Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers discusses how he has drawn on his experiences to teach his family about money.
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Transcript:[Michael:] Hey, humans, I’m Michael Liersch, and this is the About Money Podcast series presented by Wells Fargo. I’m a behavioral scientist with a PhD in cognitive psychology who loves openly discussing money to help humans better understand their money behaviors. By understanding our money behaviors, we all have the opportunity to make better money decisions.
In this episode, we have a very special guest with us, Kevin Jonas. You might know Kevin Jonas from his musical performances with his brothers, otherwise known as the award-winning Jonas Brothers. We’re so excited to have Kevin on today because he’ll help us answer the question, “How do I take my experiences with money and communicate them with my family?” We’re thrilled to have Kevin with us. So, let’s get into it.
So, Kevin, I’m so excited to have you on the About Money Podcast. I know a lot of our listeners can’t wait to hear what you have to say. So, I’m just going to get right into it, if that’s OK, Kevin.[Kevin:] Let’s do it. I’m excited to be here. Thank you for having me. [Michael:] All right, excellent. So, Kevin, a lot of people look at you as you are today and, you know, in your success, and they don’t really reflect on who you were before they got to know you, Kevin, in the — [Kevin:] Right. [Michael:] Public eye. So, can you tell us a little bit about money in your family growing up? Were you always wealthy? I mean, I know the answers to these questions. [Kevin:] Yeah. [Michael:] But what are your thoughts? [Kevin:] So, the answer to that question was, “No, we were not.” We were in a family that grew up traveling job to job. You know, my dad — we started in New Jersey. My dad worked for, you know, the Assemblies of God here in New Jersey at the church. So, we moved for wherever the next opportunity was. Right? We went to Dallas and was the head of music over at Bible College. You know, four boys, one bedroom kind of thing growing up. There was a moment with my parents, I don’t necessarily remember it, but, you know, no insurance, you know, no savings, like very much about paycheck to paycheck, humble beginnings. But one of the few things that we did do was my parents spent money on our passions, which was really cool. They gave us so much because of that. They really invested in us. And I think that was a true testament to who we are now today, and how we view money, and how we view our lives at home with our families. But back in the day, we did not come from much. [Michael:] So, when you think about how that has caused you to behave with money either today — [Kevin:] Yeah. [Michael:] Or, you know, as you were emerging in terms of starting to make more money, what did that experience help inform? And think of it as some insights you’d provide to our listeners in terms of how they could be thinking about money, and using it very intentionally in some of the ways you just alluded to? [Kevin:] Absolutely. So, a lot of people don’t realize, but we actually looked — from an early age, we had some truly great help around us, people that were much wiser than us, worked with a lot of other artists before. You know, made a lot of mistakes, too, and just tried to learn from them.
But one of the things that we did early on was we looked at the Jonas Brothers as a start-up. Right? Like you’d get started in the garage, like a lot of tech companies, and we were making music, that was our product. And, OK, we need to get the product out there. Well, we need to get an investor. Well, that investor, do we need capital to be able to do that? So, we got signed to a record label. Yes, we got that opportunity, but it’s very similar to receiving capital from that — in that regard. Someone was going to back us. Right?
Going to put up that money and go from there. It isn’t always going to work; it is a risk. But before we could ever do that, we had to prove almost to ourselves and to others that we could grind it out. You know, we had to make tough financial decisions early in our career. We would take a van around, you know, from all around the northeast, but we would drive all the way to Boston for a concert, and then drive all the way back to New Jersey the same day, because it was cheaper to put us all in the van and pay for the gas than it was two hotel rooms.
So, it’s about making budgeted decisions and staying within those parameters that we could do more shows. But it was tough on us. Right? And having those decisions to be made was difficult. But then, going back to my analogy, you know, as the start-up, we also then started to realize what kind of products can we offshoot, and what kind of things can we grow our business. How can we continue to do that? And we always looked at ourselves as a start-up in that regard, because we are a publicly facing company in a way. Right? Our stock is, one, our goodwill, our music, and our other things that we do. But are people actually buying into it? And when they stop buying, how do we adjust?[Michael:] So, when you think about then that level of intentionality — [Kevin:] Right. [Michael:] Which you’re describing, you know, the budgeting, ensuring that your brand and your identity are all very consistent with what you’re trying to accomplish in that public, let’s say, life, how do you take those lessons to your own family now, Kevin, and communicate it?
If you could just tell our listeners a little bit of how you talk about it in your family, so that you all stay on track. Because, I can imagine, it’s difficult to keep that same perspective that you had in the beginning —[Kevin:] Yeah. [Michael:] Now. [Kevin:] It is. It’s definitely difficult. Right? But there are ways we do it. And one of the ways we do that is we actually budget with our kids early. We actually do that, and which is really cool. So, there are great resources out there. But, for us, we do the chores, you know, and the allowance idea. And we’ve taught them about saving.
Our oldest daughter, she saves her money and puts that money aside, and does the right thing to buy the thing she wanted. Right? She worked so hard. And she had good money, in a sense, from her birthday, from things that she saved and saved and saved so she could buy the one big thing she wanted. And as a reward for that, with her doing that, I purchased it for her.
Because she worked so hard, I rewarded her with that, so that she could feel like now she accomplished something. Yes, she got the result, which she got what she wanted. But then she had the extra cash.
And, so, for me, I know that’s a simple thing, and maybe everyone was like, “[inaudible], like, no, you should let her just buy it, and really teach her a lesson.” But like the lesson really isn’t about the spending. It’s about the fact that she had the ability to put her head down and focus and do the task, which is actually to keep the money without spending it.[Michael:] So, I love that — [Kevin:] It hit her goal rather. [Michael:] I love that, Kevin, because, to your point, there’s an objective, she saved toward it, and then when you came in and you provided that reward. Oftentimes, we describe to parents what you did intuitively. And I don’t know if this was intentional, but sometimes when you have a job in a corporation, you can invest in something called a 401(k), right, a defined contribution plan — [Kevin:] Yeah, exactly. [Michael:] And, so, you’re kind of matching, you know, her [inaudible] — [Kevin:] That’s exactly kind of what I was doing. I was kind of matching her goal. Right? And without her knowing. I never said I was going to do that. But, for me as a parent, it was rewarding to see that she accomplished the goal she set for herself. And I wanted to, you know, in a way reward her for that.
But it was really — it’s really nice. And I think we do simple things like that. We do a lot of the stuff we do with charity and other things as well. Giving back is important to us. You know, the donation side of it all — we want to instill that in our children and in our marriage, in what we do on a financial aspect.
But I think, honestly, having long-term goals and sitting down and talking about them. Like, “OK” — you know whether — and this is not what we’re doing, but I’m just saying as an example, we would like a vacation home. Right? Maybe one day in a certain point in someone’s career. And like I would love to have a secondary home that we could, yes, one, rent out. One, two, whatever it may be. But what are the goals to get there? What do we have to set aside? What do we have to do? Whether it’s that, what —[Michael:] Driving the van, and [inaudible] — [Kevin:] Yeah. Or — [Michael:] Not sleeping at a hotel, not flying on a plane. [Kevin:] [inaudible] these days it’s — these days, it’s like, “OK, we just want to go on vacation.” Like what does it take to get to that goal? And sometimes it does take putting your head down, and when I say doing the work, I mean really putting the money aside and really acting on a budget. You know? And it’s not always easy.
And there are — though, I think the problem with what happens is, more than ever, I actually started to put money aside for my family for the surprise. I think everyone talks about it, but there’s always surprise bills. No matter who you are, the bills keep coming. Right? And there’s always once in a while a surprise. Something breaks in a home, the rent goes up, your return is not what you expected. Right? Your tax return is not what you expected it was going to be. A million things can happen.
And it’s about preparing for those surprises, I think, in life that have supported me long term, because I’ve been able to say, “If there was a total dead stop,” — which there was in my life at one point, which I went from having significant, you know, consistent income to zero. “OK, am I done? I’m only 26, 27.” Right? Like, “Oh, God, what now?” Right?[Michael:] Yeah. [Kevin:] Like, “What do I do now?” And, luckily, I’ve been able to — you know, I was instilled with my parents, which they invested in us pretty much our entire college — their college savings for us in our band when we were young. They were like, “Look, guys, we either continue this or you go to college. Pick one.” And we’re like, “This is our path.” You know? We were like, “We will get jobs and go to community school if we have to. But this is what we want in our life.” And we knew that. And not everyone does.
So, I understand that I’m coming from a different perspective, but there is something to be said about being happy in where your job is. If you find joy or reward in that moment, if you find fulfilment, it does allow for the work to be less work and more opportunity.[Michael:] I love that, Kevin. And, so, to close this out, I mean, honestly, it’s such sage advice we call what you just talked about in dorky behavioral science terms, job crafting. [Kevin:] Right. [Michael:] [inaudible] move the job toward what gives you the most passionate purpose while making money. To your point on saving for a rainy day, or making sure you have money for a rainy day or, you know, the contingency planning, right, making sure you have that in mind.
So, as you think about — to close this out, as you think about the top thing you’d suggest that all our listeners do after listening to this, what would that — and I know that’s always tough to do, and I want everyone to know Kevin and I didn’t prepare for this. So, I’m putting him on the spot here. What would you say your top suggestion to our listeners, who are of all ages and areas of life, Kevin, what should they be doing?[Kevin:] Actually putting their money to work for them. You know, honestly. And even the littlest amount into an investment fund is going to reward you something long term. And not thinking about it like you’re expecting it to have a return the next week.
Think about every time you put a dollar into that account, you’re not looking at it for another 10 years. You know? That’s the goal. You know? And having that ability to have that extra income to do that is difficult. But don’t buy the coffee — put it into the account. You know? Like the littlest change can change your behavioral activities. And the longer you do that, the farther you do that, the better off you’re going to be.[Michael:] Well, Kevin, if you ever want to switch careers, you can be the head of Advice and Planning, I think, at Wells Fargo, I will tell you. [Kevin:] Oh, they didn’t tell you this is my application for the job [inaudible]. [Michael:] But I am so grateful, and I know our listeners are grateful, for the time you spent with us today. And I really wish you all the best. [Kevin:] Thank you. [Michael:] And, again, so grateful for all that you’re doing for the community, and to entertain people, and also all the passion and purpose you put into everything you do. Thank you. [Kevin:] I really appreciate it. Thank you so much. [Michael:] That’s it for this episode of the About Money Podcast. Please email us with the topics that you would like us to address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you really liked the episode, share it with family, friends, and anyone who listens to podcasts. About Money is produced by Wells Fargo. You can learn more about ways to work with us at wellsfargo.com/aboutmoney. I’m Michael Liersch, asking you to talk about money today.
Kevin Jonas participated in this podcast as part of a paid endorsement by Wells Fargo in support of the Wallet Fund campaign.
This information is provided for educational and illustrative purposes only.
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