Jason Vitug started with a traditional career path in Silicon Valley, but walked away from it all to found Phroogal, a website dedicated to answering people’s questions about financial literacy. His projects have grown to include an annual Financial Literacy Road Trip and a brand new book. Find out more in this week’s episode of the Personal Profitability Podcast.
Eric Rosenberg: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, welcome back to the Personal Profitability Podcast. And as always I am your host, Eric Rosenberg. And today I’m excited to have a very special guest who’s name I’m not going to butcher unlike last time because we talked about it before we got on.
On the line with me is Jason Vitug who is a, as far as I am concerned, a world-renowned author, blogger, speaker, and road-tripper. We’ll get into all of that as we go forward. Everyone say hello to Jason and Jason say hello to everyone.
Jason Vitug: Hello everyone. It’s good to be here.
Eric: Welcome, I’m so excited to have you. Jason, like some past guests, I know through FinCon and he was a speaker at Ignite which is a, it’s like Ted Talks on speed. It’s kind of the way I like to think about it. It’s an informative talk that is exactly five minutes long to the second. And it’s enforced by a PowerPoint deck that has to be 20 slides on a fifteen second auto advance.
A couple of years ago, Jason was one of the speakers at Ignite which was a blast. So that’s how I really got to know Jason but he’s doing a lot more now and some really cool stuff.
So before we dive into that, I always say personal finance should be fun, it should be personal. It shouldn’t always be stuffy. So I’m sitting here with Jason virtually toasting over the internet airwaves. I’m having a Stone IPA. Now that I’m a California local I gotta have a California beer. And Stone is down in San Diego. I’ve been to San Diego but not to the brewery yet. That’s on my to-do list. Arrogant Bastard, I think is one of the coolest names of any beers out there but I don’t really loved it. The beer, it’s a little malty for my taste. But the Stone IPA, a little more mellow but still got that hoppy bite. That’s my pick for the day. What are you drinking on your end, Jason?
Jason: Aside from my normal beer, I’m holding a Fat Tire.
Eric: Fat Tire. That’s a good choice.
Jason: Yeah. A New Belgium Fat Tire, Amber Ale to be specific. I just love the bitterness of it. It has this unique taste and so it’s nice and cold so it’s perfect.
Eric: Nice cold is…You know actually a funny thing I was just in England a few weeks ago and a lot of the beers there they don’t drink as cold as we do here. They have them, not quite room temperature but usually pretty close. Though some they do like room temperature. I definitely like the American ice cold beer version rather than the warm beer they have over there.
Jason: I agree with you, too. Whenever I go, I came back from the Philippines and it’s very hard to keep anything cold out in the subtropics so it’s like I need a ton of ice to keep it cold. So we never get any chance to drink really cold beer on a, I mean today it’s pretty hot so on a hot spring day, ti’s a perfect, perfect moment.
Eric: A funny thing, Coor is, which is from Colorado like I am from Colorado and New Belgium, like you’re drinking is from Colorado, they have these taps they’re special taps just for Coors Light that they’re shaped like a mountain peak and they’re frosty. The tap itself is like cold to the touch. And they say that the beer should be so cold all the way until it touches your glass. But I actually did a little reading about it and there’s a point that it’s actually so cold, you can’t taste it as well. Which I guess is just fine for Coors Light if you’re in my camp of craft beer world. Just a funny little tidbit about Coors and those taps. If you’re on Denver you can find them in a lot of places. I imagine they’re elsewhere, too.
Jason: You know I’ve been to Denver a number of times. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed those taps so when I’m back there I’m definitely gonna check them out. Cause I do like light beer. I think you know this about me…
Eric: Yeah, yeah….
Jason: So that’s something that’s interesting. But I didn’t know that beer could be too cold.
Eric: Yeah. There’s a point that your taste buds don’t differentiate all the flavors the same which with the Fat Tire or an IPA, you really want to be able to taste every little aspect of that. Because it’s made so intentionally but yeah, New Coors Light, I know it’s hard to, it kind of is what it is, right? So be it you’re a light beer fan so I don’t want to rag on it too much. Everyone has their own taste that’s what keeps all the beer companies in business and there being so many more great ones.
So anyway enough about beer. We’ll keep enjoying our beers together. But we’ll talk more about personal finance and your journey and how you lept into entrepreneurship . You’ve done, your site was incredible from the get go. For those who aren’t familiar Jason’s site is called Phroogal. It’s spelled with a P-H. So when you’re Googling, if you type in Frugal with an F, I don’t know you might find the wrong site but Frugal with a P-H is Jason’s site. And a couple of Os in there.
Jason: I’m trying to be clever with a name.
Eric: Just to make sure I spell it right could you spell it for everyone so they can type it in if they’re wanting to check it out as they’re listening along?
Jason: Yeah, perfect. It’s p-h-r-o-o-g-a-l dot com.
Eric: Yeah. So Phroogal, which has a totally fun vibe, there’s a lot of question and answer on that site. And that’s really a core but hoped to grow. I know it went from zero to tens of thousands of answers very quickly. Was that your plan when you started the site in the beginning? And was that part of your plan for how to leap into entrepreneurship using that forum type approach?
Jason: You know it’s funny, my original plan was to help people get access to better information. I mean, simple easy answers to sometimes complex financial questions. And what a better way to do that than a forum but making it so much easier to sift through and to find questions that are trending and things like that. So the original idea has evolved and enhanced and so it’s what you see now has been a couple [inaudible 6:53] of what was when it launched back in 2013 and it’s gonna continue to evolve. I mean what I love about Phroogal, you said it, it starts as a platform of Q & A and we have 15,000 questions and answers and it’s constantly growing. We have a very popular blog that’s attached to that. What I love about it is the community; you’re talking about tens of thousands of millennials on that searching for answers, adding their questions, sharing information.That’s how Phroogal has evolved. It is about what you said early on – making finance personal.
Eric: So when you launched the site did you believe that it was going to be something that you would be able to make a full time living on? Or did you think this is just going to be a hobby that you could help people out, maybe make a few bucks along the way? What was your thought when you started it and launched it in the beginning?
Jason: I aim really high. For everything I do I aim really high. I saw myself disrupting the banking industry, the financial services industry by empowering people with info. And so just a trajectory, I never saw myself as an entrepreneur. I worked in corporate America. I might have thought like in my childhood when I was a teenager even in college, maybe I loved to own a business but it’s something I didn’t focused on. I went on this traditional path of going to work for someone else in the corporate world.
It’s interesting how everything just turned out where I had this idea, I was able to execute the idea, I successfully crowdfunded to help me build the platform. But again my goal was to become the source for personal finance information and connect people not just the content that we create and not just the information that people share but I wanted to be that go-to place where we push people to different information that is created, so curation aspect of it. And that’s what we’re kind of growing into, curating some of the best personal finance bloggers, the best podcasters, and expanding their reach within this generation.
Eric: It’s an amazing goal and big thanks again from the personal finance community that you include us in all you do out there on your site, on your travels.
Financial Road Trip
So speaking of travels though, last year and then again this year you did a financial road trip where you’ve gone from city to city doing talks and lectures and trying to help people who don’t have such a strong background on personal finance.That’s something that no one’s really born with and schools do a horrible, horrible job teaching it, if they teach it at all.
You know I was lucky that I had a middle school teacher teach us how to balance a checkbook but I think that’s pretty rare. Most us, you know it’s weird to say I was lucky that I had learned how to balance a checkbook. Something I never thought I’d heard myself say.
There’s a lot of people out there who just don’t know much about how to deal with money and Jason’s really getting to them through this roadtrip to help them out. How did that idea come about and what has it been like putting it together and living it last year? What did you learn from that that you’re using to shape this year’s trip?
Jason: The roadtrip is called The Road to Financial Wellness, which is a grassroots and social media campaign. It’s turning local money discussions into a national conversation on financial well-being.
I came up with the idea because I love travelling. Prior to me starting Phroogal, I was working in credit unions out in Silicon Valley and I was traveling a lot. And so when I had the opportunity to become the CEO, basically taking the successor position, I opted to do something completely different. So I said, I’m not gonna continue on this path, I’m gonna resign. So I resigned, went traveling. I got hit with the travel bug, hardcore.
Eric: I know how that feels. Once it bites you, you can’t stop.
Jason: What’s amazing about that, right, cause people go, ‘wait Jason, you’ve been to like 33 different countries. Don’t you get tired of it?’ I’m like, no I think the moment you visit something completely different, exotic, you learn some new culture, maybe pick up a few words in a different language, eat some new food, amazing conversations, there’s just so much more to explore. And so when I got back in 2013, I really wanted to travel but I had this entrepreneurial journey, right? That was my purpose. I was gonna empower our generation, our communities. And with entrepreneurship it’s a roller coaster. I mean you have your highs and your lows and so I was working 24 hours pretty much a day. I was working more hours and I was working when I had a corporate job and I had a 6-figure salary, and so…
Eric: I know what that feels like. There’s a great saying, it says, ‘An entrepreneur is someone willing to work 90 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.’ I feel that way sometimes.
Jason: I haven’t heard that. And that’s exactly it. That exactly it. And then so, not only do I talk about personal finance, I talk about lifestyle. I talk about engineering your life in the way that you’re living your purpose, you’re creating memories with your friends, your family, your loved ones. And so when I noticed I was working 90 hours a week or more on this project and we were hitting milestones and all that stuff, I said something has to change and so I had to take a step back. And the road trip became like this conglomeration of my love for travel, my love for personal finance, my love for engaging with people, and I said, well what a better way to talk about money than to go out on the road and just break this last social taboo.
And that’s how it started. I had the thought for about a year and it was only early last year, 2015, that I said I’m gonna commit to this. What was crazy was I said I wanted to do 30 pitstops in 30 days in the month of June back in 2015. We were successful in holding and participating in 37 events across the country. We drove 10,218 miles. The events were attended by over 8,000 people spread all across. The events varied. We had very large events which were more festival-like. We had barbecues. We had financial conversations at a bar, restaurant, so what have you. It was such a great experience that it brought me to doing again in 2016, now bigger and better. I’ve been saying to everyone, ‘this is the roadtrip to end all road trips.’ The goal is to hit all 50 states, that includes Alaska and Hawaii, and have one pitstop…
Eric: It’s hard to drive the Hawaii. I’ll just throw that one out there.
Jason: That’s absolutely right so we’re gonna do something pretty clever and fly [inaudible 14:17]
Eric: I guess that would make a lot more sense. I guess you could drive a car onto a big boat and take the ferry ride out.
Jason: That is true. I didn’t think of that but I’ll be back in a couple of months.
Eric: It’ll take a couple of months probably, round trip.
Jason: Yeah. That was it. The Road to Financial Wellness, yes we participated in events and I talked about ‘Your Money Mindset’ which really focuses on understanding your relationship with money, figuring out where is it based from, to get you from scarcity to abundance and making better mindful decisions on how you spend your cash.
The Smile Lifestyle
But we also went out and had conversations with people at the local level, want to ask them about their hopes and dreams, ask them about their financial challenges and listen to their concerns about the lack of resources or the inability to find the right products and services that helps them achieve financial goals as well as live dream lifestyle, which I call The Smile Lifestyle.
And this year we’re in charge of this mission to drive 15,000 miles, another zigzag all across the country, having events at different key locations in addition to setting up little meetups at coffee houses, restaurants, diners all over the country and inviting people to just come and talk to us, share their financial stories, share their wisdom, ask us questions about what they like work on to improve their financial situation and again, ultimately, the whole goal is to help you live your dream lifestyle in this lifetime.
Eric: You know it’s funny this is happening during political campaign season when there’s a few famous people that are in the news a lot driving around doing the same thing except they’re trying to get something out of people, well you’re trying to help people. So put a twist on that politics. Take that. Maybe you should take a lesson from Jason’s book.
Jason: Yeah. I steer clear from politics and it’s actually quite interesting somebody just mentioned if I was going to be in different locations around the country for the conventions and if I would run into any of the politicians that are running or any of the individuals that are up for whether you’re talking about the Presidency, Senators, Congressmen, it would be great to have conversations with them.
Eric: Oh totally.
Jason: And talk about financial literacy cause you mentioned that when we were kids we weren’t taught about personal finance. And I go out there and I tell everyone why is it that we’re forced to learn how to calculate the circumference of the circle or the area of the triangle but we don’t know how to balance our checkbook. We don’t know anything about investing, creating wealth, paying off debt, compound interest, all of these basic things aren’t taught to us.
And so I’m happy that many states have adopted laws that say okay there are certain amounts of financial education credits that a student must go through. But even some of those programs, I look at them and I’m like well that’s not gonna inspire anyone to want to learn. But I mean it’s a step in the right direction.
Unlike you I didn’t have the financial conversations with my teachers or with my parents and my first relationship with money when I got my first paycheck at this job I worked at Newark airport. I was so excited and I didn’t even know about direct deposits so I took my check, I ran to the nearest bank on the corner and I opened up my checking account cause I said, okay to be an adult, I was eighteen, to be an adult I needed to have a debit card.
Eric: Welcome to adulthood with your debit card.
Jason: Yes, that’s exactly it. And then what do you think happened?
Eric: You overdrafted.
Jason: Overdraft a nonsufficient fund fees and it ever had any savings account or a checking account. It was really quite ridiculous. But that was my relationship with money. I didn’t understand how checking and debit cards and balancing the cash in there with the debits and credits, I didn’t know.And it’s interesting because when I would vocally tell people this it’s like, oh I made a lot of mistakes with my banking habits and I overdraft and they’ll chuckle and they say, ‘what’s wrong with you?’
That’s when I started thinking, well yeah what is wrong with me?
Eric: The thing is it’s not wrong with you. It’s wrong with the system. It’s wrong with everybody. When I talk to people about it, every once in awhile I hear someone chuckle like that but more often I hear stories of people who had the same problem. That’s why I was able to blurt out and guess, so you overdrafted. because that happens to so many people it’s crazy. You’re right. You were saying, we know it like all these geometry stuff. Like I know the Pythagorean Theorem that I learned sophomore year in high school. You graduate high school you need to know that. You don’t need to know how interest works on a credit card. That’s what baffles me, it’s crazy.
Jason: It is crazy. Here we are when we’re kids, when we’re teenagers we dream about being artists, athletes, actors, doctors, lawyers, whatever that may be, so we have all these dreams to…
Eric: Maybe I could be a male model. What do you think? I live in L.A. area now, right? I could the next Derek Zoolander. No? I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding.
Jason: Do you have your, what is that,do you have your…
Eric: My blue steel?
Jason: Your blue steel look?
Eric: I do an eyebrow kind of like The Rock. That’s my trademark face. I’m doing it right now. You can’t see it. But I’m doing it. My left eyebrow is up.
Jason: Oh, that’s hilarious. I’m picturing you with your eyebrow, with your beer in one hand.
Eric: The beer’s on the right hand. My left hand is on my chin. I have my head just cocked a little bit to the right of the eyebrow.
Jason: It is really interesting just how all our hopes and dreams to be something one day is impacted by how we handle money. It’s impacted by the products and services that we use yet it’s very difficult for us to openly talk about this, right? We are. I’m seeing a trend. We’re breaking the taboo. And that’s part of this Road to Financial Wellness. It’s like we’re saying okay we’re gonna put it out there. And people are opening up. And so we’re continuing on that mission and listening to people and finding out what they need help on and relaying that information to the partners, to the non profits, to the organizations that have a vested interest in helping local communities uplift themselves economically.
Eric: So of all the places you drove around last year, you said 37 stops, did you have any city that you thought was gonna be kind of ehhh by reputation but then you got there and you were totally excited and it blew you away?
Jason: You know since I’m a “traveler” I look at different cities kind of for their uniqueness so I don’t go into a city, ‘look I can’t wait to be in this city.’ I can say what, and you’re from Denver, and I love Denver.
Eric: It’s a pretty great place.
Jason: It is, it is. And I just didn’t know of that for some reason I keep thinking that Denver was always snowed in.
Eric: You know that’s something a lot of people think. I find people on the coasts are the ones who think Denver gets all the snow. But really Denver is two hours from the snow. The snow comes in the mountains. Yeah it does snow every few years. Well it snows every year. But every few years there’s one of those big like 3-foot snow storms that everyone’s stuck for like 3 or 4 days at home. But outside of every few years usually it snows 3, 4, 5, 6 inches and it’s gone in a couple of days cause it’s gonna be sunny and 80 the next day even in the winter or something. The weather’s crazy there.
Jason: That has something to do with i being surrounded by the mountains and preventing the clouds, I don’t even know.
Eric: The snow really comes more in the mountains because just mountains, snow, it’s higher up. It’s colder there. It’s just elevation differences. Denver is really in great plains same as Kansas or Nebraska. Because Denver being so close to the mountains there is some other geological impact. Yeah, the weather doesn’t cross the mountains as easy coming from the West Coast. It has to go up and over so a lot of that snow will fall on the mountains before it even gets to Denver. So if a storm’s coming….When I lived in Portland I’d be on the phone with my dad actually talking about it a lot. I’d say, ‘oh it just rained here for 3 days in a row, I guess it’ll snow in Denver in a couple of days.’ That’s usually where the weather patterns come but most of that gets intercepted by the mountains on the way.
Jason: You know what? One other place I would think is, is snowed in and it probably is, is Missoula Montana.
Eric: Yeah. I think they get a lot of snow up there
Jason: Oh yeah, they do.
Eric: It’s cold in the winter in Montana. That’s the …
Jason: Yeah. I was there in June so it was perfect weather. What’s Montana’s state tagline, it like a big skies or
Eric: Something like that. Big Sky Country.
Jason: Yeah, Big Sky Country. It’s beautiful and I was really impressed to as well with Missoula Montana, completely different from Denver where Denver just has this electricity, this energy that you get when you’re in this city. It’s from what I saw, it was clean, the people were friendly, it was very easy to get from one place to the other, very nice walk…
Eric: It’s one of the healthiest cities in the country.
Jason: That I learned as well. I felt that was great and then what I really told myself is if I was looking for…I’ve always lived on the coast so I lived in Jersey or in Manhattan and I lived Palo Alto in California so I’ve always lived on the coast and I never thought of myself, I don’t think I could ever live inland. I just like being near beaches and when I went to Denver I was like, wow this a pretty nice place. It really is close to the lifestyle that I enjoy living. And then, to bring this back to like money, and then I notice how expensive Denver, like just housing in Denver it is astronomical.
Eric: It’s been a weird journey, the housing prices in Denver. Because if you compare it to something like Manhattan or Los Angeles or San Francisco, dirt cheap. But compared to most of the rest of the center part of the country other than Chicago maybe, it is one of the more expensive cities. I always grew up thinking it was really expensive. And then I looked at what it would cost to get the same sized apartment in Manhattan, I was like, ‘what? That’s crazy!’ I couldn’t even eat if I had to pay that for rent.
So many young people, people around our age have been just attracted to that lifestyle, the great outdoors and in the summer you got mountain climbing and hiking and kayaking and pretty much anything you can do outside other than surfing you can do in Colorado in the summer. In the winter, snowboarding and skiing are right there around the corner. So it’s a huge attraction because so many people have come in so fast. Construction’s going on like crazy there, it’s almost impossible to keep up with the demands. The prices just keep going up and up and up. That actually helped me make a bunch of money when I sold my condo when I left Denver. So thanks to everyone for moving there. And the same thing with Portland, I made about 20% of my house when we left Portland. We only owned it for 10 months.
Jason: So that’s right, you were in Denver then moved to Portland then you moved to L.A.
Eric: We’re actually in Ventura. It’s about an hour north of L.A.
Jason: So are you telling me that I should go over to Ventura and buy property because by the time you live, you seem…
Eric: That’s what the trend seems to be but I dom’t know if I would sink all my money into Ventura property just yet. The economy here, it’s interesting. It’s very different than anywhere else I’ve ever lived in. Being in Denver and in Boulder for college there is a lot of tech scene and a lot of startup stuff going on. A lot of new businesses and Fortune 500 companies coming in. Portland has a lot of that same thing, of startups and new businesses moving there constantly. Ventura, it’s more of a sleepy beach town. So the economy is a little different. I’m still trying to get a lay of the land and figure out where I should put my bucks to make money in a house. I’ll do it. We’ll get there.
Jason: How do think of in terms of you living in these major cities, which is a hub for entrepreneurs, young professionals, people who want to have walkable [inaudible] and the cost of living is going up there and and people already, I mean when I tell people about California, they are thinking of the cost of living. It is high.
Jason: So you went from some place like Denver which attracts too many people and it’s just growing exponentially to Portland which is attracting so many people and is growing exponentially to Ventura. Was finance a big factor of that? Considering it is California,[inaudible 28:15] at the beach town, it’s interesting.
Eric: Well money was definitely something we had to factor in. In Portland I was living in a beautiful four-bedroom house and now I’m in a two-bedroom apartment that costs $300 more per month than my mortgage was. So it is way more expensive living here but the biggest draw for us is we’re about 20 minutes away from my in-laws. We had a baby, she’s now 7 months old, and beautiful and amazing if I do say so myself.
Jason: She is.
Eric: Everything changes when you have kids. And I expected that going into it and I knew things were going to change. And we knew when we moved to Portland we said, ‘well we don’t know if this is really gonna be our forever home.’ It might be if it works out great but if not we weren’t gonna be too disappointed. We had a great experience. I absolutely loved living there and still have some amazing friends there. But when you have a kid being closer to family, there is a huge value and even you could argue financial value if you take into account maybe babysitting and daycare that, we’re not doing it at this point but, if you could drop your kid off with the grandparents instead of a daycare they’re with family and it saves you bundle, thousands of dollars a month in some situations.
So there’s definitely some benefits to being close to family but the family lived in Santa Barbara County which is one of the most expensive parts of one of the most expensive states so we just had to bite the bullet on the cost to moving to a smaller place. But then I’m also looking outside and it’s beautiful blue sunny skies pretty much everyday and 5-minutes walk from my front door I’m in the sands so…
You get what you pay for. In here you pay for the beach and you get it.
Jason: When I was living in Silicon Valley it was the same thing it terms of the cost living and we’re talking about from 2009 to 2011 or January of 2012, I mean every year…
Eric: Which is exploding there. It’s crazy.
Jason: Yeah. It was exploding. And then I go and I leave and then I come back and then like, wow what happened in a year?
Eric: I was reading a story about a Google senior software engineer, these guys they’re not paid like $40,000 year. These are very well paid people living in trailer parks cause that’s all they can afford in Palo Alto and San Jose. It’s nuts.
Jason: People are renting their garages and I know people and friends who have lived in a garage. And you’re talking about probably at most a hundred square feet and they’re paying a thousand, eleven hundred dollars for that garage and a makeshift little kitchen that…
Eric: Maybe they need to get into the tiny houses down there.
Jason: They probably should.
Eric: They’re probably down there already and I just don’t know up there from where I am.
Jason: I’m thinking, too and I’m like I don’t even know where they can place them but land is at a high premium over in the Bay Area. But that’s kind of one of my decisions too, to leave; was like okay well let me move back to Jersey, I mean Jersey is tech scene. It’s much smaller, it’s kind of growing. And so kind of getting into the beginning of it is great for me just making the connections with people who are making things happen in that state.
But also it was a financial decision because I could save a ton more not just on renting an apartment but everything else aside from insurance cause New Jersey car insurance is horrendous. Insurance was one of the most expensive but everything else, it is definitely more affordable tan California. And that has allowed me to continue on this path, this entrepreneurial path where it’s like zigzag-ing and twists and turns. You never really know how things are gonna pan out. You’re just gonna have to say consistent and persistent on there.
But kind of stepping back, a couple of steps, when you said that you made the decision to move out to Ventura to be closer to your in-laws, I knew it was a financial decision as well. What’s interesting about that is, I don’t have a child, I’m not in serious relationship so this allows me kind of do the road trip and really disappear for months
Eric: Yeah, yeah. It would be hard to get away. Just the drive from Portland to here when we moved was…we had to bring my mom along for the ride otherwise it would not have been doable with the baby. A lot of kids fall asleep, right, when you put them in the car seat, I have a blessing in all ways with my baby except that one. When we put her in the car seat she goes on high volume mode. And she is not happy She lets us know.
Jason: Yeah, she wants you to make sure that she’s back there.
Eric: Not happy to be back there. She would rather be held.
Jason: It’s amazing.
Eric: There’s always some other community benefits thatour location. It’s about an hour drive from here to L.A. without traffic. With traffic, it’s L.A. traffic so it could be I don’t know about 36 hours or so …
There was a personal finance blogger meetup in Long Beach which is southern part of L.A. a couple of weeks ago. You know what I could suck it up and drive down. I actually left just after morning rush hour, thanks to the entrepreneur flexible schedule, and I set up shop in a nice coffee shop in Hollywood, actually West Hollywood, for an afternoon. I did some good work, grabbed a good lunch cause everywhere I’ve lived so far finding kosher meat is very difficult and I only eat kosher meat for religious reasons. L.A., lots of Jewish people, easy to find kosher restaurants so I had a good burger, hopped back in the car, drove down to Long Beach, had a beer at a brewery while I was working about a block from where the meetup was, and meetup time I packed up, walked over, hung out with some great people and then when that ended no traffic for the drive home. So just about an hour or so drive back. We are close enough that with entrepreneur schedule I can make things like that work.
Jason: And that’s awesome. The flexibility, right?
Eric: Totally, yeah. With the old, I’d say 9 to 5 but it was really more like 8 to 6 or some days longer, there was no way to do anything like that. or live in a place like this cause big companies aren’t in a lot of small towns. So having an entrepreneur’s lifestyle, there are some sacrifices, you pay more for health insurance things like that but on the flip side of that coin, I get to live on the beach and be by family. That’s all good.
Jason: You know that’s absolutely right. When we talk about entrepreneurship, right, it was okay you can work a ton of hours. The beauty of entrepreneurship, what I love about it is that my ability to focus on what matters.
Jason: Someone is not telling me what I need to focus on and what project I should be working on.
Eric: There’s no busy work in entrepreneurship.
Jason: Absolutely because I think this, being an entrepreneur has made realize that time is money. Even being a senior executive I knew time was money but there is so much busy work. There is a lot of meetings and a lot of phone calls and …
Eric: There’s so much on appearances, too.
Eric: Like if I were really, really good at my job and was able to get everything done in say 35 hours, can I take off a couple of hours early for a few days, I mean maybe on a Friday every couple of weeks but generally no. You just have to be there and look like you’re really busy even if you’re not.
And on the other side of the coin if you’re like super crazy busy you don’t get extra credit for it. You just have to be there longer. There is some puts and takes, things do come out in the wash, no salary so if I had to go to a doctor appointment or do something cause my baby was having a baby appointment my boss was like, ‘oh you have to clock out or take hours off’ or something like that. But there is that thing of you have to look like you are there working harder than anyone else.
Whether or not you are more effective than anyone else doesn’t come into account a lot of the time which is a thing I think corporate America could learn from a lot of Silicon Valley companies. They’ve taken a lot of diferent approach on that which I appreciate. I hope that trend drips out into the older bigger companies. It’s crazy to think like you just have to look like you’re sitting there working hard and that is really what gets you a promotion. It doesn’t matter if you’re actually saving the company a bunch of money or making the company a bunch of money but that goes less noticed in a lot of cases.
Jason: It does and what’s interesting is there is a study that came out that showed millennials are willing to take a paycut in order to work with a company or to work on projects that are more purposeful. And that’s aligned with what they believe is valuable and impactful I think that is interesting. And companies are taking note because it is wasn’t about FaceTime to our generation, I’m talking about, even like the younger generation, part of this millennials because millennials are now you’re looking at 20 to 36, 22 to 36, the ones who are just right out of college, they’re a bit different in terms of mentality.
Eric: They know how to use Snapchat and i can’t figure it out.
Jason: I had Snapchat for some time but just wasn’t actively using it this past year so it is just one of those things I’m like, wait I just got to press corners or boxes and boxes with circles in them.
Eric: Eventually I’ll figure out how to make myself vomit a rainbow or something.
Jason: I have not figured that out yet.
Eric: I saw my sister do it. So I know it’s possible but I couldn’t figure it out.
Eric: I have been on it for years just because my sister is on it to see what she sends me. But then I was like, ‘oh you can send like little videos, that’s cool.’ I was at a wedding last year in New York and we were up really, really high floor on the rooftop balcony at a hotel fifty floors up or something like that and I was like, ‘oh I should make one of those little Snapchat videos.’ And I had to find the 14-year-old daughter of someone to be, ‘hey how do I do a video on Snapchat?’ That was the first time I’m like, I have a joke, ‘oh yeah I’m old now.’ That time I really felt old that I had to find a 14-year-old to tell me how my phone works. And I’m like a tech guy. I know how to code. I couldn’t figure it out.
Becoming an Author
Eric: Anyway, we only have a little over five minutes left so I want to shift gears. I know you just finished a book and I wanna talk a little bit about the genesis of that book. I know you had written, I think it was on your blog or somewhere you wrote something prolific that I read that you had noticed even though you have reached tens of thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people from your website, in your tour and everything you’ve done
A lot of businesses and companies, conferences wouldn’t take you seriously until you’ve written a book. And that’s something that I haven’t just heard from you. I’ve hear it a lot of places and I’ve written a small ebook but I’m thinking I might have to jump on the bandwagon and write and actual good book at some point. But before I do I’m curious how did that genesis come to be that you’ve found and felt that way? Let’s start with that, talking about the book.
Jason: Yes. It’s interesting, for a few years now I wanted to write a book. But not necessarily know, not in certainty decided on what specific topic. I said to myself, oh I want to write about my backpack trip that I did in 2012 but then when I went through the Road to Financial Wellness and completed that and as I was speaking with people they love the message, they love the seminar, the talks, the Q & A, what have you. And they would ask me for more information. Well, my info is on the blog or I have some workbooks or seminars and they were all looking for books.
And eventually when I was reaching out to press to kind of promote the road tour I was told I was not an authority unless I was an author. And so that made me think for a second, wait a minute I’ve written hundreds of blog posts that were thousands and tens of thousands, as you mentioned, of people and then I’m not an authority on the subject matter.
Eric: That’s crazy.
Jason: It is.
Eric: That the media needs to get with the times that’s why all these newspapers are closing cause they’re so out of touch. They don’t get thatmillennials and then the generations after. They don’t care about a paper newspaper or a paper book the same way as our forefathers did. That’s a whole another rant for another day.
Jason: You know you’re right. There is a generational divide in terms of how do you consider someone an authority. Because in that context even being a social influencer on Twitter, on Facebook, Instagram, doesn’t qualify you as an authority. I think in specifically about this subject on personal finance. And so I said to myself after the road trip I wanted to self-publish a book specifically talking about the main concerns that people had or how you can get yourself on the road to financial wellness.
As I was writing that I shared it as I share many things on Facebook and someone who has become a dear friend of mine for past few years who’s been following my journey has been loving the messages that I’ve been sharing and the content that I’ve been creating sent me a Facebook message and said, ‘My son works at Wiley, so you wanna get published?’ And so with that like a few minutes later I had an email with [inaudible] her son and introducing me and so had a really short conversation just via email. And then two weeks after I finally got a response from someone in corporate in Hoboken, New Jersey. They wanted to learn more. And so I had a very short conversation with them over the phone. They asked me to fill out two pages, filled it out and they ask me another follow-up question and then eventually they said, ‘well we’d like to meet with you.’ And I drove that day they asked; went up to Hoboken, had lunch with my editor and that afternoon I was offered a book deal.
Eric: That’s amazing.
Jason: It was a very quick process. I really didn’t know, I wasn’t navigating so I didn’t go searching for literary agent. I didn’t go create a marketing plan or research for the book. I mean, they did their due diligence in in terms of looking at what happened in the road trip, who is my audience comprised of and also the outlines. I did provide them a very basic outline on what I want to write the on. And with that they were compelled. And so when I sent in my first draft of the book last year, I was really nervous cause I didn’t know what to say. And I remember they sent a developmental editor or development editor and she was, her first reply back to me was, ‘your story is very interesting and engaging but’….and she had a list like a page long.
Eric: I hate the ‘but’. Anytime an editor says ‘but’ that’s…
Jason: It was perfectly…like the way it was written and I had to step out of my room because when someone criticizes you or they find [inaudible 44:19] a feedback and it’s a page long, it’s overwhelming.
Eric: It’s easier to take it personally.
Jason: Yeah. I did because it’s like I’m talking about my personal experiences, I’m talking about the experiences of people that I’m invested in, in their success, so yeah. But then she helped me craft a book that I think was better than what I had originally thought. I went through this whole process, I mean Wiley had been amazing. You’re talking about being assigned eight people is in my team – from my editor, to the developmental, the copy editor, the typeset, PR. It’s been crazy. It’s been a whirlwind.
And they believed that the message or the content that I’ve written on the book resonates with our generation, resonates with across generations actually, and they feel that when we talk about money we don’t really talk about what money is used for in the sense of creating a life worth living, a life worth sharing with others, a purposeful life. And that’s how I got to the title of the book which is You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life.
Because at the end of the day it really isn’t about the size of your bank account if there’s no purpose to why you need X amount of dollars in that bank account.
And so I focused a lot of my attention on mindset, on financial awareness as well as self-awareness. So a good bulk of the book is about increasing your awareness, being more mindful of what it is that you want, where you’re starting from, gaining clarity of what you truly value before you set financial goals.
I think this is big. We talk about this. I think many people set financial goals without understanding what they truly value. I remember when people told me I needed to own a house. I needed to buy a house and I would feel satisfied and happy. And I realized what I value is experiences, is memories, traveling around the world.
So instead of me jumping in and getting a mortgage I decided to take that money, pay off the remainder of my debt, and use the rest to backpack around the world for a year. Thats has lead me to where I am today. And so that’s why purpose is a really big component of the book on personal finance for me.
Eric: That’s great. I think a lot of people can relate to that. That same feeling of ‘I’d rather have experiences and memories and good times with friends over things.Because things come and go but those memories they’re with you forever and definitely make life a lot more interesting and worth living.Totally agree.
Jason: Absolutely. I mean things, too. Things are great. Things add value to our lives so it’s not about saying, ‘You can’t have this. You can’t have that big house, you can’t have that fancy car.’
Because everything has a cost, whether it’s experiences or things, they all have a cost. It’s gonna cost you money. It’s gonna cost you time. But what’s really important is understanding what truly matters to you. And that is taking away all the marketing that’s been pushed down out throats to take out even this influence amongst our friends and our networks and what is a priority. And that’s like challenge [inaudible 47:53] in the book is to get a better understanding of what they truly value and have these meaningful conversations with people that share those values because its gonna push you forward.
Eric: Yeah that’s great. So now we’re just about out of time so if someone wants to go find your book, what’s the release date? Where should they find it?
Jason: The book, I’ll repeat again, You Only LIve Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a purposeful Life, it is available at major retailers. So you’re looking at Barnes and Nobles, Amazon and independent booksellers throughout the country. And there’s also the Kindle version so you can get the hardcover as well as the Kindle version for the book. It’s available starting June 7th.
Eric: Excellent. And if people wanna connect with you personally on the social media world or on your website where is the best places to go find you?
Jason: The best place to go find me is through Twitter, @JasonVitug. That’s the best place to engage with me. And I’m all the social networks: Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram. You can find my name, Jason Vitug. And also follow @Phroogal so where we focus a lot on the personal finance and the lifestyle aspect as well.
Eric: Excellent. Thank you so much for taking the time to sit down and have a virtual toast with me across the internet airwaves. It’s great chatting with you as always, Jason and wishing you the greatest luck in your…you don’t need luck cause you already have good planning and planning trumps luck any day.
So wishing you much success in your upcoming second annual book tour or second annual tour and book launch. You have so much going on ‘mI just jumbling it all up together now. Well anyway, my beer’s about empty so I lift it up and say cheers to the listeners who made it all this way to the end, to Jason for being here with me. Again thank you so much everyone and you have any more questions for Jason why not check out his book, wanna connect with him again it’s phroogal, p-h-r-o-o-g-a-l, did I spell that right?
Eric: Phroogal.com or on Twitter @JasonVitug. So thanks everyone for being a part of it. As always, until next time, stay profitable.