How much closer would you be to hitting your goal of early retirement if you had started when you were just a teenager? Author Dan Sheeks believes teenagers should have the opportunity to learn about financial freedom and the way real estate investing can help them achieve their financial goals. In this episode, Dan shares how to get teenagers involved in learning about and achieving early financial independence.
Dan Sheeks | Real Estate Background
- Founder of Sheeks Freaks, a community in which young people can learn finance skills to help them reach early financial independence.
- Portfolio: Own 17 units of residential. Their portfolio includes STRs, long-term, single family, small multi-family, out-of-state properties, and BRRRRs. They also rent out their basement in their primary residence.
- Full-time job: Public high school business/marketing teacher.
- Published a book with Bigger Pockets Publishing, First to a Million, which is a teenager’s guide to achieving early financial independence.
- Based in: Denver, CO
- Say hi to him at: www.sheeksfreaks.com
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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners how are you doing? Welcome to The Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show. I’m Joe Fairless. This is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast, where we only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any fluffy stuff. With us today, Dan Sheeks. How are you doing, Dan?
Dan Sheeks: I’m doing great, Joe. Thanks for having me.
Joe Fairless: Well, I’m glad to hear that and it’s my pleasure. A little bit about Dan. He’s the founder of SheeksFreaks, which is a community in which young people can learn finance skills to help them reach early financial independence. He has a portfolio of 17 units, and he just published a book, congrats on that. It’s called First to a Million, A Teenager’s Guide to Achieving Early Financial Independence. It was released through Bigger Pockets publishing. It’s a book specifically for teenagers, and talks about real estate and how they can get involved. Based in Denver, Colorado. With that being said, Dan, do you want to give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your current focus?
Dan Sheeks: Sure, yeah. As you said, I’m based here in Denver, Colorado. My wife and I have a portfolio of 17 units, all residential. My main gig, however, is I am a high school business teacher, been doing that for 19 years. I absolutely love my job, I love working with young people every day; they energize me, and they kind of get me out of bed in the morning. I teach business classes like entrepreneurship, personal finance, marketing. My wife was a teacher as well and she retired a couple of years ago. She manages our real estate for us and we’re just living the dream here in Denver.
Joe Fairless: I was not offered those classes in high school. Are you employed by a private school?
Dan Sheeks: I’m at a public high school, it’s a large public high school. When I was in high school, they didn’t have these classes either. But most large high schools nowadays offer a variety of business classes, but they usually are always electives. Not every kid’s taking them but they are available.
Joe Fairless: That’s awesome. I’m glad that that is the case and I’m glad there are teachers like you who are teaching these subjects to teenagers, also, ideally to adults, and everyone, honestly… Because a lot of us didn’t get this education that early on and some of us still don’t have that education. I’m glad that you’re getting the word out.
So I’d like to focus our conversation on your area of expertise, which is teaching teenagers these financial topics. I’d like to hear what you have to say about how to share a message with teenagers about financial independence, about real estate investing, and sharing it in a way that resonates with them. Let’s start with that. How do you communicate with them about this topic in a way that resonates?
Dan Sheeks: It’s a little tricky. Not every teenager is in a place where they’re ready to, not just learn about personal finance and financial independence, but actually, be motivated enough to put what they learn into action. That’s okay. But I do believe that every teenager should be exposed to, absolutely without a doubt, just basic personal finance education, so they are financially literate. Unfortunately, in our country, that’s never been the case. Most high school graduates graduate high school without any personal finance education. That’s slowly changing, but it’s a long road there.
To get young people interested in these topics, I do what I can. First of all, with technology, social media, the internet, and stuff today, many, many young people, as well as adults, are finding these topics, these concepts, these strategies on their own, through Tik Tok, through Instagram, through YouTube, through blogs, through podcasts like this one. So a lot of young people I meet are already somewhat self-educated on these topics, and they’re just burning to learn more about how they can create a financial future that looks very different from the average person. But in my classroom, it’s a little bit different. Most of those students are probably in the class because they want to learn a little bit about personal finance, but the idea of early financial independence, which is what my book is about – that’s a very foreign concept to them, and honestly, to most adults in the US. The idea that you can stop working and be financially free before age 65 is not something that’s commonly known.
I’ll do things like I’ll throw out there “Hey, what do you think about retiring before your parents? Wouldn’t that’d be kind of cool?” That’ll get a lot of ears to perk up. Or I’ll say something like, “Would you like to be a millionaire before you turn 30?” This is absolutely doable if you make some right decisions around your personal finance. Or I’ll all talk about the idea of financial freedom. The term financial freedom is much more attractive and interesting to teenagers than the term retirement. I stay away from that word. To them, that is so far in the future and such an abstract concept because they are teenagers. But financial freedom, many times will get them interested enough to learn some stuff.
Joe Fairless: Let’s talk about, you wrote a book, First to a Million, A Teenager’s Guide to Achieving Early Financial Independence or financial freedom. What is the guide? How do teenagers achieve that?
Dan Sheeks: Well, as a teenager, I don’t think they can. It’s going to take five or 10 years at a minimum to reach financial independence. But the teenager can start and should start learning about personal finance, learning about early financial independence topics. The book covers many different areas, everything from the mindset in entrepreneurial topics to things like frugality, earning extra income, side hustles, investing in real estate, index funds, and all the different things that most of us and your listeners know that if we could turn back the clock and go back to when we were teenagers, we wish we would have known all of this stuff. It’s really not that difficult to set yourself on a path to early financial independence and get there in a few years. It’s not a pathway for everyone, I tell all my kids that. This information you should know but it may not be the right path for you. You and only you can decide if early financial independence is something that you want to strive for. If it’s not, that’s totally fine. There’s nothing wrong with working until you’re 65. What I do think is wrong is if you think that’s the only option and no one tells you that there are other options out there.
Joe Fairless: What are some tactical tips that you provide regarding any of those items, mindset, entrepreneurialism, frugality, extra income, or side hustles index funds?
Dan Sheeks: There’s a lot. I’ll go over things as basic as building a credit score as a teenager, if you’re 18, you can get your own credit card and you should. You should also use it responsibly, which I talked about, but you should start building that credit score’s early as you can. If you’re under 18, then the best choice is to get added to your parent’s credit card as an authorized user and that will build your credit score even before you’re 18. Then going into things like earning income as a teenager. That could be as simple as a part-time job, it could be a job that what I call a higher-level job where you’re working in an industry or in an office that has to do with something that you’re interested in. Many of the readers of my book are interested in real estate investing so I talk about maybe getting a job at a property management company, or a real estate brokerage firm, or with a contractor so that you’re in the real estate space and you’re learning and connecting with others who have that like interest.
Frugality, I talk about paying yourself first, which I think is maybe the most important topic in the book, that concept of paying yourself first. Even as a teenager, your income isn’t probably very high but you probably have some income even if it’s just an allowance, mowing your neighbor’s lawn, or a part-time job. The idea of saving a certain percentage off the top every time you have money come into your life, setting yourself up for a high savings rates and then investing that money is something we talk about a lot in the book as well. There are many other tactics even teenagers can employ, just learning, just self-educating, and continuing to read books, listen to podcasts, or watch YouTube videos. There’s so much free information out there nowadays that it’s easy… I should say it’s simple, but maybe it’s not easy. Because teenagers want to spend time doing other things like video games and Netflix. But many of them are willing to spend some time learning as well.
Joe Fairless: What are some of the topics that you find really resonate as it relates to the subject with teenagers? And what are some topics that ideally would resonate but don’t really land as well as the other ones?
Dan Sheeks: I talk a lot about being trapped in a job, living paycheck to paycheck, that lifestyle. When I do that, I know a lot of the students, they think immediately other parents. They see their parents go to work every day, sometimes really stressed-out checking emails at night, maybe working on the weekends, talking about their job negatively. Maybe it’s just that they don’t like their job or maybe it’s that they hate their job. What really resonates with students I think, is saying that the life of being trapped in a job isn’t one that you have to lead. You can make certain decisions now and over the next few years, to allow yourself to have the option to work.
You can still work if you have a job you love as I do, then continue to do it by all means. But the freedom of knowing you don’t have to work and you’re doing it because you want to, or you change your career, or to start a small business that you’ve always wanted to, to follow a passion, to give back more, to volunteer to be of service. The freedom of having those choices is so empowering that teenagers, I think even get that at a young age, especially when they have parents who are trapped and they see the stress in their family around money.
Joe Fairless: On the flip side, what’s part of a guide that will help them achieve early financial independence that you wish would resonate a little more but just isn’t quite doing it?
Dan Sheeks: I would say it probably is that self-education piece. When students are in my classroom, they really don’t have any other choice but to listen to me. I mean, they could tune out in they sometimes do, we all have those moments. But without a doubt, I think, Joe, you would agree that making smart financial decisions, especially when you’re an adult and you’re out there in the real world, so much depends on your own knowledge, your own confidence in making the right choices. Teenagers just don’t have that yet, they haven’t been exposed to enough information. To get them to do those things I was saying, like listening to one or two YouTube videos a week, or a podcast a week, or read some blog articles, or read a book, some of them are motivated enough to do that but it’s a tough battle. Teens have such short attention spans and they’re still in that amazing life, which I miss. High school and college where you’re around dozens and dozens of friends every single day so there’s so much trying to pull your attention away from self-education. It’s only the most motivated students who are really going to go all-in on that route.
Joe Fairless: Which makes sense that you created SheeksFreaks. I haven’t been to your website yet but I’m reading in the bio that it’s a community of young people that can learn finance skills and help them reach early success. I read the word community, so is there a forum component to that?
Dan Sheeks: Yeah. The SheeksFreaks community has been around for a couple of years now. It’s a place for young people 15 to 25 years old, young people, who are actually those motivated individuals to just go out there and crush their financial future. It’s a small percentage of teens and young people that would actually take action and join a community to be around like-minded people. But there’s enough out there that the community is thriving. We have our own platform now and soon we’ll have our own app. Once they’re in the community, they have to join, there’s a free membership, there’s a paid membership, both have a ton of value. But once they’re in, the biggest feature, the most important feature is that they can connect with like-minded individuals. As we know, you are the five people you surround yourself with, the five people you spend the most time with, that’s what your future looks like, that old Jim Rohn quote.
That’s the biggest feature or benefit of the community is being around other people, they can connect with them, message them, share resources. We have about 45 different groups in the community that are more niche, real estate investing, house hacking, index fund investing, cryptocurrency, entrepreneurship, mindset. They can join the groups that they want, that they’re most interested in, connect with others even on a more niche and more specific level. We have a weekly zoom call every Sunday night where we have different guests, we have different topics, we have check-ins, accountability, all that stuff. It’s really fun for me as a facilitator of that group to watch these young people just crush it and they are doing exactly that.
Joe Fairless: It makes a lot of sense because when you were saying, and rightfully so, there’s a lot of competition for their attention as there is with everyone’s attention. But when they’re in high school, or maybe just graduated, there’s a lot going on there in that stage of life. So having these peer groups to be able to connect with on self-education content is necessary in order to continue that path. You mentioned the Jim Rohn quote, the one that comes to mind for me is Tony Robbin’s learned from Jim so I’m sure that he just modified that. Tony talks about how people’s lives are a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group. It’s great…
Dan Sheeks: I love that.
Joe Fairless: …that you’ve cultivated that type of community. Anything else that we haven’t talked about as it relates to messaging to teenagers to help them achieve early financial independence that you think we should before we wrap up?
Dan Sheeks: I would just say that I think, Joe, your listeners likely have teenagers in their lives. It could be their own kids, nieces, nephews, neighbors, their friend’s kids. I think probably most of your listeners, we would all consider ourselves pretty lucky and pretty blessed to be in the arena of real estate investing and all the benefits that come from that. If your listeners are interested in sharing that wealth-building knowledge with young people, which I hope they are, I’m sending them to the book biggerpockets.com, I’m sending them to the SheeksFreaks community, sheeksfreaks.com, mentoring them, helping them, guiding them, and maybe even holding them accountable. If you buy the book for them, tell them you’ll pay them 100 bucks if they read the book. Because it can actually really change their lives drastically, at least their financial future drastically.
You’ll maybe read the book with them. There’s a workbook as well. The book kind of lays the foundation and there’s a First to a Million Workbook that I actually think is more valuable and more meaningful because it tells the teen what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and it lays everything out in four month increments of time, we call them freak phases. Every four months, they have a checklist of 10 things that they need to get done, but the workbook tells them exactly how to do it every step of the way. That workbook covers like a five-year period, it’s very flexible as far as how old they are when they start. Get them that workbook too, work through the workbook with them and just watch them take off. Pretty fun.
Joe Fairless: Dan, thank you for being on the show. How can the Best Ever listeners learn more about what you’re doing? I know you just mentioned ways to get access to the book, is that the best way?
Dan Sheeks: Getting a copy of the book is definitely one way, but in sheeksfreaks.com, there’s a ton information on the website. There’s also information about the community that they can join on the SheeksFreaks community, on our website. Or anyone who wants to connect or talk more about any of this stuff, I’m always willing to do that. You can just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on LinkedIn, Instagram, Bigger Pockets, any of those will work.
Joe Fairless: Dan, thanks again for being on show. I hope you have a Best Ever day and talk to you again soon.
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