Host: Matt Hall
Guest: Joe Saul-Sehy
Matt Hall: 00:06 Welcome to Take The Long View with Matt Hall. This is a podcast to help reframe the way you think about your money, emotions, behavior and time. The goal, helping you live richly. We'll talk with the best thought leaders we know to learn from their meaningful experiences. We'll bury the vegetables of world class thinking in stories and conversation, helping you reframe your perspective so that you too can put the odds of long term success on your side.
Matt Hall: 00:41 Joe Saul-Sehy was a financial advisor for 19 years and served as an advisor media spokesman for big time companies and financial services. He's been in the financial media world for the last decade and is creator and cohost of two podcasts. First, the light hearted and hugely successful Stacking Benjamins show and the chatty Money with Friends program. Stacking Benjamins has won many awards including three Plutus Awards for Best podcast, the Academy of Podcasters Award for best business podcast over such names as How I Built This, which is a really good one. And publications including Kiplinger, Forbes, Business Insider and Ink have listed the show on best financial podcast list. He's the father of twins and enjoys board games and running marathons.
Matt Hall: 01:27 What I like most about Stacking Benjamins and Joe Saul-Sehy, our guest, is that he and his team make money fun and entertaining. And that is rare and it's hard to do. Joe, welcome to the show.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 01:41 Hey, I'm so glad to be here, Matt. I can't believe I made it.
Matt Hall: 01:44 I can believe you made it, you're big time, man. I don't know how many of the listeners to Take The Long View will have listened to Stacking Benjamins, but it is a massive success. And one of the things I remember from being on your show several years ago when I was promoting Odds On: The Making of an Evidence-Eased Investor, is you do the coolest thing. You tape the show from mom's basement.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 02:10 We do. We do. You know what's funny, is that most podcasters are pretending they're not in the basement. I remember Sarah Koenig from the, talk about hugely successful podcast Serial, I think most people are familiar with Serial, I saw her at her podcasting conference talking about how she with that huge podcast backed by This American Life and some of the biggest powers in radio, she did it in her basement. And every time the toilet would flush over her head, she'd have to rewind, get rid of that part and edit it out. So, we're all in the basement, which is why we decided we just own it.
Matt Hall: 02:47 I love it. It's so creative and so clever. And you have a partner in Stacking Benjamins too. He's referred to as OG.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 02:57 Yeah, we couldn't figure out what to call him because he wanted to be very blunt about things that he didn't like. You can find out who he is very, very easily. We don't keep it a huge secret. But he wanted to be fairly blunt. And because of that, we have a bag over his head on the cover art, and he wanted to be kind of anonymous. And we said, well, what are we going to call you though? We have no idea what to call you. Because we won't call you by your real name, even though we're not really hiding it that much. So tall of a sudden, we realized we can call you the other guy. We'll just be Joe and the other guy. Then we realized that the other guy, of course is OG, which most people know is original gangsta, and we have another inside joke among many.
Matt Hall: 03:41 Well, I love it. I love the feel. I love how you make money topics approachable and palatable. I think that's just such a special thing, and I'm sure is a big part of your success. If we go back in time to pre-podcast, can you sort of paint the picture for us of what your experience was like in the world of personal finance pre-podcast?
Joe Saul-Sehy: 04:04 Well, if we actually go way back before I was a financial advisor, I was just somebody who was horrible with money. My family didn't talk about money. I grew up in a family like many families where if I walked in the room or my brother or sister walked in the room and my parents were having a money discussion, they stopped and sent us back out of the room. And only then did they talk about money, which led to the first week that I was in college, and I went to a military college, the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 04:33 I walked into Mark Clark Hall, the Student Union, and there was an American Express table where they were handing out credit card applications. I signed up for one. I had no way to pay the bill. I couldn't have a job because I was at a military school. Of course, though, I got the card because who lets a job stand in the way of allowing somebody that you shouldn't give a credit card to get a credit card. And then I proceeded, the first time we had any leave to take all my friends out to lunch. And I bought this sweater that, you know, I'm a product of the 1980s, so it would look great in an old Duran Duran video. It's just this obscenely hideous thing.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 05:11 Within 90 days, my credit was completely wrecked. It was just wrecked. I called my mom, and I said, mom, I got this problem, I have a credit card, I need you to pay the bill. She said, I'm not paying the bill, you have to figure it out. Like how am I going to figure it out? She said, well, consider this a lesson. So it was a very valuable lesson for me of the dangers of credit. And from there, I started getting really just interested in money. I really like those people like on the Today Show or the late night TV shows when if, the few times they have financial people on, and how they always had the little tricks. Even out your utility bills. I thought that was fascinating. Only shop around the outside of the grocery store. Stay away from the stuff in the middle. Number one, your stomach will thank you, and number two, so will your wallet.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 06:01 I always thought those were fascinating. So because of that, even though I was an English major in college, I had a friend who said, we don't normally, this is a direct quote Matt, he said, "We don't normally hire people like you but I think you'd be really good at this," and game on.
Matt Hall: 06:17 Wow. Awesome. Okay, so you have had insane level of success at least by my estimation with your podcast. But before you got into the podcasting world, did you see a side of the personal finance world that you liked or is part of your experience and part of what you share in the podcast informed by some rough experiences in financial services?
Joe Saul-Sehy: 06:42 Well, it's largely a product of my experience of working with families back in the day because I was a financial planner for a long time. And during that time, like you Matt, I saw a lot of different situations where most people hope to retire one time or hope to successfully put their kids through college without having a lot of debt or whatever the goal is, they're going to do that once. And I got to see it over and over and over. So, we got to see many of the mistakes that were out there.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 07:12 I've been listening to podcasts since the beginning. And people told me because I'd done radio, I'd done television, that I should have a podcast because I talked about them nonstop and how much I liked them. But I had nothing to say. I didn't want to have a me too show, just something different or something the same. I didn't want to do the Suze Orman, yell at you about your money, or Dave Ramsey talking about debt 24/7 with callers. I didn't want to do any of that. And so I kept saying, no, I don't have anything. And one day, I was mowing my lawn and I was listening to this NPR show called Car Talk.
Matt Hall: 07:46 I am.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 07:47 Are you familiar with Car Talk? Yeah, so these guys, Click and Clack, one of them has passed away now but they still play the shows because they're so evergreen. I'm listening to these guys, for people who don't know Car Talk, it's a show about cars but you really don't learn anything about a car. You just kind of get enveloped in car culture. And all of a sudden, I realized at that point, nobody was doing that with money shows, where you weren't trying to learn anything, you were just enveloping people in the culture. And that gave us a big aha, that maybe there was something that we could talk about.
Matt Hall: 08:20 Man, I love it, I love it. You said so much. First, going back to like the early days of podcasting, when were the first podcasts like around? What year was it?
Joe Saul-Sehy: 08:34 I started listening in 2005. And there were very few people listening by the way in 2005. I remember I'd have to take this little device called an iRiver, and I would hook it up to my computer, and I'd wait like 45 minutes for this file to download. I couldn't put any, I had to take all the songs off of it so I could put my one podcast on, hook that thing up to my belt, and it is the size of a small car. No, I'm joking. It was much bigger than like your phone today, and would strap that on and mow the lawn. I think some of the podcasts I listened to were in the first 100 podcasts. Shows about board games mostly I was interested in. I don't know who had the first financial podcast. Do you? I have no idea.
Matt Hall: 09:20 I don't know either. I mean, 07 was I think the iPhone, and here we are 12 years later. When was the first episode of Stacking Benjamins released?
Joe Saul-Sehy: 09:30 We've been around in one form or another for eight years now. And so, we started with the show, we had a website called the Free Financial Advisor, where we would just blog and write money tips, OG and I. And we talked them about podcast for a year before we did it. And if I could do anything differently, I would have started sooner. And by the way, that's the same with most of my clients and their goals. Like if I ever saw people regret, it's that they just sat too long and didn't do anything. Planned too hard. And nothing against planning, but just, you got to get your feet wet.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 10:05 So, when we started, we started it as a show called The Worst of the Free Financial Advisor. We thought it was funny. We also didn't think we'd be any good. We knew that we didn't know anything about podcasting. So that was going to be 13 episodes on purpose. It was going to be like baseball preseason. And we did 13 because we thought that'd be enough episodes to figure out what we were doing, number one. And number two, we did that because it was an unlucky number and we knew the baby was going to die. So, we got to episode nine or 10 and we thought we knew everything. But we still soldiered on to 13.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 10:41 And then we rebranded to a show called Two Guys and Your Money. And we were two guys in your money, that show by the way, about Episode 55 or 60, we realized we were close but we still weren't there yet. And we ended up getting rid of that show and transitioning over to the new brand Stacking Benjamins after episode 69, which by the way was also funny. That was inadvertent though. We did not say let's stop on episode 69. That was just a big fortuitous mistake if you're trying to be funny.
Matt Hall: 11:15 Okay. At what point did you know you really had something?
Joe Saul-Sehy: 11:21 The show for a while went nowhere because of the fact that we didn't commit. Like a lot of people with their financial goals, they kind of do it halfway and they don't really commit. And I remember going to a podcasting conference in Fort Worth called Podcast Movement. And at that time, I thought our show was pretty good but I wasn't getting any traction. The show was just very slowly growing. I also would complain about the charts, the Apple Podcast charts, and about our ranking. And I'd see these shows ahead of mine and I thought our show's way better because I'm a little competitive. I'm like our shows are way better than those.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 11:59 And then I heard of Roman Mars from 99% Invisible Talk. And he talked about this is a fantastic show, Roman talked about all the things that they do to be a professional at their podcast. I was sitting in the front row next to I believe a guy who's a mutual friend of ours, Matt, a guy named Roger Whitney, I was sitting next to Roger, and I wrote on my iPad, "I have the ranking I deserve and we're not professional enough." And I quit blogging. We redid the entire show and immediately lost a third of our listeners. And I got hate mail, before I get to the but. I also got tons of hate mail, you killed my favorite show. How could you do this to me. Which is wonderful that people get a connection with you. You go on the morning run or walking the dog or whatever it might be, you're part of their commute. And I ruined their favorite thing.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 12:58 So we lost a third of our listeners and it was mostly because we didn't know what we were doing yet. And number two, it was we made huge changes to make it more like the Tonight Show or Morning Drive program. We really owned the fact that it was going to be a comedy show, not halfway, it was going to be much more comedy, way lighter. We were going to be serious about play. And we started studying play, we studied comedy hard. Instead of just trying to be a couple of guys that are kind of funny around the dinner table, we started taking some comedy classes. And all the sudden, I'd say about 45 days after we made the change, man, it was like a hockey stick. The awards started coming and the accolades, the listeners came. When we finally committed that this is what we were going to do and we were going to be a professional about it instead of whining about the universe and how it was against us, that's when things took off.
Matt Hall: 13:56 That's awesome. So you've had, you know, you get so into I think nitty gritty stuff too. It's not just all fun and games. You'll talk about some pretty specific stuff like Roth conversions and what people are doing with their HSAs. How do you find that balance between sort of light hearted fun and play and yet all the practical guidance I think that comes out of Stacking Benjamins?
Joe Saul-Sehy: 14:25 It's all in the structure of the show. I think if you structure things right, you can get away with going down into deep nerd territory, money nerd territory for just a little while. So, when you go deep, you have to do it fairly quickly. You have to make sure that you define the terms and exactly what you're talking about because you have to understand that your audience might not know how this works as well as you do. But then it can't be longer than, you know, if we have a segment that goes longer than than 15 or 20 minutes, we've made a huge mistake. Where most shows try to go deep, you know, really try to extract big nuggets, we get in trouble every time we go deep. So, we can dip our finger in the deep nerd pool for a few minutes and then we get back out and go with something really light.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 15:18 I was a disc jockey in college, DJing and dis-jockeying high school dances and college parties. And what I found was that everybody comes from a different point of view, people come to you from different places or go to a party from different places. And not everybody likes the same music. So, I'd have to go from song that's in one genre, that one group of people like, get them on the dance floor and really excited and then I transition immediately into something that's completely different. And hopefully then, we not only learn more about each other, but we also find ourself having a good time in a way that we never expected that we would.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 15:57 So, to be able to delight and surprise and change the tempo up a lot while still making it predictable, I think is part of the sauce of how we get away with not just Roth conversions, we'll talk about like the Secure Act going through Congress and provisions and annuities, how the fees work in some of these products. Yeah, I'm with you. It can get pretty difficult sometimes.
Matt Hall: 16:22 Okay, so back in your DJ days, what was the song that you could always count on getting people going?
Joe Saul-Sehy: 16:31 It depended on, it depended on the year and the crowd. But when I was, now, you know, we're going to have some old guy talk here dude. This would have been the late 1980. So, you know, Billy Idol's version of Mony Mony was always a big song. And man, I hated it because I had to play it at 110 decibels three nights a week. Killed me after a while. Old Time Rock, I'll give you a list of songs I dislike that everybody else may like. Old Time Rock n Roll, we played all the time. The Beatles' Twist and Shout. Mony Mony. Celebration by Kool & the Gang, holy cow. Just all the songs that were the big dance hits.
Matt Hall: 17:17 Celebration actually is, that's a tough one for St. Louisans where I am because that was our 1982 World Series champion Cardinals theme song or sort of during the run at the end, that was the song that got connected to the team. But yeah, I hear you on all the others for sure.
Matt Hall: 17:34 So, as you think about the podcast and you think about what the sort of greatest hits are or the topics that really get people fired up or you can always kind of count on, you know, getting that group on your dance floor, if you will, what are those topics?
Joe Saul-Sehy: 17:51 You know, we get tons of questions about the Roth IRA and about HSAs. HSAs I think people confuse all the time with FSAs. So health savings account is a wonderful thing, and people don't realize that you can use that as a long term investment tool. And if you save your receipts and you are fairly healthy, you can afford to pay out of pocket expenses today and let your HSA money accumulate. You can then let the interest on that money as it grows and multiplies, let the interest on that money pay the bill much further down the road. It's the one type of account where money goes in pre-tax and comes out pre-tax. You don't have the like the 401k where it's one way or the Roth that's the other. You get both sides of the stick. So, I find that that's always a hit, talking about that.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 18:44 A lot of people want to talk about real estate. And I think, Matt, that's because there's so many charlatans in that business who are always online talking about how easy it is to make a huge fortune in real estate. You and I know that the North American real estate index and the, excuse me, the North American REIT index and the S&P 500 over long periods of time have had very similar returns. However, real estate's a much different beast than the stock market is. And I think before you dip your foot in that pool, you kind of got to know what you're getting into. So real estate is always pretty big.
Matt Hall: 19:22 What do you feel like is the topic that gets you in trouble or gets people fired up in maybe a negative way? When you've talked about either a person or a personality or a specific financial topic, is there something that you think people really have a hard time with or the reaction surprises you?
Joe Saul-Sehy: 19:43 Yes, absolutely. Everybody wants to equate cheaper with better. And people have this, and I think it's because there's a lot of people, and listen, I'm in the financial media so I get it. But I think there's a lot of people in the financial media, who they don't know, they don't have a lot of depth of knowledge and they know that an easy win is to pay less in fees. And it is an easy win. And it can be a way, I mean, it is sure money in your pocket by saving money on fees. However, that does not make it better. It just makes it cheaper.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 20:19 And so, when I get a question about somebody, our audience now expects this, but at first people were really taken aback when somebody would write me and say, hey, I have this fund and it has a .47 expense ratio. I was looking at this other one that has a .39 expense ratio. Do you think I should make that move because it seems pretty obvious to me? And OG and I will constantly tell you, you're fighting the wrong battle. You will never in retirement look back and go, if I'd saved that .06 in fees, I would have been able to retire earlier. It's because you didn't save, you didn't pay attention until it was too late, you didn't find ways to automate your finances.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 21:02 There are so many other battles besides the fee battle, but people just keep hitting that nail over and over and over. And I find it really frustrating. And our audience sometimes gets frustrated with us because I think we're singing off a different song sheet than a lot of the "gurus" who are out there.
Matt Hall: 21:18 Yeah. I definitely hear that and see that too. I think one of the, obviously, Vanguard and the late great Jack Bogle put a lot of emphasis on the fee part of the equation. At least in my experience in the sample size of people I encounter, it's like we became myopic around fees. And there is more to the story. And I think we know that in some other parts of our life in our buying decisions.
Matt Hall: 21:45 But in the financial services world, there is definitely a real focus presently on fees, but I always feel like we kind of, our industry can earned that rage against fees because there was such, you know, here we have headquarters of major financial services companies in St. Louis. Not just how high the fees are sometimes but also how poorly disclosed they are, I think has made at least the public I interact with somewhat skeptical even when people now are trying to be I think more transparent. It's like the question I should ask when I choose either an advisor or a strategy is, what aren't you telling me? In some ways we earn that, not maybe us, we're the good guys, Joe. But I think as an industry, we definitely earn some of that. And Vanguard has really beat that message in.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 22:39 I agree with everything you're saying but I think there's another problem, Matt, which a lot of people also don't know, and that is that the smart financial advisors who are out there have largely been throttled by compliance. I was one of 12 people at a major financial firm in the country that was allowed to talk first and go through compliance later. And for people that don't know what we're talking about, compliance are these people, in my organization, we've thought of them as the sheriff, and they would tell you what you could say and what you couldn't say. And it wasn't just cover your butt stuff, it was making sure that you didn't have yahoos out there saying silly things that really didn't make a lot of sense. It was being responsible.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 23:19 Well, the unintended consequence I believe of that, Matt, is that, well, responsible people feel somewhat throttled, maybe more than they should feel throttled, because they largely I think can say a little more than they do, they just don't want to deal with the layers of complexity to say it, versus people out there now, what you're left with is vacuum and it's filled by frankly, quite a few people that don't know what they're talking about. And so, if you're somebody who is hanging out on social media looking for financial talk, you're going to see incredibly boring messages from really responsible companies, and a lot of quiet from phenomenal people. And then you're going to have a bunch of yahoos, I saw somebody few weeks ago, who was debating whether you should put your emergency fund in gold. The answer is no. A thousand times no. You don't put your emergency fund in gold.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 24:11 Walter Updegrave, who's a great very responsible writer said that gold is eight times more volatile than the stock market is. And so, if I'm looking at gold for my cash reserve versus the, you know, if I wouldn't use the stock market, why would I use something eight times more volatile than that? And sadly, I see that the last 10 years that I've been in financial media, I've seen that far too much. And that makes me sad. And I think that while there are the people out there doing, Matt, what you say, you know, not disclosing and hiding stuff, there's a lot of brilliant people out there that I wish could talk more freely.
Matt Hall: 24:47 Yeah, good point. So in your experience with both of your podcasts, and let's, can we draw a distinction between, what's the difference between Stacking Benjamins and Money with Friends?
Joe Saul-Sehy: 25:00 So Stacking Benjamins is really the flagship podcast. The Money with Friends, my goal there was to do a live show in front of a Facebook audience, where we don't edit the show at all, and we just take two headlines. In the Stalking Benjamin show, part of our show is headlines. But I always have far more headlines than I can use. There's a lot more media than I have time for. And what we found is, there is a thirst for people who are wondering, what does this have anything to do with me? Like, the Federal Reserve meets, what does that mean to me? Well, it means a lot of things. But when you look at, you talk to people from financial publications, they don't talk a ton about the Fed meeting because nobody clicks on those articles because they have no idea how it affects their life.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 25:47 So that, we talk about earnings reports that come up. We take two things from the financial press and we chat about those live in front of a Facebook audience. And then, we make that a podcast available on audio. So that is much more freeform. It's only a half hour long, where Stacking Benjamins is a highly produced. Takes us about five weeks to put a single episode together. Much more of a produced podcast.
Matt Hall: 26:10 Wow. Five weeks. Geez. Respect. I mean, you are a professional. Okay, so, let's talk briefly about, from your point of view, you know, going back in time when you were mentioning growing up how money wasn't talked about. Based on your experience with your two shows, what do you think really scares people? What are people afraid to talk about or are they just in general afraid to talk about money or afraid to address these issues? When you see that people are sort of scared to hit a topic, what is it? What's there? Is it because they weren't, we haven't been talking about it, is it because the educational system doesn't have a curriculum? What do you think that's about?
Joe Saul-Sehy: 26:51 The frustrating thing about the education piece is that there have been studies recently that show that sadly, even though we have lots of calls and you see social media memes saying, how come I learn about Pythagoras but I don't learn anything about how to balance a checkbook. But studies have shown that education in high schools doesn't work. It is not working. So that system really needs to be thought about much harder about how are we teaching kids more about cash. So, that part's difficult.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 27:24 The part that people are afraid of and the question I always got, I'm sure Matt, you get this question more than any other, it's how am I doing versus everybody else? Everybody wants to know, am I doing, and I think it's largely because we don't talk about money that people are afraid that I'm not doing as well as the people around me. Which is funny because you and I also know the answer to that. It isn't about other people, it's about you versus your goal. So, set a goal and see if you're ahead or behind and then do everything you can to reach the goal.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 27:57 But that wasn't what people wanted to hear. So I would tell them first, and then I would tell them largely, if I felt like they were behind other people, they were ahead of other people. I really though don't like those. And I know they're popular those, you know, how much money should you have by the time you're 40? How much money should you have by the time you're 50? What age you should start at? What's that thing, plant a tree, best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago. If you can't do that, just plant one now.
Matt Hall: 28:23 Yeah. So-
Joe Saul-Sehy: 28:25 Do you find that to be the case that people are just afraid that they're behind their friends?
Matt Hall: 28:30 You know, I think generally my experiences, people don't have a system or a professional process for making decisions. I have money. I think of one client, I just buy CDs. Why? Because that's what someone else I saw did or my parents did that. Michael Lewis, the great writer, I think one of the best writers in America, Moneyball, all the other great books blindside, he talked about at a conference I attended why he chose to work with the broker that he did in Louisiana. It's because that's who his granddad worked with and his dad worked with, and you just, that's what you did. And there wasn't a professional process for making decisions. You sort of did what someone had done before you.
Matt Hall: 29:18 So I think my experience has been, oftentimes, this is a tough topic to talk about because people haven't spent much time exploring what their preferences are, what their process is. And so, it's just sort of shooting in the dark or doing what was modeled for you, or in many cases, not modeled or not talked about at all. So I think there's this general confusion. And my experience has been that people do what they think is the smart decision based on maybe what the friend or the neighbor or, I haven't seen it as much like, am I doing better than them, but I work, so this is the thing we make fun of sometimes is like, people say, how did you choose this person who's helping with you, with your achieve your financial goals? And I'll say, it's my daughter's softball coach. And you'll say, what was your process? I don't know, he seems like a good guy. He's with a big firm, and just seemed like the thing to do.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 30:11 If we can stay here for just a second, this is easily one of my favorite topics. It always frustrates me, but I find it so empowering once people hear this message, that people will spend all day working hard to make a paycheck at a firm that does things that operates like a company, they don't make any emotional decisions because when you work for a company, that's bad, why would you do that. And then they come home, and every decision they make about their money is incredibly emotional. It's all based on emotion and rarely based on fact. And once they pull back and they start managing their money the same way they manage their work life, you see things change instantly. I mean, just instantly, because to your point, you start setting up a process.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 30:56 We have a discussion, Cheryl and I on Sundays about our money. Half an hour, over a glass of wine. It's a ton of fun. We used to fight about money like cats and dogs. And now, we rarely have a disagreement about money because that little short meeting we have every Sunday, it's a part of our process. It's better than a budget, just that little bit of communication that we've institutionalized is phenomenal.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 31:20 And automating things, you know, I think that you would never have a company say that it's all about discipline. A company will tell you that it's all about systems. And when somebody finds a good idea, what's the first thing a company does? They systematize it. So my goal with my personal money is when I come up with some aha to never have to think about that again and the next time that scenario happens again, it's automatically taken care of. That's why I like some of these apps out there that will round up my bills. So I automatically save a little more. All of my savings automatically goes where it should go. I'm horrible by the way, still with money.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 32:01 What saved me from my horrible track record at first to the financial independence that I have now, what really saved me wasn't disciplined, it was setting up systems so I never have money available in my pocket because I will blow it. And number two, making sure it automatically goes where it should. And man, once I did what you're talking about Matt, such a powerful thing. And that is hard to set up as you think it is. I mean, it's a little bit at a time.
Matt Hall: 32:29 Yeah. No, it's interesting because we sometimes think education can equal confidence and then confidence can equal discipline. But I love this idea of systems and structure to create a discipline. There's a whole movement in financial services now to really explore the behavioral finance category and understand sort of the ways we can hack our own inadequate wiring to make ourselves better financial stewards of our money that we don't need to live on.
Matt Hall: 33:01 And I can't help but think that the more we leverage technology, whether it's an app or whether it's some algorithm that's built in to help us. I mean, like rebalancing, for example. When someone has a mix or a recipe that they've sort of intentionally decided on, that's going to help them get to their goal, if it goes out of whack, not having to think about it, being able to sell what's done well and buy what's done poorly, that is such a hard thing for a human being to do on their own. And now there are systems in place that can allow us to do this thing that if we were doing it long hand and we had a vote in it, we might not do it. It's really, really tricky.
Matt Hall: 33:42 2008 was a really tough period to rebalance. A lot of people can't remember that because it's so long ago but I lived through that and was guiding people through that period. And the more that I think something as simple as rebalancing can be automated, it can really make a huge impact in people's long term outcomes.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 34:00 Back when Bloomberg had a magazine, they said it takes guts of steel, Matt. That was a direct quote, they said rebalancing takes guts of steel. Because when you look at it logically, okay, this makes sense. But you know, you sit down with somebody and you go, okay, here's what we're going to do. We're going to take this thing. And by the way, the average person doesn't see it as this thing, they call it the good one. We're going to take, okay, I got it, what are we going to do with a good one? We're going to sell some of it. Why the hell would you do that? I don't want to sell the good one. You're the expert, though, what are we going to do with it? Well, we're going to put it over here.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 34:37 They don't know this is another fund where the category, you know, categories always revert to the mean, so this category has been down and you're going to have mean reversion, which means it's going to come back if the economy is going to continue. But they don't see it that way. They see it as the bad one. So you're telling me you want to take stuff out of the good one and put it in the bad one? What kind of moron are you?
Matt Hall: 35:00 Yeah. In our office, we're always talking about training people to be contrarian ninjas. How to really, like lean into being a contrarian. And I think your point earlier about systems allowing us to be both disciplined and maybe embrace a level of contrarian thinking that isn't in our nature is really an important piece of the puzzle. And I think also as we're talking about this, I have to remind myself of this, like, there's never been a better time to be a consumer in this space. Things are cheaper, we've got cooler technology, we've got more players, there's lots of healthy competition. Yes, it would be better I think if everybody were a fiduciary and if more people knew what that meant, but I think we're in a really good spot. If you think about what consumer options are now, I don't know that they've ever been better.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 35:53 I agree. I mean, I just went to a conference on annuities. And as you know, that has been the most awful wasteland and the home of terrible products and just people that frankly in my estimation should know better than selling these horrible things on people. Annuities are rarely bought, they're always sold. And yet, you look at this idea of a lifetime income that you can't outlive, for a conservative investor, it's a fantastic thing. And with the longevity problem in the United States, it's wonderful. And we're even seeing this area, Matt, starting to get cleaned up. Minds at MIT talking about this. It's really exciting to see across the board what FinTech has done to disrupt a lot of the a lot of the big time players. I think people have been complacent for too long and it's pretty exciting.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 36:45 The tough thing, though, is to your point earlier about education. Like finding the audience, making sure that the people who can benefit from these cool things actually know how to use them. And how do you put the right thing in the hands of a consumer that could really use that right thing? That's a challenge for all of us.
Matt Hall: 37:04 Okay. So what does the future look like for Stacking Benjamins? Where do you go from here?
Joe Saul-Sehy: 37:12 I think we continue to explore what this idea of the science of play really is. I'll say something that we'll never admit on our show. We're not playful on our show just because we want to mess around. And don't get me wrong, there's no better job than having a job where you get to make yourself laugh all day. Like that's fantastic, and dumb dad jokes, that's great. But I believe that it's actually a way people learn. If you don't think that you're learning, you are much more open to learning.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 37:41 So we actually do, and if you listen to our show, we will deny this all day because the joke among our listeners is if you learn something, keep it to yourself. But we have a list in our process sheet, we want to teach you five different concepts a day, every show. And I think though that being able to hone that better and make it even stronger. And then I think at that point, it really is, the problem that we all have, you look at the state of financial podcasts in general versus the number of people in the United States.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 38:14 Our audience size, I'll just tell you what our audience size is around 120,000 people according to a place called Podtrac. So Podtrac tracks our audience. And those are people that will listen to our podcast at least a couple times a month. So 120,000 people, we're one of the biggest shows in our area. Don't get me wrong, Dave Ramsey has maybe three million listeners per show, but he's in a whole different universe. Behind him, shows get really small in a hurry. And if we've got what 300 million people in the United States and our show has 120,000 listeners, I hope we get lots of financial podcasts and we all find a way to find listener.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 38:54 I think the big thing for Stacking Benjamins is this idea of how do we just get more people into the community? How do we continue to make the community bigger in general? That's what excites me when I wake up.
Matt Hall: 39:08 I love that, Joe. Okay, so a couple quick questions. One, in the intro, I said you like running marathons. Is that true? Do you actually really like running?
Joe Saul-Sehy: 39:19 I do. Well, it's my time. So I ran in college competitively but I was thinner then and I was very competitive then. Now it's just my time and I really enjoy strapping on some headphones, listening to a podcast or two and going out there. So I've run 11 marathons. I'll run marathon number 12 this fall, I'm running the Detroit Marathon. I'm running a half marathon here in about eight days as we record this. So yeah, I really just like the, I like the time. I find I have my best ideas when I'm not working. And I think that's most people. My brain is wandering or I'm listening to something that has nothing to do with our show and I get this fantastic idea for our show because the synapses for God knows what reason connected.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 40:07 We had a guest on recently named Austin Kleon. And Austin has several great books that I like, but he has a great book called Steal Like an Artist, that no matter what field you're in, I'd highly recommend it. It's just a little tiny book, it's not super deep. But he talks about the fact that your play and your time away from your job informs that job. So he says that playing guitar helps him with his art, which has nothing to do with guitar. And I found that to be the case. So that's what I dig about running, and board games.
Matt Hall: 40:39 Okay, so you know, I would have been irresponsible had I not talked to OG, your partner before talking to you
Joe Saul-Sehy: 40:47 Oh man.
Matt Hall: 40:47 And OG told me I need to investigate a few stories or at least maybe you can give me one of these. There's something about a mini bar incident. There's a client's friend's name that you thought was Dick but it wasn't. And then there's a funny biker story. Do any of these deserve a spot in our conversation?
Joe Saul-Sehy: 41:07 People know me can't believe that I have a podcast and speak publicly a lot because I am known for saying the wrong thing or going down the wrong aisle. You also learn by doing right, and I'm very happy sharing where I've messed stuff up. So I can tell you briefly the minibar stories, let's just do that one. So I was very enthralled with this woman when I was at Michigan State. And I was just absolutely head over heels about her. And I planned this trip to Chicago. I was super excited that she agreed to go. And I didn't have any money, hardly any money, but I found this little boutique hotel just north of Russian division for people that know Chicago in this leafy little brownstone neighborhood called the Claridge Hotel.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 41:52 And we get to this hotel, and I'm 22, 23, 22. And we walk in, Matt, and this is the most beautiful hotel, it's awesome. And we go up to our room and there are terrycloth robes, there are slippers, there's a refrigerator, and this refrigerator is stocked full of stuff. It's just incredible. And so, we're getting ready to go out for the day, we're going to go to a couple museums. So she goes into the bathroom to freshen up. She comes out, I'm sitting on one of the beds and I've got some macadamia nuts and a Bud Light and I'm watching a football game. And Cheryl said, she said, "I think you have to pay for those." And I said, "I don't think you know how much I paid for this room." She's like, "Well, heck." So she jumps on the bed next to me, grabs a Bud Light herself and some M&Ms and we chow down then we go and have a fantastic day at the museum.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 42:51 Well, you know what happened? We get back and not only do they have the little turned down of the beds with a little chocolate on them, but they've restocked everything we ate. So the next day, we get up to do a few more touristy things, and we load a backpack with a bunch of stuff from the minibar, go out all day, they replenish that again. And finally, the weekend's over, the next day, we're getting ready to check out. And as we lock the door for the last time and walk down the hallway to the elevator, I said to Cheryl, I said, you know what, "I'll be right back." And she goes, "What are you doing?" And I said, "Just go downstairs, I'll be be right there."
Joe Saul-Sehy: 43:29 So she gets in the elevator, I go back to the room, I unzip my suitcase, I put it on the floor and shove it up against the refrigerator. I open up the door and I take my left hand and I take everything that's in the refrigerator and I put it in my suitcase because I'm going to get my money's worth. So we fill this suitcase up, I fill it up. I go down to the lobby to check out. And this is, you know, again, another old guy story, so this is before for the call down checkout, you had to stand in line. And the line's a mile long. So I stand there, Cheryl gives me this look like what took you so long.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 44:08 And so, I get up to the front of the line. And the woman, nice woman behind the counter said, "How was your stay?" I said, "This is the most incredible hotel I've ever stayed at. This has been just a phenomenal weekend." And she said, "Well, that's wonderful to hear. Did you enjoy the minibar." And I'm a polite guy. What I wanted to say was, whose business of, that's none of your business. But I didn't say that. I said, "I loved it. Thank you very much. That was great." And she reaches underneath the counter and she takes the sheet and she says, well, we've recorded the stuff that you ate the first two days. If you could just check the box of everything you've ate since we refilled it last, we'll just bill it to your credit card."
Joe Saul-Sehy: 44:48 And I look at those macadamia nuts that are eight bucks. And the Bud Light, I don't remember. Toblerone, I can't stand Toblerone. Like it just gets in my teeth. But I've got a bunch of Toblerone. So I look at her and I looked down at the suitcase. I look back at her again. And I just pause and she says, "Is everything okay, sir?" The guy behind me clears his throat. I look back, the line's a mile long. I don't want to get back in the line because I'm thinking about going back up to the room. And I look back up at her again, she goes, "Sir, is everything all right?" I said, "Yeah, it's fine." And she goes, "Well, how much did you have?" And I looked at her and I said, "I had all of it."
Joe Saul-Sehy: 45:28 And she was incredibly professional. The edges of her mouth only went up for a second and then back down. Like, you did what? And she goes, "Very well, sir." Just sign it here on the bottom and we'll just charge it all to your credit card. And I had no money. And so, the time she's running my credit card, I'm thinking, oh please God, go through. Oh, please go through. Please, please, please, please, please go through. And luckily, it did. And we had a picnic on the way home of chocolates and all kinds of overpriced stuff from the minibar. But lesson learnt there man.
Matt Hall: 46:02 I love it. Thank you for sharing that with us. And thank you, you know, Joe, I just want to say, I love the job that you and OG are doing in trying to make financial topics fun and entertaining and educational at the same time. The professional approach you take, you know, five weeks to create an episode, and the following you have is well deserved. So thanks for what you're doing. I know you've made a difference in the people's lives who are listeners of your show. And I hope you keep making a big impact. And thank you for coming on to Take The Long View with Matt Hall.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 46:36 Well, thanks a lot, man. And by the way, likewise. I absolutely was thrilled when you invited me to come on because I love the work that you do. The book, when you were on our show, you were a fantastic guest. And you know, we jokingly said we're two of the good guys. But seriously, you are the light that I think we all need to be looking at when we're looking for people that are going the right way and thinking about the right things in finance. So thank you very much.
Matt Hall: 47:00 All right, Joe Saul-Sehy, Stacking Benjamins, and you're on Twitter, oh, by the way on Twitter, I saw your tweet. We have to mention this. You said, I think, do correct me if I get it wrong, you go, "I'm a part of a dual income household, but I'm not sure how long mom can keep it up." I loved that one.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 47:21 She has trouble sometimes. So, I feel bad for her [inaudible 00:47:25]
Matt Hall: 47:26 Joe's on Twitter and on Facebook. Check him out. Check out “Stacking Benjamins” and thanks again, Joe. Appreciate it, man.
Joe Saul-Sehy: 47:32 Thanks a lot.
Matt Hall: 47:41 What do you do with your spare change at the end of the day?