Dan Sheeks 0:02
You don't have to have everything figured out from the start and when you are starting is so intimidating. And there's so much information that it just is overwhelming. And that's why most people never take action. So I tell my young people all the time, you just have to know enough to get started. It's like you're driving a car on a foggy night, you only need to see far enough ahead of you so that you can drive 25 miles an hour safely. And as you get two or three blocks down the road, you can see even further Moore's revealed when it needs to be you will continue to learn and network and grow as you go down that path. But you have to start now, or you'll never get anywhere.
T-minus 10 seconds. Welcome to the journey to launch podcast with your host jameelah. So frogs as a money expert who walks her talk, she helps brave juniors like you get out of debt, save, invest and build real Whoa. Join her on the journey to launch to financial freedom 4321.
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If you want the episode show notes for this episode, go to journey to launch.com or click the description of wherever you're listening to this episode. In the show notes, you'll get the transcribed version of the conversation, the links that we mentioned and so much more. Also, whether you are in OG journey or are brand new to the podcast, I've created a free jumpstart guide to help you on your financial freedom journey. It includes the top episodes to listen to stages to go through to reach financial freedom, resources and so much more. You can go to journey to launch.com/jumpstart to get your guide right now. Okay, let's hop into the episode.
Hey journeyers Welcome back to what I hope will be a an excitable and educational conversation with our special guest, Dan SHEEX, who is the owner and founder of chic freaks. By the way, I like that name chic freaks an online community to help young people live their best lives by making smart money decisions. He has been a high school business teacher for 18 years and is passionate about teaching teenagers early financial independence strategy so that they can live their best lives. So Dan, welcome to the journey to launch podcast.
Yeah, so Dan, you wrote this book called first to a million and it's all about it says a teenager's guide. I honestly think any beginner beginner could pick this up like at any age and read this, but I know that it's geared towards Gen Z and teenagers about achieving early financial independence. And so I think this is going to be a treat, because whether you are a parent who will one day have teenagers, or you already have teenagers, or you yourself or a teenager or young adult listening to this podcast, I hope that this can set everyone up for success on their journey. So, Dan, I'd like to kind of start first with one thing that you mentioned in the book, which I totally agree with. But it's this idea of the American dream, and how we need to let it go. I mean, the American Dream has now become the American nightmare if you ask me. But I want to know from you what that means. And then we can dive deeper into the conversation.
Dan Sheeks 4:18
Definitely. But to go back to something you said Jamila, I agree my book. It does say teen on the cover, but it is for anyone who's beginning to learn about early financial independence. Yeah, so the the American Dream pathway, I kind of talked down about it in the book a little bit, but there are some parts of it that are very strong. And I And I'm, I'm still on board, I mean, the whole idea of, for instance, migrating to the United States of America, building a life having endless opportunities, and chances of abundance in our country that is not broken. And that is an amazing piece of living the United States of America. The American Dream pathway, though, which is that typical pathway that we're trained Did to strive for in the United States, I think that is, I wouldn't say broken because there's nothing wrong with it typical pathway. And for me, I focused on young people, and informing them about other options than the nine to five till you're 65 Grind. That's my passion. That's, I feel like my purpose. And there are other ways as all of your listeners know, to go down that journey of your financial future, without having to work till you're 65. Although there's nothing wrong with working till you're 65 or longer if you enjoy it, but I just think, you know, knowing that there are other options are so important.
Jamila Souffrant 5:37
It's key, right? And you're right, like the American Dream, the opportunities that you do get here versus other places, despite all the issues that America does have, I feel like when done the right way, when you have more options, when you can take back as much control as you can, possibly, with your career life and money that allows you to choose right, the better pathway, as you're saying. And you know, it's interesting, I saw this tweet, I forgot who said it, but it was all about like, part of the system is, you know, we're working until we're older, right? You got all these working years of your life where you are, if you if you don't enjoy your job, it feels like you're wasting away, like you're not able to physically be where you want, do the things you want be with the people you want. And then by the time you are supposed to retire, which by the way, so many people can't retire, right? Like, they're not living like great retirement lives, because they don't have enough money is that you're you're older and society nowadays, like there's ageism, like they discard, or they they don't, they don't, to me value, the older generation, right, like so I feel like it's really imperative that the younger you are that you get on board with this right that you understand what it means. And then of course, I always like to say even if you're older, and you're just finding out about this, like there is still a pathway for you and a pathway to more options. So then for someone who is listening to this and is very young, let's just say teenager, early 20s. And they're like, Alright, then what is financial independence? Let's let's start with the basic, what does that mean? And why should I care about it now?
Dan Sheeks 7:08
Yeah, what is financial independence, that's one of the, you know, the core topics in my, in my book that I talk about it basically the way I define financial independence, I also, by the way, consider financial freedom, the same thing that everyone does, but I consider them synonyms. And that is, you know, getting to a place where you, you have the option to work or not work, because you are financially set, right. And that that can look a lot of different ways, you know, to having have enough investments have enough passive income, etc. but you now have the option to work or not work, what I have found, and I think your listeners, and you would agree that a lot of people who are so motivated to reach early financial freedom, they don't just stop working and never produce, or contribute or create again, another day in their life. There's they're hustlers, right, they, they worked very hard to get there early, they get to call the shots, right? They get to do what they want, when they want with who they want. They're still creating some income, perhaps, or working on projects. They're very passionate about giving back volunteering, and then also traveling spending time with family. So it's getting to have all of those options, and then some that's financial independence for me.
Jamila Souffrant 8:19
And it sounds so clear, like when you say it, when we talk about it, it's like Who wouldn't want that. But I find that it's not only that people don't know that that is possible. I think one, they don't know that it's even a thing. I didn't know it was a thing or possible until I was in my early 30s. I just thought you had to work or you have to be born rich or marry rich, or win the lottery or create a big business, right and start something huge sell it, and then maybe you can do what you want. So there are some people who don't know, this is a pathway like to having freedom. And then there's some people who don't believe it's possible. Like, you know, we're talking about what it means to be financially independent. It's like, so that means that how do I live? How much money do I need? And so for a young person, depending on what that number is, it feels like, you know, I make $15 An hour or I make minimum wage or whatever. And so how am I gonna get from here to a place where I don't need to work again.
Dan Sheeks 9:14
So I would agree, a lot of people don't know it's an option. So that's step number one is just introducing this as an option. And then like you said, some people are skeptical about the idea of early financial independence. You know, there a lot of people say, Well, if this was an actual thing, then everyone would know about it. Well, we fight the same fight saying, Yeah, we agree everyone should know about it. But even then, if you if you know about it, and you are in line and you're, you understand that it is a possibility. I still think it's not for everybody, honestly, because it's not easy. It's simple. The steps are not complicated. But getting there is you know, you have to make some sacrifices, you have to work hard, you have to do things differently, and that can be stressful or intimidating for a lot of people so early for I or financial independence is not for everybody. And I'm okay with that. When I talk to young people, I explained the options, but then I always say to them, now, you know, there are other options, but you are the one that has to decide what is best for your goals in your financial future in your aspiration, I'm not going to tell you that you should or shouldn't do this path. And there's so many of you can hammer it and get there by age 30. Or you could go the other path and get there around age 65, or anywhere in between, it's what's most comfortable for you. But to begin that journey, it's first understanding that it is about, you know, looking at case studies and following people like yourself who have who have proven that it works. There's so many different great examples out there. And then, you know, like you mentioned, that first barrier is, here's what it is. And yes, this is possible. It's not a get rich, quick scheme. It's not a scam. It's not MLM it is just math. And you can do it if you want.
Jamila Souffrant 10:58
Yeah, you bring up good points about seeing examples, right? That people are actually doing it, who they can relate to, which is why I think diversity within the space is important, because everyone does have different starting points, different privileges, that we need to address. So you want to help, like confront those right and help address those issues or blocks, but then also give the tactical ways to do it. So you talk about four ways or four mechanisms of early financial independence. So I'd love to go there because it gets to what exactly people need to do to get to this point.
Dan Sheeks 11:30
Yeah, that's this is the main stuff in my book, The four mechanisms of early financial independence, number one, earn more, to spend less, three, save the difference. And four, invest your savings wisely. And it's simple, right? There's nothing too complicated about those I spent quite a bit of time going digging into those topics in the book. But But there's nothing groundbreaking about those topics, it but it is doing things very differently than the norm. And so it takes someone with the courage to to be different, look different. And sometimes stand out. You know, frugality is a part of that, especially mechanism number two, where you're spending less. So you may not have the nicest car, the nicest house, the nicest clothes, you may not be going out to restaurants with your friends all the time. And for some people, that makes sense, because the the reward is worth it. And some people would rather not do that. But those are those four main mechanisms.
Jamila Souffrant 12:27
And how do you then talk to someone who is just starting out who feels like the little bit that they are getting in their paycheck is what they need to survive. They're like, I don't have money to start this pathway. Because where's the difference? I have to pay these bills, or I have all these responsibilities. What do you say to that?
Dan Sheeks 12:47
Yeah, so here's, here's where I laugh every time I think of it. So I think I took the easy way out Jamila, and I think you took the harder, not the easy way out with the easier path and you have the harder but I'm dealing with young people, Gen Z 15 to 25, they, for the most part, have not yet developed bad habits, or dug themselves into a hole of consumer debt, car loans, things of that, and they haven't, you know, they haven't indulged in lifestyle inflation because they aren't making a lot of money. And so it's a clean slate, and I can train them from the get go to have good habits like paying yourself first 30% or more, stay away from wealth, use credit cards intelligently, it's an amazing tool to build credit scores. And so but when so many people out there, like yourself are dealing with adults. I'm like, Man, that is too hard. Because many adults have indulged in lifestyle inflation, they have racked up student loan debt, car loans, credit card debt, they have bad habits. They're on the wrong path. But my young people, it's it's more about train them from the get go from point A. And saying, Be frugal from the beginning. don't overspend, create good habits. And that path will be much easier for you?
Jamila Souffrant 14:00
And how do you get them to care enough? I mean, I remember myself and I got my first full time job like out luckily, I was always a saver. Without understanding what financial independence was. I was lucky to know that already. But when I started working full time, I could care less about investing in my 401k. You know, I was just like, I want all my money from my check so that I can do what I want with it. Because and I guess at the point, maybe that was it. I didn't understand it. I could reach it earlier. So I thought for me my retirement age would be 6570. So I said to myself, well, that's so far away. I'll figure something out later and enjoy my life now. But how do you get someone young who is 1922 to care so much that they do these things differently?
Dan Sheeks 14:41
It's fun trying but I can't convince them. All right. So I talk about things like like case studies. I've worked with many young people over the years, and I have an online community for Gen Z and so I have a lot of examples in there. In my book I have featured freaks, I call them that are or that have reached or are on their path to early FY.
Jamila Souffrant 15:02
Can we hear an example maybe that will help someone right now listening if you have a case study of kinda like when they started what they did.
Dan Sheeks 15:10
I'll talk about one of my members Jabbar. He is an amazing young man just turned 21. He's full time in the Marine Corps lives on the East Coast. I met him. Two years ago, he was 19. He had just joined the Marines. He owned no property. He had very little investments. He was focused on stock market back then met him in the BiggerPockets forums, actually. So he was slightly interested in real estate. And he joined my online community. And today, I just actually, we have a weekly zoom call. And we featured him a couple of weeks ago. So I got an update this, this young man is crushing it, he has eight properties. He has passive income, he's doing deals with private money. And he's doing all of this while in the Marines full time, and actually was deployed for a few months in Europe, and still manage to make progress and manage properties. From there he gets, he gets field trips all over the United States, he's about to go on when soon. You know, he just bought a four Plex that he's going to short term rental, three units live in the fourth. And he has a team now that he's built where he's going to be setting that up, while out of the state on a marine field trip. The guy is motivated, he's a hustler. He's a grinder. But he has, he has a massive real estate portfolio worth I think over $2 million. And he's crushing it and like I cannot wait to see where he's going to be in five or 10 years. So when I tell that story, and the other members see him, they're like, well, shoot, if Jabbar is doing it, I can do it, too.
Jamila Souffrant 16:45
And he seems very focused and sounds like I need to get him on the podcast.
Dan Sheeks 16:50
You do? You absolutely do.
Jamila Souffrant 16:52
But it sounds like one he's already interested in it. So that's a plus. But he has steady income to help invest into the properties that he's been acquiring.
Dan Sheeks 17:02
He I mean, not much, right? Because the Marines, they don't pay much, because he's basically, you know, he gets remembered included, although he has decided to forego the housing and get his own place so that he can house hack, by the way and live for free anyway. But yeah, so your point is, is how do you get someone to the point where Jabbar started? Yes, he was in the BiggerPockets forums when I met him. And so you know, when I talk to students in my classroom, and these are, you know, 15 to 18 year olds, I can mention case studies, I can get them motivated, you know, talking about things like the Wi Fi, their Wi Fi, their potential Wi Fi. But why would you want to go down this path? What would be the benefit for you? What would that look like? How would your life be different? But at the end of the day, and parents asked me this all the time, how do I make my teen want to learn about money? And my short answer is you can't you can't. You can't make a teenager do anything, honestly. And parents know that right? If you tell them to clean your room, maybe they'll do it, maybe they won't. And so I tell parents, incentivize them, like my book, for instance, read the book first, as a parent, give it to your son or daughter, tell them I will pay you $200 to read this book, when you're done. I'll ask you some questions. And you're introducing them to the ideas but the way I sleep at night because not all this very small percentage of the students in my classroom and in the community will be like Jabbar at that young of an age. But the way I sleep is I know I've planted the seed, the seed is there, they know that there are other options than that nine to five to 65 Grind. They know that they can do things like passive income, real estate, investing and frugality. So maybe it's gonna be 1020 30 years down the road when that seed finally blossoms and they go on to Google and they search for journey to launch podcast or whatever it might be. And then they start learning then, but at least let them know that there are other options. And they get to choose when and if they use them.
Jamila Souffrant 18:56
Yeah, I think the exposure is really huge. And actually like, I mean, it's like you would wish that you don't have to pay them to do things that you know what's helpful to them, but just being realistic about what motivates kids and younger adults, it's kind of like, perhaps within there, then they'll they'll pick up a nugget and be interested. And there why is important. So I don't know if you found that this helped. But I know what helped push me I had to be in the real world to really experience it and know that didn't want to work until the standard retirement age. But I would think to like bringing up the examples maybe that they can draw from from their own lives. Like what about people within your own family that are older that have to work? Or can you imagine like, you know, you want to be able to take trips, but do you only want to be able to do that like once a year for one week. And you have to ask someone to take that time off. Right. Like, I would think that that would help too. Right and helping them get excited about the prospects of this.
Dan Sheeks 19:48
Absolutely. I that's a barrier face when I when I set out to write the book and I knew was going to be for young people specifically, you know, more teenage High School. I knew that I was going to be talking to an audience that hadn't even yet for the most part joined the workforce. So telling them options about how to get out of the workforce earlier than most when you're not even in it yet. I knew that was a barrier. So I, I did exactly what you said, I had to say, you know, take a look at your parents, or friends of your family. Do they work long hours? Do they work at nights? And on the weekends? Are they traveling when they don't want to? Are they stressed out? Are they checking their email at dinner? Are they getting phone calls at night? Are they having surprise deadlines that come out of nowhere? And how are they reacting to that? Do they love their job? Do they like their job? Do they hate their job, and using that as a benchmark because you know, kids are very in tune with what's going on in their parents lives. They see them every day. And most adults in the United States based on surveys, they don't like their job. They're not content, they're not fulfilled. And so I think especially the young people that need this message, the most probably have parents who really aren't fulfilled with their jobs. And that is the lens that they can look through to say, alright, I don't work yet. But based on what my parents are going through, I know that I don't want to do that for 40 years.
Jamila Souffrant 21:08
Is there an area of the one of the quadrants or mechanisms that they should focus on first? Should it be all done together? Because again, if I'm listening, I want to know where to start, like, what's an actionable thing that I can do right now?
Dan Sheeks 21:24
Yeah, all four kind of have to be done at the same time, but you can start small. So for a teenager, let's say you have a senior in high school, how can they use all four mechanisms today. So mechanisms number one, earn more, that high school student could College, whatever, they could get a part time job, maybe they don't have maybe they've never earned a penny in their lives, right, they could get a full time job in the summer, they could do a side hustle, it even as simple as walking dogs, shoveling sidewalks, helping people out with computers, just earning a little money and get starting to feel what that or know what that feels like to earn their own income. So that would be earning more, and so have their own bank account, if they're under 18. It's a joint account with parents, but it's just their money. They're 18, they can get their own. And then they have they start to amass some, some income in that that account and then mechanism or to spend less so start introducing the idea of frugality, which is only spending money on things you value. And the idea of paying yourself first. So training that young person from the very get go, before they get out into the real world that if any income comes into your life, a set percentage automatically goes into your savings account for future investments, the average Americans doing five or 10% 10 percents a good number if you want to work till you're 65. But if you want to get there much earlier than you need to, you need to have that percentage be higher, I recommend 30 to 50% for young people, because again, if they get trained to do that from the get go, then it's a habit they've built and they will hopefully continue to do it's very hard to go from 5% savings rate to 30. But when you have no savings rate, and you're living at home with your parents to start off with 30 is not that big a deal. Now, if they go to college, there may be a few years where that goes down. But they know what it feels like to automatically put that away. They're being more frugal, they're paying themselves first mechanism number three, save the difference. If they're they're earning more and spending less, there's going to be a larger percentage of money that's going into their future financial life. And then mechanism for invest your savings wisely. At the very least, that 18 year old can open up a brokerage account and start putting money into an s&p 500 index fund or something like that. And my book walks him through all of these steps. Parents sometimes can help sometimes they can't friends can sometimes help, maybe not. But if you have a teen or young person in your life, I encourage you and start helping them make some of these decisions.
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Jamila Souffrant 25:16
Now, when it comes to the investing part, would you recommend that at that age, right Gen Z age that they are investing in a Roth IRA with the earned income or they should do taxable investments? Maybe we should define just in case this is, you know, all new terms for someone what that is like what a Roth IRA is, and the benefits of that, and the taxable investments.
Unknown Speaker 25:37
Yeah, so Roth IRA, I throw that into the basket of retirement accounts like a 401k, they look different, right? They have different rules in benefits. But the Roth IRA and the 401k, which are the most common types of retirement accounts, they're not bad options, but they, you don't start pulling money out. So you're 59 and a half, which, if you're on the path to retirement age 65 is perfect. And it's a great way to go. But my net, my community is so niche, like Jabbar for instance, he is not going to work till he's 65 guaranteed, and if he does, it's going to be his own little business, real estate empire. And so for him, and this is my opinion, and I don't tell him to do this or not. But for that example, I would actually tell them, you know, I wouldn't put money into a 401 K, or a Roth IRA, because it's going to be locked up, meaning you can't maximize its use, you can't use that money to leverage yourself until much later in life. And so the very small niche of teams that would actually read my book, or young people that would join my community, we tend to go with just the average taxable brokerage account, because they can access that money, it's not super liquid, like a savings account, but in a matter of a couple of weeks, you can have that money, if an opportunity comes your way, like for Jabara new investment property, he can pull that money out and use it now to get better returns, and he would get even in a tax advantaged retirement accounts. So there's no right or wrong answer there. As long as they're putting money in something, and they're getting trained to do that, I would be very happy. But if they're focused on early financial independence, there are some strategies that work better than others.
Jamila Souffrant 27:19
Yeah, and I think this is what trips people up a lot. And I get why it's just like, there's all these options, I don't know what to do first. And if you're thinking about this, at this level, or at a younger age, you are already way further ahead than majority of people. So you're doing well. And you really can't go wrong, I say like whether you do the taxable, or Roth IRA. And if you are working and you are lucky enough to have a 401 K, they get to a company match at least two up to contribute up to the company match. Usually that means when you put in, you know your money every month, they also match you up to a certain amount. Some people consider that free money, it is a part of your compensation package that you should take advantage of. But going back to that point, it's just like taxable or Roth IRA, for people who are not, don't have the 401 ks access, there's no wrong answer there, in my opinion, because as you start, then you'll be you'll get more information. And you'll you'll talk to more people. And that's the beauty of like this journey is that you acquire information and you become more knowledgeable and you can switch strategies, and you're so young, that no matter what you're doing is going to work out in your favor, because most people are not starting out at this age.
Dan Sheeks 28:28
And you bring up a really good point Jamila, that you don't have to have everything figured out from the start. And when you are starting, it is so intimidating. And there's so much information that it just is overwhelming. And that's why most people never take action. So I tell my young people all the time, you just have to know enough to get started. It's like you're driving a car on a foggy night, you only need to see far enough ahead of you so that you can drive 25 miles an hour safely. And as you get two or three blocks down the road, you can see even further Moore's revealed when it needs to be you will continue to learn and network and grow as you go down that path. But you have to start now, or you'll never get anywhere.
Jamila Souffrant 29:07
And what I also find helpful and this goes for any age, anybody who's you're trying to help see the benefit of investing and starting this is it's good to see the numbers like alright, if you know you take this, you do this, you can start and have a range, right? Like you have a lower amount and maybe the maximum amount someone can do and show them this is what you can have in 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, versus what you're doing now, which may be nothing. Which one do you want to have? Or where do you want to be? I think that is a game changer for some people to is to see that numbers
Dan Sheeks 29:36
can be Yeah, show numbers in my classroom all the time. I'll throw up a spreadsheet and say, you know, here's how much you have to invest at this expected interest rate. Here's how long it takes you to be a millionaire if you ratchet that number up. Look how close look how much sooner you can reach millionaire status. That word millionaire by the way, is really enticing to young people. The title of the book first 2 million is not one icon came up with the publisher bigger pockets. They came up with that title, I had a different one in mind that I was kind of in love with. They said, Well, how about first and I definitely grew on me. And it was it is a great title. Not that it has to be millionaire status. But for instance, you know, in my school I had, if you have a personal finance club, you're not going to get a lot of kids coming. But if you have a future Millionaires Club,
Jamila Souffrant 30:23
Dan Sheeks 30:24
It will be packed, it will be packed. And so yes, showing, showing students, young people, the math, the very simple math about how quickly you can become a millionaire. And how, how much sooner that happens when you go from a 10% savings and investing rate to a 3040 or 50% savings and investing rate, their eyes just light up and get really wide open. And and then they can sit? Well, I guess I could do that. Why don't I give that a try?
Jamila Souffrant 30:49
Right. And I mean, it's the marketing too, right? Because we have all this messaging from corporations. And you know, by this and with the rise of social media, and I feel I feel old every time I mentioned how different it was in my day, even though I don't feel like I'm an older millennial.
Dan Sheeks 31:05
Jamila Souffrant 31:06
right. But I just feel like, I didn't have as much pressure to keep up or when I was in high school or college to, I don't know, buy the things. And I remember going to college, college and like what was in like, what the popular girls were wearing were like gap clothes like it like and this one girl I never forget everyday, she had a new GAP outfit. And I was like, wow, like, she must have a lot of money. And I feel like, but in today's age of like kids, they're buying like the same things like as me and adult, like is buying Right? Like they're really buying like the luxury items, or at least that's what they're striving for at such a young age. So I think marketing this in a in a way that is cool. And it's just like millionaire status, like as cheesy or whatever as that can sound. It's like the way to go with the younger generation based on what the culture is now.
Dan Sheeks 31:55
Yeah, and I will admit, I'm part of the problem there. Because one of the classes I teach is marketing. So I'm teaching kids about marketing, how to become marketers, and how to sell things to their target markets. And I teach it in an ethical way. But certainly, many companies are taking advantage of people, especially young people who maybe can't make great decisions. And so we are trained in our country that we we deserve to spend everything we make, right? If you make 50,000 a year, you get to spend 50,000 a year if you make 100,000, or you get to spend that if you make a million dollars a year, then you worked hard, you get to spend a million dollars a year because it is very fun to spend money. The problem is if you follow that philosophy, you're going to work till you're 65 that is the option that you have. I have found and this is surprising to some that young people are more aware of the Instagram snapchat, kind of false fake world than we as adults want to give them credit for when they are following influencers and other people in their school and they see pictures of nice vacations and fancy cars and watches and all this stuff. Yeah, they are enticed and they're interested in they're going to look at it. But if they for the most part understand that that probably isn't real, it probably is fake. And it's just pictures and videos. And that's not the whole story. On the other side of that accounts, now not all teens, you know, some kind of do fall into that trap, unfortunately. But they are pretty savvy on social media. So I think it's not as bad as some might think.
Jamila Souffrant 33:31
Yeah, and I think you know, it's our job. So depending on who's before we press record, we were talking about like, who I was saying who I wanted to listen to this. And I said, you know, I'd love for, as the adults listening to this, if they did have a younger adult or teenager in their life, they could say, hey, check out this podcast episode, it's a great start. Or if you are older, they're I mean, some of the things you mentioned about the quadrants, like are mechanisms. Anyone can start that and do that at any age. The other part is, as someone who's a parent who has younger kids, maybe are not even teenagers yet, what are some of the things we can start doing to help them? Like if you're listening to this, you're already kind of aware and you're on the path, but there's so many people around us whether family members or children that we can help now encourage. So how do we do that? Or how do we give them the leg up to get on board with this?
Dan Sheeks 34:18
Yeah, this great, great question, right? And so my niche is 15 to 25. But what if you have a 10 year old, you know, someone in middle school or younger, there's so many things parents can do to help money, be a comfortable conversation to get them involved and to train them from a very young age and I'll just, you know, throw out two or three examples number one, I think it is immensely important critical to include your child in the the small business that is your household in the finance. Now, you're not gonna do that they're five, but if they're, you know, 1011 1213 Depending on how mature they are, they can kind of you know, show them as you pay your monthly bills. and you're on your computer, clicking the mouse, have them, do it, talk to them about, here's the money we have coming in, here's the money going out. Here's, here's the utility bill, bill, here's the cell phone bill goes, here's the health insurance bill, have them click the mouse and make those payments and see the bank account, start to kind of go down and just involve, you know, having conversation around the dinner table while driving to sports practice, going to the grocery store. And here's, here's one question you can ask your kid, I don't care how old they are. And it will potentially start a multi hour multi day conversation and just say, sit at the dinner table, say let's all imagine that we just want $100,000 What are we going to do with it? And then you know, let everybody think about it for a while and then go around the table, or in the car, wherever you might be and say what would you do with that? $100,000? And the answers are going to spur even more conversations about Well, why would you do that? And why wouldn't you do this, that can that conversation is is the type of conversation that we all should be having. And all young people should be thinking about? Very rarely happens because money is a very taboo topic in our country, even within our own families, which is so surprising. I'm very transparent with my finances. Anybody who asks, I'll tell them anything they want. Sometimes people are kind of off put by that, but I don't think money should be secret. We all should be sharing strategies resources in in topics.
Jamila Souffrant 36:21
When you say that you're transparent, or these with like your family like your kids, neighbors, people maybe you just met and what are you sharing? Are you sharing how much you make? Are you sharing your debt? I'd love to get some detail just to paint the picture of what transparency actually looks like?
Dan Sheeks 36:38
Well, if anybody who reached out to me, would if they wanted to ask me anything, I would tell them even if they're a stranger, like I'm not going to tell my bank account number. But if they want to know how much what is your real estate portfolio look like? How much do you have in your 401k I actually have a little bit of a formal, I'm fine telling anybody. So here's an example. I was. I was at a conference last weekend. It was a business and marketing, high school teacher conference in Colorado for all of the business and marketing teachers in the state of Colorado. We had a conference in Breckenridge, Colorado last week. And I gave a couple of presentations there talking to personal finance teachers about early financial independence, and how to teach that in the classroom. And in one of those presentations. One of the teachers had a question there. I think they're asking more from themselves. They said, well, when it comes to real estate, she said, my primary, she said, How much do you recommend? Do you recommend paying your mortgage off? Or do you recommend keeping it leveraged? And my answer kind of evolved to the point where I said, You know what, let me just show you. And I had my laptop hooked up to the projector and stuff. So I pulled up my own spreadsheet and said, Here's my real estate portfolio, my wife and I, and because we just had crunched the numbers for a separate project we're working on. I said, Here's what are what my portfolio is worth. Here's how much is ours, because we have some partners, here's how much as equity, here's how much is finance or leverages, for us. 50%. And all my numbers were up there. You know, we're all friends in the room. It's fine.
Jamila Souffrant 38:10
Yeah. Okay. So I mean, this kind of now leads me into just your personal story. I know real estate is a big part of your story. But I was listening to this, I'd be like, okay, Dan, so share the numbers. What is your real estate portfolio? I think just to give context, because a lot of times like we we do speak general, and we say, Oh, be transparent, and it's just like, it's good. But then someone goes back to the real life and like, well, what does that actually mean? Like? Should I be saying like, how much like, tell my kid how much I'm actually earning? If they ask that question like so should I say, Oh, I earned $250,000. That's my base salary, or $50,000? Should I tell them how much the actual mortgage is? So I was just fine. Like being specific just helps people bring that back into their actual life?
Dan Sheeks 38:54
Yeah, I think so. Because I think a fear of some parents might be, well, if I tell my 10 year old, how much money mom makes, they're gonna go to their school and tell all their friends and their teachers. And I would say, I don't who cares? If someone's judging you based on how much money you bring in, then I wouldn't waste any time thinking about that person. And you know, your character, your integrity, that's much more of an indication of your net worth than I think of any amount of money or equity would be. So yeah, my wife and I have 17 units, mostly in Colorado, three are out of state a little bit of single family, multifamily short term rental. We've done some burrs, and then obviously out of state rentals are the entire portfolio is a $5 million real estate portfolio. Of that $3 million is us 2 million partners. Of that 3 million, roughly half 1.5 is equity and 1.5 is leveraged. So we're at about a fifth percent financed. Earlier we were leveraged more and now we're kind of moving towards leverage less we'd like to be at 50% and Now we're finding new ways to invest in real estate because it's not like it was four or five, six years ago. But yeah, that's the nutshell portfolio.
Jamila Souffrant 40:06
And for you, though, it seems like you could be financially independent in terms of where you don't work. I don't know if that's true or not, but like, where are you on your journey? And what motivates you to do all the things that you're doing? Because for some people, if they had the portfolio, if they had just real estate as their main thing, they could create that and say, All right, that's what I'm doing. And I'm done. So for you, what does that look like?
Dan Sheeks 40:30
Yeah, so my wife and I, I like to say today, we're three quarter phi. And the reason I say that is because my wife was also a teacher. She was an elementary school teacher for 18 years. About four years ago, she went halftime, because we could, we could do that about and then two years ago, she fully retired from teaching. And so now she, she raises our son, she manages our real estate, she has a couple of side hustles. So she brings in some revenue for sure, by doing what she does, on her own time. I was a full time teacher for 19 years. And then this school year, where we just started fall 2022, I moved to halftime. And so now I'm semi retired, I teach halftime, and actually took a job. That's halftime and online teaching. It's at an online school in my district. So I teach middle and high school classes, business classes, online, virtually. So I work from home 95% of the time, I'm home with my wife and kid basically all day, my wife's home, their home right now. And so we're three chordify. Now I continue to work because I love my job. I love working with young people, I love teaching them about this stuff, and marketing, and I teach a couple computer classes right now, I'm not ready to be done teaching, I like being in that world. And the benefits are good. And I have a pension on the other end of that. So for us, that's just what works.
Jamila Souffrant 41:52
And I know there are a lot of teachers who listen and my husband's a teacher. And you know, I find like there's sometimes this misconception like, okay, like you don't earn enough, or you can't do this on a teacher's salary. But it sounds like you were able to start your business on the side, and also leverage what you did in the classroom elsewhere to reach your financial goals and get into real estate.
Dan Sheeks 42:13
Yeah, we went back to mechanism number one, you know, I'd say seven, eight years ago is when we found bigger pockets and Chuza phi communities and really, really started focusing on real estate as a passive investment income stream to, to fast forward our fie journey. And so back then we started earning more, we took on some my wife was doing, and she still is a notary signing agent as a side hustle. And she does some property management, she got a real estate license, she didn't have it at that time. She put in the work, she got it, she took the test. And so she makes some money that way as well. And then I started the six weeks online community, which I did not do it to make money and to be honest, I'll be transparent, it has made, it's in the red, the community has been around for a couple years. It's my way of giving back. It's my way of helping young people make better decisions than I did. And knowing about their options. At some point in the future. I would love it to be self sustaining. And I think it will be the thing that a lot of people get caught up in and this we were talking about this a little bit earlier is that we compare ourselves to people who are way further ahead ahead than us. And we look at what they've done like so Jabbar, right, he's only 21. So if if a 21 year old is listening right now, do not compare yourself to Jabbar who has eight units of real estate. You cannot I mean, look at him for inspiration, and to see that there's a proven path. But you need to start by just learning about what will your first investment be real estate or otherwise, and take the steps now to get there. But don't say, oh, from me to Jabbar seems so incredibly far, that I'm just going to not do anything, we can't do that. And even if you're 40 years old, and you're into bars further than you, who cares, you have to start on your own journey, one step at a time, a little bit at a time. And then opportunities and progress will open up as you proceed down that path.
Jamila Souffrant 44:06
Yeah, that's perfect advice. And you forgot you your your I guess the thing you didn't mention to your writer, he wrote this book that people can share first to a million with the Gen Zers in their life that they want to get an early start on financial independence. So Dan, please let the journeyers my listeners know where they can find more about you and to pick up a copy of the book.
Dan Sheeks 44:31
Yeah, I'll keep it really simple. Anybody who wants to contact me, please just email me. Dan at SHEEX freaks.com SHEKSFRE A K 's? Anybody who's Agenzia teenager, parents, anybody who wants to just please email me let's start a conversation. I love talking about this stuff. I could do it for hours and hours and hours, and I love helping young people other than that the main website is sheiks freaks.com on there, you can find links to go by the books, you can find links to, you know, learn more about the online community that I have, and other resources for young people as well.
Jamila Souffrant 45:10
Yeah, and I will link all of that in the episode show notes. So thank you so much, Dan. Again.
Dan Sheeks 45:15
Thanks for having me. I had a blast.
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