Interview: Phroogal Founder Jason Vitug Talks About his Book: You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life
Photo: Jason Vitug, founder of Phroogal Photo Credit: Courtesy Jason Vitug
Jason Vitug, founder of Phroogal | Courtesy Jason Vitug

NJTechWeekly.com first met Jason Vitug, founder and CEO of Phroogal (Elizabeth), when he moved back to New Jersey from Silicon Valley to continue working on his startup. Vitug’s story was so very unusual that we featured him in a roundup article and began following his startup as it grew and pivoted. Probably the most extensive article we did about Vitug was when he shared his startup journey with the Montclair Entrepreneurs meetup group at the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship, Montclair State University.

Vitug’s startup is all about educating the millennial generation about their finances, and he has compiled quite a library of questions and answers about money on his website. Last year, he put together a road show that crossed the United States, featuring events centered on money management, financial wellness and lifestyle choices. This year he is hitting the road once again, beginning with a kickoff event in Elizabeth that will include some folks who are well-known to the New Jersey community, including business coach Chike Uzoke, Tiffany "The Budgetnista" Aliche and startup founder Clark Lagemann.

Now Vitug has published a book for millenials called You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life which has been put out by Wiley, a major publishing house. We spoke with Vitug again, and you can read the interview below.

Tell me about your background.

I am an Elizabeth, New Jersey, native and a speaker, financial motivator and social impact entrepreneur as the founder of Phroogal, a financial education startup. I am also the creator of an award-winning project, “The Road to Financial Wellness,” which is an epic cross-country road trip to break the social taboo about money and empower a generation to live their dreams through financial knowledge.

 I also promote The Smile Lifestyle movement, a community of over 65,000 millennials who believe that experiential and purposeful living can be had through better financial decision making. Prior to all this, I was a senior executive at a Silicon Valley credit union that I left to find my purpose, leading me to a backpacking trip around the world in 2012. I returned in 2013 and successfully crowdfunded Phroogal, raising over $78,000 in 30 days.

How did you get the idea for this book?

I've wanted an opportunity to share my story and impact more lives. After the success of last year's road trip, I learned that I needed to make the information I was sharing available to as many people as possible. The book is based on a specific part of my life that is around my relationship with money and the lessons I learned to help me get to where I am today.

Why are you the right person to write this book?

I've been in the financial services industry for years and in the financial education space for three years. I've been blogging about the same amount of time. I know the material well. I've lived it, and the message is resonating with so many people across the country. I believe that life is about experiences, but understanding money and our financial decisions has a great impact on living a full life. I wrote this book with the intention of reminding people that it's not just about the money, but the quality of your life.

How did you go about gathering material for this book?

The book is a culmination of my personal experiences throughout the years: the knowledge I've learned from reading books, blogs and attending workshops. I've created many of the processes in the book to help people gain a better understanding of their money mindset, reshape their financial behaviors and get clear about their goals. I also share a lot of the stories and conversations I've had throughout the years and on the road trip last year.

Who should read the book and why?

The book is meant for those who are seeking to understand why they're unable to live the life of their dreams. If you're in a position where you're in debt or you're making a great income but are unhappy, this book is for you. I address a lot of the misconceptions people have about rising income and its relationship with happiness. I suggest that all those seeking to create a purposeful life read this book. You'll learn how to gain clarity of your values, set the right financial goals that matter and regain the vision for your life that you may have had when you were a teen. 

This book was written for my generation (millennials), but the message has resonated across all generations. Again, if you're someone looking to develop your personal-finance skills, or seeking to understand yourself a bit more or to find a process to help you create a purposeful life, this book is for you.

Is there anything else you want people to know about this book?

This isn't just a personal-finance book. This is a self-development book that will enhance your thinking and your skills in all aspects of your life.

Please provide three great quotes from the book.

  1. "If you’re finding it difficult to envision your dream lifestyle, you may be fixated on your current financial situation. You can’t envision your tomorrow if your mind is preoccupied with just making it through the day. On the road to your financial wellness, a vision is the final destination you’ve chosen as the ideal state of living."
  2. "Time, like money, is a resource. It must be managed. If you make money work for you, you’re managing your time effectively."
  3. "We buy many things to convince ourselves that our hard work means something, but the things we consume can strap us to a life we don’t want. So we work harder and spend more time doing things we have to do than things we want to do."  

Please give the readers three takeaways from the book, three lessons they will learn by reading the book.

1. Gain clarity of your values and set the right financial goals that align with your values.

2. Understand your money mindset, improve your relationship with money and change your financial behaviors.

3. Create a lifestyle budget that's reflective of your values and vision for your life.

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