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EP 11: Learning to Stack Benjamins with Joe Saul-Sehy, Host of Stacking Benjamins Show

Updated: Nov 2, 2020

While it may seem like Joe, OG, and the gang are messing around, we’re all actually deadly serious about financial literacy. Literacy rates around the world are dropping, and this podcast is meant to help foster much-needed conversations about money.

Since 2012, Stacking Benjamins has used the science of play to make finance more approachable, interesting, and fun. Our hope is that people will think more seriously about money and about financial well-being. While some podcasts hope to be the final expert in the chain of money lessons, Stacking Benjamins hopes to introduce you to the broad spectrum of fantastic ideas, concepts, and technologies available that can help you lock in a better financial future.

We joke that “you won’t learn anything on Stacking Benjamins” to keep it light. We hope the show always has a warm setting to make money friendly. Our characters mess up with their money and share mistakes often to show that even pros sometimes get it wrong.

Discover more about Joe Saul-Sehy and Stacking Benjamins at

For a complimentary copy of The Millionaire Choice: Millionaire or Not. You Can Choose. and the Creating Millionaire Families eBook, visit

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Episode 11: Learning to Stack Benjamins with Joe Saul-Sehy, Host of Stacking Benjamins Show

Announcer: Is money slipping through your fingers. Are you missing your opportunity to become a millionaire? Welcome to the millionaire choice where we talk to millionaires and future millionaires about how to build wealth and what to do with it once you have it. We're here to help you do two things, make your millionaire choice and create your own millionaire plan. Here's your host, speaker, wealth coach, and author of The Millionaire Choice. He made his choice, and he created his millionaire plan at age 25; now it's your turn. Welcome your host, Tony Bradshaw.

Tony: Welcome back to The Millionaire Choice show. And today on the show, I'm super excited about our guest. He's a friend of mine and has been working in the financial industry for many, many years. He is the host of Stacking Benjamins podcast, one of the top 10 money and investing podcasts on the net that you're going to find. It's one of the most fun, entertaining, and financial literary shows you'll ever come across. This show has been recognized by Kiplinger Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Forbes, and Joe is the former financial advisor and money man at Detroit Television Station Seven. So Joe, thank you so much for coming on the show and spending some time with us and sharing your wisdom and you know, eight years of podcasting on personal finance. You know, congratulations for that.

Joe: Well, thanks for joining us. I mean, thanks for becoming a podcaster. It's about time we got a good one here.

Tony: Well, time will tell on that, right?

Joe: I don't know, man. After reading your book, I think it's going to be a natural for you. So congratulations on the show.

Tony: I appreciate it. So you actually have some really big news that you were just telling me about. Why don't you share that with our audience?

Joe: I do. Yeah. So the, uh, one of, uh, the biggest radio networks in the nation, Westwood one, if you're a sports fan, you might know Westwood One. They're really known for all the big sporting events. I remember, in fact, Tony, Westwood One from working on cars in my garage with my dad. I was the kid that held the light. I handed him the screwdriver, and we'd listened to, you know, "you're listening to Sunday night baseball on Westwood One" or "you're listening to March Madness on Westwood One." So when Westwood wan came calling about six months ago, I tried to be objective, but I was pretty thrilled. And, uh, as we're recording it this week, we are on Westwind One, we're not on the radio, but we are part of their podcast build-out, part of the Westwood One podcast family. So after eight and a half years of podcasting, we're going from indie to the big leagues. Which, I will say this, it's kind of funny. So I've heard this, this radio ad they've been doing for us, and you know, we're always, we're the show that's live from my mom's half-finished basement. You've been to the basement before, Tony. It is, it is. We sit at a card table; we talk about money. It's rickety. Now we've got this guy who's the stereotypical 95.5 hot FM DJ. Like, I don't know who he is, but the commercial for us is "Financial news talk that just might make you laugh. Stacking Benjamins odd Westwood One." It's so weird. It's so surreal.

Tony: Yeah. That's exciting, man. I think what's cool about that is, you know, the stats, you know, and this is my, I think we all have to work together to do this, but the statistic is 78% of people are living paycheck to paycheck. And you know, that number was the number that was there, you know, 27 years ago, 28 years ago, and Dave Ramsey started.

Joe: Right?

Tony: It's the same number today. And, and I think it's going to take for that number to actually change. And the statistic to change. We need people like you who are teaching personal finance and sticking with it, right. And reaching more people and just continually trying to reach, reach, reach more people. And that's what excites me about that announcement of yours.

Joe: Well, that's the biggest, the biggest problem, Tony, I totally agree with you. The biggest problem is, is that frankly, nobody's listening. I mean, we, uh, there's this, uh, uh, uh, group called pod track that looks at and examines all of our audience sizes, and they show that roughly 145,000 people know who. Who I am, who we are, right as a show. Um, and that's not people that listen all the time. That's just people that colloquially know who we are. There's, we're in the top 10 podcasts in the investing space on iTunes. Um. Uh, and so you take us, you take Dave, you mentioned Dave Ramsey, Dave Ramsey, colloquially, uh, I have heard has, uh, just over a million listeners an episode just to the podcast.

Then probably maybe another 3 million people listen to. Listen to the show, you know, you can take Dave's 3 million, throw in our 145,000 throw in all the other podcasts out there and still Tony, nobody's listening. So whenever somebody says to me, they're like, "Ooh, which financial shows don't you like? Like, give me some dirt about the people you don't like." I'm like, "We need more. I don't want less." We just need more. And everybody brings something different because people learn in different ways. So I'm with you, man. We just need more.

Tony: Yeah. And I agree with you about the more people we have there. You know, my, my story and my message is anyone can become a millionaire. Why not you? And, and I really do believe that. You know, I grew up in a low-income family, uh, doing the same broke stuff that my parents did. And had my wake up at age 25 and you know, became a millionaire at age 40 and I thought I was pretty special until I met the guy who made his millionaire choice decision at age five. He realized his parents were broke at age five, and he didn't want to be that way. And so he's like, "I'm going to be rich." And you know, and he thought about it for 25 years and worked on it, and you go, how, how can that happen? You know, it can happen. It's, you know, this is America. And I was looking at some statistics the other day, and I had never seen this before, but roughly 40 to 50% of all millionaires in the world live in America.

Joe: Mm.

Tony: And so think about that. You know, we only have about 330 million people that live in America, which is a very small percentage of the world's population, but 40 to 50% of the millionaires live in America. This is the land of opportunity. It was. It is. And hopefully, will always stay that way. But as we, as the message gets out there, you know, I'm hoping that more people will grab hold of that and start to believe in that message of anyone can become a millionaire if they just make the right life and financial choices. And I think it's, you know, guys like you just continually working on that every single day faithfully for eight years, reaching more people and just staying passionate about, you know, helping people, which is the heart that you have.

Joe: Well, that's the that is the frustrating piece for me is, is when I encounter someone, when someone who writes in and, and they go, uh, I had an email like this last week, actually. A guy telling me, he's like, "Hey, you're not telling the secrets. You're not telling us the the what, the what the real secret is like how you got here. (My cohost), OG, got, got there. Like how you need to tell us the secrets." And I just wrote back to him, I'm like, brother. The secret is hide money from yourself. Make it automatic. Save into your 401k, like what? Whatever the secret is.

You already have it. The secret, the secret is, is stop thinking about it so much and do it. Yeah. I mean, it's so funny. One of the frustrating things I've found among real real real money nerds is they get. They get really analytical about fees, right? Well, what am I going to pay for that? What am I going to pay? How much does it cost? What would I have to pay? And don't get me wrong, Tony, fees are important, and looking at and controlling your fees and understanding the give and take between what you're getting and how much it costs. Understanding the ratio is super important, but. But that's not why we fail. We fail because we just don't put money away. Right? You could put money in something that is a high fee, not that good product, and be a millionaire. In fact, when I was a financial advisor, I'd run into these people all the time when I would first meet them they, they had become millionaires very inefficiently, and I realized it wasn't controlling your fees that got you there. It wasn't having the secret sauce or some expensive hedge fund that only super-rich people can use. Man, you can do it with regular old mutual fund off the shelf that anybody can get and a savings account and a paycheck. And you can be a millionaire.

Tony: Yeah. And I think that's the thing, you know, and I liked that you said, it's not a secret. There aren't any secrets to it. It really comes down to, and I think that's one of the reasons I wrote ten keys instead of ten secrets because they're not secrets. They've been being taught for 50 years. Plus, it's the same principles that, uh, you know, the multimillionaires use, the billionaires use. The principles are all the same, you know, spend less than you make. Um, put it away. Keep your expenses low. I mean, millionaires, there are people who made hundreds of millions of dollars and end up broke, and so they were millionaires, and they're broke. And it's because they didn't obey those keys or those principles. Just like you said. You know, you have a saying. I love this saying that you have, "it's called personal finance is personal, and we're all trying to stack," and I love that. And how it ties back into your show Stacking Benjamins, where did you come up with that?

Joe: From my 16 years as a financial planner. You know, I would have about 10 to 15 meetings with families a week. So I got to see Tony. I got to see a bunch of people's money situation. I've been through many retirements. I've been through lots of college graduations, you know, helped a lot of people do all those things. And what I noticed was how person A got there was not the same way that person B got there. There are some truths like you said, there are some keys to follow, but, but for all of us, there is this personal journey that we're on. It's going to be a little different, so I think that helps us be a little less judgy, you know, of somebody else. Like you said, where you started from is different than where I started from. I started from a middle-class family. We had plenty of money. My dad was a supervisor and then an assistant plant manager to a GM facility. We we didn't have problems like that. You know what our problem was? Every time that my brother, sister, I walked into the room, my parents would stop talking about money immediately. And not only that, they would tell us it was not our place to be in that discussion and to leave the room. So I went to college like middle-class kids do, and there was an American Express card booth. It right there in Mark Clark Hall at the Citadel in Charleston. And I, uh, the first week of school, like I could get a credit card. That is awesome. And I applied for an American Express card, which is crazy because I didn't have any money. And I'm at a military college. I can't even have a job. I'm wearing a uniform.

But you know what's crazier? They gave me a card.

Tony: And a T-shirt.

Joe: It was a Frisbee, I don't remember. So cool. Yeah. So a Stadium, Blake. Yeah. So I got my credit card and. The first weekend that we had any leave. I took all of my friends out to lunch, and of course, you know the bill came, and I had that green card out. I had no idea how it worked.

I just knew it was magic. The server took the card. All my buddies love me even more cause I paid for everybody. I went to Nordstrom, and I bought a sweater. Once again, I'm at a military college. I can't even wear a sweater. I still have the sweater. I should've shown it to you. I should've run upstairs to get it. But the, uh, it is ugly. It is 1980's ugly, and it was really expensive. And then the bill came 30 days later, and I called my mom, and I said, "Hey mom, I got a problem." I actually didn't say, "I got a problem." I said that thing from the one-minute manager series. I said, mom, we got a problem, and my mom quickly said, we, it's like, no, you got a problem. You created it; you solve it. Of course, I was at a military college, so I couldn't solve it. Within 90 days, my credit card was gone. My credit was wrecked at 18, and then when I got my summer job, I had to pay back a collection agency. Yeah. So my story is way different, but it's personal. So back to back to your original question, we all start from different spots, and we all make some big mistakes. We make different types of mistakes. So, uh, I think we all got to remember that about each other.

Tony: You grew up in different States. I think the two things that we all start with is we pick up what our parents have. Like, you know, transfer. It sounds like your case, you, you had some, some access to some financial knowledge, but you, it didn't transfer to you. I really didn't have access to financial knowledge. I got to do, as I say, not do as I do, which is how you should save money, but we're not saving money, you know? And so that didn't really transfer, you know, going into debt did transfer. But everybody starts in the same place about getting money. Smart.

Everybody has to; if you're going to be good with money, you got to get money smart. And I think that's the very interesting thing about our, you know, the, the world system or the educational system is we spend, you know, 18 years learning about math, English, and science, but very few of us really get exposed to financial principles. The majority of us don't. And so we're left to figure out those things on our own. But, you know, even the richest people had this been, they all started without money knowledge. They just got exposure to get money smart sooner.

Joe: Yeah.

Tony: Or in a different way, and then applied it. So you have to if you want to get over that. And so how did you go about getting money smart? I mean, it was, that was that American Express card, kind of the pivot moment when you said, "Hey, ah, that's a bad deal. I don't want to do that again." Is that, was it that or did you kind of repeat some things?

Joe: Oh, it got worse than that, my friend. It got, it got a lot worse than that. So from, from there