Educounting with Ben Jones
I created the Financial Gym so everyday Jacks and Jills could get personalized financial planning services just like the wealthy. In the process of working with over 3,000 clients, I’ve realized that, beyond financial planning, what my team and I do everyday is educate our clients on personal finance. At the end of the day, the Financial Gym is a financial literacy hub. So you know I got excited when I heard about Ben Jones, an Entrepreneur and Financial Educator, who is equally passionate about financial literacy. He joins me today to talk about the resources he’s created to help people of all ages, especially children, become financially literate.
What Are We Drinking?
Ben — Cosmopolitan
Shannon — Grapefruit Schweppes & Vodka
- Ben grew up with five siblings and his parents and he was the one who tended to hold onto his money. He is an accountant and originally started out at a public accounting firm.
- Ben always wanted to travel the world, and he got an internal audit position with Tupperware. He was traveling to 20 different companies for his job.
- When Ben was in Venezuela and they had hyper inflation, they had to count the Tupperware, because people would steal it and sell it. Since it is a durable good, in a couple of weeks, the item would be worth 40 percent to 60 percent more, because that is how hard goods work when you are in a hyper inflation environment.
- Ben loves taking tests, because his parents always wanted their kids to be certified in something. His mom was a registered nurse. After Ben got certified as a CPA, the CFP sounded good and so did the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst). Only 20 percent of people who start the CFA actually finish it.
- When Shannon was working at an investment bank, before she had a baby, she thought about getting a CFA.
- There are three levels to this certification and she was busy at her job, so she thought she would take the first level since it is offered twice a year. The other two levels are only offered once a year, so it takes a minimum of three years to complete.
- Shannon decided not to study much for the first one, because she thought if she didn’t really have it in her to pass, it will be a lot more work. She is thankful she didn’t pass the test.
- Ben and his wife dated for 13 years before they got married, but it was easy for him to commit for three years to get the CFA certification.
- For one of the tests, Ben was in London at Wembley Stadium in a side building and Lionel Ritchie was warming up.
- Being from a big family, Ben didn’t have a lot of money, so he was working and saving as much as he could. He always knew he was good at money and he wanted to get the certification.
- By the time Ben moved back to the United States, he fell into a job where he was teaching people about becoming CPAs.
- He took the CPA exam the November before he graduated college, so he was teaching people that were 3 to 20 years older than him.
- He had a knack for teaching and he was rated in the top 10 of over 500 instructors in the nation.
- He was good with money and, growing up with a lot of siblings he learned to speak up and be entertaining.
- When he came back to the U.S., he got a job running a CPA review company called Becker CPA Review. It was the number one review company in the country. They reviewed over 50,000 CPAs a year. He really enjoyed his time there.
- After about ten years there, he decided it was time to help get people involved with their money.
- Shannon is always looking for compassion and empathy when she hires financial trainers.
- When Ben started working with people, it always surprised him how uncomfortable they were with money.
- It is such an amazingly emotional thing. You can mention one thing and people get really upset. People are really triggered with money. The emotional side kind of kicks you in the face. Many times people didn’t have someone who was good with money, or they grew up with parents that fought about it, and they don’t think they deserve to have it.
- Ben found that the people who were the best financial planners or financial managers were the ones who were the most empathetic, not the ones that were the most educated, because people trusted them and liked them.
- Parents are more likely to talk to their children about sex than about money. Money is a taboo topic.
- Financial literacy is like regular literacy — it has to start in the home.
- The Gym’s most financially literate clients have parents who had healthy conversations around money with them at an early age. Most people don’t have that.
- The Financial Gym exists to change financial literacy and health for this generation and future generations. Once their clients have a more comfortable relationship with money, they start talking to their kids about it.
- Ben went home one night and created a video. Then he created another video. Before he knew it, he had 220 videos that are helpful, because he boils things down really simply.
- Ben was setting up a teleprompter in his basement. His daughter was about seven or eight at the time and started reading the teleprompter. It was this squeaky little voice that was talking about how bond duration was a measure of risk.
- Ben realized that kids needed to know about finance and managing money. The younger they are the more they will not be afraid of it. He thought that he could do a couple of podcasts and videos and reach out to parents who had kids and make them more comfortable with finance.
- Everybody needs a doctor and a lawyer, but we aren’t taught that maybe we need a financial advisor to help guide us down the path.
- Ben has a podcast called Money with Mak and G. Mak is for Makenna and G is for Grant. They started to play around with it and it started gaining traction. Parents wanted their kids to feel comfortable with money, because they weren’t comfortable with it themselves.
- Mak and G are Ben’s 10 year-old twins that are soon to be 11. When he started the podcast, they were around 8 years old.
- Ben started talking to his kids about money when they were around four years old, because he didn’t want them to be scared of it.
- Think about your entire life and the things you learn about. The number one thing you need to know about is money, because it affects everything.
- The two words they hear at the Gym are fear and shame around financial situations. Shannon says to think about money as part of your DNA. We need it to exist and to get through life. To think that fear and shame are running though people’s DNA, it motivates Shannon to do what she does every day, because no one should live like that.
- It never ceases to amaze Ben that when he talks to women about money, in general, they tend to be less secure and more savvy.
- When you look at the numbers, the best investor in the world is a 42 year old woman. She picks a solid investment and leaves it.
- The biggest thing about financial advising is getting people comfortable with who they are and what they need to do. Everything is possible, it is all about how much work you are going to put into it.
- Women have less confidence in their decisions, even though it may be a smart and thought out decision.
- Have confidence because, a lot of the time, Ben sees women making great decisions.
- Ben started creating the videos and sharing them with other people to get them comfortable talking about money, to help them understand what is going on, and to give them a couple of tools so they could do what they needed to do on their own in order to give them the confidence they needed.
- We are in a funny phase right now, because paper money is going out and most people are using electronic money.
- Ben started with the dollar bill, because he wanted to connect money to something, so his kids could start to understand. He would give one of his kids five dollars and tell them to give it to the person working at the cash register and see what they get back. Then they talked about it.
- They started having those basic beginning conversations. Ben and his wife do the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, and other stuff. When his kids get money, they save it and start to relate it to something real.
- Ben and his wife are completely honest with their kids about money. If they ask how much he makes, he tells them. When they said it was a lot of money, he talked to them about how much their house, car, and other things cost. When they started to lay that out, it put things into perspective and that changed the whole conversation.
- When you have the conversation and show kids the money by giving them an allowance, they start to realize how it works.
- You need to start the conversation. The earlier the better.
- Even if you don’t think you are great at money, you are making financial decisions every day. You are your own economic system. You should at least explain why you are making the decisions you are making. The older they get, the more involved they should be.
- You need to have a numbers conversation with kids. They get it.
- Kids are smarter than you think they are and they will understand most of the things you tell them about basic finance. It is just basic math.
- Do not lie to your kids, tell them the truth. If you are having financial issues, tell them and let them know how you are working on it. Have discussions with them when they ask.
- Seventy percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and there are all different sized paychecks.
- Teach your kids that you need to save for the future. You need to get good at saying no and explain why.
- The best teacher of money is cash. We learn more when we count the dollars and see it move.
- Teach your kids about investing by having them choose the companies they want to invest in and have them watch the performance.
- Create an economic system however you can, where they earn money and spend it too. When you don’t learn about this at home or school, you will not know what to do when you are actually in it as an adult.
- Teach your kids that the market goes up and down and that investments are for the long term.
- You know more than you think you know.
- If you don’t feel comfortable, listen to the Money with Mak & G podcast with your kids.
TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is that financial literacy is just as important and regular literacy. We owe it to ourselves and our children, if we have them, to make sure we are all financially literate. With resources like the ones Ben is producing, we have no excuse not to seek it out.
Random Three Questions
- What is the big goal that you and your family are saving for right now?
- What is a show you like to binge watch?
- If this was your last night on earth, what is your last meal?
Connect with Ben
Podcast: Money with Mak & G
If you’d like to get financially naked with my team and get more financially literate, I hope you’ll reach out to us at the Financial Gym. My trainers have literally seen it all so nothing will surprise us. We don’t care how you got here, we just care about getting you where you want to go.
The great news is that Martinis and Your Money listeners get 15% off Financial Gym services. So head over to, or send friends to, financialgym.com to get signed up today.