Editorial Team

The Braintrust: Jeremy Schneider on Instagramming Personal Finance

Jeremy Schneider spent his 20s building a company called RentLinx. He was taking home around $36,000 per year, but was living within his means and had saved up $100,000 by his early 30s. At 34, he sold the company and took home $2 million after taxes. Two years later, Schneider had built his net worth to over $3 million and decided to retire.

In the years since, Schneider has started sharing his personal finance insights on Instagram at Personal Finance Club. He’s built his following to 134K followers on the social media site. His posts are easy, straightforward, and not afraid to use an emoji or two. They work to translate the obscured language of finance so that the average working person can build confidence in how to build wealth. His rules are simple: spend less than you make and invest the difference. He’s a believer in the magic of compound growth and in buying index funds rather than trying to beat the market. Basically, the Personal Finance Club and Unifimoney couldn’t agree more on how long-term resilient wealth is achieved. So, we called up Schneider and asked him to share his two rules of personal finance and tell us why Instagram is a great medium for financial advice.   

Why did you first start Personal Finance Club and why is Instagram an important tool for talking about saving and investing?

Schneider: That's a good question. Yeah, I mean, I guess a little bit of background is that I started a company when I was 22, graduating from college, and I sold it at the age of 34. I sold it for just over $5 million, and my share after taxes was about $2 million. Over the next few years, I grew that to over $3 million, just from investing and working at which point I quit my job. 

I took a year off doing nothing and then was planning on starting another company, but basically decided that I wasn't really that passionate about any specific idea in the tech space to go start a company. But I just love personal finance. I love helping people learn about money. The entrepreneur in me is always looking for this product-market fit and it just seemed like there was this massive thirst for information from normal working adults who never really learned about money growing up.

And after my windfall, I started reading all these books on it, and I realized all the books say the exact same thing. But the reality of the world is that not everyone is picking up a handful of personal finance and investing books, just because that's not what people do. But what are they doing? They're on Instagram. 

So my target demo is millennials more or less, like 20 to 40, or whatever. Being young and having a good income is just this massive opportunity ahead of you. So I went to Instagram and the first month was pretty messy — I was just posting weird stuff; I wasn't really connecting. But I just kept iterating and I've found a little bit of a foothold. And people seem to be liking it.

Like a lot of expert fields, jargon can become a barrier of entry for smart personal finance. A lot of people hear “APY” or “Roth IRA” or “amortized loan” and they get intimidated. Why did you decide to use such a simple, straightforward style at Personal Finance Club?

Yeah, that's a great point. That's my whole thesis with Personal Finance Club: when you hear about investing for the first time, or finance or anything money related, it's just this sea of crazy terminology and numbers. There is the Hollywood image of people on the trading floor waving pieces of paper and frantically yelling, and you're like, 'Whoa, investing. How could I ever dive into that world? I'd be eaten alive.' But the reality is: optimal investing is very, very simple. In fact, despite all of that noise, all of that nonsense, the less of it you do, the more wealthy you will be. Because all that frantic trading is meant to make money for the financial-services industry, not the individual investor. 

The financial-services industry is a $1.5 trillion per year industry. The image of the expert trader and all the jargon is lucrative for them, but for you to build wealth, it's relatively simple. Do two things: spend less than you make, and invest the difference. And how do you invest? By just simply buying what we call an index fund.

If I were to describe my role, I'm not a super cutting-edge researcher or something like that. I'm not introducing groundbreaking new ideas. I'm just trying to make what's already out there palatable for normal people. I break it down very simply. Maybe I'll use an emoji. And I stick with understandable and convincing metrics. If you put $250 a month in this account, you wait forty years, and you'll have $2 million. And people are like, "What?!?" 

To me, because I'm like a math computer guy, it was always kind of obvious. But a lot of people don't see it, because finance is just such an intimidating space. So, I try to make it less intimidating and coax people in through curiosity, and then, you know, hit them with some screenshots!

The Unifimoney user is a high-earning, high-debt professional who wants to one day own a house in a city. If you had to give them a few simple pieces of advice, what would you tell them to help them build their wealth?

That demo you just described is interesting, because a lot of those types of people are really good at building their career. They're extremely smart, they're highly educated, but still they don't know anything about money for some reason, right? And often they make really horrifically bad money decisions. 

And so, the two things I always come back to, the two rules of Personal Finance Club. Rule number one: spend less than you make, live below your means. And rule number two is invest early and often; invest the difference. And so if you do those two things, even if you're not doing them perfectly, no matter what you're going to be in good shape. So, I would always focus on those two things. And then minimize debt. Debt's this weird thing where we live in this crazy consumer materialistic society that's full of capitalist companies who are constantly marketing at our brains and people are confused. 'Like, wait, good debt? Bad debt? I should borrow money to increase my credit score. I should play this game.' And the reality is, 'No. Fuck that. Don't play that game. Just save your money, have more of it, and then invest it right?' There's no clever amount of borrowing that's going to become this really great deal for you. Minimize debt to maximize your wealth. 

Then, in terms of investing, just buy and hold what's called a low-fee index fund, which is basically buying the entire stock market. It sounds crazy the first time you hear it, but it guarantees you your fair share of all market growth. Since the market is efficient, it doesn't really matter that you're buying the bad companies, because the bad companies are so cheap, it's worth buying them in case they unexpectedly outperform. And the good companies are so expensive, it's not worth going all in because you're just putting too many eggs in one basket in case they unexpectedly underperform. So, you buy them all in a low-fee index fund, and then all that wealth that is being created in the world from the capitalistic society and all these companies is mainlined directly back into your bank account through this index fund. Don't time the market. Don't pick stocks. Just put more money in every month and leave it alone for decades. That is optimal wealth building.

That’s exactly our goal with Unifimoney! 

One of the things that hit home for me when I was talking to Ben was to see that with Unifimoney, investing is not optional. When you open the account, money is automatically getting siphoned off and put into investing, without even doing anything. I love that opt-out mentality, where it's just like, 'Yeah, you have to be doing this, because this is how you build wealth.' Since it's opt out, I think it will cause way more people to invest and build wealth, as opposed to the reality right now where so many are afraid to touch this space, because of all the frantic paper-waving stock traders they've seen on TV. That image of the financial space is causing people to be afraid to take the first step. So it's so smart to be like, 'Sign up for the account. Put your money in here. You have no choice, but for us to make you wealthy.’ I like that strategy. 

With Unifimoney, we want to be a resource for smart, simple, straightforward financial advice, but also we’re building an account that makes automatic many of the best practices you like to talk about. We’ve built a checking account that also automates betting on the market rather than playing stocks and making consistent investments every month to take advantage of compound interest. If you were to add a feature every one of your followers main bank accounts, what would it be? 

Hmm. I hate to steal the feature that you've already implemented, but I like what you guys have designed. I don't think budgeting is something that a realistic person should assume everyone's going to do. I happen to budget because this is how I live my life. But 90-plus percent of people never will or never stick to it. But a very close second to budgeting is automated transfers. So I always recommend people go in and set up automated transfers to saving and to investing so when they get paid, it's just part of their life. Then, if you spend whatever's left, after all of your automated transfers have gone to savings and building wealth for you, then you don't need the budget. You can just spend less than that's whatever is left in your bank account and then you're essentially following the two rules. 

So, I like the Automated Transfer by default, so that the default is you spend less than whatever is left in your account. That's why 401 K's have made a lot of people wealthy, because it just seems like you're supposed to do it or you just have an employer who pushes you into it. But 401k is a very stodgy weird old law, which often has really shitty investment options — there's all sorts of flaws with it. But the big part is correct, which is that it encourages people to invest regularly. It's designed so that normal working people wake up when they're 65 and realize 'Oh, I've got a million dollars in my 401k! That's nice.' I'd like to see that just built into like regular accounts, regardless of what your employer decides to offer.

I always go back to the two rules: to spend less money than you make and invest the difference. And it sounds like you guys are essentially building those rules into the software of your bank account, which is very exciting.


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The above does NOT constitute an offer, solicitation of an offer, nor advice to buy or sell specific securities. The opinions listed above are not the opinions of Unifimoney Inc. or Unifimoney RIA, Inc. but represent the opinions of independent contributors. These contributors may or may not hold positions in the stocks discussed. Investors should always independently research any stocks listed and form their own opinions, while recognizing that any investments made may lose value, are not bank guaranteed and are not FDIC insured.