Today I have the pleasure of sitting down with Travis Freeman, who is the President of Four Seasons Financial Education. He is also a Certified Financial Planner. But that’s Travis today. He didn’t grow up with money, and his role models for money were his parents who struggled to get by. But he didn’t let that stop him. Instead, he channeled his roots to become a champion for others who need help with their money, and made over a million for himself in the process.
What I love about Travis’ story is that he is willing to take us back to his beginnings and he shows us that you don’t have to come from money to be well off today. It’s more about what you do in your own life that will make the difference.
You know that the millionaire interview series is designed to connect you to young adults who’ve done well for themselves. The goal is to educate and inspire, and to show you what’s possible the world.
Without further ado, let’s dive into Travis’ story…
Tell us a little about yourself?
Travis: I’m currently 30 years old and am the President of Four Seasons Financial Education or FSFE as we call it. My job is growing the firm and planning our strategic initiatives. We’re one of few fee-for-service corporate financial wellness firms in the US.
How did you get started?
Travis: I actually started out as a practicing financial planner. When I was a child, I watched my family struggle with money for a period of years. It was so bad that we depended on food stamps and government lunches at school for a while. And trust me, powdered milk doesn’t actually taste like milk. I become fascinated with money and why it can change someone’s life in such drastic ways. I eventually studied finance in college and become one of the youngest people in Missouri history to acquire a state insurance license.
I was only 19. I worked at creating my own clientele while in college and enjoyed it, although I didn’t make much money. After graduation, I started my own practice helping families with their financial goals. That lead me to partnering with someone to create the company we have today – FSFE. Our clients are companies instead of families, but we train the employees of those companies on how to make better financial decisions.
How did you make your first million by 30?
Travis: I was a very successful financial planner before I stepped into the role of President of FSFE. I do still have a small private practice, but rarely accept any new clients. Between that business and FSFE, I found success at a very young age. It was done by investing early, taking risks, living a modest lifestyle, and most importantly, doing the right thing for the people that trusted me. It’s easy to cut corners in any business, but it catches up with you. Always do the right thing, even if it’s difficult. Aside from that, I found a niche that was relatively untapped. There are plenty of great financial planners in this world, but few knew how to think outside the box.
Did your view on money change after making your first million?
Travis: Not at all. I don’t even feel like a millionaire and may never feel like one. Sure, I have a nice car and a nice office, but you can’t forget who you were before the financial success came along. I still view money as a way to give to charity, support my family, and support our talented staff.
How do you invest your money?
Travis: I keep plenty of cash around for emergencies, but I take risks with the rest. Since I’m a board-Certified Financial Planner, or CFP®, I do it all on my own. I mostly invest into private businesses that I’ve involved in, but also have more traditional liquid investment.
Can you become a millionaire without starting your own business?
Travis: Yes you can, but it takes large risks. Without having a business or access to buy in to a business, you’re stuck with more traditional methods of growing wealth. If that is the case, you may need to save 20% to 50% of your income, living a modest lifestyle, and invest early. If you’re not trying to become a millionaire before the age of 30, it’s definitely attainable. It just takes time and risk.
What’s the biggest risk you ever took? Would you change anything about that?
Travis: When I started my own financial planning practice right out of college. I had very little money, no wealthy family members or friends, and had to live in my parent’s basement for a while to survive. I used my money to buy nice suits. Little did anyone know I was eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and dinner the whole week. Can you imagine asking for financial advice from someone with no money living in someone’s basement? I was very grateful to those brave people that trusted me back then.
How about a failure – tell us about a time you failed and what you learned?
Travis: When I earned my insurance license at age 19 while I was in college, I failed at being a salesperson. It was so difficult. I had to knock on 20 doors a day to try to book one appointment with the owner of a given business. I looked like I was 16, it was 90 degrees outside in the summertime, and I was chased out of their offices daily. I did make enough money to survive, but it was not for me. However, if I had not started in such an entrepreneurial job while in college, there’s no way I would be where I’m at today. You must fail in business. I was just lucky that I failed so early.
What advice do you have for today’s college graduates trying to figure out money and life?
Travis: Find a mentor and create a plan. It doesn’t matter if you create a business plan or an investment plan, just create a plan. Today’s Fortune 500 CEOs didn’t just stumble into success, they planned for it. Create a plan, find a mentor, and keep yourself accountable.
Anything else we should know?
Travis: If you’re going to start a business, don’t forget why you’re starting the business. No, it’s not to make money. You can make money doing plenty of things in life. It’s the why that makes you wake up every day and love what you do. That itself is a magnet for success. People will notice and they will want to be a part of it.
What I Learned From Travis
I love this story because it shows how you really don’t need to come from money to be successful. Travis started out in a household living on food stamps. Then he hustled – he hustled in college to not only go to school but also to get his insurance license. He then hustled as a door to door salesman. When he was finished in college, he hustled to start his own business, and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to survive (sounds a little like Mark Cuban).
The bottom line is Travis had hustle, and he leveraged that to be successful by the time he was 30 years old. If you get nothing else from this interview, take away the power of the hustling.
What did you learn from Travis Freeman?
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here and here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.