Getting Financially Naked with Beca

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Getting Financially Naked with Beca

At the Financial Gym, we call the first meeting you have with a trainer the “financially naked session.” In this meeting, you share everything about yourself financially so the trainer knows where you’re starting and so he or she can make the plan for how you can get where you want to go. Above all other meetings, this one scares clients the most because they are afraid or ashamed of their financial situation. About a year ago, I shared my financially naked session, and now it is a regular series on the podcast.

Getting in the hot seat today is not only a Financial Gym client, she’s also a Financial Gym Trainer. Beca is here to share her personal finance journey that led up to a very fateful day, when she attended a Financial Gym open house, and then she gets financially naked. I hope you enjoy getting to know Beca, as much as I love working with her.

What Are We Drinking?

Beca — Acadia’s Raspberry Lime Sparkling Water

Shannon — Black Cherry Schweppes

Podcast Notes

  • Before working at the Financial Gym, Beca worked in hospitality by chance. Years ago, one of her sorority sisters posted on Facebook that she was wrapping up her internship at Sheraton Maui, and she said they were looking for the next round of interns for Fall 2011. 
  • Beca posted a comment about how that would be amazing to do. Beca’s mom saw her comment and encouraged her to go for it, but she didn’t realize it was in Hawaii. Beca went for it and got it within two weeks.
  • Beca was there for three months and it was one of the most amazing experiences. She worked with Weston, which was just down the strip from the Sheraton (same company).
  • Beca had never stuck with a workout before, but by the time she left Hawaii, she was 20 pounds down and her bosses were all surprised. No interns ever lost weight, they usually gained it while they were there. It was the beginning of the rest of her life. She became comfortable with herself, how to be okay with not pleasing everyone, and other things.
  • The internship was during college, and when she came back she finished her last semester. Her family is all on the east coast, and she is an only child, so she hasn’t been back to Hawaii. 
  • She worked in hospitality until she worked for a tech company in the Chelsea/Flat Iron area, where she was a hybrid of an office manager, she ran the internal events, she spearheaded their diversity/equity/inclusion training, and she onboarded new hires. 
  • Beca and her boyfriend moved in together at the end of 2017 and they put everything on her credit card, because she wanted the points. She had been slowly racking up debt, but the expenses of the move got her to max out her American Express card. 
  • She had always been a financially stable person in her other relationships, and, all of a sudden, she needed to ask her boyfriend for help. He was helpful, but she didn’t want to ask him.
  • Beca was a little depressed after that and she started looking for ways to improve her situation, so she was talking to different people about money all the time.
  • In the summer, her friend sent her the post for the Financial Gym’s open house, scheduled for September 2018. Beca almost didn’t go, because she had the worst day at work that day. She wanted to go home and eat a pint of ice cream.
  • The Gym was only 10 minutes away, so she decided to walk there and see what it was all about.
  • This was the first open house the Gym held. It is meant for people to see the space, meet the team, and get comfortable before joining. Open houses are now held monthly.
  • When Beca first walked into the space, she felt welcomed. There were a lot of people there, but the first thing she noticed was a scent that was floating in the air, like the Weston branded scent. She wanted to compliment Shannon, but Shannon said she needed to tell Alicia. 
  • Shannon smelled a scent in a former colleague’s apartment buildings and she fell in love with it. Alicia went through the process to get the scent, but she didn’t want to purchase it, because it was expensive, they pay $100 a month for it, but Shannon had to have it. Anytime anyone comments on the scent, she makes sure Alicia knows about it. 
  • Beca is usually very quiet, if she is by herself in a new situation. A woman came up to her and started asking her questions. They started talking and they decided to sit next to each other.
  • Shannon was talking about opening a Gym in DC, which is where Beca wants to move as that is where she went to college, and the other woman said Beca should apply to work at the Gym. If she hadn’t said it so vehemently in the moment, Beca doesn’t think she would have had the courage to apply, because she didn’t meet all of the job qualifications. 
  • Beca couldn’t apply for the hiring round in December 2018, because there was a project she wanted to work on at her company, and it wouldn’t be finished until late January.
  • After the project wrapped up, she sent an email with her resume. The subject line was “Meant to Be Here” and her cover letter included her financial journey. She didn’t hear anything back, and a couple of weeks later, she sent another email to make sure they responded. Eventually, she received an email and she came in and talked to Alicia. 
  • Beca did her warm up call at the end of the open house in September 2018, and that is when she became a client. Lindsey was her trainer and she got her plan the week of Thanksgiving. She didn’t stick to it 100 percent, but she stayed close to the plan and her holiday spending would have been much higher without it.
  • Shannon and Beca reconnected in April 2019, during financial literacy month. At that point, Beca told her that she had the date of the first open house tattooed on her arm, because it changed her life.
  • When bringing on a training class, Shannon is limited on how many applicants can be brought in. After Beca applied, Shannon saw her name on the list and heard rave reviews of her from Lindsey. Beca was top on Shannon’s list, because of the tattoo, because she was so committed. 
  • Beca joined the Gym with Jesse and they have been employed there for about six months now. Beca is filled with compassion and empathy for her coworkers and her clients, and she has amazing energy.
  • Financially naked questions:
    • Birthdate: 6/29/1989
    • Employer: The Financial Gym
    • Annual Income: $60,000, $3,550 per month take home
    • Capital One Checking Account: $882
    • Capital One Vacation Fund: $172 (recently used funds for her iPhone 11); contributes $400 a month to this account
    • Capital One Hair Fund: $181; contributes $100 per month
    • Capital One Random Account: $200, cannot remember why she opened it, but is going to use it for her personal loan this month
    • Barclays Emergency Fund: $6,630; contributes $800 per month (15% of her income)
    • Ally Account: $532; $52 per month for the next big purchase with her boyfriend, essentially a moving fund
    • Ally Account: $301 for a new TV
    • Retirement Savings: $4,589 Betterment Traditional IRA; 90% stocks, 10% bonds
    • Marriott 401k: $10,291; will be rolling this over to Betterment by the end of the year
    • Nelnet Federal Student Loan: $3,288, 5.5% interest, $50 minimum payment
    • Upstart Personal Loan: $10,195, 13.15% interest, $345 per month; when she first met with Lindsey a year ago, her personal loan was $14,141
    • Credit Score: 779, up from 734; she was briefly in the 800s
    • Monthly Rent: $675, condo in East Orange, New Jersey, a sublet for her and her boyfriend by the owner, $1,300 total per month; between 25 to 35 minutes to commute; includes laundry room, fitness center, and no extra charge for her two pets
    • Monthly Expenses: $1,065
    • Pet Insurance: $29 per month
    • Renter’s Insurance: $9 per month with Lemonade
    • Children: None
    • Will: Not yet
    • 1 – 3 Year Goals: Move away from NYC – it will be about $10,000; travel once or twice a year (definitely to the Caribbean), saving for retirement
    • 3 – 5 Year Goals: Wedding and kids
    • Long Term Goals: Own an income-producing property, prior to owning her own place, have enough funds to cover eventually caring for her boyfriend’s mother and her own kids
    • Sacred Cows: Travel and haircare products
  • When Beca was in high school and trying to figure out what she wanted to do, she thought about going to college for psychology to be a therapist. She has always been interested in what makes people tick and how to manage that.
  • She eventually decided not to go that route, but she ended up doing that. It just happened that she is actually helping people the way she has always wanted.
  • In fourth grade, Shannon wanted to be a psychologist, because a psychologist changed her life. There is compassion and empathy that comes with the jobs at the Gym, because people share a lot with them. 
  • If you still have a 401k with a previous employer, make sure it is still invested correctly for you, so it is still working for you.
  • The Gym uses the avalanche method, where you pay off the highest interest loan first, because the math is so significant. 
  • Beca’s net worth has grown $11,568 in the last year. This is after a $2,500 setback and $300 hit to her emergency fund, amongst other things.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is that a financial health journey is just that. It’s a journey, it is not a quick fix, overnight process. It’s going to take time, from identifying what you want to work on, to setting goals, to getting the results you’d like to achieve. Like anything in life, with focus and dedication, you’ll set yourself up for success.

Connect with Beca

Website: https://financialgym.com/beca-soto  

If you’d like to get financially naked with my team, and drop any fear or shame you have around money, I hope you’ll reach out to us at the Financial Gym. My trainers have literally seen it all, so nothing will surprise us. We don’t care how you got here, we just care about getting you where you want to go.  The great news is that Martinis and Your Money listeners get 15% off Financial Gym services. So if you’re ready to manifest your dreams, like Beca, head over to or send friends to, financialgym.com to get signed up today.

Healthcare and Open Enrollment with the Happy Hour Ladies

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Healthcare and Open Enrollment with the Happy Hour Ladies

Today is the last Friday of the month and my regular listeners know that on the last Friday of the month, I host a happy hour on the podcast where I gather great friends with me to drink cheap drinks and talk about money topics.

Today we are talking about health insurance, the types that we have, the types we’ve used, how we budget for it, and how you should prepare during open enrollment time.

What are we drinking?

Melanie from Dear Debt and Lola Retreat — Malbec

Tonya from Budget and the Beach and Tonya-Stumphauzer.com — Huckleberry Vodka

Liz, Mrs. Frugalwoods, from Frugalwoods.com — Bota Box Malbec

Shannon —  Smirnoff Kissed Caramel Vodka

Podcast Notes

  • Tonya is part of Covered California, which is subsidized health insurance. You can’t make too much income, but you have to make at least a certain amount.
  • She worked with a broker to find her plan. She gambled and took a lower premium plan with a higher deductible, because she is in good health. Most of her doctor visits are preventive medicine.
  • Tonya lost the bet, because she got injured playing beach volleyball and thought it was just a jammed finger. It turns out her finger was dislocated and she waited too long to get it fixed, so she needed surgery to fix it.
  • Her deductible is $5,500 and her max out of pocket is $7,500.
  • If you have already hit your deductible or max out of pocket, do what you need to do for the last month of the year.
  • Tonya starts occupational therapy and that will be $75 every time she goes in. She is hoping to only go a couple of times. She is very motivated to get her pinky working.
  • Melanie has an HMO. Her mom works for a large utility company and does their benefits. She has been doing this her whole life. HMO is a network. She picked a better plan, because she is on medication and she wants to make sure she has the coverage she needs.
  • She is paying about $358 per month for insurance, and she just renewed her plan. She was looking at other options and the premiums were about $50 less per month but the deductibles were crazy.
  • Melanie doesn’t have a deductible with her current plan. The new cost will be $366 per month. It has been going up for the last two years.
  • It is through Covered California. Her medications are cheap and it has been going really well.
  • Three or four years ago, when Melanie first became self-employed, she tried Liberty HealthShare, which is a Christian alternative healthcare.
  • Melanie was saving a lot of money, but she found out they don’t support birth control or mental health care. This was the year she was having a mental health breakdown and she was paying $250 out of pocket to see a psychiatrist and a lot of money for medication. Any savings she had was gone.
  • If you have any kind of mental health history, even if you are doing really well, Melanie suggests to be safe and not go that route. You never know what will happen, and having the options under Covered California has saved her a lot of money.
  • In 2017, Shannon talked about open enrollment on this episode.
  • There is a reason why open enrollment only happens once a year. You have to make a decision now and decide for the next year.
  • The Gym is paying $325 per month for each employee, and the premium is going up to $360 per month for 2020.
  • The Gym uses JustWorks, because they get pooled together with other employers. They have Aetna and for the last several years, Shannon has been on a high deductible health plan (HDHP). She rarely goes to the doctor and she is on birth control that is covered.
  • If you feel like you don’t really need the coverage, hedge your bets and use a HDHP. This plan allows you to use a Health Savings Account (HSA) to save for medical costs.
  • If you are on any kind of medication, you may not want to be on a HDHP. Check your prescriptions, before you sign up. One of Will’s prescriptions went from $40 a month to $190 a month. If you go to the doctor a lot, it will add up fast, but it is hard to guess what you will need the next year.
  • Liz has a PPO and it has been fine for them. They have a lot of regular, preventive care visits, because of pregnancies and kids.
  • Her family has medications and it is important to know what tier they fall into. Be aware if there is a generic or similar over-the-counter medication available.
  • When Shannon worked for Bank of America, she never paid for much. It cost $2,000 to have her son from beginning to end. Now, she sees clients with $6,000 in medical debt from having a baby.
  • Tonya found out her finger was dislocated when she went to one of her preventive appointments. Her doctor wanted her to go to the emergency room to get her finger put back in place, but she would have had to pay 100 percent.
  • They were able to squeeze her in with an orthopedic doctor, and she paid less. Had she went to the ER, they wouldn’t have been able to fix her finger anyway, since the injury occurred two weeks before.
  • Tonya opened a Chase Sapphire credit card to use for her medical expenses, and she earned travel points.
  • You get suspicious of the advice you are getting. Tonya went out of network and paid $350 to get a second opinion.
  • It is like taking your car to the mechanic: you don’t know how much it will cost you, and you wonder if they are just trying to get more money out of you.
  • This was the first time Tonya had surgery. It was a surprise, as was the cost.
  • Melanie’s biggest healthcare surprise was when she had to pay out of pocket for her mental health care. Her doctor visits were $300 an appointment and they wanted to see her in two weeks, then a month, then every two months.
  • Shannon spent $275 every time they went to their son’s doctor, and they had to go monthly. It made sense when they were figuring out the medication dosing, but after a while they didn’t do much.
  • Shannon’s son had a kidney stone earlier this year. He had to get an ultrasound, go to the specialist, stay in the hospital over night, etc. That day and a half cost $3,500 out of pocket.
  • If you have medical debt, the worst thing you can do, unless you are credit card hacking, is putting it on a credit card. Most medical providers can put you on a payment plan and it is 0% financing.
  • There are options you can look into. Hospitals have hardship provisions. When Shannon’s mom got sick a couple of years ago, and she was in the hospital for a week, the hospital helped because her mom qualified.
  • Talk to the hospital about programs they have available. There is always a way to negotiate. Even if you have health insurance, it can be very cost effective to pay your providers in cash. Often they will take less money to avoid billing the health insurance.
  • Three or four years ago, Tonya had a shoulder impingement, and she couldn’t get an MRI through her insurance. She paid the provider about $150 and was able to get it.
  • A lot of health care costs are inflated, because of the health insurance. The prices are inflated, so the providers can actually get what they need after the insurance discounts the services.
  • Look over your bill with an eagle eye. In the past, Tonya went in for a routine visit and she mentioned that she was experiencing ocular migraines. Her doctor gave her a sample of something and it showed up as a pre-existing condition that Tonya suffered from migraines. It was months of back and forth and they finally took the charge off. Be diligent in making sure you are not getting overcharged.
  • Between 70 and 80 percent of medical bills have errors on them. It is really important to look at the fine details. Look at the codes.
  • In 2016, Shannon did a podcast called Medical Billing Questions Answered.
  • Liz’s biggest medical expense was her pregnancies. Liz did a lot of work ahead of time to figure out how much she should expect to pay. She ended up being double charged for one of the births. She called the provider and they fixed it.
  • Don’t pay without looking over the bill carefully. If you have any type of lead time, like a birth, try to figure out what you should expect to pay.
  • For the birth of her first child, the hospital gave a discount if Liz paid her copay in advance. Liz had her girls two years apart with the same insurance and she paid $450 for the first birth and $975 for the second birth.
  • Knowing this ahead of time was a big peace of mind. She knew how much it would cost if she had an epidural and she was able to attend a free childbirth class.
  • About 11 years ago, Liz sprained her ankle badly in a ballet class. She looked at her insurance booklet and found that they would not cover an ER visit without a referral from her primary care doctor first. She contacted her primary care doctor and requested the referral so she would be covered in the ER.
  • Most medical providers are not trying to be malicious. It is frustrating for the providers as well. It is difficult to manage.
  • Shannon’s gynecologist retired, because he couldn’t make money because of the insurances.
  • If you are planning to get pregnant, look at a PPO plan instead of an HDHP. You spend a lot of time going to doctors.
  • When Shannon was looking at the costs to have her son, a c-section was three times the cost of a natural birth and an epidural was $500. It can get really expensive.
  • Melanie did not really like the HealthShare plan she was on. They are a private, religious organization and she is not religious. The language was vague and she never really understood how it worked. When she needed coverage for birth control and mental health issues, there was no coverage.
  • There is a lot of hype about this types of coverages, but it depends on your situation. It can be cost effective, but it also might not be.
  • Medicaid is an option for a lot of people, depending on your state and how it is run. It doesn’t necessarily come up as an option. The hospital helped Shannon’s mom get on Medicaid and it is only about $30 a month.
  • Shannon encourages clients to take mental health days to call medical providers and do research, call their car insurer, and other providers to do some financial planning.
  • Take advantage of everything that is covered under preventive health care, like mammograms, checkups, flu shots, etc. Whatever you can do to keep yourself in good health is worth it.
  • Liz got LASIK about six years ago (corrective eye surgery). Other than her epidural, it was the best money she ever spent. She paid up front and received a discount, used an FSA, and she found a vision discount. It was $4,000 for both eyes. She no longer needs to buy contacts or glasses. Take the time to research to find discounts.
  • Shannon got PRK (corrective eye surgery) 13 years ago. Her eyes were so bad, she couldn’t see the alarm clock. After she had Will, she couldn’t see him in the crib. She gets dry eyes pretty frequently, but it was life changing.
  • This is your physical health. Invest and take care of yourself. If you need to get medical care, choose a better insurance plan.
  • Some companies have programs where you can get rebates or discounts if you do preventive measures.
  • Tonya likes using Groupon for dental. It is like going to seminars on timeshares, they will try to up-sell you. You just need to be able to say no and it is a lot cheaper.
  • Costco doesn’t require a membership to get a discounted eye exam.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is the importance of planning in advance for your healthcare needs. If you feel like you may have made the wrong choice already for 2020, set up an extra savings account with an automatic transfer with anywhere from $50 to $200 per month as a healthcare safety net to cover you until you get to select again next year

If you want to work with my team at the Financial Gym and learn more about how you can prepare and plan for your healthcare needs, remember that Martinis and Your Money Listeners get 15% off Financial Gym services. My financial trainers have seen it all, so no matter where you’re starting, we have the tools and resources to get you where you want to go. So head over to, or send friends to, financialgym.com.

If you have any topics you would like for us to talk about during happy hour, please feel free to email me at shannon@fingyms.com or tweet to me at blonde_finance or join the private martinis and your money Facebook group and let us know. Until next time, take care!!

Her First 100K with Tori Dunlap

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Her First 100K with Tori Dunlap

Over the last eight years of helping people get financially healthy, I’ve found that people with clearly defined goals that are personally meaningful have the highest probability of achieving success, and not only achieving their goals but typically much sooner than they expect. That’s why I’m excited to have Tori Dunlap, founder of Her First $100K join me today to share why she set a big goal for herself by the age of 25 and how it’s motivated her to help others do the same.

What Are We Drinking?

Tori — Hot Toddy (whiskey, hot water, lemon, and honey)

Shannon — Black Cherry Schweppes and Vodka

Podcast Notes

  • Shannon and Tori met at Lola Retreat.
  • Tori’s website, Her First 100K, was inspired by Tori’s goal to save $100,000 by 25 years old.
  • She is passionate about the financial health of women and she is a speaker and a coach through her website.
  • Tori was lucky enough to have a great financial education growing up, and she actually started her first business when she was nine years old. She owned vending machines that dispensed handfuls of candy.
  • Tori’s dad bought the first vending machine outright and asked her if she wanted to start a business. He gave her a loan and she paid him back before expanding her business. It took about two years to pay off the first machine, because she was using the profits on the machine to stock it and to pay him back.
  • By the time Tori graduated high school, she owned 15 machines. All profits went to her college fund and she sold the business to a ten year old who was also named Tori.
  • The other Tori is doing the exact same thing as Tori did and she is probably in high school now.
  • Tori thought everybody knew not to overspend on credit cards and to negotiate their salary. She quickly learned that is not the case. 
  • She was the one all of her friends went to for advice. Tori realized there was a gap, and she wanted to give women actionable financial resources in a way that wasn’t this lofty, confusing thing that happens a lot when you talk to financial professionals.
  • This is what she was put on earth to do.
  • Financial literacy is just like regular literacy, in that it has to start in the home. You can’t trust schools to teach your kids financial principles. 
  • At the Gym, the most financially fit clients are the ones whose parents were talking to them about money at an early age. It was a healthy conversation in the home.
  • The first part of Tori’s story is that she graduated college without student debt. She worked three jobs on campus, she was really frugal during that time, she got a ton of merit scholarships, and her parents were able to help some. She would not be as close to $100K without these things happening first.
  • So much of money is privilege and hard work. How do we have a conversation about both.
  • Saving $100,000 by age 25 is like saying you want to run a marathon. It is a lofty goal.
  • Tori read an article on the Financial Diet, when she was 21 or 22, about people who saved $100,000 by age 25. She crunched some numbers and estimated what her salary would be when she was 25, what she earned in her side hustles, and what she expected to earn from the market, and she figured out that she might be able to do it. As long as she did it the day before 26, it still counted.
  • She got to $100K nine months early, when she was 25 and 3 months old. 
  • It got more challenging when she announced it publicly and built her whole brand around it. She figured the only two things that could derail her would be a job loss or a market crash, and neither of those things happened. She figured if she made it to $95K, the community that she built would still be supportive, because that is still a win.
  • Tori is a very goal-centric person and she likes a bit of a challenge. This goal was completely arbitrary and just something she was interested in doing. When she turned 24, she realized that she could actually do it.
  • Tori graduated college at 21 and got her first job five days after she turned 22. She accomplished her goal from age 22 to 25 and three months.
  • A lot of people are scared of setting the goal. If you don’t have a goal, you will get lost. 
  • Shannon never used to set New Year’s resolutions, because she didn’t want to fail. Setting goals is vulnerable. 
  • Tori is a big fan of setting goals that are ludicrous. She likes goals that are so far out that if you are halfway there, you have done amazing work. The $100K was crazy and she knew if she only hit $70K, it would still feel really good. 
  • Tori did this type of goal setting at her nine-to-five job. A goal should be something you are reaching for, not something you can hit easily every single time. That is not a goal.
  • As long as there is an agreement that she can fail within that goal, what she accomplishes is still progress. Even if you don’t hit it, it is a journey, it is an experience, and hopefully you are better off. 
  • If you set a goal to go to the gym three times a week and you only end up going once or twice, that is still more than you were doing before. 
  • Don’t make your goals so easy. Give yourself room to fail. There really is no failure, there is just learning.
  • Be about progress, not perfection.
  • Shannon set a goal this year to raise $8 million by April. She has raised $5.5 million to date. It is still a win.
  • Mediocre goals will not get you anywhere. Big goals will propel you to a better place over time.
  • Having a supportive community is important.
  • Your finances are happening, whether or not you are looking. Make it a point to look at your finances when you are in a mentally healthy place.
  • The shame women feel around money is the exact same shame we feel around food and our weight. If you eat like crap all week, by Saturday night you think, what is another pizza. You already blew it. 
  • It is the same thing with debt. What’s another $2,000 of debt. We negotiate with ourselves, and it is not sustainable. When we don’t make the “right choice”, we shame ourselves, and then we are forced to consume more to deal with the shame. It is a cyclical, horrible thing.
  • The more we can talk about money and the more we can get honest with ourselves and get comfortable with being uncomfortable, the more we can break the shame. That is what is really holding us back in every aspect of our lives.
  • Self sabotaging and allowing the shame to fester is horrible. Shame lives in shadow. The more we can talk about it and talk about our shared experiences with that shame, the better off we are going to be. 
  • It is Shannon’s mission to break the taboo-ness of money and for the shame to leave the shadows. She wants people to know they are not alone. There are not enough conversations about the financial journeys and what they look like. 
  • Financial health is challenging, because there is not a definition for it, or it is some ridiculous number. Every financial health journey is different. The more we talk about it, the more we realize it is not about some shaming number. It is about what is unique to you.
  • Today is Tori’s first day of entrepreneurship, because she just quit her nine-to-five job. She has been building her business on the side for three years. She has had a monumental year and she hopes she has an even crazier 2020.
  • Tori launched Her First $100K and rebranded it in February. She was on the cover of Market Watch in March, and it went viral. It got over one million views and 12 republishing.
  • She was on CNBC and she had a documentary come out about her story. Last month, she was on Good Morning America and now she is in talks about writing a book. There are so many exciting things that are happening.
  • Tori was working a full-time job and running a full-time business. It got to the point where the universe made the decision for her. She was going to wait another six months, because she didn’t feel ready, but it was time.
  • Tori has a good relationship with her previous boss and she sat down with him and talked about how to make it work. They came to the conclusion that it was best for her to move on, because her business is worth pursuing. It was a decision she knew she would need to make eventually, but she didn’t realize she would need to make it so soon.
  • Tori has a lot of exciting things in the next three to four months, and she is strategically thinking about how to pay her bills now.
  • She doesn’t want to use the $100K, but she has the opportunity to do that. Having funds means having freedom. Tori has the freedom to make the choice of how she wants to live her life and now she is focused on scaling her business. 
  • Tori is a money speaker and coach, she does coaching for financial companies, and she does corporate workshops. She fights the patriarchy through financial education for women. 
  • Sometimes you go on a financial health journey and you may not know what the next steps are. Whenever life presents to you an opportunity, the next thing, the next chapter, you don’t want money to get in the way of making that leap. That’s why you do this preparation.
  • Tori’s business has been profitable this year and she has been able to make money. Depending on the month, on average, she barely clears her monthly expenses, after business expenses and taxes are taken out. 
  • With more time to work on the business, she will be able to scale faster. She was turning down opportunities, or she wasn’t able to take advantage of the opportunities like she wanted, because she was working for someone else between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm.
  • Tori has an income coming in and she has various ways of making more income. She is terrified to do this and she is logging her journey of transitioning into entrepreneurship. She likes being honest with people. 
  • She thinks she will be able to make it work with the numbers, but every month is going to be different. 
  • The best way to prepare for something like this is to have the money saved up and create for yourself a paycheck and transfer money twice a month for expenses. Creating some sort of stability in finances is the best way to manage freelancer finances. It is so erratic. 
  • This is the riskiest decision Tori has ever made. She made the decision to quit her nine to five, because she saved $100K and she built her business on the side first and proved the concept.
  • Her nine-to-five job gave her the stability and flexibility to take risks with her business. She wasn’t worried about making a decision that would ruin everything. She was able to make those calls and have the luxury to do that, because she had a stable income and health insurance.
  • If you are thinking about starting a business, there is a time where you will need to just go for it, but there is not enough conversation in the entrepreneurship community around how to grow the side hustle while you are working and holding onto that as much as possible, until you are forced to let it go.
  • Over the next year, Tori is going to say yes to a lot of things, be intentional with her time, and say no when she needs to say no. 
  • She is a coach for women, so she is doing workshops and coaching women all over the world, and she will continue to do this, but she is realizing that it is not the most profitable way to go. It is really hard to get people to pay money to learn about money.
  • Tori will continue with the direct-to-consumer model, but she wants to focus on broader strokes and partner with financial brands to showcase new products and create content with them. She only wants to work with brands she truly believes are doing good work. 
  • Tori has five years of marketing experience and would like to do any sort of financial consulting with brands. She knows the millennial woman very well and most financial companies do not (banks and publications).
  • Tori’s advice is genderless, but she is specifically targeting women, because they need the information in a different way. 
  • Women were not able to get their own credit card until the ‘70s and now they are targeted by creditors because they spend emotionally.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is to let go of the fear you have around goal setting, especially as we’re about to head into a new year and a new decade. Start thinking about some pretty bold and seemingly impossible goals that you’d like to accomplish and let’s go about achieving them instead of being afraid of them.

Random Three Questions

  1. What is your next big financial goal?
  2. What is a show you like to binge watch?
  3. What is a food you hated as a child and do you still hate it as an adult?

Connect with Tori

Website: www.herfirst100k.com

Twitter/Facebook/Instagram: @herfirst100k

If you’d like to talk to my team at the Financial Gym to help you set big, crazy goals, I hope you’ll reach out to us. Ninety percent of our clients achieve their goals within a year of working with us. The great news is that Martinis and Your Money listeners get 15% off Financial Gym services. So head over to, or send friends to, financialgym.com to get signed up today.

Military Money with Joy and Mike

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Military Money with Joy and Mike

Today’s topic is particularly near and dear to my heart, because we’re talking about military money. For those of you who don’t know, my
grandfather and grandmother on my dad’s side were both in the Army, and my dad is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and was an active member in the Air Force for most of my childhood.

Today we’re specifically talking about it because this week we’ve launched a new plan specifically designated for members of the military, retired or active, based on their unique professional, personal, and financial journeys. We have launched a specific military designation for our trainers that requires extra training in everything from military life to military paychecks to military retirement plans. It’s an exciting next chapter of the Financial Gym, and joining me today are the two trainers leading the charge, Mike and Joy. They’re going to share their personal stories as well as how a career in the military can impact your financial life.

What Are We Drinking?

Joy — Cristalino Cava

Mike — White Claw Black Cherry

Shannon — Cristalino Cava

Podcast Notes

  • Joy and Mike are Trainers at the Financial Gym.
  • Mike is retired from the Marines and he is relatively new to the Financial Gym. 
  • Prior to joining the Marine Corps, Mike was working at a credit union in Massachusetts. He enjoyed what he was doing, but he wasn’t following his passion. He has a degree in music and he wanted to get back into playing full time.
  • There are not a lot of options to support yourself as a full-time musician. He had a chance to audition for one of the Marine Corps bands and passed the audition. 
  • Mike went to boot camp at 27 years old. It was a struggle, but he made it through. After boot camp, you go to your specialty school and his was the School of Music in Virginia Beach.
  • The military over recruits, and in your contract there is fine print that says you may not make it through the schoolhouse you want, but you’ll still have a job.
  • Mike plays the French horn and they kept two horn players that have their masters degrees. Mike has a bachelors degree and he was assigned to be a mechanic. 
  • Mike served his four years and kept playing on the side. He was in a community band in North Carolina. 
  • The Marines based Mike’s job off the results of his aptitude test. He had a strong mechanical score. He went to a schoolhouse and they taught him everything he needed to know about being a mechanic. 
  • Mike was able to blossom where he was put and have a good four years, even though it wasn’t what he wanted to be doing.
  • Now Mike is in the Army Reserves, in an actual band. He auditioned in June. 
  • Musicians that serve have a different level of commitment. In all branches, everyone has to pass boot camp and every year there are fitness standards that have to be kept, regardless of your job. 
  •  When Mike writes his memoir, the chapter about basic training will be called Everything Hurts. He has always been active, but he was competing against 18 year olds.
  • The amount of physical exercise they put you through is insane. He doesn’t know how he did it. Training was 12 weeks. He couldn’t have a phone and he had to write letters to talk to family.
  • Shannon’s dad retired from the Air Force. He grew up in Queens, New York, and his basic training was in the mountains of Colorado.
  • Mike went to Paris Island, in South Carolina, and his barracks was right next to the band hall. Hearing them rehearse is what got him through.
  • Joy is one degree separated from the military experience. She is a military spouse.
  • Joy met her husband, Wes, in college and she didn’t like him at that time. They had a similar major and he talked about the Marine Corps all the time. 
  • Joy moved to NYC to work in advertising and he followed a couple years later. He mistook her politeness for friendship and thought he had a friend to hang out with when he moved to the city. Now they are married.
  • While they were dating, he was trying to commission as an officer in the Marine Corps. Officers go to college first and go through a separate training process and commissioning process, if they finish the Officer Candidate School (OCS).
  • Her husband had already tried to go through OCS when he was in college, but something got messed up with his credits because of his GPA. You have to maintain high standards to stay in that program, so he got dropped and had to reapply and go through that process again.
  • He was going through that process again when they started dating and he made it into OCS. With OCS it is a lot of leadership training and sleep deprivation and you have to grade each other on how each other is leading. Each week they cut people. It is very intense. 
  • Her husband didn’t make it all the way through the second time. He got to week seven and had an injury. He was so determined to be a Marine Corps officer, that he enlisted and tried to go in that way.
  • This is how Joy’s husband and Mike met. They went to boot camp together and did their combat training together.
  • The young military recruits were born after 9/11 happened. 
  • Wes’s dad was a Marine. There was a prestige in becoming a Marine Corps officer, and he had set that goal early on in college. Ten years later, it is just now starting to dwindle. 
  • The Gym is now offering special military planning. All walks of life join the military and there is not a lot of financial literacy along the way. It is like having a full-time job at 18 years old with a lot of choices. There is a struggle in managing your money well. 
  • This is Mike’s passion project he brought to the Gym. In his last job in the military as a platoon sergeant, he was in charge of the day-to-day lives of 60 Marines. He had to make sure they got to their appointments, kept up with their medical requirements, and were doing what they were supposed be doing.
  • He saw a lot of them in distress, because they were living paycheck to paycheck, living outside of their means, tied to car payments they couldn’t afford, etc. He saw them doing things because they thought they needed to in order to survive. 
  • Mike helped many of them by sitting down and looking at their budget and showing them how to do it. There are free financial services offered by the government, but they are generic. It’s good information, but people don’t know how to apply it.
  • There are a lot of nuances with military pay and living expenses that are really complicated and difficult to understand.
  • Shannon has several active military clients she works with and every time they send her their paystub/LES, she has difficulties deciphering them because there are a lot of boxes and asterisks. 
  • When you have a spouse or dependent while you are in the military, you get some allotments that aren’t taxed. You get a stipend for food, which is usually around $400 a month, plus you get a basic allowance for housing (BAH) which is based on your zip code.
  • Clients living in California or Hawaii will get a higher BAH than those in North Carolina. If you move to a lower cost of living location, you will receive a lower BAH.
  • When someone decides to leave the military, they need to take into account the untaxed income they receive to figure out the salary they will need to make. 
  • If service members are not married, they get a barracks room, the chow hall, etc, and there are ways to not spend any money. It depends on the base whether the food is good or not. They are working on making it better. 
  • Tricare is the health insurance and it is excellent. You can go to the doctor whenever you need to, and there is no financial transaction involved. No copays or anything. Joy has had great experience at the Naval Hospital and never has to pay anything.
  • There are clinics for active duty members and Mike had to fight for a second opinion when he was having an issue with his back. However, he ended up getting physical therapy that cost $1,500 a month and he didn’t have to pay for any of it. 
  • Mike was a Sergeant before he left the military and his base pay was $3,200 a month. With his additional benefits, he needed to make closer to $65,000 to continue living the way he was living. 
  • If someone has a goal that will require them to live on less, trainers show what that looks like in a plan and encourage clients to live like they have already made that choice, to see if they can do it.
  • A big goal for many clients is buying a house. Trainers come up with a plan so clients can start automating their finances and get used to the expenses before they occur. 
  • A large part of planning with military clients is helping them understand what it looks like post-military life.
  • Another area is making sure military clients understand what they are giving up in terms of retirement and pension, if they leave. Whether they are on the old pension system or the new blended retirement system, it is so important to help them understand what they could get if they did finish and show them the full picture.
  • The military retirement system, TSP, is one of the best retirement plans out there. Rarely does the Gym recommend rolling client funds out of that system when clients leave the military. There are ways to roll future retirement plans into their TSP.
  • It is really just helping clients understand all of the scenarios. 
  • The Marine Corps has been pushing the Six F’s: future, fidelity, fighter, fitness, family, and finances, to make sure service members and their families are taken care of.
  • From Joy’s perspective, the biggest issues for military spouses are underemployment and unemployment. A spouse needs a job that is flexible while the service member is active duty. In addition, many spouses are young and trying to get through college, and that also needs to be flexible.
  • This is important to remember when a service member is trying to decide if they want to stay in. Many spouses get pigeonholed into being homemakers, given the service member’s career track, and that may not be what they want.
  • Managing through a spouse’s career can be challenging. Joy came to the Gym, because of the flexibility she could have. You have to be creative in the things that you do.
  • It’s a great situation for spouses to build their own business, because the military provides a regular paycheck that covers all of your basic needs, health insurance, and a great level of stability. The money earned from the business can be used toward future goals and it sets them up for when the service member decides to leave the military. Your business does not have to make money while you are building it.
  • There are a lot of programs and free education for business plan writing and helping spouses and military members become entrepreneurs.
  • Military clients who work with the Gym will have plans that are tailored specifically to military friends and family. Mike and Joy are working together and there will be a specific military training designation available to trainers who are interested in learning more.
  • Special pricing is available, based on rank.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is that understanding the financial implications of military versus civilian life are critical. Having a plan for this transition will prevent financial challenges in the future.

Random Three Questions

  1. What is your favorite military memory?
  2. What do you do to relax?
  3. If this was your last night on earth, what is your last meal?

Connect with Joy and Mike

Website: www.financialgym.com

Instagram: Mike – @mjpou56, Joy – @joyzliu

If you’re an active or retired member of the military, and you’d like to talk to my team at the Financial Gym to help you understand your financial life and options, I hope you’ll reach out to us. We have special pricing and discounts available that will work for every member and his or her family. So head over to, or send friends to, financialgym.com to get signed up today.

Getting Financially Healthy In Any Profession with Brandi

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Getting Financially Healthy In Any Profession with Brandi

I end every episode with a call out for show topics and ideas, and I love when I get listener requests. As a word of warning, beware of throwing
out a show idea, because you may find out you’re going to be the guest. This very thing happened to today’s guest, Brandi.

Brandi asked me to record an episode that addressed the challenges that she and thousands of others face in the barbering and hairdressing communities. Many of us who sit in their chairs know about their personal lives, but not about how they can manage through their careers and get financially healthy at the same time. Brandi joins me today to discuss her career in this field and how others in it can benefit from some of the hard lessons she’s learned.

What Are We Drinking?

Brandi — Coffee with Vanilla Ice Cream

Shannon — Black Cherry Schweppes

Podcast Notes

  • Brandi has been listening to the podcast for at least three or four years, and she lives in Florida.
  • Brandi is dual licensed – she is a cosmetologist and a barber. She got her cosmetologist license first and wasn’t loving working in salons and with color. She loved cutting hair and talking to people, so she went to a barbershop that had stylists and barbers.
  • She thought it would be a great way to learn about clippers and men’s cuts. Brandi knew how to do the businessman cut (off the ears, off the collar), but she didn’t know how to do fades.
  • Within the first week of working at the barbershop, she found out if she was willing to go back and get her barber’s license, her employer would pay for half of it.
  • Every state is a little different, but in Florida, barbers are allowed to use straight razors to do shaves. It is becoming a huge thing. Old school, with the straight razor vibe, is getting pretty popular with hipsters/millennials.
  • Brandi went to barber school and her employer paid for half and she sweet-talked her parents into paying the other half.
  • The big, brand name schools run between $20,000 to $30,000. The program takes one year to complete.
  • Community colleges and private institutions offer programs, and as long as they are licensed by the state, it is the same curriculum and everyone takes the same test at the end. It really doesn’t matter where you go.
  • Brandi went to a private hair school for her cosmetology license that was locally owned by a man who inherited it from his father, and it cost $6,000 twelve years ago.
  • For her barber’s license, she went to a school that was $600 for the second part. The first part was 1,200 hours she had to complete, but to get another license, she only had to do another 200 hours. After Brandi graduated, the school raised the price to $1,000.
  • It is a relatively affordable career change option.
  • After Brandi got the second license, her income increased $7,000 the next year.
  • Brandi can do six haircuts in the span of doing one color, which is about three hours. Thirty minutes is enough time to do a full fade and a style for a men’s haircut. Efficiency is key in this field. 
  • Men who are getting really tight, cropped haircuts are coming in every two weeks, because the cuts grow out really fast. Women normally get their hair cut every six to eight weeks.
  • Brandi does have quite a few women for clients. She worked in a barbershop that didn’t allow chemicals, because they didn’t have a shampoo bowl to wash out color. She stepped away from the cosmetology side for about a year and a half. 
  • Brandi sees mostly women who have a short, cropped cuts, because salons are hesitant to use clippers on a woman for fear of going too short.
  • A lot of retired women know the secret that most times barbershops are cheaper than salons. 
  • Barbers will cut all short hair, but Brandi has come across some barbers that don’t know how to cut long hair, because they have never worked with women’s styles and layers.
  • Brandi has easy hair to cut and she uses herself as a guinea pig to teach any barber she works with who is willing to learn.
  • Brandi has been in this field for 11 years. The last two years is when her finances changed drastically.
  • There are a few different ways you can work as a barber. For the first nine years, she worked in salons and barbershops under big name corporations/franchises.
  • When Brandi graduated from cosmetology school, it was 2008, and nobody was going to high end salons anymore. She had friends who were apprenticing at salons, hoping to get a chair, and trying to build their clientele that way. This is a great way to do it, but not in a bust economy like Florida in 2008.
  • Brandi’s mother is a mortgage underwriter, and Brandi got a front row seat to the crashing economy. 
  • Haircuts are almost recession proof. The franchises were still busy and it was there that Brandi found her footing. She was 18, moved out of her parents house, and she needed to make money. She didn’t have time to slowly build clientele.
  • Pay at a franchise is commission based. It is pretty similar week in and week out, so it was easy to budget. She was a W2 employee, so she didn’t need to worry about taxes. She had health insurance, paid vacation, and a 50 percent commission. However, after nine years, she didn’t want to give away half of her income.
  • She liked working for the franchises because the company advertised for her and gave her customers, and if she needed to take a sick day she would still be paid. 
  • Most of those franchises will pay for you to take classes and pay for you to attend. Brandi took a lot of interest in those classes.
  • There is something to be said about cutting your teeth in corporate America. There are so many skill sets you learn and so many resources they have available. There are a lot of downsides, but you can grow into those challenges. 
  • After a while, Brandi was doing fewer and fewer walk-ins and more appointments and people calling ahead for her. You start to feel that shift.
  • She was at the same place for a few years, but she was getting to the point where she wanted to control her book more and she wanted to control her schedule. 
  • When you work for a corporate place, your schedule is a lot like retail. Your schedule is their traffic. 
  • Brandi was scared to go out on her own, but she had a couple of bad weeks at work with a manager. She knew if he was going to give her anymore grief, she was going to walk out. 
  • Brandi is a planner and never thought she would ever walk out in the middle of a shift, but she did one day. It was one of the most irresponsible things she ever did, but one of the most liberating feelings she’s ever had. 
  • Brandi went home and started researching barbershops. She wasn’t going to work for a corporate company any more. She had enough customers and they had her phone number. 
  • Nine months prior to walking out, Brandi started collecting customer information. She was becoming unhappy working for a corporation.
  • Brandi was looking for a barbershop with a community feel. She worked with 16 other people and she wanted a smaller community feel, with others who had their own customers and just wanted to come into work and do their job and go home. She wanted like-minded people who dressed casually. 
  • Brandi talked to three barbershops on the first day she came home. A few days later, she started at a trendy, cool barbershop. She found out a year and a half later that it wasn’t the right spot.
  • It was a 250 square foot barbershop, three chairs, and she was one of five barbers who worked there. 
  • They had a rotation where they worked ten hours shifts, four days a week.
  • It was supposed to be that everyone rotated chairs, but since Brandi was the last person hired, she rotated chairs every day. 
  • The experience itself was good, because she was a 1099/independent contractor employee. 
  • She paid a weekly fee for the chair and she kept whatever she made. This is great when you have a steady customer base. You pay that fee even when you go on vacation. She had a lot of freedom but a lot of responsibility too.
  • Brandi now works for a barbershop in a nice part of Orlando. Her first hair school closed down about five or six years ago and she now works in that building. 
  • There are busy seasons with hair and sometimes it is feast or famine. Brandi has to budget accordingly.
  • During August and December, back-to-school season and Christmas season, those are her feast months. Summer is typically slow, but she has the same amount of bills.
  • The typical financial advice of automating her savings doesn’t work for her, because her pay changes every single week.
  • A lot of freelancer advice pertains to Brandi, but she can’t travel and work in a coffee shop. She is anchored to a building, like a lot of salaried employees. 
  • Roughly 60 to 70 percent of her customers are ones she’s had for five or six years, they are steady, and they are not going anywhere. 
  • This is a big thing the Financial Gym works through with their clients who are freelancing. Since the pay is erratic, best case scenario is that there will be a rollercoaster of pay, even with solid clients. Trainers try to figure out the bottom of the rollercoaster and if there is any kind of predictability, because you need to anchor yourself around the knowns.
  • Brandi typically budgets off the lowest number. She has always had an evolving relationship with money. She has always been a scrappy budgeter, but whatever was extra, she would spend. 
  • Around age 25, she started thinking she might want to buy a house. She wanted to learn about investing and interest rates, and her credit was really bad. That was when she started learning about budgeting and when she got her first savings account. 
  • Brandi started focusing on saving and making room for that in her budget. She writes everything down and tries to make it match. She has evolved to now having a spreadsheet where she pays the next two weeks’ bills in this two-week period. 
  • Brandi gets paid every single day, but she pretends she gets paid on her boyfriend’s pay schedule, which is every two weeks. 
  • Create a normalized situation of how you pay your bills. Gym trainers that work with freelancers have them set up an account and deposit all earnings. Then they pay themselves a salary based on a schedule.
  • Brandi buys her health insurance through the Marketplace, which isn’t too terrible, but it can be stressful and confusing to navigate. 
  • She has a few different savings accounts and one she uses for health expenses. She splits that between herself and her dog’s vet bills. 
  • Brandi saved $100 a month for taxes her first year, and when she told her aunt her aunt laughed at her. 
  • The Gym sees a lot of IRS debt when helping clients. 
  • When you are going to be a freelancer, you always have to think about not only making money, but paying the bills. Income + Tax + Gratuity. Add at least 20 percent for taxes and 20 percent for savings. 
  • When you think about making $5,000, you actually need to make $7,200. 
  • Brandi now pays quarterly taxes. 
  • Instead of making a payment plan with the IRS, Brandi put it on a credit card with 15 percent interest and automated that payment. She received points for it and she doesn’t use the card for anything else. 
  • You need to compare how much the interest is from the IRS to a credit card. It is ideal to use a zero percent balance transfer card, but it depends on how much it is and how long it is going to take you to pay off. 
  • Some clients take out personal loans and some pay the IRS directly. It is not a best practice to pay off the IRS with credit and then default on your credit card bill, but at least you have that as a backup, as opposed to defaulting with the IRS. Try to avoid going into a payment plan with the IRS, because you’ll have more flexibility down the road. Once you lock in with the IRS you are set. 
  • For Brandi, it was a hard lesson to learn about taxes. 
  • For trades people (barbers, mechanics, plumbers, electricians, etc.), they learn how to do their jobs in school, but they don’t learn about taxes. Many of these career paths are responsible for paying their own taxes. 
  • If you can’t get your arms around the financial side of it, it can be really challenging. If you are not focused on your credit, you will struggle to get a business loan to start your company. 
  • There are a lot of opportunities for people who work in trades, and if your finances are not in order, you will not be able to take advantage of those opportunities. 
  • Brandi was in her position for seven years before she opened her first savings account. She had to comb through a lot of resources to learn the things she has learned and now it is five years later. 
  • The number one employer at the Gym is self employed. A lot of advice for the self employed is to take their annual income and divide by 12. There is a growing number of freelancers in America and the advice needs to change. 
  • Brandi does not currently have disability insurance. If she broke her hand and couldn’t work, she would be out of luck until her hand healed. 
  • Shannon likes www.policygenius.com for insurance. Shannon gets worried about her hairdresser, because there is a lot of repetition when drying hair and her hairdresser is on her feet all day. 
  • Rotator cuff injuries are common in the hairdressing field. Disability insurance is necessary. Some people in this industry are making six figures and that income is difficult to replace.
  • Disability insurance is expensive. If life insurance is $30 a month, disability insurance could be up to $200 a month. It is so important for trades people to have disability coverage, because they use their bodies so much.
  • You don’t need to replace 100 percent of your income. It gets expensive the more you need. It is less expensive if you can wait to collect it. These are the two biggest things when considering different disability policies: how much do you need and how long can you wait to receive it. 
  • Ideally, save up six months of expenses and have your policy start after six months of disability. 
  • If you are making $4,000 a month, you could replace $2,000 a month for it to be more affordable. Try to replace your low number.
  • Many hairdressers end up with back issues after years in the job.
  • Brandi is very careful with her body at work. It is all about her long term comfort. She used to wear heels to work, but now she wears more comfortable shoes.
  • It is easy to forget that you need to pay the chair fee, even if you aren’t using it. When budgeting for vacation, Brandi also factors in the chair fee. She has to pay to go on vacation and she loses income for that time.
  • It is a good idea to have a self-funded sick pay fund. How much do you make in a day that you will lose if you are sick? Have a reserve fund of five days in case you get sick. When you don’t work, you don’t get paid.
  • Brandi’s grandfather fully retired when he was 53 years old. She always knew that, but when she was 25 or 26 she started thinking about it more. Two years ago, she talked to him and asked him how he did it. 
  • He didn’t go to college. He broke down how he saved meticulously for retirement, so he could pay his homes off (he has paid three homes off in his lifetime), retire, and travel with her grandmother for half of the year. 
  • Her grandfather saved his money mostly in the stock market. He has a lot of individual stocks and they also started using index funds. When he first started saving, back in the 60s, he could get a basic savings account for 10 percent interest. Save early and save often. 
  • There are different retirement savings options for freelancers and tradespeople. Retiring early should be a goal, especially if your career requires a lot of physical labor. You definitely want to push yourself to be on this path, because your body can only do so much.
  • This happens by saving and investing in a non-retirement account. Actual retirement accounts limit you on how much you can contribute in a year, like a Roth IRA, but even if you contribute the maximum, it is not going to be enough. You need to find other options.
  • Brandi follows her grandfathers advice. She has an IRA that she funds, but that is not the only thing she does. Brandi has a few individual stocks, but she doesn’t recommend it, because it is very stressful. In addition, she has index funds. She plans to add some bonds to that as she gets older. 
  • There are so many challenges in her career path and it isn’t talked about much. It is more than just the day-to-day budgeting challenges to have a healthy financial life. 
  • When Brandi first started learning about investing and index funds, she couldn’t stop talking about it. It was a whole new world that she didn’t know existed, and she was mad nobody invited her to it and she had to find it herself.
  • Not everyone is excited about finding this world. 
  • The number one thing for Shannon, when it comes to tradespeople, is disability coverage and saving to fund sick days. This is a challenge, because tradespeople put their bodies through so much more than most people. 
  • The second concern is long-term retirement planning. There are other options like SEP IRAs and Simple IRAs.
  • Shannon recommends accounting and tax help for people who are 1099 employees. 
  • Brandi’s grandmother is a CPA and Brandi asks her a lot of questions, but her grandmother has been retired for a while now.
  • Brandi recommends spending the money to go to a CPA, because you can write off the expense and because they are the experts. 
  • There are a lot of things you need to know to manage your financial health if you are a tradesperson. There is a large amount of money to be made in this career path, but you need to make smart financial choices.
  • Taking care of your financial health sooner rather than later will save you a lot of headaches down the road.

TAKEAWAY: No matter your career, you never know where it will take you. A solid financial life, where you have savings and a good credit score, will open doors to just about any new direction you want your career to take. It’s never to late to get your finances in order.

Random Three Questions

  1. What is the next vacation you would like to take?
  2. What is a show you like to binge watch?
  3. What is a food you didn’t like as a child and do you like it as an adult?

If you’d like to talk to my team at the Financial Gym to help you prepare, at least financially, for the next chapter in your life, I hope you’ll reach out to us. We work with clients from all industries and all salary and lifestyle types so we can make your plan as personalized as you’d like it to be. The great news is that Martinis and Your Money listeners get 15% off Financial Gym services. So head over to, or send friends to, financialgym.com to get signed up today.

Getting Financially Naked with Hannah

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Getting Financially Naked with Hannah

At the Financial Gym, we call the first meeting you have with a trainer the “financially naked session.” In this meeting, you share everything about yourself financially so the trainer knows where you’re starting and so he or she can make the plan for how you can get where you want to go. Above all other meetings, this one scares clients the most because they are afraid or ashamed of their financial situation. A few months back on this podcast, almost a year ago, I shared my financially naked session, and now it is a regular series on the podcast.

Getting in the hotseat today is our client, Hannah, Founder of HZ Organized and performer in New York City. She joins me today to discuss her road to financial health and share how much unexpected success she’s had in a short period of time.

Be aware that Hannah was very open about her struggles with an eating disorder, so if this type of conversation will have triggers for you, I recommend not listening to it.

What Are We Drinking?

Hannah — Vodka Soda with fresh squeezed lemon

Shannon — Tito’s with Black Cherry Schweppes

Podcast Notes

  • Shannon met Hannah on the day of her financially naked session six months ago. Hannah was really nervous, because she knew she wasn’t in a good place financially.
  • She improved her life in other ways, and she went into the meeting with a positive attitude. Hannah put on a song and she asked her trainer, Karishma, to dance with her.
  • Trainers go through intensive training when they are hired and there is ongoing education moving forward. 
  • The Financial Gym recently hired 21 new people. On their last day of training, they had a fireside chat with Shannon, and she said her highest expectation of them is that they are good people (good to each other, good to their clients, and good to themselves). Specifically for trainers, they need to have compassion and empathy for their clients.
  • Karishma knew that Hannah needed to dance to be comfortable, so she danced with her.
  • The Gym hired 11 trainers out of 300 applicants. There is a specialness to the role. Shannon is the OG trainer and the role is based on her and her work. It is all about the way they treat their clients and each other.
  • Shannon wants clients to have a great experience and she wants it to be a place where they love to work. 
  • Hannah’s first memory of money is a Bandaid box. That was her first savings account and she saved over $200 before she was ten years old. She finally spent it on something. She loved saving, but she also really loved spending.
  • Hannah has her own home organizing company, HZ Organized, based in New York City, and she is also an actor. 
  • She decided to go into acting, because of Beauty and the Beast. When she was four, Hannah’s mom took her to see Beauty and the Beast on Broadway. Chip, the teacup, was played by a little boy. She thought it was magical.
  • Hannah would see a show and would re-create it with her Barbies. 
  • Hannah grew really early and she was very tall. She was pushed into sports, but she didn’t care about them.
  • Her mom was a public school teacher and one of the teachers ran a musical theater program after school and invited Hannah. She loved the playfulness and storytelling.
  • Shannon fell in love with theater when she was 11 years old, but she decided not to pursue it when she was older.
  • Theater is just who Hannah is. She loves it and doesn’t know anything different. 
  • For a number of years in her 20s, Hannah didn’t pursue acting, because of some mental health issues she was dealing with. 
  • Hannah had an eating disorder since she was 10 years old. She put herself in a treatment program when she was 22. She devoted her early and mid twenties to getting mentally and physically well. She invested a ton of money into finding the right team of people to help her and setting herself up for the rest of her life. 
  • She had an unhealthy relationships with the idea of what she needed to look like as an actor, and she needed to take some time away to change her mindset and decide if she still wanted to pursue acting.
  • It took time for her to stand in her integrity and own her self worth. It was hard and it still is hard.
  • She realizes may not get roles because she looks a certain way or doesn’t look a certain way, but acting is still important to her. 
  • Being disorganized gives Hannah a lot of anxiety and it cost her a lot of money and time. She taught herself how to get organized and she realized she could help other people with it too.
  • If you love something, you aren’t focusing on how hard it is, you are focusing on how you can help other people.
  • If you can’t believe in you, how can you expect anyone else to believe in you. You have to have that belief in yourself in order to be successful.
  • After Shannon had Will, she manifested her unhappiness through eating and drinking. She was questioning her decision of being married and being a mom. Mental health manifests itself in different ways. Be kind to people every day, because you have no idea what they are carrying around.
  • Hannah wasn’t able to work through her eating disorder, until she was ready. She now focuses on having a healthy mindset, and that affects the decisions she makes. 
  • Hannah now evaluates if her choices line up with her values and what she wants. She asks herself if she eating because she is stressed out or to nourish herself. She does the same with her spending.
  • Shannon has clients that spend out of control, because they are so unhappy in their job. They cannot afford to have that job.
  • Financially naked questions:
    • Birthdate: November 24
    • Employer: HZ Organized & various acting jobs
    • Annual Income: Between $75,000 and $100,000; primary source is organizing clients (was $42,000 when she started with the Gym)
    • Checking Account: $21,000 (six months ago, it was $7,400)
    • Savings Account: $1,300
    • Retirement Savings: Not yet
    • Student Loans: Paid off
    • Credit Card Debt: $2,500 (0% balance transfer)
    • Credit Score: 710
    • Monthly Rent: $2,350
    • Health Insurance: Still qualifies for state plan; preparing financially to pay a couple hundred dollars going forward
    • Business Insurance: $1,000 per year
    • Renter’s Insurance: $12.50 per month
    • Disability Insurance: Will be talking to Karishma soon
    • Children: No
    • Will: No; discuss with Karishma at the next quarterly review
    • Average Monthly Expenses: Between $1,500 and $2,500
    • 1 – 3 Year Goals: Continue to get financially fit so she can feel really good about her finances. Hannah currently lives in a studio apartment and wants to move into a one-bedroom. She wants to get a puppy or two and travel more. Hannah is unsure about having kids, but she did freeze her eggs.
    • Sacred Cows: Eating healthy, making time to celebrate friends, where she lives. Her ultimate goal is financial freedom.
  • Hannah had success in other areas in her life, because she had a coach. Whatever financial health is to you, you are going to attract more of that.
  • There are many parts to the financial plan you get at the Gym. There is a lot of information. Half the battle is writing it down and it is critical. 
  • The job of the trainer is to help clients connect where they need to connect and also break it down. You are not going to do it all in a day.     
  • One goal in Hannah’s plan was to increase her salary to $90,000 from $42,000.
  • Hannah cried at her first session and her second session. When Hannah cries, then she can move through it. She didn’t like where she was and figured out what to do about it. 
  • Just because you are making $42,000 doesn’t mean you can’t make $90,000. Everything is possible, you just haven’t done it yet.
  • There is not one right way to handle your finances. It needs to be right for you and that may not look like what other people are doing.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is the importance of knowing your financial digits and what it will take for you to achieve your hopes and dreams. Many of us are really good about dreaming, but not good about putting the finances together, mostly out of fear that it won’t come together, but Hannah is a great example of exactly why you should be doing this.

Random Three Questions

  1. What is a show you like to binge watch?
  2. Where is someplace you would like to travel?
  3. If you won $20,000, what would you do with it?

Connect with Hannah

Instagram: @hzorganized  

If you’d like to get financially naked with my team, and drop any fear or shame you have around money, I hope you’ll reach out to us at the Financial Gym. My trainers have literally seen it all, so nothing will surprise us. We don’t care how you got here, we just care about getting you where you want to go.  The great news is that Martinis and Your Money listeners get 15% off Financial Gym services. So if you’re ready to manifest your dreams, like Hannah in 2019, head over to or send friends to, financialgym.com to get signed up today.

Holiday Spending with the Happy Hour Ladies

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Holiday Spending with the Happy Hour Ladies

Today is the last Friday of the month and my regular listeners know that on the last Friday of the month, I host a happy hour on the podcast where I gather great friends with me to drink cheap drinks and talk about money topics.

We have been recording Happy Hours for over four years now, and for four years I’ve wanted to do an episode about holiday spending, but I have consistently thought about it after it was too late. Well not this year. This year as you’re preparing to change over your holiday thoughts from Halloween to Thanksgiving, the Happy Hour ladies and I can be in your ears helping you plan to have a happy and financially healthy holiday spending season. We share our thoughts on holiday spending and give you some practical advice for how not to get carried away this holiday season.

What are we drinking?

Melanie from Dear Debt and Lola Retreat — Pumpkin Beer

Tonya from Budget and the Beach and Tonya-Stumphauzer.com — Dearly Beloved I Thee Red from Trader Joe’s

Liz, Mrs. Frugalwoods, from Frugalwoods.com — Bota Box Nighthawk Black Red Wine

Shannon —  Bota Box Malbec

Podcast Notes

  • This is the first holiday spending happy hour in four year of podcasting.
  • Every time Shannon thinks to record a holiday spending episode, it is November, but by the time they record and the show airs, it would be after Thanksgiving.
  • Shannon used to spend a lot on the holidays, but not anymore.
  • Gift giving and receiving is not Melanie’s love language.
  • Liz likes to spend money on the holidays, but she doesn’t regret it. The things Liz and her family love about the holidays aren’t that expensive. There are certain recipes they like to make. They always do hors d’oeuvre on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Several years ago, she and Nate decided not to exchange gifts.
  • Liz has a pre-lit, artificial Christmas tree that she bought for about $200. They use the same ornaments every year, and some are hand-me-downs from her parents and in-laws. Her mother-in-law bought them stockings for Christmas with their names embroidered on them.
  • Liz doesn’t buy anything new for decorations, and for their girls, they buy them used gifts. She goes to garage sales in the summer, and she intentionally looks for things she can give her girls as holiday gifts that she knows they will enjoy. She stores them in a box in the basement until she is ready to wrap them. She recently wrote a blog post about her garage sale finds.
  • Last year was the first year their oldest daughter really understood what Christmas was, and they gave her one gift every day of the Christmas week. Rather than her open the gifts all at once, it was really special. They created a little tradition around it and she would play with that toy all day long.
  • This year, Liz is going to buy her daughter a toy guitar, because she has been asking for one. Liz is planning to pay the $20 to buy it new.
  • The year they were engaged and the first year they were married, Liz and her husband exchanged gifts, but they both ended up returning them. He bought her a dress, but it didn’t fit well. She bought him a watch or something and he returned it.
  • They both have very specific likes and dislikes. Neither of them like wasting money and they don’t derive joy from gift giving.
  • Liz and her husband enjoy sharing experiences. Pre-kids, they went out for a nice meal or a special drink on Christmas Eve.
  • Their money is all joint and it didn’t make sense to buy each other something they didn’t want.
  • Melanie has not had a Christmas tree in years. The last time she had one, she was living with her ex in Portland and she was paying off her debt. Her ex got a Christmas tree from a lot on December 24, because the seller abandoned the trees.
  • Her cats would eat it and knock it down, so she doesn’t get one anymore.
  • When they were together, Melanie and her ex did not give each other gifts, they used that money toward travel. Sometimes they would go to the Oregon Coast or San Francisco during Thanksgiving.
  • Shannon was not like this at all. She didn’t grow up with a lot of things under the tree, it just looked like a lot because she was in a family of seven. There was maybe one or two things for each person.
  • Shannon wanted to have a big holiday experience. She bought into all of the things. The Christmas before they had Will, there were a lot of gifts under the tree. Gift giving was one of her love languages. She loved to do that. She didn’t buy things on sale and she overspent.
  • For most of her career in the finance industry, she would get a bonus every February. She would spend a lot of money during the holidays, put it on her credit card, and then pay it off with her bonus.
  • Until Will was five, Shannon overspent on him. Until kids are three or four, they are really clueless as to what the holidays should look like.
  • Your kids expect what you create for them. You as the parent are in charge and you get to choose which traditions you carry forward.
  • Liz’s older daughter remembers a brunch they went to with Santa, and it was really meaningful to her. They want to do that every year now.
  • Liz will not be going to Christmas Eve service with her children again.
  • You can always change the reality. Shannon had created a crazy Christmas reality, and once she started working toward getting more financially healthy, they started to change the conversation with Will.
  • Shannon limited her son to five things on his Christmas list. As he got older, they limited it to a budget.
  • Now that her son is older, they talk more about how much the tree and other things costs.
  • Liz buys evergreen boughs for her house for the scent.
  • Tonya has never been a big fan of Christmas. She likes Thanksgiving and then she can fast forward to New Year’s. She has come to appreciate little things like Christmas lights, fireworks, and holiday open houses where stores have cookies and free wine.
  • Growing up, it was just her and her brother. They were given a lot of gifts and were pretty spoiled. As Tonya got older Christmas became not her favorite. It depended on where she was living and who she was living with if she had a tree or not.
  • Tonya likes poinsettias, but they are poisonous for cats.
  • When Tonya was dating her long-term boyfriend, his family was really big on gift giving. They went to his family’s house near Yosemite and there was an expectation to get gifts.
  • The only presents she really spends on is the family she adopts through an organization. Tonya doesn’t really do anything or buy anything for Christmas.
  • Tonya’s parents give her money for Christmas. Last year, Tonya blew up some pictures for her mom to frame and gave them to her as a gift. It just depends on the year. She and her brother don’t exchange gifts.
  • When Shannon and Bill got married, they had a big spreadsheet to track family gift purchases. It was getting out of control and they were all just exchanging $50 gift cards. Then they decided to only buy gifts for the kids.
  • Why does the gift exchange between adult siblings still happen? About 78 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Why are we forcing them to buy gifts?
  • Liz’s sister has three kids and they have an iron clad agreement that they will only buy one gift for each kid for Christmas. Liz likes to buy her nieces and nephews a gift and she asks her sister what they would like, so they can enjoy it. It has to be something they really want.
  • Last year, Melanie took her mom to Paso Robles for a wine trip. She used some credit card points for a free hotel and she bought some wine. She likes gifting experiences.
  • Something on Cyber Monday can be a deal, if it is something you have been planning or saving to buy and if you have been watching the price. Buying something just because it is on sale is a big waste of money.
  • Liz tracks what she needs to buy all year long and then will buy big ticket items if it is the lowest price during the holidays. It is still cheaper to buy it used or second hand or not buy it at all.
  • Melanie doesn’t succumb to spending a lot of money on gifts, but she is weak when it comes to anything pumpkin or peppermint. It is seasonal and only one time a year, but she doesn’t need to buy something every time she goes out.
  • Shannon used to have a lot of holiday decor. She downsized and now doesn’t have room for it. She ended up throwing a lot of it out when she got divorced and sold her house.
  • Tonya recommends looking in the area you live for holiday strolls or neighborhoods with lights.
  • Liz buys decor at garage sales. If you have the desire to decorate, or over decorate, for the holidays, go to a garage sale. You can find this stuff at second hand stores from people who have downsized. It is usually barely used, because it only comes out once a year.
  • If holiday decor is important to you, and you need that in your home, budget for it. Try to find a better way to find it cheaper. There is a lot of holiday decor you can buy between Halloween and Christmas. Try to commit to using the stuff year after year.
  • Liz loves watching Christmas movies and reading Christmas books with her kids, but she screens out the ones that focus on gifts.
  • Like Tonya, Liz’s family adopts a family every year and they buy new items for them. She is trying to teach her children generosity and take the focus off the gifts.
  • You set the tone for your kids. Prior to your kids being five years old, you have 100 percent control over their experience of the holidays. They are not going to be upset one way or the other of how it goes down.
  • Allowing your children to have hundreds of dollars of gifts on their lists and not have a conversation is irresponsible. It is unbelievable how quickly kids cycle out of the gifts they wanted so badly.
  • Manage your kids’ expectations. Shannon had a “Santa has a budget” conversation with her son when he was young. She now follows something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.
  • The want is one big gift worth $200 split between Shannon and Bill. The need is usually underwear, shampoos, deodorant, etc. The wear is usually a sweater or something, and the read is usually a couple of books.
  • It sets a really bad precedent for your kids, if you are getting them everything they want. There is so much that goes into building resilience.
  • Liz’s daughter was given a guitar for Christmas last year, and she broke it because she wasn’t careful. She has to wait until this Christmas to get another one, and to a young child, that is a long time.
  • Not fulfilling their every desire is hard as parents, especially when all of the other kids have $150 shoes, but it sets them up for life later. You cannot control the decisions other parents make for their kids.
  • The answer is not to match your neighbors’ gift giving for your kid, especially if it is going to put you in a financially challenging place. It will set your kids up for keeping up with the Jones’.
  • Shannon and her ex spend Christmas Day as a family with their son. They go into the city for Children’s Church, because Will still likes it. They then go out for dinner. They have a tradition they keep and they like it.
  • Time with your kids is the greatest gift. Being focused and present is what they will remember when they are older.
  • Stop overspending on things when you don’t have the money. Shannon has been on the spending side and the spending less side and she feels more joy when there are less gifts, because she knows they are not sitting on her credit card.
  • Find creative ways to enjoy the holidays without spending money. There are so many other things happening around the holidays that you can focus your time and energy on.
  • Try to avoid debt and know that time is the most precious gift we can give people. If you need to buy something, look at coupons online or Ebates (now called Rakuten) and try to start the year without debt.
  • Have a cash budget and make it work. Save money every month into a holiday fund, if that is what you value. Spend your money on the things you value.
  • The beginning of the year is when a lot of layoffs happen. Another reason to avoid debt is job security. Spend responsibly, because it is the best gift you can give yourself this holiday season.
  • Liz sends Christmas cards every year. She takes the pictures herself and she gets a business postcard, not the Christmas postcard, from Vistaprint. Remove all of the sale language. There is no envelope and the postage is less expensive. Remember that people will eventually put this in the trash.
  • Shannon saves money by not sending Christmas cards.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway, as a recovering holiday spender, is that truly the greatest gift of the holiday season is quality time with your loved ones. Focusing on each other and not the gifts, will help you prioritize your spending this holiday season.

If you want to work with my team at the Financial Gym and learn more about how you can prepare and plan for your holiday spending, remember that Martinis and Your Money Listeners get 15% off Financial Gym services. My financial trainers have seen it all. No matter where you’re starting, we have the tools and resources to get you where you want to go. So head over to, or send friends to, financialgym.com.

If you have any topics you would like for us to talk about during happy hour, please feel free to email me at shannon@fingyms.com or tweet to me at blonde_finance or join the private martinis and your money Facebook group and let us know. Until next time, take care!!

When Relationships and Money Intersect with Kassandra Dasent

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When Relationships and Money with Kassandra Dasent

I have recorded a number of podcasts about relationships and, just when I think I’ve seen every angle around the topic, I’m pleasantly surprised by some fresh thoughts, and I’m even more excited that those thoughts are from a long-time blogging friend of mine, Kassandra Dasent, Financial Consultant and CEO of Minding Your Money. Kassandra joins me today to talk about how you can manage a healthy relationship with money while also managing healthy personal relationships. We tackle every type of relationship, from love interest, to friendship, to family. This is a conversation you don’t want to miss.

What Are We Drinking?

Kassandra — Green Tea with Lemon

Shannon — Cold Coffee

Podcast Notes

  • Kassandra was first on the podcast in November 2014. Check out Episode 06, to hear her back story.
  • At the time of that podcast, she was working full time and doing personal finance on the side, then she was working full time and doing no personal finance, and now she is doing personal finance full time.
  • On February 1, 2019, Kassandra started doing personal finance full time, when she resigned from her corporate job as a software engineer and project manager. It was a huge leap. It was a very cushy job with a lot of benefits.
  • Kassandra started her company Minding Your Money, LLC, and she serves people in the capacity of financial coach and financial consultant for companies. She has also spoke at a few events this year.
  • Shannon and Kassandra were early blogging friends.
  • Kassandra’s mental health drove her to leave her corporate job. It wasn’t necessarily that she wasn’t completely happy doing what she was doing. She loved leading teams of engineers creating new technology.
  • She leapfrogged into that career, because she doesn’t have a STEM background or a college degree.
  • Working onsite 14- to 16-hour days, getting calls on weekends, and getting calls at 1:00 am really cost her from a mental health perspective. It was a lot of pressure that she hadn’t counted on, along with being a stepmom, a wife, and a long-distance care giver to her mom who wasn’t doing well during that time. It was a lot to manage and it was a case of self preservation.
  • Financial health is what enabled her to make this leap. She had the flexibility to make this decision confidently. 
  • At the time of Episode 06, five years ago, Kassandra had just come out of paying off debt, she recently immigrated to the U.S., she got married a couple years before, and she was still working on catching up, because she was in her late 30s. 
  • She decided to go into a full-time career so she could save money. She and her husband were saving between 50 and 55 percent a year. Kassandra was maxing out her 401(k) every year, maxing out her Roth IRA, her husband was maxing out his SEP IRA, and they were doing all of the right things.
  • Kassandra made sure she had an “F off” fund so she or her husband could make a change later if they wanted and not stress out about money or the next thing. She could take the time to focus, heal, recalibrate, and figure out what was next in life.
  • One of the most important factors in your financial journey is having goals. If you don’t have a goal, it will reveal itself at some point. When that happens, have enough saved so money doesn’t get in the way. Taking the financial aspect off the table is huge.
  • Kassandra spoke at the Lola Retreat this year, and she spoke about relationships and money. Shannon thought it was a different way to explore it. 
  • Kassandra’s presentation was about how to manage when relationships and money intersect. She broke the presentation into three parts:
    • Intimate relationships
    • Friend relationships
    • Family relationships
  • They each have different factors and impacts on us and there are different ways to manage each one and still have positive money results.
  • We relate to each other on different levels of love. That will differentiate how you should ideally approach somebody in wanting to talk about money more. 
  • Intimate relationships
    • As soon as you decide to go on a date, it begins there. It’s about right off the top trying to discern what type of money personality the other person has. The first date often helps set the tone for expectations of money in the relationship. Study that person from a financial lens. 
    • When Kassandra met her husband in 2009, she was $55,000 in debt and he didn’t have any debt. A few dates in, Kassandra told him exactly what she had, what got her to where she was, and what she was planning to do. She was glad she laid it all out there so he could choose to walk away. 
    • What happens in our society is couples wait until they get engaged and then they reveal the debt they have. It’s up to us as individuals to decide and say that money is important and it will affect our relationship. It is our responsibility to not expect that the other person will speak up first. 
    • For those struggling with how to bring up the topic, ask the other person leading questions like “If you won $25,000, what would you do with it?”. The answer will tell you so much and can lead to a conversation. Let it feel like a conversation – you aren’t looking for ammunition, but discovery.
    • Talk about money sooner rather than later. Money is a vital component of our relationship and we should treat it with respect toward each other.
    • Revealing your finances isn’t going to destroy your relationship, hiding your finances is going to destroy your relationship. 
    • If the other person cannot stand what you look like on paper and won’t work with you to achieve goals with you, get out of that relationship. It is better to have a bad break up than a bad marriage. Don’t restrict yourself according to another person’s view of you.
    • If you are in a long-term relationship and have never talked about money, start with discovery questions. It is going to be a multi-step process. It is all about understanding their money story.
    • Be the person who is vulnerable, and put yourself out there. It will make the other person feel more comfortable.
    • If someone is really pushing back, get a third party, like Kassandra or the Financial Gym, to facilitate the conversation.
    • You don’t need to negate your independence, but understand that you need to exercise some common goals when it comes to your money. Even if you keep it in separate pots, you are still working toward common goals, which requires full disclosure. 
    • There are so many red flags to be mindful of. Find them sooner rather than later. Money will impact everything, especially if you have children later on.
  • Friend relationships
    • Differences in income and lifestyle, culture, and religion can be landmines. Money can bring you together or it can decimate friendships.
    • It is easier to get aligned in an intimate relationship than with friendships. There are so many challenges and some are more open than others. 
    • Friendships can involve multiple people in a group or multiple groups of friends. Some don’t feel the need to talk about money, because the assumption is that everyone is at the same financial level. That is not necessarily true.
    • There is pressure to be able to hang with them where they are, whether that is certain events, restaurants, etc. If you are making $65,000, but your friends are making $150,000, there is a big difference in what they are able to fund than what you are able to fund. 
    • Know thyself and respect thyself. Be selective in who you choose to have as your friends. Know what your financial capabilities are and then begin to select your friends carefully who ascribe to your core values. Know your financial boundaries.
    • Know that you will have friends that will align with you at certain points in your life, but you are going to evolve. Some will move along with you on that trajectory and others that will not.
    • If your finances cannot sustain the friendship, you may have to stop spending time with them.
    • If your friends are not willing to work with you to spend time with you, they are not quality friends. It is really difficult to let go of friends, but you need to acknowledge that it is time to move on, and that is healthy.
    • We have a natural instinct to have someone around us, but you need to be comfortable being alone. Understand what is good for you and right for you and also who.
    • Don’t expect them to change, it is about how do you change. You need to maintain financial health. You may have friends that don’t respect that and challenge that.
    • Before you seek new friends, understand what didn’t work well. Learn how to read people better. People will tell you a lot in their behavior and their language. You are the starting point of all healthy relationships in your life.
  • Family relationships
    • Family relationships are the most difficult, because you cannot remove yourself. There is a sense of community in your family.
    • You can separate yourself from your family, if it is harming you financially or stunting your financial growth. 
    • When you have individuals who feel entitled to your money or assets and they don’t care about you, only what you have and what you can do for them, that is very unhealthy and extremely dangerous. The guilt wrapped around that relationship continually pulls you into their vortex of garbage.
    • You need to say the relationship is toxic, if someone is using you. Do you want to continue to enable that person? You must matter first. You need to find a way to assert yourself.
    • If you have elderly parents and you don’t know what their financial state is, are you potentially going to be their retirement plan? You need to have that conversation.
    • The older generation is typically opposed to sharing their financial situation, because of the parent-child relationship. This is where you need to assert yourself as an adult. The language of your conversation will be multi phased. It is more of a reconnaissance mission. What is your retirement going to look like for you? Let them tell you. Try to get a picture of how they perceive it. 
    • Shannon recommends the book Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk, by Cameron Huddleston.
    • Certain cultures expect their children to send them money. Kassandra calls it the “Black Tax”. Those who are in the black and brown communities, especially those who have immigrated, feel that you owe it to them to make sure they are taken care of, because of the sacrifice they made.
    • It is all about explaining the reality of your situation. Ask them questions about their master plan for you so you can then cut it down one tree at a time. It is about honesty. Both sides need to make financial choices to make it work for all.
    • If they are not willing to engage and listen, drastic measures need to happen. Sometimes you have to give them tough love, if it isn’t working out for you financially.
    • If you want to continue that support, you may need to make more money.
    • If you drop dead tomorrow, what are they going to do?
    • Tough love is tough and, at the end of the day, you can work through it. Not having the tough conversation is ruining the relationship.
  • Shannon was recently on Glamour’s new podcast, She Makes Money Moves, and was quoted as saying “Money is the Ultimate Taboo Topic”.
  • We all have so much emotion and judgement around money and it is not clear how it is going to be received. With finances, you have no idea how the other person is going to view you, because they can’t see your finances and they don’t know your back story.
  • When you think about any relationship, what is healthiest for you?
  • Kassandra’s four pillars are financial, spiritual, mental, and physical. How is another person impacting your pillars? 
  • Money in relationships is complicated, and the hardest part is the conversations.
  • Honor yourself, be good to yourself, be kind to yourself, choose your people wisely, surround yourself with the kind of people that make you better.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is that in order for you to have a healthy relationship with money, you have to take some time and set your money priorities and your money boundaries, so no matter what type of relationship you are in, you can still maintain a healthy one with your money. 

Random Three Questions

  1. If you won $25,000, what would you do with it?
  2. If this was your last night on earth, what would be your last meal?
  3. What is a book that always inspires you?

Connect with Kassandra 

Website: www.kassandradasent.com

Instagram/Twitter:@kassandradasent

Facebook: Minding Your Money KD 

Most Inspired Book: The Secrets of Six-Figure Women, by Barbara Stanny

If you’d like to talk to my team at the Financial Gym, to help you work through any of your money and relationship issues, I hope you’ll reach out to us. We have truly seen it all at the Gym and my trainers can’t wait to help you achieve the financial success you’d like to achieve. The great news is that Martinis and Your Money listeners get 15% off Financial Gym services. So head over to, or send friends to, financialgym.com to get signed up today.