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Steve Chen, founder of Call to Leap, shares his QuickBooks Money perspective

Once a teacher, always a teacher. That’s certainly the case for personal finance coach Steve Chen who, after eight years of teaching middle school math, achieved financial independence at the age of 33. In 2020, he left the public school system and began building his investment and financial coaching company, Call to Leap.

“Now I'm teaching everyone everything that I did in my teaching years: how I budgeted, how I invested in the stock market, how I started a tutoring side hustle, basically the three pillars of wealth. Saving money, investing money, and also earning more money,” he says. “I feel like this is my mission — my calling—to share with people how to become more intentional with money, including their spending habits and their investments.”

Chen’s coaching casts a wide net. He offers finance tips and master classes through his website, as well as bite-sized personal finance tips via Instagram, TikTok, YouTube. “My goal is to get people to become more aware—more conscious with their spending and with their earning and then their investing,” he explains. “Once people feel more comfortable, then they can join my coaching program, where I share with them how to get started with investing.”

Taking the same approach to investment coaching as he did to teaching the Pythagorean Theorem, Chen walks his students through every step of the investment process. He understands that for those who’ve never managed their own money, getting started can feel incredibly daunting. 

“I know it's intimidating,” he says. “When I was learning it myself, it was a little bit confusing.” Chen remembers watching other people’s finance videos, where the presenter would start by saying “open this account and invest” without explaining the steps in between. 

“Because of that, I do a lot of step-by-step tutorials — very quick 30-, 45-, 60-second tutorials — where I’ll say, ‘Okay, if you want to open a Roth IRA, this is the website you should visit. Click on this button right here, then type in this number. Fill out the form with your social security and your name, your address, all that stuff.’ A lot of the content I have is very shareable and very saveable,” he explains. 

Chen has a gift for taking complicated financial concepts and breaking them down into digestible pieces. And his students—1 million on Instagram and 1.1 million on TikTok—love his money tips to lead them toward financial independence. 

But while personal finance and investment is certainly Chen’s niche, he is a business owner as well as well and often speaks to other entrepreneurs. Recently he downloaded QuickBooks Money, QuickBooks’ new money management app for small business owners and entrepreneurs, and shared his thoughts. 

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With QuickBooks Money, everything that comes in is automated. I can see the numbers, the invoices, my bank accounts. I can see everything on a bar graph, a chart—that's something I really appreciate.

Money management made easy—really, really easy

“As a business owner, I want to make things automated: ; the least amount of friction possible,” says Chen. “With QuickBooks Money, everything that comes in is automated. I can see the numbers, the invoices, my bank accounts. I can see everything on a bar graph, a chart—that's something I really appreciate.”

But automation and transparency are just the beginning. “I love how there are many different payment forms connected with QuickBooks Money. As a business owner, it can be hard to collect payment when the process is too labor-intensive,” he says. “As the customer, I’m thinking, ‘Oh gosh, I don't want to go get my credit card and type in my number.’ But with QuickBooks Money, there's Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, Venmo. I'm like, ‘This is so easy.’”

Another easy component of QuickBooks Money that Chen loves is the envelopes feature. Envelopes in QuickBooks money are savings buckets. Business owners can use them to build up cash reserves for different business expenses like payroll, marketing, or research and development — and get a return on their savings — and get a return on their savings. Funds in envelopes earn 5.00% annual percentage yield. Funds in envelopes earn 5.00% annual percentage yield. And when that money is needed, it’s easy to move it into the business owner’s primary QuickBooks Checking account. 

“It's always important to have cash reserves in a business,” Chen explains. “We don't want to make all that money and then spend it. We need some money set aside just in case something happens.”

Envelopes not only give business owners a tool to help manage their cash reserves, but help make that cash go farther. Envelopes not only give business owners a tool to help manage their cash reserves, but help make that cash go further. “There is always going to be a certain amount of money sitting in some sort of checking or savings account,” says Chen. “With a lot of banks, their interest rates are very low—0.01% or 0.35%. For people who don't understand what this means, it means that if you were to put a hundred dollars into a savings account with one of these banks, you’d only get one cent back for the entire year, which is very, very low.

“However, with QuickBooks Money, [which offers a] 5.00% APY (annual percentage yield), this means that instead of getting one penny, you get $5 back. That's 500 times more. If you’re going to have cash reserves anyway and it's just sitting there, you might as well use it to make a little bit more money, especially right now with high interest rates.”

When asked what sort of general tips he gives business owners, Chen says it’s important to welcome new technology, which can be the difference between working harder and working smarter. “A lot of times we're in this rat race—this cycle of just doing the same thing, producing the same amount of revenue, it just becomes a job, really, to all of us entrepreneurs. That's not the goal. The goal should be to lower input and increase output as we scale.”

Chen says that beginning entrepreneurs, especially, should be mindful of the data. “It's very important to take a day or a block of time within the week to just pause and look at the numbers, to see if the things we’re doing are making a big difference. If not, we need to pivot. Do more research. R&D stuff. There are always new tools and new algorithms, like QuickBooks Money. There are a lot of new tools and resources out there right now that can help automate things and make your life easier.”

You're never too small to feel more stable

With market-leading APY, no monthly fees, and seamless payments—QuickBooks Money works harder for those who work for themselves.**

Chen’s ‘Call to Leap’ and the inspiration behind his goal

Despite having started his professional career in middle school education, Chen says he’s always felt drawn to personal finance.

“I would say it stems from my childhood. My parents are immigrants,” he explains. “They came [to the United States] in the ’80s, and they struggled a lot. My dad went to school. My mom was working all these different jobs. Seeing my mom work so hard was heartbreaking for me. We lived off of food stamps, and I [developed] this scarcity mindset of, ‘Oh my gosh, I have money. It's probably going to leave. I'm never going to have enough.’”

It’s a mindset Chen says he recognized in many of his students and their families when they came in for parent-teacher conferences. “At that time, I was learning about finances myself. I was Googling and YouTubing everything, and when I was learning it, I thought, ‘Oh, it's actually not that scary.’ It was very intimidating for me at first, but then after I learned about it, I was like, ‘It's not that bad. You just have to implement these small little steps.’” 

At 33 years old, Chen made a choice. He was financially independent, and he decided he would quit teaching in the classroom. “I thought it would be awesome if I could share this with the entire world and encourage people to get on their finances to become more conscious,” he says. And that’s when Call to Leap was born.

As for Chen, he continues to help others—through his company and through his social media channels—to achieve their own goals of financial freedom. “I think the term ‘financial freedom’ is often equated to ‘completely retired’,” he says, “but that's not the case. The definition of financial freedom is fluid for a lot of people. For some people, it's [having] enough money so they don't have to worry about money. For others, it’s becoming more ‘work optional.’ If they want to work, they can. If they don't want to work, that's okay too. A lot of times people think, ‘Once you make a certain amount, that's it.’ But for me, I think life gets kind of boring if you're just sitting around. So if you have this kind of mindset of ‘I don't have to worry about finances. I can pursue something that I truly love,’ that, to me, is the definition of financial freedom.”

Intuit is a technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by our partner, Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC.

**Product Information:

QuickBooks Money: QuickBooks Money is a standalone Intuit offering that includes QuickBooks Payments and QuickBooks Checking. Intuit accounts are subject to eligibility criteria, credit, and application approval. Banking services provided by and the QuickBooks Visa® Debit Card is issued by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to license from Visa U.S.A., Inc. Visa is a registered trademark of Visa International Service Association. QuickBooks Checking Deposit Account Agreement applies. Banking services and debit card opening are subject to identity verification and approval by Green Dot Bank. Money movement services are provided by Intuit Payments Inc., licensed as a Money Transmitter by the New York State Department of Financial Services. For more information about Intuit Payments' money transmission licenses, please visit https://www.intuit.com/legal/licenses/payment-licenses/.

Annual percentage yield: The annual percentage yield (“APY”) is accurate as of December 31, 2023 and may change at our discretion at any time. The APY is applied to deposit balances within your primary QuickBooks Checking account and each individual envelope. We use the average daily balance method to calculate interest on your account. See Deposit Account Agreement for terms and conditions.

Envelopes: You can create up to 9 Envelopes within your primary QuickBooks Checking account. Money in Envelopes must be moved to the available balance in your primary QuickBooks Checking account before it can be used. Envelopes within your primary QuickBooks Checking account will automatically earn interest once created. At the close of each statement cycle, the interest earned on funds in your Envelopes will be credited to each Envelope in proportion to the average daily balance of each Envelope. See Deposit Account Agreement for terms and conditions.

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