EPISODE 341

How to Protect Your Money and Retire Wealthy with Todd Skousen

Episode Summary

In this episode, we delve into Stephen’s past, his love for learning, his dislike for school, and how being labeled as “learning disabled” in elementary school propelled his career. Stephen shares his thoughts on how to build positive and influential leadership skills, how to engage with remote teams, and the most effective ways to build relationships in the workspace.

Rob Shallenberger:  Welcome back to our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners. So grateful you’re able to join us today for this podcast — it’s going to be a big deal. One of the things that is a common denominator amongst almost everyone I talked with is money and finances. It’s the world in which we live, which we all know, it’s not the source of happiness, but it sure does help to be in a comfortable situation. It allows us to do a lot of things, and so we all acknowledge that money is a big deal in our current society and world. So, we have an expert today who’s here to talk to us about money. And in addition to money, a lot of the things that go along with that: mindset, planning, and a lot of other things related to that. And one of the reasons why we’re so excited to have Todd here today is because I wish this was something that they taught in high school, I wish this was stuff that people learn more about in college because a lot of people — unless they really go out and look for it — are not financially literate. And it’s a mystery area for a lot of people. So, we’re on here to address that today. And again, we have someone who’s just really well-versed in this arena. So, let me introduce Todd Skousen. We’re excited to have him as a guest. I’ll read just a little bit of his background, and then we’ll have him share anything else he would like to share with us. So, just a little background on Todd. Todd joined Links Consulting in 2013. I happen to know his partner and some of the other people that are part of Links Consulting — so, a great organization. And he’s currently a principal and managing partner there. He helps businesses and individuals design and implement financial strategies that really do the things we just talked about: grow, protect, and distribute their wealth. He also — separate to that — manages a financial software company that helps individuals accumulate wealth, even in volatile markets. And that’s another area that we’re talking about in financial literacy — it’s like, “What do I do? Buy and hold? Do I give it all to a financial manager?” What do you do? So, he’s going to talk a little bit about that. He graduated from Brigham Young University. He’s got an MBA from Northwestern Kellogg School of Management. And this is always the one I love, very telling: his wife, Jo Lynn, and he has six children, 10 grandchildren, and he likes what we like, which is pickleball and mountain biking. So, Todd, welcome to the podcast. 

Todd Skousen: Hey, thanks for having me on today. I’ve been excited to come on and join you today. 

Rob Shallenberger: Well, we’re looking forward to this. Let’s jump right into this. Todd, we just alluded to right there in the introduction that financial literacy is a big thing for a lot of people. A lot of people are saying, “How do I take care of my money? How do I accumulate money? How do I handle retirement?” So many people are living paycheck to paycheck, and even for those who aren’t, it’s still a real mystery for a lot of people. So, let’s see if we can help some folks out here today on the podcast. And along those lines, there’s so much information on how to become financially stable. You can go to YouTube, you can go on the internet and type that in and get thousands of responses, and sometimes it can be confusing. So, from your perspective and experience, Todd, doing this and helping people for years, where does someone start? 

Todd Skousen: I agree with you. I wish we would have learned this when we were younger. There’s a great book called “The Richest Man of Babylon” that my father had me read, and it was basically, always pay yourself 10%. And if you would just pay yourself 10%, in essence, in a savings plan, you would be very well off. So, I wish that we would learn more sooner. And that’s kind of what I love to do. I work with large organizations, large corporations; I work with individuals who sold their companies for lots of money, but I also love to help college students. Summer sales is a big deal, and I’ve helped a lot of individuals in our area that do summer sales and make a lot of money in what you do. So, I really enjoy working with the individual as well and try and help train on some of these basic principles. So, the very first thing is, I liken it to a house. Let’s just start building a financial house, and then what do you do? The first thing we do is we develop a blueprint or a plan. And if we can develop a good solid plan, then we can start building the house we want to build. So, what part of the house? Well, the most important part of the house is the foundation, so we work a lot on the foundation of cement. And the very basis, the most important thing of a financial plan is being a good saver. If we can be a world-class saver, which means we don’t put money at risk. Every time we earn something, you talk about paycheck to paycheck, which is most of us that exist, we live paycheck to paycheck. But if we will just start, the first part of that plan is just save. Save doesn’t mean put the money at risk either; save means put it in a place where it’ll eventually grow. And it’s amazing if someone can be a world-class saver, which means put 10% to 15% of their money in an account that can never lose — wow! If all of us did that, just that alone, we would be ahead. But going further, if we will then look at all parts of the house: how are we protecting ourselves? How are we growing our assets? How are we putting money in play? Because a lot of people then say, “Well, with this crazy market, I’m just going to put money under my mattress, or I’m just going to keep it in cash.” Well, guess what? We have double-digit inflation, and that’s not going down anytime soon — so, if you put it in cash, you’re going to lose that way. So, you need to look at all the elements, build a plan, and then execute the plan. So, that’s the first place we start. 

Rob Shallenberger: As you talk about a foundation, I loved that you said this. The Richest Man in Babylon — interestingly, my father also paid me to read that book and give him a little report when I was a teenager. It’s interesting that you shared that as a foundation. It’s such a simple principle but it’s one of those that I’m not sure has lived very often — in fact, the research says it’s not — and that is “Spend less than you earn.” And the thing is if we’re in that habit, Todd — and I know you know this in the world you’re in — if we’re in that habit where our revenues rise but our expenditures rise to meet our income, we’re in no better position; maybe bigger boys, bigger toys, whatever the adage is, but expenditures can always rise to meet income. Whether it’s $1 million, $10 million, $50 million, expenditures can rise to meet income. 

Todd Skousen: And typically, it will. I work with a lot of professionals, that as their income rises, so do their expenses — just like you said, the bigger house, the more toys. My dad, by the way, is an accounting professor at Brigham Young University. He wrote books on accounting, so he’s very solid financially. He used to say that all the time: “You have two options: you can either earn more or spend less, but your deficit has to be in the black, not the red.” And that can apply to anyone that’s trying to get ahead financially, and we always have to keep that in mind. If you are living above your means, you’re not going to go anywhere; if you’re taking too much risk, you’re not going to go anywhere. So, that fundamental principle of saving, which means you do have a positive every month, every year; you’re going to get ahead. 

Rob Shallenberger: So, the foundation, if I understood correctly, is; number one, spend less than you earn; number two is to start setting aside 10$ to 15%, at a minimum, of what you make, and that at least starts building — it starts the momentum going the right direction; and then number three is to have a plan, of which, spending less than you earn is part of the plan and saving 10% to 15% is part of the plan. Did I capture that correctly? 

Todd Skousen: Perfectly. And it sounds so simple, but people just don’t do it, they just don’t do it. And if they would just start there, they would be so so much farther ahead. 

Rob Shallenberger: Especially, if they’re starting this in their 20s or 30s, where you have the compounding effect of interest and so on. Let’s talk expenses. What are going to be some of the greatest expenses that we see in our life? Because there are obvious things — toys, whatever the case might be. But let’s talk about expenses, what are some of the greatest expenses in our lives? 

Todd Skousen: Well, it’s interesting, and I’ve done a lot of research on this, but what people don’t realize is the biggest expense in your life will be taxes. And people don’t really look at that as an expense, but it is, and it’s a big one. So, it doesn’t matter where you live, whether the United States or around the world, and I know you have this global podcast, but taxes are going to be your number one biggest expense. So, if that’s the case, then one of the things we like to do is look at that sooner than later. Let me give you an example. I put together a very simple presentation, and I call it the trees. So, I have read trees, yellow trees, green trees — just to keep it really simple. And what happens is, in order to get a tree that produces fruit, you first have a seed. So, if you look at red seeds that grow the red trees, what I consider that is your traditional 401K; we call them “qualified accounts,” meaning we’re going to defer the tax today and defer the tax on the growth, and then at the end, we’re going to spend. So, that’s what we call a red tree. Well, accountants love red trees, we love red trees — or red seeds, I should say — because we’re deferring, but you have to pay the piper at some point. So, everyone, if you just put everything into red today to try and save tax today, you’re going to be in trouble in the end. So, that’s what a red tree is. A yellow tree is something like real estate, stocks, mutual funds, even your savings account at your bank would be considered a yellow. You know how at the end of the year, you get a 1099 from your bank that says, “You’ve made $2 in interest this year, but you’ve got to pay tax on it.” That’s a yellow tree. So, what will happen is you’ll pay tax today and you’ll form a new basis. So, that’s what we consider a yellow tree. And then a green tree is something where we pay after tax on the seed, and then it grows tax deferred. But then when you cash out, you’re not paying taxes. And really the two biggest instruments on that would be either life insurance or a raw retirement account would work as a green. So, what I like to say is, “Well, let’s look at things today, let’s balance, so we know when we retire, we’re going to know how we’re going to receive the income and how we’re going to get taxed.” Let me give you an example. If you put everything in red — I have clients come to me and they say, “Hey, Todd, I’ve saved my entire life. Here’s $500,000 in a 401k account. I have $500,000 to augment my retirement.” I say, “No, you don’t. You have $500,000 minus the tax you’re going to pay, which now we’re in a higher tax bracket than maybe when you’d deferred along the way.” So, I don’t want to overcomplicate it, but we do like to look at and have a lot of color in our strategy. We need red today, we need yellow, and we need green. And if we have all the colors in this retirement plan, we’re going to minimize our tax obligation or do the best we can. So, we’re going to have to all pay taxes at some point, how do we do it? What’s the best way? And that should all be part of the plan because that is your number one expense. 

Rob Shallenberger: So, being aware that the taxes are going to be the number one expense in our lives, how does a person who’s listening to this podcast start preparing for retirement? Rather than like you just use the example of someone that shows up with a $500,000 401K at age 60 or whatever age they are, how does someone be proactive about this? So, if we have someone that’s in their 30s, that’s listening to this; if we have someone that’s 40-45, in their 20s, where do they start? 

Todd Skousen: Well, what I like to look at when I’m preparing for retirement is having the end in mind when you do that. So, here’s a typical mindset, this is the way we’ve kind of been trained: We want to accumulate as much assets as possible, sometimes people will call it a nest egg. And then the idea is to just live off the “interest” that those assets will give us, and we’ll all live happily ever after. Well, that’s not necessarily the case, and we don’t have time to get into all the reasons. But there’s a thing called “sequence of returns” where the markets going to fluctuate, so you don’t want to ever spend down your assets in a down market. So, if you’re returning this year and the market is down double digits, then there would be a bad time to start spending your assets down. So, when I say “end in mind,” it’s a very simple principle that looks like this: What is the output? What am I getting from my assets? That’s much more important than how big of an asset base or a kingdom that I’ve built because you can actually retire on a lot less if you have that mindset. Let me give you an example. I have a million dollars in a retirement account. If I say I’m going to spend that asset down in a very productive way, let’s say, I can actually get more money than if I had $5 million in an asset. So, you have to say, “What is the output going to be? What is the actual net to my household?” I’ll give you another example with what we just talked about — the 401k example. If I have $500,000 in that retirement account I said and it’s going to get taxed at a 36% rate, what am I really bringing into my household? What if that $500,000 was in a green tree asset? I would receive all $500,000. So, that’s what I like to teach is, what is the end in mind? What is the output going to be? And it’s not so much about the asset, but the cash flow that you’re going to get out of it. 

Rob Shallenberger: So, if we were able to break that down in layman’s terms, again, for someone that’s not in this world, because this could sound confusing to some people. You say output and cash flow versus assets. Some people are going to say, “Okay, you lost me at ‘cash flow versus assets’.” Let’s see if we can break this down just a little easier for someone that may not have the background as to what some of these terms might mean. What would be, again, the best way to start? I mean, I love what you said, I’m just trying to break it down in a little bit easier terms for someone that may not be familiar with certain terms. And let’s use a real example. Say someone’s making $100,000 a year, what would they need to be thinking about? So, in the end, what are we going to need exactly? And then what? 

Todd Skousen: If you’re making $100,000 today and you want to make $100,000 after you retire, then what we need to do is plan on building an asset base that will produce the $100,000. But we take everything into consideration, not just the actual what you’re earning, but also the taxation, which is part of it. So, to simplify it — and again, to put it in layman’s terms — I want to build a plan where I can see that $100,000 to continue to come into my household, not worry about $100,000 minus taxes. It’s “I’m depending on that $100,000 if the market produces this amount for the year or this percentage,” because some years, it’s simply not going to, like this year. So, that’s what I’m trying to say. Does that help make it easier? Is it still confusing? 

Rob Shallenberger: It makes a lot more sense. So, you’re really taking an asset base that you would need to create, develop, grow, to produce that cash flow of that amount that someone’s looking for — that target. So, again, let’s take a person that maybe is somewhat familiar with finances or not familiar at all, what would be their starting point? They say, “That’s great. I mean, I get it. Yes, we need to do that. How? How in the world do I even start? Do I talk to someone? Do I go read a book? Do I open an account somewhere?” And maybe we’re taking it down to too low of a level, but I found that sometimes it’s better to start simple and then build. So, this can get very complex, when you’re talking about wealth management, financial planning, and a lot of different things. But if you’re talking with someone at a more basic level, what should they do next from here? 

Todd Skousen: That’s a great question. A really good starting point is to pretend that we’re going to draw a straight line on a white piece of paper. We just have a white sheet piece of paper and we’re going to draw a line. And on the left, we’re going to say, “Where is my predictable income going to come from when I retire?” And on the right side of the line, we’re going to say, “Okay, here’s my growth money.” So, then what I do is I say, “Okay, how much do I want to live on?” And I’m going to build a predictable plan. So, it could come from Social Security, it could come from a pension, it could come from real estate that I’ve bought and I’m getting rentals, it could come from things that I can count on. And that’s what I call my predictable side. So, let’s just simplify and say, “I need $5,000 a month to eat and to live, and that’s kind of my base bucket.” So, now I’m going to build on that left side of that ledger a predictable income stream that I know that I can count on. Well, now, my very basis of existence is covered at this point. Now, on the right side, I’m going to say, “Okay, now how can I grow?” That’s my investment side. So, now I’m going to maybe invest in a business; maybe I’m going to invest in myself working in a business, be self-employed; maybe I’m going to put money in the market, just flat out buy stocks and bonds like a lot of people do. And that’s going to be my growth side. So, now, in a very simple manner, I know that my left side is “I’m going to be taken care of and I’m going to be able to exist.” And then my right side, “I’m going to be able to grow.” I like to divide the two in a retirement scenario because I just don’t want to mix all my money together because the number one fear that people have, Rob, is that they’re going to run out of money — that’s the number one fear — people lose sleep at night. You just can’t have a comfortable happy life if you feel like you’re going to run out of money. So, if you can divide that line, and on the left side, say, “This is what’s predictable.” And then on the right side, “Now, I can take some risks, I can grow, I can do some other things.” It makes my mindset a lot clearer as I’m preparing for retirement. 

Rob Shallenberger: I love that, Todd. So, really, it’s going back to your answer. The very first topic we talked about was establishing a plan. You talked about building that plan. So, this is what I’m getting at is, someone can start thinking about what that “end in mind” looks like, and certainly, if they need to enlist someone like you, Links Consulting, or any other financial planner or manager, they’re a Google search away. There are all kinds of people that can help; there are good ones and bad ones, of course, as we know, just like anything else. But the point is to start with what does the plan look like? And what is the base? Because just by doing that, someone starts automatically asking in their mind the right questions, which is, “If there’s a gap on how I’m gonna get there, what do I need to do?” Maybe I’m 25 years old, and I need to start grinding — like get a second job, that’ll start moving the needle, or have a conversation about maybe a potential raise in six months. But the point is, it starts creating ideas in the mind of, “Alright, what do I need to do to get there?” Rather than just continuing to say, “Alright, here’s the money in and there goes the money out, and I’m treading water.” So, I love what you’re saying there, Todd, because at least it starts the mind moving in the direction of “Alright, it’s time to start taking action, and what do we need to do to get there? Rather than just living paycheck to paycheck, which so many people do.” Let’s shift gears just a little bit here, Todd. Right now, at least up to this point, in 2022, I know people will listen to this down the road, we’ll see where things are at then, but at least for now, when people listen to this, you got a market that’s been rising, primarily, in a bull market since about 2009-ish. The pandemic drop that lasted about 45 days-ish, so there’s been little pullbacks. But really, it’s been a rising bull market. So, someone who’s been in the market, five years, eight years is all they’ve known is a bull market — it just goes up. Well, this is the first year that people have really seen that that’s not always the case, that things can turn and there is such thing as what’s called a bear market. So, I’m sure there are a lot of people that have been burned this year, they’re looking at their 401K, which is not a 301K or a 201K, and other things like that. And they’re thinking, “Man, what the heck do I do? Do I pull my money out?” I know there are a lot of people that are confused right now and saying, “What do I do with my money?” So, what would you suggest? Market goes up, market goes down, they felt the craziness of what a market really can be halfway through this year; where should people start thinking about investing? I know you’ve got Decisive Investor, I’d love for you to talk just a little bit about what that is because I’m now a customer. What are some options for people? 

Todd Skousen: It’s really, really interesting. If you’re over, let’s say, the age of 60, and you say, “Would you be happy with a 10% return or even a 6% return over your lifetime?” People would say, “Oh, that’s fantastic.” But if you get the younger generation, if you’re 30 and below, you haven’t seen anything different, and so you’re like, “Would you be happy with a 10% return?” They’re like, “No way. I need 20, I need 30, I need the crypto craze, I need the Gamestop craze. I need crazy, crazy returns.” So, there’s a lot of unrealistic expectations actually in the marketplace. But at the end of the day, if people come to me and they say, “I wish I would have got 8% instead of 6%, or even 10% over 6%, would that have changed my life?” You know what they say, Rob? They say, “I wish I wouldn’t have lost money. I wish I would have taken 4% if I had never lost money.” So, that’s going into this — that before I start to answer really the question — is we need to get back to realistic expectations of what a return is, and do things that won’t lose our wealth, meaning don’t take crazy risk that’s going to lose because, at the end of the day, people never come to me and say, “I wish I would have got 8%.” They say, “I wish I wouldn’t have lost $100,000 from my neighbor who told me to invest in this new thing.” So, in today’s market, where do we go? The market is down. Well, the first thing is we have to realize that markets will cycle, always have, and we just believe that the market will return to previous highs. Now, diversification is the key answer to your question though; we need to be diversified, we can’t have all our eggs in one basket. I don’t care how good it looks. So, I always tell people, “Find three different prongs, find four different prongs that you’re comfortable with. Don’t put everything in one prong or two prongs because if you do, you’ll eventually get burned.” If you think oil and gas is the way to go, it’s great today. A lot of people have lost everything, and so a lot of people will say, “I’m only going to do real estate. I don’t believe in the market. I’m only going to do real estate.” Well, some people have done really well and some people have got burned, so I like to say, “Be diversified, and be diversified in different things.” That’s point number one.  

Todd Skousen: So, let’s just talk now about the market, specifically investing in the stock market. One of the people that I’ve respected over the years, and I think a lot of people do just because of his track record, is Warren Buffett. So, you say, “Well, what would Warren Buffett do?’ Warren Buffett says, “Today, in my view, the best thing to do is just invest in the S&P 500 Index Fund.” It’s very low cost, and it historically is going to move in a positive direction. It will have some downturns; even in a bear market, it will have some downturns. The last significant bear market was for a long period of time was 2001, 2002, 2003. And then it started to come back a little bit. But if you look at the S&P 500 Index over a long period of time — I’m talking 20-30 years — you’re going to be in that 6% to 8% range. And if you can do that and not lose money, and you go back to where we started — we’re saving, we’re positive every month — then we’re going to be in really good shape. So, that’s one place that I would consider you can go to, a low-cost aggregator like Fidelity or Vanguard or something like that — it’s very inexpensive — and you can just invest in a S&P 500 Index Fund. So, that’s one place that I would consider. You can’t just keep all your cash on the sidelines in this time period either, or like we said, hyperinflation is going to kill us. The other thing that I’m involved in is a software product called Decisive Investor. Decisive Investor — it uses volatility of the market, and we’ve had a lot of volatility as of late. So, even when the market goes down or up, Decisive Investor, what it has you do is it has you buy “blocks” — instead of waiting for the market to go down and all the way back up, it’s going to help you earn money on small pricing movements in the marketplace. And we see small pricing movements every day. So, what we like to track is days per gain. And if we can get a positive gain every couple of days, then we’re going to be in that double-digit percentage, and that’s where we want to be. So, that’s worked very well for the past several years. And it will work in a bull market and a bear market. So, that’s why I introduced that to several of my clients because I think it’s a good diversification of a classic “buy and hold” model. It’s just a little different. And I just tell people all the time, “Hey, you shouldn’t have all your eggs in one basket, but this could be one of your baskets that works really well”, especially in a very volatile market, which we’re seeing today. 

Rob Shallenberger: Yeah, and just to highlight a couple of things you said there, Todd. Obviously, diversification is key. The other thing is the preservation of wealth; I made money and I’ve lost money, and it is no fun to lose money. At the same time, it takes a significantly higher return to make up for the lost principle. So, the preservation of capital, the preservation of the principal amount is key in long-term wealth and growth. Let’s say that you have $100,000, but you lose $50,000 of that, well, now you’re down to $50,000; you have to have 100% return to get back to where you were correct. So, now you have to have massive growth. I mean, if we lose that principle, which I know a lot of people who lost money know what I’m talking about. If we lose that principle, it becomes exponentially more difficult to get back even to where a person was. So, those are two great pieces of advice: diversification, whether it’s Decisive Investor or whatever it is, and then protecting that principle by diversification and not taking the astronomical risks. Certainly, crypto is a place to be but not where we put all our eggs in a basket — a small portion, just like gold, just like anything else. So, that’s really sage advice. I can tell you, based on my personal experience, that’s good advice, up and down. So, just briefly, Decisive Investor, if someone would like to look into that– I mean, we’re not going to talk about it for a long time, but it’s awesome, I’ve looked into it. And if someone doesn’t really have the trading knowledge, it gives someone a buy-and-hold alternative. So, rather than just throwing your money like in S&P 500 Index that you talked about, here’s an alternative that takes five minutes a day, it works really well as the market goes up and down because you’re buying in chunks, then it’s just these small gains, which, actually over the course of time, like you said, end up being much bigger gains; Rather than just buy-and-hold strategy, which, again, back to the example; you’ve got $100,000 and it goes down to $80,000, now you’ve got to make up 20% just to get back to where you were. So, Decisive Investor takes a really different approach and it’s five minutes a day. Just maybe in 30 seconds to a minute, Todd, talk about what that is and how someone could find that if they want to look a little more into it. 

Todd Skousen: Well, the easiest way, we do have a website: decisiveinvestor.com or you can just email me at todd@decisiveinvestor.com and I can then show you more about that. And people usually can decide pretty quickly if it’s something that they want to do as one of their diversification points. And like I said, I think that you need to do a lot of different things, but number one is not to lose money. I see people want to get rich quick; they throw their money away, and seriously, at the end, the two words I’ve heard more than anything else in my financial career is “I wish” — “I wish I hadn’t invested. I wish I had listened.” It’s emotion. When you have emotion and finance, it doesn’t go well together because you either get greedy or you get fearful. Those two don’t work, that’s why you have a plan and you stick to the cadence because there are so many temptations that come up, there are so many times, “Hey, if you would have only put $100 into this, you would have made this.” But they don’t tell you the 99 stories where you lost that $100 just like that. So, really, the biggest piece of advice here is don’t do speculative things. The only time you start to do that is if you’ve made enough that you don’t care if you lose it. You’ve got to go in. But there are too many people that think that’s how you get ahead. I watched my dad, who was an accounting professor at BYU. He never sold a company. He never created a lot of things that people do. But he lived the principles that we’ve been talking about today. And the reason I think I’ve been successful in planning is because he created the blueprint for me to follow. And now he’s retired and he’s done exactly what he was supposed to do — very comfortable, and it’s because he did exactly what we’ve been talking about. But he never fell for the “I want to hit it big. I want to hit that big wave.” So, therefore, he never lost any money. But he was a BYU accounting professor, that’s what he did; he just followed the steps. 

Rob Shallenberger: Stuck with the plan; the things we’re talking about. So, anybody that wants to look into Decisive Investor, I’ll just put in a little plug. Again, the website is decisiveinvestor.com or they can email you todd@decisiveinvestor.com. And it is a great software because what it does is it takes five minutes of your day, and it basically says, “Buy this ETF, sell this ETF.” All you have to do is literally follow the instructions in a fidelity account; “Buy this, put in a sell order for this,” and that’s it. Five minutes a day. So, for someone that says, “That’s not my world. I don’t know, options, I don’t know anything else.” Decisive Investor is a great tool for you to be able to manage a portion of your money and to give me one more leg of diversity. And it’s, in my opinion, so much better than just the buy-and-hold strategy, which can really write some big downs in a bear market. So, it gives you a chance to have some diversification. Anyway, for anyone that would like to look into that, decisiveinvestor.com. It’s a great software — really just basically says, “Here’s what you do,” and then you do it. 

Todd Skousen: And then sometimes people think, “Well, is it day trading?” It is not day trading. In day trading, you still follow principles but you have emotion. This takes all emotion out of trading, which is why anyone can do it, literally. I’ve had people say, “I don’t even know what an ETF means, or I’ve never been in the stock market, I’ve been afraid.” Those are the kinds of people that have been very successful because they trust and follow the system. So, it doesn’t take a lot of your time, and it has no emotion, and it’s all done for you. So, that’s why it’s been successful. 

Rob Shallenberger: I love it. So, if anyone’s interested in that, you can check that out: decisiveinvestor.com. As we get ready to wrap up, Todd, this is just a very general question. I think we’ve alluded to and touched on several points here, so maybe it’ll just be summarizing it. Becoming Your Best is the title of the company, it’s the title of our podcast. So, in that context, in becoming your best, our best, let’s look at that from the financial perspective. In the spirit of becoming the best financial versions of ourselves, any final comments?  

Todd Skousen: If you’re not financially sound, you really can’t become your best because you’re too worried. It’s just too big a part of what we do. And that’s really the passion of why I wanted to get into this is I just love seeing people get in a better place; become their best, financially. You just can’t have peace of mind if you’re financially strapped. People that have too much money, sometimes lose their way; people that don’t have enough money or are in poverty are always stressed out about money and they can’t enjoy some of the things of life. So, that’s the first thing is to be our best, we have to be sound financially. And in order to have to be our best financially, we have to have a plan, we have to have a simple plan, and then we have to execute the plan and not get distracted along the way. And if we can do that, we can be our very best in all that we do. 

Rob Shallenberger: I love it. And maybe one way to wrap up, I’m kind of putting you on the spot here a little bit. If you have to recommend three books, what would they be? So, “Richest Man in Babylon”, what would be a couple of others that someone could read? 

Todd Skousen: The Richest Man in Babylon, as far as investing, is a great book. The other one is, I’m a big fan of Warren Buffett, so The Warren Buffett Way. I’ve always enjoyed reading biographies on people that I want to emulate. I’m not the biggest investor, that’s not really part of my practice. But Warren Buffett has just done things the right way through what we’ve talked about; just sure steps. He doesn’t take a lot of risks, but he goes for the sure thing. The last book has nothing to do with finance, but if everyone would read it, they would have a great step on becoming the very best, and it’s “How Will You Measure Your Life?” By Clayton Christensen. I don’t know if you’ve ever read that one, but it’s really one of those books that I read that it’s life-changing. And I’ll go read it every two or three years because when you talk about how I want to measure my life, it’s really “What do I want to do to be my very best?” And he incorporates all facets of life in that book. So, I would highly recommend that one. 

Rob Shallenberger: Clayton is a brilliant man. Just incredible. Thank you so much, Todd. This has been excellent advice. I hope, for all those that have been listening, that you’ve gotten something out of this. Some fabulous advice here. I know that when it comes to finances, this is a tough area for a lot of people. There are a lot of question marks and mysteries around money because there are so many different places you can go: the market, real estate, life insurance. There are just so many different things that you can do, and it can be a real mystery blackhole for people. So, I hope that this was, at least, helpful in giving us a starting point of things we can think about; from establishing the foundation, the plan, the end in mind, Decisive Investor. So, some great starting points here, Todd. We really appreciate you being on the show. And to everybody listening, we hope you have a wonderful day and a great rest of your week. Thank you so much for being here, Todd.  

Todd Skousen: Thank you. 

Rob Shallenberger

Rob Shallenberger

CEO, Becoming Your Best

Leading authority on leadership and execution, F-16 Fighter Pilot, and father

Todd Skousen

Todd Skousen

Managing Partner at Links Consulting

Financial Consultant, Retirement and Income Planning Specialist.

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