Lessons from a Door-to-Door Sales Job - Treyton DeVore
This week we have Treyton DeVore, who shares how a sales job taught him to pay attention to his finances and what prompted him to start Piertree, a financial planning company dedicated to millennials.
Occupation: Founder, Financial Planner @ Piertree
Salary Range: $40,000 - $50,000
Location: Kansas City, Missouri
Student Loans/Debts: $0
Monthly Expenses: $1,500 (rent, utilities, groceries, Spotify, Hulu)
Kavya: Tell me a little bit about yourself? Where did you go to college and when did you graduate?
Treyton: I grew up in a small town in Kansas with ~1,000 people. My high school graduating class had 32 students and I ended up going to McPherson College where I played baseball and studied business finance and marketing. After I graduated, I moved to Kansas City, Missouri to work at Shamrock Trading Corp.
Kavya: What were you looking for in your job post-grad?
Treyton: I wanted to go into financial planning straight out of college so I applied to all the big-name financial planning companies, however, I was repeatedly turned down because I didn't have a massive network of wealthy friends that I could bring in as clients. I ended up landing my job at Shamrock three days before graduating.
I did think about pay and benefits, however, I was more focused on finding a job in finance.
Kavya: Take me back to the first time you thought about personal finance for the first time?
Treyton: Between my junior and senior year of college, I got a door to door sales job in Miami and it was a commission-only job. I'd never worked a sales job or done anything like that before so I was immediately forced to learn how to manage my money because there was no money coming in if I didn't sell anything.
Leading up to that job, I always worked during the summer for 3 months to save up a ton of money and then spent that money throughout the rest of the year. So I had to make money during the summer to put me through the next year.
After graduation, I also knew that I wanted to start my own company within 5 years of graduating so prioritizing my savings to fund that business was a goal early on.
Kavya: Did you have any system in place during college to manage the money from the summer?
Treyton: I didn't really have a system in place. I took this one personal finance class in college which was essentially just watching Dave Ramsey recordings. I learned a little from the videos but it didn't motivate me to take all the necessary actions.
I had a budget app where I manually inputted my spending into since it wasn't linked to any of my bank accounts. It helped me spend less money since I didn't want to type in every single transaction into the app.
Kavya: How did things shift for you post-grad once you moved to Kansas City? What were the financial and life adjustments you made?
Treyton: Along with getting a consistent paycheck I also got a signing bonus/relocation expenses covered which was awesome. I ended up putting my entire signing bonus into my Roth IRA.
The biggest thing I was focused on was not falling into lifestyle creep and lifestyle inflation. I definitely spent money that I shouldn't have on things I couldn't afford before, but I quickly realized I needed to get it under control.
Having the goal to save up money for my future business acted as my north star and helped me stick to my budget. If I wasn't aiming to save up a certain amount I probably would have spent a lot more money than I did, which is why goals are so important.
Kavya: What were some of the concrete goals you set up for yourself and how did you work to achieve them?
Treyton: The main goal I had for myself was saving up for the company I wanted to start. I wanted to have 1-2 years of business expenses saved so that the business could operate without having income immediately.
My other goal was to make sure I put away a certain amount each month towards retirement. I started out with my signing bonus and then I put away whatever I could each month - whether that was $100 or $300.
Saving up for my business came first - as soon as I got my paycheck, I would send that money straight into savings and never touch it again.
Kavya: How did you manage your lifestyle creep and stay on track for your goals? Was it making behavioral changes or adopting certain tactics to stay on track?
Treyton: I had to say no to a lot of things. I couldn't go to every Happy Hour but I also didn't completely get rid of that from my life since social life is important. However, saying no to things was one of the biggest ways to save. You can burn $50-70 super quickly just by eating out and getting drinks.
Focusing on my bigger goals and knowing that if something is not going to get me to that, then I probably don't need to do it. Finding the balance there is key.
Kavya: What is your personal finance stack and set up? How do you do your own financial planning?
Treyton: I use Tiller Money to see all my transactions and get an overview of my spending. It acts like a spreadsheet which I love. I also use Personal Capital, to which I link all of my accounts to be able to see a total net worth since I have business accounts along with my personal ones. TD Ameritrade and Robinhood are what I use for my investments and Quickbooks is what I use to keep track of business expenses.
I review my personal spending each week and having it in a spreadsheet makes it a lot easier than scrolling through a banking app. Knowing how much I’m spending each week allows me to project future monthly expenses and gives me that peace of mind knowing I’m financially covered for however long. I also have a set dollar amount to be automatically sent to my Ally Bank high yield savings for my emergency fund and contribute to my Roth IRA when possible. It’s tricky right now prioritizing saving for retirement or investing in my business so, at the moment, I don’t have a set dollar amount I’m putting towards retirement because it varies month to month.
Kavya: How do you approach investing? What is your personal strategy?
Treyton: I'm a long term investor with ETFs and a few individual stocks and mostly invest for retirement through my Roth IRA.
In March, when things dipped due to coronavirus, I scaled back on retirement investing for a few months and focused on investing in stocks since I knew they would pop back up post-pandemic. Everyone always talks about 2008, so I knew it was one of those opportunities I had to jump on and almost everything is back up right now.
Kavya: What prompted you to start Piertree and when did you know it was the right step to take?
Treyton: I started Piertree because the financial industry has neglected the younger generation without massive net worths and I wanted to provide financial planning to millennials in a way that makes sense. I would rather prevent fires than put them out on the backend - as in, I would rather work with younger clients and help them navigate their financial life early on and set them up for success in the future than working with pre-retirees who may have made bad decisions for decades and trying to correct their behaviors at the finish line.
I knew it was the right step to take once I had all the training, licensing, and business expenses saved up to provide the best service possible and to give myself a runway without taking money out of the business.
Kavya: How would you describe your approach to financial planning at Piertree?
Treyton: My approach to financial planning is different from what most people think about when they hear the word ‘financial advisor’. A lot of people believe that a financial advisor only handles their investments and that’s it. While that approach has been the standard for so long, I just don’t think it’s enough.
With my approach, I work with my clients to design a full financial plan that covers everything from managing monthly cash flow to determining the best way to pay off debts to making sure we’re not overpaying for insurance (along with managing investments). I act as a personal Google search for my client’s financial lives. If they have any questions that come up or need help making a big decision such as refinancing a home, I’m here to help weigh the pros and cons and ultimately make the right decision for their situation. We have monthly check-ins to make sure everything’s going well and then we meet quarterly to review our plan and prepare for upcoming tasks.
Kavya: How has your relationship with money changed from college to now?
Treyton: I am a lot more careful with my money now. I wish I had worked more in college and saved up then instead of just relying on my summer jobs and then spending everything during the year.
I assumed that I would get a job after graduation and that there would be money coming in. Thankfully it did work out and I got a job, however, if things hadn't gone that way I would have been in a really bad spot. I don't think I regret any of the choices I made, but I wish I put more of an emphasis on my own personal finances.
Kavya: What do you think is the biggest misconception surrounding personal finance?
Treyton: The biggest misconception is that you have to be wealthy or rich to be in a good spot financially. Growing up, my family was middle class - we never really had a lot of money and I thought that was bad since I believed you needed to have a lot of it to be successful and happy. However, that's just not the case. You can build your own lifestyle around your money and you don't need crazy amounts of money to be considered successful or happy.
Kavya: What are some mistakes that you've made with managing your own money and what would you suggest people avoid?
My biggest mistake is not starting earlier with investing. That's another misconception - that you need a lot of money to invest.
I got my first job when I was a freshman in college and it paid about $8.50 an hour so not a crazy amount. However, I didn't have any expenses so I could have put $50 a month into an account and would still be receiving the benefits from that.
Kavya: If you could give a piece of actionable advice to people starting out with their money, what would it be?
Treyton: Automate some portion of your money into a high yield savings account. It's the easiest thing you can do to start building a nest egg. Even if it's $50 bucks a month you're better off than $0 saved, since one day that could be a few thousand and help you out with whatever happens in your adult life.
What credit cards do you own and why did you get those ones?
Apple Card - it's the only one I have right now and coming out of college with no credit history it's the only one that accepted my application
I also am a huge Apple fanboy and I like how it breaks down my spending and categorizes it on the app.
How much of your income do you save annually? Can you break it out amongst different financial vehicles?
50% with 40% going to savings and 10% going to investments
This is because I needed the cash to start my business and I don't want it all to be tied up in investments.
Most personal finance blogs only share stories of the people who have it all under control, save 50% of their income, and retire early. While that is impressive, some of us want a career and some of us just need our oat-milk matcha latte every morning. However, we all still face the same woes when it comes to managing our personal finances. MoneyStories is a series of interviews with young professionals and recent graduates sharing their stories on how they have and are navigating their personal finances.
Disclaimer: Views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the interviewee, not the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee, or any other group or individual.