In 2012, Jason Vitug quit his job in banking and went on a mission to better educate Americans about their finances. With help from a successful crowdfunding campaign, Vitug founded the personal finance question-and-answer site Phroogal.com. This summer, he’s taking his mission on the road, embarking on his second cross-country financial education tour, with plans to visit 50 states in 107 days.
Vitug joined us to chat about his latest road trip and his new book, “You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life.”
Yahoo Finance: What made you want to give up a six-figure corporate job and launch your own business?
Jason Vitug: I worked in financial services for over 7 years. Three of those years, I was vice president of marketing for Reach Federal Credit Union in Menlo Park, Calif. I found I out I was selected as successor to the CEO. That gave me a moment where I asked myself, is this the trajectory I want for my life? Instead of taking the role, I decided to quit. And I went backpacking around the world, 20 countries in 12 months. That’s when I really had my ‘ah ha’ moment. I’m living my dream lifestyle. How can I help others live theirs?
YF: You started with Phroogal.com, which is kind of like a Q&A forum for personal finance questions. Where did that idea come from?
JV: During my travels, a lot of people were telling me that I was just [doing well] because I was an American. But I knew the reality back home in the US. If you aren’t making the right financial decisions, chances are you aren’t living your dream financial lifestyle. I had this vision to make it easier for people to get access to financial tools and resources and be part of a network where people could exchange ideas freely. I raised $78,501 through Indiegogo for the platform and Phroogal.com was born.
YF: What gave you the idea to go on a cross-country tour?
JV: I knew that my generation, millennials, are social both online and offline. Technology is important and it’s about convenience and accessibility but we also want social interaction. That’s how the road to financial wellness came to be. It was combining my passion for travel, personal finance and engaging with individuals. I thought what better way to break the social taboo about money than to kick it out on the road? Get it out of the confines of classrooms and workshops.
YF: How do you fund the tour?
JV: We have great sponsors, including local credit unions, nonprofit organizations and this year USAA is a sponsor as well. Each location has specific sponsors. It’s about going local and connecting people to local resources.
YF: You did a much shorter tour last year, which was your first time testing out the road trip idea. How do you avoid burnout on a 107-day road trip?
JV: Last year, on the first tour, we drove 10,000 miles in 30 days. That was exhausting. I was running on adrenaline. It hit me a month after the tour ended. I couldn’t get out of bed. This time around, it’s spread out. We start in June and end at the end of September. Now there’s time for us to really enjoy cities, enjoy the scenery.
YF: What kind of events can people expect on the tour?
JV: We have experts and speakers in each city that host talks, but we also go out on the road and stop people in the streets to talk about money. I want to do things that are more fun and interesting. I’ve got crazy ideas like going up in a hot air balloon and talking with an expert about planning for retirement. I want to go spelunking down into a cave and talking to an expert about financial pitfalls.
To find out if The Financial Wellness tour is stopping in your town, check out www.theroadtofinancialwellness.com.