Ep. 312: Mastering Your Personal + Business Finances with Nick True of Mapped Out Money

Anyone that emails me saying, “Hey can I be on your podcast? I travel the country in my RV,” the answer is pretty much always YES! I couldn’t wait to talk to Nick because anyone that’s able to start a business and travel at the same time needs to be my friend.

As a fellow RV owner, I know how hard it is to make time to travel, but I’ve always wanted to get in our RV and travel to Alaska! It’s one of those bucket-list things for me… I mean, I do need my husband to be able to work remotely too and agree to the drive… Hopefully in one of my future income reports – in like 2022 – you’ll hear all about how I ran my business from my RV on my way to Alaska.

That’s why learning how Nick and his wife made this happen for themselves makes this episode extra special to me.

Nick teaches people how to manage their finances & live their own adventure. I know everyone is going to absolutely love this episode.

What I want to leave people with before the episode starts is that you don’t have to make as much money in your business as you might think to have financial freedom when you have control of your personal finances. Nick is going to show us exactly how we can live the same life he lives, so let’s get into it.

Nick and I talk about:

  • His journey to building a business teaching entrepreneurs how to budget and managing money.
  • Nick strategy behind monetizing his website.
  • How much of our spending is a habit and done subconsciously.
  • The importance of clarity in your business direction.
  • His best advice for you if you’re struggling to get traction making money in your side hustle.
  • The one belief Nick had to change about himself to get where he is today.

My favorite quotes from Nick:

  • “Let's create a plan and use money as the tool to help you get there.”
  • “It's not about spending less, it's about where's my money going. And let's put as much of my money as possible on the things that I truly care about.”
  • “You're taking on the risk. Both of time and money to build a business and you need to get clear on why you're doing that and ensure that the path you're going down is actually going to help you achieve that.”

Shannon Mattern: Nick. Thank you so much for being here on pep talks for side hustlers. Can you share a little bit with our audience about you and what you do?

Nick True: Sure. Yeah. I'm excited to be here. So, uh, my wife and I currently run a website called mapped out money and I started it back in 2015 under a different name and we ended up changing it in the process, but, uh, it's basically all about budgeting and managing money and we help people learn how to actually use money, uh, to do the things that they want to do and achieve the life that they want to achieve. And we do that both on the personal side and then also on the business side and help out small business owners with their budgets as well. And we do that all from a, a 2007 Airstream. And so we right now, we have been living in an RV for a couple of years and traveling around somewhat little different with COVID over the past couple of months, but generally speaking, that's what we're doing.

Shannon Mattern: Oh, I have so many questions because I'll, as my listeners know, I'm a weekend warrior and if I could get, get my husband to live in our camper, I would do it, but I'm not working. He's not quite there yet. Um, tell me a little bit more about, like, why did you decide to start, um, mapped out money in the first place?

Nick True: Yeah, so it was a, it was a combination of not being satisfied with my job after college and wanting to find something different and something that I could do. And also sort of doing some introspective work to learn about my own strengths and what I'm interested in. And I was interested in money from the time I was a little kid. I was, I was interested in it and my parents would teach me about kind of the value of working hard and making money. Cause my dad was a, was a business owner. And so I grew up around some of these ideas and then I got really into personal finance in college and reading books. And so by the time I got out of college and started working and going like, man, I really don't like this job. Uh, I want to do something different. Uh, I, it was about that same time.

Nick True: I realized like, Oh wait, these bloggers and all these people that I've been reading for years, just because I'm interested, they actually like do this. Like, this is what they do. And I had a background in teaching piano lessons and tutoring, math, and I really liked teaching and tutoring. And I was like, I wonder if I could marry this sort of love of teaching with my love of finance and maybe potentially work myself out of a job, uh, in my, in my normal job. And so that was the initial motivation that kind of led me here.

Shannon Mattern: I, everyone that comes on this podcast is like, I hated my job and I needed a change. And I think that I just it's. So it's, it's so prevalent that, you know, we, we think that we have to go on this path and earn money a certain way. Like, you know, how, how we were taught, go to college, get the good job, you know, work until you can retire. And then like my grandparents and you could buy the RV and have the good time and do all that. But you have to like, you know, get to this certain point where, where you can retire to do that. And I love how, like, in the, in these times now we're really just flipping that on its head and we're kind of living the life that, you know, our grandparents had to wait until they were 65 to, to start living. Um, so how did you, you know, you realize that this personal finance bloggers are the people that you were following. This is how they were making money. So how, what was your strategy behind, um, monetizing mapped out money?

Nick True: Yeah. So, um, I'll answer that question. And just one second, I wanted to say one thing on the grandparents thing that was kind of interesting and it was somewhat sad, but also it was, it was me realizing how grateful I should be for the time period that I live in because of the internet. Um, when I left my job leading up to it, we had bought a camper. We had bought a truck, we were renovating things. This was a, a year long process, but from the time we bought the camper to actually leaving the job and I couldn't talk about it at work because I was, you know, I couldn't say anything. I couldn't talk about a camper. I can talk about any of that. Cause I needed the job still at the same time. One of the guys in my group who was 61 had bought a big class, a rig was retiring in a year and all like at work every day he was talking about his class, a rig and, you know, travel and all this stuff.

Nick True: And we ended up, he ended up retiring around the same time that I ended up putting in my two weeks for us to leave and basically go do the same thing. And there was a little bit, not a lot. I think it was mostly happy, but there was a little bit of resentment. I felt from him towards me with this, like, Hey, you're doing, I worked my whole career to get this, you know, and you are doing this, you know, whatever. So it was kind of an interesting and more, more of just like an enlightening moment of like, wow, what a, what an interesting time I live in with the internet to be able to do something that previous generations literally had no opportunity to do. So it is, it is neat now. Um, okay. So back to your question, how to add it, I, um, kind decide that or what path to follow initially for me it was blogging just because I was like, well, that's what everybody else is doing.

Nick True: This was 2015. Blogging has been a thing for a long time, but it was still like very much like this is what people are doing. So I'll start doing that. I didn't really give it a whole lot of thought, which in retrospect I should have. Um, because I learned over the course of a couple of years, writing is not my strength and I can do it. I'm okay at it. But my initial strategy was like, well, I'll, I'll just do a blog. I'll throw some AdSense on there. Maybe try to do some affiliate stuff and you know, I'll figure it out. Um, and that was the initial kind of path and, and things have taken a lot of turns since then to get us to where we're at today, which is very little to no blogging at all.

Shannon Mattern: Interesting. So if you're not blogging, how are you monetizing?

Nick True: So these days, um, maybe it's helpful to understand some of the path to, so I did similar, similar to you. Actually, I was able to utilize blogging as, um, sort of an online resume if you will, to get freelance work. And so that's how I initially left my job was a combination of my wife graduated college. She went to graduate school and so she graduated college and took a full time job at the same time that freelancing was starting to work for me. And I quit my job. So we sort of just high-fived and she took over the main income and I started freelancing full time. Right. Um, and then we hit and that's how we hit the road. And then, uh, it was about eight or nine months of me freelancing before she was able to leave her job to now the freelancing piece was how we made a lot of money for the few years in between.

Nick True: And I was doing mostly digital marketing work, building, landing pages, doing kind of behind the scenes, email, marketing work, all the stuff I had learned in my blogging journey that I didn't actually learn how to do well enough for me. I could use it and learn with clients while I was doing that. I made a switch because I had a really smart friend in my life who was like, Nate, you've been blogging for two years. It's cool that you're doing freelance work, but you haven't really seen a whole lot of traction on your site. Um, have you considered like trying to do video? It was like, you, you speak well, you like video, you watch a lot of YouTube, you know, what, if you kind of flipped and I was like, you know, that's a good idea. Maybe I should try something different. And my first YouTube video got like, not a ton of views, but it was more views than like any of my articles had gotten. And I was like, okay, we need to make a change. And so I pivoted almost entirely to focusing on making YouTube content. And so YouTube is these days are primary top of funnel. And then from there I do one on one money coaching. I also have some group classes and coaching programs and then, uh, ads on YouTube and affiliates as well. So that's our kind of pieces today, but YouTube is, is our top line content.

Shannon Mattern: Awesome. That's yeah, that's so interesting because I think people think like, Oh, I have to do this because everyone else is doing this and I'm not good at this. And that steals my soul. And it's like, no, you get to find the thing that like, you're really good at that, um, that lights you up and go there and find your audience. Like you don't have to do what everyone else is doing. So I want to pivot a little bit and ask you about the money coaching that you do and like kind of the content about, um, you know, what you're teaching people and mapped out money. Like what do people, what are people coming to you guys for to, to learn about

Nick True: So on? And this is where like some, uh, business side and somewhat, um, uh, the, the content budgeting piece, which is initially what happened is, and this again kind of goes back to, I listened to your recent episode with, um, the Texas curly traveled or curly adventures. Right. And she sort of was talking about, I just sort of did a lot of things. And then I found what stuck and I sort of followed that path similar to what I did on YouTube. And so I threw a bunch of stuff at the wall on YouTube and eventually, uh, one video around a very specific budgeting tool called YNAB. It's one app of many, uh, that video took off. And so then I made like 13 more videos about YNAB and, uh, and all of a sudden people started reaching out to do one on one coaching with wine app.

Nick True: So everything started initially with like around, uh, a certain tool. And that was a couple of years ago now. And then, and then it's since expanded. So when people come to me for what I kind of say is it's less about their age or their money situation or their income situation. It's more about a place they are and their financial journey, which is I make a lot of money or I don't make a lot of money either way I can't manage whatever's coming in. It comes in, it goes out and it slips through our fingers and I don't know what's going on. And my whole philosophy with budgeting is it should not be restrictive. It should not be this thing that puts you in handcuffs. It should be a reflection of your own priorities and values. And so let's come together and let's work on, what do you care about?

Nick True: What does your dream life look like? What matters to you? And then let's set up a plan, AKA, a budget, let's set up a plan to help you use your money in a way to achieve the stuff that you want. And in that, you know, I talk a lot about how Hannah and I sort of set a plan to transition into the RV. And then now we're setting a plan to do other things down the road, and it's all around budgeting. So I do use a specific budgeting tool, but it's more about an underlying philosophy of let's create a plan and use money as the tool to help you get there.

Shannon Mattern: I love that philosophy and I love the, the, you know, making it really personal to that person and making sure that whatever, whatever is their priority is like planned for, instead of like, you know, the typical thing that people think when they hear budget is like, Oh, I'm not going to get to have any fun. I'm gonna have to stop spending money. I can't buy lattes anymore. I have to like, you know, just put every last dime in the bank and you know, all of, all of that stuff. And then they don't want anything to do anything to do with it. And I think it's such an important topic because, you know, when I was side hustling, when I first started my business back in 2015, and I was like, I want to replace my day job income because I have a lifestyle that I need to fund.

Shannon Mattern: I have a mortgage, we have car payments, we have all these things. And so I'm like, well, I can't make any less than what I make now because what I make covers all of this stuff. Well, then I was like, well, what if we just didn't have as much debt? Then the bar wouldn't be so high for me to have to, um, replace this income. I could potentially make less if I had less outgo. And then that was kind of like my mission with my husband and I to like, you know, like you said, there are so many different tools out there. We did the Dave Ramsey, baby steps. I think we used the, you need a budget tool, um, to like manage our, manage our budget and stuff. And we, um, we spent, um, a year and half just paying off all of our paying off all of our debt. Um, and then it just became a point of pride for me to replace my day job.

Nick True: Yup. Yup, yup.

Shannon Mattern: Or I quit. Um, but I didn't need that. I didn't need to, and I could have done it earlier. And so I just think like, you know, for anyone out there side hustling who doesn't have a good grasp on how much money that they really need to live in their life, like the bar might not be as high for you as you think it is once you kind of get a handle on all of that. So I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.

Nick True: Oh gosh. Yes. Like 1000%. Yes. You know, so like in the personal finance space, a lot of people will talk about this idea of the gap. Okay. So what's the, what's that mean? The gap is the difference between your income and your expenses. That's all it is. And the vast majority of people, whatever their income is, they raise their expenses right up there to meet it. Right. And so if we can get used to living on a little bit less, it allows you to, um, have more flexibility and control Hannah and I currently make more money in our business this year. We'll make more money in our business alone than we would have as an engineer and a physical therapist combined, which is what our old careers were that took years to make though. Okay. So we weren't able to make that transition out of the gate.

Nick True: The way that we were able to leave jobs is because we kept our lifestyle relatively low, which allowed us to take pay cuts, and then dump our hours that are now freed up into the side hustle to make it become the full time thing. And similar to you now, like it's, so it's somewhat a point of pride and also a point of like, we have some really big dreams down the road. And so we, we want to increase our business income, but in order to make that transition, having control over your expenses is a huge, huge factor. And it just makes it so much easier to do that. And honestly, the more money you make, the harder it is in a lot of ways. And you would think it's counter intuitive. Cause you're like, Oh, well, if you make a lot of money, it's like, it doesn't take you that much to meet your basic needs. But the problem is if you make a lot of money, a lot of times you're around people who spend at a certain level and it becomes very difficult to say no and decrease your spending in order to have more control.

Shannon Mattern: I find it really interesting though, with, with right now that the time that we're in are doing this interview, we're kind of in the middle of a global pandemic, everybody's forced to stay home. Like you can, it's hard to spend money even if you wanted to. So, um, so it's yeah, my husband and I like, you know, we like to go out, we like to go out with friends, you know, and it's just like, wow, we are just not spending, I wouldn't even say saving. Like we are just not spending so much money that, you know, we, we had always just like, Oh, that's our, that's our little going out fund. And you know, so it's, it's really interesting, but yeah, like, and then I was just thinking, as you were saying that I'm like, you know, the intro to this podcast is like, so that you don't have to take a pay cut, like really it's so that you don't have to take a lifestyle cut if you will, to write, you know? Um, so I love, you know, I just think it's so important what, what you're teaching because, um, you can have the dream life faster. If you can get a handle on your personal finances, um, then maybe, maybe thought possible

Nick True: Such a big part of it too. And this is what I talk about a lot, which is it's, it's fairly, um, considerably agreed upon across like the scientific community that about 40 to 60% of your daily actions are based on habits or subconscious decisions. So the places you eat, the clothes you wear, where you drive the route you take to work, uh, even the way like the pant leg you put on in the morning and what should you tie first? All those little bitty decisions are based on subconscious things. They're based on habits that based on the people around you, which means you're not consciously spending your money. Most of the time, you're not sitting there weighing this decision of like, okay, when I buy this XYZ thing, that means I'm saying no to this other thing over here. And so a lot of my whole budgeting philosophy is less about, Oh, you need to spend less and more about over the whole course of your lifetime.

Nick True: You're going to get a finite amount of money, even Jeff Bezos, right? If you add up all the dollars, it will be a number and that will be the number. And so when you think about however much money you're going to make over the whole course of your life, wouldn't you rather every single one of those dollars or as many of those dollars as possible go to the things you care about the most. And most of the time our spending is so subconscious that it's not happening. And so with my wife and I, we are, we spend a lot of money in a lot of ways that other people might deem ridiculous. Certainly, uh, my parents, well, not my mom, my dad in particular, right. Thinks that the amount of money we spend on our pets is outrageous, but to me in HANA, it's worth it.

Nick True: Uh, and, and that's just like one example. Right? And, and I worked with, you said sort of the lattes thing earlier, I worked with a guy a few months back where his, we talked about priorities and values and he was like, you know what, Nick, that sounds ridiculous. But honestly I love Chick-fil-A. And I would like to eat a Chick-fil-A 25 to 30 times a month. And, and I want to make sure I'm hitting my longterm retirement goals. Yes. But like, that's a priority to me. And I was like, awesome. Let's do it. We made a budget line item, we set goals. And we, he can eat at Chick-fil-A every day. Right. And so it's not about spending less, it's about where's my money going. And let's put as much of my money as possible on the things that I truly care about. And so part of that is getting really clear on what it is that you care about.

Shannon Mattern: I love how you talk about, you know, all of these little things are habits and we're probably just leaking out money in ways that are not deliberate at all. Just kind of zombie going through life, like pulling out our credit card or Apple pay, or however, it's even easier now to spend money. I literally have to just look at my phone and like click the button to buy something. And, you know, not thinking twice on like, is this just like some instant gratification urge scratch the itch that I'm like satisfying? Or is this really leading me to my higher good. Cause I think sometimes those little tradeoffs of satisfying that, that urge to buy the thing. And then you're sitting around like wishing that you could cross country travel in the RV and wondering why you can't afford it because you have to go to this job because you know, you have to fund this lifestyle that if you were just like slightly more deliberate about it, you could make that happen without a whole lot of like pain or suffering or deprivation, you know?

Nick True: That's right. That's exactly right.

Shannon Mattern: Love it. I love that philosophy. So that's like talking about personal finances. You said you also talk with people about their business. Finances is that, so, so talk to me a little bit more about the philosophy, like what you see some of the problems, um, that people are having when they come to you to work on their business finances. Yeah.

Nick True: So a lot of it is it's actually the same problems. Just, it manifests itself slightly differently. And so part of it is getting clarity around what kind of business you want to run and what that means. So, um, I, I, it might've been Nathan Barry, uh, from convert kit. I don't know, I've read a blog post years ago that stuck with me. And, um, the question was, whatever business you're thinking about right now, right? So, you know, your business, whatever it is, play this out, scale it up, play it out to where it's, you know, four years down the road, it's making a lot of money. It's doing a thing. What is your day to day life look like in that particular business? Is that the life that you want? And a lot of times the answer's no, because certain, like that's what I did when my freelancing, I was making good money freelancing.

Nick True: I really, I liked it for the most part, but when I really scaled it up to scale it in the direction I was going was hire people, build an agency. I didn't want to build an agency. And so when I, when I played that out, it was like, no, I need, okay. I need to focus on a different type of business that suits the way I want to live my life. Right. So part of it is clarity around that. And then, and then we, again, we attack it from a money standpoint of like, okay, how are you spending business revenue when the revenue comes in? Where's it going? Are you buying every course under the sun? Are you buying every tool, software tool under the sun? Are you hiring people quicker or faster than you should? Or should you be hiring more? And it all depends on clarity around what kind of business you want to run.

Nick True: And then looking at the profit, I'm a guy I really like, uh, Eric Bandholz who runs a company called Beardbrand. Um, I have, uh, I have fairly large facial hair, so I like their, their company. And, um, he tweeted the other day and said something I wish I would've known earlier as an entrepreneur was, um, there's a big difference between a $4 million company with 25% profit $5 million company at 20% profit, $10 million company at 10% and 20 million at 5%, they all make the same level of profit. They all make a million dollar profit, but those businesses are very different. And so part of it is not trying to, I wanna hit this much a month, or I wanna hit this much a month without having a clear reason why you want to hit that. Um, cause there's a lot of ways to hit it, right. And some of them may or may not align with your overall where you want to be as an owner. So that's a big piece of it. Um, and then again, just building a budget that supports that and says, okay, let's start setting aside for profit. Let's start paying ourself. Let's okay. Now this is the leftover that you actually have to operate the business with. Now, how are you going to make the most effective decision in your business with the money that's leftover?

Shannon Mattern: I could not agree more with everything that you just said. You know, I think it, I think for, for me just deciding, you know, how much I wanted to pay myself and that's like a non negotiable for me. Um, and I've talked to, um, CPAs on this show who say you would not believe that some of our clients, you know, are bringing in tons of revenue, but are not able to even like keep their household afloat because they are, it's going right back out the door. And all of the things that, that you just said, and I talked to another woman on the podcast who built a seven figure business and like every zero profit, zero profit, everything went right back out the door in, in everything that she needed to create those, that revenue. And it's like the pursuit of that was very thrilling for her.

Shannon Mattern: But at the end of the day, the reward was not there. And she had to, um, just sit back and rethink everything and, and, you know, I CA I can totally relate to you because when I was doing one-on-one web design work, it was like 50% of my business was one-on-one web design, 50% was the scalable courses, teaching training, um, side. And I sat back and I thought, you know, I really should grow the web design side. That's like bigger money. I can charge more like all in one fell swoop. And the way I would do it is bringing on, you know, agency model. And she's like, yeah, I could make that work. And I just sat back and I thought, I don't want that. I don't want, I don't want that at all. Like that does not. That does not, that's not why I left my corporate job. Yes. That is not freedom.

Nick True: No, not at all. And I think that's the point. It's okay. You're taking on the risk. Both of time and money to build a business and you need to get clear on why you're doing that and ensure that the path you're going down is actually going to help you achieve that. I see. I see exactly that woman's story that you just shared. I see that every week I see that and it's like, you're, you know, the business is making a ton of money, but if you're doing it all off the back of, you know, having this kind of, um, different model that, that isn't really profitable, you're pouring it all back in to scale as quickly as possible. Like, you know, and if you're a startup out in San Francisco and you're trying to compete with Facebook and take market share and blitz scale and yada yada yada, right. That's a very different thing than what we're talking about on this show. Right. And so if you want to do that, you know, and go bigger, go home and scale, that's fine. But again, that's a very different thing than I'm building this business to leave my job and provide the life for my family that I want to provide while also helping people and like running a business, I enjoy along the way.

Shannon Mattern: Yep. Absolutely. And also, you know, setting those setting, those bigger goals for me has like turned into like a personal growth journey on top of it. Um, in addition to just like, uh, you know, like I said, Oh, point of pride for replacing my day job income. Now, it's like, okay, I want to see what I'm capable of. And I want to have a bigger impact. And I want to, um, do it in a way where I feel like I, um, am not necessarily like keeping more of the money, but just like really deliberate in what I'm spending it on. Um, and making sure, like, I'm really aligned with, um, with where it's going, you know, and not just feeling like it, it has to, it has to come out. So, um, we, we chatted briefly before I started recording about how you listened to one of my, um, income reports, where I talked about like a big money mindset transformation that I had. And I wanted to know, um, like what, what you see from the people that you coach, or maybe some of the biggest, um, money mindset, things that like really hold them back from, from reaching their goals.

Nick True: Yeah. So I think, I think part of it is some of what we already talked about. The preconceived notion that a budget hold you down or tells you, you can have fun. Like part of it is a reframing of no, no, no. The budget is the game plan is how you achieve what you want to achieve. Um, part of it is also a, a realization of what's possible. And so a lot of times to your point, a lot of times we don't even have to necessarily increase income. Now, sometimes we do, but a lot of times we don't have to increase income to get a lot of the dreams that we want. We just never thought about it. And part of it is, um, I, I, I used to be, I used to be in high school, I got really into, uh, par core and free running and, and flipping off stuff.

Nick True: And one of the guys who kind of led that movement about a decade ago, his name is chase Armitage. And he has this quote, um, that, uh, he says, um, it's only impossible because you've been told it is. And I, I think that that's really stuck with me because we, Hannah and I heard that we got married very young. Uh, we told people we were going to quit our jobs and buy an RV and travel the country. And we told people, we were going to eventually make even more money doing this than we would as an engineer and all these things, you know, and, and people was like, no, it's not going to happen. You know? And you know, whatever, you know, and it's like, it is only impossible because you've been told her. So that's a lot of my clients that's no, no, no dream big. If you could do anything, what would you do? And then, okay, great. Let's break it down. Well, how much money would it take to pull that off? And when you actually look at it a of times, it's not that daunting, like, yes, it will require some change, but it's totally achievable. It's far, far, far from impossible. So that's, that's probably one of the biggest things that I see the most because people are just so ingrained in their habits and whatever they've done for the past 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. And they like, believe what they think is true. Like that was one of the things that I'm like, Oh, every thought that comes into my head, that I've heard my whole life. Isn't true. Like, that's a, that's a mind expander. It's like, you know, just to, to tack onto that quote, it's like, it's only been, it's only impossible because you've been told it is, it's like, it's only impossible because you think it is, you know, like you tell yourself, you're, you're probably the biggest, you know, gatekeeper of preventing you from, from getting whatever it is you want. And I've had that realization in the past few months that like things, aren't what they seem, that's been like extremely powerful for me, for me to realize that.

Nick True: And it's, it's one of, it's an unfortunately, sometimes we have people in our life that, that do tell you that. And that's why, you know, I know you've talked about mastermind groups and, and coach, and that's why, like, that stuff is so important because you need people that not, not that delusional, they tell you things are possible, but that do encourage you. Like, even a small example. I remember my wife and I first started dating. I think one of the things that, um, attracted both of us to each other in different ways was we both had a very big sense of adventure and a sense of like, wanting to do things. And I remember, um, we got to talking about snowboarding one day and I was like, Oh, you gotta come snowboarding with me. And she was like, I don't know, like I've skied before, but I don't know how, like I have this one friend who kind of told me, like, there's no way that I could ever just a morning, you know?

Nick True: And she kind of told me about the conversation cause he had, you know, as a childhood friend, he had been like, Oh yeah, I just know more of it. I was like, no way you could just help her. You know? And, and, and she's like, and that kind of discussion. I was like, what? No, that's ridiculous. I can a hundred percent teach you how to snowboard. You'll be fine. Like, let's go, you know, whatever. And, um, and so a lot of the times it's it. We legitimately have people be like, nah, you can't do that. And it's like, no, you need people in your corner being like, no, like you can absolutely do this. Uh, and that's a big piece of it.

Shannon Mattern: I, uh, you know, when I was first starting out, I was blazing my own trail, very determined, like going it alone, figuring it out all along the way. And it's not that I didn't like see the value in the community or anything. I'm just very much a lone Wolf when it comes to, like, I set a goal, I put my head down, I get it done. I figure it out by myself. I don't ask for help. Like, you know, leave me alone. I'm busy. Right. And like I figured out after, um, you know, meeting other entrepreneurs, going to conferences, different things where I, where I started of, I found my community and I realized like, there's, there's value in learning from like listening to podcasts and reading blogs and like all the consuming of information there's value in that. But there's something extra special about the value that comes from that two way interaction from someone who is waste like way more, I would say, not smarter, but like more enlightened than you, or has like a different perspective has figured out how to achieve the things that you want to achieve. And so it's not necessarily about like, like you said earlier, like spending all your money on all the courses, like been there, done that, like learning strategies and tactics fine. Like, but the value, the bigger value comes from having the ability to just have someone else open your mind for you a little bit,

Nick True: So much. And it's, and a lot of the times it's just getting around people that have at least the same language. I mean, the first time that I went to, uh, you know, uh, a conference that was in this sort of online business, online entrepreneurial world, it was so nice to be able to just show up and the words, the language I used, like nobody was like, Oh, what I was like, that's right. It's board with what you're talking. Like, it was just so nice. I was like, Oh, like you get it, you get it. You know? And that was so, and yeah, I mean, relationships are a humongous part, humongous part of certainly where we've we found ourselves and couldn't have done it without all the people kind of we've met along the way. It's I can't, it can't be overstated enough how important it is.

Shannon Mattern: So was it you, or so did you have to convince your wife to kind of get on this path? Or was she like all in from, like you said, you guys kind of high fived, you, she went to work, you freelanced, but what about when it was time to like kind of transition from freelance to this model? Was she like all in on it? Or how did that, how did that go

Nick True: Eventually? Yeah, so, you know, part of it is my wife and I both were like the most traditional type a people. Right. We'd like, we both, we didn't meet until college, but separately, like we both were like, we're going to do good in high school and we're going to go to college. We're kind of going to college. We're going to get that degree. And we were both that way. And so at first it was a big transition because we got married and a year later on in I'm a I'm into my job, I'm doing my thing. And, uh, one night I was like, Hey, um, so I had enrolled in an MBA program and I was like, Hey, uh, so I found this podcast called smart, passive income. And I'm thinking that I not going to go to MBA school and I'm going to start a blog.

Nick True: Right. And so like that initial, that initial conversation was like, hold up what? Um, but she trusted me and she knew I was a hard worker. She knew I was not going to like, do anything stupid or rush into anything. And so like that implicit trust was enough for her to be like, alright, like you do, you will figure it out. She still had two years of graduate school for physical therapy. And so we had lots of time to, to talk all this through. I wasn't going to quit my job until then for sure. And then she took a job throughout those two years is when we learned about travel physical therapy. And that's how we got into the Airstream initially was like, Hey, you could travel. I could do this blog thing. You know, like we could get an RV. Um, and so even when she graduated, she was more like, okay, that's what we're going to do. You're going to do your thing. I'm going to be a travel physical therapist. Eight months into that is when she was really on board of like, I don't really like this much, either your stuff has really taking off. You need help. What if I quit and sort of joined you and we both attacked this together. And so it was a, it was a few year transition.

Shannon Mattern: I love that. You mentioned smart, passive income. I think PatFlynn probably has no idea how many, like awkward husband, wife conversations that he has instigated from, from the podcast. Cause yeah, that was, that was me too. I was listening. I was actually listening to Shalene Johnson's podcast and he was a guest on her podcast talking about this whole affiliate income thing. And I'm like, wait, you can like teach people how to set up a website and get paid by hosting companies. That's a thing I'd have, I can do that. And that's like kind of how that was like my escape from freelance to teaching. And so, yeah, I, um, I told my husband, I was like, this is going to be like, I am going to start like make enough money to quit my day job. And he was like, you go for it, honey.

Shannon Mattern: But then I came home one day and I was like, uh, I put in my notice today and he's like, what just happened? And I'm like, it's a seven month notice so I can take it back, but I'm not going to do, but we were doing our annual budget meeting for the company and we were planning out these projects that I would have to be there for, for them to be successful. And I have to sit there and tell my boss like, Hey, by the way, this is, I'm not, I'm leaving at the end of the year. And so I came home and told him that and he was just like, I think he thought like, okay, she's got time. Like she'll change it

Nick True: To her senses. Yeah.

Shannon Mattern: And then it was like, I told him, I was like, I promise that my paycheck will stay the same. The money that comes into this house will stay the same. We are, we operate debt free. Personally. I operate debt free my business. And I think that it was like that, um, that was kind of like my non-negotiable, um, my non-negotiable so, I mean, he's still, he's like supportive, but he also just doesn't get the online space. Like, you know, he's, he's just like I do sometimes I'm like, do you understand how I make money? And he's like, this is a thing I'm like, yes, this is a thing. So he's like, you're not just a web designer. I'm like, no, I teach people. So it's just, it's interesting because there are people who like, he just doesn't have the belief that it's possible. And I'm like, you know what?

Shannon Mattern: You don't need to have it. I've got enough for both of us. So I love that. You're like, you guys are like all, you know, team mapped out money. And I think that, you know, for a lot of people listening, it's like they, their them and their spouse are like on the same page and, and they're on board. But for people who are in a situation like me, where one is like, really like, I'm very conservative, but my husband's even more conservative. I think it's more important than ever to kind of like circle back to what we were talking about is like, make sure your personal finances are on point so that when it is time for you to make that transition, you know, the conversation is not as scary because you've got everything together. You've got it together personally. You've got it together in business and you're not layering on this extra scary thing, which, you know, it's all perspective, but this extra thing of like, Oh, and now someone's not giving me this steady paycheck.

Nick True: Well, and it too, that that's so like spot on because the other piece is, you know, it can, sometimes it could feel like a betrayal in some ways. Like I know my wife at the time, again, she, she has a lot of trust in me that I, I'm not going to do anything stupid because of previous behavior. But you know, we're one year into our marriage and the game plan was I'm going to become an engineer. I'm going to work my way up through management. I'm going to get an MBA. I'm going to do the thing I'm going to bop. You know, that was, that was a plan and a year into that. I'm like, Hey, so, you know, like, uh, and here she is newly married and like her husband's dropping this kind of bomb in her lap. And so, you know, you, the more you can have your stuff together again on the personal side and not have as many other factors. Um, and the more you have a track record of, you know, executing against what you say you're going to do, then the more trust that buys you and your relationship for sure. No doubt.

Shannon Mattern: Oh yeah. And I could not agree with that more. And I, the other thing was like, we also had like a, an agreement. It was like, if this he's like, that's, you know, after the seven months, and it's like the dates coming, like the employment's being severed, like this is happening. And, you know, we have this conversation again and again and again. And he's like, you know, if it doesn't work out as you, I, I'm fine with you giving it a go for a year. And if it doesn't work out, then you agree to go get a job again. And I'm like, okay. Cause I knew I would not have to go. I'm like, I can agree to that easy. Cause I know. And um, then, you know, we just keep it, the business keeps growing and it keeps growing. And I think, you know, it's just, it's really, it's really interesting now it's like, he's, he's bought, he's bought in more to like, okay, this is like not a thing that's ever going to change. Like she runs this business. This is how, how she brings in her part of the money and you know, it's, it's all good. So I just think that open communication is so important if you have a partner, um, to, um, to keep them informed of your goals all the way along so that when it comes time, it's not like a, not like coming out of left field.

Nick True: Yeah.

Shannon Mattern: Gosh, this has been such a good, such a good, um, such a good conversation. I have just a couple more questions for you that I ask everybody on the show. You know, we talked about, um, we talked about some of your early, um, tactics and strategies that you did and you mentioned, um, curly girl adventures and, um, you know, just kind of those early days of getting started. But I wanted to know for someone who is listening, who wants to get their online business going, but they're struggling to get traction, um, meaning like even just start making money, what is your best advice for them?

Nick True: I think the big thing that helped me shift my mindset is, um, I like, um, I like a lot of what, um, Gary Vaynerchuk has to say specific. He puts out so much content. It's hard to consume specifically his keynotes, if you are interested, his keynotes are my favorite. Cause they're more crunchy. One of the things he said years ago that had a big shift in my focus on this whole online thing was not identifying so much as like I'm a blogger, I'm a podcaster, I'm a YouTuber. Um, don't identify so much as around the platform instead of thinking about, okay, I'm a business owner and I I'm trying to help a certain person and I can put out content in written format, audio format, or video format. Those are the three ways you can create content. And so thinking about your own strengths and like I'm a big fan for instance, of, um, the book, the StrengthsFinder 2.0 and, and thinking about your own strengths and what you're good at, are you good at writing or are you good at talking?

Nick True: Are you good at video and start there leaning into your strengths? And don't just try just because Shannon podcasts doesn't mean you should podcast just because I do YouTube doesn't mean you should YouTube. Right. And so thinking about your strengths and how that applies to those three things in terms of gaining traction around an audience, right. Um, and then as far as the making money piece, it can't be overstated how much, how important niching is. And I think I was so scared to niche early on. Um, but it wasn't until I found myself as the go to guy on YouTube around one specific budgeting tool. Like it, like, it wasn't like you do personal finance. It was like, no, no, no like one tool. Right? And then from there I've been able to expand, but getting known for something small and building products and services around that. And then you can expand off the back of that is, has been so key for us.

Shannon Mattern: That's such good advice. And I think that, like, I know so many people are like, I'm afraid that, you know, there won't be enough clients if I go that small. And it's like, you know, think about the problem that you're solving. You don't have to think about the people, you know, think about the problem that you're solving. And you know, people will find you, if you can niche around a tool or a, or a problem, it doesn't have to be, I think people also get hung up about like, Oh, it has to be like a, you know, college graduate with this income. Like it's, we're not talking about like a demographic of a person it's like, you know, you're, we're, it's around a specific thing. And so I think that that's such such good advice for people.

Nick True: And, and one of the things to that point too, is like I learned something early on or not, not early enough, but early ish on, uh, called the halo effect, which is a cognitive bias that all humans have. And the halo effect basically more or less States that if I believe you to be, uh, an expert or good at something, I will take the attributes that I've put on you. And if, if there's something similar, I will simply move that halo over and I will attribute those same attributes. So here's how this plays out in the online world. If I think Shannon is really good at teaching web design, and I believe that you're really good at it. And I've had interaction with you, maybe I've taken your course. Maybe I listen to your podcast. I'm like, man, she knows her stuff. All of a sudden, if you start talking about email marketing, I will put a halo on you because they're, they're tangentially related enough that I'm like, Oh yeah, she probably knows what she's talking about.

Nick True: It's why, if my car mechanic tells me how to fix my lawn mower or my RV, I believe them. And so for me, I've built a reputation around one budgeting tool. Well, now when I start talking about other budgeting tools or I talk about debt, pay down or investing or insurance, those are all things that are close enough and fall under a financial umbrella that the same audience member will put a halo on me and believe that I know what I'm talking about over there as well. So you're not trapped by niching down. You can start with one, build that reputation and then you can pivot slightly and people will follow you. It's not a big deal.

Shannon Mattern: Oh my gosh. I love that concept. I've never heard of that before. And I think that that is such a great way to explain, you know, how you can really get known for something, but still get to do what it is that you really want to do. So good. Okay. So one last question for you. What belief about yourself? Did you have to change to get where you are today?

Nick True: Part of it was a limiting belief around my age. Um, so when I started this, I was when I started my blog, I was 20, uh, gosh, three 22, something like that. Um,

Shannon Mattern: What do you know about money at 22?

Nick True: Exactly. Exactly. Like a lot of it was, was simply my age, both from the standpoint of like, can I really talk about this stuff? And then also from a standpoint of, um, like a legitimate, uh, Oh, what do they call it? Like a closed mindset around, uh, how much money I can make of like, I don't deserve to have a business making this much money until I'm at least in my mid to late thirties. You know what I mean? Like that, those two limiting beliefs, cause it's surprising. Um, you know, right now I'm 20. I don't even know what I am 26 years old right now. And I do a lot of budget coaching with people in their sixties, um, who are preparing for retirement. And it's really interesting and I've had to get past some of those beliefs, um, because I am able to help them because budgeting is budgeting and I can help those people just like I can help 20 somethings with it too. So that's been, that's been a big stretch and um, the book mindset by Carol Dweck has been really, really impactful for me in that area.

Shannon Mattern: I think that's so important. You know, this whole idea that, you know, it really is the things that we think about ourselves that we project onto everybody else that they nobody's thinking that much about us. That's that's like, they are not thinking about us at all. They have a problem. They want it solved. You have created content that has solved part of that problem enough to make them want to learn more from you. And they're not even thinking like, Oh, this guy doesn't look old enough to help me like, and if they do, they are not your people. There are people like, you know, it's like, they are not your people. And that's part of the niche too. It's just like being yourself and stepping fully into who you are, um, is going to like also help you find your people and make the ones that are not anyone that you would want to spend time with coaching on money. Go away. Yes, yes, exactly. Oh my gosh. This has been such a great conversation. Um, where can everyone go to find out more about you and mapped out money and just like get their money right. So that they can quit that day job.

Nick True: Yeah. Um, so mapped out money.com. You can obviously search on YouTube for mapped out money. And then, uh, the thing I'm most excited about right now is I've roped Hannah into doing content now, too. So we just recently launched our podcast called mapped out money and she's co-hosting with me. So she's on every episode we're talking on doing it together, which has been really fun.

Shannon Mattern: Very cool. Well, I'll link up all of that stuff in the show notes. So everyone can go check that out, meet Hannah, um, all the things. And I really, really appreciate you being here.

Nick True: Cool. Well, thanks so much for having me. It was super fun.

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Nick True is a married twenty-something from Tennessee and father to four fur-children. Through Mapped Out Money, Nick writes and speaks about personal finance, budgeting, and Slow-FI, all while traveling full-time with his wife and four pets in a 27ft Airstream. He is passionate about teaching people to enjoy their money now, while also saving and investing for the future. With some creative help from his wife, Hanna, Nick aims to produce approachable and engaging personal finance content to help you understand finance and manage your money, so you can get on with living your unique adventure.

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