MY STORY


Hello and welcome! I’m Joe DiSanto. I grew up in the north end of Providence, RI where I spent much of my youth riding BMX bikes, memorizing 80’s movies, and not thinking much about money.

But around the age of 10, my parents split up, and our (now much more limited) finances were in my mom’s hands. While my mother was a very committed and supportive parent, who sacrificed for us in many ways, money just wasn’t one of her strong suits.

She wanted the best for us, and committed to sending me and my sister to an expensive private prep school called Moses Brown. I was grateful, as this school had a very positive impact on my education—but we really couldn’t afford it. So our financial situation soon ticked down from “not great” to “really not great.”

Once our cash was depleted, my mom mortgaged the house to keep things afloat. In order to help out, and to put a little money in my pocket, I pounded the pavement until I landed my first job at 13, as a bus boy (ok ok, a family friend got me the gig).

Eventually, I was forced to leave that expensive prep school I was enjoying so much…which was tough. The disappointment pointedly taught me that money (or lack thereof), will eventually dictate most aspects of your life, whether you like it or not.

Moses Brown School, located in Providence’s East Side.

Unfortunately, I also continued to witness the extreme stress, and mounting challenges my mom was facing, due to her limited income potential, and lack of money management skills.

This time of my life really crystalized my views about money: If you don’t deal with your money, your money will definitely deal with you!

Anyway, I survived and took off to college. I chose to attend the one that gave me the best financial aid package!

I managed to cover the annual costs with a combination of grants, student loans, working, a couple grand from my parents and credit cards. I also started to notice that my debt was beginning to grow.

Luckily in my 2nd semester I got a job at school that I truly loved. I taught photography and pottery workshops, among other art related stuff. I learned here that doing something you enjoy, makes all the difference when it come to work! (bottom right)

So at that point, I decided to start tracking my spending. Initially, I was writing it down in a little notebook. Then one day I said to myself, “There has to be some kind of computerized way to do this!” Well, there was—and it was called Quicken! And that’s when our love affair began.

Despite my best efforts, I still ended up leaving college with a parting gift of 30K in student loans and about 15k in credit card debt. Off to a good start!

I wish I could say my financial black hole ended there, but no. After college I moved to NYC and by the time I was 23 years old, I was clocking 60k in debt, well on my way to 70K.

Around that time, I took a job at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, for two months, that required me to stuff myself into a suit and tie every day (not awesome for a stocky guy with a short neck) and ride the train from Long Island to Manhattan a soul-sucking 1.5 hours both ways.

As I sat on that loathsome train day in and day out, staring at the same faces, I began to notice a similarity in the passengers that was undeniable and frightening:

Slumped shoulders, brown-bagged tallboy, dead eyes.

These scratchy-suit wearing guys were so beat down by work, they had to start numbing themselves with a double dose of Miller High Life the minute they clocked out. Obviously, they were not living the “high life.”

Slumped shoulders, brown-bagged tallboy, dead eyes.

It seriously haunted me. Yes, I wanted to make money, and I had the tenacity to work like a dog, but I didn’t want to actually BE a dog—locked in my cubicle cage, punching the clock every day, unable to change my circumstances.

If a glass-eyed gypsy had tapped me on the shoulder on that train twenty years ago, and told me he had a vision that I was going to quit my scratchy-suit job, tie on my red paisley bandana and drive across America, only to end up in Venice, CA where I’d start my own company with a few friends that would make mid-seven-figures in revenue annually, produce two feature documentaries and an Emmy winning TV show, have invested millions in real estate and be semi-ish-retired with my wife and son by age 43…I would have punched him in the face (then apologized and said, “Sign me up!”).

Well—it turned out that fictitious metaphoric gypsy would have been right!

Breaking ground on the second building we bought for our business in Los Angeles. And yes, we staged this photo for a “funny” FB post.

I hopped the train and spent the last twenty years in Los Angeles building entertainment businesses with my best friends, buying and selling real estate, and managing the finances for everything along the way.

I also managed to climb my way back from -$70K in debt at 25 years old, to a flat $0 at 29, and then shot that up to a net worth of over 2 million by 43.

But even after much success and a wonderful life (so far), my wife and I decided to hop the train again, exit the businesses we built with our friends, and move our family across the country to a quaint gulf-side town in Florida. Why, you ask?

Slumped shoulders, brown-bagged tallboy, dead eyes.

Yeah…as much as we struggled to admit it, the journey had run its course for us, and I was now holding my own brown-bagged tall boy (even if the tallboy was a foamy pint of craft brew from the tap at our in-office bar), and the dead eyes were starting to set in.

So my wife and I decided that we needed to get away from our 9-9, and focus on our family for a while. I pulled the ripcord, yet again, and we eventually landed in our little Floridian Shangri-La. There, we were able to dedicate more of our time to each other, and also start pondering what else we might like to do…

My wife, son and me in Florida.

Shortly after leaving our life in LA, a few friends hit me up to pick my brain about some financial what-have-you’s. They were also a little curious about our “big life change,” and some of the steps we’d taken to make it happen. Eventually, these convo’s led to me helping out with some of their small business finances. So, before I knew it, I had a little CFO consulting biz—which has been really great!

I’ve realized along the way that many people get pretty overwhelmed when it comes to their finances. These are smart and successful people, who work time-consuming and challenging jobs, and simply don’t have the time and energy to give enough attention to their business or personal finances-–so they basically put it aside with the plan they’ll eventually get around to it. Which means they’re likely losing out on unknown thousands of dollars and possibly years of their retirement.

So, I started to consider that I could use my experience and passion for this stuff, to help more businesses and individuals with their personal and small business finances—and here we are now.

My financial and business philosophy boils down to this: track your finances, give consistent attention to the details, and then take calculated risks based on the information you’ve collected.

In other words, bookkeeping, budgets and a deep understanding of your business finances is important, BUT equally paramount is knowing when to make changes and try new things—to get on or off the train!

I want to make it easier for you to make the right decisions at the right time, be organized, stay nimble, and reap the financial rewards of working smart and planning smarter.

I also want to share my strategies in real estate and other investments, and guide you to save more money, build equity, and amass your nest egg.

I’ll help you achieve financial independence—or at least get closer—so you can slow down and enjoy your life, even before your “golden years.”

That’s a big fake fish behind us! (for whatever that’s worth)