Episode 38

Published on:

16th Dec 2022

038: Adam Carroll - Becoming a Life Architect: Build a Bigger Life, Not a Bigger Lifestyle

Adam Carroll has spent the last decade studying human behavior, particularly as it relates to leadership and personal finance. He’s an internationally recognized financial literacy expert, a two-time TEDx speaker, and the author of four Amazon best-sellers.

Today, Adam joins the show to share his passion for helping people create financial freedom through unconventional financial strategies. Jonathan and Adam discuss how our relationship with money has changed over the last two decades, what it takes to change financial habits, and the importance of architecting the life you want to live.

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Key Takeaways

01:03 – Jonathan takes a moment to read a five-star review and encourages listeners to leave their own reviews

01:52 – Jonathan introduces today’s guest, Adam Carroll, who joins the show to share his first entrepreneurial memory and what he learned about financial fights from an early age

07:52 – The importance of being on the same financial page as your spouse

12:03 – Adam’s journey to teaching financial literacy

19:05 – How to improve financial literacy through behavioral change

22:19 – Why money is such a difficult subject here in the United States

23:55 – Architecting the life you want to live

26:48 – How our relationship with money has changed in the last twenty years

31:29 – The Shred Method

37:08 – One piece of financial advice to focus on and one thing to absolutely ignore

41:07 – The last thing Adam changed his mind about and one thing he would like others to know about him

Tweetable Quotes

“I remember very distinctly thinking, ‘Well, if I want to make money, I just have to create something of value and that will be how I make money.’ And that’s kinda how I’ve existed over the past couple of decades.” (05:09) (Adam)

“In conversations with some of our clients, when we’re doing money coaching and relationship to money coaching - we’ll often say to people, ‘How much money do you need to feel safe and secure?’ And one partner will give a number and the other one will say, ‘That’s not true. There’s no amount of money that will make you feel safe and secure, because we’ve had that money sitting there for X amount of years and you’re still insecure about money.’ And I think that sort of goes to the very heart of maybe the message that we’re given early on, or an early money memory that was created around money.” (10:53) (Adam)

“We have this mantra. ‘If you do for two years what most people won’t do, you can do for the rest of your life what most people can’t do.’” (13:36) (Adam)

“I truly believe that the single best thing that someone can do that really wants to dial into their own financial literacy is find someone that’s living a life that they aspire to and then go deep on that person’s content.” (19:41) (Adam)

“It’s one of my favorite quotes, ‘Our lives are perfectly engineered for the results that we’re currently getting.’ So, whatever you’re living right now has been the product of the last six or twelve months or five years of decisions that have put you in this place. And if you want to change what the future looks like, just change the decisions you make today.” (26:10) (Adam)

“The two greatest expenses we have in life are taxes and the interest expense on debt.” (34:36) (Adam)

“The way to be financially successful is to make sure your income is always greater than your expenses for as long as humanly possible.” (37:41) (Adam)

Guest Resources

Adam’s Website

Adam’s LinkedIn

Mastery of Money

The Shred Method

Link to Adam’s Documentary ‘Broke Busted & Disgusted’

Adam’s Books:

Mastery of Money for Students

The Build a Bigger Life Manifesto

Winning the Money Game

30 Days to $1K

Other Books Mentioned:

Smart Couple Finish Rich

Debt Free & Prosperous Living

Think & Grow Rich

Mindful Money Resources

For all the free stuff at Mindful Money: https://mindful.money/resources

To buy Jonathan’s first book - Mindful Money: https://www.amazon.com/Mindful-Money-Practices-Financial-Increasing/dp/1608684369

To buy Jonathan’s second book – Mindful Investing: https://www.amazon.com/Mindful-Investing-Outcome-Greater-Well-Being/dp/1608688763

Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Newsletter: https://courses.mindful.money/email-opt-in

Capture the most important benefit of an advisor – behavioral support – without the 1% fee: https://courses.mindful.money/membership

For more complex, one on one financial planning and investing support with Jonathan or a member of Jonathan’s team: https://www.epwealth.com/our-team/berkeley/jonathan-deyoe/

Website: https://mindful.money

Jonathan on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathandeyoe


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Jonathan DeYoe: Welcome back to the Mindful Money podcast. We’ve received a lot of positive commentary in the last few weeks, for which I’m deeply grateful. It’s kind of the week for that. I wanted to read one of our five star reviews for you before we introduce today’s guests. Our reviewer states, money is a topic that needs to be front of mind for all of us. Jonathan digs deep and uncovers some of the challenges that everyday humans have managing money and understanding how it can be the most powerful tool in our toolbox for living a healthy and happy existence. Which, as you might know, is what we’re always talking about anyways, highly recommend it. So very much appreciate the kindness. Uh, since you’re listening, if you enjoy the podcast, please leave us a review. Go to ratethispodcast.com mindfulmoney. It really helps us spread the word and get in front of the algorithms. So I appreciate it very much when you guys do that. On this episode of the Mindful Money podcast, I’m chatting with Adam Carroll. Adam has spent the past decade studying human behavior, particularly as it relates to leadership and personal finance. He’s an internationally recognized financial literacy expert, which makes him fit here perfectly. Adam is the author of four Amazon bestsellers. He’s a two time TEDx speaker with nearly 6 million views on YouTube. He’s also the creator of Broke, busted, and disgusted, a documentary that aired on CNBC. He’s passionate about helping people create financial freedom through unconventional financial strategies, which we’ll talk about a few of those today. And changing financial habits. Adam, welcome to the Mindful Money podcast.

Adam Carroll: Jonathan, thank you so much for having me. I’m super excited to be here and to see where all of our conversations take us, too.

Jonathan DeYoe: I’m excited to have you, and I’m glad you agreed to come on. First, let’s just start off with an easy know. Where do you call home? Where are you connecting?

Adam Carroll: You know, I called Des Moines, Iowa, home. I have for a very long time. I was born and raised here, did what every Iowan does, which is I left, moved to Denver, Colorado. I’m sure the same is true of South Dakotans everywhere, right? And, uh, then realized that Iowa wasn’t such a bad place to be. And the mothership called me home several years ago.

Jonathan DeYoe: I’m just curious, what is it that called you home? Was it taking care of a parent, or was it a wife, or who was it?

Adam Carroll: Great question, great question. My grandparents were still alive at the time, and family was such an important part of my upbringing that I really wanted to be close to them. And my wife and I were trying to have kids at the time, and, uh, I wanted my grandparents to know their great grandbabies. So, good lord willing, they met them, and it was awesome. So that’s what brought us back. What’s kept us here, candidly, is this is a great place to raise a still. It’s not cost prohibitive to raise kids here and be able to have the kind of experiences we wanted to have with our family. And by and large, we’ve really grown to fall in love with it all over again.

Jonathan DeYoe: Brilliant. It’s the same reason my parents moved to, you know, before they had me. Somehow I was an idiot. Decided to move to California, to the most expensive place. So I did not learn that lesson. Just curious, growing up there, what did you learn about money and entrepreneurship?

Adam Carroll: Well, entrepreneurship is a really interesting question about what I learned, because my parents were not necessarily entrepreneurial, but they celebrated the fact that I was. And there was a very distinct money memory that I have. Jonathan, from early on, my sister had made a chocolate cake from the back of a Hershey’s cocoa can, and everyone raved about it. And at the time, I thought, well, I want to do this. I’m going to make one, too, because then maybe they’ll rave about my chocolate cake. And a neighbor happened to come over and said, oh, Adam, this is one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever had. And just gushed over this delicacy I’d made. And so I said, well, would you like one. I’ll make one for you. And she offered to buy it from me. So immediately I was hooked on selling cakes. I think I sold two in my neighborhood. I made a grandsome total of like $16 in profit, of which my dad made me pay back the cost of the goods to manufacture my first lesson. But from that point forward, I was kind of hooked. And, uh, I remember very distinctly Jonathan thinking, well, if I want to make money, I just have to create something of value, and then that will be how I make money, which is kind of how I’ve existed for the past.

Jonathan DeYoe: Couple of decades, remembering to account for the cost of the goods, right?

Adam Carroll: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right.

Jonathan DeYoe: My kids have done the same exact thing. Not with chocolate cake, though, with apple pie. We have apples in the backyard. So they were like, let’s harvest these, let’s make an apple pie.

Adam Carroll: And we wonderful.

Jonathan DeYoe: Had a great apple pie. They sold it around the neighborhood, but we said, hey, ultimately, after like the 6th or 7th pie, we’re like, hey, okay, time for you guys to pay for your own flour and all this stuff.

Adam Carroll: Yes.

Jonathan DeYoe: Good lessons. Good lessons. Is there anything that stands out as, besides selling a chocolate cake and becoming entrepreneurial, sort of as a lifestyle, as a lesson that your parents taught you about money?

Adam Carroll: Can it be a negative one?

Jonathan DeYoe: Usually is.

Adam Carroll: Sometimes they are right. This is another one of those early money memories that I had, and it was probably in some counseling therapy session somewhere, Jonathan, where this came up. But my wife and I generally do not fight about money, and we have not, probably since the first 18 months of our marriage. When we really got on the same page financially and decided we knew how much each of us needed in savings to feel safe and secure, we came to an agreement on that amount. We put that away. It’s been, I won’t say completely rosy, but we’ve been on the same page ever since, and it has allowed us to not fight about money. And part of the reason that I was really adamant that arguments around money not be a thing in our relationship was. I remember my parents would have these shouting matches after my sister and I went to bed. And my mom was prone to throw tupperware at my father when she was really mad, which I always say, it’s better than corning wear. She chose the plastic stuff. But I remember my dad leaving the house one night, and as I remember it, this was the meaning I put on this as a kid. He left the house in frustration, just needing solitude and needing to go walk it off. But it was raining out, and we lived on gravel roads. And I thought as he was walking up and down the hills on these gravel roads, that he would get hit by a car. And I remember feeling this sense of, oh, money fights could lead to tremendous loss. And so as a result, number one, I didn’t really want to fight about it. But number two, what I realized was there are reasons why people fight about it. And if I could eliminate many of those reasons, then we would never have to have a money argument. And knock on wood, it’s worked very well for my wife and I, and, um, been an unfortunate lesson, but a positive lesson on the back end once I figured out how to architect it in the way that I needed to for my life.

Jonathan DeYoe: You started off that whole thing with you and your wife are roughly on the same page. You did a little bit of work to get on the same page. You save enough. What other elements of being on the same page with your partner are really important, and what sort of steps did you take to get there?

Adam Carroll: Well, I have to credit David Bach’s book, and it was the, oh, gosh, what is it called? It is basically how smart couples retire. Rich, essentially, was the gist of the book. Right. And interestingly, in the book, there were two things that really stood out. One was he makes the comment that men and women have different risk tolerances, and, uh, that, generally speaking, men’s risk tolerances are a little bit higher than what a woman’s is. And he says, ask your spouse or your significant other, how much do you need in savings to feel safe and secure at any given point in time? And I remember Jonathan being at the breakfast table, breakfast nook in this little condo that my wife and I had recently purchased. And I said, honey, how much do you need in savings to feel safe and secure at any given point in time? And over our Cheerios, I’m sure generic Cheerios and discount milk, she said, $30,000. And keep in mind, we were 24, 25 at the time, and I thought she’d hit the listerine too hard that morning. You’re out of your mind. $30,000, she said, you ask. That’s how much I would need to feel safe and secure. And it was in that moment that I realized that security for her meant, I know that nothing bad can happen if this amount of money is sitting there or nothing bad can happen in air quotes. But for me, it was kind of like, wow, that’s a crazy amount of money to have sitting on the sidelines. But I also knew that if and this was the other takeaway from the book, was that if she was feeling insecure about money and I was feeling like, oh, we’re set, then we would always have this distance between us. So I either had to come closer to her or she had to come closer to me. And, uh, we did kind of capitulate in the middle and said, hey, can we get to 20 or 22,000 sitting there? And if that’s there, can we agree that we both feel safe and secure? And for her, she was good with that. And we had that for a number of years until a point came where I said, it’s kind of crazy to have that money sitting there. That’s never done anything, and we don’t really need it today, which is for me, and I’m sure you would ascribe to this as well, Jonathan, that at some point your money strategy changes based on maybe how confident you are in your ability to make it, or money you have sitting elsewhere that’s accessible or available to you. So it was a hard lesson learned, but a really good lesson, and one that was needed early on. And then had we have that conversation about every five or ten years, hey, are we good on the amount that’s there? And let’s talk through all of that.

Jonathan DeYoe: When you ask her, how much do you need to feel safe? Did she just immediately know, I need 30 grand? Or did that take some thought and some development?

Adam Carroll: Not even a hesitation in her mind, almost as if she had been thinking about that number when I asked her the number. But this is what’s really fascinating, too. I find that in conversations with some of our clients, when we’re doing money coaching and relationship to money coaching, we’ll often say to people, well, how much money do you need to feel safe and secure? And one partner will give a number, 15,000, 20,000, 100,000, whatever the number is. And the other one will say, that’s not true. There’s no amount of money that will make you feel safe and secure, because we’ve had that money sitting there for x amount of years and you’re still insecure about money. And I think that sort of goes to the very heart of maybe the message that were given early on or an early money memory that was created around know I’m in Iowa, you’re from South Dakota. Farmers in general, or farm kids often have this because they remember a storm rolled through and took out a know, it could be a hailstorm, could be a windstorm, could be a drought. And they heard their parents say, well, there goes insert the blank. There goes the car, there goes the holiday vacation, there goes the whatever. And I think that those farm kids, in my experience, they grow up then having that experience in the back of their minds going, I’ll never do that. I’m always going to have money set aside.

Jonathan DeYoe: Have you always been teaching financial literacy or did you come out of college and do something that was not financial and then switch to it? And then what made that switch happen?

Adam Carroll: Yeah, it’s a great question. I did. When I got out of school, I was a broadcasting major. Went to the University of northern Iowa.

Jonathan DeYoe: That makes.

Adam Carroll: I was so, I was a broadcasting major, hence the microphone and all the green screen and all, but always thought that I was going to be in front of the camera. And then got out of school and realized that the way to start in that world is to schlub around your own camera. And you’re going to be in some nowhere station somewhere covering deer accidents in the middle of the night kind of thing. And I ended up realizing that what I really loved was marketing. And I started selling radio ads, tv ads, direct mail marketing. In the midst of the marketing jobs I had, I was listening to audio tapes. Tapes is going to date me, but tapes and cds in my car. And they were the likes of Les Brown and Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield and Tony Robbins when he was first on the scene. And I remember hearing Mark Victor Hansen say that public speaking was one of the most noble professions because you could change people’s lives, you could travel the world, and you could make a pretty good living doing it. And I thought, that is the trifecta. I want all three of those things. And so as I was going through the process of figuring out what did I want to speak about? It was in the two to three year, uh, time period where my wife and I were getting really serious about knocking out our debt, living differently. We had this motto, this mantra that if you do for two years what most people won’t do, you can do for the rest of your life what most people can’t do. And I don’t remember if that was a zigglerism or somewhere. It came from somewhere. But it was really, uh, powerful for me to go through that process. And the entire time I kept thinking, jonathan, why didn’t anyone teach me this in high school or college? That it’s really easy to live on the other side of the debt coin. But I didn’t get it until after I was done. And then within 24 months, we had figured everything out. And I thought, well, two years time, let’s go just teach everyone else how to do this. And it was at that point forward that really, this became my mission.

Jonathan DeYoe: Wow. So it was from broadcasting and listening to these tapes and trying to figure out how to create a public speaking career that you decided financial literacy was the thing. You were the topic. You were going to speak about. How, uh, did you get started, get the first stage, write your first talk? How did that come about?

Adam Carroll: Yeah, well, candidly, I was bouncing in these marketing roles, and I remember my job at the time was, and this is out of media marketing, but a friend of mine had recruited me into a company where I was a clothier. I was selling custom made suits and shirts and sport coats to upper level executives. And I really loved the job because I got to meet really cool people and have great conversation with them, find out about their business. But I would leave offices thinking, I don’t want to measure inseams for the rest of my life. This is not it for me. And I called a friend of mine, and I said, I’m just not sure this is it. And he said, what do you want to do? And I said, I want to be a public speaker. I want to go professionally speak. And he said, well, anne, who used to work with us, is working for this company. Let me reach out to her. I’ll connect the two of you. And lo and behold, it was through networking that ultimately I got my first paid gigs. But I was working for a division of monster.com, the job search company, back in the day, and they had a program called making it count. And I was going out and speaking on high school and college campuses, delivering the making high school count, making college count programs. And what was most fascinating about it all, Jonathan, was the students that would come up and ask me questions were not asking questions about how do I take great notes in college or how do I find the right school. They were saying, hey, my grandmother gave me $2,000. What should I do with it, right? And they were saying, should I have a credit score? What should I do with my credit score? And it occurred to me that they weren’t so curious about how to succeed in high school or college. They were more concerned about how do I handle money? How do I do money well. And it was at that point that I thought, this is what needs to be done. And from there, started creating sort of the host of programs that I had been mulling over for five years or more and finally said, okay, it’s time to go. Do this.

Jonathan DeYoe: So, from one financial literacy program creator to another, do you think we’ve done any good? I mean, yes, you can pick a person out and say, yes, I’ve changed this person’s life. That’s what I was hoping to do. I’ve done good. But there’s so much information available. Do you think it’s too much? And how do people wade through it all?

Adam Carroll: My, um, short answer to the question is, yes, there is way too much. And there are TikTokers making millions of dollars a year giving information. That’s probably not great advice. They do it because they understand the algorithm and they understand how to monetize it all. And I don’t particularly agree with that. I think we’ve done a good job in terms of impacting the lives that we’ve impacted. And I will say this, there are a number of young people, and I say young people. It could be 18 to 35 at this rate. That will come up to me and say, I remember when you said, and they will say comments that I’d made verbatim, and I just think, I can’t believe you remember what I said, let alone that I said it. And they were simple things. Honestly, Jonathan. Like, if you can eat it, drink it, or wear it, it doesn’t go on plastic. And I used to say all these tweetables, because I thought if I say this and a college student gets it, and I would often say, oh, tweet that. That’s funny. Tweet that. And they would, they’d pull out their phones and they’d tweet whatever I was saying. I think in that respect, your show, the podcast I have done for a number of years, the programs we’re doing, I think it’s doing good. I think if I’m going to paint with a very broad brush, we are a good on ramp for people to figure out their money, and everyone needs an on ramp. It could be Dave Ramsey, it could be susie hormone, it could be you or me. It could be any of the other hundreds of thousands of people doing shows like this or writing books. I think we all collectively are very important to the movement. But I would agree with you that there is a lot of noise out there, and you have to have a very discerning palette of what is good advice and what is entertainment.

Jonathan DeYoe: Right? Especially in the last few years where you had meme stock craze, nfts, crypto stuff that sort of took the world by storm and took all of the media minutes and all the social media attention and it just dragged, I think, everyone into this mess, while at the same time you can go to plenty of websites that have really good content that’s really solid. It’ll show you how to do handle banking and show you how to pay off debt, but no one goes there because it’s not exciting, it’s not as fun.

Adam Carroll: Right.

Jonathan DeYoe: So the literacy is available and people aren’t availing themselves of it necessarily. How do we improve that? And is it about the literacy or is it something else? Is there another issue at hand?

Adam Carroll: This is a great question. It really is about behavior change. And unfortunately, most people don’t really want to change their behavior. They like going to the get rich quick sites and the flip nfts and turn $20 into $20,000 and then go buy your Tesla with it. And unfortunately for most people, that’s not reality. And it can lead them down a path of maybe not financial ruin, but certainly financial hardship. I truly believe that the single best thing that someone can do that really wants to dial into their own financial literacy is find someone that’s living a life that they aspire to and then go deep on that person’s content. And I will say that I’ve been living the way that, uh, my, uh, wife and I have been living the way we live for a couple of decades. And it is at the same time frugal or cautious in terms of our spending, but we’re somewhat risk prone in terms of the investments that we make. And the whole point of it has been that you can build a bigger life, not a bigger lifestyle. And that has been our goal. And the people who really believe and love that moniker, that motto, they’ll follow and they’ll eat up, dig into everything that I’ve put out, and it’s really awesome. It’s humbling for me to have people say, oh, I listen to this show and this show and this show, but what I really want them to do is say, and I’m taking your advice on doing x, y and z, because it’s one thing to know and it’s another thing to do. So it’s a long answer to a short question, but I think the short answer is find someone that you appreciate how they’re living and then follow them and do what they do because they’re probably a great mentor.

Jonathan DeYoe: So that actually begs a question. And the question is, so I talked to you, I followed you. I have a sense of how you spend money. What’s important, if you go and follow some of these people on social media who have airplanes or ferraris, or they take a bath in a bathtub full of cash. These people, I mean, I could see where that would be attractive, but that’s not, uh, actually how they live. So how do you differentiate between the story people tell the narrative, the bs, and the quality. That’s what we’re asking people to do. You have to differentiate between this person’s story and this person’s story. How do I know yours is true?

Adam Carroll: Yes. Again, it requires a discerning palette of what is entertainment and what isn’t. I have a really close friend who invests in real estate, and his Instagram reels are filled with travel and fun, with his family and all of that. And what I know of him, because I’ve known him for a long time, is all of it’s genuine. And what he will often say on shows when he’s interviewed within his mastermind group, is he will reiterate my motto, which is build a bigger life, not a bigger lifestyle. And he’s living it. Uh, his life is all about travel and all of that. He drives a nice car, but it’s paid for by rental properties, and he’ll often tout that. So again, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but when you look at what he’s doing online, it’s pretty easy to see that’s real, where someone else might not be, right?

Jonathan DeYoe: So I think that money is a difficult subject. It’s difficult everywhere, but it seems to be more difficult here in the US. Do you have a sense of why that might be?

Adam Carroll: Well, I think it’s for a couple of reasons. Number one, it probably started in the certain extent when credit was easily obtainable and free flowing. And I remember seeing. I don’t remember if it was a documentary or something that I watched that said that in the pretty much lived a very consistent lifestyle with one another. There weren’t these massive extremes in terms of those who had money and those who didn’t. And then what happened was credit was introduced, and you saw these people living really high on the hog, but they were living on borrowed money, and it created this desire. That’s where the keeping up with the Joneses ultimately came from. And I truly believe that over the course of 20 or 30 or 40 years, keeping up with the Joneses has just gotten more and more and more extreme. And now it’s not, oh, they got a New Plymouth, they got a new Range Rover. And I live in a very affluent, not very affluent. It’s an affluent neighborhood. There are people here who are sea level folks in insurance companies and surgeons and whatnot. And I see some of the vehicles and the cars, the, uh, trips they’re taking and the homes they’re buying, and I think, I don’t know that there’s enough money there to afford. So I think it’s hard in the US because the illusion of wealth is everywhere, but the reality of wealth is actually very limited to a few that are practicing the kinds of things we preach.

Jonathan DeYoe: That’s a perfect segue. So I often wonder if it’s how we’ve defined success in terms of, in financial terms, that has created the problem. Whereas I’ve had a few people on, uh, the show saying, hey, it’s about mindset at the outset, what’s important to you? Pursue that. Don’t look at the pictures of all the people doing the stuff, and then pursue the stuff they’re pursuing what’s important to you and pursue that. How important is that in your education when you’re working with people?

Adam Carroll: Well, it’s funny because there is another school of thought that says, which what you just stated is a little bit removed from, oh, just pursue your passion, right? And the money will follow. And I’ve heard people say, well, that’s not true. You have to go create a ton of value, and people will reward you for the value you create. And then with the value you create and the money they pay you with that for, that allows you to live the life you most want. I think that to boil back, kind of what my motto and philosophy is, Jonathan, it’s that we are all life architects. We get to design whatever life we want to live. And I’ll often hear people say, well, I can’t because fill in the blank. And it would be things like, well, I can’t go travel for two or three weeks because I have limited time off. Or I took two weeks off earlier in the year. Or I’ve heard people say, well, I can’t do that because I just bought a furniture set and I have to pay this furniture set off. It’s funny when people’s reasons for not being able to live the life that they most want are generally bogus reasons is my point. And if we’re truly architecting our own life, then, number one, we have to build our life on a strong values foundation. So what do you value? Knowing what your five core values are and living according to those. You have to have a bigger vision for what your life is. Ask bigger questions. So my bigger question was not, how would I pay my house off early? It was, how would I pay my house off in 24 months or less? What would I need to do in order to make that happen? And so I think that this idea of being a life architect, people are missing because there’s a feeling of defeatist or victimhood or something. Instead of saying, I actually have chosen everything that’s happened to me, and it’s one of my favorite quotes, that our lives are perfectly engineered for the results that we’re currently getting. So, whatever you’re living right now has been the product of the last six or twelve months or five years of decisions that have put you in this place. And if you want to change what the future looks like, just change the decisions you make today.

Jonathan DeYoe: I’ve had a coach who says, it is what it is. It is what you made it. It changes when you change.

Adam Carroll: True.

Jonathan DeYoe: Beautiful.

Adam Carroll: It is what it is. It is what you made it. It will change when you change.

Jonathan DeYoe: Correct.

Adam Carroll: All right. Yeah. Uh, that’s a t shirt. That is.

ow has it changed in the last:

Adam Carroll: I was just having this conversation with someone the other day that I remember distinctly going to the grocery store with my parents and them writing a check, right? And it took forever. You’d have people lined up writing checks. Now somebody pulls out a checkbook, and people are like, oh, my gosh, seriously? Come on. I remember my parents writing a check and the cashier saying, what’s your Social Security number? Because they had to write the Social Security number on the top of a check to get it to clear. And I remember it distinctly because I memorized my parents Social Security numbers when I was a kid, and I still remember them to this day because of them writing checks at the grocery store. There was something real and tangible about having to write out a check and then write it in your checkbook register. And my mom balanced every check. So she would write the check and then immediately put the subtotal underneath every check. So, for her, it was very palpable. The amount of money that was just spent on groceries, where my dad would write the check, tear the check off, and go home, and then my mom would say, paul, you have to write the number down in the booklet. Otherwise, I don’t know how much it. So, today, what’s different? I’ve. And I’m probably guilty of it. I go to the grocery store, and I put my Apple Watch up to the thing. And I tap Apple Pay and I walk away. And I remember when my kids were young, I mentioned this on my TED talk that my youngest son said, I can’t wait till I have an iPhone so that I can buy stuff. And I was like, oh, my goodness, what have I done?

Jonathan DeYoe: What have you?

Adam Carroll: Yeah. So the thing that’s changed, I think, by and large, is money has become more and more abstract. It’s not a tangible, concrete idea. And I have this as play money here, Jonathan, for those listening, I just have movie prop money, but it’s $2,000. I have five or ten of these. And when I hold this up, people are like, oh, my gosh, you have cash. That feels real. It’s not real. You can see as you get closer. It’s all fake money, but it feels real. And an interesting thing happens if you hand over a $50 or $100 bill, there’s this pain sensor that’s triggered in your brain because none of us like to break a 50 or 100. But if you hit $47.01, click ship on Amazon. A pleasure sensor lights up in your brain, because now I have positive expectation about this thing showing up. So I’m losing something when I hand over $50, but I’m gaining something when I hit one click ship on Amazon. And it’s just subtle enough that we don’t notice it. But it’s the reason that our debt loads have increased tremendously over the last 20 or 30 years, because it’s just too easy. So college students are doing this en masse. When they put money in Venmo, it’s not real anymore. It could be bananas or beans or beads or chickens. Put money in there. Most students that I know, they’re like, I have no idea how much is in my Venmo account. If I look and there’s money, I just transfer it to my, uh, roommate for dinner.

Jonathan DeYoe: It’s so interesting because my kids use Venmo, my wife uses venmo. I hate venmo because I can’t track where it’s going. I see it on my bank statement, venmo payment, and I’m like, what did you buy? What is this $200 for? I can’t track it. It’s so important for me to be able to track it. That’s interesting. That’s self insight. Why is it so important to me and not important to other people? I think it’s important to you and probably your wife and maybe somebody to your. Why? Some people just don’t seem to. I’m just not concerned. Why is that?

Adam Carroll: Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe: Is that genetic?

Adam Carroll: It’s a really good question. I even think that it goes one step further, Jonathan, to the social mediafication of society, where you can see where other people are spending money. I don’t want other people to see where I’m spending money. Not, uh, that I’m doing anything illicit or out of bounds. It’s just when I go through a Venmo transaction list or all my friends, I’m thinking, I don’t necessarily want my friends to know that I sent my daughter $100 for school or for books or for fun. Why?

Jonathan DeYoe: Or that I eat out of three times a week.

Adam Carroll: Yeah, exactly. So that’s where I think things have changed and we’re just more kind of open as a society. And this is probably another topic, but unfortunately what it does is it opens people up for a whole lot of fraud too. Because when you start to see, oh, these are all the transactions, and now I know your buying history and who you’re sending money to, who your friends are, there’s something about it that I’m afraid there will be an unraveling at some point and I’m just very cautious about it.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, for sure. I want to pivot to the shred method. I think that’s the latest of your multiple, uh, hats that you’ve worn over the years. So introduce us to the shred method, what is it? And just tell us a bit about it.

to the shred method in about:

Jonathan DeYoe: Monthly. Consistently.

Adam Carroll: Yeah, monthly and upfront. And upfront. Right. Because it’s all going to be in an amortized loan. The majority of the interest is paid upfront, and then it slowly dwindles over you. And this was the realization I had to come to, is that I believe this is in John Camuto’s book. He said that the two greatest expenses we have in life are taxes and the interest expense on debt. And when I started really digging into that, I thought, okay, this goes to the bigger questions we ask ourselves. But I was asking myself and my wife this question. I said, what would it take for us to minimize our tax liability? What does that look like? And you can do it, a lot of digging it, start a business, own real estate, bonus, depreciation opportunities, all these things. But I said, what would it take for us to minimize interest expense on debt? Well, there’s really two ways. You either decrease the interest or you decrease the debt. And when you figure out that you can do it in rapid fashion using this method, most people can claw back 100,000 or more dollars. And in some cases, it’s like three, four five, $600,000, depending on the size of your mortgage. You can claw that back from what you would normally send to the mortgage company and actually just build wealth and equity in the property, which then creates a liquidity tool for you to go invest elsewhere.

Jonathan DeYoe: Two years ago, roughly, I refinanced my house to 1.75%. Fixed mortgage.

Adam Carroll: Yes.

Jonathan DeYoe: Why would I ever pay that off?

estments that are earning you:

Jonathan DeYoe: 15% or more. That’s aggressive. So, because we said that, uh, there’s a lot of financial content out there, it seems to multiply on a daily basis. Could you just make it really simple for somebody? Pretend you’re on an airplane, you sit next to somebody, they find out what you do, and they go, oh, I really want to be financially successful. What is just one thing that you think they should focus on? You tell them to focus on that would help them be successful. And then the corollary to that is, what is one thing that they think they should be focusing on that they should just ignore?

Adam Carroll: That’s a deep question. So, answer to the first question is this. The way to be financially successful is to make sure that your income is always greater than your expenses for as long as humanly possible, right? So the greater the spread between income and expenses for the longest period of time possible will guarantee you financial success.

Jonathan DeYoe: Love it.

Adam Carroll: And some people will say, well, that’s got to go somewhere. We got to make interest on it. That may be part of the second question. What are people focused on that maybe they should forget about? Is that what the second part of the question was?

Jonathan DeYoe: A comment on the noise?

Adam Carroll: Yeah. Ah, on the noise. There are so many strategies and folks selling strategies out there and I would include mine in that bucket that people will be drawn to but never do. Uh, that the noise for me, for my clients or people that I’m working with, I will say how many other strategies have you tried and given up on because it didn’t fit, it was too hard. Something, uh, happened, whatever. I don’t care what transpired. But how many of these kind of methods or strategies have you attempted but haven’t fulfilled on? And that is noise. Meaning you’ve probably invested a lot in things that never went anywhere. And I would just do the basics. And if you’re doing the basics for somebody who’s looking for the magic pill but can never stick to it, it is to dollar cost, average into index funds and low fees and let it ride. Right. Because of the noise that’s out there, there are a lot of folks that will be taken for the strategy money, the fees to meet with someone, all of that when that money could go to their wealth building. Totally.

Jonathan DeYoe: It just strikes me that this is very similar to the buy this thing, this rowing machine, this exercise, this whatever, and we’ll help you lose weight or the p 90 x tapes. And it’s the same thing. We watch the first one and we maybe do it once or twice and then we don’t do it. I have literally right next to me, as a reminder, I’ve got my rowing machine. It’s vertical. Um, it’s not on the ground. It’s just a reminder you don’t do this, those other stupid things.

Adam Carroll: I love it. I love it. Yeah, it’s so true though. And I’ll tell you, the book that really did that for me, that kind of flipped the switch for me. Jonathan was think and grow rich. And I had to read it six times before I really got the message. And the message was, have definiteness of Purpose, know exactly why you’re doing what you’re doing. And I had the sign on my wall for the longest time in my office. It said, the definiteness of Purpose for acquiring wealth is EsSential for ItS Acquisition, meaning you have to be definitely purposeful about acquiring wealth in order to do that. And if you don’t have that purpose in front of you, you won’t. You’ll be blown off course by whatever. And I think my wife and I, we got very intentional and knew what our purpose was and stuck to it long enough that it was like, oh, wow, we’re seeing massive gains. Maybe we can help other people do the same.

Jonathan DeYoe: It’s perfect because the mindful money Motto is stop predicting, start planning and stay mindful. And that mindfulness piece is, where are you starting? What are you trying to do? Focus on doing that thing that you’re trying to do. Don’t forget it, don’t let it waver. Don’t be excited by the shiny object to the right or to the left. Focus. Very important.

Adam Carroll: Yes.

Jonathan DeYoe: I want to loop back to the personal. I could literally do this for 2 hours with you, I think, but, uh, I’ve got so many strands I want to pull on. We’ll have to do it again. But I want to ask you two personal questions first. What was the last thing you changed your mind about? You seem very definitive, but I just, I’m curious.

Adam Carroll: The last thing I changed my mind about, so I invested a pretty Healthy amount into a coaching program and was pretty locked in thought, oh, this is it. Uh, I’m going to continue doing this. This is going to be three years, four years time. And I went to the very last session of the first round and I tend to feel things. I want to go with my gut feeling, and my gut was, there’s not the value here that I thought there was at the beginning. And I’m pretty mindful about those kinds of things, jonathan, because I will say that I probably invest a significant amount of my own growth, where some people are going to say, oh, put that $10,000 in the market or buy gold or buy real estate or whatever it may be. I typically bet on myself, I’ll go grow my own skills and abilities because I know I can turn that into two or three or five times what I’ve invested. And in this case, I thought, I don’t know that it’s there. So that was the last time, most recently, by the way.

Jonathan DeYoe: I think, uh, that’s if people listen to this podcast and hear one message that invest in yourself. First message, I think is critical. When people are 18 and 22 years old, they don’t have the skills, but they can have the skills. All the tools and availability of information is there. You can develop a skill set, you can learn something new, you can change careers, you can make a difference, but you’ve got to make that effort. Invest in yourself, for sure.

Adam Carroll: Absolutely.

Jonathan DeYoe: Is there anything people don’t know about you? Or maybe you’ve told them, but they just don’t remember. That’s really important to you, that something.

Adam Carroll: About me that’s really important. They know. I don’t know that people know this, and I don’t know how many people I’ve told this, but I feel like I’m perpetually 26 or 27. And I know I don’t look at. I had hair back when I was in my 20s, but I perpetually feel like I’m 26 or 27. And there are times I’m around young people in that age bracket, and I don’t realize that I’m not their age, and I don’t know what that is exactly, other than I feel like I got locked in this time loop and I’m just enjoying life. I don’t feel like I’m getting older. I feel like I’m getting wiser with the experience that I’m having. But, uh, for whatever reason, I don’t know why even I’m sharing this, but I just feel like I’m 26 or 27 all the time. So there are times where people say, oh, it’s not deference or respect or anything like that, but they’ll reference how much experience I’ve had. And I think to myself, oh, yeah, I forgot I’ve been around. I’ve been doing this for 20 some years. I’ve done a few things.

Jonathan DeYoe: You have three kids, remember? You have three kids.

Adam Carroll: You have tons of kids 20 year olds don’t have, who are almost adults, all three of them, and I’m super proud of them. And even that, there are times where I’m like, I don’t know what happened or where this went, but I’m going to go back and relive my 20s again at some point.

Jonathan DeYoe: I think you seem like a genuinely happy person.

Adam Carroll: I would like to think so. My wife will say, oh, you have your days. But I went through Jack Canfield’s training years ago, and Jack was a mentor of mine, and I really adored the man, and I wanted to work right alongside him. And he said something during the training. He said, it’s cool to live your life as an inverse paranoid. And an inverse paranoid is someone who wakes up every day believing that the world and everyone in it is conspiring on their behalf. And I wake up every day, I’m like, what is the world going to deliver to me today? This is going to be pretty awesome.

Jonathan DeYoe: I think that’s a, uh, beautiful conclusion. So tell people how people can connect with you. Find out your programs and everything.

Adam Carroll: Yeah. The best place to go if the shred method is intriguing to you and we exist to create freedom in people’s lives. So if you want more freedom, this is a place to go. You can get a ton of education for free just on the site. It is the shredmethod.com. If you’re interested in finding out more about me watching the TED talk, I believe the documentary is on the site right now. It is at Adamcarol. That’s two r’s, two l’s info. So info on Adam Carroll, go to.

Jonathan DeYoe: Adamcarol in uh, Adam, thanks so much for coming on. It’s been a sincere pleasure. We’ll have to do this again, and I’m going to stick around for just a minute afterwards because I want to actually keep up a little bit of a conversation.

Adam Carroll: Yeah, so much fun. Jonathan, thank you for the conversation.

Jonathan DeYoe: Thank you, Adam.

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About the Podcast

Mindful Money
Do you struggle with money? You’re not alone.
Money is a means, not an end. It’s a necessity of life for sure, but more money does not always guarantee a “good life”. Money enables many aspects of modern life, but as a dominant consideration it becomes destructive. 
The paradox is that more time and energy spent on personal finance does NOT create better outcomes. Unlike many other parts of life, we can’t create better outcomes by being smarter, spending more time, or putting in more effort.
Join Mindful Money author and experienced 40-year investor Jonathan DeYoe as he shares stories from artists, authors, entrepreneurs, and other advisors about how they mindfully minimize their need to think about money and get more out of life.
If you aren’t happy with your finances, feel like money takes more time that it should, or want to place your financial decisions into the broader context of your life, this show is for you. 
Each episode will draw the line between the “enough” activities that the academics tell us are additive to family outcomes, and those “little bit more” efforts that take time and sap energy, but do NOT improve outcomes.

About your host

Profile picture for Jonathan DeYoe

Jonathan DeYoe

Jonathan DeYoe is a best-selling author, speaker, financial advisor and angel investor. He is a husband, father and a practicing Buddhist. His simple underlying message brings a welcomed sense of order to financial chaos and restores a calm center to your financial life.