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Episode Transcript: Talk with Deacon Hayes, Owner of Well Kept Wallet

Minnie Sinha: Hi everyone. This is Minnie with a brand new episode of our podcast, uSpeak. Today I have a unique guest whom I am very eager to talk to. He is a personal finance expert, podcaster, and speaker. He is a financial guy whose goal is to help ordinary people with their money, investments, and savings. He has been seen on platforms like CNN Money, Kiplinger, Bank Rate, MSN, Money, and Yahoo.
He has also been featured in many publications, such as Forbes, Yahoo Finance, CNN Money, and US News and World Report. He is the guy who tells you how to make money, save money, invest it, and pay off the debts. Let’s learn the secret to doing all this and welcome Deacon Hayes to our show. Welcome, Deacon, to our show.

Deacon Hayes: Thanks, Minnie; thanks for having me.

Minnie Sinha: You are very welcome. And let’s start from the beginning. What is your background, and what was your first job?

Deacon Hayes: You know, my first job, I worked at the movie theaters, at AMC Movie Theater as an usher cleaning the theaters.

Minnie Sinha: Nice.

Deacon Hayes: And making minimum wage, I think it was $5.15 an hour, at the time.

Minnie Sinha: So, were you still a teenager, working in high school, or when was this?

Deacon Hayes: Yeah, so, I was 15 years old when I started working there.

Minnie Sinha: Okay, all right. So, that was your first job. And then, later, where did you go? What is your background in college?

Deacon Hayes: Yeah, so, I went to Arizona State University. I got a degree in business and philosophy. I just kind of always had a desire to start my own business, to figure out how to make money without having to work for somebody else. So, I started that back in about 2010.

Minnie Sinha: Any motivation behind that? What came into your mind that okay, now it’s time to start my business? What motivated you to start your business?

Deacon Hayes: It was, my wife and I got married, and we realized we needed to combine our finances, figure out what our financial situation was. And we realized that we had $52,000.00 in debt between the two of us that was student loans, a car loan, and decided to research smart people that were good with money. What did they do? So, we decided to put together a plan and we paid off all $52,00.00 in 18 months. And I thought, wow, this would be cool, if I could help other people have similar success. And that’s what started it all.

Minnie Sinha: So, that time you were working there, I’m sure you were working somewhere. Your wife was working somewhere. So, you were able to pay $52,000.00 because of that, right? Because you were working somewhere?

Deacon Hayes: Yeah, we both had jobs. I was working as a wood flooring salesperson. And my wife was working as a teacher.

Minnie Sinha: Okay, good. So, let’s start. So, that was the motivation. You were smart enough to pay off $52,000.00 in a mere 18 months. So, and then, by then you learned all the secrets of making money. So, tell us, the various kinds of making money. And I’m just dying to know. So, let’s start with that.

Deacon Hayes: Yeah, well, I was limited by my career, my wife’s career. So, a couple of the things that we decided to do was sell stuff on Craigslist. So, what I would do is I would go to yard sales. I’d buy stuff for less, and then, I’d sell it for more online, or on Craigslist. That was one thing. Another thing, I decided to get a part-time job delivering pizzas at night. So, that gave us some extra money. I made some tips from that. But ultimately, yeah, it was, whatever we could do to come up with some extra cash, we did that for that 18 months so that we could pay it off quickly.

Minnie Sinha: And then, I saw so many articles on your website that, how you can make money by apps, and side hustling. So, what about making money by apps? Is that what you mean, like buying it from yard sale and selling it on Craigslist, or doing some side hustling, those kind of thing? Is that what you mean? Or do you have any more ways to make money?

Deacon Hayes: Well, yeah, there’s so many ways that you can make money now online with apps. But those were the two main ways for us. But yeah, now, as you know, there’s proofreading, there’s transcription, there’s video editing, there’s graphic design. I mean, there’s so many ways to make extra money on the side, whatever your financial goal is, to achieve it.

Minnie Sinha: Yeah, I just wanted to tell you that, I’m not sure if you know what we do. So, we offer an online training program in general transcription. And besides having a discussion board, we also have a job board that matches transcriptionists and translators with transcription companies. And I’m very excited to share this, that soon we will have AAERT prep tests added to our program. So, you said that transcription is a good way. I will ask you. How would you rate transcription as a side hustle? What do you think about that?

Deacon Hayes: Yeah, I think it’s a great side hustle that pays a little bit more than the average job, right? And gives people flexibility, especially if people are fast at typing. So, I’d rate it probably like an 8.5 out of 10.

Minnie Sinha: Oh.

Deacon Hayes: I think that it’s definitely an easy way to make some extra cash.

Minnie Sinha: That’s good to know. I’m sure our audience will be happy to hear that. And now, coming back to you, now we made some money. So, what do you think? What percentage of the money should we save?

Deacon Hayes: Yeah, so, typically you want to save between 10 and 15% towards future goals. So, if you don’t have an emergency fund, that would be the first place to start. So, if you’re saving that 10 to 15%, that should go into a savings account just for emergencies. Once you have a fully funded emergency fund of three to six months, then go towards retirement and investing for the future. So, the 15% is pretty much a good rule of thumb when you’re trying to save for future expenses.

Minnie Sinha: So, for the emergency fund, it’s 10 to 15%. You do it for three to six months, or that’s for retirement? I think I missed that.

Deacon Hayes: No, 15% is how much you should be saving for future expenses. So, the first part would be you’re saving for an emergency fund, if you don’t have one. And that’s three to six months of your expenses. So, if you spend $2,000.00 per month, then that means you should have $6,000.00 to $12,000.00 sitting in a bank account for your emergency fund.

Minnie Sinha: Okay, correct. All right. So, and then, when it comes down to paying off debt, what kind of advice you would like to give us?

Deacon Hayes: Yeah, we used what’s called a debt snowball method. And this is where you pay off your debts smallest to largest, regardless of the interest rate. So, if you have a $500.00 debt, and then you have a $1,000.00 debt, you’re gonna tackle the $500.00 debt first because you’re gonna pay it off faster. Once that’s paid off, then you take all the money you were paying towards the first debt, and you put it towards the second debt until that’s paid off. The reason why that’s most effective is because when you get some wins early on, it helps keep you motivated and keeps you going. And so, that’s the method that we really advocate at Well Kept Wallet, and that we use personally.

Minnie Sinha: So, shouldn’t it matter at what rate you got your loan at? Should you pay the highest interest where you are paying on those loans, should you repay those first? I’m not sure.

Deacon Hayes: No, I understand what you’re saying, yeah. The only place where that really matters is if you have two debts that are similar. Let’s say that you had one debt that’s $1,000.00, and one debt that’s $1,200.00. Well then, you might pay off whichever one has the highest. The only time when you’d pay off the highest interest rate first is if the debt was a similar amount. So, if you had one debt that’s $1,000.00 and one that’s $1,200.00. Well, if you want to pay the one that has the highest interest rate off first, then that would make sense. Otherwise, paying off the smallest debts first, over years of doing this, is always the most effective way.

Minnie Sinha: And now, so, we are paying off the debt, everything is settled. So, now, where do we invest the money? So, tell us all the tricks, what are the different ways, yes.

Deacon Hayes: Well, there’s three different tried and true ways to invest money. The first is the stock market, which is the most common. The second is real estate. And the third is business. Well, for most people, the stock market is going to be the place where you invest the most money. The reason being that there’s tax advantages. There’s a long-term track record, and it takes the least amount of time and effort than owning a business or real estate. And so, in the stock market, really the best place to look is what’s called index funds. This is a group of stocks that you can purchase one actual fund that would invest in multiple companies.
So, for instance, the S&P 500 is the 500 largest companies in America. You could buy one index fund of the S&P 500 and you would be investing in 500 companies. So, gone are the days where you try to pick the winners and figure out which one’s gonna make the most money. Now, you can invest in an index fund and see, oh, since 1957, this index fund has had a 10% annual return which, basically does better than most fund managers. So, really, that’s kind of the simplest way, is figure out what index funds are there that have a long-term track record that kind of meet your risk tolerance. And start investing there.

Minnie Sinha: So, that’s one thing, stock. And anything besides index fund when it comes to a stock, where else we should invest?

Deacon Hayes: There’s stocks and bonds, right? And so, basically, they have index funds for bonds, and they have index funds for stocks. So, when you’re looking at bonds, they have a lower return. But usually, they’re less risky. So, there’s a general rule of thumb that whatever your age is, is how much you should invest in bonds. So, if you’re 40 years old, then 40% in bonds. If you’re 20 years old, then 20% in bonds. And then, the rest into equities and into stock. So, that’s just kind of a general rule of thumb. But it’s always wise for someone to seek a financial professional for their situation, to make sure that they’re investing the right way.

Minnie Sinha: So, let’s move on to then real estate. What about real estate? How do we invest there, and who should invest there?

Deacon Hayes: Yeah, there’s two main ways. The first is traditional real estate. So, you buy a property to rent it out. And you might have to fix it up a little bit, get it ready, those type of things. That takes a lot of capital. The other way is what’s called crowdfunded real estate. So, there’s ways that you can invest $10.00 in real estate through an app where you’re buying into a single property in another state. Or it could be a business, like a retail center, or something like that. So, crowdfunded real estate is kinda the newer way to get started. There is risk there. Your money’s kind of tied up. But you don't have to have as much capital. So, those are the two different ways to look at investing in real estate.

Minnie Sinha: So, this crowdfunded, suppose if I invested $1,000.00 in the real estate and in three years, I want that money back. Can I get it? Like if I actually – okay, because if I actually own a real estate piece, then whenever I want to sell it, I can sell it on my own. But if you are investing somewhere, how soon you can get that money back?

Deacon Hayes: It really depends on the platform that you use. So, some platforms will allow you within a certain time frame, like a short-term time frame of six months to a year to get your money out. Others will be three to five years. So, really, you want to make sure that you read the fine print, that you see how long that money is tied up. So, that is the risk of doing the crowdfunded real estate.

Minnie Sinha: And if the market goes down, then the investment goes down also. There is no guarantee, right? I mean there is no guarantee in any of it.

Deacon Hayes: Correct.

Minnie Sinha: Okay.

Deacon Hayes: That is correct.

Minnie Sinha: All right. So, next let’s move to the next column, which is business. So, what about that? Tell us about that.

Deacon Hayes: Yeah. So, being an entrepreneur myself, I realize that the best return that I can get is by growing my own business. And so, depending on the business model that you have, you can have higher profit margins than others, right? So, if you have a brick and mortar store, well, you’re gonna have to rent a building. You’re gonna have to hire people to man it. You’re gonna have less profit margin than if you have an online business, where you could use subcontractors, and you don't have to pay rent. And your overhead is lower.
So, really, it’s just kind of finding what model resonates with you the most. And then studying that model and what makes it profitable, how do you scale it. And the better you get at that, the more returns you can have in the long run.

Minnie Sinha: And this is about your own business, right, if you want to start a business, then how to grow it, right? That’s what we’re talking about. It’s not that we are investing money in other people’s business. And that is another way of making money, I would say.

Deacon Hayes: Yeah. No, that is another way. There is crowdfunded business investing. The challenge is you have very similar risk to real estate, where your money is tied up. It’s not liquid. If that business goes out of business, you could lose all of your money. So, you can do that. It just can be a more risky endeavor.

Minnie Sinha: All right, sounds good. Okay, and tell me some tips for financial success. What would you tell?

Deacon Hayes: Yeah, I’d say the first thing you need to do is track your finances. so, your expenses and your income. Where is your money coming in, and where’s it going out? You need to know that so then you know where to direct it to, right? And so, we have a simple starter budget that helps people on one piece of paper track all that on an Excel spreadsheet. But you can use apps. There’s plenty of apps out there to do it, as well. But really, tracking is the key to success because when you know where your money’s going, you can make modifications.

If you say, hey, I’m spending too much for groceries, you can cut back. If I’m not putting enough in savings, then I can figure out how to make some extra income. So, tracking is the most important thing when it comes to your finances.

Minnie Sinha: So, what kind of apps can help there?

Deacon Hayes: There’s a couple of apps. There’s free and paid. One that I personally use is called Empower, where you can track and categorize everything. There’s another one that is a new replacement, called Monarch Money. That’s a paid version, but I hear that it’s a better solution for people that like using Mint, which is one of the more popular budgeting apps. But I mean, there’s a ton out there. It’s really just finding the one that you will use and that works best for you.

Minnie Sinha: Sounds good. And tell me, you are so successful. Yeah, you have been everywhere. So, what is the secret of your success?

Deacon Hayes: I don't know if it’s a secret, but I think that there has to be a drive, or a passion for something more, not settling for less. And so, I think I’ve always had that desire to get better, to help people, and to figure out how to make money. And so, I’m kind of combining those of like okay, well, I’m helping people with their money, and I’m making money at the same time. It’s like a win/win situation. So, I think yeah, finding a business that really resonates with you, your interests, your passions. And then, figuring out what makes it work by studying people that have been successful in that field.

Minnie Sinha: So, what kind of advice would you like to give to my audience, who are primarily women who want to work from home, preferable in transcription and translation jobs?

Deacon Hayes: Yeah, what I would say is I think that it’s awesome that you’re going after a job, or I should say, a way to make money that has flexible hours, and it is what you make it. If you transcribe more, you make more. And so, really, I would just say kudos to you for doing that, one. And 2.) Make sure that you have a plan for the money that you’re making with the transcription work. So, make sure, if you have debt, pay off your debt. If you don’t have an emergency fund, start funding your emergency fund. If you don’t have money saved for retirement, or not enough, start putting more into retirement.

So, really, I would just say, hey, it’s great that you’re making that money. But now, make sure that you have a plan for it, and you set out the goals that you want to achieve. So that way, you actually can achieve them in the long run.

Minnie Sinha: Yeah, that’s great advice, you know how to grow your money that you made, great. And tell me, I was reading that you wrote a book also. What was the book, and what have you written about?

Deacon Hayes: Yeah, the book is called You Can Retire Early. Everything You Need to Know About Achieving Financial Independence When You Want It. And so, really, it’s kind of like at some point, you won’t have the capacity to work as much, right? And so, the goal is to make sure that you’re saving wisely and investing wisely so that at some point, you can retire and have money to live off of so that you no longer need to work if you don't want to.
And so, really, the book outlines the three paths that we talked about, the stock market, real estate, and business, and how you can use one of those paths to retire early. And I use real case studies of people that have done it, or case studies that are based off of real people, to show people how that’s possible.

Minnie Sinha: And where one can buy that book?

Deacon Hayes: Yeah, you can buy it on Amazon or places where books are sold.
Sometimes it’s in public libraries, as well, if you just want to check it out.

Minnie Sinha: And is that the only book you have written? Or is more in the pipeline?

Deacon Hayes: You know, we have one other book that is written, that has yet to be published. We’re still trying to see if we can find a publish deal. But it’s called Money Mind Shift. And the idea is how do you shift your mindset from maybe what you knew growing up and in your environment, to something different, to one that is one towards financial success. And so, that should be coming out in the next year or so. But we’re still working on it.

Minnie Sinha: Yeah, okay. Good luck with that. And also, besides book, there are so many articles on your website. So, who writes them? Do you write them, or do you have a team who does that?

Deacon Hayes: Yeah, we have a team of writers that write them. I’ve written some of the articles, but I realize that there are people that are much better at writing than me. And so, we’ve hired people over the years to write the articles on our site.

Minnie Sinha: And how do you come up with the topic? Like, this is the topic.

Deacon Hayes: It really just depends on what the need is, right? For one of the most recent ones was Eighty Ways to Make Money in 2024. And it’s like okay, well, people, it’s a new year. They want to achieve their financial goals. What do they need to know? And it’s like, well, I need to know how to make some extra money. But sometimes it could be something as simple as, ways to save money on Valentine’s Day or something like that. So, yeah, really just kind of whatever the need is at the time, that’s kind of what we try to write about.

Minnie Sinha: That sounds good. All right. So, I’m sure you like to read books, and how much reading books helped you where you are today? Like, how you changed course in your career, so, tell us about that journey, if reading books changed anything in your life or your perspective.

Deacon Hayes: Well, absolutely, yeah. Part of how we got out of debt was reading books by people in the financial space. So, a couple of them that I read was Master Your Money by Ron Blue. Another one was Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. I just said, hey, who are people that are successful in this space that I can learn from? So, yeah, over the years, I’m a huge fan of reading books. But I’m actually more of a fan of audiobooks because I listen to books better than I read them. I take the information in a lot quicker. But yeah, books are a huge influence on kind of the steps that I take in business, in life, have been very helpful.

Minnie Sinha: So, besides David Ramsey, who is your favorite author?

Deacon Hayes: Oh, my favorite author. That’s a hard one. I would say Malcolm Gladwell is probably one of my favorite authors.

Minnie Sinha: Okay.

Deacon Hayes: No. You know what? Charles Duhigg, he’s definitely my favorite author. He’s written the book Power of Habits, Bigger, Stronger, Faster, or something like that. I just love his style of using real life examples on how to address problems in your life, whether it’s [audio cuts out] [00:23:35].

Minnie Sinha: Okay, and so, let me ask you. Who has been the most influential person in your life, and why?

Deacon Hayes: That’s a good question. Yeah, I’d say, yeah, I think there’s been many people over the years that have influenced me. But I had a friend that I sat next to in college. His name was Greg. He was probably one of the most genuine people. And so, he was probably the one that kind of made me realize that there are people out there that are genuinely good and care for the benefit of others. So, I’d say Greg was a huge influence on me, kind of in my college years, which kind of helped pivot me in a good direction.

Minnie Sinha: Good, good for you and thank you, Greg, for sending in the right direction. So, all right. So, I think I’m almost down to my last question. So, tell my audience where and how they can connect with you.

Deacon Hayes: Yeah, the best place is And we’re also on YouTube, Instagram, as @wellkeptwallet for our handle, and would love to answer any questions or help you any way we can. If you can, please feel free to reach out.

Minnie Sinha: Perfect, all right. All right. So, that wraps up my conversation with Deacon. Thank you so much for doing this interview and making us savvy with our money. It was very educational. And I’m sure my audience will find this very informative and valuable. I wish you and your company many more successes and achievements. Take care, Deacon. Talk to you soon. Bye.

Deacon Hayes: Thanks, Minnie.

Minnie Sinha: Thank you. All right, everyone. I look forward to our next installment of uSpeak. Please share this with anyone who may find it interesting. Please check out our website at And remember to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and X. Thank you. See you next time. Bye.