Mar 31, 2023

NGPF Podcast: Marc Russell from BetterWallet on his Entrepreneurial Journey

Marc Russell from BetterWallet shared his inspiring entrepreneurial journey which led him from a job at a top investment firm to creating his own platform to teach the basics of personal finance. Learn more about his story and BetterWallet by listening to this week’s podcast.


[00:00:00] Introduction

Tim Ranzetta: Hey, it's me, Tim Ranzetta, co-founder of Next Gen Personal Finance, and thank you for tuning in to this NGPF podcast. Today on the show, you're gonna hear from Marc Russell. He's the founder of BetterWallet. He has an incredibly inspiring story to tell, including his time in the foster care system before being adopted by a family at the age of 13 the impact that family had on his trajectory from there, including his decision to study business in college, his work at some of the leading investment management firms, and finally, his decision to start his own company and help others with their financial lives. Without further ado, Marc Russell.

[00:00:46] Marc's Background and Journey

Tim Ranzetta: All right. I feel like we're gonna have a lot to talk about today and especially kind of learning more, more about your journey.

Marc Russell: Thanks first and foremost for just having me on and being able to kind of talk about my overall journey. I grew up with absolutely nothing. I came up through the foster care system. I was placed in foster care as soon as I was born because both my mom and dad, they were victims of drug abuse. So, you know, being in foster care for 13 years kind of rotating throughout the Pennsylvania foster care system. I, I didn't really learn too much. When I was eventually adopted at 13, I luckily had a mom and dad who didn't, they didn't invest. They didn't know all too much about money. They didn't have a retirement portfolio or anything. But what they did tell me was that you have to work hard for money and you had to put food on the table for our future family, right?

Marc Russell: So that's what I learned. My mom set up a bank account. Back in the day and she would say, "oh, like, put, you know, $5 in every week" and I would do that. Then it got to the point where I committed to that so much that I had more money in the bank than they did.

Marc Russell: I thought it was a joke until I got older and they were like, no, you had more money in the bank than cause you committed to just actually putting that money away and you also didn't have any bills, which, you know, helps out. I would also do a lot of like different side hustles. So again, going back to the theme of my, my mom and dad told me, Hey, I had to work hard.

Marc Russell: So I was that kid going around shoveling walks, I call it landscaping, right? Shoveling walks, cutting grass, doing whatever I could. Washing cars, detailing cars, whatever it might have been in order to make money to put money away cause there was something about the freedom of actually having that money put away that I like thoroughly enjoyed, but never would've thought that would be teaching finance or having a company that does that.

Marc Russell: But that's pretty much all I've learned. During my childhood, up until the age of 18 was put money away early and often and work hard for your money and put food on a table for a future family. 

[00:02:48] Experience Growing Up in Foster Care

Tim Ranzetta: For those who aren't familiar with how the foster care system works, can you just give folks, it sounded like it was 13 years before you reached a point where you felt like you were part of a stable family. I'm not sure everybody's familiar with how it works.

Marc Russell: Yes. So depending on the situation, a lot of people who go through the foster care system, they are in the foster care system for maybe a couple years, and then you get adopted by a family member. 

Marc Russell: So you bounce around to different group homes and eventually you get to the point where a family says, "Hey, like, I want to bring 'em in as a foster child." The goal and goal is to come in as a foster child to eventually adopt. But some people, they wanna foster maybe for a couple years, maybe a few months. 

Marc Russell: Normally you get adopted before the age of, let's say seven. Because normally people don't want to adopt like an older kid, cause there's a lot that comes along with it. So by the time that you turn 11 or 12, you already have in your head that, "Hey, I'm going to quote unquote age out," which is at 18, and then you become a ward of the state.

Marc Russell: And then they maybe put you into a home for a little bit that is funded by the government. But sometimes they, they don't, they just say, "Hey, go get a job and fend for yourself." Luckily I was adopted at 13 and I didn't have to go through that. But again, like 13 years out of your life going through a foster care, It was just a lot that you see and a lot that you don't get to experience as a kid.

Marc Russell: I mentioned before like I didn't really truly have a mom and dad until 13. A lot of people, they grow up learning everything about their mom, dad, grandparents, you know, you had a family tree and all that stuff. I didn't have that. So it was a lot of catching up that I had to do from 13 till 18, then I had to go to college.

Tim Ranzetta: Talk about what that first year with your family was like. I mean, was there a weight off your shoulder? Like, because this doesn't go, I mean, this feeling of being on the move and not having that level of attachment, and that must have been. It must have been a difficult transition, one and number two, it must have been incredibly rewarding.

Marc Russell: Yeah, you know, I, I was lucky enough. Both my mom and my dad there, you know, my dad passed in oh nine, but my mom, you know, she, she continues to be great. They put me in a family where I didn't feel like I was a foster child, even till today, like, I have to remind myself like, oh, I was adopted. Like, oh, I forgot about all, about, all about that.

Marc Russell: I came in, my sisters, the entire family took me in as if I was one of them, which was great. The cool thing that comes along with becoming adopted or, you know, being adopted, you get to change your last name. So my last name changed, my first name changed, all that stuff. So you it's kinda like the honeymoon phase within the first year.

Marc Russell: It's like, oh, my new family, I get to call you mom and dad. Like, I got to change my name. That's really cool. I'm not going back to the group homes is like what I had in my head come like the group homes. I didn't like any bit of that. I hated bouncing around to different families. Yeah, so it was it was definitely an indescribable experience, just feeling stable and just having a family that you can call your own.

Marc Russell: So yeah, definitely rewarding, but it was a big mental shift that I had in my head. But again, like you don't know any better. As a 13 year old, I didn't know what the world was. For all I knew, everyone that I knew went through the same system, right? So like I didn't have anything to compare it to besides like, friends that made when I was eventually adopted.

Marc Russell: So you really don't know the, the true, the true world around you. But I was, you know, as I got older and I realized what I went through, I became very appreciative that I was adopted before the age of 18 knowing, the stats of, you know, what happens when you age out of the system and you have to fend for yourself.

[00:06:26] Deciding to Study Business 

Tim Ranzetta: Amazing. Incredible. I think I know the answer to this question, but you went off and studied business in college, right? Who pointed you in that direction? What kind of led to, I mean, obviously you had a lot of side hustles going on, so you kind of were running all these little businesses, one person, and maybe you were hiring neighbors to kind of help with some of this work too. I've heard that one before, but yeah. What, what led you in that direction? 

Marc Russell: Yeah. I, I wish I could tell you there was a reason why I chose business and maybe a, a better reason, but really came down to whatever degree was going to help me make the most money after college. That was pretty much it.

Marc Russell: Like my parents didn't go off to school. I knew a couple people went off to college, but I weren't that I wasn't that close to them. So I didn't understand why they were doing it, but I knew it was a, a means to get to where I wanted to get to. The town that I grew up is grew up in, was one of the poorest towns. It still remains one of the poorest towns in the country. Mount Union, Pennsylvania, has been labeled as, you know, top 50 in the country. So most people grow up below the poverty line. Most people don't go off to college. Most people would just say, Hey, I'm gonna become a trucker, or whatever trade it might be. But I knew that if I didn't go off to college, I was going to be doing the same things that everyone else was doing back at home. They were all entrepreneurs, but they didn't pay taxes, if you know what I mean.

Marc Russell: Frankly, I went onto the college campus thinking that would do engineering. I love the way that engineers, engineers thought. I loved roller coasters growing up, and I, I wanted to be more of like a structural engineer and Penn State, my undergrad had an amazing for engineering.

Marc Russell: I wanted to think I was going to do that. Then I was like, well, I don't really wanna do all this course load. If there's any en engineers on the line, you know what I'm talking about. In undergrad, there was just so much you have to do. So I thought about it. I was like, okay, well, what can I see myself doing?

Marc Russell: And I honestly became very fascinated with, with what was happening at, at Wall Street, at the ti at the time. More specifically, I started school in '08, '09. So I was in this college bubble at Penn State.

Tim Ranzetta: It was a good time to be in school.

Marc Russell: Yeah. I was realizing the turmoil that was happening in, in Wall Street and all across the country.

Marc Russell: Like I how Wall Street taking all this money away from the average person? And I realized over time that there was a lot of corporate greed out there. I started to learn learning more about mortgage-backed securities and how that was a factor and how, you know, Americans were going after the quote unquote "American dream" and maybe getting into mortgages that they probably couldn't afford, but they didn't know any better.

Marc Russell: So I started learning all that at an early age and I said, well, I want to do something that's going to help people. My dad and my mom were very philanthropic. They didn't have any money, but they always tied, you know, 10% every single year. My dad would host cookouts every Sunday.

Marc Russell: So in my head I would say, oh, I used to say, Hey, like, what degree can I take on where I can give back to the world? And knowing what was happening in '08 and '09, I'd say, okay, well I can, I can jump into business management and try to figure out as I go, but I wish I had like a north star on like, okay, this is why I'm going to actually do. But it was something that was really interesting to me. 

Tim Ranzetta: Well, we share that in common. Mark. I went to college, first semester on campus thinking I was gonna be an engineer and, just like you said, that course load quickly dissuaded me of that and. Unfortunately, I also found my way to business.

Tim Ranzetta: All right. So you then you leave college and you go work for a small investment company in Malvern, Pennsylvania, huh? 

[00:09:55] Working at Vanguard 

Marc Russell: Yeah, at the time, I, I had no clue who they were. You know, I didn't have the money to pay for school, so I was basically begging for tuition money every single semester. Fast forward three or four years, as I mentioned, like my dad passed in '09. So that plus the fact that we're the entire country's going through this financial turmoil, you know, I'm trying to get a loan.

Marc Russell: I'm a kid from the hood trying to get a loan for a school, and my GPA wasn't that great. It wasn't a great combination. I also just didn't have any money whatsoever. So, you know, it was, it was a grind. Going through this four years, I applied to a bunch of different companies when I was in college and I just so happened to get an interview for the one and only Vanguard group, which at the time I had no clue who the heck they were.

Marc Russell: I remember calling my mom and I was like, Hey mom, I, uh, got an offer to this company called Vanguard. And she's like, who's that? And I'm like, oh, like, it's like a securities company. I was like reading off of Wikipedia and she was like, oh, like ADT like home security. And I'm like, no, no, no.

Marc Russell: Like securities, like Wall Street stuff. I'm like, like, it sounds like really cool. It's gonna be in Philly, it's not gonna be too far away. She's from, you know, a small town in Pennsylvania near Harrisburg. So it was about three hours away, close to home. And she was like, yeah, I guess like, but if you get any other offers, like go for it.

Marc Russell: As I mentioned, I had no clue who they were, and it was just, it was a rude awakening, I will say that. So I came into Vanguard through one of their management leadership development programs where they only choose about 20 people out of the country. So it was me and 19 other people who were all trust fund kids.

Marc Russell: They had, you know, their parents had multiple houses, you know, they were set for life. I remember, talking to one of my peers, they end up losing one of their homes. It's not funny, but it's funny losing one of their homes in the hurricane. And I remember her coming to me. She was like, Hey, like I, I lost my home. She's crying. And I'm like, oh my God, like, you lost your house. Like, this is terrible. And she was like, yeah, it's like my third house. Like, you know, we had so many memories in the house, and I'm like, your third house. I've never even, I've never heard of anyone having more than one home, so I didn't get it.

Marc Russell: And I realize over time that people, you know, they buy their principal residence and they buy like their vacation home. There may be a second one and it really shows like how much wealth you can, you know, potentially have. So it was interesting. It felt like drinking out fire hose initially because I'm learning a language of finance. I'm, you know, studying to become a stockbroker. I just graduated from school and I'm in the real world. I have to manage. I was making $55,000, right? Like my parents made $60,000 collectively. So in my head I'm like, I'm rich, right? 

Marc Russell: Learning how to manage my money was difficult. I was definitely living paycheck to paycheck initially paying off all my debt. I had $80,000 of debt after undergrad from my car to credit cards to student loans, and I had no clue how to get outta that debt. All I knew is I didn't wanna live that life of having to do that my entire life.

Marc Russell: My dad passed away with a lot of debt, poor credit score, didn't have any money invested, and he worked until the day he passed, and he was a blue collar worker. He didn't do all too much, but moved boxes, he worked for a factory that produced them. He would just move boxes. 13, 14 hours a day, work overtime, 16 hours. That's what he would do with a, with a smile on his face every single day. And I knew that I didn't wanna live that life, and I knew that if I didn't fix something, I was gonna go and work in that factory, or I was just gonna be in debt to my eyeballs for the rest of my life.

Marc Russell: And over some time after making plenty of mistakes, I decided that I was going to change my financial future. And that's really where everything really took off. 

[00:13:44] Culture at Vanguard

Tim Ranzetta: What was the you talked a little bit about the culture, but if someone were to ask you, they, they've had tremendous success and some people point to the culture within the organization. How would you describe what you saw in the various, it sounds like you worked in the college savings plan, but may have had exposure more broadly in, in the management program? What were parts of the culture where you're like, wow, they've really got this thing right?

Marc Russell: I mean, you can cut the culture with a knife, you walk in, you feel it, it smacks you right in your face and you're like, okay, I need to adjust everything I'm doing to fit the culture. Luckily when I was there, Jack Bogle was still with us, and it was great to just see him walk around as if he was no one.

Marc Russell: And I had, over time I realized who he was. Someone said, Hey, like, that's a founder right there. I remember being, they call it a, a galley at Vanguard. There's a lot of nautical themes. Yeah. So if I use nautical themes, that's the reason why we were called crew members. The galley was, the cafeteria. I remember standing in line, just checking out, I had like maybe a slice of pizza, whatever I was eating that was unhealthy at the time. And, Jack Bogle was behind me and I looked back and I was like, Hey, like you can go in front of me. You, you started all this, you can. He was, ah, like, I'm no one, you can go ahead. Like, I have plenty of time. Like that was really that was, that was at a very influential part of my life and my corporate life.

Marc Russell: That was very telling. That showed me that he, someone who, to your point, has saved Americans and people all across the world, trillions of dollars in just fees, he was humble enough to say, you know what? New hire, you go before me. I'm not important. You are the most important person here at like right now in front of me.

Marc Russell: That that's really telling. And what I would say about Vanguard internally is that everything that they do comes down to the client. It was very rare that we talk about the billions of dollars that was coming into Vanguard every single year. At the time I was lucky enough to see Vanguard go from 1 trillion to 4 trillion.

Marc Russell: We never talked about it at the year end, like we talked about it. Hey, like, you know, cool little number. All right, let's move on to how we can help out the client. So I learned a lot about, you know, how can we give back? How can we make sure our client's good? How can we put things in you know, layman's terms so they can truly understand what they're doing?

Marc Russell: And they just taught the, like proper asset allocation. They did everything so perfectly. And again, they go back to the reason on why you even got into business in the first place. It was because of Wall Street greed. So to go to a place like Vanguard and let that be my first, you know, seven years outta my career, I learned how to help people invest the right way. 

Marc Russell: Vanguard's mission statement is, is very straightforward to basically help the average investor make the right decisions, put their money so they can have long-term generational wealth. It's structured way differently now, but that was basically the premise of it.

[00:16:40] Working in Active Management 

Tim Ranzetta: I do want to hear you spent some time on the dark side in active management. What'd you learn from that experience?

Marc Russell: It's a really good question because I left Vanguard for various reasons. One reason was because though Vanguard is an amazing place to work and an amazing place to invest, they don't pay that much because of how they're structured, right? So it's great for the, for the client, don't get me wrong. But you're not gonna go there if you wanna, you know, make six figures within the first, you know, six, seven years. That's just not gonna happen. 

Marc Russell: So, you know, I was in the 529 department. I became a manager at the time, and I, I was like, Hey, like there has to be other jobs outside of Philly where I could make more money, basically.

Marc Russell: And I wanted to learn more about sales too. I remember reading an article and they said, you know, most major CEOs, the skill that they have developed over time that led them to become great CEOs was sales.

Tim Ranzetta: I am so glad you were mentioning it's the least appreciated skill in business schools. But if you're ever gonna be a CEO or if you're ever gonna start your own company, it's salesmanship on steroids. 

Marc Russell: It's so true. And I think people, it's the fear of asking for this sale that I feel like people, move away from, like, they don't, they don't wanna do that. It sounds grimy, right? But like, it's really just the act of like, persuasion, you know, be able to persuade people to basically do what you, what you think that is the best for them, right? So I wanted to learn all those skills and I joined this company called Franklin Square. At the time, it was the alternative investment arm for Blackstone. So it was cool to be a part of a Wall Street firm and then be a part of like an alternative investment arm.

Tim Ranzetta: Alternatives for folks, that's like private equity. It might be commodities, it might be venture capital. It's something that's an alternative to kind of a pure vanilla investment in the stock market, 

Marc Russell: It was very interesting. So all my managers, they were all ex Goldman guys, and gals, and it was way different, right?

Marc Russell: High fees. Everyone walked around with suits and ties. The culture there was high performance no matter what. So there, there was some good things that came from that experience, right? Like they, they taught me a lot about, they were big on like nutrition and health and, you know, going out and getting your workout in, you know, making sure you're, you're balancing work and, and home life and all that stuff.

Marc Russell: It was challenging. You're making a hundred, 200 calls per day. The people who just don't want to talk to you, like selling alternative is kind of like, if someone called you right now and said, Hey, like, I have, I have a pair of socks. Like, are you interested? You're probably like, no. Like, I have my own, like, I'm good. If I wanted to get some, I would go to Macy's and get 'em. I learned that it doesn't hurt to hear no. I learned that every no leads to a yes, and I learned how to talk to people and get their buy-in quickly while I'm on the phone with them.

Marc Russell: I'm a small town kid, so I had to knock the small town mentality outta my head where, you know, you, you kind of grow up not wanting to talk to too many people. And you know, if you talk to too many people, you get overwhelmed.

Marc Russell: You just have to know how to pitch. You have to know how to pitch, you have to know how to engage people really quickly. And you have to know when to move on. And luckily I was able to learn that. But again, like I, I lasted a whole year and a half there and I knew two months in that it wasn't a cultural fit for me and I was applying out that time

Tim Ranzetta: So you've kind of seen all facets of the investment world, you know, and you're also a keen observer, I'm, I'm sensing of culture. Like you go Main Street, Vanguard to high net worth individuals at Franklin Square to, you know, working with advisors.

Tim Ranzetta: So you're kind of hearing from advisors, here's what my clients want. So you're kind of having to meet, meet their needs there. Where does the idea come from and how difficult is it to give up a paycheck? 

[00:20:40] On Getting Out of the Investing World

Marc Russell: I'll talk about just where, where this all kind of came from. So, as I was excelling in my career in corporate finances, like my career, my, my money at home was a complete mess.

Marc Russell: Like I was in debt up to my eyeballs, living paycheck to paycheck. Eventually I just got to the point in 2017, '18 where I said, okay, like enough is enough. I need to figure this out. So I put myself on a quote unquote budget, you know, a spending plan. I screwed that up a few different times cuz I wasn't actually budgeting for my variable expenses, right? I was just, I basically just had a list of bills and I'm like, okay, why am I still getting overdraft fees eventually budgeted the right way?

Marc Russell: Basically just had a vendetta against everything that took away from me paying off my debt. So I found ways to decrease how much I was paying for, you know, where I lived. Over time I decreased how much I was paying for my phone bill. I cut out cable. I was just trying to find a way to increase the gap, right between your income and then your expenses in order to pay off debt.

Marc Russell: So I started chipping away. Credit card debt was the hardest for me because I used it as a crutch. I learned since then how to use it properly. But, you know, I pay off my car and then after some time I pay off the credit card. And then right before, well, right during lockdown, I paid off my student loans and then I was 100% debt free.

Marc Russell: There's more people that are struggling with debt and it's not just me. So you start to connect with, you know, different people. A lot of these people are still my friends now, and they were, were holding each other accountable, you know. How much did you pay off this month? Like, what did you do in order to decrease your phone bill?

Marc Russell: And then over time, you know, you start getting questions from people, Hey, like, how did you pay off this debt? You know, can you walk me through how you like, create a budget, all this stuff, and at first, I was just giving out for free. 

Marc Russell: And then I started selling it for a dollar and I was like, okay, well this is gonna help me to pay off debt. And then people would have more, you know, thorough questions like, how would you specifically pay off your credit card debt? Walk me through this. What are interest rates? Like, what is an APR? All that stuff.

Marc Russell: I bill an eBook for like nine bucks and I sold it online. And next thing you know, you have hundreds, thousands of people going and, and downloading it. That's the power of the internet. And then, you know, over time, I, you know, I, I look back, you know, I'm starting to get brand deals and things like that from people like Verizon and Chase and, you know, all, all types of bigger brands that all want that kind of exposure.

Marc Russell: And I looked at what I was doing in my nine to five and I was like, I don't really need to do this anymore. You know, I could, I could help people out as my full-time occupation and love what I do, and sure it's gonna be daunting, but I could do this for the rest of my life. 

Marc Russell: So instead of just focusing on how much money I was making, I was more focused on how can I build this platform. So if I were to leave my nine to five, it would feel like I'm leaving from, I'm leaving one company and going to another. I just so happened to have my name on the other company. So November of 2020, well, I should take a step back.

Marc Russell: October of 2021, I had a couple conversations with a few different people one of which is one of my good friends, Chloe from Colbert Money Coach, and it was at FinCon. And she was like, oh, like tell me about like how much money you're making, right? We're having a couple drinks, how much money? I tell her and she's like, you can quit.

Marc Russell: So November of 2021 is when I made the jump and I haven't looked back. 

Tim Ranzetta: Wow. So you were working like two jobs for a while there. You hear that story a lot with, with startups where you got a nine to five and then you're working from probably five to midnight on the second business, and it's kind of developing, it's, you're building it as you go. So at some point that becomes unsustainable. And you reached the point where, geez, the income was enough, that it's, it felt like the right time and you probably, there was a level of satisfaction maybe you were getting from that work. 

Tim Ranzetta: Yeah. Okay. So BetterWallet. I've heard so far you talk about writing an ebook. I've heard you providing advice to folks. Talk about your platform and kind of how you've built it out over time in terms of the services that people can receive. 

[00:24:51] The BetterWallet Experience

Marc Russell: Yeah, so the goal of BetterWallet is to help people that didn't learn finance growing up, how to invest and, and manage your money.

Marc Russell: We started off with just different templates. Then we started building guides, and then now we have a fully comprehensive course. The course is dedicated to anything, so if you think back to when you made your first dollar, whether it be after college or after high school, no one actually told you what to do with it.

Marc Russell: No one talked about taxes, no one talked to you about like employer-sponsored plans. No one's talking about paying off debt. The goal of the course is to teach you all that from budgeting all the way to tax management, how to invest your money, how to invest your kids, how to increase your credit score, how to negotiate your salary all into one course.

Marc Russell: So that's my trademark course that, you know, I have my students kind of going through, but the BetterWallet page, it's just nuggets of information where I'm just teaching people the things that I wish I knew when I was 18, when I was 22, and I had my first corporate job. So, you know, in the Instagram world, you can't really share all too much information, because they limit you to a minute.

Marc Russell: So it teaches me how to be, you know, concise in what I'm teaching, but it's nuggets of information that people can take. They can go and do their own research and then apply to their own lives. And it's every day where I hear from people who say, Hey, like, I learned this and now I'm teaching my family to do the same again. That domino effect. So that it, it's a very rewarding, quote unquote job that I have. You know, I. I'm lucky enough to say that, you know, there's thousands of people that fall on my page every single day and look forward to my post. But a lot of it just comes from me thinking back to, you know, how can I give back all these things that I learned from the school of hard knocks, the things that I went through throughout my life, working in corporate, I'm probably the only person that they've ever met that not only came from poverty, but also made out, made it out of poverty without any handouts, and then also go through corporate finance at the same time.

Marc Russell: And oh, by the way, I was a licensed financial advisor and stockbroker all at the same time. So having the combination of all of that just makes for a really interesting platform and that has allowed a lot of people to reach financial freedom. It's been fun doing this over the last few years.

[00:27:16] Changing Mindsets

Tim Ranzetta: I wonder, you have a lot of conversations, whether it's DMs, whether it's texts, whether it's email conversations with people, how much of the work you do is providing people information versus helping change some of their mindsets. How much do you kind of put to inspiration, to psychology to teach me the mechanics? 

Marc Russell: Yeah. I would say about 70% happens to be just pure knowledge. The other 30% is that motivational piece where my, my audience, they know. I do not, I don't like excuses. Don't gimme an excuse. Like I, I get it. Trust me, I understand what you're going through. I understand the heartache that you're going. I get it. Here's my situation, here's what I went through, and if I can do it, you sure can.

Marc Russell: A lot of it is that mindset switch where you kind of go from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset where you say, okay, well I can do it. I deserve to be wealthy. I deserve to pass on generational wealth to my kids. 

Marc Russell: So a lot of what I teach, well, 30% of what I teach is that motivational. Push through, do what you can and, you know, take one day at a time. The last words that my dad, you know, ever told me was, when I was going through a hard time in, in college, the last words were, you know, take one step at a time.

Marc Russell: Was a kid. I was like trying to do 50 different things. I was trying to take over the world. And he's like, dude, one step at a time. And that's something I tell my students all the. Because depending on your situation, if you're in a bunch of debt, if you haven't invested for the first time, it could seem overwhelming.

Marc Russell: I get that. But if you take one step, you say, okay, well I'm gonna, today I'm gonna understand what a stock is. Now I'm gonna understand tomorrow like what a mutual fund is. Now I'm gonna understand like what an investment model is over time. If you do that for, you know, the entire year, you have 365 pieces of information that you didn't have last year. And then next thing you know, you're investing in your portfolio and you continue to do that every single month, every single year. And then next thing you know, you're a millionaire. And it has been proven time at the time. Again, if you remain consistent and you take it one step at a time, you know, anything is really possible.

Marc Russell: My balance that I tried to strike on my page. Other pages are all purely informational. And, you know, I'm not here for that. Right? I could teach for days, but a lot of times you, you have to go over the mental hump of like, I feel like I can't do this. 

[00:29:41] The Impact Teachers Can have

Tim Ranzetta: Yeah, absolutely. I wanna give you the final word here. You get the last word to inspire them because I think they bring a lot of that same passion and zeal to kind of help young people. 

Marc Russell: Absolutely. So first and foremost, thank you for everything that you do. You know, Tim and I were talking before the, the actual recording and you know, I, I owe my entire career. I didn't talk about it, but I owe my career to teachers. I had one teacher and we still keep in contact till today. Every time I go back home, I go back into the classroom. I surprise her with flowers because she's the only one that took a chance on me.

Marc Russell: She said, Hey, like, you are smart enough to go to college. And I was like, miss Mike, there's no way. She's like, you can go to college. And I went off to college and I'm here today because I did that. And I owe my, my entire, again, my career to, to teachers. And the fact that you guys are teaching personal finance is extremely important because you're, you're gonna.

Marc Russell: You're helping people that are about to make the first paycheck, or maybe they already made their first paycheck, not make the money mistakes. A lot of times when people learn about finance, it's because they make the mistakes and they have to learn from it. The fact that you're proactively teaching them, hey, like, here's how you go out managing your money.

Marc Russell: What you guys are doing is you're teaching them that, yeah, sure, having money is great, but let's put it to work. Let's make sure that we can close the wealth gap, whatever it might, whatever wealth gap you're focused on, we can continue to close that wealth gap. That way we don't have the inequality that we see within the country and within the world, and you guys are helping with that. So I, I thank you for just being at the forefront of like a really, really important challenge that we have going on in the country. 

Tim Ranzetta: Awesome. Two things stood out. One, one is just your inspiring story and your positivity. And I think the other thing you said consistently was giving back. Because there's, let's face it, not a lot of people in finance have that focus on giving back and I just, I love the fact here, you know, you're so mission driven and I love to have you back, you know, we'll have you back in five years and we'll look at if you'll still take our calls, we'll have, yeah, definitely five years to continue to watch your story unfold, but really just inspiring.

Marc Russell: Absolutely. 

[00:31:53] Conclusion

Tim Ranzetta: A few housekeeping items. Before we go. We'll put links to the resources mentioned. Put those in our show notes, which you can find on our website, Better yet, subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, wherever you listen to your podcast. Wanna thank Ren Makino who produces our podcast as well as the show notes.

Tim Ranzetta: So on behalf of Mark and myself, I want to thank you. For tuning in to this NGPF podcast.

About the Authors

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

Ren Makino

Ren started interning at NGPF in 2014, and worked part-time through high school and college. With his knowledge growing alongside NGPF, he joined the team to work full-time after graduating from college in 2020. He is also the producer of the NGPF podcast. During his free time, he likes to try out coffees from different roasters across the world.

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