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Join Andrew Brill as he discusses the incredible story of Johann “Psy” Ko ( @FIREPsyChat ), a US Air Force veteran turned financial coach, who conquered a staggering $110,000 debt to achieve financial freedom. In this episode, Psy shares invaluable lessons on overcoming financial burdens through discipline and strategic planning. Discover actionable tips on debt management, side hustles, and how to use tools like Roth IRAs and HSAs for wealth building. Psy’s journey from deep debt to financial independence is not just inspiring but also a testament to what’s possible with the right mindset and resources. Learn more about Psy and his financial journey here:


Andrew Brill 0:01
Hello and welcome to Wealthion. I’m your host Andrew Brill. With prices for goods that we use every day at high levels, it may seem like we’ll never be able to save money. But what if I told you financial independence is a lot more attainable than you think? We’ll discuss that possibility coming up right now.

I’d like to welcome Psy to Wealthion. Psy is a veteran of the US Air Force. Now he is a financial coach and an expert. He has a fascinating story about his own debt and how he got out of it in an extreme amount, and is now financially independent and thriving.

Psy first of all, thank you for your service, and welcome to Wealthion.

Johann “Psy” Ko 0:47
Thank you so much for your support. And thank you for having me.

Andrew Brill 0:49
Absolutely. Now, I want to get this right. So I’m going to read this off my paper, you had nearly $47,000 in credit card debt 42 and a half 1000 in car loans, 8700 and personal loans, and over a $10,000 loan from your 401 K. That’s a lot of debt. And what was your aha moment? First of all, let’s start here. How did how did you accumulate this kind of debt? You seem like an intelligent guy. But you know, and it happens to many people, and many people don’t want to talk about that. They don’t want to mention it, they carry this around this burden with them. How did you get into this problem?

Johann “Psy” Ko 1:28
Yeah so, it was a while make it a long story short, I had a serious spending problem. I just spent and spent and never track, what I was spending on, went out to eat went out to drink. And I thought, you know, hey, I got a income coming in. So I can just go out and spend it. And you know, I just spent till there was zero in my budget. And then one day, I started using credit cards because it was a 0% interest. And I start using that and I spent more money. And there was a time when I felt like I was doing emotional spending because there was a part of my coping mechanism to, you know, to feel good. I bought this, but I’m knowing that I’m never going to use it, but I bought it anyway. And then I went out to eat and I really liked to socialize, I really love to go out and hang out with my friends and buying people rounds and just never tracked them. And then when I realized that I had five maxed out credit cards, and it was just one credit card after another. My aha moment was when I realized, when I did my budget for the first time there was this was in 2012 2013 around there. And I was not able to make a minimum payment on my credit card. And I didn’t realize how much card debt that I had. And I went to my 401k route. So people watching this who have served or working in the federal government, they know what a TSP is, which is Thrift Savings Plan, equivalent to a 401 K, but the federal government version of the 401k. So I went to my tsp and just borrow money for financial hardship. I took some money out of that to pay down some credit cards, but I ended up having that loan and used more credit cards, and just eventually racked up to $47,000. And I had about 15,000 with the TSP loan or the 401 k loan. And I just got stuck. And I say, Wow, I have a negative cash flow statement on my budget. And I was stuck and didn’t know what to do at that point.

Andrew Brill 3:48
So $110,000 in debt, that had to be a pretty big burden that you carried around with you, I would assume?

Johann “Psy” Ko 3:55
Absolutely. Yeah, I couldn’t sleep for days. And I remember just staying up at night trying to figure out the numbers. I went to the internet to try to find some resources on how to pay down debt. There was some debt forgiveness. And I didn’t tell my family I didn’t tell my co workers didn’t tell mine, my boss or anybody because I was really embarrassed by it. So what I realized was that the car loans, those two cars that I didn’t need had to go first, right? So I got rid of them. And that took a lot off my plate because I got rid of them. I went to the dealership and I said, well you guys just buy these back. And I’ll take a difference of the loan and I did that. And then the next thing I did was really just kind of start budgeting and know what I could do to pay down my credit cards as soon as I could. That was my first thing. The first thing that I had to do to pay down my debt.

Andrew Brill 4:56
So you came to this realization and really didn’t ask anyone for help, but you knew that you had a problem? What do you say to people out there that are in this situation? And feel like at some point, you said you lost sleep. And this was really weighing on you. There are people out there that say, oh, you know what I’m helpless. This is I dug myself too big a whole $110,000 Pretty big debt hole when it’s, you know, credit cards and that sort of thing, because the interest on credit cards is just ridiculous. But there’s guys that are out there that say, I’m the little guy this, you know, I’ll never get out of this.

Johann “Psy” Ko 5:33
Yeah, there’s so many well, internet today, compared to back in 2013 2014. There’s so many more resources now that you can seek to find out, like my website has free debt free tools, how to calculate how to pay down your debt faster using the tools that we have. And what I what I did back then was while making about 57 $58,000, a year in income, I went out there to get more jobs more side hustles, whatever it took, and there was Uber was up and coming a long time ago, they were asking for test drivers. So I’m like, I’ll sign up for that. I’ll sign up for this. And I sold everything I could I did things that I didn’t need, that was part of my you know, might fail farewell with the things that were the materials that I purchased. I sold them on the marketplace, I sold them on Craigslist, I don’t know if Craigslist is still a thing. But I just sold everything and start paying down as much as I could. So I checked my spending my I didn’t go out to eat anymore. I stopped drinking, I stopped doing a lot of things. And people were kind of worried about me at the time, too. They’re like, man, he just stopped going out with us, you know, there’s something wrong with them. But I just told him, I needed to take a break and take care of myself. And I did that. But to people who feel like they’re struggling, they need to, you know, there, there’s so many side hustles out there now that I would do even like just online. Just side hustles to teach people like I speak different languages. So I taught people, Mandarin, taught people Japanese, and I earned a little bit of income, but a little bit of money went back into that credit card debt. So my mindset was that I will do whatever it takes to get rid of my credit card debt. Once I had that mindset, everything else was just possible. It just came along. And I just kept going. Pretty sure I worked like seven days a week for about a year.

Andrew Brill 7:35
So but it takes discipline. Right it you you were obviously not hanging out with your friends, you are working a few different jobs trying to get you are you are disciplined in getting to reaching this goal. You said, okay, you know, and when we talk, you said it took almost two years to climb out of this hole. And but you you were determined to do it. And to anybody who’s out there that has these issues. It’s attainable may take a little more time, depending on how big the debt is. But definitely attainable. Is that correct?

Johann “Psy” Ko 8:12
Yep, that is correct. And then the biggest thing is people feel like, oh, I have to do these two, three jobs for jobs for the rest of my life in order for me to stay above water, right? That’s not the case at all. When I went into that mindset, I told myself, I’m not doing this again, after two years of paying off my debt, once I paid off my debt, I worked on myself to professionally develop, right, and I got a different job, I left active duty in 2016, I got a private sector job that pay me way more than what I what I made when I was in the Air Force. And I just kept going and say, I’m gonna keep, I’m only going to keep doing this until my debt is paid off. Once my debt is paid off, I’m going to stay discipline, and I’m never going to spend more than I make, no matter how much money I make. And that’s, that’s where the financial independence journey really started.

Andrew Brill 9:08
So where did you Where did you turn to? Because there’s a lot of people who say, Look, you know, I don’t know how to do this on my own. I I’ll never figure this out. I’m too good at spending time to really figure this out. Where did you turn to to help you on this Debt Free Journey?

Johann “Psy” Ko 9:26
Yeah. So um, the first person I found on the website was actually Dave Ramsey. Right. So Dave Ramsey is pretty much everywhere. i So the funny thing is, I never followed his steps, but he provided all the tools and resources on how to pay down the debt fast. And that’s where I went and I went to different websites, I went to different books, resources, and I just kept reading. So instead of going out to have fun, I just stayed home and read a lot of things that I could do. Here’s a good resource. Now if There’s so many other resources that you can find on the website on the tools, the calculators. And that’s where like, even my website has the calculators on how to pay down the debt fast. If you make additional payments of, let’s say, 300 bucks extra per month, this is how fast you can pay down your debt. If you make additional 100 bucks a month on your credit card. This is how much money you’re gonna, how fast you can get out of debt. So those are the resources that I’ve found. And the funny thing is, when I was deployed to Afghanistan, back in 2008, that’s that was when I found Dave Ramsey’s free class, but I fell asleep through it through the class, and I never even paid attention to it. And I found his CD, if people still remember what CDs were, and I found a CD in my backpack that I deployed with. And in 2013, when I was paying down my debt, I played that CD. And it was so helpful. I don’t know what it’s called, I think it’s like financial peace, something like that. And I went through it. And I just kind of wrote down the tools, tools that I needed. And I didn’t really follow through with the plan. But I still got myself out of debt, using my own timeline to get out of debt within two years

Andrew Brill 11:15
Did you have to give up everything you never went out to eat, you never went out and had fun that you did, you didn’t really have to give up every like, you could indulge slightly. I’m not talking about going out and buying another car, I’m talking about having a meal with friends or, you know, going to a movie or something like, it’s not like you have to go okay, you know, I’m gonna read this book, I’m gonna sit home, I’m gonna drive for Uber or Uber Eats or whatever it is that the the extra jobs where you didn’t just stop living your life.

Johann “Psy” Ko 11:46
I kind of did. To be completely honest with you, I became very, very frugal. It’s a 180 mindset from spending a lot to spending nothing because I was so sick and tired of what I was doing. And when I had that aha moment and realize that, wow, I really had a problem. That was the first thing I had to address myself is that I had a problem. But the thing was, I became frugal. But I said, I am only going to be frugal for this period of time. And I’m going to treat myself really well as soon as I paid off. And the last thing I paid off was my tsp loan, or the 401k when I sent the check, and that night, I went out to eat sushi. All you can eat sushi and right after that I had a steak dinner because I could, I didn’t have any debt anymore. But I was being responsible. So in a way, I did give up a lot for two years. But looking back, I don’t regret it. But if I had to go back and do it again, I would still kind of have a mental pause and say alright, let’s take a break for a second. Regroup, maybe go out to eat like a double cheeseburger from McDonald’s back in today’s it was dollar menu. Now it’s like five bucks. But you know, that’s something that I would treat myself and say, Hey, I just paid off this credit card. Let’s go and get me something by done and move on and keep going.

Andrew Brill 13:10
Now you counsel people now that’s, that’s what you do is in your website, fireside chat, it’s pas psy. And that’s, you know, people come to you for help. Now. What do you tell the people that come to you? There? I’m sure there’s there’s people, they come to you obviously for debt help financial dependents, and we’ll get into fire in a few minutes. But what do you tell them when they’re they’re so down, and they think you know what, I have to change my life completely. Some of them I would assume don’t have to change their life 180, they’re just they need to get out from under for a little while. And then they can have that freedom that you have.

Johann “Psy” Ko 13:53
Now, every person’s financial situation is different, right? So that’s why we call it personal finance, because it’s very personal for each, each one of us, each one of you. I’m sure your personal financial situation is different from mine. Now, when people come to me and say, Hey, I need a direction. And that’s what they really need is a direction, right? So I have all these debts, or I have, let’s say I have $20,000 that came in, and it’s just sitting in my bank right now. What should I do with that? Then I tell you know, I give them the direction and say, here’s some options that you can go through it. Here’s option A, there’s the Roth IRA, and there is you can invest, increase your retirement contributions, or you can move that money out of the traditional bank and put it in a higher savings account. You know, that was one of the things that I didn’t realize that 82% of Americans don’t even know what a high yield savings account was. And they’re just putting in a traditional bank that accrues point zero 1% in interest. So that’s, you know, it’s just people in debt or people that have money They just need a direction, right? And one of my favorite moments is that I have high school seniors come to me and submit their information on my website. And they said, Can you just walk me through what a Roth IRA IRA is, you don’t need to tell me what to invest. You just tell me how this works. And I said, No problem, I’m not even going to charge you 30 minutes to an hour, let’s go through this. And 18, seven or 18 year olds, they leave the meeting, and knowing that they’re going to become multimillionaires in the future. So I’m very hopeful for some of the younger generation, despite what you read on the news about Gen Z, doing this Gen Z doing that. There are some really incredible and smart Gen Z, saving and investing a lot of money and people who are in debt. Like I said, it’s just a, it’s a direction, given the tools, I do 20% of the work, they do 80% of everything else.

Andrew Brill 16:01
So just point them in the right direction.

Johann “Psy” Ko 16:04
Exactly, yup.

Andrew Brill 16:04
Guilty as charged, I just put some money into high yield savings account, because for the longest time rates were so low that you got you like you said that point oh 1% is like Okay, great. I have money in the bank, I got two cents this month. Whoo. But now I’ve moved money over into high yield savings account, a little bit happier about that. But your point about the Roth IRA is is spot on. And I think that for kids, especially teens, financial literacy is is at a very low level. And I think if you’re able to reach out to high school kids, you know, all the more power to you. Because I think that it’s something that I tried to do with my kids. And they they’re financially responsible. And they both have my two that are out in the working world have Roth IRAs. So they’ve, and that’s not something I told them to go out. And do. They researched it and did it on their own. But I think that there’s a lot of kids out there that are not financially literate. And I think that a lot have spending issues that you know, that are not, that is not a good situation. But so I want to ask you out of all the debts that you had, is there a debt that you look at or a vehicle like credit cards or car loans or mortgages? Is there a debt that you look at and say, Well, this is the worst? Stay away from this if you can, now,

Johann “Psy” Ko 17:23
I will say credit card, that is absolutely the worst? If you’re, here’s what I how I teach my clients or people who watch my channel is that the moment you realize that you can’t pay your credit card back in full, that is the day that you should stop using your credit cards. Do I use credit cards? Now? I do, and I pay it off every single month and I never bite more than I can chew? That’s really the biggest thing is I changed my behavior? Right? Do I say credit cards are all bad? No, not necessarily. I think they’re, they’re great for my business. They’re great for, you know, building up mileage, maybe points and stuff like that, but, but it’s not a whole lot of points. But when I’m being responsible, with my credit card usage, there’s a big difference, right, and people get into the credit card debt, because they don’t pay attention to their spending and they don’t pay, they don’t pay attention to the balance to increase balance going on their credit cards, and they get themselves into the hole. And right now the credit card debt is at an all time high. And sure people can blame it on inflation. But that is still people still using their credit cards to just keep using it and using it. And it’s a problem and I was in credit cards will be the worst debt out of all, and the second one will be the car debt. Car Loans are probably the second worst. Because that every vehicle unless you drive a Lamborghini, every vehicle depreciates in value. So when people say I got a 4% car loan, great, but your car is still depreciating by 15% annually. So you’re technically losing about 20% every year to a $30,000 vehicle that you just purchased brand new in 2025 or 2025. Whatever, right?

Andrew Brill 19:08
So it’s you I hate to call and, and I use it more as a charge card because it goes like you I paid off every month. So it’s like, okay, I don’t have to carry the cash. I’m just gonna charge this. And when the bill comes, I know that I’m just paying off every month and I always have in the back of my mind is okay, I paid for this. I paid for this. This is the amount of the bill that’s going to come at the end of the month. Sometimes, if I know that I’ve charged too much. I’ve had a vacation where I’ll wait until that billing cycle changes. Now I can use my card again knowing that my expendable cash to pay that bill is going to be there when it needs to be and I never ever carry a balance and it’s something that I taught my kids look, you carry a balance. I’m cutting up your card because you know for the card companies to make 28 per sent on your balance is criminal. But that’s that’s what’s happening these days. And when you look at it, and you run the math, it could take 10 years with minimum payments, if you never use the card again, to pay to pay that bill back. And who wants to have a loan for 28%? That’s, that’s ridiculous,

Johann “Psy” Ko 20:18
Right? And the banks, you know, what banks call people like us debt beats, they have a name for us, they really do. They call us deadbeats, because we’re the people who pay off the credit card balances every single month, they’re not making any money off of it, they’re given us money, right? They’re given us all the rewards, they’re given us all the points. We’re not racking up 28 29% of interest every single month. But they’re making money off of everyone else who don’t know how to pay off their credit cards every single month. But they call us debt beats, and they hate working with us, because we’re taking advantage of them in a way, you know,

Andrew Brill 20:51
I’m happy to have that label. And you know what, I’d rather hold on to my money and have my money grow in my pocket and not theirs. So let’s talk about the fire movement a little bit. And that’s something that you’ve gotten into although fire standing for financial independence, retire early, you’re more into the financial independence part. But the retire early part is something that you know, you if people want to do, they can certainly do it. Let’s talk about that a little bit and explain to me how you’ve gotten into that. Obviously, you have a 401k now, and a Roth IRA. And that’s a vehicle to which people can use to retire early.

Johann “Psy” Ko 21:31
Yeah, yeah. So I discovered the fire of movement during all the readings I was doing when I was paying off my debt. And I found this website, I can’t remember the name of it now. But they just call it the fire of movement. I’m like, What is this about? Right? So even on their website, they focus more on the fi than read. So there’s the financial independence and retire early. I know there are some YouTube channels, and there are couples who retire early in their 40s. And just living abroad. Some people say I just want to achieve financial independence, so that I have the possibility to retire early. That’s where I am, I, I still have, I feel like I have a purpose here what I’m doing. So I don’t want to retire now or in my 40s. I thought about retiring at 45. But now it’s more like, No, I want to I just want to be financially independent. So I can continue to do what I love to do what I’m passionate for. And this, that’s really the idea of the fire of movement so that you’re not stuck at the 95 workplace, doing the job that you don’t even like, and you’re just going to work every day until you’re 6067. Right, and then you collect your Social Security pension and you’re done. Fire movement is above that. So we don’t even consider social security pension, right? That is a nice to have, because we are going above and beyond with investing. So when I said that I was really disciplined, and I gave up a lot of things. During my Debt Free Journey, I still give up a few things so that I could continue to pursue my fire of move my my fire journey. So when I started investing, saving money, I was putting away 2530 45% of my income towards saving. I did that in my first year. And I said, that was good, but I didn’t have any fun. So I stopped doing that. That was in 2018. I said, You know what, I need to set some cash aside to have fun, because I need to have that balance between life and saving money with the fire. So the whole idea was to continue a gret aggressively investing but at the same time, have a little life for yourself, you’re no longer in debt, so that you have the possibility to retire earlier if you want to. Because most people, I can feel it, you know, going into my 40s, I’m going to be I’m not going to be as active as I was in my 20s or 30s. And I want to have the possibility of maybe just call it quits or take a break from my work and just travel the world. That’s really the biggest idea.

Andrew Brill 24:05
You’re talking about investments by putting money away and we’re without getting personal. Where do you suggest people put money away to get the maximum return so it can grow exponentially? So by the time look if you know if like you’re in your 40s I’m actually in my 50s. So you know if I want to retire in 1015 years by the age of 70. You know what? I have a company I have 1020 years left, I want to travel the world. I want to see things that I’ve never seen before. I have a bucket list just like everybody else. I want to enjoy those things. Where are you telling people to put their money? So

Johann “Psy” Ko 24:42
So I have like a checklist right? So coming from the military background. We all use checklists and it’s easier for us to understand that follow. What we always prioritize is the getting that 401k match and then do the Roth IRA and then do everything else. always prioritize your long term invest So let’s first because if you fail fire, let’s say you can’t retire early, you didn’t get to invest as much to retire early, you still have your 401 K and Roth IRA, by the time you’re 55, you can start collecting your 401k. And by the time you’re 59 and a half, you can still have that money in the Roth IRA. So what I always suggest, and there’s a checklist on my website, is that step one, figure out what your annual expenses are right now. And then you can multiply that by with inflation, and there’s a calculator on my website for that too. And then the next step is to get that 401k, but only up to the employer match, that’s free money that you’re going to get. So you should never leave that out. If your employer gives you a 4% contribution, if you contribute a percent, then that 8% should be the minimum that you do, then the next step is to have that cash cushion, right. So I teach that and say, you don’t want to invest everything you have, you don’t want to own everything in cash either, right, you want to have a balance and your net worth. So calculate your net worth and find out where you are, and then build that cushion between you to cash and then to investments. So it kind of like you don’t want to lay on the floor. Without a mattress, you get a mattress that matches your cash. So you have that cushion between the floor and where you are with investing, then the next step will be to max out your, your Roth IRA, your health savings account, that’s another great tool to for the early retirement strategy is that people are thinking, Oh, health savings account. That’s just for health, right? No, it’s not, you know, you can actually take money out of Health Savings Account early. So if I spent 200 bucks this year on copay, I can reimburse myself 20 years from now. And the 200 bucks that I spent in 2024, there is no expiration on it, because there’s a loophole in the HSA that you can reimburse yourself in the future, and then go after you’re done with the 401 K Roth IRA HSA, that is your long term retirement plan, then you move on to start planning for the intermediate or short term retirement plan. So if you’re like 10 years from I want to retire by age 50, and I’m 40 right now, then you start investing in that 10 year time horizon. If you’re within 15 years, then you start investing in that 15 year time horizon. How do people do it, I mean, just opening up a taxable brokerage account, right. So you can go to any brokers that has a taxable brokerage account, and I don’t do anything fancy index funds, ETFs. I don’t do fancy individual stocks, I do a few here and there. But it’s not why I’m growing my investments, that’s not how my investments are growing, it’s mostly from index one is just really, really boring investments. Once you figure that figure that out the time horizon, and how much money you need to invest every single month to get to that fire number is what we call it fire number, right? The rule of 25. And you have your annual expenses multiplied by 25. That’s how much money you need invested to achieve financial independence.

Andrew Brill 28:05
And I would assume inflation plays a little bit of part of that rule of 25. And interest rates going up and stuff like that. What to ask you, is there a percentage on how much cash someone should have to use? As opposed to okay, you know, what? To use, you know, very round numbers, I make $100,000, or I make $50,000? How much cash? Do I need? Or is that all according to budget? And how you live your life?

Johann “Psy” Ko 28:36
Are you talking about just how much cash you should have in your net worth, or just have set aside,

Andrew Brill 28:41
Have set aside, he’s like the mattress, he said, that’s your cash, and you’re gonna put money into your 401 K, you’re gonna put money into your Roth IRA, and you’re gonna put that money away. Obviously, we need to buy food, we need to buy gasoline for our cars, what you know, the necessities of life, some clothing, you know, is there a percentage that you look at? Or does that go? Is that an individualized thing?

Johann “Psy” Ko 29:02
So it’s very individualized. So everyone, it depends on if you’re single married, if you have kids, and if you’re a dual income family, or if you’re a single source, income family, right? So if you’re the only person making money for the entire family of 455, or whatever, but the cushion that I was talking about, I should clarify, that is more of an emergency fund so that you don’t go back into debt again. So when I got out of debt, I spent the next five months aggressively saving that cash into my emergency fund. And I was single at the time so I put away about six months of my expenses in my emergency fund. So that was about $20,000 Because I was single not a whole lot of expenses but I wanted to have that. I didn’t want to use credit cards for a while but I always had that cushion. Of if something happens if I got into a car accident if I had to go to the ER for anything. I would always have that emergency fund to back me up. Now I teach this to besides the emergency for on there as the cash reserve allocation strategy is what I call it, you have your bucket, not the Roth IRA, not the investments, it’s your bucket inside your cash. So we talked about emergency three to six months of expenses. Now, there’s also the annual expenses fund is what I teach. So this is the most overlooked budget on people’s budget items is that annual expenses, subscriptions, vehicle maintenance, DMV registration fees, all of that stuff, you have to set aside like certain amount of money, let’s say 100 bucks a month. So you have 1200 bucks a year, in that annual expenses fund to pay for anything that is necessary and expected. That’s how I categorize that. And then the second bucket or the third bucket will be the discretionary funds. So that will be anything that’s expected. But unnecessary. So discretionary fund will be something like your birthday, your anniversary, your kids birthdays, Christmas shopping, or, you know, any subscriptions, right, like ESPN subscription or anything like that. That’s what you want to do. And then the other one that I have that this is optional, is travel fun, I love to travel. So there’s the other, like the entertainment part to make sure that you have a balanced, balanced life between investing and having fun, but only have a discretionary or travel fund. If you’re out of debt, that debt, right. But you should always have an emergency fund and an annual expenses fund because those annual expenses, let’s say, you’re going to pay 200 bucks next month. And that messes up your budget. But if you have that set aside and a high yield savings account, and label that annual expenses fund, that’s not going to make a dent on your budget, because you’re already expected. So that’s, that’s how I teach people and say, it’s not so much the percentage, but it’s really how you allocate your cash.

Andrew Brill 31:50
How does things like college factor into all this? I mean, you know, college isn’t cheap these days. And obviously, you have to put together a budget, and there may be loans that kids have to take out to go to college, some that are, you know, not, don’t your parents, some parents that don’t have as much money. And, you know, how does that play into all of the planning?

Johann “Psy” Ko 32:12
Yeah, so it’s really tough right? Now, obviously, the college tuitions keep going up, and it’s out far outpacing inflation, right? So it’s been crazy. And I chose not to go to college. That was me. I wasn’t the smartest kid in high school either. So I just kind of, I said, Oh, I found a recruiter and just join Air Force. instead. This was back in 2003 2004. But when you think about college, and people have asked me that, previous clients have asked me that too. How do I balance between retirement investing and college savings? Well, when you get on the plane, and I always say this, when you get on the plane, the flight attendants always given an instruction to say make sure you put the mask on yourself first before you put it on your kids, right? Most people will say, Well, I want to save my kid first. But you can’t save your kid if you don’t save yourself first. Right? So that’s the same thing. You want to focus on your retirement first, and then focus on your kids college because your retirement is forever. It’s however long that you live until, until you die. Your kids college last four years, if do what you can, there is no set budget on how much you should contribute to your kids college fund. It’s what you can to help your kids out now. There are different things that you people can do to say, you know, well, actually, I’m kind of thing it was something else. But there there are more employers waiving the four year degree requirements now. And it’s funny you mentioned that because I have a video just coming out in about two hours talking about the top high, high paying jobs with no degree requirements. And there are a lot of jobs that even airline pilots, they don’t even need your four year degree anymore, right? So I know you’re flying your you got your private pilot pilot’s license, but if you want to become a first officer for Delta Airlines, they say we don’t need your four year degree anymore. And before that, they didn’t even care what kind of degree you had. They just care more about your flight experience than anything else. And that goes to a lot of jobs now, right? They want to, they want to make sure that you have your professional certificates and I’m going to use the airline for an example. I want to make sure that you have your your private pilot’s license, you have your instrument rating, you have your commercial certificate, you have your multi engine rating, right. Oh, you have a degree cool, nice, great job, but you’re higher because you have all those hours and certificates. So I think the world is changing. There was a few articles that came out from I believe it was Business Insider and CNBC. A lot of universities are actually in trouble financially. Because 2021 has the lowest enrollment ever, right? So they might be if they’re in financial trouble, that means that the tuition costs maybe this is just me assuming my job, or something else better might happen. And I’m cheering for that. I think they need to reduce the tuition costs anyway. So yeah,

Andrew Brill 35:14
They’re crazy. But you may have, you know, I guess I am going for my IDs, I have my private pilot’s license, I’m going for my instrument rating. And you may have given me an idea, maybe I could become a pilot, and, you know, travel the world for free, that would be a lot of fun. Just one last question about if you’re lucky enough to get a mortgage, and your mortgages, let’s say you got a few years ago, and it’s around 3%. Now, is it better to try and become debt free? If you have cheap money like that? Or do you look at that as look? You’re still borrowed money, that’s debt? Let’s try and get rid of that debt, even though it’s inexpensive debt, like credit card debt, it’s inexpensive debt.

Johann “Psy” Ko 35:57
Yeah, so mortgage just different now. So if you and I were having a conversation, let’s say two years ago, I would have said 30 year fixed mortgage and just, you know, make minimum payments and invest the difference, right, that’s what everybody knows, that’s how everyone knows to All right, you can make more out of investments than paying down your mortgage. Now, the mortgage rates 7% a percent, right? My wife and I were actually shopping for a house. But it’s just that the mortgage rates are always going to be the concern. Now, if you’re in, if you’re close to retirement age, let’s say you’re, you’re, you have a 10 year time horizon, that you’re going to be retiring at the age of 60 to 64. Or let’s say, age 60. I always recommend that you pay off your home, regardless of the interest rates. I don’t want any liabilities when I retire. I don’t want to think about even a mortgage debt, not even a primary home, not even my rental property. I don’t have any rental properties right now. But I would not want to have any liabilities going into my 60s, right? So that I want to be completely risk averse going into it. Now. If I got an eight, let’s say 8% mortgage debt at the age of 30. Right now, say for what’s the median home sales is like $450,000. Right now, with an 8% 30 year fixed mortgage. It’s tough, I would I would try to refinance as as the rates come down. And if people say the rates are not coming down, I think they are, it’s just not sustainable, because we’re not the only ones paying interest on it. But the government themselves, you know, they’re in debt, right. And they’re paying interest on their debts too. So you know, billions of dollars going back into interest. It’s just not sustainable, even for the federal government. So even if inflation starts to go back up, I think they’re still going to cut rates. But if people are trapped in a situation, I shouldn’t use the word trapped, right? If they bought a house for 8%, I will say just wait until you can refinance. As soon as the rate starts to drop, try to refinance. If not, I would try to just pay down a little bit at a time as you can, because 8% is considered high interest, high interest debt. And if you’re looking to buy a house right now, just make sure that you don’t overpay for your home. And like I said earlier, don’t bite more than you can chew. Right. So if you pay more than 30%, I’m kind of given a gray area of 25 to 30% of your gross income, that’s a gray area, if you can maintain under 25%. Great, but the home prices are high. So it’s really, it’s really hard for a lot of Americans to buy homes right now. But if you can be patient and just save a little more downpayment towards the towards the next home, that’s what I would recommend. But if you start paying for house, that’s going to eat away 35 40%. And I know people who who pay 50% half of their income towards mortgage, you’re not going to have any room for your life, you’re not going to have any room to pay for to invest in your retirement. So people really need to kind of pay attention to that in this environment.

Andrew Brill 39:05
Any mortgage, any 30 year fixed mortgage, you can pay one extra payment a year, and it brings it down to a 17 year mortgage. So that’s, that’s a better way if you can, if you’re going to hack it and just pay one extra payment a year. It cuts that, that dead in half. So that’s, that’s another way I guess you can can tackle that problem. But thank you so much for joining me is has been valuable information for me. And I think it’s extremely helpful to a lot of others. And I think the bottom line is like look, you know, if it’s not hopeless, doesn’t matter. The size of the debt, it’s not hopeless may take you a little bit longer to pay it off. But it’s doable. You’re you’re living proof that it’s not only doable, but you’ve gone from a point where you are in $110,000 in debt to financial independence.

Johann “Psy” Ko 39:57
Absolutely. It is not imposed. as well. And I want people to know that there are tools and resources out there, there are people who want to help you. And in the meantime, I am going to bases, military bases, high schools to educate the younger generation to know, this is what’s available to you. And this is what you can do to start investing. I think millennials, Gen X and baby boomers, if we had gotten this type of financial education, I believe half of us probably would not be in this type of debt, just knowing can be very powerful. And I think if you’re in that situation already, just don’t give up and just keep going and be discipline, be intentional with your spending, and be intentional, which is saving and once you do that, everything else should be automatic, and you can enjoy your life. And that’s not the purpose of the fire movement is that you don’t enjoy your life now. But I want you to enjoy and invest and save for your future.

Andrew Brill 41:00
And not know that you can find you know, look you up you’re a nice guy you’re willing and happy to help and I think they can find you at Fire Psy Chats Psy chat. Where else can we find you on social media? What’s the best place someone go to can go to find you if they need help?

Johann “Psy” Ko 41:16
They can find me on Instagram. I think I have Facebook still I still do and they can find me on YouTube. I do interact with people on YouTube the most not so much on Tik Tok. I’m working on it. There’s like a whole new language on Tik Tok that I just don’t understand. But they can always reach out to me on the website at fireside or they can just leave a comment or email me from the website if they need to be happy to help

Andrew Brill 41:41
and all your videos are free. So look, I’ve watched I’ve watched some and the information is invaluable so if you’re looking for help, and you start by watching sighs videos because they have a wealth of information.

Johann “Psy” Ko 41:56
Yeah, appreciate that. Yep, definitely come check out my channel and that look at all the videos and the tools, download the tools and watch the videos at the same time. That’s how you can get yourself out of debt or start investing.

Andrew Brill 42:08
So I thanks so much for joining me. It’s been it’s been a wonderful chat. I really appreciate it.

Johann “Psy” Ko 42:13
Thank you so much for having me.

Andrew Brill 42:14
Absolutely. That’s a wrap on another discussion here on Wealthion. Thank you for joining us if you need help being financially resilient, please head over to and sign up for a free no obligation consultation with a with one of our registered investment advisors. And remember to follow us on social media for the latest news and information to help you invest wisely. And if you could like and subscribe to the channel, we’d greatly appreciate it and don’t forget to hit the notification bell so you can find out when we post new videos to the channel. Thanks again for watching and until next time, stay informed, be empowered and may your investments flourish.


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