea that you can build a financial foundation for yourself so that you can then go and live a life that’s more aligned with your dreams, whatever that might look like for you.
For us, it’s taking time off and pursuing our own projects. For other people, it’s spending time with our kids or traveling around the world. And so we really think that at least what we saw for ourselves was we were missing a few basic personal finance building blocks. And then now, Since we’ve been doing this for two years, we’ve also happened to record our own journey.
So you’ll be looking at Sammy, dealing with all her stuff with the sabbatical. I already know what’s coming up for her ’cause I’ve gone through it, but I think it’ll be really fun to talk about it. There’s a lot of mindset shifting, there’s a lot of identity transitions you’re going through, so that’ll be really fun.
And then I’ll also be talking about some of the unconventional ways that I’m working because as of right now, I’m not going back to a nine to five, but I’m sort of moving into this coast fire mentality where I really just wanna be able to like cover my bills and focus on like projects that I’m really excited about and build that over a long period of time.
I can’t wait to see what’s next for you ladies. Uh, the show Build a Wealthy Spirit. You’ll hear it wherever find your podcast are heard. You can’t wait to see what’s next. Thanks for joining us and helping our stackers live life as an adventure and telling your story. I really appreciate
it. Thank you.
Thank you, CCHO.
This is Aaron from Colorado Springs and when I’m not teaching three boys how to patch hockey, stick holes in drywall, I’m Stacking Benjamins. Big thanks to Sammy and Michelle and I love this idea, og you did it right? Took the family and said, Hey, let’s move to Dallas. I remember when you, Mrs.
OG came down and we went to the Dallas Arboretum together, kind of drove around Dallas and you knew a whopping, I think, how many people did you know in Z in Dallas before you moved there?
Yeah, I don’t think anybody, yeah, Alyssa did. ’cause she worked down here. So she had some work colleagues, but, um, it was quite
We had something similar, you know, moving the family to Texarkana and I remember telling Cheryl’s family, a fa, a welcoming family member, writing us a nice note going, you’re going to hate it. It’s going to be horrible. Your family’s going to be so far away and it’s, it’s, it’s gonna be, it’s gonna be
You’re like, my family’s gonna be so far away. Why do you think we’re leaving? My family’s gonna be so far away. My family’s gonna be so far
away. Well, the, the bad news about this individual was that they had moved from, uh, Canada, from the Toronto area to California, like in the 19, late 1950s when they were a kid.
And so they were translating it to be the same, you know? And I’ve got, I’ve got one kid right now who’s in Montana and another one who’s in Seattle, and we talk like every day. I mean, it’s a whole different world. I feel like my kids are right next door to me and with family. We’ve been on a group chat with our family since we left 14 years ago.
We’re always laughing about stuff or getting together. Heck, even during the pandemic, you know, we get on these Zoom chats and sit around with a glass of wine and talk about what’s going on. Um, maybe play some, you don’t dunno, Jack style games on, on Zoom. I mean, it’s, it doesn’t feel like they’re that far away.
It’s definitely a different thing now than, than years ago. I, it also helped for us that I had lived in different places, so it didn’t really bother me that much to, to move, to move. And frankly, we see more of our family now than we did when we lived two hours away. ’cause it was like, oh, well they’re just on the street.
you know, some of these themes we talked about last week though, of really getting it together. I mean, you know, going to the right schools was great for Sammy and Michelle. Being able to work these high-end jobs is great, but really being frugal in their twenties, going from party nonstop to realizing, hey, if we’re frugal now we can create this great life.
And look at how much fun they had. I mean, this dusty old town in the middle of nowhere, Nevada. It ends, it ends up being, being a great story for them later on. I’ve never heard of somebody, by the way, who along with their health benefits, gets a helicopter card. Mm-hmm. To be able to take the helicopter for free.
That was a, it was a new, new story for me. I mean, that’s when you know you’re remote. Wow. Yeah. It comes with a helicopter pass. Yeah. Good stuff. Thanks to Sammy and Michelle. Go check out the Buildup Wealthy Spirit Podcast. If you’re loving what they talked about today, that’s, uh, what they dive into every show.
Hey, let’s throw out Theon Lifeline and tackle some of life’s most important questions, guys. Oh my goodness. Before we do that, you know what segment I skipped? I accidentally missed our TikTok minute. Oh, Steve, let’s, Steve, let’s put this in reverse time for the TikTok Minute. The part of the show where we either shine a light on somebody making some internet goodness or some air quotes, internet goodness.
We have had, uh, a couple of great ones with the conference realignment. That was some real smart stuff. Last week, two weeks ago, we had some goodness. What do you think we got today? Is it good this or great? Goodness. Air quotes. Goodness, og,
definitely. Great. Goodness.
It’ll be great.
He said. So spirited Doug,
just, I think it’s great.
It’s gonna be, play it fast. I can’t, my
favorite thing is TikTok.
Yeah. Well, I gotta tell you, um, for people with kids going back to school, this woman is teaching a lesson that anybody with children, or maybe even help out your nieces and nephews with this lesson, there’s a PowerPoint presentation. Well, I’ll let her explain the PowerPoint she does with her kid at the beginning of the school year.
Well, I just got to notice that my son’s school starts up in a few weeks and now it’s time for me to pull out the PowerPoint presentation on how the rules for back to school are gonna go. Again, don’t know if anybody else does this. This is just me. It is also entitled What we not gonna do? ’cause this ain’t that.
What we not gonna do is change up our stomach energy. You’ve been living on a diet of hot chips, chicken nuggets, and every popsicle and disgusting drink known to man without one stomach ache. You’re not about to come to me talking about my stomach hurt like you got the intestinal track of a geriatric Crohn’s patient.
This ain’t that. What we not gonna do is act like we can’t wake up. You’ve been getting up at 6 77 every morning and yes, I said 6 77 ’cause of some ungodly that doesn’t exist asking me about some breakfast. This ain’t that. What we not gonna do is not prepare our clothes and our items for the next day, the day before.
I’m not about to have a slight heart attack. Trying to rush us out the door to get you in time for the bus. This ain’t that. What we not going to do is act like you ran outta supplies after the second day of school. I literally just spent $75,000 making sure everything on that list was there. You not about to keep losing everything.
This ain’t that. What we not going to do is tell me about reports, permission slips and picture day packets. The day before they’re due. I’m not about to get my blood pressure up running around here to get all of these supplies or find an outfit or do a project into the wee hours of the morning. This ain’t that.
What we are not gonna do is complain about the lunches that are packed for you. Literally took you to the store and asked you if every separate item was okay. But then when I put it together in a lunch that’s nutritious and all of a sudden it’s trash. This ain’t that. What we not gonna do is as soon as we get home, you asking me 55 times, is dinner ready?
I told you to eat. The lunch that I provided that you told me was okay, but now it’s trash. This ain’t that. What we not about to do is let me know you still here. This ain’t that.
Oh wow, that was
Couple of those hit home. I know.
If I could rewind to school supplies and, uh, the day before the project’s due, I can’t tell you.
And by the way, I dunno if you guys had this nine 30 at night, the night before.
Oh, yesterday my, uh, middle kids in high school, very gifted, talented young man who’s very smart, but high school’s a different thing. And we’re trying to let him know like, you know, this is ninth grade and it’s AP world history, not just, I can watch it on video history, whatever kind, you know.
And he came down at nine 30 and he said, Hey. So, uh, Hamilton said it took him like five hours to take all the notes. And I go, how long did it take you? He goes, I haven’t started yet, but I think I can do it a little faster. I go, well, it’s nine 30, bro. So if it takes you four hours, you’ve got till one 30 to write some notes.
So hop to it. He goes, I need a brain break. So he laid down on the couch and watched videos until 10. Oh. I’m like a brain break for playing Xbox. Come on, man. Yeah, there’s always that adjustment period of the kids getting back into it thinking this won’t be a big deal and it’s a big deal.
Fabulous. Uh, TikTok minute.
Now let’s do the Haven Lifeline. All right, fine. Tackle some of the life’s most important questions. Our friends at Haven Life Insurance Agency, Doug, they put what you value first. Oh man.
I knew you were gonna ask me. I gotta go back to an old trusty one, which is a short game in my golf bag. I played golf the other day, fin turns in town.
We went out and played at this amazing course and really difficult, and I, I hit every fairway off the tee. I couldn’t miss, and I still. Had a regrettable. Found a way. Found a way. You still found a way to have more than two digits in my final score. Just can’t. I mean, how do you do that? How are you just right?
I’m just striping it down the middle, off the tee,
and I think OG knows what the problem is. It’s that golf course you’re playing on.
Yeah, that’s right. Because it was in Michigan. It was in Michigan golf course. So there’s a good chance that that’s where the issue is. I need yes, to only play
That’s it. It says your loved ones in your time, but just your loved ones, your time in golf in Texas. That’s why they may buy in quality term life insurance. Actually. Simple. You gotta stack your Benjamins dot com slash haven life now for a free quote. It’s a simple application. It’s been streamlined. It’s all online.
You’ll get an instant coverage decision. Lovely customer support, robust online life insurance calculator if you’re not sure how much you need, and all policies issued by their parent company, mass Mutual, more than 160 years old. You know, if you don’t have your life insurance together, that you gotta get that moving.
So go to, you don’t need a brain break. Don’t need a brain break.
Pause and go to stack your Benjamins dot com slash HavenLife. Now, today we’re gonna throw out the lifeline to our new bff, Robert. Hey Robert. Hey, Joe OG and of course Doug. This is Robert. I have a question regarding moving I r a money into a universal life policy to avoid inheritance taxes.
Uh, here’s the deal. I have a friend who recently retired with a state pension, a deferred compensation plan, and an I r A, my friend is super worried about her errors inheriting her IRAs during their peak earning years, and subsequently having to pay higher taxes, onset inherits it so her financial advisor is telling her to move some of her i r a money into a universal life policy such that her heirs will not have to pay taxes on it when she dies.
The amount of money they wanna move is about 500 k, where the total net worth is about 1.5 million. This just didn’t sound like a good idea to me, but I don’t know how this works, nor the pros and cons of it. She’ll be paying about six K per year for the policy, and the policy is also apparently indexed to inflation.
Can you explain how this works and if it’s a good idea, if not, are there other ways to shield inherited retirement money from taxes given the 10 year rule on inherited IRAs? She says her advisor is a fiduciary, but I’m questioning that given this advice. Thanks for any insights. I love the show. I promise not to learn from anything you say.
You guys rock. I still want a shirt.
Robert. We are setting the shirt your way for, uh, being brave enough to call. And thanks for that question. And I think Robert and, and everybody else, if you’re not watching this on TikTok, you could even hear verbally. Oh, gee’s, uh, uh, scoff response. He couldn’t, he couldn’t stop it.
So I think, Robert, I’m getting the early indicator that OG might be on Team Robert with this one. This might not be a phenomenal idea. No, God, no. God, please. No,
Yes. Thank you Steve Corll for also your opinion. I was trying to think about this from the perspective of misinterpretation, which maybe is the case.
what I was thinking.
So the idea that first of all, a million and a half dollars is a lot of money, don’t get me wrong. It is nowhere near in the ballpark of, oh my God, I have so much money that I have to worry about my heirs. I don’t care how much money you spend, unless you’re like 97 right now, there’s a really good chance that you’re gonna use a lot of that money.
I mean, just Fidelity, for example, has a study that says over the age of 65, You’re gonna spend $300,000 in healthcare expenses, not including long-term care costs. So if you need assisted care, if you need somebody to come to the house to make sure that you’re okay every couple of days and drop off food, or you know, you go to a facility, you know, a, an extended care facility and you know, they have those, those different levels of care 300 K a year, which are very popular.
What’s that? 300 K a year? No, the fidelity thing is 300 K total, but holy cow. But long-term care costs escalate. So there’s facilities and they’re becoming more and more popular. So I’m sure everybody has thought about this that’s, you know, kind of getting toward retirement. But, you know, kind of the outer ring of the community is like golf carts and you’re playing golf and you’re having fun.
And then as you need more and more care, you just move closer to the center of the community, which the community center is. I. You know, the full-time assisted care, you’re literally
circling the drain towards the center. You’re literally
circling the drain. Yes.
We got some stackers living in those communities and they’re like, no.
Yeah, but the final cost can easily be $10,000 a month. Yeah. Depending on where you are. So a million and a half dollars is not in the ballpark of like, I have so much money, I need to worry about all this stuff. The second thing to really consider is the worst problem is, oh my gosh, I left all this money to people I care about.
They don’t care what the tax bill is. Right. We we’re talking about trying to solve a tax problem that doesn’t exist right now for people that will be lucky to get it. And I, I, I mean that like with all the intensity that I can, like, I get that you don’t want to have to like arbitrarily give a whole bunch of money to the government, but if you use the money you were giving it to the government anyway, right?
Like you’ve deferred taxes on this money your entire life. They gonna get theirs. Whether it’s from you or it’s from your beneficiaries. This is not that. This is not that. What we are not gonna do is try to not pay taxes. You know, the reality is what it is, right? It just, you’ve saved money. You put it where it is.
Another idea in terms of like, how do we structure this to like lower the potential tax bill for both, you know, me as the person, but also for my, my beneficiaries potentially is look at Roth conversions. If you have control over your income, especially in retirement, maybe the only income you have is social security.
You have the I, you have the ability to kind of fluctuate that in terms of your distributions and do Roth conversions and now that money’s tax free. So there’s two things that this person might be talking about. One might be, Hey, let’s just take a withdrawal outta your I R A for half a million dollars and dump it in this life insurance policy.
But boom, but a bing, no taxes due, right? Okay. That’s a $500,000 earnings year, right? The I R SS looks at that and says, you just made half a million dollars. Congratulations. You’re gonna stroke a check for $200,000 of income taxes, which is gonna burn up half of your net worth instantaneously for a a life insurance benefit of some amount, which will be tax free to the beneficiary for sure.
And it will probably replace whatever the amount is that burned, but not for your lifetime, for another lifetime, no
chance. And I’m assuming that your money is invested in your, you know, your friend’s money’s invested in a reasonable place based on risk tolerance, timeframes, goals, whatever. Right? And so let’s say that you’ve got a 30 year retirement, so a lot of your money’s invested.
Even if you said, well, no, I think this money is accessible to me, you just said, I’m gonna index it to the market, which doesn’t mean I’m gonna get market returns. No, you’re gonna get about 3% a year. So universal life, any sort of sales pitch that comes out and says, oh yeah, you’re gonna average seven, 8% a year is not true.
You’re gonna average three and a half. That’s just ’cause they cap the top. That’s how they have, they have to do that to, they can’t give you all the upside and none of the downside. That’s the sales pitch. You get all the upside and none of the downside. Insurance companies don’t take all the downside and none of the upside guys, they take, they take most of the upside and trade with you on the downside.
to just be clear, to get those types of returns, you have to accept the downside. And there are policies that do that. They just don’t, they’re, they don’t have these caps. It’s called variable universal Life and it just has straight looking mutual funds inside
of it. It’s a whole different thing in terms of, yeah, in terms of that, that this, this isn’t that, this and that.
So the other way that maybe they’re talking about, because he did slide this in, there was buying of universal life policy and funding it with premiums throughout the rest of
your lifetime. This is what I think is probably really happening. Og.
Yeah, I mean the sales guy is probably saying, Hey listen, you don’t have to write a check out of this.
We’ll just take it from your I R A every year.
He’s not saying buy it inside the ira, he’s just not saying, take
your IRA out and dump it in the insurance policies. Yeah. He’s probably saying, Hey, if you’re worried about taxes, let’s buy a life insurance policy for your beneficiaries and your beneficiaries will get a tax-free benefit, which could offset the tax bill that’s associated with it.
In some cases, this math does work and you have to use a permanent policy for it because you know you’re not gonna buy a term policy for a 65 year old. You don’t know how long you’re gonna live. Right? So when we talk about there’s always arrows in the quiver, and you know, sometimes if everything’s a square peg round hole, you just try to jam it in.
Sometimes this is the case for permanent policies. You’re trying to ensure this, uh, lifetime and trade away the premiums for the tax bill in the future. The problem that I have with this still is that it’s still a relatively small amount in the grand scheme of things. We would typically look at life insurance as a solution here.
If we were faced with an estate tax bill and an estate tax bill is, if you die worth more than 12 and a half million dollars, then i r s is gonna come after half of what’s above that if you’re not married. Right. If you’re married, that number’s 25 million. So if you’ve got less than 25 million, you’re not gonna pay estate taxes.
You may pay income taxes few. So we’re not in that ballpark yet with a million and a half, you know, investible net worth, we’re, we’re not close. So I’m not a fan of any of this. I like the Roth strategy. I think you can accomplish the same thing by being creative. And, and if you’re 65, let’s say, and you’re gonna live 30 years, you know, you’re gonna put 30 years of $6,000 a year premiums and, and that’s assuming that their illustrations are correct.
And don’t come to you 20 years from now and go, oh, sorry, we, you know, we didn’t get the returns. We thought we need 12,000 now. Hard pass. Yeah.
Thanks for the question, Robert. If you’ve got a question for us like Robert had, head to stacky Benjamins dot com slash voicemail and we’ll be happy to answer your question and send you a Haven life.
Uh, stacky Benjamins Greatest Money Show on Earth Circus T-shirt, which is incredibly comfortable. If you wanna see all the swag we got out there, Stacking Benjamins dot com slash shirts. Hey, that’s gonna do it for today on the community calendar. I’ll be back on Instagram on Thursday, but even before that on Wednesday we’re gonna be recording.
This is gonna be super fun. We’re gonna be recording live a round table episodes so you can hang out with OG Neighbor Doug, Paula Pant and Len Penso. That’s gonna be at, uh, 4:00 PM Eastern, 1:00 PM Pacific on Wednesday on the Fireside app. And on the Fireside app. You could actually be. In the show with us, you could be, uh, right in the studio audience.
We’ll also simulcast it on our YouTube channel. You can find all of those channels, links to everything. Stacky Benjamins dot com slash welcome. It’ll give you the link to the fireside app. It’ll give you the link to YouTube, Instagram, everywhere. Thursday, I’ll be on Instagram Live. Uh, that will be at 5:00 PM Central.
So a couple big, excuse me, 5:00 PM Eastern. What am I talking about? Big events Wednesday and Thursday, live with you guys, and of course, normal shows coming Wednesday and Friday this week. Coming up Wednesday is the show that OG and I, uh, recorded live at podcast Movement, our annual. What are your audiences thinking about podcast with other podcasters from around the, uh, personal finance and other communities?
We’ll have that coming up on Wednesday. But if you’re not here for any hanging out with us, live events, t-shirts, any of that stuff, you really need to put together a better team to make better decisions. OG and his team are taking clients, so head to Stacking Benjamins dot com slash OG for a link to their calendar.
It’s first step to interfacing with them to see if they can help you make better decisions in your financial future. Alright, uh, that is it for Monday. Doug, take us home, man. What should we have learned today? Well,
Joe, first take some advice from Sammy and Michelle Vargos and build a career around your dream life, not the other way around.
Second, back to school supplies. Get expensive fast. Help your kids get organized so you don’t have to replace everything before homecoming because this ain’t that. But the big lesson, most people fail to see the importance of doing a trick or treat. Practice run in August. But persistence is the key people.
Seriously, og, pony up with the Kit Katt man.
Thanks to Michelle and Sammy Vargos for joining us today. You can find their podcast, build a Wealthy Spirit wherever you are listening to us now. We’ll also include links in our show notes at Stacking Benjamins dot com. This show is the Property of SB Podcasts L L C, copyright 2023, and is created by Joe Saul-Sehy.
Our producer is Karen Repine. This show is written by Lisa Curry, who’s also the host of the Long Story Long podcast. With help from me, Joe, and Doc G from the Earn and Invest podcast, Kevin Bailey helps us take a deeper dive into all the topics covered on each episode in our newsletter called the 2 0 1.
You’ll find the 4 1 1 on All Things Money at the 2 0 1. Just visit Stacking Benjamins dot com slash 2 0 1. Wonder how beautiful we all are. Of course, you’ll never know if you don’t. Check out our YouTube version of this show Engineered by Tina Eichenberg. Then you’ll see once and for all that I’m the best thing going for this podcast.
Once we bottle up all this goodness, we ship it to our engineer, the amazing Steve Stewart. Steve helps the rest of our team sound nearly as good as I do right now. Want a chat with friends about the show later? Mom’s friend Gertrude and Kate Kin are our social media coordinators, and Gertrude is the room mother in our Facebook group called The Basement.
Say hello when you see us posting online to join all the basement fun with other stackers type Stacking Benjamins dot com slash basement. Not only should you not take advice from these nerds, don’t take advice from people you don’t know. This show is for entertainment purposes only. Before making any financial decisions, speak with a real financial advisor.
I’m Joe’s Mom’s Neighbor, Doug, and we’ll see you next time back here at the Stacking Benjamin Show.
You and Finn have
a good night last night. Well, we did stay up late watching. Um, Oh, what the hell was it? Oh, alone. I’m all into that show alone. The survivor show. Uh,
wait, you watched, you watched Alone with somebody else? I did. Broke the rules. Doesn’t Yeah. Doesn’t that ruin
the whole thing? Yeah. So we were up late and then it started storming here, but like it thundered for an hour before the storm actually hit and the dogs weren’t as big a fans as you’d think they are or should be over thunder.
So I was up since like four on and off since four.
And then og do you have any preconceived ideas that dogs are big fans of Thunder?
I don’t, uh, know anything about dogs at all. So
he prides himself on not knowing anything about dogs.
Yeah. I didn’t know anything about Thunder.
Thunder, yeah. No. So you’re cuddling with your dogs while watching a show Meant to watch alone.
Right, right. Weirdo. So you’re group hugging
through alone, up till one watching that show and then, uh, up three hours later with the doee.
Did you like? Uh, so, so what is this show alone about?
Oh, it’s been on forever. I bet. You know, as soon as I start describing it, I think it, well it’s on the History channel, but it’s a survival show, so, um, where a lot of other survival shows, there’s like film crews and they, you know, kind of stage the whole thing.
This truly is, there are 10 competitors. They pick a different location every year, and some of the most awful environments you can imagine, usually a place that has. Like multiple seasons where there’s actual snow. The one year they did the rainforest in uh, Vancouver Island, but all the rest have been like Patagonia or way up in the Yukon territory.
And these folks will start off kind of late summer, early fall, and they’ve got a prep and get themselves ready for everything that’s about to come at ’em. And then winter shows up and it’s, you know, they get 10 items, uh, of their own choosing, whether that’s a saw to help make firewood or a bow and arrow, no guns.
And they’ve gotta literally find their own food, make their own shelter. They’ve got absolutely everything and they just give ’em all GoPros to film themselves doing this. So there is no support, no camera crew. Do you know what?
Sounds like what OGs kids call Wednesday. Yeah, right. He just sets ’em off.
It’s like I get to pick 10 things. I pick. Um, let’s see. Right. A Ritz Carlton.
This is gonna be good. Yeah. Uh, 600 thread
count sheets. A full breakfast buffet. A breakfast
buffet included of course,
with the omelet station.
Duh. Not gonna make my own omelet. A refrigerator. Right. A freezer full of beef. Let’s see, what else could I go with?
That’s right. One year there was a guy from Alaska and, and I think they were in Canada about two seasons ago, somewhere, God knows where in Canada. But he killed a muskox with his bare hands, like stabbed it to death. He, of course he did. It was amazing. Oh, this guy, he pulled down the largest animal anybody has and he won because he was eating steaks.
He was hungry for the whole rest of, of the time
he was hungry. Yeah. Again, for og, that’s called Thursday, right?
Take down an ox I’ll by myself. I throw rocks at it from like a hundred
yards away. There might not even be Musk oxes where they in Canada, but wherever they were, that’s what he took down and it was impressive.
Wow. And uh, but everybody else is just scraping by and they’re like eating mice. They’re using these little rock deadfall rock traps to, to kill a mouse, and that’s their protein for two weeks. It’s like six grams of protein in a mouse. Yeah. But you know, I like to dream that I could live
miserably like that.
I’ve been watching a show, Doug that you introduced me to an Australian show called Fisk.
How is OG not saying good? I might, he says it every time there’s a foreign country and he’s not saying good.
I might, that’s ’cause I didn’t say Austrian or Dutch. That’s right. Yeah. Or uh, it doesn’t Venezuelan, it doesn
It doesn’t work if it’s
the actual country.
Got it. No, if it’s the actual, whenever it’s Australia, you don’t do that. I don’t know if it’s
a, if it’s a cultural hello there yo up.
Uh, I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing or what, but I love the timing and tempo of Australian comedies. It’s turning
out this show is so deadpan funny. Yeah. I think you, were you the one that told me that the woman who’s the main character is also the writer, the producer, the, she’s like the, that was less than 12 hours
ago that I told you that creative force.
I’m expect to remember anything you say. What the
hell? Yeah, she’s everything. And I, I think I, the credits were scrolling fast, but I think she’s got a sister or something that’s also in the, on the team.
I would play a clip, but I can’t, but, but they’re talking about season three, which means Netflix only picked up the first season for Netflix in Australia.
They’re, they’re well beyond. Like she’s, this is, yeah. Season
two. This is a very successful, uh, series. Jen looked it up. Season two is on Apple and I, we haven’t dug for it yet. Don’t know if it’s a paid thing. Or what? Fisk is
a funny story. She got fired from her. The setup is she’s an attorney who got fired from her old job, and it turns out it’s because she yelled at a client and then you find out later the client was the woman her ex-husband was sleeping with, not her ex at the time found out that it, so, so she, she gets fired for this totally horrible reason and, and everything, just, nothing works in her favor.
And she just constantly finds a way around it. One of the very first bits, she goes into the temp agency to get the job and they ask if she has a reference and she’s like, oh yeah, I think it’s somewhere in there for, well, knowing there is no reference in there because they’re just gonna tell. The temp agency, she got fired and she said, uh, and, and then one goes, well, I don’t see one.
And she goes, can I get one? And she just looks across the desk and goes, no, imagine trying to get a job. Oh gee, can I get a reference? Yeah, no, no, cannot, cannot get it. Not not for me. And then she goes, so this outfit, is that what you’re gonna go with when you go? She goes, oh yeah. I bought three of the same ones.
I bought three of the same ones so I don’t have to decide what to wear every day. And the woman’s like, I might rethink
that. It’s just a brown suit. And the temp agency lady’s like, you’re, you’re, you’re melting into the furniture. And right after that, a guy shows up to talk and he tries to sit on top of her ’cause he can’t see her.
He doesn’t see her.
It’s so dumb. It is just, it’s this ridiculous farce of a show. And a very funny Fisk, I’ve
watched say, what’s wrong with buying the same thing all the time. I know, right? I found these shirts, I really like ’em. Little athletic shirts ordered five of them. Three of ’em in the same color ’cause I forgot that I
from the clavicle on up.
You look athletic. Thank you.