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Micah Long: Financial Adulting, Stashing Cash & The Matrix

On this episode, we are talking financial adulting, how to up your game when it comes to finances. We're talking with Micah Long who is a very incredible individual. He is a self-proclaimed personal finance fanatic. He majored in Business and Finance in college, got a law degree and he is going for his Master’s of Law at Georgetown. That's studying the tax code.

I am grateful for folks like him to interpret it so that business owners, entrepreneurs and investors like us can benefit from what he understands. Micah came in with his sister, Ellen. They've created courses for us at WealthFit. I want you to go check those out.

In this show, specifically I will give you a little preview of that course. In it, we talk about how to get out of bad debt. If you're in a spot that you don't want to be, you're going to love our discussion on the Debt Snowball Method and other forms of getting out of debt.

We also talked about stashing cash. If that sounds appealing to you, you are going to love the show. We get into a little bit about managing risk, how you can better manage your risk.

This show is for everyone. Specifically, this show is tailored to the audience of those that are entering the workforce, those that are entering college. If you have a young person, a brother or a kid that is around this age, we definitely would love for you to share. We talk about how you can start off right, start off early and set yourself up. At the end of the day, whether you're getting started or you're a veteran, you can benefit from the show.

Dustin
Micah, I believe we're setting up the next generation for failures. Millennials have the lowest earning power since the 1980s, yet they on average have over $30,000 in debt. If you're a college grad, you have $34,000 in student loan debt, not to mention the credit cards. How are Millennials supposed to make it nowadays?
Micah
Sometimes, Millennials get a bad rap. The older generations think they don't have their life together. They haven't started families. They're a little bit late on things. A lot of that has to do with the fallout from the great recession. Their tough time is starting out. In order for you to get ahead, it's a little bit harder nowadays. You have to be smarter and plan better.
Dustin
What do you see folks in your generation, your peers, struggling with that maybe other people haven't had to encounter? Make it real for folks that might not be in touch or in tune with what's going on.
Micah
From personal experience, I've got one or two friends that crush it that are doing well financially. Those tend to be people that have specialized cutting-edge degrees. They tend to be engineers, computer science people or they're entrepreneurial. For a lot of Millennials, even after college, they are working a lot of college type jobs. That's tough because some of the most important parts of your career and the most important part of your financial life is right out of the gate at the beginning of your career. That's when you can make some big gains.
Dustin
I'm interested to have you explain that a little bit more because right out of the gate, maybe you get out of college and your first job, you’re probably not starting off with the cushy high-paying job unless you're specialized or you move all the way to Silicon Valley, where salaries out there are crazy because it's so competitive. Go a little bit further on what you mean by early on is when you've got the opportunity to make a lot of fun.
Micah
Obviously, you're not going to make a ton of money especially in saving. The earlier you save, the more important it is. If you save early, it can be a lot like saving a ton of money late. If you spend your entire twenties or even up to 35 without saving anything for retirement, you can put yourself way behind even on retirement savings. Even though, no one comes out of college and gets a cushy job or makes a ton of money. It's important to start saving early on even if it's little amounts. That's especially tough for Millennials because they come out with so much debt. They aren't doing the things that older generations did it in their twenties. They're pushing those back to their 30s, even mid-30s, getting married, having kids and buying houses. Most of the people in their twenties that I know are doing that a lot later than their parents did or even maybe some of their older siblings.
Dustin
Micah, I'm curious as to your thoughts on why, whether it's this generation, parents' generation or even further back and I may be overgeneralizing here, when you're in your twenties, you're not thinking savings? Why do you think most people when they're very young and getting out don't necessarily subscribe because you hear this over and over again? It's like, "I wish I had started sooner." This isn't rocket science. This isn't new information. We know we need to be saving. Why don't you think people are saving later?
Micah
It’s because it's so far away. It's human nature. If you think, "I've got to prepare for something that's 10, 30 years away." We're all procrastinators about it. Even if we've heard the statistics or the math on it, in our emotions, we think, "I can do that but later." It's the choice between, "Do I want to go out to eat tonight or do I want a little bit of extra money in retirement?" The more abstract and far away an idea is, the harder it is to take action on it.
Dustin
How do you personally balance that? When you put it like that, it's like, "I want to go out tonight and have a nice dinner. It was a long, stressful day." However, in 30 years from now, I want to be able to live on the beach or whatever lifestyle. How do you weigh that?
Micah
The best way and why we have set up a conscious cashflow model is by making it a habit and making it part of what you do every month. Once you get the decision point, when you're hungry for dinner or when you want that new thing, you've already set yourself up for success. It's through habit more than willpower if you would.
Dustin
When someone reading is saying, “That makes sense. It's pretty logical. That's straight forward. I would love to remove the emotion or the thinking from the equation.” What is the best way to develop a financial habit or a positive financial habit?
Micah
Specifically when I'm talking about cashflow or anything, it is to make more and more of your decisions automatic so that you don't have to make that decision at the moment. Ellen and I in our course, we developed a cashflow model to help people, not have to worry about budgeting or about buckling down to save versus spend at the moment, but to have that planned out at the beginning of the month when they get their paycheck. All those decisions are already made. They don't have to stand in the store aisle and weigh that too. If you're standing in the aisle, if you're sitting at dinner with a menu in front of you, you're going to want to spend the money.
Dustin
You mentioned Ellen. It's more than Ellen. Your father, your brother, Ellen, your sister and your brother-in-law are all personal, financial planners or in the money arena. Did you feel that family pressure to get into the money business or the financial arena?
Micah
It happened because of my own passion for the subject. There are five of us siblings. She wanted us to get into the healthcare field. Both her dad and her only brother were doctors. Her dad was a dentist and her brother was a radiologist. She loves science. She loved medicine. Not a single one of us, five children, went into the health sector. Finance was a part of my life growing up. My parents were good about including us in money decisions. They did tell us what was going on, not everything. My dad even had this game, if we went out to eat, he would have us guess how much it costs. The idea behind that was to get us thinking about what things cost, the way money works. He got us checkbooks. I learned how to balance a checkbook when I was quite young. Through high school and college, I worked for my dad's company with my sister, Ellen, as well. We lived in finance. We talked about it a lot. We read books. It wasn't pressure from my family at all. It was living and breathing that environment and getting excited about it on my own.
Dustin
I'm always fascinated by the family biz. You had mentioned Ellen and yourself worked there. Did you work there because you wanted to? Did you work there because you wanted to make some extra money? Were you personally fascinated by that time?
Micah
It's all of the above. I worked there during college and the year after I graduated. It was a little bit of everything. It was convenient. I lived at home through college. I could commute to work with my dad. I've seen other places. I've worked in other places. Nobody has the expertise of my family in personal finance. They've been doing it for years. They're well-educated. When I was thinking about who to work for, it was an easy choice about where I'm going to learn the most.
Dustin
This is a personal curiosity. Has anyone of the siblings gone in a different direction outside of finance?
Micah
My eldest sister did journalism. She is as a writer. She's gone down that path. The middle three of us are all in finance. My littlest brother is in college. He's studying engineering. It isn’t quite everyone, but it's a good majority of the kids.
Dustin
You paved your own way in this family. You’ve got a law degree. What was your motivation?
Micah
It was natural for what I wanted to do and my family. My dad is a California lawyer as well as a personal financial planner. He for years did both. He started in the ‘80s. It was innovative but more and more people are catching on that you can't look at the different segments of your life separately, especially if you start to gain wealth and things get more complicated. You can't have your insurance separate from your accounting, separate from your legal, separate from your money management. He had two separate businesses. He was able with one foot in each camp to see the whole picture and to help people through their whole financial life.
That's a lot of what I want to do. I want to end up where I've got the expertise in tax, law and finance to run a team that's a lot more holistic for people that have more complicated situations. That was the motivation for also getting into law, especially if you're also an entrepreneur. If you've got a business and you've got the wealth you need to take care, there's a lot of meshing that goes between the personal and the business. As a business lawyer, as an estate planner and also with a lot of knowledge about finance, I can add a lot of value.
Dustin
I want to take a step back. I'm also mindful because I've got kids coming up. It seems like even despite mom's efforts to get you into the healthcare arena, you all turned out relatively well from the outside looking in. I imagine that's the key. What advice do you have for parents? It sounds like dad made you a guess how much things cost. The family taught you how to do balancing a checkbook. What advice do you have that you can share with other families that don't have financial planners as dads, to walk away with a head on their shoulders in the right way about money?
Micah
I used to have this baseball coach that every time we got up to the plate, he would say, "Have an approach." He would tell us that if you didn't have a plan when you got up to the batter's box, you were going to strike out. You had to know what you were doing and what the plan was. My advice on college, my advice on financial planning with kids is have an approach, have a plan. The old saying, "If you're failing to plan, you're planning to fail." That's so true. You don't have to be an expert in personal finance to help your kids have a basic knowledge of money. You don't have to be an expert on college to navigate that well.
It takes some education. It takes some research but there are a ton of resources and gobs of resources for training your kids in basic finance. If you are getting ready for college, you will make your life so much easier and your kids' lives so much easier if you have a plan to get through college. Why you're there? What you're doing in college? What's the end goal? Too many people get to college with no plan or they don't teach their kids anything about money. They don't tell them anything that any adult would know. They failed to pass on that common knowledge that adults have about money.
Dustin
I want to dive in further because it's not every day that you get to talk to somebody that graduates first in their class yet first in their class as a lawyer or pursuing a law degree. How did you pull that off? What advice do you have for kids and parents as well?
Micah
A lot of it starts before you get into law school or even college. I've been blessed because I have had good study habits and good time management habits most of my life. Part of that was helpful because I was homeschooled. When you're homeschooled, you're forced to be a self-motivator and a self-mover, whereas if you let yourself in school, you let other people run your education. You do what you're told, but you don't put anything into it. A part of it is you can start now especially for law school. A good reading comprehension, good analytical and logical skills are helpful. You can develop and hone those even when you're younger.
I was also blessed in law school. I did well. I had a knack for it. I also was able to study a little bit more efficiently than other people. There are a lot of concepts that will help you in your career as well. Things like chunking, where you are able to push aside distractions well and devote two hours to a thing. Taking smart breaks, little things can help you no matter what it is. Some of those things helped me through law school. Law school is a whole different ballgame than undergrad. You have to love it. You have to want to be there. You have to work hard. It's a lot of hours especially at the school I went to.
Dustin
Going hand in hand with school and especially getting advanced degrees like you are doing, your family is known for being able to exit college debt-free. All of your family members or all of the siblings at least have exited college debt-free. You're pursuing advanced degrees. Even in pursuing your law degree and other certificates and things like that, have you been able to make it?
Micah
I'm trying to buckle down and figure it out for my next one. I'm about to enroll in Master's of Law, which most people don't know about. It's essentially a one-year specialized program, post-law school, which is helpful. I want to get into tax. Tax is complicated as I'm sure you know. It can be helpful if you want to be a tax lawyer to get an extra year in that field. I've been debt-free partially because I stuck to my family's playbook of being disciplined about what classes you're taking, charting the path that you want and what your plan is. I stayed at home during college so I didn't rack up room and board. I went to the local state school, which is a bit cheaper. I did the same thing in law school. I went to a smaller law school, not as well-known. I got a good scholarship from that school.
This time around I thought it's my last degree. I want a little bit of the prestige of a better well-known school, especially with this degree that every lawyer doesn't get. I decided I'm going to Georgetown, which is the number two program for a tax Master's of Law is what the degree is called. I'd say I may not be able to get out of it completely debt-free, partially because my situation is a little bit different. I'm married. I've got a seven-month-old. My family expenses are a lot more. I implemented some of our tactics. I was able to negotiate with them to get it a lot bigger scholarship than they first offered me. Not everybody knows that you can negotiate with schools. Sometimes you can get a lot more money especially if you have other offers. I was able to reduce my expenses quite a bit. I'm not sure yet.
Dustin
Congratulations on this success and in many areas of your life. Ellen created a course with us here at WealthFit that walks people through how they can be mindful of getting out of college debt-free. You had mentioned negotiating. I'm curious around negotiating is one of the strategies to be able to go through college debt-free. What leverage do you have?
Micah
The most important thing is I was honest about them. I had a good offer from another school, whose tuition was a lot cheaper and who is ranked about comparable. It wasn't any big thing that I did. I even emailed them. I didn't even talk to them on the phone, which may even have been better. I said, "It's going to be way cheaper for me to go over here. They gave me a scholarship. Are you willing to match it?" They can say no. Oftentimes they do. I had a sense that they were interested in me. It seemed like they wanted me to come. I was honest with them. I was like, "Here are the facts. Money talks. I'm going to have to go somewhere else even though you're my first choice because it's way cheaper and it makes more sense." They came back and gave me essentially everything I asked for. I couldn't exactly say no when I got my full offer.
Dustin
Micah, I appreciate you sharing that because a lot of the mindset you hear in the news nowadays or you hear from the community society that it's getting so competitive to get into schools. A lot of people may be afraid to ask. The fact is if you don't ask, you don't get and you did. They could have said no. They're not going to take it away from you, the odds are.
Micah
You have to overcome the feeling that you're being ungrateful because that's what holds you back. The worst that can happen is they say no. No one is going to withdraw their offer or kick you out of the program that you got accepted to. It is helpful to have other options. There's no harm in asking and that's true for a lot of things in life. We miss out on stuff simply by not even having the courage to ask for it and that's big. It's not ungrateful to ask for more money. It's being reasonable, telling them what your options are and having other options. It's not a bad thing to negotiate with schools.
Dustin
You've said your mind will make you rich or poor depending on how you use it, how so?
Micah
The older I get, the more important I realize mindset is. I've seen it in the business world. There are authors that talk about grit, which is stick-to-itiveness. You have the mindset of not quitting. Also in finance, there's this idea of having an abundance mindset rather than a scarcity mindset, which is at its root about being optimistic instead of pessimists. Mindset is crucial for finance. You've even seen it if you've ever read Rich Dad, Poor Dad or Think and Grow Rich. Once again, it comes down to human nature. We always underestimate what we can do in the long-term and overestimate what we can do in the short term.
You have to have this mindset that it is possible for me to get out of debt. It is possible for me to start saving money. It is possible if you want that to become financially rich. A lot of what holds people back is this idea that things are always going to be the way that they are. I'm never getting out of this neighborhood and getting out of this income level. If I tried to start a business, it would fail. At its core, it’s our fear of failure. You have to get out of that mindset of being terrified to try. Anyone who has ever been successful is basically a repeat failure. They fail until they succeed. The only real failure is if you stay there if you don't try again. That applies to personal finance. That applies to wealth in general. You have to get over this mindset that you can't do it because that'll hold you back more than anything else in your life. Internally, it’s what holding you back in life. Everything that's external is an obstacle to overcome.
Dustin
Micah, is it grit? Let's say I didn't have a great upbringing. Maybe I didn't get influence positive or money-related positivity from my environment where I was. I'm reading this interview for the first time and I hear you saying, "If you want to change your trajectory in life, you have to adopt a different mindset." Is it more about making the decision or are there some tactical or some things that one can do that says, "Yes, I'm making this decision?"
Micah
Mindset is the first step. It is the first major hurdle. My dad always told us, "You can't be a victim." As soon as you think of yourself as a victim, you're going to lose. It is absolutely tougher for some people. It is tougher for people who don't have this background, who didn't grow up in a financial family but it is possible for anybody. You're going to have to work harder than some other people. As far as steps to achieving that, one of them is getting this course because we're going to help you with the specifics. We're going to help you with cashflow, the little things.
If you get a hand on your cashflow, if you get a hand on your debt, if you start reading, start learning about finance and how it works and how it moves, those little things are going to snowball into bigger things. That's in my experience how wealth gets built. There are very few get-rich-quick schemes. There are very few overnight successes. If you peel the layers back, you realize that they weren't overnight successes. They are people that were laying the groundwork for years. Overnight they were discovered, but they had laid the groundwork for years before they made it.
Dustin
I always have absorbed this one when talking about this. Someone presented to me and it's the band that you hear about the overnight success, no one tells the story of when they were in Michigan. It's twenty degrees out or twenty below and there's snow out. They're playing in some dive bar with three people. No one ever wants to talk about that. It's like, "They're on a worldwide tour now." I believe you're exactly right, Micah. There are a lot of seeds that get sown. There are a lot of things that go into the success that you see nowadays. You're spot on about that. I want to ask you how was your mindset? We're always growing as people. How was your mindset transformed as of late?
Micah
For me, it's a bit of letting go of even a little bit of residual pessimism myself especially career-wise, working on these things. I've harbored a little bit of, "That's not going to work. It's not going to go anywhere." I'll give you an example. Even this financial planning course for young adults has been something that Ellen and I have worked on for years. We started with a newsletter. We transitioned to a book. We've been working for a long time. It's easy to slip into, “This is something that is going to be internal for our friends and people that we know.” It's exciting to work on something for a while without any payback and to finally get to share it with the world is cool. I've encouraged, even myself because you can slip back into believing something is not going to work. You even slip back into not trying for the fear of failure, even if you've overcome that in the past and in other areas, it can slip back in. You have to keep watching on your mindset every day and every week. That's been encouraging to me. I didn't realize that I was slipping into that.
Dustin
I don't want to give you an out because that it doesn't seem like you would take them out anyway. If there's something to be said and forgive me here, attorneys get a bad rap in society overall, doesn’t your training push you down the road of pessimism?
Micah
That is a little fair. My dad is an attorney and not a pessimist at all. When I was a kid, he'd be able to spot risks everywhere. He'd be like, "What is this business doing? They're about to get sued for this. There's water all over the floor." A lot of attorneys can get jaded and have a negative view of the world. That's not the training's fault. What being an attorney does for you is it helps you understand risks. That doesn't mean you have to give in to fear or to back down from things. It helps you understand what obstacles are out there so you can protect yourself against them. Part of it's the attorney's lifestyle. A lot of them work too much and see the negatives of society. It's not inevitable for sure.
Dustin
In the Financial Adulting Course that you mentioned that you and Ellen created for us here at WealthFit, you brought up the Debt Snowball Method as a way to get out of debt. I would love for you to explain a little bit of the Debt Snowball Method and why you like that over the avalanche or the tsunami and why are they all named after weather events?
Micah
I don't know this for certain, but the Debt Snowball came out first, got big and popular. Dave Ramsey popularized it. Everybody else took his cue and named theirs after a weather event. How the Debt Snowball works are that you take essentially your smallest balance and you pay what you have to on the other balances. You throw all your extra cash into the smallest balance. If you have a debt that's $300, a debt that's $2,000 and a debt that's $30,000, you start with the $300. You pay that off as soon as you can. What you do and why it's called the snowball, is all those extra payments that you were making on the $300, you flip into the $2,000. You do that again once the $2,000 debt is paid off so the whole thing snowballs. You pick up speed. You pick up momentum. You start paying stuff off.
The tsunami and the avalanche, I forget which is which. One of them I've always heard that is the highest interest first strategy. The other one I've heard is you pay off the one that's emotionally significant. There's no wrong answer if you're paying off your debt, you're not doing it wrong. The reason why Ellen and I love the Debt Snowball is I would call the early victory effect. It boosts your enthusiasm for the process if you can see one of those balances drop off. It's all psychological. “I usually paid one out of five debts off,” is a lot more powerful than, “I paid $100 or $300 from five debts.”
On the net, maybe I paid off the same amount of money but psychologically, it feels like I haven't made a dent. It's so important in anything that you're going to try to get early wins because that will encourage you to stick with the process. That's why we like it the most. People are going to be so encouraged when they drop off one or two out of their five or six debts. They're going to be like, "This is working. We can make this work." They get out of that poverty mindset that says, "We're going to be stuck in debt forever." They think, "We're doing this." That's the best part of the Debt Snowball. It might not be the mathematically best way to do it. It's emotionally, the internal enthusiasm, the best way to do it.
Dustin
When you figured it out, whether it's the snowball, avalanche, tsunami or whatever the next weather event will be and you're like, "Life is good," meaning that you've paid all your debt off and you're at this stage in your life where you're stashing cash. Some people call this your emergency, stockpiling or some other fancy terms. I love how you broke it down, where you talk about the three different versions of you. Will you walk us through that?
Micah
I have to give credit to Ellen for this because she's done a lot of great work on this. Essentially, we like to think of our financial selves in like the three mes. That's the present me, the midterm or the intermediate me and the long-term me. What a lot of people do is they neglect one of these three. Some people are like excellent, long-term savers. They've got retirement funds. They're maxing everything out long-term. They might even be doing okay in the near future with their daily life but they're neglecting things that are going to come up in three to five years. They're neglecting saving for their car, saving for a house, saving for even vacation, travel or something that's coming out on the horizon.
Other people neglect the long-term. They're saving for their house, their car. They're doing well in the present. They aren't saving for retirement. They've forgotten about that. Finally, some people are miserly. They're stocking everything away into savings. They're feeling guilty about all their purchases. Every time they spend money on the now, it racks them with guilt about it. You don't want to be too future-oriented and chip the now itself because sometimes bad things happen and all that money you stocked away vanish. You can't put everything into the future because you may never even get to it. What we do with this concept is to make sure that we're not chipping one of those three. We're putting away cash for retirement. We're putting away savings for the midterm. We're living a good life. You can do all three. It takes planning. It takes a little bit of work.
Dustin
When it comes to executing on that, you've got to make better financial decisions. Sometimes, it's emotional like you're at the restaurant and you see the big steak and it's been a stressful day and all that. You've got a way of removing emotion and make it simple. What is that?
Micah
I'm talking about two things right there. One of them, which I have to super encourage everybody to read the course. Our cashflow model is going to help you when you come to that point of what am I going to spend on myself. Ellen goes through it. She talks a lot about essentially taking care of your fixed expenses at the beginning of the month, setting up your major bills to be due in the first few days of the month. In that way, once you come down to your discretionary spending, you can spend without guilt. You start with the future me and the midterm me. It's not even a budget. It's a lot better than a budget because you don't have to get out a calculator and take everything down to the cent.
After you've paid off all those fixed expenses, you can get that steak without guilt because you've got the money for it. Secondly, as far as taking the emotion out of decisions, especially for bigger decisions, we recommend using what I call decision matrix. It's this idea that I learned in college from an operations management professor. It involves listing what's important to you in the decision out as factors and using this worksheet that we've created to take some of the second guessing out of your decisions.
In the background, whenever you are making a decision, you're evaluating factors. Let's say you're buying a car, “What's important to me? I want a car that's great on gas mileage and has great trunk space.” Whereas if you're making that decision without the matrix, you might be led astray by your emotions to get the car that's more expensive, that looks nicer but might not be what you need and what's important to you. The decision matrix essentially helps you make that explicit, makes you see that, “Gas mileage was the most important factor for me. If I'm going with this car that gets bad gas mileage, maybe I've made a mistake somewhere along the way.”
Dustin
Speaking of cars, a big part of buying a car is credit. Obviously, credit is such a factor in so many things nowadays, your job, buying a house, any loan consideration there. You've got some ideas and strategies around optimizing or boosting your credit score. Would you share some of that?
Micah
My sister, Ellen, is the expert on credit scores. She can dive into it. She does in the course. I'll tell you to pay your bills on time. Don't get into a ton of debt and get behind because that's the biggest factor. That'll torpedo your credit score. If you're delinquent, if you don't pay your bills, that's what credit companies and banks are especially not going to like because at its core, the credit score is a trust score. Companies are looking at that thinking, "Is this a person that I can trust to pay me back?" That's why a big factor is your credit history. They want to know, if you haven't paid people back in the past, you're probably not going to do it in the future. The biggest thing is don't get behind on credit card payments. Don't get behind on your bills. Pay those things off.
Dustin
I know it's a big no to ask you for advice, but I'm going to ask anyway because it will be fun. The advice is you hear people that have things on their credit report that aren't accurate. Do you feel in this day and age, it's necessary to hire an attorney to go after those things? Can somebody do this themselves? Should they go to a credit agency? What's your advice on maybe things that are not truthful on your credit report?
Micah
As an attorney, I have to tell you, I can't give you legal advice. We had a mandatory ethics webinar, new attorneys had to do in DC. They went through all this stuff. You should absolutely get inaccuracies taken care of. I don't have the personal expertise to tell you about whether you need an attorney to do that. I haven't done it myself. That's not the area of law I've studied. I can't tell you for certain. It never hurts to have an attorney basically for anything. They're only going to help you. The only question is can you afford it and do you think the expense is worth it? I'll tell you broadly too many parts of life and people suffer from being underrepresented. I can tell you they're not going to hurt. If you get one that knows what they're doing and has expertise in that area, the only thing you're going to be out is your attorney's fees and you know that upfront. You may need to consider it an investment. Evaluate whether the change that you're after is worth it. As an example, whether to get an attorney for traffic ticket or not, you may want to decide is paying $200 for the attorney worth getting $150 ticket removed? You have to decide.
Dustin
That’s great advice is taking that factor in, is it worth to do it? It's not necessarily is it right or wrong or do you want to be justified and the outcome of it but removing as much emotion. You have an understanding of managing risk and using insurance to do so. What do people need to consider when it comes to managing risk and moving into the insurance process?
Micah
Especially for our audience in the course, which is financial adulting, people that are getting into insurance and don't know a lot about it, is to understand the point of insurance, which is to manage risk. I recommend for especially young people or people who are getting on their financial feet that you stick with what the insurance is designed for. For instance, life insurance is designed to protect your family in the case that you were to pass away prematurely. It's designed to replace the income that you would have earned if you had lived throughout your career. That's what it is designed for. If you don't have anybody depending on you, you don't need life insurance because you don't have anybody that needs the income that you would have made.
Dustin
We're big fans of life insurance. We have a big audience. We have folks that are coming to understand about money maybe early in their careers. We have folks that are retirement age. They're doing some investing. They want to be better with their money. We're big into different forms of life insurance as a vehicle to invest with as a tax vehicle, as a way to compound some of the things that you're doing there. What are your thoughts about those, for folks that are ready for that conversation?
Micah
Especially for the audience that we had, we come to this thinking, "In order to afford the insurance you need, you're probably going to need term insurance. For others that are more sophisticated, it is more fact dependent. I took business planning in law school. I've taken some higher-level planning classes and more sophisticated insurance vehicles can help you with specific objectives. Once again, especially in an area that you can benefit from experts who can tell you what vehicle to use. You're going to dive into your specifics especially with taxes and using insurance as an investment. You need to understand your whole investment portfolio, plan and execution. I don't think you can make those decisions without knowing all those factors.
Dustin
You said it best, it's dependent on your situation. The audience that we had in mind when we put the course although it's applicable to everyone anyway, one can benefit, someone that's getting started. We do want to plant that seed. That's why we exist at WealthFit is to introduce people to all different types of vehicles and forms. Point taken is, if you're in bad debt, you ought to work on getting yourself to the point where you can breathe and you can be thinking about where to place your money. What are you most excited about? What are you working on?
Micah
I've got lots of things I'm excited about. One of them is I'm going back to school. I'm excited to learn a lot about tax and the way it functions. That's got me excited. I'm working on a few things. I'm writing a novel.
Dustin
What's the subject matter?
Micah
It's a young adult novel. I'm not all the way through. I enjoy writing. I would like to get back to a book on planning, especially estate planning and financial planning. After I finished school, I'd like to get into that. I'm taking a lot of things I grew up learning and applying them in my career especially with this course, helping young people who are often under helped when it comes to financial planning to help them get the resources they need to do this well. There are a lot going on and I’m pretty excited about it.
Dustin
I want to move us into WealthFit round. It’s essentially my way of saying rapid-fire questions. What has been your most worthwhile investment?
Micah
It's my own education. I was talking with my dad about a little bit of money I'd saved up for school. I was like, "I could get into the market at the right point and do well." We laughed. We're like, "Let's say for instance, I was able to double this little bit of money I had or even ten times it, that's not going to last me very long because of the size of the money I have." If I invested in this extra degree, it could skyrocket my career. Always invest in yourself when you get the chance.
Dustin
It's taking a look at what you think the return is in investing in yourself is obviously can be a very powerful one. What is the investment you would rather not talk about? Where's that misstep?
Micah
It was the year after college, we had a friend who was convinced that the US government was going to revalue the Iraqi Dinar. They were going to peg it to the dollar somehow. If you owned their currency, which is virtually worthless at the time and it revalued, it would be worth a lot of money. It was probably less than $1,000. Right after college, it was a lot of money. I bought options or something because the return sounded pretty ridiculously great. It probably had the possibility of happening. Right after that is when ISIS took over most of Iraq and needless to say, that idea didn't go anywhere in the US government. I did lose all of that money.
Dustin
You didn’t even get to set an option so you didn't even get the paper money. Your house isn't aligned with the Iraqi Dinar?
Micah
I didn't get anything.
Dustin
When you're not investing in Iraqi Dinar and life is good, what's your guilty spending splurge?
Micah
I like going out to eat. I referenced that probably because it's the one for me. Obviously, there's nothing wrong with it if you've got a room for it in your budget. It's such a fun event. I get lazy when it comes to cooking. I love to pick up and go out to eat.
Dustin
At your point in life, you've been incredibly successful. Part of being successful is learning how to say no. Where have you become better at saying no to things?
Micah
Partially, I've become better at saying yes because I tend not to spend a lot of money on stuff. Overall, I've been better about knowing when to buy things especially quality. It's interesting because if you spend a little bit more money on quality things, you can end up spending less money in the long-term. I used to buy the worst version of everything. It would break in a month. You buy two of them. It's way more expensive than the one good one. Knowing how to spot quality and to invest in things that are going to last a little bit.
Dustin
I want to thank you big time for being on the show. You've shared a lot of wisdom. I want to encourage folks that are here to check out yours and Ellen's course in the WealthFit library. For folks that want to keep tabs with what you're up to, what is the best way for them to do that?
Micah
You can obviously follow my dad and my sister's company, they're Long Business Advisors. I'm personally online in social media, Micah Long. You'd probably find me. Since I'm going into school, since I'm working right now for a different company, I don't have my own website or anything like that. The best way to find me is probably through my sister, Ellen. She's much better at these things.
Dustin
I appreciate you coming on and obviously doing what you do, inspiring the next generation, getting after and understanding the Tax Code. That's a very developed thing that you have that I don't have and I'm appreciative that someone is doing it so that we all can get the benefit from that.
Micah
Thank you. It's been a blast.

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