Welcome to the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast with ChooseFI Founder Jonathan Mendonsa
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Introducing ChooseFI Founder Jonathan Mendonsa
If you feel that you are going out of your mind, with spiralling debts, credit card interest and stress then this is the show for you.
Today’s guest is Jonathan Mendonsa a man who reluctantly walked into the world of frugal living, but now will never I assume go back.
Yes he was a spender, and i guess at his core is still someone that likes to splash out on the finer things in life.
But he knew he had to change as at the age of 28 he graduated college as a pharmacist with $168,000 in student loans.
Now 4 years later he has clawed his way out and is pursuing Financial Independence.
As he says “I feel I am qualified to talk about the normal path because I have lived it for the last 30 years.
My hobby and passion over the last 5 years has become learning new skills and looking for ways to develop passive income streams.
I also love to talk about what I have learned. I ran out of people in my immediate social circle to share all this awesome information with so enter ChooseFI…
He has developed passive income streams, based around community building, affiliate marketing, information analytics, videography, career hacking, tax planning and
entrepreneurship that he can discuss and share with the ChooseFI community.
The podcast he and his co-host Brad Barrett created to highlight the tactics and stories of people who have chosen this alternate path has become one of the fastest-growing
With almost 1 million monthly downloads and a hyper-engaged community with over 200+ local ChooseFI chapters throughout the world and in the
words of Jean Chatzky, The Today Show’s Financial Editor, “it (the FI movement) has grown to be a movement in large part because of a podcast called ChooseFI.”
So with so many things on the go at once, does he want to run away to the nearest shopping mall for some major retail therapy?
And how did he get the FI community up and running, and engaged?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Jonathan Mendonsa.
During the show we discussed such weighty subjects with Jonathan Mendonsa
How Jonathan first went out and got the idea that being financial freedom was not just possible it was highly doable – so he did it.
Why minimalism is a great starting point, but why not focus more for the value than going after the scarcity.
Is failing a bad thing or should we simply look at failing forward as quickly as possible.
Jonathan shares how his podcast has grown to massive proportions and the things he did to make it happen.
How To Connect With The ChooseFI Team
Audio Transcription Of ChooseFI Founder Jonathan Mendonsa
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling join up dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK David Ralph
David Ralph [0:21]
Yes. Hello there. Well, good morning to welcome to another edition of the I like to say sexy podcast, which is a join up dots Yes. When two men get together, and we bring you also conversations, stimulating thoughts. And yeah, it’s a podcast episode. That’s what it’s about. We do it from this and you listen from there. Well, today is one of those shows that if you feel that you’re sort of going out of your mind we’ve spiralling debts credit card interest in stress by NBC to show for you because our guest is a man who reluctantly walked into the world of frugal living, but now will never I should go back. Yes, he was a spender. And I guess at his core, he is still someone that likes to splash out on the finer things in life. But he knew he had to change as at the age of 28. He graduated college as a pharmacist with listen to this 168,000 in student loans, how many meals at Hooters Can you have to wrap up? I don’t know. Now, four years later, he’s clawed his way out and he’s pursuing financial independence. As he says I thought I’m qualified to talk about the normal path because I believed it for the last 30 years. My hobby and passion over the last five years has become learning new skills and looking for ways to develop passive income streams. I also love to talk about what I’ve learned, I ran out of people in my immediate social circle to share all this awesome information with so enter choose f5. Now he’s developed passive income streams based around community building affiliate marketing information and analytics, video graphic video graphic. I should have saved videography, career hacking, tax planning and entrepreneurship, but he can discuss and share with his choose FBI community and the podcast he and his co host Brad Bauer created to highlight the tactics and stories of people who have chosen this alternative path has become one of the fastest growing podcast online. Yes, the swine. We’ve almost 1 million monthly downloads and a hyper engaged community with over 200 Plus Local choose Fei chapters throughout the world. And in the words of Jean Chatzky, but today’s show is financial editor. It’s the movement has grown to be a movement in large because of a podcast called choose, as I said, With so many things on the Go at once, does he want to run away to the nearest shopping mall for some major retail therapy and splurge splurge splurge? And how did he get the FBI community up and running and so engaged? Well, let’s find out as we bring on to the show, to start join up dots with the one and only Jonathan Mendonsa. Morning, Jonathan, how are you sir?
David, I am doing great. And I don’t think I’ve ever said this to another man before. But I really want to see the back of your garden,
David Ralph [3:08]
you come to the back of the garden. And we’re sitting here and we will record live. Because actually, as we speak at the moment, I do recall that in the back of my garden, I’ve got a studio bear. And I thought to myself, I go home for lunch today. And I’ve been locked out, I can’t get back into the house. So until my kids get back from school, I’m here I’m trapped. But I can’t think of somebody nicer to be trapped with because Jonathan, you are a man who’s been on a journey. And it’s a journey that so many people are struggling with and you’ve come out the other side. Do you feel smug about it?
No, it’s more than I just feel like almost this calling, or I have to tell as many people as possible. This idea that I think all of us have kind of been given this normal narrative that we’re expected to follow to follow society’s rules. And at a certain age that may or may not be considered our golden years, we have permission that is do what we want basically kind of our desires, whatever you wanted to do as a child has to go on a bookshelf. And then you have to go through the slog to get the house you get the car, get the second car, you have to get you have a second kid, you get the promotion, you get the next promotion, you work the corporate ladder, you somewhere along the way pay off the student loans, student loans, they may be so big that they may outlive you, there’s literally means dedicated to the perpetuity of student loans, maybe at 65, there’s some government security in place for you. And then you are allowed to do maybe go work on your golf game, something along those lines. I was on a cruise ship relatively recently, and I went on there with my family. And I should say that we’re just kind of in our 30s. ChooseFI But I realized on the cruise ship that the vast majority of people that are on these cruises were like 60 years and older. And when they are asking people if they want to get off the ship, many of them just simply couldn’t at that point. So finally they had the freedom to go see the world do whatever it is that they wanted to do. And they quite literally just had to stay on the ship at this point. That just doesn’t seem right. Like why do we just get permission to our golden years? ChooseFI What does it look like to get our best years and I think just kind of thinking about that as a framework for you know, my personal story. And what we’re talking about on the show is a really powerful way to look at it.
David Ralph [5:10]
Isn’t that good vote to keep all the old people on the ship. So that can get me on the street easier. And you know, that’s what Yeah, isn’t it?
Yeah, that’s the conspiracy from the top down. That’s really what it’s all about. You got it? I think
David Ralph [5:24]
so. So with yourself in you are based in Richmond, Virginia, which is a lovely place in the world. And here. Yes, I have been here many, many times. And yes, it’s, it’s one of those places I always hit in the summer, dirty, sweaty. I don’t know how you guys charged?
Yeah, I jumped out and I put the air con all the time. But for somebody like myself, what what interests me is I am I’m fine. I’m fine. financially independent. I,
I can cool to be able to say that, like when you say that I’m financially independent. I work because I want to not because I have to you’re doing this podcast out of love out of a passion out of a calling, not out of any sort of scarcity. I need to figure out how to keep the lights on like, think about that, how powerful that is?
David Ralph [6:09]
Well, is is but what I also have to say is no matter how financially free I become a debt always appears, I’ve never got to the point where I’m totally debt free, no mortgage, yes. And then I take out a car loan, and then I pay off the car loan, and then some there’s always something going on. Are you totally free from that? Are you totally free from you know, having the debt hanging around? Even if it’s only a small debt every now and again?
Yeah, that’s a great question. I think it just kind of depends on how you define it. So basically, the way that I consider financial independence is you have reached a number At which point, if you were to never bring in another dollar again, you could maintain your current lifestyle, right. So in my community, people do that. Either way, many people keep the money in an account and have the money grow the basically like if you decide to make the choice to pay off your mortgage, you’re essentially locking in a three or 4% rate of return depending on what the interest rates are in your particular area of the country, I’m the United States going rate is just around 4%. UK may be different. As opposed to that other people say, Well, you know what the market, I believe that over time, the market will outperform that. ChooseFI So I am going to take the money that I would be paying towards my house, and I’m going to grow it and an investment account. And you know, I have the choice of any point I wanted to pay off my house, I could, but you know that that’s my particular choice. But certainly other than the home mortgage, yes. 100%, debt free, no car debt, no. Student loans, and I’m not financing a couch or a blinds, there’s nothing running, you know, parallel to that, Mike, my budget looks relatively simple. And then I personally would rather just hold on to the mortgage, but that’s just more out of a cash interest rate arbitrage rather than something else. I think, you know, really the larger point set, the framework for your audience is really just talking about that, that kind of framework, because it ties so perfectly to the overarching theme of your show, which is joining the dots. And what I look at when I when I think of this is bandwidth, you know, how do you create bandwidth in your life, you so many of us when we’re paycheck to paycheck, we are one financial crisis, even a tiny financial crisis, we’re right next to the cliff, right? The financial cliff, we if our if the tire goes flat, it’s a it’s an existential crisis. If we lose our job, because of layoffs, or downsizing or whatever else, it’s an existential crisis. If if there’s something that we can do along the way to create that amount of space, it means that finally you might have the time in your life to actually start looking at what lights you up, to start thinking about how to make that next connection and really open yourself up to the possibilities of future that you can get excited about, you know, not 65 beyond but now let’s start moving yourself slowly in that direction. And I think that’s kind of like the my entire story, because I was sure that business of businesses, small business owners, I was sure that, you know, all businesses fail, the vast majority failed, quote, unquote. And I think along the way, one thing that I failed to realize is that while many businesses fail, those are that’s the first failure. And most business owners, most entrepreneurs iterate on that first idea, and come up with something that works. ChooseFI But you can’t do that, or it’s very difficult and dangerous to do that. If one you have to take out a ton of debt to do it. And to you don’t have any financial space, any financial margin in your life. So in my case, I googled in 1999, I googled, you know, top 10 professions, because I don’t want to do this crazy entrepreneur thing that people are doing top 10 professions that you know, will guarantee that you quote unquote, make it and somewhere on that list was pharmacy right? and and you know, there’s some other obvious ones on there, maybe now it’s computer software engineer, or doctors or lawyers, you know, you can get up, it’s probably a very stereotypical list of 10. Even still, but quite literally, for someone that wanted to guarantee an outcome. That’s like, all right, well, I’m going to do one of these. Now you’re saying, Well, that sounds kind of dumb, but I guarantee you that there’s tons of I’m not the only one tons of people do this, because we want to take the safe path, right? Love this guaranteed outcome.
David Ralph [10:07]
Did you get fed up with talking about this, Jonathan, because I can hear the passion coming from you. But I bet I bet there’s people around you that goes okay, john, okay. I know it. I know it, just just give you know, we’ve even got a critic in the Back Bay bad enough.
Ya know, I never get tired of it.
And they may get tired of it a little bit here. Fortunately, we’re only here on Mondays and Fridays. So you get three days of break in between? Yeah, so I mean, like, that’s kind of the path I followed. And so to become a pharmacist, you know, it’s four years of undergrad, and then it’s four years of pharmacy school, so eight years of education. And so I graduate with $168,000 in student loan debt, and then four years pay that off, because I just, you know, you can kind of sense that he’s kind of anti debt for the most part. So I was like, I gotta pay all this off. It’s 12 years. And by the end of that little cycle, I kind of burnout, right? I mean, just, my quality of life in this job has just gone down. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. I mean, in retrospect, you’d look back and say, there was a lack of passion that led you there initially. So that was probably one mistake early on. But the larger point was, this guaranteed path didn’t allow me to feed that creative instinct, that creative juice, right, that that I think all of us at some level probably would enjoy would lean into would make for a happier work environment. And what’s interesting about that, though, even though, you know, my quality of life was was kind of going down the hill, as I was staying in this gig. I had no debt now, right? That’s the one thing that I did right, is that I crushed my student loan debt burden, if I had $168,000 in student loan debt, and immediately when I graduated, I had grabbed that high lifestyle, you know, that we’ve kind of just described earlier with maybe the multiple car payments and the large house and the extravagant entertainment budget and private school for kids and all that are jazz, like, I probably would have just felt trapped, right, I have to always make sure that I can continue to fund that lifestyle need to do whatever it takes to happen. ChooseFI That’s what you see people, when they first get that first job, they get their first taste of safe money, they immediately inflate their lifestyle to be able to sustain that, even though what they’re really just sustained is payments. And what so i what i did personally, is, when I graduated from school, I just kept my lifestyle very, very lean, we bought a very modest home, we bought a very modest car, we paid off all of the you know, we paid off the car note. So there was virtually in the United States, our cost of living was probably somewhere between 30 to $40,000 a year depending on depending on the you know, depending on the year, and that allow me to effectively achieve a 70 plus percent savings rate, and just crush that student loan debt. And that math is really helpful, you know, in terms of met charting your own particular path to financial independence, in that it’s pretty obvious if your paycheck to paycheck, you can never retire. If you can say 25 percent of your income, then that means that you work three years, you can take a year off, if you can say 50% of your income, then that’s pretty obvious, too, right? ChooseFI You could work a year and take a year off, you can do that forever. But it’s little more nuanced than that, that if you can save 50% of your income for even a relatively short period of time, like 10 to 15 years. And you invest that into pretty common sense investments. I’m not talking about cannabis and Bitcoin here, just regular index fund investing, low cost index fund investing, you can get to the point where working is optional, basically within that interim, interim period of time, and it’s not get rich quick, which usually leaves you a little bit broken better and your money in someone else’s pocket. But it’s get rich, quick ish, which can work every time because it’s based on simple math.
David Ralph [13:44]
Now, I love this. And there’s a lot of movements out there at the moment. And there’s one of the things that I got in about was minimalism. And I thought this is brilliant. If you reduce the amount that you’ve got, then you don’t have to service Batman by going out to work. So for a while I was into that. And then it started to get a bit sort of icky, where I was seeing people who were, you know, you go into the house and it was like a cave with one garden chair, and one spoon and one another on come on, you need a little bit more to it. Now, what we’re saying here, we’re just saying sort of, it doesn’t have to be too far into the sort of the been landing in a cave scenario. It’s just
did you just establish
David Ralph [14:32]
he was my number one minimum. So I can just imagine him sitting there on a garden chair with a spoon waiting for the Americans to find him. So it is is that a problem? When people look at this? And they go, Yeah, I’d love to be financially free. But it’s all a bit crap. I like to go out for a meal. I like to do this, I like to do that. Is it just about sort of reducing what they like to do by half to make a small difference?
Wow, it I genuinely love this question like this is the heart of it, isn’t it? I think that when you go through life, just purchasing everything, you have no cost, it’s almost impossible to know what you value, because you’re just going to get it right. And if you can’t afford it, you’ll just finance it’ll all work out, I can afford the payments. And the reality is you simply can’t afford it. You know, you simply can’t afford the risk that comes with financing everything in your life. But to your larger point, like finding that balance there, I’m kind of the same way no one. I mean, no one will look at me and say, well, that guy’s a minimalist. So you just and I think that’s kind of like it’s both cool. And it opens up the door. For us. minimalism is incredibly powerful as a concept, my slight pivot on it that me and my co host Brad have kind of leaned on is this idea of focusing on value. And so minimalism, the heart of minimalism is intentionality, right? Do you, you know, cut ruthlessly on the things that you don’t value and spend lavishly on the things that you do? I think some people certainly would say it’s the white wall, it’s Apple, it’s the you know, it’s the certain it’s just a very minimal setup. And but I think you can probably the common sense individual can take the heart of minimalism and apply it to their own life and tie it to this and find their own balance point for them. So for example, what would that actually look like? You the average individual that’s burned through 10, or 20 years of just consumption, has no idea literally no idea what their life costs? What would it take to unwind that? Well, the most obvious place would be just to track your spending over a 1234 month period of time, I don’t know why I have three four in there, I just felt like maybe instead of three will say four months. And once you do that, then you finally have a sense of where your outflow is where your outflow is going. And you can make this as high tech there. Certainly software solutions for this or a low tech get a very minimalistic pen and paper, I don’t care. I’m not going to judge you for it. But once you’ve done that, now we know what we’re spending on. And so once you go through that, now you can start what I would say, Yeah, I actually would say, cut to the point of deprivation, I mean, just barely to the point of deprivation, right? And then once you’ve reached that point, you’re like, Man, this is not so much fun anymore. Start adding back the items that you really miss. I mean, now, you know, I actually value this, do you really value the subscription magazines that want a free trial you got three years ago, the only reason you haven’t cut it out? Is because you didn’t want to make a phone call? Do you really value the 300 channels that you have on TV? And you go to that and there’s nothing on? And you say that out loud? Does Do you really value that?
David Ralph [17:29]
value that but it’s their wives that do value
Unknown Speaker [17:32]
David Ralph [17:34]
Because you know, I could cut back on everything, I’d be quite happy. But my wife, she likes it. How do you overcome that when one person is going, we’re going to come back and the kids are going Please don’t. I want the Disney Channel because I’ve had that anytime. a five year old crying for a whole weekend because I was getting rid of the cable.
That’s hilarious. I can’t help you with all the kids that’s on you, brother. Let’s talk about your spouse for a second. This is a really important conversation. So one of you listens to my podcast or this podcast, and you’re just like, I’m going to go crazy, we’re going to get rid of everything. We’re cutting it all out and go home and you tell your spouse about this crazy plan that you concocted say we’re doing this. And she looks at you like you developed a third head, right? This is about tactics, right. And it’s about aligning your life, your as in plural, you know, you and your spouse are on this journey together. And if you’re going in opposite directions, two ships are going to crash, right, you need to get alignment there. In order to do that it’s going to require more than you drop in the master plan. It’s going to be a conversation, I think one of my best example that the most crystallized example I have of this, there’s a documentary that’s going to be it’s actually available now there’s actually a screening in London, but it’s going to be all around the world. And you’ll increasingly hear about it called playing with fire, talking a little bit more about this movement in financial independence. And in this documentary, Scott comes home to his wife Taylor with this master plan. And she kind of gives them that two heads, you know, look that we’re just described. But ultimately, what he does in this exact situation is he says Taylor, what I’d like for you to do is make a list of like the 10 things that you value your most your ideal day, like what makes your day and he just had her take some time, not on the fly, think about it, come back to them with her 10 things. And she read through those. And then once they had that once he had that he just made observations that you know, as you just pointed out, Hulu or TV TV wasn’t on there. And to just other items, like a lot of the items that were on there didn’t include didn’t include like what you would expect it include the Louis the time the expensive handbags, expensive car, like you just wasn’t there and involved, a husband is being present, right? It’s putting the phone down time with their baby quality time, just like the list went on and on it. ChooseFI And if you think about it, you’re like, Oh, yeah, of course, that would be amazing. But think so many of us have bought into this idea of convenience, and the pleasure that comes with convenience. And we trade that for happiness all the time. So the object of this is not to be miserable. I’m miserable and rich, you winning. Instead, focus on what actually makes you happy, right? And you won’t do that. If you always do what’s convenient. There’s a great quote by jersey record, I love this quote, but I have so much trouble saying his name. But basically the quote says, easy choices, hard life, hard choices, easy life, you’re going to have to slow down in your life and actually consider what is it that makes me happy. Now what brings me the most pleasure all of us like checking our Facebook, all of us like checking to see if we got any likes or any retweets or anything else. But what actually makes me happy. And if you look at that over a duration over span of several weeks or several months, the cadence of your life, it’s probably not going to involve Netflix vendors, right, especially when they screw up the finale. Yeah,
David Ralph [20:49]
my wife is saying, I know she’s going to seven, seven series of Games of Thrones, we’ve been about four days. And she can’t get the last one she can’t get and she’s she’s going mental. But let’s play some words now. And then we’re going to come back because I’m going to tell you gentlemen, what I did to my wife, this is this is sexy time. Here we go Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey [21:09]
my father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [21:35]
Right. So this is how I did it with my wife to get on board. And she’s not totally on board, because you know, give her three grand, she’s going to spend three grand, but um, basically, she was doing all these little jobs and she would work in a pub, and she do a bit base and she do a bit of a, and I wanted her to reduce her hours that she was working elsewhere. And it wasn’t gonna be dramatic. But I said, if we drop this package that we’re paying, that you say that you want on the TV, sailor Amazon, but you don’t really because you got Netflix, and Amazon is not that important. That means that you can drop down three hours a week, but you don’t have to work. We’re saved. And I’ll give that to you. You know, I’m happier. But you’re having it and you’re not working van, it’s just going off to this big corporation. So that’s how I planned it. And I went through everything saying, right, I’m going to drop this down a couple of stages, we were paying this, let’s go down to the budget version. And then you can have the money she bought into that she bought into that quite quickly. And once you get into that sort of mindset, you can’t go back because you realize, as you say that the finances are slightly out of control some somehow and more often than not, it’s just effort to regain that control.
Yeah, and what you did is you tied money to her life, energy, your life energy. I mean, that’s Vicki Robin, and your money or your life was a book that was released in the 1990s essentially made that same case, are we making a living are we making a dime, when you look at your clothing rack, you know, and it’s full with all the latest name brand stuff, the latest tech toys or whatever else, realize that ultimately what that represents is your life energy, right. And while obviously like all of us are going to have stuff and enjoy stuff, to varying degrees, make sure it’s something that you don’t look back at with regret. And to your lot to that quote which man Wow, I’ve heard it now multiple times to Jim Carrey as I was listening to episodes of your podcast. And what’s so amazing to me is how true it is, and how you can even iterate it slightly to give yourself a couple different outcomes. So like in the case of his father that decided to take the safe path in this account, and then was just laid off, right. So the one path should be never take a safe, safe route. But some of us feel like we’re already pot committed. In my mind, if we’re already there, we’ve already chosen that that path. Let’s make sure that we have an escape route for ourselves, right? Let’s like don’t don’t, here’s my biggest fear advice. Don’t leave your only stream of income without plan. There you go that that feels like that’s probably bankable. ChooseFI Now behind that though, how do we give ourselves the greatest opportunity to design a life that we can truly get excited about? One, whatever path you’re in, no matter how satisfied you are with it, let’s get some financial margin or life, let’s increase our savings rate, you know, if if paycheck to paycheck is one flat tire from a financial crisis, the financial cliff, if we can get a week’s worth of savings, if we get $1,000 in the bank, if we can get a couple months worth of expenses, if you can get a couple of years worth of expenses saved up? How much power does that give you, if you get laid off, you’re not just trying to jump into the first thing. You’re giving yourself some runway in your life to actually find a sweet setup, something that you can enjoy. And if you you know, and it’s not so not always binary, like as you start to get more control over your finances. There are individuals that because they had this kind of office space superpower where you know, they didn’t get the job felt like they needed them. The job needed them more than they needed the job. They’re able to just say, you know, I just don’t really I’m really good at this. But I don’t really enjoy that. So I’m not going to do that anymore. I’m just going to focus on this, or is there a way to like actually cultivate the aspects of your job that you really enjoy? ChooseFI And then adventure? And then another one, can you start a side hustle, right? Is there something that you can do on the side, that’s low risk, that you can build your talent stack and a low risk environment. So that if an opportunity presents itself in the context of you having a several thousand dollars in the bank, several years of expenses in the bank, maybe full fledged financial independence, when the opportunity presents itself, it’s no longer like it’s not this isn’t risky, right? It’s taking the chance, we want to remove risk from our life. And we want to open up the doors to opportunity and be able to take chances when they present themselves. Why
David Ralph [25:48]
slow you down there because this this is a valid point where your mantra and my mantra collide. This is this is join up dots mantra. But basically, I do a lot of business coaching. One of the thing that blows me away, and I fell into this trap myself is some It was a dawning realization. But I used to be a trainer and a coach. And I got fed up with the environment, I was doing it although I was very good at training. And being a coach, it’s what I did it was is my staple diet. So when I started on join up dots I thought, I’m not doing that. That’s what I used to do. And it took me a long time to realize that life is about giving you the experience and the knowledge to then take forward to where you want to go. So you have got this business going because you have collapsed at 168 grand of debt, you believe these experiences, you’ve moved into where you want to be. Now you’re taking that forward. Now, Jonathan, I have so many people that I speak to online, and they say to me, I’d like to start my own business, I would say 95% of them are trying to do something new that I’ve got no experience in in any shape or form. Now that’s prone to failure isn’t why not taking what they believed for 30 years, and transforming that into a value point, which they can then give out somebody who wants it. Tell me the answer, Jonathan,
I love that. Well, it’s actually multi directional one is, you know, staying should you stay in your lane, maybe. But the other point is, is it really a failure? If you try something and it fails? Is failure a bad thing? Or is there really the concept of failing forward something that really needs to be highlighted here. And so there’s a Scott Adams, who is author of Dilbert talks about and I’m sure you’ve discussed in the past, the talent stack. And what I view is everything I do failure otherwise, is not defined by whether or not it’s profitable is not defined by you know, whether other people pat me on the back for I am slowly adding to my talent stack, right. And I can start looking this is this is this is joining the dots, you don’t know where it’s going to lead, but over time by being a lifelong learner, right? Having that growth mentality, you are adding to your ability to be more useful and more situations. And you just simply don’t, I know I’m speaking language David, you just simply don’t know where this is going to take you three months, six months, a year from now. But if you always go through life, asking questions, and then trying to find the answer, and then adding that to your skills, that when we get to that next encounter, it just makes the odds of an opportunity presented itself to you so much more likely, because you’re able to make connections that other people aren’t seeing, because you were in this one space that you are an expert in. But then you got out of your lane, or how dare you go out of your lane, you don’t have a degree in that. Why do you think you can do that? You went out of your lane, you started learning all these other skills, because you just simply were curious, you had a curious mind. You take and then you decide, at some point time to bring these newfound talents that you’re acquiring, and add them back to maybe what is your skill stack your specific area of expertise, you future proved yourself because no one else is doing that? Because everybody, nobody else is keeping their head down. And slogging through the 40 years of corporate work to get to the end. It’s rare that someone actually can take the time and step away and say, but what else could I learn? Am I am I allowed to ask questions after university? Can I keep learning? Yes, yes, you can you should you need to quit the future is demanding. Is it easy man that those
David Ralph [29:22]
people, I suppose? Well, maybe I’m in a different environment.
David Ralph [29:29]
asking that that question of Yes, more.
I think we’re in a bubble. But But you know, I think people listening to a podcast listening to your podcast are uniquely advantage. If you’re listening to a personal development podcast, you will already you’re thinking this way. But if you can crystallize that, and realize it’s your superpower, your ability to say, I’m not just going to be the fastest widget maker on the assembly line. But instead, I am going to take where I’m at now look how to expand this out and make myself more attractive in tons of other environments. Like that is a different way of thinking people don’t think that way. society doesn’t give them permission to think that way. And, yeah, I think there’s something there.
David Ralph [30:11]
Well, let’s talk about your podcast for a while because the podcast in itself isn’t the interest for my community. But what it is, is the fact that you it’s a rocket ship, you know, I’ve been doing this for five years, and I’m working towards a million downloads. I’m nowhere near it, but I’m working towards it. And my show is doing extremely well across the world. Now when I saw that, and I went back and looked at your show, hundred episodes, hundred 50 episodes or something, maybe how’s that occurred? Is it because of the community I the movement that you’ve tapped into? Or is it the fact of the podcast? Where’s that growth come from?
Yeah, I’ve done a couple presentations on this. And I think it’s, I think there’s several things happening here. So one week produce a good show, just I think objectively. Now, I could say that I was definitely I am ridiculously biased. So take that one with the Great Salt. But we produce a good show, there’s three or four things that I think we did early on that that really helped us and I’m happy to share. So one is when we decided to bring in guests, because first, the first nine episodes, were just Brad and myself kind of chatting back and forth. And we decided to bring in guests, we very specifically wanted to make it the best episode that they had ever done like so, you know, if you have different bloggers and writers joining you on your show they’ve, they’re not No, that’s not necessarily their strong suit, right. And so we wanted to create a platform that allowed them to really let their best voice shine. And you know me, and you could talk additionally about that in a little bit. But then once we created that, once we felt like that’s what we had created for them. We felt like it made it made it very easy for them to share with their respective communities. And I think they did that some varying degree. And that got us some of our initial input. The second a piece of that is that we very early on, I realized that while I love reading blogs, one of my favorite parts of the blogs are the comments down at the bottom. So there’d be a personal finance article that really like spoke to me or made me realize something that I could be doing better. And I read the article, and then I’d read the comments and five pages of comments. And you know, those are just lost all time. And so we realized like that, that is the conversation that that’s the best part. And it’s just kind of getting lost there. Is there a way that we could turn that into the show. So around Episode 10, we moved to a twice a week format. So Mondays and Fridays. And we made the Monday an interview with a new topic or idea and Friday feedback on the episode where we can bring feedback from our audience into the into the show, right? really highlight that and give them a platform. So best, you know, feedback rises to the top. And that was massive for us. Because really, the community was able to take ownership of the direction of the show and increasingly, created ambassadorship around the show. So please, people started telling their friends and so there’s been a I would say probably we’ve seen on average five to 6% month over month growth since inception is that,
David Ralph [33:10]
isn’t it that that is massively unusual for people. Because I think one of the failings with podcast, Jonathan is people are so programmed with listening to radio, and you you never reach out to radio, you you never you listen to the Daily Show. And you just listen to it and turn it off. And I think podcast, a lot of podcasts have that kind of vibe about them, where people listen, they get take the content, they come back, but you never hear from them. I have people connect with me, they go, I’ve listened to every single episode. And it’s the first time they’ve ever dropped me a line. And even really, five years I’ve been doing this and it’s the first time ever. So back sort of engagement. I think it is unusual. And I think it really does prove the fact that you’ve tapped into a market that is waiting for you to be the voice of them.
Yeah, I mean, it’s been pretty special. We started a Facebook group around the around the community as well to really enhance that dialogue. And so then it there’s like 45,000 people in that Facebook group. Now. It’s like 200,000 comments a month. I mean, it’s pretty insane. There’s a lot of conversation going on. But that really helps us kind of guide the direction of the show as well, we start seeing common themes of what are people struggling with one of their pain points. And so we’re really able to tailor our show to you know, the heartbeat of the community as well. So it’s definitely, yeah, it’s been pretty amazing, amazing to watch. And so now I think I heard you mentioned the local groups, we realized that while community at a national or global level is pretty cool. Lot of people are just looking for someone like you said someone in their back garden that they can just chat about this stuff with, right? Because you’re the crazy person, you’re the person that made a decision, a hard decision right to do X. And nobody understands or appreciates it gets it but you’re doing this and pursuit of this higher goal is higher purpose. Do you have more autonomy in your life? And what how powerful is it when you can find just a few, just a few other people that are thinking that way. So Jim Rowan has that famous quote, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. I think as a podcast David like you quickly become one of those five people. So they don’t all need to be in real life. But it’s pretty powerful. When you can find just a couple of local individuals that are also doing this. I mean, just the opportunities that have opened themselves up is pretty incredible. The idea of financial independence is not a hard sell, right? Hey, I could get to the point where working is optional, I could do it in my 30s, 40s and 50s. Alright, sounds great. And then getting there also kind of cool, you know, 15 years later, but again, there’s that 10 to 15 year window in the middle, if you’re again, the only person you know that’s doing this, it’s gonna you know, every once a while, you’re like, all right, am I crazy? Like why? Why Why? Why would I make this choice to say, 50%? I make my money and then it goes away. And it’s supposed to be doing something? Why am I doing this? So having a local community to do this just really helps you dial in on the Why? You know,
David Ralph [35:53]
I agree, I agree with you totally, Jonathan. And as I was over on your website today, looking at because one of the things join up dots right from the very beginning was the belief that as I said earlier, you join up dots, Aereo, and personal life, but you can join up the world. And everybody’s got the same issues, and everybody can reach out and can support each other. And so if you looked at the original logo of join up dots before I started putting myself on it, it was literally a series of dots going around the world. And the idea was that we were connecting. Now, I’ve always had that idea of local communities, joining up the dots, having a join up dots New York join up dots whatever, I could never quite see the angle that it would work without a huge bit of infrastructure. I’m going to steal your idea, Jonathan, and I’m going to bring it into join up dots because I thought it was brilliant when I looked up, to have join up dots know your join up dots Chicago join up dots whatever. But the key thing was that I think your genius at was the fact that you aren’t saying you’re going to be in every single group, you’re not saying, you know, I’m going to be running this because that was was my fear thinking, you know, how are you possibly doing it? You’re literally saying we will provide the infrastructure for you guys to start the communication, and the conversation. I might dip in every now and again to your group. But basically, bang, there you are.
Awesome, man. Yeah, I mean, it really has been fantastic. And just to the to the audience, like figuring out their number and just I don’t want to walk away without explaining like financial independence, how do you calculate it? I think that’s one thing. That’s kind of important. So many people say, Well, how much do I need? Do I need 2 million? Do I need 12? million? Like, can I ever stop working? What is it just just to real quickly tie that thread, it’s a function of the math again. So if you have taken the earlier advice, and you track your expenses, and over three or four months, like if you can project that out for a year, you say okay, my life cost $40,000, 40,000 pounds, you know, whatever, whatever that number is that you’re running. If you multiply that times 25. That is that is your financial independence number. And that is a reversal of like the 4% rule, which retirement planners use frequently. Banking, you a great place to start to start. So we defined financial independence is having 25 times your your annual expenses in an investment vehicle. And to get that, again, going back to the math, if you can reach that magical 50% plus savings rate, you’re looking at 10 to 15 years, our content on site, we talked about the Halifax I realize I’m just kind of dropping that and then we’re going to kind of come to the end of the episode. But it’s doable. There are people that have it worse than you have it in every aspect of life that figure out a way to change their situation and get incredible results. And the journey is fun, man, it’s really fun.
David Ralph [38:36]
When it is I’ve always looked at paying myself first. So as soon as my money comes in, I put most of it into savings. And what you realize is that you don’t actually need a lot to live if you haven’t got it floating around in your pocket. Also, I had no ability to get cash at all. I actually this I don’t have a credit card or anything. So I actually have to say to my wife can use lend me 20 pounds, she lends me 20 pounds, and then I transfer it back such a fat, but you end up not doing you know, and so it’s all that kind of stuff that just you know, it’s the threat of money. Yeah, to talk about my wife again, my wife will look at something and go, Oh my god, 50 quid. That’s a lot of money, which is 50 pounds. But she won’t look at 10 five pounds as being the same. She just sort of spend the fives and it is
$50 all the time then right here.
David Ralph [39:31]
She’s happy and she goes, so no, he’s I think it’s totally doable. I’m somebody who’s done it. And what I want to emphasize to everyone is, it’s not crap, you just realize that you’re wasting an awful lot of money getting control of your finances is the first thing you should do because it makes your life happier than it Jonathan
are so much man I my quality of life. Now I think I had my low before kind of making my pivot out of my corporate I felt like I didn’t realize it at the time. Sometimes it takes leaving to like truly realize it I think I had to send it down to like a three out of 10 by the end there. Management, corporate America, it was just every day kept feeling like I don’t know if this is sustainable. Like legitimately David I’m standing here couple years removed from this now, I feel like I’m at a 12 out of 10 I actually feel like I’m a I think there’s got to be a wall somewhere just out of reach, because life can’t possibly be this good all the time. But truly, over time, I’ve been able to remove all the things that were toxic in my life, you know, just kind of get them out of the way. And what might you know, what’s what’s ahead of me is just awesome. It’s just incredible. Well
David Ralph [40:36]
as he is, but I will say to you, what you’ve done is you’ve done the lot of little decisions that have become something big, you know, and people will be sitting there going, Yeah, I got 50 grand of student loans. No way. There’s no way because I don’t want to, you know, in my wife scenario, don’t break down that 50,000 into 50,001 pounds today. That’s what you did.
Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, To put that in perspective, honestly, the hardest part of my journey was paying off $168,000 in student loan debt, like, you know, we breeze through that shift to pick what you want to talk about, we had so much we wanted to cover. But when I started paying that back, it sucked. Like it’s sucked, you know, you I worked. In my case, I worked five days, five plus days a week, I worked every other weekend, as a pharmacist, you’re standing for 10 to 12 hours a day, in some cases. And by the time and you’re dealing with, you know, typically sick people, right, and other cases, insurance problems here in the States, and I can laugh at us, but we have a lot of insurance issues. And just by the end of the day, you’re demoralized, you’re putting seven of those together. And you know, eventually, you finish the end of your weekend shift. And you come home and frankly, I just needed to like decompress, right, you need to sit down not talk to anybody not think for 30 minutes to an hour. You know, that’s that’s not a great feeling. But I tell you what, before I did that, before I sat down, I was walk up to this room or had this whiteboard. And this whiteboard there broken off into 100, checkboxes, and he checked box recommend represented a pay period, where I knew as soon as I got paid, I just threw like the vast majority of that paycheck at student loans. And there’s 100 of them in each box represents two weeks of my life. And when you started, when I checked off that first box, it was the most depressing thing ever, because at 99, left, right, but I just did that I was built that Kayden said, because I knew I always suspected, I suspected that this wasn’t pursuit of a better goal. If I could get that student loan debt paid off, I would have options like ChooseFI . My worst case scenario, if I could never leave, if I could never make a single pivot was going to be that within 10 years, I would have the option to work or not work, I was my absolute worst case scenario. But along the way, I was looking for my escape route. And I was looking to connect the dots that maybe like kind of go back to that creative mindset that I had, when I was a kid. I was always trying to I was always trying to learn a new skill and as can do the video editing and do whatever. And I was always crap at it right? The technology wasn’t there, my creative abilities couldn’t compensate for that, whatever, whatever. I just wasn’t that creative of a person. But I wanted to try. And by leveraging a lot of the stuff that we talked about in the show, when I finally did have that space, I finally didn’t have that bandwidth. Man, I jumped back at it. And now there’s a Daniel Pink TED Talk. And in that he discusses autonomy, mastery, and purpose. autonomy, I want to work on what I want to work on when I want to work on it mastery. I want to spend hours and hours trying to learn a new skill or get another question answer. I don’t care how dumb you think it is. I want to like dive into a knife until I feel like I have an understanding. And the purpose, I want to know that what I’m working on has is having some sort of an impact on the world. I feel that the life that I’ve been able to create for myself and for my family is like nailing nose. And that just leads to like a happiness level. That’s almost indescribable.
David Ralph [43:59]
Wow, I think you’ve described it very well, you, you’re a man of many words like this, we’re gonna hear. And these are words that he said back in 2005. So we will hear them again Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs [44:11]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards. 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leaves you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [44:46]
Now call was powerful words, play them on every show. But as you listen to that now, do you think to yourself? Yes, because I’m kind of three of those restrictions. faith and trust, are really part of I can just throw myself so forward to where I want to be like Steve was saying,
Yes, exactly where I’m at you speaking to my soul man?
David Ralph [45:07]
And does that, obviously excite you? But does it kind of overwhelm you as well, because with great power comes great responsibility. And when we start these online businesses, and I’m once again, I’m talking about how I found this at the beginning, it’s kind of a hobby, because you’re just doing it, Ben, it’s a bit of a sort of panic that no one’s listening. And then when people really start listening, and I realized that you’re you realize though Your words are making a difference. ChooseFI Does that kind of suppress you? Do you start to get yourself? Or do you just keep on moving forward with the feelings of No, there’s no overwhelm. It’s just what I’m doing.
Well, thanks for planting that seed, man. Now I want to go to the rest of the week.
Yeah, I mean, there is a level of responsibility that I think you feel as you realize that there are a lot of people that are taking action based on the ideas that you talk about. So don’t screw up. Uh, I don’t think it’s overwhelming at this point. And that’s just maybe a nature of my never ending optimism. But it’s there certainly is an awareness of the responsibility of the platform that we have. Yeah,
David Ralph [46:12]
and he’s a great platform and go over there at ChooseFI . There’s a great, great article on travel rewards that I was looking at. I thought to myself, this is a good idea. I’ve never heard of this before. So yeah join up dots go over to the platform will have all the links on the show notes in your find out how to travel the world for nothing, which is brilliant. Well, this is the part of the show that we’ve been building up to. And this is the part that we call the Sermon on the mic, when we’re going to send you back, Jonathan, to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the younger version, what age would you choose? And what advice would you give him? Well, we’re going to find out because I’m going to play the music. And when it beats you up, this is a best sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [46:57]
We go with the best.
Yeah, thinking about myself at the age of like, probably my early teens at 1415. And I think I was so desperate to find a safe, predictable lane, to be who everybody else wanted me to be that, you know, kind of the weird, quirky aspects that creative aspects of myself just kind of got shovelled to the side. And what I would do, what I would want to pass on to myself, is just to focus on one don’t care about everybody else, you’re probably not gonna be talking about them, you know, you’re not gonna be talking to them. They’re not going to be your social network when you’re in your early 30s. So one, why did you waste that much energy trying to be that person. And then to increase your zone of awareness, when I look at the choices that I most regret. So in my case, that big corporate 12 year stint that basically I walked away from like, I took out $168,000 in debt and got the job. So I could pay back $268,000 that that loop ended in 12 years. And that was the safe path, right. And we talked about those themes. I’m desperately trying to spend more time increasing my zone of awareness. So whatever that looks like, take a rich person out to lunch, pick their brain, fine, increase the people that you’re around my social circle, was, largely, we all ended up kind of doing the same thing, right? And the same, and there was just an end, what I chose is options for myself was basically predicated on those very limited interactions. It’s never been easier to increase your zone of awareness, it’s never been easier to find out everything that you don’t know that you don’t know. And so that’s what I would counsel myself, Be true to yourself. pursue those interests with passion like ChooseFI , and increase that zone of awareness. Don’t just take the top 10 most successful careers path on Google. That’s lame. That’s
David Ralph [48:59]
great advice. Go for it. Go for it, everybody. And you can do exactly the same. So Jonathan, what is the best way that our audience can connect with you, sir?
Yes, I would love it. If everybody listening to this, that got value from it and wants more information. If you go to choose f5. com, choose f i.com slash start, we’ve created a nice little landing page there that will give you some easy ways to interact with our content.
David Ralph [49:25]
And we’ll have all the links on the show notes. As I said earlier, Jonathan, thank you so much for spending time with us today, joining up those dots. And please come back again, when you have even more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Jonathan, thank you so much.
Thank you, David. This has been a blast.
David Ralph [49:49]
Jonathan Mendonsa from ChooseFI Yes. So do you want to be financially independent? Do you want to ChooseFI ? I think he’s the way to go. And it takes about time you reduce your overheads, you reduce your debts. And then you try to add in some passive income and find different ways. ChooseFI And it could be setting stuff on eBay. It could be you know, mowing lawns, it could be anything as long as you’re sort of getting money that you weren’t getting before, that adds to that removal. pole. And, and you see where you come at the upper end. But it’s, it’s freedom, and it’s liberation, when you get there. It really is. Well, until next time, thank you so much for everybody. And yeah, and what I’m going to do, as I said on now, and I’ll probably do an episode on this, but I will need your help about it is set up join up dots groups across the world. So if you’re sitting there anywhere in the world, and you think you would really like to connect with somebody locally, through a group that you could then meet up with, and, and surround yourself with people that are cooking on gas, or just wanting to get more from their lives, you know, we can do that. ChooseFI Through the power of the web power of Facebook, we can link up all the groups into sort of a mass connection. Just let me know, just let me know, drop me a line. And we’re start setting up the groups and, and then we’re, we’re broadcasting to them live, we’re connected, whatever you want to do, it’s for you guys. But um, I think it’d be a good thing to do. Until next time, thank you so much. And if you want that just drop down at join up dots gmail.com and just say yeah, I fancy back and of course, come over to the website at join up dots.com loads of good stuff there. And we’ll see you soon. Cheers. Say bye bye David
Unknown Speaker [51:35]
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you are wants to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to join up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on join up dots.