Joey Ruffalo of J.R. Financial Coaching joins us today to talk about financial planning for online sellers, his eBay journey, and his new book An eBay Seller’s Guide to Financial Planning.
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All right, so Joey Ruffo joins us today. We’re really excited to have him here. Joey is a financial coach. You can find him at his website, jr financial coaching.com. And he is also an online seller and has been on the eBay for Business Podcast multiple times.
He’s also a YouTuber and a podcaster.
Other interesting tidbits about Joey. Joey is a money mindset financial coach. He’s paid, this is amazing. He’s paid $370,000 in personal debt and has over a million in debt paid off by him.
He’s also a Ramsey preferred coach and now a bestselling author. Congratulations on that and everything, but welcome to the show, Joey. Good to see you again.
Thank you guys for having me here. I really appreciate it.
So how did you discover online selling?
So we started selling on eBay back in 2000.
It was a great place for us to get unique, one-of-a-kind gifts for each other and also for stuff for our collections. I was big in the sports cards and still am to an extent. So eBay was a great place to go to complete your collections. I’m a completionist, so inserts numbered cards, you try to get everything.
So eBay was a place to go for all that. It was also a great place to sell off your doubles to get money to buy the stuff you needed. We’ve sold off and on over the years, finally became serious in about 2017, and we still sell sports cards, video games, CDs, collectibles, whatever, everything. I say basically anything that will sell, and in reality, anything sells on eBay.
So on the other side, how did you get into financial planning?
Until the pandemic in 2020. My wife and I owned a pretty successful pet-sitting and dog-walking business since about 2003. So about 17 years. Pandemic kind of shut that down. Everybody was at home.
2007, 2008, during that last financial crisis, while we were trying to stay afloat, we ended up in a lot of debt. 2006 was a great year for us. We had several contractors working for us. Everything was going well. Then things kind of changed and I was trying to find myself borrowing to maintain a lifestyle that we couldn’t afford, and that’s how we ended up in about $370,000 in debt.
Credit cards, student loans, vehicles, everything. The process left me personally broke, scared, and feeling helpless. Of course, it was ridiculous. Every night going to bed, I lived in an apartment complex and I tell a story about whenever I go to sleep at night, any kind of truck that would drive through the complex, whether it was, uh, somebody else that lived there or whatever it was, it’s just a loud truck.
I always thought my truck was getting repoed so I never could sleep through the night. Just this, this anxiety that was in there. One day I was driving home, um, listening to the radio and I heard Dave Ramsey and his radio show, and it happened to be a caller where he was telling them to fight back against collectors on the phone.
And to that point, I was scared of them and doing whatever they said, and I realized that I had a lot more power than they did in certain situations. So that gave me the realization that I could fight back and a little sense of like, okay, I’m more in control now. So then we got on a plan and we crawled our way back out.
We did things like side hustles. This is where side hustles became a real part and part of our life. So that’s like grocery delivery, driving for Uber, Amazon Flex. And of course, selling on eBay. And even mystery shopping. Mystery shopping was huge cuz when we were in debt and couldn’t go out to eat, we’d go out to mystery shop, get a free meal, and get paid for it.It was great. hotels, something like that, it was awesome.
And so going through that process, we did it virtually alone. It was myself, my wife, and a few other people in a small group. But we, it was basically just us. And after we got done, I said, I don’t want anybody else to have to go through that alone.
Like, I know that what we went through was tough and scary, and if I had somebody to lean on and talk to kind of understood what I was going through, I might have made it a little bit better. So that’s why I figured out how can I help others and whether I need to accomplish to lead me into financial planning and financial coaching. And that kind of took me down that path.
Wow. That’s amazing. So tell us about The Transformation Within: Words of Wisdom From a Collection of Coaches to Help you Win at the Game of Life and the successes you’ve seen.
Yeah, so this is a new book that came out. I was contacted by one of my fellow co-authors and asked if I would lend my voice to a multi-author project.
So this is a multi-author book. There are 18 different authors in here. And I’m still developing my writing style and I thought, eh, it’s a great opportunity to get something out there and a wider reach that would help me like at least put pen to paper and get my thoughts out there. You know, so I felt, let me, lemme give it a shot.
18 coaches, like I said, different disciplines. There are spiritual coaches, there’s personal trainers, relationship coaches, and mindset. There are a couple of life coaches and financial coaches, which is great. And really, blown away by the success so far. It reached number-one bestseller status in Australia, Canada, and the United States.
So that technically means an international number-one bestselling author you’re talking to. 17 different categories, throughout those countries. And fun, fun tidbit. We ended up number two in the UK, and number one was the Michelle Obama book, so we couldn’t.
Couldn’t quite pass Michelle Obama in the UK, but what I really liked about being a part of this was that all the proceeds from the book went to charity. , the charity was called LMU Girls. It helps girls in Kenya, and women in Kenya achieve financial freedom and self-worth by becoming community leaders and entrepreneurs.
So it gets them away from whatever’s happening over there and their struggles and gives them a sense of purpose in life outside of what they’re born into. So it’s a really great opportunity to just give back, but also kind of give a little bit of my story and a little bit of how I became a coach, my coaching styles in here, and a little bit of the backstory of how I got, encouraged at a young age to see what transformation was like by helping my dad out.
My dad was blind and, helping him through the transition from being his guy to, learning that he didn’t need me as a guide. He needed to guide himself, instead of relying on other people. And that sort of helped me decide what my dream style is. When I work with people, it’s like I walk alongside them rather than drag them as a guide, I walk with them. So that’s the approach I take.
We know that you have a new book coming out called. An eBay Seller’s Guide to Financial Planning. So tell us about that and what is covered in that book.
Oh, yeah, this one, this one is a labor of love, right?
So I wrote this book a few years ago as a project for my MBA, and I sat it on the shelf. Okay. It was one of those things where I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the Rocky movies. I always use this example and nobody’s ever seen the one I’m talking about, but it’s the last one where he’s fighting the computer version.
He’s really old and he’s fighting. He goes back to fight in the exhibition fight. It’s just called Rocky Balboa, and he’s really old. Adrian’s passed away. He’s got the restaurant, he’s trying to make amends with his son. He goes to Pauly and Pauly says, why are you doing this? He goes, I still got something left.
I got still got something left inside. Right? And when he’s done with the fight, he goes, it’s empty. There’s nothing left. He got it all out of his system. That’s how I felt with this book. I wrote it, I got it all outta my system and then I said, I really wanna put this out. But every time I went back to edit it and reread it, I just was like, I don’t want to, I don’t wanna deal with this.
It’s done. It’s outta my head. So eventually I sat down and re-edited it. And, basically, how it came about originally was I conducted research in a lot of different, reselling Facebook groups. Cause I was doing this while I was reselling, when I picked up reselling again full-time.
And I was getting my financial planning certifications and I was using eBay and reselling to pay for that. Okay. But also I saw a business model in there for the eBay sellers, right? So I did this research and found that many of the people were concerned about their financial future, but also didn’t know how to accomplish their goals.
There were a lot of sellers who were concerned about the here-and-now of selling and not the long-term game plan. Always worried about the next score, the next hit, next thing, but never worried down the line. Yep. Now, this is where it gets interesting, so bear with me, there’s a little math here.
Uh, in 2018, eBay released their impact report, and in that impact report, they had registered 6 million sellers in the United States alone. Now it’s probably higher. Yeah, this is 2018. Sellbrite.com did a survey that said around that time that 71% of businesses fail in 10 years. That’s just business in general.
But with e-commerce businesses, 65% fail in the first 18 months. And 90% failed in the first five years. In that same impact report, eBay said, out of the 6 million registered users, 4.8 million were considered full-time. So if you do the math on the failure rate, you’re talking about 3.1 million failing in the first 18 months and 4.3 failing in the first five years.
So there’s a lot of room for improvement through education. What I try to cover in the book is the basics of financial planning. So cash flow inventory management, operating without debt, basic investing principles, retirement, estate planning and succession planning, you also learn what your seller independence number is and how to calculate it, which is, which is fun.
And this is, for any type of reseller such as eBay. But a lot of the examples I use and comments are eBay-related. So you can use this plan throughout. But so the examples are mostly eBay, that’s why it’s an eBay seller’s guide.
I’ve read the first two chapters. They’re great. So I’m excited to learn more.
Yeah. And I heard a rumor that Griff from eBay wrote the Forward. Is that true?
Yes, that is true.
And how did that come about?
Well, I always like to say I must have the courage to ask him. I’ll preface this by saying, and everybody knows this about Griff, I love Griff. Everybody loves Griff, everybody.
I have a ton of respect for him and where he is in the community and how he’s, how he’s perceived and everybody, everything with his just reputation is just stellar. I used to attend eBay Meetups in San Jose at eBay headquarters. Okay. And Griff was there almost all the time.
So I spent a lot of one-on-one time with Griff. And like you said earlier, I was fortunate enough to be on the podcast a few times. We always used to get along well before and after the show. Talk all the time. And so I sent him a copy of the book and I just said, Hey look, I’m writing this book. This is what it is.
Can you just look at it? Tell me what you think. And I would love it if, you know, you would possibly write the forward for it. And he got back to me and he said, absolutely no problem. And so I knew for me, if he was attached to it it would give it some validity and, which is what I wanted with this, to get out to people to at least pick up a copy, look at it, and implement some of the strategies and tips that are in there to help them grow their business, not just for the next, few months, but for the next several decades.
Yeah. Congratulations. And so we deal with a lot of sellers across the board, multiple platforms. Do you have one piece of financial advice you can offer online sellers across the board?
Yes, it’s gonna seem basic, but yes. The most important thing to realize is that there’s no one size fits all plan.
But the key here is to have a plan. So many just wing it and don’t plan for the long term. It’s just like when I work with clients and we’re building, getting out of debt. So I work with them and the first thing we do is a budget session, and the budget to me is like the foundation on which your financial health is built.
You have to have a strong budget and then everything else gets built on top of it. The same thing in business, having a strong business plan, whether that’s, whether that includes a business budget or just a plan. It’s your guide, it’s something you refer back to. I always feel like when you put down your goals in writing or on paper, it’s out there to look at and you have to kind of live up to them and, and accept them and kind of try to reach them.
If it’s all in your head, sometimes you can’t remember and you get jumbled and garbled and it’s just like, well, maybe I said this, maybe I wanted to do it this way. No. Put it down on paper and just have a plan. When you do that, I always like to say it changes your mindset from an online seller to a business owner that sells products online.
And that’s a big difference between the two of them. And when you have that mindset and that thought process, you’ll be, you will be successful. And you won’t be one of those, uh, 90%.
That’s really good. Some good information. Especially, we don’t think about retirement and it suddenly is here. So yeah.
I like to tell some of my clients too, it’s like I don’t want to have to sell in retirement. I want to sell in retirement cuz I like to sell. I won’t have to rely on for income. If I build up enough now at my younger age, or even still put stuff away and just have a sense of what I need later on, then I can make that plan and really decide like, do I wanna have to continue a reselling business when I’m 70 or 75 or 80 to make ends meet? Or am I doing it for the fun of it?
That’s right. I love that. So what’s next for you then?
Some more writing. I gotta get, find my voice still and still hone in my little niche. I recently, this has happened a few days ago, was recent, bought on and as an executive contributor for an online magazine called Brains Magazine.
It’s for me personally provide content in the personal finance and entrepreneurship categories. So I’ll be doing a once-a-month feature there. Sort of hone my craft a little bit. And then, ramp up my podcast and YouTube presence. I laughed earlier because It’s just because I have one or two shows out there. It doesn’t make me a quote-unquote podcast or YouTuber, but I’m getting there.
You know, I start and stop a bunch of things, but I got a lot of stuff coming up this year where I think it’s gonna be very informative for people and helpful along the way. And especially with the podcast, that’s gonna be very, it’s gonna be good. It’s gonna be good. I have a lot of things in the pipeline that’s gonna, I think this is gonna be really cool for, especially this year for people to learn from.I also have some courses that I’m gonna be launching in the upcoming year too. That’ll get people a little sense of…Budgeting courses and a few eBay-related courses or e-commerce-related courses that’ll help people get the basis going down. And then that’s, that’s, that’s coming soon.
And we’ll include, you know, all your links in the show notes, where can you be found?
What’s the song here, there everywhere? Is that the Beatles song? That’s what it is.
The best place to reach me is my website jrfinancialcoaching.com. I am in the process of redesigning it. It’s up there now, but the whole redesign is coming soon. It’s gonna be awesome. I’m excited to share this with everybody.
It’s gonna be a real resource for people that are looking for financial reselling questions. It’s gonna be amazing. I’m also very active on Instagram, at JR Financial Coach. You can reach me there. I have a link in my bio there that takes you to where you can find everything. My podcast links, YouTube links, and articles.
I like to say I’m a dm, phone, text, or email away. Don’t be shy.
I can’t wait to look you up. I’m definitely gonna follow your journey. Where can we find your books?
So both are on amazon.com. Okay. Transformation Within is available on Kindle and paperback. The eBay Sellers Guide to Financial Planning will be available in a Kindle pre-order soon, and then in paperback, shortly thereafter. It’s gonna be discounted for a limited bit of time around launch. I like to say honestly please get both versions. Please. Thank you very much. Please and thank you, Ron Swanson would say. There are resources that are gonna be in the book that you can read, but there’s a link in there that you can click on the Kindle version that will take you to a special part of my website that has these downloadable resources for you to follow along in the book. , and then for updates, just follow me on Instagram right now, or you can email me and I’ll add you to my newsletter with any sort of update that might be coming out soon.
Lots of great resources and thank you for being a great resource for the seller community.
And putting all this out there.
I appreciate you, and the opportunity.
Anything to add?
Like I said earlier, it’s about mindset. It’s about change, right?
So, again, going back to those Facebook groups where I did these surveys and, and read some of the comments and the end of each chapter. I don’t remember if you remember Doug, but from the end of each chapter, I have questions from the social media section. Yeah. And basically, it’s related to that chapter.
So it’s a tax question or a retirement question. And these are based on real questions that were asked in Facebook groups. , and some of these are outrageous. Like I remember one. It was probably two or three months after the whole fidget spinner died down. The whole craze died down and this guy was really excited because he had just ordered $10,000 worth of fidget spinners and didn’t know how to flip them, and he was gonna lose a ton of money.
And that’s some of the people that you think about and go, man, you, you didn’t, there’s just that planning part of it, right? Not to say you. maybe got the right price for it or just not the right product. Yeah. Um, mm-hmm. A tidbit I’ll give away is in the book I talk about is your business sick, SICK.
And that means sales, inventory, customer service, and knowledge, if any one of those isn’t, is deficient, your business is, and so you may have knowledge in a certain category. Like I may know sports cards really well. I write my customers back really great I’m great at customer service online when it talks to people, but I don’t have the inventory to match the sales.
I’m not gonna do well in business. Yeah, right. So it’s having all four elements together. And some people, like in that fidget spinner story, maybe that the inventory was there now, but the knowledge of the timing wasn’t, wasn’t correct. Right. Forced his business to not succeed. So little tidbits like that you’ll find in the book.
And sure. You also get really, like I said, I also get really deep into retirement planning, like how much you could put away and certain plans you should look at as a business owner. And I think that’s important to sort of just think about long-term thinking. Yeah. We are a business, you know, you’re a business and you should think long-term.
If you think, if you think in the here and now, you’re not gonna succeed. It’s just, you’re in and out, you’re done. You’ve made your flash in the pan and if you really want to be a business and you really do that long-term thinking. Yeah. Gosh, I’m inspired. I am totally inspired. So I can’t thank you enough for being here today.
And when’s the book out?
So the pre-release, I just got the cover design approved again today. Cause I had a little snafu with the eBay logo on my original cover…Griff obviously pointed out that to me. Did you get that approved? And I said, oh, I’m supposed to?
Yep. So I had to run that back. I just got it in today. So it’s gonna be up for a pre-release on Amazon as of when this is live, whatever This is ready to go. Okay. Be up there. Just type in my name. If you can’t remember the book just type my name in the, in the search engine and it’ll see it.
Well, thanks, Joey. We really appreciate it. And yeah, I’m inspired too. Can’t wait to read the book. And then, again, we’ll include the links in the show notes and Joey can be email@example.com. And then pretty much across the board JR Financial Coaching on, social media.
Yep. It’s either coach or coaching on some of the platforms, but you’ll find me, you see my big mug everywhere.
Well, good luck.
Yeah. Thanks, and we’ll talk again.