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Monday, March 8, 2021

Four Years of Budget Boss. What’s Changed? What Hasn’t?

On this date, four years ago, my website launched. With the help of an amazing team, I put out my vision and thoughts on personal finance. I remember it like it was yesterday. At the time I only had a handful of clients and maybe a couple of dozen people viewing my work, mostly friends of course. Since then, the client count has grown in the hundreds and the followers have morphed into thousands from all over the world. Over 400 written pieces of content later, this is #422 by the way, much has changed. A lot has also stayed the same too. I wanted to share a bit about that on the day of Budget Boss’ Birthday. Thanks for hearing me out.

What’s Changed

The Space

Since I first got into the personal finance space back in 2017, it has ballooned. There are hundreds, probably thousands, of social media folks spreading the word of strong personal finance to the masses. When I first started, I was dumbfounded by how these tips were NOT taught in school. Now in 2021, personal finance is beginning to be taught in school, which is great. Also, ANYONE can find amazing information all over the internet about how to invest, paying off debt, how to buy their first home, and many other amazing money topics. There were a bunch of great folks in the space when I first started, and I gained a ton of inspiration from them. Now as I chug along with 4 full years of Budget Boss under my belt, I have seen some who are taking a bit of inspiration from me. That is beyond cool. Shout out to the legends who came before me and props to the ones who came after and are yet to come. I am not going anywhere, and I hope none of you do too.

The Industry

The industry for which I work has changed tremendously since I got into it over 4 years ago. They used to have to send a nurse to your home to collect urine from you if you took out a 25K life insurance policy. Poor nurse. I hear back in the day the advisor, ie. me, would have to cotton swab the roof of your mouth during the application process. Yeah, no thanks. Now you can get coverage in less than 10 minutes, over the phone, no medical, no nurse, no pee-pee, no me in your home. Investments have changed too. I can do applications over the phone for TFSAs and RRSPs. I meet with clients via video call, thanks Covid, and have numerous clients now that I have NEVER actually met in person. There are even Robo-advisors who guide you along your journey and help you choose your investments. The industry has gone full transparency mode which is an awesome thing. The days of the high-pressure suit dummy pushing insurance or investments on you is all but dead. Good riddance I say!

The Following

With more followers comes a different level of attention. I have been on numerous news outlets, podcasts, platforms, and pages promoting the word. I used to get happy when 5 people would read a post I made about budgeting. Now hundreds do and sometimes thousands, usually when I am talking smack. It is definitely nice to know that many people are getting something from what I put out. It is also nice when people rip it too. That means it is provoking thought, which is very important to me. I take great amounts of info from the feedback I get, so keep it coming. Don’t be too mean though.

My Business

When I first started doing this, I still had a part-time job. For the first 2 years of my career, I kept it because it paid just enough to cover all my bills. A few years back I ditched the side gig when my career hit a point where I didn’t need it anymore. Now I am happy to say I have grown in income every year since I started, and the client base is steadily increasing. I have written hundreds of insurance policies, put in dozens of mortgages, and manage millions of dollars including that of beloved friends and family. I took my role very seriously back then, and even more seriously now. People have trusted me with their life savings and protecting their families. That is a sacred honor to me. When I first started, I was happy to do ANY business. A special thanks to all the people who trusted me in the early days. Now I am in a spot where a team will be needed to help all those who desire to work together. That is amazing to me.

Me

Through sheer work experience, I have seen how the right plan can work in people’s favor. When I first started, I put the plan’s in place. Simply put, I didn’t have the hours behind me to give a concrete example of how it would work out, that is excluding my own finances. What I find amazing now is seeing the plans unfolding as hoped, and people reaching new levels of success with their finances. Watching people’s debt vanish, investments grow, mortgages reduce, and optimism soar is quite a thrill to me. This has given me a new level of confidence with my recommendations. I have seen the good, the bad, and the not so beautiful aspects of personal finance from my view in the trenches. This has made me more determined than when I first started to make sure people succeed with their plan and reach their goals.

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A lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same too.

What Hasn’t Changed

The Fundamentals

There is a reason they are called fundamental. While some things change, some do not budge one bit. I am quite happy I have seen living proof that being debt-free, paying down your mortgage, saving and investing often, and protecting your loved ones is the way to financial freedom. It may get annoying after hearing me say it for the 1 millionth time, but sorry not sorry, it hasn’t changed. I am very happy that others have picked up on it. It is NOT complicated and no one should make it that way. Pay off your debt. Run a positive monthly budget. Save and invest for long-term, diversified growth. Get rid of that mortgage as soon as you can. Protect your life, health, and income with insurance. It is just that simple and I am starting to believe, it always will be.

The Gurus

As you probably have noticed, I love a good quote. On the daily, I share quotes from the OG Bosses of the financial world. Warren Buffett, David Chilton, Robert Kiyosaki, Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey, and my personal favorite, Gail Vaz-Oxlade. They are still kicking butt in the finance game and they STILL capture an enthusiastic audience whenever they release content. The reason is simple. They believe in what I just mentioned, the fundamentals. While I may not agree with everything each one of them says, I do almost always agree with WHY they are saying it. Personal finance is not a one-size-fits-all shoe. There are many ways to get to the end goal, being financially free. What is the same is the trouble spots. Being over-extended, not making enough to get by, leaving yourself exposed, speculative investing, not saving for the future. The Gurus get this. You don’t need to pull 100% from each of them. You don’t need to pull 100% from me. You need to listen to what they are trying to say as much or more than what they actually say. In this world of click-bait, sound bites, and deceitful editing, make sure you realize why the masters are still the masters. They stuck around because what they say works. Period.

My Outlook

I used to classify myself as a realist. The funny thing is people who knew me would say I am a pessimist. I would say that a realist is simply an optimistic, pessimist. I keep that energy, but I definitely lean towards being more of an optimist these days. It may sound odd during these troubling times, but I feel like the future is bright. In fact, since I started Budget Boss I have always thought the future is and will always be bright. The reason is simple. There are 2 almost undeniable qualities that most people have. We all are generally good people, and we will want to succeed. You might not agree that we are mostly good people, but I will challenge you on that. There is a lot of evil in the world, but there is far, far more good. This pandemic has brought that to light. SO many amazing people are sacrificing themselves for the greater good and it is truly remarkable. All of us want to succeed as well. We all want a better life, to live in a better world. What this causes us to do is try and find ways to make it be better. Does it always work that way? Not even close. But the 2 steps forward, 1 step back motion of humans is plugging away, and coupled with our genuine caring nature, we will get better. This I am certain of.

My Role

I come from the service industry and I see a lot of parallels from that role to this current one. The truth is, people can manage their own finances. They can buy their own insurance and invest their own money. They can hunt for the best mortgage rate and even analyze their own pension plan. Despite this, most people do appreciate the role of an advisor. They understand that the mechanism of doing all those things can be complicated, time-consuming, and frustrating. They appreciate the 2nd set of eyes and unbiased viewpoint an advisor provides. This is the service role that dominates my occupation, and it is ongoing. While a good portion of my time is spent finding new clients and Budget Boss plays a big part in that, much of my job is spent making sure the existing clients are taken care of. Coming from my days as a server/bartender, I recognize how important service is. People want to know they are not alone in this and I hope I can provide that, even if it is something as small as changing the beneficiary on their life insurance policy. I doubt this will ever change.

Me

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I hope that is not true. I am getting older that is for sure. I didn’t have the greys in my beard 4 years ago when this thing got started. I did however have a core set of beliefs that I still hold to this day. I mentioned the fundamentals. Yes, I still believe in those. I still believe in sticking up for yourself and your future. I still believe success is earned, not given. I still believe you have to give a little, to get a little. I still believe everyone can reach their potential, mainly if they start getting out of their own way. That includes me as well. I still believe that financial freedom is simply a set of choices we make and stick to on a daily, monthly and annual basis. It is a lifestyle we choose. It is a mindset we put ourselves in and don’t waver from. Sure, we have setbacks and often make mistakes. Despite this, the ship keeps moving forward. I believe that it is financial freedom that drives equality and if we all get there we cannot be divided based on trivial differences. I believe that anyone can make the right moves, despite their current spot, and progress will begin to show. These are things I have always believed and I do not see that changing anytime soon. I want to thank everyone who read this post and everyone who follows along. To those who were there on day 1, you are special to me. To ones who came along since then, welcome to the family. We have a long way to go and a lot more to learn. One promise I can make is this: We are just getting started Bosses. Peace and Love, Joe – BB.

Joseph James Francis is a Financial Advisor and Money Coach based in London, Ontario, Canada.

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