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“Focus on your customers.” with David Pipp and Tyler Gallagher

When it comes to interviewing your prospective advisors, make sure you pay attention to how interested they are in you and your financial goals. If your prospective advisor isn’t asking you about your financial goals and what you want to do with your money, keep looking. As part of our series about what one should […]

When it comes to interviewing your prospective advisors, make sure you pay attention to how interested they are in you and your financial goals. If your prospective advisor isn’t asking you about your financial goals and what you want to do with your money, keep looking.

As part of our series about what one should look for when hiring a financial planner or adviser, I had the pleasure of interviewing David Pipp. David and his wife Cassie run the personal finance website called Living Low Key. Their goal at Living Low Key is to help as many people as possible take control of their finances, pay off their debt and save more money so they can live their best life! Investing has been a big part of their financial success and they have seen their share of good and bad financial advisors.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit more. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

First, thank you for having me. I’m excited to share our story with your audience. My wife, Cassie, and I started our personal finance website back in 2017. At the time we had experienced a lot of success financially and we knew we wanted to help others do the same.

We weren’t always good with our money though. We got married in our early 20’s. Shortly after we tied the knot, we found ourselves making a few bad financial moves and building up $33,000 in debt. When you’re living on a small military salary as newlyweds, that was crushing debt. After several months of struggling to pay the bills, we decided enough was enough. We got on a strict budget and began to destroy our debt. Only 2 years later, we were debt free and starting to build a retirement account.

Here we are just 9 years after getting ourselves into that mess living a debt free lifestyle, continuing to build our six-figure retirement account, and only 5 years away from paying off our house! Like I said earlier, we found a way to become financially successful on an average annual income, now it’s our turn to return the favor and help others take control of their finances and change their lives!

When we aren’t working on our blogging business, you’ll probably find us out exploring. We recently moved to Wine Country California and we’re loving the change of scenery. We may be frugal in some spots in our life, but we love to spend money on adventures and creating memories with our kids. I think that’s why we are so frugal in most areas of our life, we want to make sure we have money for the things that add the most value to our family and that’s traveling.

Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting in the industry? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?

When we started our online business, we knew that starting an email list was really important to being able to generate income from that business. About a year into running our blog we had a little over 1,000 people on that email list. I was doing all the email marketing at the time and thought I had it under control.

That was, until I sent an email to our subscribers with no subject… That’s right, I sent an email to over 1,000 people with no title in the subject line. These people expect us to be professional and here I go sending an email like that. That was embarrassing.

The biggest lesson I learned from that is to always double check anything I send to our email subscribers or post on our website. When I sent that email, I was in a rush. Now I write our newsletters on one day and proofread it the next day before scheduling it to be sent out. This helps prevent me from making small (or big) mistakes.

As a side note, that email without a subject line did surprisingly well. I guess people were confused by what they got from us and decided to open it anyways!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, and I’m really excited about it. We just launched a printable Budget Binder that will help people set up a strong budget and take control of their finances. Our new project is going to be focused on helping people pay off their debt.

A recent poll we conducted with our email subscribers showed that paying off debt is their number one concern. We’re working on something that’s going to help them become debt free and I can’t wait to get it out there for them!

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lesson that others can learn from that?

I would say that our success with our finance website came in the last year. We were so focused on creating content for the blog in the first year, that we neglected our audience. We were failing to engage with them on a regular basis.

I spent 10 years in the Navy and the one thing I always made a point to do was check in with my Sailors just to see how they were doing. I still do that today with my employees as a Senior Production Supervisor for a major medical device production company. That simple act of asking how they are doing and what they need to be successful goes a really long way. I had overlooked that with our blog audience and that was a mistake.

We didn’t really start to see success with the blog until I had this eye-opening moment where I just sat down and started answering emails from our subscribers. When we began actively engaging with our audience and helping them directly on a personal level, that’s when we started to see things on Living Low Key really take off!

It’s important to remember that we’re here to serve our audience. Our goal is to provide our audience with the information and guidance they need to take control of their finances. We personally answer every email that we get now. It takes time but is totally worth it to help everyone that reaches out.

What three pieces of advice would you give to your colleagues in the finance field to thrive and avoid burnout? Can you give a story or example?

My first piece of advice to anyone in the finance field that wants to be successful would be make sure you focus on your customers. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Financial Planner, Accountant or Finance Blogger, you have to be in touch with what your customers needs are. When you really take time to learn about them and see what they need your help with, that’s when you will be successful. Remember, they are coming to you and trusting you to steer them in the right direction. Don’t break that trust.

When it comes to avoiding burnout, you really have to make sure you take time for yourself. It can be easy to get caught up in your work and neglect the things in life that are the most important. I’m guilty of this. In the last year, Cassie and I have been pushing really hard to continue the growth at Living Low Key. So much so that we often find ourselves working at home when we should be spending time with our two little kids.

This summer we hit a breaking point. We were working to launch our Budget Binder and were spending all our time on it. When my 5 year old daughter finally asked me to put the computer away it hit me like a ton of bricks. This work was consuming our lives and we were missing time with our kids. We ended up going on a micro-adventure to hike the redwood forests in northern California. No computers, no blog, just family time amongst some of the biggest trees in the world and it was amazing. We had a blast as a family! Taking time away from work is a great way to recharge your batteries and avoid burnout.

Ok. Thank you for all of that. Let’s now move to the core focus of our interview. As an “finance insider”, you know much more about the finance industry than most consumers. If your loved one wanted to hire a financial advisor (not you :-)), which 5 things would you advise them to find out about before committing? Can you give an example or story for each?

Choosing the right financial adviser is a big decision and one that should be made carefully. There are a couple things that people should do as they are searching for a financial adviser. I’d like to share the approach we took to finding our financial advisor and hopefully that will help others find the right person for them.

The first thing I recommend is that anyone looking for a financial advisor take the time to interview multiple advisors. This will give you a couple different options to choose from. Ask your family and friends if they have any recommendations for good advisors if you need help finding some. You can also do a Google search for advisors in your area and read reviews.

When you’re looking for advisors, you can easily check their credentials and experience level by searching for them on Brokercheck.com. This is a great way to get some additional information on the broker and see if they really are a good fit for you.

When it comes to interviewing your prospective advisors, make sure you pay attention to how interested they are in you and your financial goals. If your prospective advisor isn’t asking you about your financial goals and what you want to do with your money, keep looking.

When we first started investing, we chose the first financial advisor we could find through our bank. He didn’t ask us any questions about what we wanted, he just told us what he would do with the money we wanted to invest. It wasn’t until we switched advisors that we realized he didn’t have our best interests in mind.

Our second adviser spent our entire first meeting asking questions about us and what we wanted to do with our money. We left that meeting with a good feeling about where our investments were going.

If you’re looking for someone to manage your investments, I feel it’s also fair to ask for data to support their success. You want to know that this person is good at what they do and has seen success in the past. They may not give you this information, but it is a question I like to ask.

After you have conducted the interviews, all that’s left to do is make your decision. During our second attempt to find an advisor we took a lot of notes so we could compare them side by side before we chose. I think being able to compare them easily helped us pick the right person for what we wanted to do with our investments.

I think most people think that financial advisors are for very wealthy people. This is likely not actually true. Can you explain who would most benefit from hiring a financial advisor and why? Can you give an example?

I think it’s easy for people to assume that only wealthy people need financial advisors but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Financial advisors aren’t just for people that are looking to invest large sums of money or manage multi-million-dollar portfolios, they also help everyday people like you and I manage our finances.

The first financial adviser we reached out to for help wasn’t solely for investing advice, yes that was a part of it, but the other part was to get help with paying off debt. Things didn’t work out with him, but our second advisor was able to help us take control of our finances and became debt free. That’s when we were really able to dive into having him help us get our retirement portfolio going.

Financial advisors can help you with many different aspects of your finances. If you are struggling to pay off debt or don’t know what to do with your retirement accounts, find a good financial advisor to help you out.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

When we first started our debt free journey and got serious about turning around our financial situation, we had one person that really helped us make that mindset change we needed to be successful. I’ve never met this individual in person, but his podcasts were invaluable to helping us get to where we are now. That person is Dave Ramsey.

We used to listen to his podcasts, and we read his book The Total Money Makeover. After that we were hooked on the idea of becoming debt free. His no-nonsense approach to finances and budgeting really struck a chord with us. I hope to meet him someday so I can thank him in person because his outlook on money management changed our future forever!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to see the minimalist movement really take off. We used to be in the mindset of needing new EVERYTHING! It was a little ridiculous how we were always chasing the newest phones or new cars. It cost us a lot of money and really didn’t add a ton of true value to our lives.

At some point we realized that we could be much happier with less stuff. Now we spend our money on experiences for us and our kids. We love spending time as a family traveling and exploring new places. These experiences and pictures from our travels are something that will stick with us forever, unlike that new iPhone which will be obsolete in 3 years.

I’d also like to add that there are some unexpected benefits to having less stuff. For us, we feel less stress about trying to keep our house clean and organized. Because we live with less, we’re able to clean up the house in about 20 minutes. That leaves us more time in our week to do fun things as a family.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

If anyone wants to follow our money management tips on social media, they can find us on Facebook HerePinterest HereTwitter Here, and Instagram Here. Aside from our money management tips, we occasionally share photos from our adventures. We recently moved to Wine Country California and have been exploring everything around us!

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

Thank you for taking the time to interview me!

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