If you have student loan debt, you don’t want to miss this interview with Travis Hornsby as he talks about:
- how he has saved his student loan debt clients an average of $84,000, for just a nominal flat fee
- how to hedge your risk if you are thinking of using the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program
- why he feels anyone paying for financial advice is paying too much
- and much more!
Josh Mettle: Welcome to the Physician Financial Success Podcast. My name is Josh Mettle, and this is the podcast dedicated to advising physicians how to avoid financial landmines. Today, we’ll be talking with Travis Hornsby ‑ author, blogger, investor, entrepreneur, and millennial. I’m convinced today’s podcast will be mind-blowing for young physicians still in training.
Not only are we going to cover Travis’ proprietary student loan software, but we’re also going to uncap the secret to retiring early, saving more than your peers, and last but definitely not least, we’re going to discuss the spirit of entrepreneurism, which I believe is our greatest opportunity for multigenerational wealth accumulation.
Travis, good morning! Welcome to the show and how are you today?
Travis Hornsby: Hey, doing great! Great to be on, Josh.
Josh Mettle: Likewise, glad to have you and I appreciate you spending time as our guest today. Let’s jump in. I always like to find out a little bit more about our guest and introduce you to you, so tell us just a little bit about how you got started down the path to personal finance and what it is you’re doing today.
Travis Hornsby: Yeah, for sure. So I graduated college in 2012 with money in the bank because of a series of fortunate events with scholarships and part-time jobs, and I went up to the Northeast to trade bonds for the world’s largest mutual fund company, and I was trading municipal bonds for several years. It just kind of just wore on me, the corporate life, the corporate culture, and I thought there was something better I could be doing, more fulfilling than I could be doing with my life.
I came across a bunch of stuff online from early retirement movement. I saved over 60 percent of my income over those several years when I was working and then I came up with the idea to do radical early retirement in 2015. I basically sold everything that I had and I had a low six-figure amount saved up, and I just decided to sell everything and go to Europe.
I did that for about a year and then I went to Latin America and then decided that I needed to move back to be close to my girlfriend in St. Louis for her job and I did that. All the while, I was blogging in my personal finance blog and I built this student loan spreadsheet to help her pay back her student loan debt from medical school, and I got shared on Business Insider over 300,000 times.
Josh Mettle: Wow!
Travis Hornsby: And that’s what started my accidental side-hustle, studentloanplanner.com.
Josh Mettle: I love it. I love it. Well, as I was reading your blog, I was very impressed by your savings rate. Maybe let’s just pause there for a moment. You said that you were able, I think you said you were able to save 60 percent of your income while you were going to college. Do you mind just giving us a few tips on how you did that?
Travis Hornsby: So, I had pretty good scores coming out of high school. I was ranked highly in my class and got into a bunch of different schools including my state flagship university, University of Florida, and then some other private schools that were a lot more expensive. I actually got a great scholarship at the state university where they paid me a stipend to go there kind of like a graduate student, and I also had the state scholarship called Bright Futures, that covered my tuition. I had a bunch of scholarships on top of that. I actually made a pretty decent sort of minimum wage fulltime salary going into the University of Florida from scholarships alone. Then that’s on top of covering the costs of tuition.
That was a fantastic decision rather than go into a place like Vanderbilt or Chapel Hill where I would have been in a lot of debt. And then after that point, I saved basically everything. I got a part-time job doing a teaching assistant work for an economics professor. I came out of school with a decent amount of savings when a lot of people come out of undergrad with a lot of debt.
Josh Mettle: So just another question. You alluded to the fact that you made a conscious decision to go with the school where you could accumulate scholarships and have kind of a lower cost of living rather than going into a more, maybe prestigious school. In hindsight, do you think that exiting without debt to a potentially less prestigious school was the right call?
Travis Hornsby: Absolutely. I could have gone to a better school and maybe got a more brand name job at a blue-blood consulting firm or investment bank, but I would not have been as happy as I am today. It gave me more options to pursue the entrepreneurial activities that I’m currently doing.
Josh Mettle: I think that’s interesting. I think oftentimes when we make decisions, we don’t see what other decisions in the future that initial decision will preclude us from making. You go down the path of Chapel Hill, you accumulate debt and now kind of your only path is that job that’s going to pay you the highest amount because you’re in debt and you got to get out of debt. But if that initial decision would have been different and you would have gone the other path with less debt, then that frees you up to make other decisions down the line. Is that what I heard you say?
Travis Hornsby: Yeah, precisely. If any of your physician listeners have the opportunity to go a lower-cost medical school, I would absolutely suggest that going to the more prestigious schools is not going to make of a big difference as people think. It’s primarily your motivation that determines your success.
Josh Mettle: That’s great. Okay, good stuff. The other thing that I read in your blog was you happened to time your birth into the investing world right during the post 2008 crash and I think a lot of the country, the world was in a little bit of paralysis at that moment. And so, what was it that gave you the constitution to say, “Hey, this isn’t the end of the world. If anything, this is an opportunity and here’s how I’m going to have the confidence to go out investing?
Travis Hornsby: Yeah, so a big lesson for me from 2008 was that you don’t need to have a ton of leverage. If you have a lot of leverage and a lot of monthly bills to pay, it does matter how your portfolio performs in a big way. However, if you don’t have that leverage, if you have low cost of living, if you have a really low monthly housing payment and no car payment, then you can take a lot more risk, both in your personal and your portfolio life.
For me, investing has always been centered on the idea that I have a long-time horizon and I have fixed expenses, so I don’t need current income to cover those expenses. It was pretty scary watching the small amount of money that I had tank and then come back, but obviously I enjoyed far better than long-term average returns just by being born into the investment world in that time frame.
Josh Mettle: Again, a decision you were afforded because you didn’t make the decision to go deeply into debt and to have a big nut each month that you had to cover, right?
Travis Hornsby: Exactly, so many people that are in student debt, I try to tell them that they can almost look like Warren Buffett by paying down their debt because a lot of them are in grad-plus debt that’s close to 8 percent on a pre-tax basis. That’s like 11 percent or 12 percent return depending on their tax bracket because student loan interest is not really tax deductible beyond a small amount. That’s the crushing burden that a lot of new physicians have is the returns that I was getting as a young investor are basically working against them, which is why I think it’s so important for young physicians to have a good student loan plan.
Josh Mettle: Great point. Just one more. I see you have made a lot of really good decisions early and that has opened up the ability for you to go into entrepreneurism and a bunch of other ventures that you’re having fun with now, and I don’t want to skip over that too quickly. You also talk in your history in your blog about your post-college lifestyle where you kept a conservative lifestyle post graduation. Walk us down that path just a little bit.
Travis Hornsby: Sure. One of the biggest things that you can do and what I did is like kept my monthly housing payment rock bottom, so I shared a house, as maybe some of your listeners might fondly recall, with a bunch of other roommates in college. I had four other guys that I shared the house with. My monthly housing payment was $275 a month in college.
Josh Mettle: Awesome.
Travis Hornsby: That was an incredible boon to savings when you’re paying around $3,000 a year for housing, everything else seems so much more affordable. On top of that, I only bought my clothes from thrift stores or waited until birthdays or holidays to buy a new pair. You’re going to be asking me to buy something for me to wear so I kept my clothing budget super low. I also kept my food budget really low, so I didn’t really ever go out to fancy restaurants. I always took advantage of whatever the free food events on campus or whatever cheap spots to eat that were out there. I made my own lunch, so I saved a ton of money on food.
Also I had a beater car. I had a car that was paid off and I didn’t really keep too high insurance on it because it was a beater car so it didn’t really matter if it got wrecked, so I could afford to buy a new one. I basically kept my fixed expenses in college probably around $5,000 to $6,000 a year ‑
Josh Mettle: Wow!
Travis Hornsby: Just by living super – no, I’m not including the cost of tuition but that was covered, so I just kept my expenses almost nil, and then I went out into the workforce, I increased it from $6,000 standard of living to maybe like $15,000. I think I calculated it at I think $18,000 standard of living when I was working in the Northeast in Philly. That allowed me to super charge the savings rate even more because as a bond trader, I was making a decent income, so it probably was even more than 60 percent what I saved.
Josh Mettle: I think what’s impressive on that is one you got started down the track of disciplining your spending early and then when you went into the workforce, that 300 percent increase in spending felt pretty darn good although it was drastically less than most of your bond trading peers, I would imagine.
Travis Hornsby: Yeah, I always got made fun in the office for being – like they called me like they called me Slum Dog Millionaire Trav or something like that. I mean compared to these guys that were driving up to work in brand-new Audis or BMWs and lived in you know $1.5 million, $2 million houses, they thought it was just hilarious that I lived with a bunch of roommates in a kind of older house. But I kind of feel like I had the last laugh because the old timers are still working there, they’ll have the mortgage debt and the car debt that they’re paying down and I’m able to do that whatever I want. That was it was about for me was obtaining financial freedom. It wasn’t really about experiencing any kind of material pleasures for a brief time.
Josh Mettle: Yeah, the compounding of wise decisions sometimes takes a little while before it shows off, but eventually it shows off. One more piece I thought what was interesting was as you were going through schooling and you had your cost of living kept very low, you had scholarships going, you were also doing some tutoring. You wrote an eBook. You started a blog. It feels like to me you kind of got this love for entrepreneurial affinity ventures during this period of time. I think it’s interesting that you still felt that drive or need to go that route even though your cost of living was low and your expenses were covered with scholarships. Tell us a little bit about that.
Travis Hornsby: Yeah, so one of the toughest parts for me for working in Corporate America was just having the same fixed routine every day. For me, I’d wake up really early like 5:30 in the morning, go to work, get home around 7:00 PM at night, and then maybe watch a couple shows on TV or maybe go out for a drink with friends something like that and just repeat it and do that five days a week. Then 2 days a week, you got to actually live life. For me, that wasn’t really a creative existence. I mean I had some fun trading bonds of course, but it wasn’t what I was looking for, so when I found the opportunity to become more financially independent and pursue risks and creative opportunities, I jumped at the chance.
I felt like there’s a lot of things that I was working that I wasn’t allowed to say and write because of securities regulations so when I was able to quit my job, it kind of felt like a flood was unleashed. I could write whatever I want, say whatever I want. That’s why I started the blog to write various opinions and thoughts about all kinds of different financial topics and I really enjoyed that. In the final couple months when I was getting ready to leave my job, I actually wrote this eBook, 25 IS THE NEW 65 about trying to retire early in your 20s on the train back and forth to work, so I wrote that.
Josh Mettle: Awesome.
Travis Hornsby: It’s just a little 70 pager on Amazon – like 99 cents. I mean it was just kind of like a fun thing to do, right, and so that’s one of the biggest opportunities I’ve had in my life is being able to take risks that you can take multiple risks. It’s okay to fail. It’s important to fail, and if you produce a mediocre eBook, that’s okay. Work hard and try to produce a better one the next time. I think that’s really key has been learning how to just keep at it for me.
Josh Mettle: Yeah, and I think the key domino there, the starting point is the route of scholarships, keeping costs low, and then letting kind of life that interests you kind of shape your direction, but you can’t do that if you’ve made yourself too deep in debt. Then you only really have one path out, which is nose down to the grindstone, right?
Travis Hornsby: That’s right. When I met my girlfriend, it was kind of an interesting contrast. She’s a pretty frugal person. She’s an urogynecology professor in a hospital in St. Louis here, and she had a lot of medical school debt and that was kind of a wakeup call like wow, “Not everybody is not as fortunate as me.” People have lots of debt. One of the early serious conversations in our relationship was figuring out the best way to help pay that down, so she could achieve a similar level of financial independence to have control over her life like I do.
Josh Mettle: Yeah, and that’s really how I met you and how we crossed paths was when you – is it your girlfriend or fiancé? I’m sorry.
Travis Hornsby: Well, girlfriend right now but you know it’s heading that way.
Josh Mettle: It’s in the cards, okay, all right. Your girlfriend is a physician and you started doing some work on her student loans, doing some analysis, and I love you call that your accidental side-hustle. So let’s talk a little bit about your work here and how it’s impacted your girlfriend and other medical professionals that you’ve shared that spreadsheet with?
Travis Hornsby: Yeah. So when I met her, she had about $125,000 of student loans and most of it is all above 6 percent rate of interest. She was in her final year of training in urogynecology, so she was in her final year of fellowship, so she had been in training – that was her seventh year of training. I looked at her loans and I realized that she had enormous benefit available to her because she had been training at not-for-profit hospitals her entire career, which is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness benefit.
I looked into her loans and I found some mistakes that I think are far too common with physicians and it just really motivated me to build this tool. I noticed that she had consolidated everything in late 2012, so she reset the clock basically on her forgiveness period for her loans like consolidating because some financial counselor at her school or at her hospital or something like that suggested that that was a good idea.
Unfortunately, it was an awful idea; but she consolidated all of her debts in 2012, which of course reset the clock, so she lost credit for all 4 years of her residency that could have counted towards Public Service Loan Forgiveness. On top of that, she was in high-cost of living areas in the Northeast during her fellowship and in residency. And so, when she consolidated her loans during the first couple of years of fellowship, she had used about 6 or 7 months of forbearance during that period because she had told me that all of her friends were doing that.
That’s what all the fellows and residents were doing. When they had the temporary tough patches, they would just stop making a payment on their loans through forbearance, so they didn’t get penalized for it. People were basically using deferment and forbearance like candy, right, and no one was giving them any counsel otherwise. The only financial people that wanted to talk to them were people that were trying to sell whole life and variable annuity policies and take them out to steak dinners. They weren’t getting any like solid, objective consultative advice specific to their student loans.
She made all these unintentional mistakes, and so I thought, “Okay, this is in the past like what are we going to do moving forward?” I built this tool and I compared all of the income-based-repayment programs, and then I compared what her Public Service Loan Forgiveness would look like if she went for that versus if she had maybe used a private refinancing option. What we ended up doing is I found that the private refinancing option would actually cost a little bit less than the Public Service Loan Forgiveness because she’s about to be an attending. So then her really large payments towards her loans were about to start pretty much immediately when she graduated and got a job.
Because of her high interest rates and all that, the really low refinancing that we locked in, we got a 2.2 percent variable 5-year rate actually ended up basically resulting in her having a little bit lower cost and also we’re going to be debt-free in like a year and a half instead of waiting around for another 7 or 8 years I guess because of the forbearance she used to find out if this PSLF program is actually going to go through, and so it was crazy.
We contacted one servicer. They had had submit her annual certification form, and they didn’t have her credit for 3 years of payment or 2 years of payment. They had her as having had credit for about one payment and one set of loans and about 2 years of payment for another set of loans, and that was just incorrect. It just showed me how disastrous the current state of student loan planning among the medical and physician profession really is because here is somebody that is very intelligent. My girlfriend is a brilliant person, but she had made all these unintentional mistakes, and that just got me really motivated to see if I could help other people.
That’s why I created the tool and I got shared like I said 300,000 times on Business Insider and Yahoo and that led to my flat fee consultative service that I do through studentloanplanner.com today.
Josh Mettle: And so as I understand it that first of all I couldn’t agree with you more that the response I get from most young physicians about their student loans is jut utter confusion because they can’t get any straight answers, so I applaud you for charging in there. As I understand, you have made this tool free on one of your websites, but if you feel like you need more of a consultative approach and to dive deeper into strategy, then you have what I feel is a pretty affordable nominal fee to kind of review that with them and give them some additional guidance. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Travis Hornsby: Yeah, so right now people could email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out the details of this, but I charge $150 for individuals and $200 for couples and because of the rising client volume that I’m experiencing, that’s going to go up on December 1st, $199 for individuals and $299 for couples. Basically what I do is I just take someone’s personal financial situation and I look at all of the variables that could affect your student loans.
So are you married? What’s your spouse’s income going to look like in 5 to 7 years? Are you planning on staying on this income-based repayment plan? Are you even eligible for Pay As You Earn or Repay, all the different situations? Then I model everything out to the future, and I say, “Okay, this is the different mathematical options that you have and here’s the different emotional options that you have and let’s make a plan incorporating both of those according to how you feel about debt, what do you want to do, what’s your goal.
What I usually suggest to people is using one of the right income-based repayment plans depending on their situation and then what we do is submit the Public Service Loan Forgiveness form. Then we make sure where that gets tracked during training and put any money that you would have put into loans if you have been a frugal responsible type of person and we put that in like a side investment account with like WealthFront, Betterment, or Vanguard, and it’s like in bond training. Whenever we were making a trade, we wanted to hedge our risks.
The existence and continuation of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is a risk and the way to prepare for that and prepare for different optionality if you will, choosing different career paths, private sector or public sector going hostel, not-for-profit hospital, for-profit hospital, to protect yourself to make all of those options, to give yourself all of those options. We do the income-based plan make savings outside of your loans. Then when you get ready in the final year of your training, you have a better idea what you’re going to do, we can look at all the situations, all the choices that you have and if you’re going to go that not-for-profit route, we continue building up that investment account. Then you’re going to get all those loans forgiven tax-free of course. Then if you’re going to go the private practice route, then we refinance your debt into a super low interest rate because most physicians would qualify for that, and then we go that route.
If you’re debt averse, you pay that off as fast as you can and you’ll be debt-free. If you would rather earn the potential higher interest rate on your return or your investments from an index fund account, then you can take the full term to pay that off maybe 5 years or so. But in most cases, my average client savings right now is about $84,000 and average debt load is about $210,000. I’ve been doing this for about a month and a half and I just hit client 46 as of yesterday.
Josh Mettle: Impressive, man. I was going to ask do you have any metrics on average savings, but an $84,000 average savings for a couple of hundred dollars I think is a pretty good rate of return. I’m not a mathematician, but that’s not bad.
Travis Hornsby: Yeah, so I had like a guy yesterday. He was in his first year of internal medicine residency and his mom is very traditional when it comes to debt and was helping him out. He was throwing everything he had into his debt, so even making a standard 10-year payment plan, so he was making about $2,200 a month of payments on round like for around $200,000 debt load give or take. He was making just massive payments.
I asked him. I said, “Are you going to go the not-for-profit route?”
He said, “Well, Yeah. Probably my mom, she’s a physician with the VA.”
I said, “Oh, really?” I said, “Have you heard about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program?”
He said, “No.” And so we got him set up with the certification forms. Now he’s getting his progress tracked towards PSLF, and additionally he’s setting up a side investment account.” I looked at the cost of the standard 10-year plan, which is what he was going to be doing over the course of his entire training and when he becomes an attending and the cost of that was $450,000, and then I compared the cost of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness for his situation and that cost is $130,000. Also of course, that’s after-tax savings, right, because the student loan interest isn’t really that deductible. On the pre-tax basis over 10 years, he saved about $500,000.
Josh Mettle: Wow! You bought him a really nice house.
Travis Hornsby: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Josh Mettle: That’s incredible. So listen, what’s the best time for people to get connected with you and run this analysis? I would assume it’s really before they come out of med school and start to make that decision, “Am I going deferred or am I going into some sort of income-driven repayment?”
Travis Hornsby: Yeah, I mean honestly the best time is anytime they learn about it, to be quite honest. I mean I think that the optimal time of course is the senior year medical school so when you’re graduating senior, people reach out to me and said, “Okay, I want to have a game plan. What am I going to do from the very first payment I’m going to make?” That would be incredible. I wish more people reached out to me like that. I think a more common time that people reach out, which is still a good time, is when they’re out of their grace period in the first year of residency and they actually have to make their first payment, so I have a lot of people right now because it’s November and the time is right now basically.
I have a lot of residents, first-year residents that are realizing they don’t have a plan, what are they going to do. Then I also have lots of people that are several years into training and haven’t figured out what to do yet, and then I also have another type of plan that’s an attending. Those graduated have had the forbearance deferment mistakes and hasn’t been using the PSLF certification form and graduates with $300,000 in debt but also makes a $300,000 income. I had a conversation like that with someone in I think it was an allergist in New York that was making $300,000 but had that same amount in debt, so we refinanced her into super low interest rates because she was in private practice. You know the best time is anytime. I’m able to save almost everyone a lot of money doing this because people’s knowledge and use of the available student loan options out there is just not good at all.
Josh Mettle: Right, and the advice, the information that you can get from the servicers is horrendous. All right, let’s move on. Great stuff there and I encourage people to contact you. Again that was email@example.com. But let’s also talk real quickly about a blog post that you wrote titled, Financial Advice is a Rip Off, Here’s What You Should Pay. That really caught my attention. Share with us a few of your thoughts there.
Travis Hornsby: Yeah, so if you look at the cost of traditional financial advice, right, I talked to a lot of people that are in that industry and then I talked to a lot of people that are in the financial technology startup industry. One thing that everybody agrees about is the cost of financial advice is too high and it’s going to be coming down in the next couple of decades.
If you think about your local Merrill Lynch office, you go in there, the advisor they charge around like 1.3 percent give or take, and they’ll probably put you in funds, some active funds, some passive funds, and have a total portfolio expense ratio if you will after the total cost of about 2 percent a year, right?
If you look at the way that that compounds over time, within 5 years, you’re already talking about over 10 percent of your portfolio that you paid in fees and that’s a lot of money and a lot of people, they just don’t realize that. If you’re paying a lot of money in medicine, right, or any industry, you’d expect to get a lot of help, a lot of service. In the financial advice industry, that’s not really the case. A lot of times, people pay more money but they get less efficient, less quality service, so I compare a lot of traditional financial advisors to robo-advisors like Betterment and Wealthfront.
For example, I know in particular about Wealthfront, they even for higher income individuals like doctors, they’ll invest in a tax-managed index fund. They’ll directly invest in the components of the S&P500 and they’ll optimize it for taxes at the individual stock level, which is incredible, and they charge 0.25 percent a year in fees. You compare that value at 0.25 percent in fees plus super-sophisticated tax loss harvesting and rebalancing and all that. You compare that to the advice that you’re going to be getting at local Merrill Lynch, which is 10 times the expense for not rebalancing as often and as thoroughly and not tax harvesting as efficiently, and you’re talking about return differential that can be 3 percent or 4 percent a year. If you compound that over a long time, especially for physicians you’re talking about millions and millions of dollars.
The question is if you’re working with the financial advisors that charge the typical 1 percent or higher assets under management fee, you have to ask yourself is that relationship worth millions and millions of dollars to you. And if it’s not, then you should probably switch to a robo advisor or an advisor like Vanguard Personal Advisor Services that charges 0.3 percent a year.
Josh Mettle: Yeah, I think the tools that are available now through companies like Wealthfront are incredibly powerful, I mean like nothing that was available 10, 15 years ago. The piece that is I would say not available through that type of a service is the counterbalance to a market swing one way or another that makes someone sell at exactly the wrong time. How do you ‑
Travis Hornsby: That’s true.
Josh Mettle: How do you instill that in somebody or how do you get them to not make that panic sell? You had this forward vision like I don’t have a lot of debt, I don’t really need this money for 40 years. I’m good if this goes down 30 percent. But what if someone can’t handle that risk tolerance? Is there any tricks or tactics they could employ?
Travis Hornsby: Yeah, I mean that’s a great point. To be fair to the traditional advisors out there, I would say their primary value is the emotional side of things. If you’re an investor that does have a very hard time investing in markets and wants to panic when you see markets go up and down, you really need that call to call somebody to talk to when the market is crashing and you’re losing thousands of dollars. Honestly even the Merrill Lynches of the world are worth that fee because you’re going to be getting something as opposed to a disaster and maybe even negative returns.
Traditional financial advisors, they’re probably better than people investing on their own, I’ll give them that. I just think that there’s better opportunities out there for people that they take advantage of those. I don’t know. I would love to see some data. If anybody from Wealthfront or Betterment is listening to this, I would love to see some data from them as to if they do anything to try to help people not withdraw their accounts in the event of a stock market crash. They really have existed in a world where that hasn’t happened yet.
Josh Mettle: Yeah.
Travis Hornsby: We had 2008, so that’s going to be next great test for the robo-advisors as you’re going to see what happens in the next big correction of 10 percent, 20 percent, or more of shorter period of time. Do their clients bail? Do they just pull their money and run, do they have some sort of whether it’s a technological feature that will slow people from withdrawing their money until they make a call to the office? Maybe even something like that I think would be really useful that you have to call a customer support person first before they sell everything.
You make a good point. I think that there’s going to be a hybrid model in the future where, they’re already offering it by the way at Betterment, but financial advisors can outsource the investment management to Betterment for like 0.25 percent a year and then the financial advisor layers on their fee on top of that. I think when they do that, I think you’ll start seeing advisory fees being like 0.5 percent to 0.75 percent. Then I think you get the world-class tools of the Wealthfront on top of the emotional support somebody’s call with your local financial advisor.
Josh Mettle: That would be very interesting, very interesting. All right, well I know we’re having a great podcast when we’re out of time, but I got to get one more question in. That is, I just want to take a moment or two and take a little bit about entrepreneurism. I recognize that obviously in your life, you made that turn. It started actually very easy, uh early, not easy – very early through how you made your decisions on where you went to school.
But I feel that now is probably the greatest time ever. We have more tools online, opportunities to become an entrepreneur, to leverage technological advances, and so what do you think physicians or medical professionals maybe your girlfriend, maybe you’ve had talks along these lines, what kind of advice would you give to them about potentially taking on some of these entrepreneurial opportunities that are available to us today?
Travis Hornsby: Yeah, sure. I mean so the first thing is having a good plan to get rid of your student debts so you can take risks. I think a lot of physicians are just scared to death because they are very risk averse. They have this huge debt load. They come out of medical school. They come out of training. They get their first attending job, and they are very scared to go and set up their own practice or to go on and kind of run their own small business and they want to practice medicine, not small business.
I actually would say that it’s not just running your small business, it’s having control over your life. For example, my girlfriend is working at very large prestigious hospital group, I think there is an enormous opportunity for really motivated risk-taking entrepreneurial doctors to completely blow the traditional model of healthcare out of the water.
For example, these large hospital systems, so, a lot of my business at studentloanplanner.com, I do Facebook advertising. I writing specific articles for certain occupations and I target people on Facebook. But what I’ve noticed is if someone is for example if she mostly focuses on elderly women that have bladder problems with certain characteristics, they had several children. That’s her typical patient base. No hospital group is progressive enough to advertise directly on Facebook targeting patients in a very specific demographic group like that.
So I made the suggestion to her the other day if she was running her own business that she should make a targeted Facebook ad campaign towards women on Facebook between 60 and 75, that have at least a couple of children listed in their profile and have somewhat blog post about bladder problems do not have to be the norm. Just boost the heck out of that post, get a ton of patient views to your site. Then all of a sudden, you’re viewed as thise expert on this issue. She could use that to get a whole new funnel of patients and if she was in private practice, if she had her own practice, she could benefit from all that revenue and she could be helping people, right?
Another interesting thing, I typed in urogynecologist St. Louis, where we’re located, the other day, and the first office that came up was a private practice doctor because the person has a good website. They worked a lot with search engine optimization so that Google shows her results up first whenever you type in having urinary tract infection or having problems with bladder function.
And so there is so much nothing done with the hospital world that people that are really savvy, young Millennial-type physicians have an enormous chance to take advantage of nontraditional marketing methods and targeting methods to build practices. So, if any of them are listening today, you’re thinking about opening your private practice or joining a private practice, I think you could really differentiate yourself by targeting specific demographic groups through things like Facebook and Pinterest and basically doing content marketing, creating a site and writing specific blog posts about an issue, and then dominating the search engine rankings.
If you did that, to be honest I think that they’d be making millions of dollars as a doctor because they just think that people are not doing that at all, like hospitals are horrible at marketing their services, in my opinion.
Josh Mettle: This the classic dynamic between the establishment in entrepreneurism and you’re talking about hospital system that as you mentioned was well regarded and they feel kind of like there’s a moat round them, right? They’re well-regarded. They’re very prestigious. They’re always going to have people walking in the front door. But when you take that kind of – I don’t know that ego is the right word – but kind of, kind of an ego-driven view in your world, then that leaves the door wide-open for some entrepreneur to come in and identify those little opportunities.
I think now with the media sources that you talked about, with Facebook and with Pinterest and Google optimization, that there is an incredible opportunity – especially for physicians or other medical professionals to do content marketing, to create YouTube videos asking the most frequently asked questions to write an eBook, and to start whatever type of entrepreneurial business that they may be an expert in.
Travis Hornsby: Yeah. I mean the returns for entrepreneurial activity in the physician sector, in my opinion, have never been higher because all the people that are just tapping out, just going to join these big hospital groups, there’s fewer and fewer people in private practice, which means that there’s more and more opportunity for people out there that don’t want to take the risk to try innovative and nontraditional methods.
If people do this, I mean spending $10,000 on a big billboard on the side of the road in the interstate, that’s just not the right way to spend money anymore, in my opinion. You want to be hyper-targeting your specific demographic that you are trying to get a patient funnel for. If people would spend $10,000 on content marketing, I think that the return would probably be 100 times what they spent.
Josh Mettle: Absolutely. Well, man, recipe for Success by Travis Hornsby: get a scholarship, start entrepreneurial businesses early, stay out of debt, invest your savings, and figure out how to launch a technologically advanced marketing and entrepreneurial business. I like it. I think we did a good job here today.
Travis Hornsby: Yeah, if anybody out there has 5- or 6-figure student debt, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org. I think I could save you a lot of money, too.
Josh Mettle: Hey, while we’re talking about that, will you just quickly give us your websites and where else folks can find you if they want to listen and follow your reading and blog posts?
Travis Hornsby: Sure, so my business website I mentioned was the studentloanplanner.com. Then my personal finance blog for millennials is called millennialmoola.com, that’s M-O-O-L-A dot com. I’m coming out with a book at the end of the year. That going to be Managing Money For Your 20s or 30s, I think it’s going to be a really great useful book for people that are just starting out with money. And then, they can find me on Twitter, studentloanplanner on Twitter, and they can find me on Facebook, Facebook.com/studentloanplan. Yeah that’s pretty much where I’m at and you can search Travis Hornsby, too, on Amazon and find my 99 cent eBook.
Josh Mettle: Well, man, I appreciate you and I love to circle back with you first quarter and maybe dissect one of the chapters in your new book if we could.
Travis Hornsby: That would be awesome. Thanks so much for having me on, Josh.
Josh Mettle: Yeah, it’s been a pleasure. Thanks again for your time, Travis.
Travis Hornsby: Of course.