My name is Jason Vitug and I am going to be real with you from the start.
Knowing who I am, what I stand for, and what I do, can ensure success when we work together.
I live by the motto: You only live once. This also happens to be the title of my bestselling book. This motto as an awareness that time is the most valuable asset we own. It’s finite. It’s unique to us. When it’s gone, it’s gone. In fact, time is more valuable than money.
When you fully grasp the motto, you become mindful of the choices you make for work, food, health, relationships, and finances.
Thanks again for investing your time time to learn my story.
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We’re told there is a path to success: excel in high school; go to college and graduate; get a job and then start a career; buy a car; find someone and get married; become a homeowner; have kids and provide for them; and if you’re lucky enough to grow old, then you should retire in your 70s and start living the life you dreamt of as a child.
Well, I excelled in high school. I graduated college with a BS in Finance, then got an MBA. In 4.5 years, I went from serving drinks in lounges at Newark Airport to strategizing in the Boardroom in Silicon Valley. I also bought a BMW.
Sounds like success, but in reality I was a big financial mess. This is my story of finding financial wellness and living a purposeful life.
I grew up in Elizabeth, NJ in modest means. We didn’t have much but my parents made sure we had the necessities. My parents struggled with money and hid it well. We could talk about anything and everything else, but never about money.
I didn’t learn personal finance at home and I wasn’t taught in school either. The lack of access to financial knowledge early on created a series of money beliefs that impacted my life significantly.
In a few years, I was a college graduate and employed. I chose a career in banking instead of the arts. I worked hard and climbed the corporate ladder and made significant gains in salary. I achieved major financial goals: a six-figure salary, lived in Silicon Valley, drove german cars, traveled often, ate great food, and wore brand name clothing.
Nevertheless, I had a car loan, student loans, and amassing a significant amount of credit card debt. Instead of making the right decisions to save money and use my income to pay off debt, I spent my paycheck as it came.
I found myself mindlessly consuming and obsessively complaining. At one point, I had a walk-in closet filled of clothes with tags still attached and shelves of tech gadgets still perfectly sealed in their boxes.
As a man, it’s hard to admit, I had a spending problem. When I made more I spent more. I believed that debt was a part of life. I gave every reason why I couldn’t save and found any reason to spend.
I made money. I’m paid my bills. I achieved goals. I had no reason to change.
Until, I was at an impasse.
It would be years before I recognize my money mindset, a set of money beliefs ingrained in my psyche and the root of my financial behaviors, that were preventing me from making better financial decisions.
Eventually, my role in the credit union exposed me to a different way of thinking about money. It provided access to financial experts and everyday people managing their money to retire early, live life on their terms, and make money with money. I learned about resources that would help in my journey to financial freedom. I started using the right products and services that fit my needs. I worked on shifting my mindset from scarcity to abundance.
This mindset shift allowed me to turn down a successor CEO route. I resigned instead, sold everything I owned, and set off on a backpacking trip that would turn into a 20 country adventure spanning 12 months. It was an experience that opened my mind to alternative ways of living.
While exploring Myanmar (and a story that has now been shared with tens of thousands of people), I had my “aha” moment on top of an 8th century temple in Bagan. I was awestruck by the landscape which led to a moment of clarity.
I was living my childhood dreams.
While staring out into the horizon of 5.000+ temples, I asked myself, “How did I get here?”
After many more months of backpacking, I was able to answer that question.
I achieved this life goal because I gained financial knowledge.
I wasn’t rich by any stretch of the imagination, but I knew enough about the concept of financial wellness. I made better financial decisions. I was no longer spending mindlessly. I was spending consciously and saving purposefully. I was no longer solely dependent on exchanging my time for money. I would make money with money. I enhanced my expertise to increase my value. I would protect my time and invest it on people and projects aligned with my mission.
Financial wellness is about financial and life goals. To get on the road to financial wellness, you must ingrain these principles: spending mindfully, saving purposefully, aligning financial decisions based on values, and setting financial goals that help achieve a vision for life.
After my adult gap year, I came home inspired to empower my generation to achieve their dreams through financial knowledge. I wanted to help others articulate the vision for their life, clarify their values, and set financial goals aligned to what matters most to them.
In 2013, I founded phroogal and raised $78,501 through crowdfunding. It began as a personal finance blog which now boasts a community of over 65,000 millennials. My vision continues to evolve with phroogal (sounds like frugal) and we’ve gone through many iterations. My mission continues on as we build the platform to help people find information to make better financial decisions, discover resources, work with experts, and choose the right products and service.
In 2015, I created the Plutus Award winning project, The Road to Financial Wellness, an epic campaign to break the social taboo about money. In the past two years, we’ve driven over 28,000 miles, hosted 91 events that have been attended by over 14,600 people.
Today, I find myself as a sought-after keynote speaker, a bestselling author, an expert in millennials, financial wellness, purposeful living, and lifestyle design, working with brands from around the world. I work with nonprofits, colleges, city agencies, credit unions of all sizes, and brands I admire like USAA and Prudential. I’ve given dozens of keynote addresses at conferences. I’ve spoken at even more panel talks. I’ve answered many questions during fireside chats. I’ve taught many students in classrooms.
I reignite the fire within those who serve to educate others in finances. I light the fire of financial wellness to everyone I meet.
I’m grateful at this stage in my life. I get to choose projects that serve my purpose. I work with amazing talented and creative people. I’m supported by organizations and companies that share in my mission.
My message: Financial wellness is about your health and wealth. It’s about the overall quality of the life you’re living. Knowledge is power and financial knowledge is life changing. I’m empowering a generation to achieve their dreams through financial knowledge by increasing access to information, resources and products.
If my story inspires you, and my achievements motivate you, and if my mission excites you, I WANT to hear from you. In fact, I NEED to hear from you.
How can you work with me? I invite you to send me a message. Let’s make a difference.
More interesting information about me
I am a bestselling author, money and lifestyle blogger, millennial topic expert, motivational speaker, and social impact entrepreneur as founder of the personal finance website, Phroogal. I am a minimalist. I practice yoga. I meditate. I enjoy reading. I love to create. I hike. I travel. I write. I consult. I strategize. I coach. I do road trips.
I promote The Smile Lifestyle, a philosophy of living purposefully and making informed financial decisions to stop wasting time and money, and focus on the things that matter. The philosophy’s core tenant is that experiential and purposeful living can be achieved through sound financial decision making.
You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life was published by Wiley in 2016 and became a national bestseller, reviewed by The New York Times, and picked as the best personal finance book of 2016 by the Financial Post.
You can also find some of my written work on US News & World Report, Business Insider, Huffington Post, and Yahoo News. I’ve been featured in numerous blog posts, corporate blogs, and have represented many brands across multiple channels. You can learn more by visiting my Press page.
I graduated from Norwich University and Rutgers University receiving a B.S. in Finance and a Masters of Business Administration. I also have a certificate in Project Management from Villanova University.
I’ve visited 48 states, have traveled to 36 countries in 3 continents.
Highlights and Awards
- 2016 Plutus Award Winner for Best Collaborative Personal Finance Project
- 2016 Recipient of New Jersey Coalition of Financial Education Award of Distinction
- 2015 Plutus Award Winner for Best Collaborative Personal Finance Project
- 2015 Recipient of the Urban League of Union County Young Professionals Entrepreneurial Award.
- 2010 Recipient of Innovation Award for Workplace Literacy from the Society of Financial Educators and Professional Development
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