EP 81: From Homeless to 30 Year Old Multimillionaire. Jerry Fetta, CEO/Founder of Wealth DynamiX

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This week on The Millionaire Choice Show, Tony talks with Jerry Fetta, CEO and Founder of Wealth DynamX, about his journey from homelessness to wealth expert and multi-millionaire at age 30. They discuss Jerry’s life as a financial advisor and how a parents’ financial habits, good or bad, can affect their childrens’ financial outlook and future.

About Jerry Fetta

Jerry Fetta grew up in a three-times divorced household finding himself homeless by age eight. At age 19 and just out of high school, Jerry was homeless yet again, but this time with a newlywed wife. Working their way up from the bottom; he and his wife are now 10 years still married and multi-millionaires.

CEO and Founder of Wealth DynamX, Jerry is a published author, successful entrepreneur, investor, and a nationally recognized financial expert featured in Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Fox, Chicago Weekly News, New York Finance, earning endorsements and affiliations throughout his career with names like Grant Cardone, Dave Ramsey, and Pamela Yellen. Jerry’s mission in life is to help create millions of financially educated and solvent families achieving greater financial freedom and sharing the truth about money with those around them.

Learn more about Jerry Fetta, https://jerryfetta.com/freechapter

Take advantage of Complimentary Life and Money Mentor Session with Tony or Download FREE eBooks.

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Show Transcript

Tony (00:00 ):

Welcome back to the millionaire choice show. Today, I guarantee you're gonna have a good time listening to Jerry Fetta. He's the founder and owner of Wealth DynamX. He's specialized in financial education and services, especially with alternative assets. You guys know that, I like you to spread your money around. I like to spread my money around. I don't like to keep it all in 401ks and mutual funds. They're probably not the best idea, especially in the season of life that we're living in economically. He's also the author of Blueprint to Financial Freedom, How to Create Wealth, and the Daily Financial Journal, Big Three Challenge Journal. Thanks for coming on the show, Jerry.

Jerry Fetta (00:37):

Thanks so much for having me on, Tony. I'm excited for it.

Tony (00:40):

In the pre-show, you shared with me- I gotta say; I've done 75 of these now and I've talked to a lot of different people. All of our stories have a lot of patterns and similarities, but yours has a lot of barriers. Like, if anybody had an excuse not to build wealth and become a millionaire, I think you would be one of the poster children for that.

Jerry Fetta (01:04):

Yeah, totally. I think, if I go back to where I grew up from, a lot of people have that same type of story and that's the environment, unfortunately is, "we can't make it. We're not supposed to. Wealth is for other people."

Tony (01:17):

And, that's just a lie. That's one of those lies that keeps us held down, keeps us stuck where we are. Stuck in the system, but it is the farthest thing from the truth. I'm a story like that. Your story is like that. Well, let's get into it. Share it with the future millionaires listening.

Jerry Fetta (01:31):

So, I own a company called wealth dynamics, and our whole thing is helping families achieve financial education. Like, real financial literacy, not financial consumerism and marketing dressed up like education. We go back- and this is part of my story- I went back- at one point I was a mainstream financial advisor, actually with Dave Ramsey. In your neck of the woods; I was a Dave Ramsey client and then also an endorsed local provider in eight states for investing. I started studying like, "what do the wealthy actually do with their money?" And it turned out it wasn't mutual funds and 401ks and annuities; like you'd mentioned.

Tony (02:10):

Imagine that right?

Jerry Fetta (02:12):

Exactly. We teach, "where do you actually invest in what's fun and unique?" Because I've been on both sides of it. Now I was really good at telling you why you needed to buy my mutual funds and my investments. So, that's an area where we focus on, and then we also focus on solvency. You'd mentioned how we are in some interesting times right now, the families that have made it, the individuals that have made it, they had very high reserves, they were properly protected. They didn't have a bunch of consumer debt and outflow. They had a lot of income coming in. And so, there's a solvency aspect that we cover. Then really it's about financial freedom. We believe financial freedom happens at the point of financial independence. I have passive income that exceeds my savings expenses and taxes. Then we just continue building towards that, and I relate it, and this is part of my backstory. I relate it to having the ability to treat money like oxygen. When we breathe, we don't think about how many breaths we have. We don't live breath-to-breath like we live paycheck-to-paycheck. And then we also don't hold our breath. We're afraid to let it go and get rid of it. We just take in what we need and get rid of it as we don't need it anymore. So, that's a little bit about me, a little bit about my company, and what we do.

Tony (03:22):

Awesome. Now, you didn't grow up with money a lot of times, you mentioned, being stuck in the mindset. That's where we were born into poverty or born into low income, and we think that's where we stay. That's a lie. It's not true. Especially in America, I quote this stat all the time; roughly 40% of millionaires in the whole world live in America. When you look at the numbers, statistically, by population, America should have no more than about like 3% of the world's millionaires, but yet we have 40%. So, the reason for that is because of America's economy and financial system. There is so much opportunity here where other countries don't have that. They don't have the laws, the protections, the systems, the ability to build wealth in those countries, like they like exist here in America. Also, the barriers. And so, it's not to dismiss that people have problems, and there's barriers to it that make it more difficult, for some people it's easier for some people it's not. You still all have to go through the same challenges. But, of everybody I've had on the show, you had some of the most difficult things to overcome in your childhood. What did that look like?

Jerry Fetta (04:34):

You told me about the guy in the Chinese concentration camp, it wasn't anything that big, but I think for me it was consistent. It was one challenge after the next. And so, that kind of just became my life. For me, I think I was telling you around age four or five, I started noticing my parents fought a lot. It wasn't uncommon to hear shouting and swearing and things breaking in the house. It was usually over finances. Long story short, my mom and dad got divorced and remarried to and from each other, like two or three different times. It was always about money at the end of the day. My dad's name was William, so my mom would call him Bill like, "here's the bills."

Jerry Fetta (05:18):

So, when I was eight or nine; this was all in the same summer. It was a grand slam, house got foreclosed on. We lost it. Mom and dad got divorced again. We had the car repossesed. Then on top of that, we were splitting time between mom and dad. So, we were homeless on both sides with my dad. We were living in a tent for, the summer. I was eight, so I thought we were camping. It didn't feel like we were homeless, but we didn't have an apartment or a house to go back to. Then on my mom's side, we were living in a camper trailer behind somebody's house. So again, I just thought we were camping out in the backyard, but we didn't have somewhere else we could go.

Jerry Fetta (05:58):

That was my early upbringing with money, needless to say, it was already kind of taboo. And on top of that, it was an area for me that had a lot of negativity associated with it. A lot of painful emotion, memories that were- I was a tough kid, so I wouldn't say they were traumatic. I turned fine. It wasn't something I dwelled upon, but it definitely wasn't like I got the warm and fuzzies when I thought about money. It was like, "why would I want anything to do with that?" So, that was my upbringing. And then as I started growing up and I started working, I had someone share with me. I think it was maybe my older brother had told me that the dollar wasn't backed by anything.

Jerry Fetta (06:38):

I knew that there was the concept that there's supposed to be gold behind the dollar. That wasn't the case anymore, and I made the decision. This was like 17 years old. I made the decision that I was not going to live my life working for monopoly money. I watched it destroy my parents' life, my family. So, I was like, "man, I'm not gonna play that game." And on top of that, if it's not even valuable, why would I want it? Why would I work for it? So, I basically just said, "I'm gonna have fun. I'm gonna enjoy life. I'll work when I need it so I can buy the things that I want, then that's it. I'm not gonna save.

Jerry Fetta (07:12):

I'm not gonna invest. I'm not gonna try and build a business or any of that." I didn't realize at the time; everyone has the same three options with finances. We can choose poverty, like I did. At the time I chose poverty, I was like, "I'm opting out of the financial system." We can choose denial. "I'm gonna, pretend like everything's peachy. And I'm gonna just contribute to the 401k account and try and pay the house down and go to Olive Gardens on the weekend and drive a German vehicle if I can," or we can choose wealth. "I'm gonna have so much of it that, that it doesn't matter." Like I said, it's treating money like oxygen. I take in what I need. I let go of it when I don't need it anymore.

Jerry Fetta (07:51):

And I don't even think about it because it's just there. I don't think about breathing. It's just, when I breathe, I breathe. And so that was the decision I made was poverty. Which, fast forward a couple years later, I got married to my wife, Lexi, which was my high school sweetheart. We ended up homeless within the first six months of being married. I don't know what it was with the homeless trend, cuz I didn't enjoy it, but I kept going back to situations where I was like that. And so, we ended up living in an abandoned house for a couple of months, squatting. The owner's kids came in one day cuz they sold the house and didn't know we were there. So they actually caught us like sleeping on a mattress on the floor in one of the upstairs bedrooms.

Jerry Fetta (08:29):

And they're like, "who the hell are you guys?" So, that was a little bit about my upbringing and backstory. For me, there was a turning point when I started my business, ironically, I got into financial services. At a certain point, I was like, "okay, I need to learn about money. Like this is not working. The idea that I'm just not gonna be involved. It dragged me along kicking and screaming." And so I was like, "okay, well what better way to figure this out than to be a professional in that arena." And so there was a moment when I was working, I was actually commuting from Alaska where I lived down to Minnesota and I was doing that about every two weeks. And there was a moment where I went down there. I spent my last dime on a credit card to buy my plane ticket.

Jerry Fetta (09:10):

The idea was I was gonna go do some business down there, close some sales, get the money to come back up. None of that happened. I ended up in the hotel room with, I think one day left in the hotel. It's February in Minnesota. The rental car had expired, but I didn't return it because otherwise I'd have no way home, and I didn't have the money to buy the one-way ticket back to Alaska. So, I was like one day away from being homeless again. But this time in Minnesota, in February where I didn't know anyone, and I made the decision at that point in my time in my life. "I'll never let this happen to me again. This is it. This is the last time." And from there I turned the corner, but everything up till then was that type of story and that type of experience. So, like I said, I was Mr. Consistent just somehow I kept on pulling in bad financial situations.

Tony (09:56):

Wow. You gloss over a lot of that, man. You delivered it. We're gonna have to park on that for a little bit, but I think the biggest thing there, when you hear that, and I think you're talking about breaking free. Some of that came from your parents. Some of it came from you. I call those "ungodly beliefs." It's like self-fulfilling prophecies. You think your life is like that. So, you almost create it unknowingly or unconsciously or even if some people might say on a spiritual realm, but you broke free from that. Let's rewind the tape a little bit and talk about some of that stuff you hit because you were young; you said it. I think the first thing I wanna touch on is your parents going through divorce. You said again, how many times did your parents break up and get back together? Cause that's a lot of trauma in that for a kid.

Jerry Fetta (10:40):

It was at least three times; one for sure when I was little, then they got back together again and then there was another one when I was little. And then it was another one when we moved to Alaska and then the final one, it was actually maybe four times. The final one- I was a teenager in high school, and at that point it was traumatic, but it's kind of like when a painful thing keeps happening, at a certain point, it just feels normal. So, at that point in time, I didn't like that they were getting back together. I was like, "guys, we tried this. We already know it doesn't work. Let's just not."

Jerry Fetta (11:15):

And so by that point, I think I had built a tough skin where it wasn't this, traumatic thing in my life. But growing up, it definitely was a point of pain. There was a lot of, as a kid, having to choose between mom and dad, it's not like you're picking what's your favorite flavor of ice cream. It's like, "which parents do I wanna live with?" A lot of times they're asking you to side with them against the other one. That was definitely very hard early on. As it happened more and more, I was just like, "okay, I'm tired of this."

Tony (11:46):

I think over the years- I've been married 23 years- there were, on my wife's side, a few hard fought years. We're in a tremendously great place today, on Valentine's day, no less, we're recording this. The interesting thing I think is; I've grown up and gotten a little bit older. I just start to realize, even in your parents' story, that there's a lot of pain that they had before they ever got together that caused that pain. And, I think a lot of people- the reason I'm parking on this is cause a lot of people that might be listening to the podcast today might be going through some pain, even in their own marriage and not realizing why things are like the way they are.

Tony (12:26):

What I've learned is, you can get stuck in that. Even as a married couple, nomatter your best intentions- no one gets married, planning on getting divorced. It just doesn't work that way. You think you don't get married and say, "Hey, in 10 years we're gonna get split up." Or, "we've got some friends that are 36 years married and split up." And what happens is you just bring in your baggage, your life baggage. It can be baggage that you didn't even create. It could be baggage from your parents' baggage, from your grandparents and you just gotta be willing to tackle it. So, we went, my wife and I actually went through and got a lot of help. And, that helped us get over the hump. it was a little bit scary going and admitting your flaws and your problems, but getting past it. I can't imagine what that was like for you, man. That's gotta be tough. Now with that, you went through that, and you mentioned being in middle of being homeless at age eight. So, you said you lived in a tent, but how long were you in that tent and how long were you in that trailer without hookups? You didn't have power on the trailer, did you, or water?

Jerry Fetta (13:29):

No. It was just in someone's backyard unhooked. I think we tent-camped for six or eight weeks and I was eight, so I thought we were camping. It was great. It was sleep outside. We don't shower. We go fishing every day. So, on my dad's side, that was brilliant.

Tony (13:53):

That is some man's dream right there.

Jerry Fetta (13:54):

As an adult, when I looked back and I'm like, "Hey, what if the tent broke? We didn't have anywhere else to sleep that night," and then it's like, "I see what was going on there" On my mom's side, we were sleeping in a camper behind someone's house. So, there wasn't any hookups there. I forget how long we were there. It didn't have running water or septic. So we were going to the bathroom in a Folgers coffee can. That came to an end, kind of comedically where I went number one in the can one morning, and I was tired and I dropped it on the floor in the trailer. It spilled my number one all over the carpet. And then, the owner of the trailer didn't wanna clean it or deal with it. So, I think at that point they let us sleep in their living room. That one kind of wrapped up nicely where it's like, "okay, cool. We can't sleep in the trailer anymore. Now we're gonna sleep in this person's living room."

Tony (14:51):

Wow. And as a kid, I mean, kids are so resilient. Just the problems you roll with it. You don't really understand, even how that stuff affects you until later. Do you think, through all that, in that time, did you feel very insecure? Did you have a brother and sister? Obviously dealing with a lot of insecurities because things that you need there for a foundation of a family, those things aren't there, you didn't have them, your parents were separated and you didn't have a house or a place to call home.

Jerry Fetta (15:19):

I had two brothers at the time. My family's really big. My mom and dad were both married before they met each other. All in all, there's 16 or 18 of them. Which is lot. But I had two full brothers, like my mom and dad had three boys. So, me and my two brothers, one older, one younger. With brothers, we're not sharing our feelings with each other, but we're there. We keep each other entertained, we fight, we do whatever and it kind of keeps things fun and interesting. Like you said, as a kid, you can turn almost anything into a game. As an adult it's like, if you're sleeping in a trailer, you're kind of down in the dumps mentally, you're probably not at a good place. As a kid, you can wake up and be like, "this is great!"

Jerry Fetta (16:02):

And then you go play with your toys and you have a great day and you don't think about that. It was helpful that I had siblings, and as I turned into a teenager, I think that, from an insecurity standpoint, I was kind of a quiet kid, but also popular. So, I could have a lot of friends, but I didn't hang out with a lot of people. Everyone liked me, but I kept to myself a little bit. I think maybe that had something to do with it. I was kind of to myself already. I didn't have a lot of people in my family that got along. It was very dysfunctional. I think there's maybe an element to that, on just focusing on my own thing, keeping myself busy, whether that was getting good grades or doing sports.

Jerry Fetta (16:44):

I later got into body building. That was something that nobody could ruin. It wasn't like someone else could not do my diet or someone else could skip the gym for me. It was all within my control. So, I think there was an element to that where I really stuck to things that I could do by myself. There wasn't other people that could come in and mess it up. If I put in the work, I would see the result. And, that's probably where some of that came from.

Tony (17:09):

You're exactly right. Like just being able to get by with the distractions, I think help a lot, even the hardships that I went through, I don't think I really saw 'em as hardships, not until I got older. It's like, "oh, there were a couple that were that way. But, I had to figure that out later, how they really played out. Now, you said you got married, what was it? 19?

Jerry Fetta (17:31):

I was 19 and she was 18. We started dating, I think she was in 9th grade and I was in 10th grade and, we dated through high school and got married right after.

Tony (17:42):

And then, how long did you have stability in your marriage before you ended up being homeless again?

Jerry Fetta (17:49):

Six months

Tony (17:51):

Now, I can tell you, when I was getting married, I was living with my mom and dad paying studio bedroom apartment rent to my parents, which was a great deal. I was paying off debt and putting money in investments at 25 and then, outta college. Anyway, I was getting married and found a house, but I tried to do it the cheapest way possible. Cause I was a "no debt" guy. That's where my head was at. It's like, "no debt. I don't want debt." And, trying to get her to move into a trailer. Cause I'm like, "shoot, I can buy some land and a trailer for 40 grand. Get that thing in there, pay it off in about five years, be done." And my wife was like, "no, I'm not doing the trailer thing." So, we had to find another place, but I can't imagine what the stress in the marriage from being homeless with your wife, what was that like?

Jerry Fetta (18:40):

It was interesting. We couched surf for a little while and that wasn't as bad, cuz there were these people we knew and loved and trusted and stuff, even though wasn't our house, they were letting us stay with them. There were a couple of months where couch surfed, but we eventually moved into an abandoned house. Kind of a weird story. My mom knew this guy. He said that we could stay at his place, but then he had some kind of- I don't know if it was a heart attack or a stroke- But, he went totally incapacitated. They didn't say anything about how, we couldn't stay there. So, we went ahead and did anyways, without anyone really knowing we were doing that. And so, we were squatting there, for a couple of months and the first night I remember my wife cried herself to sleep.

Jerry Fetta (19:27):

It was definitely a time at the bottom. There was no other option. We were in Alaska. So, it's not like we were gonna sleep on the sidewalk or in the woods. The bottom of where we would potentially ever possibly be would be sleeping in an abandoned house without someone's permission. That was kind of weird. That was definitely a stressful time. We were there for a couple of months. I had the same mindset as you though. I had that experience already growing up, she didn't. Her mom was always there; they always had a good place to stay, all of those things. For me, I was like, "this is great. We don't have rent. Like, there's one less expense we have because we're squatting in this house."

Jerry Fetta (20:09):

But, we were there for a couple of months, and the kids that actually were the trustees and owners of the house at the time, they had no idea where we were at. So, they came in one day to sell it and we were sleeping in the bedroom upstairs. And I remember the guy that lived there before he had a Jack Russell terrier, little dog. And I remember there was this giant hole in the floor. Like, I didn't know how or why it got there, but it was big enough that that Jack Russell terrier could have fallen in the hole. So, we had the mattress on the floor, the wood flooring near the mattress was this giant hole. If you woke up in the middle of the night, you had to make sure you didn't like, fall in the hole yourself with your leg. But then, basically one morning I wake up on a Sunday and there's this lady peeking through the crack in the door and I'm like, sleeping on the mattress with my wife. And I hear her say, "guys, there's people in here." And so, I put some pants and stuff on go downstairs and there's like this whole family there, like packing boxes and like just probably the most awkward moment I've ever been in. They didn't know I was there. I didn't know who they were. I knew I wasn't supposed to be there. And like, when something's so awkward, you can't confront it. Like you just like you try and pretend like something is not happening and you distract it with whatever. So, I start cooking breakfast. I'm just like, "I don't know what to do.

Jerry Fetta (