Meet Brad! Founder of Zero Debt Coach and Chief Debt Eraser, Brad Long erased just under 50K of his own debt in less than three years. He left the corporate world to share what he’s learned and pursue his goals alongside his wife, Angelica. Beyond his corporate career, Brad is an experienced musician. He is a U.S. Army veteran, even playing professionally with the military band. He also has a passion for travel. In our interview, Brad is frank and generous in describing what he learned becoming debt-free, and exuberant in his hopes for the future.
What inspired you or led you to your current career?
Back in 2004, I had gotten myself into about $43,000 of consumer debt. My financial situation had gotten to the point where I was pretty much at the end of my rope. I was stressed out, had anxiety, depression, and couldn’t sleep at night. What led up to that is I had changed careers from a corporate sales career to being a full-time contract musician. The only problem was that I didn’t have any of the skills in terms of the financial side. I didn’t know how to budget really, I already had debt, and I had a lifestyle that was too expensive. It was during that dark period I discovered Dave Ramsey and his material, and I was blown away at both his attitude and methodology for eliminating debt and becoming financially solvent.
I went through his 8-week Financial Peace University program, and it took about two-and-a-half years of concerted effort to get completely out of debt. During the process, I started buying copies of Dave’s books to give to friends. I was hooked on the idea of debt-freedom! I actually started financial coaching a little over ten years ago in an informal kind of way.
From a career standpoint, I made music for a long time, and I kind of went through several “career” incarnations: I sold web development services, I was an MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) rep for a while, I worked in insurance for a while, and then these past five years I’ve been back in a corporate space.
In 2017, during all of this transition, I went back to Dave Ramsey’s organization and signed up for their week-long financial coach master training program in Nashville, just to try and get a more systematized way of how to actually coach people, I wanted to have some credibility.
Jumping back into the corporate space five years ago was really a strategic ploy to build personal financial capital. I wanted to monetize my skillset as a salesperson to the highest degree possible. As a result of “busting it” these past five years in the corporate sales space, I was able to get us to a certain place financially where now I’m able to jump out of that and go full time into this financial coaching platform. In fact, I just left corporate about a month and a half ago to dive into this coaching platform full-time.
What inspired me to become a financial coach was 1) my own experience of the pain, uncertainty, and agony of not having control over my money 2) successfully getting out of that and 3) seeing that there is a clear pathway to debt-freedom and financial independence. Seventy-eight percent of the population lives paycheck to paycheck, so there are plenty of people that need help. After going through the Dave Ramsey program, I set up an online blog/digital platform as well. I did this because, while I like local networking and sitting kneecap to kneecap with people and coaching them that way, I know that style of business is just not scalable. So, I wanted to start getting my own brand of financial coaching content out there and producing information products like digital courses and membership sites. That’s where we are now. It’s by far the coolest job I’ve ever had.
You are an Army veteran as well. How long and where did you serve?
I was in just under three years. I was in Heidelberg, Germany, that’s where I was most of that time. I trained to be a medic, but when I got over there, they were having auditions for the Army band. I’m a guitar player and a singer, so I wound up doing that for two years touring all over Europe through 13 different countries. It was an amazing experience.
What is your favorite restaurant in Woodstock, and what do you love there?
There’s a little Mexican restaurant over by our house called El Jinete. We’ve been going there for years. Everyone knows us, what we’re going to order, they know our name. The food is great, the service is great. We love that place!
How long have you lived or worked in Woodstock?
Five years. We had a condo down in the Sandy Springs area, and we moved up here for our church family. We are with Canton Bible Church. It’s a little reformed congregation. We meet up in downtown canton at the arts center behind the courthouse. We love it.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in Woodstock? Who would you like to see nominated as a Face of Woodstock?
There’s a friend of ours, a guy named John David Thompson, one of the teaching pastors at Canton Bible Church. It’s really interesting because he also co-owns and runs a lighting/energy business called Lux Solutions. So, he’s not a vocational pastor, but he’s one of these guys that’s got a Ph.D. in Old Testament studies, so he knows Hebrew, he knows Greek. He’s a brilliant and interesting guy. I like to call him my big little brother because I’m older than he is, but he’s like a foot taller than I am [laughs]. He’s a really, really interesting guy. He’s one of these guys that could be really puffed up about his knowledge of scripture and languages, but he’s not. So he’s my nominee, and I would say the most interesting person I know in or out of Woodstock.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
My wife is Colombian. Our hearts are partially there. So, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, a lot of places in South America, and we haven’t been to Europe together yet. But I think ultimately, what we’re trying to do is move this coaching platform online to be more nomadic, so as many countries as possible. I’ve only been to 21 so far, so I’ve got some work to do.
What is your favorite movie OR what is the first movie you remember seeing in a theater?
My favorite movie is a documentary called Inside Job. It was produced by this filmmaker named Charles Ferguson, and it really documents the financial crisis of 2008. That was another layer of awakening for me in terms of how economics works, how money works. I had the personal finance piece down because of my own debt-elimination story, but then when the 2008 crisis happened. It helped me understand the Federal Reserve and the housing market and the relationship among all those things.
What advice would you give a crowd of people?
Spend less than you earn, get on a budget, get out of debt.
What is something on your bucket list?
There are some things I accomplished already that were on my bucket list. While I was in the Army, I would never do this again, but at the World’s Fair in Spain, they had this pavilion with a crane where you could bungee jump. So, I bungee jumped, which I think ultimately cured me of the typical desire of jumping out of a perfectly good flying plane.
Then it goes back to travel. I would say it is to see all the countries in the world – with the lowest murder rates, starting there [laughs]. Ultimately, I think a big bucket list lifestyle for us is to be able to be more nomadic. We want to do more missionary work, there’s a lot of opportunity in South America for that, but this is home, and we’ll always come back here. Now I’m building an online business, so this is not just a pipe dream. This is actually going to happen. It’s just a matter of time and diligent planning.
What is your favorite music/ three bands you would like to see (dead or alive)?
I started playing guitar when I was fifteen years old. The Police, Sting – he’s always been one of my favorite artists. And then there’s a singer-songwriter, Neil Finn, he was the singer for Crowded House in the ‘80s, he’s from New Zealand, and he had a whole solo career which was amazing. Then there’s a guy out of Nashville named David Mead. He has great melodies, great stuff, but you’re not going to hear it on the radio.
What current / former local business makes you the most nostalgic about Woodstock?
El Jinete, that Mexican restaurant I referenced earlier. The food is great, but it’s really, it’s more about the connection we’ve made with the servers and staff there. When I was traveling for business in my corporate sales job, almost every single time I would get back to town, I’d grab my wife, and we’d go there.
Choosing anyone alive and a non-relative: with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? Where in Woodstock would you have lunch?
Max Keiser. He’s what I would call a contrarian economist. I would grab some Mexican food with him and pick his brain on what he’s thinking about the direction the economy’s going, and what’s going on with the big banks and the Fed. It kind of feeds my inner financial nerd. He and his wife, Stacy Herbert, have a show they publish three times a week on YouTube, where they walk through current events from their economic point of view. It’s just super educational and informative.
What is your favorite thing or something unique about Woodstock?
My wife and I like to think that Woodstock is just close enough but just far away enough from Atlanta. Although it’s growing and the population is increasing, if you want to do some cool stuff in the city or if you want to get out, you can do both.
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
Traveling and then traveling some more.
(Even for friends or family), what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
It depends on who you’re talking to. I’ve had distinct networks in my life: the musician network, the corporate business space that I operated in for the better part of the last 20 years, and now the financial coaching personal finance world. I would say that’s probably the identifying factor. A lot of the people in the corporate and personal finance space don’t know that I was a musician.
What three words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
Slow travel, minimalism, and relationships.
If you were cast into a major motion picture and had your choice of anyone to be your co-star, who would you choose?
My wife. Even if it’s just hanging out together, if it’s a big-budget major motion picture movie, there’s probably going to be a lot of money involved, so we’re going to get paid to hang out with each other, but we would do it for free.
If you had a full-time staff member that was fully paid for, who would you choose? Chef, Housekeeper, Driver, Coach, Physical Fitness Trainer, or Nanny?
I would say a virtual assistant would be a key role for us. As we’re growing and scaling the business, we’re going to need help making sure emails get answered fast, and with our social media marketing. At some point, we’re going to have to hand some of that off.
Brad in Community
You can connect with Brad through his website, https://www.zerodebtcoach.com/ where he hosts a blog and access to free guides including, “8 Steps To Erase Debt.”
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