How to Become a “Quiet” Millionaire and Avoid the Financial Guru Trap


Don’t strive to become rich. Instead, become a “quiet” millionaire like Tae Kim, the “Financial Tortoise.” You’ve seen the flashy cars, fancy champagne, and private jets of the online financial “gurus.” Then, like clockwork, you see these same people lose their wealth, go bankrupt, or disappear from the online world entirely. What happened to them, and where did all the “riches” go?

In today’s show, we talk to Tae about the slow, steady, unsexy way to build wealth and become a millionaire that most Americans will never understand. It’s far less risky than gambling your money away, day trading, or going high-leverage on risky real estate. Instead, you can sleep like a baby every night, knowing you have hundreds of thousands in the bank, millions in investments, and enough money to chase your dreams IF you follow Tae’s advice.

Tae’s path to wealth wasn’t complicated, but he did make a handful of money mistakes you won’t want to repeat. After paying off over six figures in debt, Tae now serves as the financial hero we need but don’t deserve, teaching EVERYONE why the slow, quiet way to wealth is the smartest, most sustainable way to truly become “rich.” If you want to quit your job, do what you love, and live every day on YOUR schedule, stick around!

Mindy:
Hello, my dear listeners and welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast where today, we are interviewing Tae Kim, the Financial Tortoise, and talk about building wealth slowly and the money lessons you can learn from broke financial gurus.
Hello hello, hello. My name is Mindy Jensen, and with me as always is my not broke master of finance co-host, Scott Trench.

Scott:
Thanks, Mindy. It’s great to be here with my invests in companies that make cars without a choke co-host, Mindy Jensen.

Mindy:
I do. That’s a good one. That’s a good one, Scott. Scott and I are here to make financial independence less scary, less just for somebody else to introduce you to every money story because we truly believe financial freedom is attainable for everyone, no matter when or where you’re starting.

Scott:
That’s right. Whether you want to retire early and travel the world, go on to make big time investments in assets like real estate, start your own business or simply get rich slowly like the tortoise, not the hare, we’ll help you reach your financial goals and get money out of the way so you can launch yourself towards your dreams.

Mindy:
All right, Scott, without further ado, let’s bring in Tae. Tae Kim is a financial content creator who writes the high value popular newsletter, the Financial Tortoise. With over 100,000 YouTube subscribers and a perfect hairdo, Tae shares his personal finance philosophies of growing wealth slowly and becoming a quiet millionaire. Tae, welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast. I’m so excited to talk to you today.

Tae:
Thank you for having me.

Mindy:
We have a mutual friend named Roger. And Roger and I were having coffee a few weeks ago, and he was talking to me about how he has this friend who decided to quit his job and then become a YouTube content creator. And I was like, “Oh, good luck to him. That’s going to be a bit of an undertaking.” And he’s like, “Oh yeah, he’s been doing it a while. It’s Tea Kim, the Financial Tortoise.” I’m like, “I know him.”
So I’m super excited to have you on the show today. I love your videos because you are genuine. And I think that really is the difference between people who are successful at creating content online versus people who are maybe have a little pop of success and then fizzle out, it’s because they’re not genuinely trying to educate. And I think that’s what you’re trying to do. That’s the impression that I get.
If that’s not what you’re trying to do, you’re doing a really good job. You’re an excellent actor. What made you want to quit your job? I mean, I know why everybody wants to quit their job, but what made you want to quit your job and then move into financial content creation?

Tae:
Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of people who end up creating personal finance content, I mean, I was always interested given that my wife and I, we kind of went through this financial journey. When we got married, we had $105,000 of student debt. That’s how we started off our marriage. And then we went through the Dave Ramsey course, and we spent just many years just understanding money, paying off debt, which kind of really forced us to look at our spending. So that really helped to develop good money habits. So it was a bit of a blessing in disguise, having that debt. That’s what we talk about.
And then I think as we learn more about money, I saw how financial literacy was very powerful, something that I didn’t have growing up as an immigrant child, and in my professional career, in my 20s. So after we paid off our debt, we started just moving up the financial literacy ladder. And the more I learned, more I became just excited about it more, the more I realized how empowering it could be.
Yeah. And I saw when I was starting to do some blogging on the side just for fun, started engaging with people within the personal finance community, I just thought, “Hey, YouTube seems to be this exciting place, so why don’t I try my luck there as a middle-aged man, even though I can’t compete with all of these young hip cool kids, but why not? There’s not many of us out there, so what can go wrong?” So that’s how I got started.

Scott:
Well, you’ve mentioned a word a couple of times, you’re learning and the financial literacy component. I see a huge bookshelf behind you. How important has that been to your journey, the self-education component?

Tae:
Yeah, it’s been huge. So I went to graduate school for my MBA, but what’s most interesting is that despite having gotten my MBA, most of the personal finance lessons that I learned has been outside of it through my personal experience and mistakes that I’ve made. So it’s huge. I mean, I think everything that I know, everything that I talk about in the channel is really based upon, it’s a combination of learning from all these smart individuals who distill their thoughts into these books, and then me being able to apply those into my personal life, reflecting on the mistakes that I’ve made.
So yeah, I mean, I think because it’s not a topic that is systematically taught within our school system, I think it’s so much more important to self-educate ourselves about money.

Scott:
What was your childhood experience with money, if any?

Tae:
Yeah, there wasn’t, I guess a lot of discussion around money at home. So my family, we immigrated from South Korea when I was nine. And similar to a lot of immigrant families, we struggled with money. Both my parents were working class, they didn’t speak English. And what they were telling us was just to study hard and then you’ll be set, you’ll be good. “Just study hard, go to college and then you’re good for the rest of your life,” because that’s what our neighbors, the ones that went to college looked like.
So yeah, I mean, it was a lot of, I guess financial struggle in a way, not having much. And I think part of the reason why I made so many financial mistakes in my 20s really stemmed from the insecurities I had in my youth where I didn’t know the difference between real financial wealth and success versus what’s shown on the media and what was seen around me.
Thus, I think I grew up with this misconception that people who drive luxury cars, live in these big homes, went on vacations all the time, were wealthy, were financially successful. And I think in my 20s, that’s what I try to mimic without having the foundation of… Like Morgan Housel talks about in his book is like, “Real wealth is made when you don’t spend the money.” And then for me, it clicked in my 30s, but then in my 20s, I mean, I was just like, “I don’t know. That’s what you’re supposed to do, right? Go buy a brand new car, rent your own apartment when you can’t afford it and just eat out all the time. That’s what wealthy people do.” So I tried to mimic that before I actually had real wealth.

Scott:
What were some of those big mistakes that you made in your 20s?

Tae:
Oh, so many, so many. I think one of the first ones right out of the gate was coming out of college, I rented my own apartment by myself thinking that’s what successful people do, which was 50% of my take home pay, and I didn’t have any furniture to fill it with. So I went to a furniture store and they were very generous. They were like, “Hey, we have this deal going where you can rent to own your furniture.” So of course I was like, “That’s awesome. You guys are doing this for me?”
So I bought a bunch of furniture that I couldn’t afford, but thankfully they’re like, “Hey, we have this payment plan.” And I had no idea at the time, interest rate, payment plan, all these things. So I was like, “This is great. I could fill my furniture. I’m owning my own apartment, and I could fill it with furniture right away,” and I looked successful. So if I could go back to when, I think that was when I was 22, I like to say, yeah, I made that dumb mistake.

Scott:
I just love that quote you referenced earlier where I think Morgan Housel says, “Wealth is by definition the money not spent.” And it seems like this experience in your 20s really set the stage for the complete reversal and philosophy that you live today. Can you talk about this concept of the quiet millionaire and some of the quiet ways that you enjoy your wealth now that may be more meaningful?

Tae:
Yeah. So my channel is called Financial Tortoise, and then my wife and I were inspired by our favorite fable, Tortoise and the Hare. The tortoise didn’t do anything fancy. He wasn’t trying to show his amazing skill as a racer. He was very slow and steady on his path during his race. So I kind of follow that philosophy. I like to follow that philosophy with money and life as well.
So Scott, you were mentioning, I think slow wealth coincides with quiet wealth too. I think when we aren’t focused on trying to show our wealth, but then really focused on the fundamentals of how do we build wealth. And yeah, it’s really not caring about what people think about me or what car I drive or what big of a house I have, what fancy things I own. But I mean, it’s not like to say you shouldn’t own nice things and you shouldn’t go on nice vacations of something that you enjoy, but really being able to separate yourself from needing to show this wealth to the world and then finding that self-fulfillment just from within. And then using the wealth that you have to enable the life that you want to live.
So I think, of course, it’s easier said than done. We live in a very social world where we want to be accepted, we want to be liked, we want people to be impressed by what we do. So I think it takes a lot of conscious effort to, I think, decouple ourselves from this need to show a certain image of ourselves to the world. But yeah, that’s kind of the philosophy that I think after many hard, hard lessons that I’ve come to really follow, espouse and like to promote.

Mindy:
So, how did you go from spending and putting used furniture on layaway and trying to look wealthy to flipping the switch to growing your wealthy in a slow way? What was the impetus for the change?

Tae:
Yeah, so I think I spent… So if I could think about in my life to decades, 20s was really just all about the money mistakes that I’ve made. I think the rent-to-own furniture just won, Scott. It’s just like I went and bought a brand new car. I didn’t learn my lesson. At 24, I went and bought myself a brand new car. And then at 27, I went and got myself 100K in student loans. It just kept going, the mistakes.
It took me a little while to learn those lessons. I wish I learned it sooner. But I think the biggest impetus was really when my wife and I got married, we pretty much spent all of our savings and then we had a combined $105,000 student debt. She just graduated from nursing school. I just graduated from business school. And I think that’s when now that I have a family, I have this responsibility.
And then I realized I was on this razor-thin edge of one major catastrophe. One major mistakes can tip us over. And I think that’s where I was like, “I need to get my financial house in order.” And I think there is just a lot of, especially in the world of financial, I won’t say literacy, but financial media, there’s just a lot of messaging around I think make money quickly, get rich quickly. Those are very seductive, very sensational. And I was pulled into that.
I was like, “Oh, you read Robert Kiyosaki’s book, Rich Dad Poor Dad. And then he doesn’t directly say, “Make money quickly,” but it’s a lot of big words of like, “Get rich.” And then you’re like, “Oh, I need to go out and do something sensational so I can make a lot of money right away.” So that’s what I think the hack was I was always looking for.
And then I think when I went through Dave Ramsey’s course, it kind of flipped the script in a way and be like, “Oh, I don’t have the fundamentals down. I don’t have my spending down. I don’t understand how credit works. I don’t understand how debt works. So these are the things that I need to really focus on.” And then I think as I went through that process, I started to read more books that aren’t as exciting, but is filled with a lot of jewels, like The Bogleheads’, like Three-Fund Portfolio. It’s a very dry book, but it’s got everything in there that you need to master your money.
So those are kind of stuff that as I started consuming, I was like, “Oh, this is what I really want. This really connects with me. This is what if I want to have long-term sustainable wealth, it takes time.” And like anything else in life, if you want to have a happy marriage, relationship takes time. It takes time to invest in each other. It’s not just roses and unicorns overnight, like the movies. Nothing good in life comes overnight. Everything takes time.

Scott:
Tae, when did this pivot happen? What year are we talking about? How old were you?

Tae:
So I was early 30s. Yeah, just graduated from business school. It was my early 30s, I would say in the first couple of years of our marriage.

Scott:
Awesome. And how long did it take you then from there to pay off all the student loan debt and get ahead? Was it a process to really transition your financial position? Or was it a light switch that happened pretty quick where your savings rate just jumped and you’re able to race towards?

Tae:
Yeah, I mean, it was a process. We went through the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course, and then it took us three and a half years to pay off 105,000. So then I think that time what really taught us was just managing our spending, just looking at our expenses, stuff that we didn’t do before. I didn’t track my expenses, and that was one of the first things that I did was like, “Oh, let me look at where is all my money going? And then let me see where can we plug the hole?”
So then I realized how much I was spending on eating out. So we started packing lunch. How much is our car costing us? So then we said, “You know what? We might have thought that we’re going to switch our cars, but we’re going to keep this as long as possible.”
I think those fundamental building blocks I think just wasn’t there. And I think that’s what the paying down the debt really helped us to really dial in, was controlling our spending. And thankfully, our income also increased because our career capital increased, and then we were able to bring in more money, and so then our expenses stay fixed while our income increased. So we were able to use more of the gap to pay off our student loan faster. And then I think that just after our student loan was paid off, I think that catapulted us into like, “Okay, how much more can we save? How much more can we invest?”

Scott:
Fast forward five, six, seven years, and now we’re here. And you’ve transitioned from your full-time job to YouTube full time. Can you walk us through that transition and the interplay between the strength of your personal financial position and the influence that had on your choice to leave your job and pursue this new venture that you’re very passionate about, clearly?

Tae:
So after Dave Ramsey, we kind of graduated into the FI world. We got hooked into ChooseFI and went to a lot of events. And then our goal now became save as much as possible, invest as much as possible while we’re in our peak earning years. And then in the back of our mind, I think both of us, we didn’t have a concrete goal of where do we want to go? I think the pursuit of financial independence in a way is I think process of, I think rediscovery transformation in a way. I think the money plays a role of just enabling you to pursue that, pursue that journey. So as we were able to save a lot more into the market, and then as we had a lot more cushion, which gave us a lot more options that we could take with our career, I think we were just kind of putting on a different ideas of, “Hey, if we could wave a magic wand and try something crazy, what would that look like?”
And then I think, one, being good with our finances, which started with Dave Ramsey, and being able to save a lot more really gave us the permission to dream, because I think that’s where if we didn’t have that, we would be like, “This is a route that we have to take.” I mean, I worked in my job for 10 years before I started even thinking about, “Oh, what else could be possible?”
So Scott, to your question earlier, what triggered it was, I guess to be bluntly, I might had a midlife crisis in my late 30s, and I was like, “I don’t know if I could see myself doing this 10 years from now.” And to be frank, I enjoyed, I think coming out of business school, getting my MBA, moving up the ladder in the FP&A route was a very traditional, and I enjoyed the work, I enjoyed the team that I was working with, but then I could forecast where my next 10 years, exactly where that would take me.
I saw exactly, I’m moving to that corner office right there, I’m going to get this kind of a salary bump. I’m just moving my seat at the board meeting from where I’m sitting over to two seats over where I created the slides, but now I’m going to read the slides. I saw it exactly. I saw it all playing out in my mind. And I was like, “Is that where I want to be?” And I think that’s where I was like, “Okay, then if not, then where do I want to go?”
And this happened several years before I left my day job where my wife and I would start, and this sounds really nerdy, but we actually got a whiteboard out. We started kind of vision planning out what would that look like? If you could say five years from now, this is something crazy you want to do, what would that look like?
And then I think for each one of the vision, we started listing out what would that financially cost us? What would be our overhead? Do we have enough? What’s our runway? I think in the FI world, there’s always this kind of dilemma of one more year. And then I think we got to a point where you just got to put a stake in the ground and then make it happen.
YouTube was always something that I was somewhat interested in, but I didn’t know what that landscape looked like. So yeah, interestingly, I left my job a couple years ago in 2021 and then bought a camera and then started recording myself and launching videos, and here we are.

Scott:
It’s super helpful. And the big question I have here is, look, I love it. I had a similar experience at my first job also in FP&A and finance, what you did, financial planning and analysis, you forecast the future. Sounds like that’s exactly what you did coming up on this midlife crisis as you refer to it. My big question though is do you think that that crisis, your ability to then go and transition to being a YouTuber and putting out this content would’ve been possible if you hadn’t put in the six, seven, eight years previous in building your financial position? Was there an interplay between the actual ability to execute it and the work you’d put in for the last eight years?

Tae:
Yeah. So yes, and I think it’s different for every people. I would say my wife and I, we’re a little bit more on the conservative side. So I wouldn’t personally have felt comfortable not having a certain level of financial cushion that we had at the time, and we have now in order to make that leap. So a lot of the scenarios that we kind of played out was like, “Okay, let’s say we start out in this journey and then we are not generating enough to cover the overhead, then what are some of the resources that we can pull from?”
So we built up almost two years worth of savings in cash that if we brought no income, it’s okay. That’s what we started planning on. If we want to try all of these crazy things, what’s one of the first thing we want is, even if zero income came in, we’re totally fine for two years. So that’s one of the first layers.
And then we started looking at, “Okay, if that runs out.” And then my wife would be like, “Yeah, if your dream of YouTuber just flops and then you bring in no money, then what?” I’m like, “Well, okay.” Then I think the second scenario is I can start doing some consulting work. We can start tapping into our taxable accounts. We have a rental. So we had all these different, I think, levers that we can pull. And then I think, Mindy, you mentioned a lot in your podcast before was the worst case scenario is we just go back to what the heck we were doing before. That’s it, right? That’s the worst case scenario. And that wasn’t too bad. It’s just we got to give ourselves permission to try something. Let’s swing for the fences and see, we would regret never having tried than having tried and failed.

Mindy:
Yeah, that’s a quote from Joel from FI 180. Scott and I were at Campfire in January of 2018, and he threw that out. He’s like, “What’s the worst that could happen? I have to go and get a job. My worst case scenario is everybody else’s everyday life.” So taking that leap can be really freeing when that’s your worst case scenario.
However, you were smart about it. You had not just a month of savings, “Oh, I better make it big in a month because otherwise I’ll be broke.” You had two years of savings so that you didn’t have to worry about hitting it big as soon as you possibly could. And then on top of that, you had other levers to pull. And then on top of that, your worst case scenario is going back to get a job. And I think that that’s really, really important.
I hear a lot of people say, “Oh, I just quit my job, now I’m going to start investing in real estate.” And I’m like, “Oh, can you get your job back?” Because you need to have a foundation first. You have a really great video right now where you’re talking about the lessons you learned from Broke Financial Gurus. You talk about the danger of leverage, which just leverage is great and horrible all at the same time. Can you tell us more about the dangers of leverage and the lessons you learned from these broke guys?

Tae:
Yeah, yeah, that was a fun video I made. So the premise of the video was there’s a lot of financial gurus on the market like Robert Kiyosaki, like Robert Allen, like all these people who wrote books, and then we hear just the surface level stories of what they want to portray or what they market. But then when we start unpeeling the layers, it is a little bit more complex. A lot of them went through financial difficulties and bankruptcies. But one of the topics, one the points I talk about specifically is the danger of leverage. How a lot of them, the reason why they got into financial trouble, their companies or they themselves went bankrupt was the common theme across all of them was leverage, was debt.
So I talk about examples of Dave Ramsey, specifically. He was able to build a $4 million real estate portfolio by the time he was 26. However, he had to declare bankruptcy because he was over-leveraged. And that’s what I think most other financial gurus out there. Yeah, I mean, that’s another component. My wife and I, we were very cognizant about when we decided to take the leap was outside of our home mortgage, which we thankfully also refinanced right before we both left our jobs into the lower interest rates, locked those in, and then we paid off pretty much every other debt that we had.
So we then didn’t have any other obligations. So I mean, once again, Scott, to your point earlier, I think it depends on each person on what your decision, how you make those decision and what you feel comfortable. But for my wife and I, I think, when we ran the scenarios were like, “There are some absolutes that we wouldn’t feel comfortable emotionally until we are able to mitigate a lot of these risks within our lives before we can think about even taking risks in other avenues.”

Scott:
I mean, look, scenario planning, and I’ll just say this, is way easier and way more comfortable when part of the scenario plan is two years in cash before you even have to touch any investment returns or generate any other income. So I think that that’s an absolutely critical thing for a lot of entrepreneurs. I think there’s a very high correlation, it’s not perfect, but there’s a very high correlation between successful entrepreneurs and that cash position when they start out on that entrepreneurial journey.
And what’s really impressive is you and your wife built it after paying off a ton of debt, working two full-time W2 jobs, paying taxes, and clearly as a result of discipline on a day in, day out basis for years to get to that point. And it’s really paid off wonderfully for you.
But I want to keep going and diving into this concept of financial gurus going broke, basically. And because that’s not over, right? There’s a lot of folks out there right now on Instagram, on YouTube, on Facebook with their courses. They’re very high-priced programs. And some of them will go broke. Some of them are probably struggling very badly right now if they’re in certain asset classes that have been hammered.
How do you use the lessons from that video to think about who you follow and which lessons you take with a grain of salt and which folks to follow in building your position?

Tae:
Yeah, and it’s hard. I mean, I think because it’s like myself, I think the reason I made so many money mistakes in my 20s was because I couldn’t discern between good advice and bad advice because I didn’t have a foundation of financial knowledge. And I think you could only really discern when you have a level of financial literacy. And I think that really begins with self-education and reading. It’s boring, but it’s like reading classic personal finance books. Go read J.L. Collins, Simple Path to Wealth. They’ll give you a basic foundation on investing. Go read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. That’s going to give you some basic foundation on overspending.
And I think when you have these building blocks in your mind and then you start to see these financial gurus on social media, then you can kind of discern between, “Okay, that’s a little shady,” versus like, “Oh, this is really good content. This is based on sound foundation.”
And the other part too is that there is no financial guru that’s going to be perfect for everybody. I think there’s elements in which it’s going to resonate, a component of what this person says resonates with you, but other components that’s not going to resonate with you. And then I think that responsibility really resides with ourselves and knowing how to discern and then being able to pick the best and then apply that into our own lives.

Scott:
One of the things I’ve observed about you is I think that the word enough, that, I think, is a profound word in terms of the world of personal finance and planning. Have you observed that to be one of these things that influences who you follow, this concept of folks who never seem to have enough and folks who do?

Tae:
I think so. I mean, I think that’s not just the financial influencers, but all of us being able to identify what our enough is. I mean, I talk about this in my video a lot about that story between… These two writers, they were at this billionaire’s party, and then one author tells the other like, “Hey, how do you feel that this billionaire is making more money than the royalty from your book throughout your whole life?” And then the author says, “This billionaire doesn’t have something that I’ll always have, which is enough. I have enough, so I’ll always be wealthy.”
I think that idea of enough is crucial as being able to… because then you’ll never be satisfied. And then it doesn’t matter how much money you have, wealth, living a rich life, having a wealthy life, it’s very personal knowing what is that I want and do I have it in my life? And then if you are constantly seeking to have more and more, then you’ll always be poor regardless of how much money you have.

Mindy:
That’s a really great point, and being able to define what enough means to you can be difficult. I mean, you see, it goes back to the TV and the media telling you, “You need to have all of these things.” “Well, if I need to have all of these things, then I don’t have enough yet because I still need to buy all of these things.” So what makes you happy? What is it that you want to do? Was it Scott Ricken’s in Playing with FIRE, the documentary? He said, “I asked my wife to make a list of her top 10 things that she loves the most, and they weren’t really material things. It was like a good bottle of wine, good chocolate, spending time with my friends, spending time with my kids, spending time with my husband. It was a lot of non-material or non-expensive things.” So they changed up their life so that they could live this better life.

Tae:
Yeah. And Morgan Housel also talks about in his book too, The Psychology of Money, how happiness is really the gap between the expectation and what we want or the reality. So then really, if you want to increase your happiness, lower the expectation, and then your happiness shoots up because you have what you expect.

Scott:
Hey, look, this concept scares the heck out of me with some investors who just keep piling more, it’s like, “Oh, you have a hundred properties and you got there in three years. What’s going to happen there?” When you talk about leverage, that’s the only way. There’s only one way to get there that quickly, it’s with leverage, with using other people’s money, raising it from various sources, combining those things. And then what’s enough? Who needs a hundred properties to achieve their goals? Could be 10 paid off ones, and I’m good to go, way past where I need to be with that.
Anyways, I love that concept. This concept of enough, I think is absolutely critical to understanding everything you’re about with the Financial Tortoise in a lot of ways, or at least that’s what I’ve observed. How does it influence the way you invest? What do you invest in? What’s your philosophy and approach?

Tae:
Yeah, it’s very simple. So the other kind of element that I really embraced is the idea of simplicity. That’s the tortoise, right? He didn’t have any fancy tricks up his bag. He just put one foot in front of the other and just kept walking, stayed on the same path, didn’t get distracted. So I’m a big follower of J.L. Collins, The Simple Path to Wealth. So most of my investment is all within broad market index fund.
If they’re with Vanguard, it’s with VTSAX. If they happen to be with Fidelity because of my previous 401k, then they’re with, see, I don’t even know. I think I picked it once. It was either the S&P 500 or the Total Market, one of those. And then you just set it and forget it. So a very simple philosophy in investing.
And I think kind of, Scott, going back to the idea of enough, I think there’s always this lure to want to eek out better returns and more returns than what I’m getting. But then I think that always comes with the cost too. Cost of your energy, cost of risk, cost of just complexity. So then if you have defined your enough as like, “Hey, this is like a VTSAX fund serves my purpose, it does the job,” then we find contentness in that, and that’s okay. And not want more. And at the end of the day, for me, it’s like, “Well, then I can spend my time on more important things in life instead of looking at the stock market.”

Scott:
What about this investment clearly in books and fitness that we can see right behind you on screen here?

Tae:
Yes. Yes. I have my squat rack right here and my books right here. So yeah, I mean, I do believe in spending on things that bring a lot of value in life. So I think a couple of those are education and health and physical fitness. So I invested in a, I think at the time it was like 2,500 or $3,000 squat rack that I have placed right behind my desk, so I have no excuse never to work out. And then when I was growing up, one of my dreams I had was one day if I could buy all the books that I want. I spent a lot of time in the library, and then it was very particular. I was like, “I don’t want to get the paperback. I want to get the hardcover when it comes out. Full price.” So that was kind of my dream.
The other day, I picked up this book, How to Win Friends & Influence People, and I have a paper copy, but I was like, “There’s a hardcover? I got to get that.” Yeah, $22. You know what? It’s an investment. So it’s going back to the idea of, yeah, I think we should… The money is there, it’s a tool at the end of the day. At the end of the day, it’s a tool to enable us to live the life that we want, identifying what’s enough for us, and then being able to invest guiltless in those areas. So for me, working out and education are two of those big things.

Mindy:
I love it. What advice do you have for somebody who is just starting out either on their investment journey or their content creation journey?

Tae:
Yeah, so investment journey, I would say it’s okay to keep things simple. I talk to a lot of people who, I think very smart individuals, I think, and I think a lot of it because of their intelligence, they have a hard time digesting the fact that a simple index fund is that’s all they need. So I think when you’re investing, I literally have the same conversation over and over again. They’re like, “I bought the VTSAX, but do you think I need this S&P 500 fund? Or what do you think? Do I need to add this small cap fund?” I’m like, “Well, you could, but what’s the point? What are you trying to achieve?”
So it’s okay to keep it simple. So that will be my kind of recommendation is unless you love looking at the stock market all day long, find one good fund, a S&P 500 or a Total Market, and then dump as much money as possible. It’s not about eking out the best return, it’s about how much money you put in and how long you keep it in there for. That’s going to have a bigger impact on your wealth than anything else.
And then I think with the content creation part, I mean, it’s kind of a niche topic. I would say one of the biggest lessons I learned was never be afraid to try something new. I think that was the biggest lesson for me, was creating YouTube videos in my 40s, learning how to film myself, edit videos, it’s been a steep learning curve, and I feel like I’ve grown so much from it. So I think that would be my other recommendation is that, hey, if there’s an arena in your life that you never thought you could do it, but you want to try, you will regret never having tried more than having tried and failed. So don’t be afraid.

Mindy:
I love it. Thank you, Tae. That was awesome. This whole entire episode has been fantastic. I really appreciate your time today. We’ve touched on you’re the Financial Tortoise, but when people are looking for you, where will they find you?

Tae:
Yeah, so I think people can find me on the YouTube channel, Tae Kim – Financial Tortoise. And then if they want to connect with me directly, you can go to my website financialtortoise.com and then join my email newsletter. So I’m still old school, so I think I like to interface via email. Not very good at with the YouTube interface interacting on YouTube, but you can find my content there. So that would be the best place to find me.

Scott:
Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Tae, really appreciate it. Hope you have a wonderful rest of your week and put up a PR on that squat rack here in coming days. So thanks for all you do.

Tae:
Yes, yes. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Mindy:
Holy cats, I should say holy tortoise, Scott, that was Tae Kim and that was such a fabulous show. What a great philosophy. And I love that he had a little bit of a bump in the road at the beginning. I mean, I don’t love it. I’m not like, “Woo hoo, he was terrible with money.” But it seems like that really brings out the desire to teach people when we’ve got guests on the show who have had this experience with making mistakes and they’re like, “Hey, this is what I’ve learned. I want to share it with you too.”

Scott:
Yeah, I mean, if you’ve been listening to BiggerPockets Money for even a couple episodes, you instantly recognize that Tae is a kindred spirit with Mindy and I in terms of how we think about personal finance. I just love listening to his story. What a wonderful success story. Lots of lessons learned. And look, nothing crazy about his story and his 20s and 30s, and the start, he got really in his 30s on his personal finance journey. So I think he’s really inspirational. I think he’s likely to be very, very successful with his approach going forward. And look at the doors that opened up just after five, six, seven years of really pivoting with his personal finances and allowing him to live a life of his dreams, stay fit, stay healthy, build a YouTube channel, and do what he loves every day.

Mindy:
Yeah, what is that saying? When you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life. He’s living his best life doing everything that he wants to do. I did like the point in the show where he says, “Well, this might sound a little nerdy.” Uh, not to us, Tae. “This might sound a little nerdy, but my wife and I broke out a whiteboard and we started to plan our life.” I’m like, “Uh-huh, that’s what we all do, Tae.”

Scott:
Yeah, that’s something that’s so rare, but so common among folks who actually go on to achieve financial independence and reap the rewards and the benefits that come with it.

Mindy:
Yep. If that’s what you do too, welcome to your community. All right, Scott, should we get out of here?

Scott:
Let’s do it.

Mindy:
That wraps up this fantastic episode of the BiggerPockets Money Podcast. He is Scott Trench, and I am Mindy Jensen saying, take care. Be a tortoise, not a hare.

Scott:
If you enjoyed today’s episode, please give us a five star review on Spotify or Apple. And if you’re looking for even more money content, feel free to visit our YouTube channel at youtube.com/biggerpocketsmoney.

Mindy:
BiggerPockets Money was created by Mindy Jensen and Scott Trench, produced by Kailyn Bennett, editing by Exodus Media, copywriting by Nate Weintraub. Lastly, a big thank you to the BiggerPockets team for making this show possible.

 

 

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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.


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