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Digging Out of Heavy Debt So You Can Invest More with Chris Grainger

Welcome to the Investing for Beginners podcast. In today’s show, we discuss:

  • How you can start to get your finances under control with Chris Grainger of FMG Financial Hope
  • The different ways you can start to dig out of debt
  • The importance of establishing a budget and creating a financial plan
  • The benefits of a financial coach and how they can help you find contentment

Today’s show was sponsored by:


Otis Wealth


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I love this podcast because it crushes your dreams and getting rich quick. They actually got me into reading stats for anything you’re tuned in to the Investing for Beginners podcast led by Andrew Sather and Dave Ahern with a step-by-step premium investing guide for beginners. Your path to financial freedom starts now.

[DAVE] All right, folks, welcome to Investing for Beginners podcast. Tonight. We have a special guest with us tonight. We have Chris Grainger, who is the servant leader at FMG financial hope. And he’s here to talk to us about kind of a wide range of topics.

And it’s going to be a really interesting conversation. I’m looking forward to hearing what Chris has to say, and I’m going to go ahead and turn it over to Andrew and Chris, and we can go ahead and get started, Chris.

[ANDREW] Thanks for coming on. And I feel relatable. Backstory from conversations we’ve had before, and you do some pretty cool stuff within the personal finance world.

So can you tell us first what got you interested in personal finance?

[CHRIS] Yeah, for sure. I mean, I got started because I made a lot of mistakes, right.

I mean, just like everybody else, so many mistakes with debit and credit cards. And so I just really got started a couple of years ago and listened to a podcast. I just got turned on to Ramsey’s podcasts and started listening to that on a pretty regular basis. Next thing. I know I had all the books, and I had signed up for the, , financial coach master training and did all that.

And then I guess the summer of 2020, we actually, we lost our daughter and we said, okay, this is a good, really good time. It was an emotional time. We were sitting. I’m going to dive into this and kind of try to make it a ministry to help people with personal finances and avoid some of the mistakes that I make because having those; I made plenty of them.

And so we started FMG financial hope and, do blogs and coaching and things like that had really been able to connect with a lot of people and help them on their journeys and just teach them things. It’s just not taught in school, you know, and it’s a shame that it’s not. And, so I’ve just had a lot of fun with that work with young people primarily, and just helping them learn personal finance and to make themselves.

[ANDREW] Wow. Yeah. Sorry to hear about that. That’s great that you’re taking what you’re doubt and kind of moving forward with positivity. Would you mind showing us one of the mistakes may be that you made?

Hopefully, one of the ones that were a little more painful so we can learn from them and try not to do it ourselves.

[CHRIS] Oh yeah. Well, a lot of mistakes I’ve made have to do with four wheels. I’m a car and a truck. Yeah. So, you know, it doesn’t take long on its car. You know, when you’re like me, and you get that, you know, you just relish that new car smell all. It smells so good. And then until 30 or 45 days later, and, you know, and you know, those bills start coming in, you know, and then I’m the type of guy I’ve gone through vehicles.

And my wife will tell you I’ve gone through vehicles. Like most people go through t-shirts, you know, it was, it was really bad. So you just have negative equity on top of negative equity and just keep rolling into it because, you know, Salesforce. You know, no matter what your bank cars or computers, whatever they’re, they’re trained to sell, and they will find a way to finance you, , you know, and never Rory, I never worried about, , what I was actually paying.

What I worried about was what the payment was? I just need to know how much I gotta pay you every month so that I can drive this really cool truck. And that was really if I look back across just my life in general, that’s, what’s robbed me so much of, of. You know, just out of my pocket of being able to build wealth.

And that’s what I’m trying to help people understand is it’s about building wealth, and it’s a slow road, but if you’re intentional, you can get there. So, I mean, I, I go straight to car lots when I start thinking through mistakes because that’s where I see people making a lot of big.

[DAVE] Yeah. A, as somebody who worked in the banking industry for a while, I saw that first firsthand; I saw so many people come to my desk that had fallen into the exact same trap that you’re talking about that had built up so much debt that they just, they just didn’t know how they could get out of it.

You’re not destined to suffer just because you made a bad decision or two or three, and you can come out of it. So I guess what some steps that you’ve found that could help people kind of get past are, you know, the car problem, you know, or credit card or houses or whatever it may be that, that people dig themselves.

[CHRIS] Oh, absolutely. I mean, the first thing I tried to do without I paint a picture for them, and I usually put them in a boat. I said, okay, you’re in a boat, and it’s taking on water. You know, some people will have the national inclination to just grab a bucket and start pouring over. Right, but the water’s still going in, and I read it.

So when I was listening to your podcast out the gate, I was like, you know, that’s what I’m thinking of. People start investing too early. If they had this big debt, you know, that’s holding them back, whatever they’re making on their investments on the back end, it’s never going to outpace that debt. So I try to teach people, let’s plug the boat up first.

Let’s, let’s get the water, keep the water outside. And then we can sell off to, you know, to, to where we want to start investing in growing wealth. And. It’s very simple for me when I start with, with, with, with people and, and try to help them. I’m starting with the budget, and I really want to understand, first of all, do they know what a budget is?

You know, do they actually have any idea of where their money’s going each month? And you’d be surprised how many people, you know, and, and I’ve taught classes in the past were asked that question, and we came back a week later, and a lady found that she had been getting overdraft fees. Every month for three years, and went back to the bank and said, you know, I was getting this, I didn’t realize my account needed to have this level.

We got her $1,500 credit right then. And it’s just because she never looked right. I think people get on autopilot; they don’t think about their budget. You know, do you know how much you spend on gas right now for this month? Do you, how much you spend on food or fast food until you can answer those questions confidently.

You’re not going to really be in a good position financially to grow the wealth and to make the smart investment choices that, that you and Andrew teach because you gotta get controls. That’s always rule number one starts with the budget. And then, from there, I try to let people know too. I’m not talking about it.

People, you know, lower and ACOM. This is all the way up to six figures I’ve seen. Cause you know, the old rep saw more money, more problems. It’s true because think about your lifestyle changes, you know, your expenses change as you increase your income throughout your career typically. And I’ve seen, you know, multi-six figures.

Incomes living paycheck to paycheck. It’s very common in this. And to me, it’s very sad. I want, you know, you would think at that point when that’s a touchdown, you, when you started to make that much money, but if you, if you don’t put some boundaries around and really understand where your income’s going.

Oh, man. There’s no way to gain control. So the budget’s definitely where you start with.

[DAVE] Yeah. I would agree with that. Andrew, what are your thoughts?

[ANDREW] So you can see it play out. You know you get a promotion, you get that raise, and then you want to upgrade the car. You want to add a night out every week, and it becomes ingrained.

And when, and it’s very painful to cut back from that. And so if you can, if you can cut that off at a certain point, Then to your point, then you can start to make progress instead of having the water come into your boat right now. I know. I’m sure there are some people who get like hives at the B-word. So is there anything I know I’m a spreadsheet guy, so I don’t mind the budget thing at all, but is there anything that you’ve seen that kind of helps people maybe achieve some of the things, same things, a budget, without having to get super into the weeds.?

[CHRIS] For sure. I think it really comes down to four areas that I try to teach people. You know, if you’re not a numbers person, you know, I’m an engineer. I think Andrew, you have the engineering background too. So we love spreadsheets, and we can dig that all day long, but that’s not everybody.

So I take people to four areas, giving, saving, spending, and investing. And if you think about those four areas with your income, you know, and then how you want to start building wealth, you can very simply just put some percentages around those four bucks. And just say, you know what? I have a giving bucket, a saving bucket, a spending bucket, and an investment bucket every month.

And these are the percentages I want to put in those. Okay. And then you, then you need to adjust your expenses and your outgoings to match those. Now I’m really big on the giving part, you know, that may not be as important to other people, but, you know, reign in what that spending looks like. What the savings need to be.

And then with the bucket that, that your listeners are probably most interested in the investment bucket. Now I love to put money in an investment bucket, but that looks different for different people, depending on the season you’re at, in life, you know, an investment for people that I’m coaching, then there may be going and coming out of high school, early college, early in their career.

That investment bucket may be themselves in education. You know, and then the investment bucket maybe retirement. And then we may get to non-traditional retirements, like your not IRA type accounts and things like that. But it really just varies on where you’re at, but just putting some parameters, I think some, some general percentages, and you define those percentages as a person.

That, that may be away if you don’t want to get down to the, to the end of the weeds of a budget to, to really get there.

[ANDREW] That makes sense. Can you speak some more on, you know, you mentioned you talk to kids who are younger, maybe in high school, so like a particular example, or can you walk us through what a conversation like that might look like and then how you do this financial coaching.

And I’ve heard from you how you know, that conversation can turn and become really helpful for people. So can you give an example of that?

[CHRIS] For sure. And a couple jumped right out. You know, one, one jumps out a young man. I was coaching and going to the university of south Caroline. He was really excited. , you know, I’m going to be a mechanical engineer.

And my first question out the gate was, that’s great. Why do you want to be a mechanical engineer? And he couldn’t answer it. And I was like, well, wait a minute. You’re, you’re getting ready to spend 30 $40,000 to be a mechanical engineer. And you don’t know why? Well, they, they make good money. Okay. Well, there are a lot of people who can make a lot of good money, and they don’t have to be mechanical engineers.

Right. So it went through a line of questioning with him, and we actually landed on it. He wanted it to be, more in design for games, graphic design. I’m like, well, that’s not a mechanical engineer. So what we did was I said, all right, let’s start studying these, these game design companies. And we got together on a zoom call.

And Alice, like, you know what, I’m going to try to connect you with someone in that industry. Now I’m not in that industry. So it was a stretch for me, but through social media, particularly LinkedIn now, I was able to connect them with a couple of executives. That within that community, if you will.

And they, they sent him an email, they answered his questions. I think one of them actually invited him on a phone call, and it’s led to opportunities to actually shadow and just have conversations. Right. And that’s the biggest thing. I’m trying to get people to think about it. Just have those conversations about where you want to go in your career.

Cause that’s going to dictate a lot of your income and your ability to build wealth. So, you know, that was a really, it just stood out to me so much of like, okay, You’re going down this path and his parents talked to me afterward. They’re like, you know, one hour you fixed the correction that we’ve been working on for six months.

And I’m like, it’s not because they’re bad parents, but sometimes the parents have a different voice than a third party coming in with, with a little authority, a different perspective. And it just, that was to me, that one stood out and then the most recent was a gentleman he’s in manufacturing. And he wants to go there to the HVAC world.

He wants to work with his hands and BNH facts. So just after coaching him through the process of, okay, what questions do you need to ask? How do you go through a career change? You know, what’s that going to do to your income? And we started with the budget, you know, really understanding his numbers. Okay.

If you, if you’re here, if you’re at a higher level here now, knowing you have to step back, what will we need to tighten up in our budget to make that work? And you know what, when he’s making that transition. He’s got a path, he’s got a plan that takes a lot of stress away, and you know, he’s going into it with the right mindset.

And I think that’s the biggest thing because money is the biggest stressor. You know, if you look at difficult causes of divorce is extremely hard. I mean that stress, if you can get control of your finances, just brings so much peace to your life.

[DAVE] And think about the, I think about how much better those gentlemen feel after talking to you about the careers that they’re going to go down the path because most of us spend more of a spend our life at work or doing what we work and how many of us actually enjoy what we do.

And, you know, think about that young man, that’s going to go into, to gaming and design. He’s going to love that. And that’s going to be something that he’s going to enjoy. Outside of the money that he could make doing that, just the joy you’ll have in his life. That’ll spill over to other aspects of his life.

And those are important things to think about beyond just the money, you know, the pointing out, you know, why, why do you want to be a mechanical engineer? Well, because they make good money. Well, as you said, there are lots of opportunities out there where you can make a lot of good money doing things, but you know, you walk into a situation where you absolutely hate it.

I’ve known people in my life. They have worked in jobs that made six figures. I absolutely hated every second of it. I just dreaded going to work every single day. And I didn’t make that much money, but I enjoyed what I was doing. I enjoy what I do now. And that’s what’s more important. I think that, that money.

So I think that I applaud you for having those conversations with those people. Cause that’s, that’s so helpful, and it’s, unfortunately, missing sometimes.

[CHRIS] Absolutely. And you know, the gentleman, the most recent one who wanted to shift from manufacturing to 18. When we actually took it to a math problem that brought him the peace at that point, he’s like, okay, you know, actually hearing his voice, I can do this.

And the coach, from a coaching standpoint, that’s great. You know, when you get somebody there. But I guess the hardest part when I think about coaching for me, too, is not everybody listens. So just think about, I correlate it to football coaches, you know, we’re in the middle of football season, you know, you can have the best design on offense.

No, hell no. What the defense has gone to do when that blitz is coming, you know what audible to call, but you’re, if you’re a coach you’re not on the field, you know, you’re relying on your players to take that and, and to run that play. So same thing with finances, you know? So I coach. But at the end of the day, we can lay it out a wonderful personal finance plan that maps it out, you know, ABCD.

But if you don’t execute it, it doesn’t do any good. So I’m trying to teach myself not to get frustrated when it doesn’t exactly happen the way that I’ve laid it out because it’s human nature. Right.

[ANDREW] That’s so much a human problem than it is like a math problem. And a lot of times, I mean, just to give one example, if you make six, seven figures, but you’re miserable, you know, you’re spending your off time.

Spending a bunch of money and trying to make yourself feel better before you go back to your miserable job. Again, it could be a vicious cycle. And so, you know, are there any behavioral things that you’ve found works well or mindset things. It helps kind of either on the increase income side or reduces expenses side; I don’t want to call it like a hack because that sounds so just, you know, I don’t like that word, but something along those lines.

[CHRIS] You’re all over, I mean, for, for me, a lot of it comes down to is a word. Your listeners may cut me off at this point. I hope that doesn’t happen, but it’s a call. And, and being content with where you’re at and understanding, you know, the problem is with keeping up with the Joneses. A lot of times is that, is that the Joneses are broke, you know?

And you gotta, you gotta just understand where you’re at and be comfortable with where you’re at and then make those adjustments. You know, for me, it was the immediate one when we decided to make the shift, and I can, I can just speak to what happened with my life and with my family as we sold our car. We eliminate our credit cards.

And we were really intentional that six months that we had to really, I mean, you go on from a brand new vehicle to something that’s 12 years old. Right. But I had the title to that 12-year-old car, and then the next car was eight years old, but we have a title to that now, too. There’s no debt coming. So we’re sitting here where, you know, there’s a monthly mortgage.

I mean, we had the mortgage payment, but outside of a mortgage, it’s just regular bills that have brought so much peace, and not to mention the next part of behind the budget is the emergency fund. Right. You know, some of the stuff I try to help people get over the mindset that they can’t do it. You layout the budget like we have, and then you start talking about the emergency fund, you know, because.

That’s going to bring you a little bit of peace and light, too, because I can tell you, I can’t explain how much better you sleep when you don’t have bill collectors. Call. You don’t have those bills coming in every month, and yet you’re telling your dollars what to do. That brings a sense of peace that just can’t come anywhere else.

And that’s what I try to, I guess, the hope, the inspiration, and then allow that comes down to contentment. You know, you gotta understand it, you know, you’re right here right now, but you may not always gonna be here. You know, there’s going to be, you know, that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, if you will, , we’ll get.

But as you guys teach, if you’re looking forward to the overnight 50% return on this investment, I’m the guy who says the best business book of all time is deter the turtle in that. I mean, that’s your daddy, right? Me, you steadily work there, and you get there. And if I can get people to that mentality, and I tell you how I had to two young guys that I was coaching and actually was able to connect this story from, from personal finances.

Cause we went running and, and I, and I run, but there are a lot younger than me. So, it’s like, all right guys, we’re just going to take off. If you want me to set a pace, I will, where you can go. We got this; we’re going. So we were going to run a 5k, and about halfway, I noticed they were out front; they were leaving us just gone.

They were laughing. I could hear him, and I yelled out halfway. So we turned around, and about a quarter-mile past that halfway point, me and a gentleman I was running with, we were catching those young guys. And when we got to the finish line, it was about five minutes. They pull; they come running in after us.

And, so I sit them down at the table. I was like, no, I don’t. I brought up the tourists in the hair story, and I said, guys, this is personal finance. You just got a real-life example of personal finance. Am I better? Am I in better shape than you know, but I have more experience? And if you want to learn personal finance, you need to really, first of all, slow down, understand where you’re putting your money.

Make sure you’re listening to people that you trust. And that had that experience that had that wisdom and then, then makes a plan and stick with it. But don’t expect that you’re going to be able to just have this immediate, massive return overnight, because you know, if you, if you look at, Instagram and YouTube and those types of things, yeah.

They have that, but you never see the behind-the-scenes. All you see is the beautiful mountaintop. So it’s tough on you. Generation. I mean, cause that’s all they see is how easy it should be, and you know, you’re going to have to work for it. And I’m trying to bring people back to reality, to know you do have to work for it, but at the end of the day if you do, and your intention.

There’s so much to be gained, you know, and you’ll be in.

[DAVE] Yeah, I agree with that. And I think the social media does them no favors, because like you said, they don’t see these overnight successes that have been working at it for five years and doing all these things, and all of a sudden they burst on the scene and then people think that you know, it’s an overnight success.

Yes. Certainly, of course, there are anomalies where there are people like that. But I think a vast majority of people like that have been grinding away at it for a long period of time. And they’ve had other failures along that path. And I mean, I think about the life of Abraham Lincoln, the guy had, he had a hard life even before he became the president of the United States.

He faced. Multiple times are running for Senate, running for Congress, trying to become a lawyer. He had to teach himself how to read. He lost his first woman. He loved spurned him for someone else. He got married, and that woman died. So he had a lot of heartaches and. But he never gave up, and he just kept grinding away and grinding away.

And now he’s remembered as probably arguably the best president of the United States has ever had. And one of the greatest leaders in the history of the world. So long story short, it’s proof of how continuing to do what you need to do to get to where you want to go. But I think going back to what you said, having a plan, understanding what it is that you want to do.

I mean, Abraham Lincoln was driven. He wanted to be a lawyer. He wanted to learn. He had an insatiable need to get better. And he only worried about himself. And I think that’s one of the things when you talk about contentment, I think about those kinds of ideas of thinking about it’s all about how I can improve.

I, you know, I can’t compare myself to Andrew or you or anybody else because I’m not walking your shoes, and I’m not walking. I have to worry about how I can do and how I can be better because, you know, God has gifted me with whatever talents I have, and I have to use those to the best of my ability in which I can’t control.

You know how smart Andrew is. It’s out of my control, personal.

I know, I know he’s smart, he’s a smart dude, and he’s gracious enough to humble us with his presence, but he, yeah, he’s, he’s a smart dude. So, but you know, it’s, I hear what you’re saying, and I really think those are kinds of ideas that really need to be; I wish they were spread more than some of the Instagram stuff does, but that’s a whole other conversation.

[CHRIS] Got that Right. And one thing. Not at all. I don’t want to just poop on social media cause there is one way that people, even the young people, can use it. You know, I like to thank you. , young say, see, um, I’m in college, interested in business, or I’m interested in engineering, you know, stick with engineering.

Cause I know that pretty well. I really encourage people. First of all, find a mentor, you know, find someone that can help you that really cares about, you know, your path, and then start reaching out. You know, they’re there. I have found throughout our hosting a podcast and industrial podcasts myself, I found people like helping.

And people like being asked, you know, their opinion about their journey and for advice. And if it’s, you know, if it’s an alignment, for instance, in an engineering or graphic design or whatever you meet maybe the best. Thank you. You can do it; it just has a conversation. I feel like that’s gone away so much where we just text, we email there’s, you know, we’ll watch a video on something, but do we actually talk to anybody?

And so that’s been my biggest coaching to these guys that we’ve got working with is like great. That we’ve connected on email and that you have a connection make a phone. I really want them to know you as a person. And then that’s going to just put you in a better position to me.

[ANDREW] And I think most people now are getting used to getting on zoom. And so that’s been my biggest coaching to these guys that we’ve got working with is like great. That we’ve connected on email and that you have a connection make a phone. I really want them to know you as a person. And then that’s going to just put you in a better position to me. And I think most people now are getting used to getting on zoom.

So you could see some sort of resurgence of that becoming a normal thing. Now, absolutely people are more open to it. When you, when you do, reach out. Are there any other, I guess, huge benefits that somebody might not think come with having a third party perspective, like a financial coach or, you know, career mentor, whatever that looks like?

[CHRIS] I mean, the biggest thing, I guess maybe you could just explain the process real quick on what, how coaching works. Cause that, cause some people, the biggest thing I’ve found is people just don’t when they say. Financial coach, when the heck is that right? I mean, cause it sounds kind of like I need to be making $500,000 a year to have a financial goal.

No, this is not what we’re talking about. You know, the process that I really work is, first of all, I wanted to just understand where the people. Just to understand our situation and really understand, like, ask a lot of questions. So it almost feels like an interrogation when, when I first started coaching, and it’s because I really just want to understand what you are and where you’re at.

And what are some of your, some of your goals, where are you trying to go? What are we trying to accomplish here? But I can’t do that until I get the facts. And then after I get the facts and I know where we want to go. That’s where the sausage happens, right? We’re S; we’re making it altogether. Okay.

We’re going to design a plan, and it’s going to be different for everyone depending on where they’re at, what those goals are. And then the biggest thing that a coach needs to do is it’s great. I can put this wonderful plan in front of you, but if I can’t get you excited and pumped up and ready to go out there and run through that wall and, you know, just go do this, then I didn’t do my job.

So I call it just creating. You know, so that financial hope that’s where that comes in is art. I’m going to understand; I’m going to get your goals. We’re going to put a really killer plan together, but then I’m going to give you some hope that you can do this. And that just comes through, you know, through that one-on-one, you know, listening to how they, how they talk and, and try to really bring that from.

First of all, in a way that they can understand that relates and that’s going to help them and then just you’ll see it. You’ll see the aha moment when, well, okay. I can do this right. That, oh man. And they get so excited, and that’s when you know you’ve done your job as a coach. So I think for listeners out there, if you’re making 20, $30,000, there’s an opportunity there to even improve your position.

Moving forward at those rates versus the, you know, the 150 $200,000 earners, you know? So don’t put yourself in a box. There’s an opportunity for sure. You are working with the right coach that actually cares about you to be successful.

[ANDREW] So how can people reach out if they’re interested in your services as a coach or learning more about everything you got going on?

[CHRIS] Yeah, I mean, basically for us, we have a website, FMG Financial Hope, and that’s the easiest way. , there’s a place right there on the website that you can actually schedule. I always start with just the free call, and I think a lot of coaches do that, you know? So you want to find a coach that’s willing to talk with you answer some initial questions.

So usually, that’s a 15, 20-minute phone call. Coaching sessions are usually about. , there’s usually a little homework that needs to be done upfront, just so we can make the most of the time and things like that. So once you’ve done the homework and we’ve had that session, usually we’re only coaching depending on where the person is.

2 3, 4 sessions usually get you on a path. Then you, you roll on, and it may be a couple of years before you need to come back, but it’s not a, it’s not therapy, right? So it’s, it’s not where you need to be there every month, you know, or, or weekly or things like that. It really is completely custom-tailored because, at the end of the day, I’m just trying to help clients get to where they need to be and introduce some ideas.

They probably hadn’t thought about it. Challenged them in some areas that are going to really not always be fun, but if we’re still if we’re all getting alignment on where we wanna go, Then we’ll get there. We just got, we got to get an alignment on where we want to go. And, and you know, what has been very eye-opening, working with so many people on these, on these different areas and, and just getting people to understand, first of all, like I say, where their money goes and then ultimately get them to where they can listen to an investment for beginners podcasts and know, you know, where to put that money at.

Cause I love the philosophy, the way you guys are teaching people. I just want her to be ready. Right. And then once we get them there, I’m pointing straight to, to Andrew and Dave, like, all right. Do it; those guys saved on your rates and make those investments.

[DAVE] Yeah, that’s awesome. So, all right, Chris.

Well, thank you very, very much for taking the time to come talk to us today. That was great stuff. You laid a lot of great things out, and I really liked the philosophy and what you’re really trying to do to help people because that’s what we’re all here for is to help people. So without any further ado, I’m going to go ahead and sign us off.

You guys, go out there and invest with a margin of safety. The emphasis on safety has a great week. I’ll talk to you all next week.

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