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Homeownership with the Happy Hour Ladies

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Homeownership 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 the happy hour on the podcast where I gather great friends with me to drink cheap drinks and talk about money topics. Today we’re talking about homeownership – why we’ve done it or why it is not even a life goal of ours, and the pros and cons. I hope you enjoy!

What are we drinking?

Melanie from Dear Debt — No drink – Dry January

Tonya from Budget and the Beach — Kombucha – Dry January

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

Shannon — Tito’s Vodka & Tonic

Podcast Notes

  • Shannon went to the Angel’s Envy conference and spoke to their employees about financial wellness and being financially fit. In her first session, someone asked about homeownership, and she said she doesn’t think it is a necessary goal and there are other ways to build wealth.
  • One of the participants went on a rant about how you are throwing your money away, and as that story made its way around the conference, the topic of homeownership came up in every single one of Shannon’s sessions. Everyone had an opinion about it.
  • Tonya and Melanie have never owned a home.
  • Melanie is a happy renter and thinks it is foolish for people to say that renting is throwing money away. She has a roof over her head and renting gives her the flexibility to move if she wants to. She likes that she doesn’t need to fix things when they break, she just needs to call someone. Her parents also don’t own a home and she didn’t grow up with it and she is not interested in owning a home. She has never had a dream of homeownership.
  • You need to be honest with yourself about the cost of homeownership. Comparing rent to a mortgage is not comparing apples to apples. You can still build wealth when you are renting.
  • A house is an asset and a liability at the same time. If you have a mortgage, it is pretty much a complete liability.
  • Liz owns two houses, one in Cambridge, MA, which she bought in 2012, and another house in Vermont, which she bought in 2016. The Cambridge house was their primary residence for a few years, but they bought it with the idea to eventually rent it out, which they started doing in 2016, when they moved to Vermont.
  • Liz and her husband met when they were 18 and got married when they were 23 and combined their savings. They saved $65,000 in six years that they used to put down on their $460,000 house in Cambridge in 2012.
  • Liz and her husband used Redfin to purchase their house and Liz recommends it, if you know what you want and you only need someone to do the paperwork. She had a 3.8% mortgage and refinanced and got it down to 3.6% or something close to that. She has a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage.
  • When Liz and her husband moved, they analyzed if they would be better renting out their Cambridge house or selling it, and they evaluate that every year. Cambridge is an expensive city, but 65% of units are rented, because of the colleges near there. Professors and students need somewhere temporary to stay. Her tenants so far have been graduate students.
  • Liz has a property manager for her rental, and so far it has been a good return. She sees that house as an asset. If you are going to rent out a house that you used to live in, you need to divorce yourself from the emotional connection.
  • Liz has a mortgage on her Vermont homestead also. They have chosen not to pay off their mortgages, because they think their money is likely to deliver a higher return invested in the market.
  • When you have a low, fixed-rate mortgage, the stock market return, on average, is around seven percent over the long term. It is a hedge against inflation and it diversifies your investments. There is very little you can do with a paid off house. It is a numbers game, but it only works if you invest your cash.
  • The number one goal at the Financial Gym is having a fully funded emergency fund. Clients feel better once they have that money in the bank.
  • You can’t build wealth by paying off houses. You need to take the emotion out of it. A paid-off house is not a liquid asset.
  • Tonya has never owned a house and she is neither for or against it. There are a lot of online calculators that can make the answer a little more clear. She has lived in a lot of high cost areas, but had she stayed in Detroit, it probably would have made sense to purchase a house because of the home prices and cost of living. In L.A., it makes almost no sense to buy a house.
  • If the right circumstances occurred, Tonya wouldn’t be against it, but homeownership is not something that is on her radar. She loves HGTV and is obsessed with homes from a viewer standpoint. She loves architecture. For her, the pros of renting outweigh the cons.
  • Shannon has been a homeowner and a renter. It depends on the situation – if you can rent for $900 or buy for $700, maybe it makes more sense to buy if the other circumstances are right.
  • In the initial thought process, you need to think about several things. Can you afford the down payment on the home? What if you have to get out of the home? Do you have to pay realtor fees to sell? Where do you want life to go in the next few years? It usually takes about six years or so to recoup the purchasing fees.
  • Make sure you have a contingency fund when you buy a house, because it becomes your liability. You need to either be handy or have someone on speed dial. Think about your competencies and how you want to use your time. If you have to hire out small repairs, they can easily be $600 or $800.
  • One con of renting is that the landlord can raise the rent or they can sell the building.
  • Liz chose a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, because the interest rate was low. It is all about the interest rate. You might be able to refinance, but you might not. It is helpful to know about the area you are buying in. She considers her homestead a $0 asset, because it will be very difficult to sell, where she sees the home in Cambridge as an asset.
  • Owning a home is not always an asset. You are not necessarily building equity or value. It depends on your market and it needs to be a minimum of a six-year commitment.
  • If you want to buy a house, think about all of the costs and start setting aside the extra amount you would need if you had the house now.
  • You do not need to buy a house, because you have kids. They won’t even remember it for the first five years of their life.
  • We are sold this dream that you go to college, get a job, get married, and then buy a house. Life is not linear and the American dream is what you make of it. There is so much more information out there now than there was 20 years ago. People are out there living in vans or RVs or abroad.
  • If you want to own a house, do it for all of the right reasons, but question why.
  • Shannon loves renting.
  • Every house project is an expense. Even new homes have things that need to be fixed.
  • Liz is married to someone who loves home projects, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that there is always a string of things that need to be done. It takes time. Do not live rurally, unless you are super handy.
  • Liz likes having a property manager, so she doesn’t have to think about what the tenants are doing to her house, and she wants her tenants to be well-served.
  • The answer to the question “should you buy a house” is all about math and your lifestyle.
  • Don’t let the “renting is throwing money down the drain” rhetoric get to you if you like renting. Get rid of the propaganda. Look at the math.
  • The equity isn’t real until you sell the house.
  • Owning a house, or not, is a personal decision. Whatever your decision is, own it! Love where you live and live where you love.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is to make your financial goals your own. If homeownership is a goal of yours, make sure you go into it with eyes wide open. If it’s not a goal, no big deal. It is not a requirement in life to own a home. It is important that you have life goals that resonate with you, not someone else.

If you want help identifying life goals and how you can achieve them, I hope you’ll reach out to my team at the Financial Gym. Ninety percent of our clients are hitting their financial goals, and I hope you do as well. Starting in 2019, we now offer a Martinis and Your Money listener discount of 15% off your membership, 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@finblonde.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!!

Unexpected Break Ups with Jenn and Rebecca

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I’ve spoken in the past about relationships and money, but it’s typically been around married couples and how to handle finances as a married couple. Today I’m talking about how someone you’re just dating can impact your finances and how you can prepare and protect yourself financially when you’re dating someone. Joining me to discuss this topic is Financial Gym trainer Jenn and her client and podcast listener Rebecca. They share their personal stories of love, loss, and recovery and how their finances were impacted because of it.

What Are We Drinking?

Jenn — Alka-Seltzer Severe Cold and Flu tablet with ice water

Rebecca — Moscow Mule

Shannon — Z Alexander Brown Uncaged Cabernet

Podcast Notes

  • Jenn is a trainer at the Financial Gym and Rebecca is one of her clients.
  • Jenn joined the team at the Gym in January 2018, as an apprentice behind the scenes. Her friend was a client of the Gym and knew Jenn had just left the hedge fund industry and was taking some financial exams to figure out the next step for her career. Jenn left her job without another job lined up, but she had an emergency fund ready to go with one year of expenses.
  • Jenn’s friend said she could see Jenn working at the Financial Gym. Jenn met Shannon and the team and fell in love with the concept of the Financial Gym.
  • Rebecca is in her late 30s and she lives in Jacksonville, Florida. She moved there from D.C. a few years ago to be closer to her family, and she is a long-time podcast listener.
  • Last year, Rebecca was on a journey to up-level her life and to get smarter and clearer about the things she wanted. She went through a bad breakup at the beginning of the year that really shaped her focus for the rest of the year.
  • She started focusing on what sort of partner she wanted and what sort of woman she wanted herself to be, and part of that was becoming smarter financially. She is great at making money and saving money, but she knew she could do more. 
  • She started working with the Financial Gym remotely. The Gym works with clients in 47 states and in D.C.
  • This past summer, Jenn and her long-time boyfriend broke up and Bridget and her boyfriend broke up.
  • How do you prepare for the challenges of a relationship when you are not married?
  • When you are coming out of a relationship, you are not thinking clearly. It is good to have someone who is objective, like a Financial Trainer.
  • Jenn was in a relationship for over four years and they lived together for a year. It was time to renew the lease and she found out that her boyfriend wasn’t ready for a commitment. They did not share their finances or have any joint accounts, but they split the bills down the middle. They did not have any formal agreement regarding financial decisions. Her boyfriend kept the apartment, since she couldn’t afford it by herself.
  • After the breakup, Jenn had the expense of finding another place and paying for a security deposit, and she wasn’t planning for it. She had just built her emergency fund back up when she realized she needed to move.
  • Many warm-up calls at the Gym are with women who are in bad relationships and need to get their finances in order so they can move out.
  • It is critical to have an emergency fund. There are no guarantees, even if you are in a great relationship. When stuff blows up suddenly, there are a lot of expenses.
  • Two weeks after the breakup, Jenn stayed at her friend’s place while her friend was on her honeymoon. Do you have family or friends you can stay with if a breakup happens?
  • Rebecca was with her boyfriend for three-and-a-half years and they were on the fast track to getting married. Two weeks before he was supposed to move in with her, Rebecca found out that he had been cheating on her for more than half of their relationship. She caught him through a series of texts, emails, and nude photos. She didn’t think he was capable of cheating.
  • Rebecca broke up with him in 2017, and she thought she was going to get engaged in 2018. Her boyfriend had asked her dad to marry her and was having a ring custom-made. 
  • Rebecca told the woman’s husband.
  • Moving on is a choice that we make. Once you choose to move forward and stop fixating on the awful things, you become much more productive. 
  • Rebecca first took an STD test and sent her ex-boyfriend a bill for it. Then she found someone to take her boyfriend’s place on the trip they were supposed to take together to England. 
  • Over the course of the next few months, Rebecca then started asking herself questions about what boundaries he crossed, where did she settle in that relationship, and what could she have done differently. She talked this through with herself and with a therapist. 
  • Rebecca used therapy and acupuncture to get through the break up, which was an unexpected cost. There were a number of other expenses that came up, because when she bought her house, she expected to have her boyfriend there to pay for half of the mortgage each month as well as some projects they talked about doing together.
  • A break up can happen to anybody at anytime. Stop and think about what would happen if your world was turned upside down by a relationship ending. What would you do and are you ready financially? Are you prepared?
  • “You’re never powerful in life until you’re powerful over your own money.” – Suze Orman
  • There is a grieving period you go through after a break up that costs money.
  • If you are in a dating relationship and you are thinking about moving in together, think about if you can afford the apartment on your own if the relationship ends and you can’t get out of the lease. Have that conversation internally before moving in. Make sure the other person has an emergency fund, in case they lose their job.
  • Don’t only think about what you can afford, but what could come up. Take a self-assessment of where would you be if things happened, and believe that anything is possible.
  • There is a light at the end of the tunnel. You are going to go through some really awful times and painful introspection. If you use those times as a learning experience, in a year, you are going to feel like a better version of yourself. You will realize that life can be bigger and bolder and better than you ever thought it could be. You can be in control of your finances.

Takeaway: My biggest takeaway is that relationships are unpredictable even under what seems to be the best of circumstances. It’s important for you to be financially prepared for any outcome, because the greatest relationship that you will have in life is the one you have with yourself. 

Random Three Questions

  1. Where is a place you would like to go, if money wasn’t an object?
  2. What is a show you like to binge watch?
  3. It is your last night on earth. What is the final meal you would eat?

If you’d like to talk to someone and have them help you prepare for anything financially, 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.

As many of you know, at the Financial Gym, we increased our rates in 2019 for new clients, but I have instituted a 15% discount for Martinis and Your Money listeners going forward so that the new rates will not impact you. So if you’re ready to manifest your dreams in 2019, which is our theme at the Gym, head over to or send friends to, financialgym.com to get signed up today.

Becoming an Influencer with Shanna Tyler

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Last year, as we were working on building the Financial Gym brand, we worked with a number of influencers to help get the word out about the Gym. During that time, we saw the value of working with them, not only as a brand to help us build our brand, but we saw the value that could come to being an influencer.

Today I’m talking to Shanna Tyler, Life and Business Coach and founder of Self Soul Sport, about how she became an influencer, how you can become one, and how you can make money doing it.

What Are We Drinking?

Shanna — Iced Matcha Latte with Agave Syrup; Shanna buys her matcha from The Matcha Reserve

Shannon — Earl Grey Tea

Podcast Notes

  • Shanna is a business coach and life coach for women, and she is based in New York City. She is the founder of a community of women called Self Soul Sport, and she has a podcast of the same name.
  • Shanna loves matcha lattes and dancing. 
  • After Shanna got her coaching certification, she wasn’t really talking about it and she was nervous about it. She is a Financial Gym client and Shannon told her she either needed to go all in and be a coach or get a full-time job. Shanna needed that.
  • Shanna started shannatyler.com two years ago as a side hustle. She is a social media influencer and she gets paid for it.
  • She was looking for something more meaningful that tapped into her skills, and after she took a Myers-Briggs test two years ago, she found out she is an ENFJ (extrovert, intuitive, feeler, judger). This profile is good with teaching, consulting, coaching, and social work.
  • Shanna went to school to be a social worker and she realized two days in that it wasn’t for her. At the same time, in 2017, she was hosting monthly events for Self Soul Sport.
  • Shanna decided to use #selfsoulsport, which means love self, nurture soul, and live sport. She had about 20 women in a room answering discussion questions: how do you love yourself, how do you nurture your soul, and how do you live your sport. So many women were talking about their businesses and Shanna realized that she was informally coaching them. 
  • Shanna had her own career coach and decided to go to school for coaching. She now has the training from Institute of Life Coach Training and is getting credentialed. Shanna started her life coaching business about six months ago. Shanna started by coaching friends and people she knew on things like social media strategy. 
  • Being an entrepreneur is not for the weak of heart. You either need to do it or not. No true entrepreneurial journey was meant to be easy.
  • Shanna works with women who want to build their personal brand and monetize it into a business. After women make the leap into their side hustle or entrepreneurial venture and are wondering what they did, Shanna is the person who helps them get from their mission, vision, and values to their pricing packages, to make sure they make money off of their business and not undervalue themselves.
  • Microinfluencer means you have fewer than 10,000 followers. 
  • Shanna was diagnosed with major depressive disorder in 2014. She decided to create her website, shannatyler.com, because she wanted to intertwine that diagnosis with being a black woman and have a good time.
  • After a while, brands started reaching out to her and asked if they could send her free stuff. She hit 3,000 and 4,000 followers and her friends were questioning why she wasn’t getting paid. She thought the free stuff was payment. 
  • Shanna realized she was a microinfluencer and brands were realizing she had a niche audience that was dedicated to her. They are more likely to buy things from her, since it feels like she is a friend.
  • How do you go about being an influencer?
    • Uplevel your content: Get strategic, know your audience and who you are talking to, be intentional in your Instagram bio, know who you want to influence. This could be finance, girl bossing, fitness, yoga, etc. The more niche you get the better. Start with what you love. Start talking about it and creating a community around it on Instagram. Post once a day and have one or two days off. Saturdays and Sundays are not the top days to post. If you are thinking about it, do it. 
    • Professional photos: Brands like professional photos with a kickass caption. This is one that is genuine, authentic, and has a call-to-action. You need to look like you want your Instagram to be a business.
  • Some large influencers are making $300,000 a year.
  • Imposter syndrome is preventing people from doing what they want to do. Embrace who you are. Don’t compare yourself to others. Why not you? There is no such thing as the best. You are not being an imposter to anybody, but if you are going to do it, be accurate. Don’t give out wrong or bad information.
  • We influence people every day. When you are an influencer on social media, you get paid for it.
  • You only need 1,000 to 2,000 followers to become an influencer.
  • To increase followers, hosting in-person/community events helps, because people will post about. Have giveaways that are specific to your audience. Brands love giveaways and will usually say yes. Call-to-action is really important – have people double-tap if they agree or ask them to post about their day. Connect with people who are also looking to be influencers. It will not hurt you to help other people, even if you have the same product – you are all representing the brand differently.
  • To determine how much to charge, Shanna goes by $25 per 1,000 followers plus more for deliverables and other things the brand wants. It is more if the brand is a large company.
  • Shanna had 3,000 followers last year and now has just under 6,000. Her goal for 2019 is 10,000 followers.
  • Shanna has a one-word intention, which is alignment, and her goals are based on that word. For 2019, her goals are aligning with her vision of supporting entrepreneurial women through one-on-one coaching and through a group coaching program that she is planning, aligning with brand work, and aligning in her love life by sticking to her standards.
  • The best thing about being a brand influencer is you are talking about things that you love.

Takeaway: My biggest takeaway is to remember the value of finding side hustle opportunities and thinking about becoming an influencer is a great way to marry the things you love with the potential to make money. It is a rare and great combination to find.

Random Three Questions

  1. What is a show that you like to binge watch?
  2. What is a food that you hated as a kid, and do you hate it now or love it?
  3. If you were to win a million dollars, what would you do with it?

Connect with Shanna

Website: http://www.shannatyler.com/

Free Discovery Call: https://calendly.com/shanna-tyler-llc/30min

Instagram: @shannatyler_

If you’d like to work 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. 

As many of you know, we increased our rates in 2019 for new clients, but I have instituted a 15% discount for Martinis and Your Money listeners going forward, so the new rates will not impact you. If you’re ready to align with your financial greatness, like Shanna, in 2019, head over to, or send friends to, financialgym.com to get signed up today.

Getting Naked with Jon

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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, I shared my financially naked session and it led to a request for more. Now this is a regular series on this podcast. Getting in the hot-seat today is my first dude! I know that my podcast may seem as though it’s skewed toward women; however, I’ve known for years that guys are listening as well, and Jon is one of those guys. Jon is a longtime listener who volunteered to get financially naked with me and all of you. 

What Are We Drinking?

Jon — Beer

Shannon — Bota Box Malbec

Podcast Notes

  • Jon has been listening to the podcast for three years and he listens to it at work. Jon told a story about how a co-worker saw this podcast on his phone and said he listened to it too. Shannon now has proof that it is not only women who listen.
  • Two podcast listeners were recently hired to be trainers at the Financial Gym.
  • When Shannon was first building the Gym, she only had three clients and used some of her free time to start this podcast.
  • The Gym is growing and this is the first month Shannon had to reassign two clients to other trainers, because she no longer has time to do their quarterly reviews.
  • Jon went to college for criminal justice and always thought he was going to get into law enforcement, but ended up in loss prevention.
  • Loss prevention is a store’s nice way of saying “Don’t take shit from us”.
  • Recently Jon picked up a side hustle as a DJ at weddings and parties in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, etc. He lives near Boston right now.
  • The New England money tribe is starting up – sign up if you are in the area!
  • Jon’s office is filled with surveillance screens. While he is watching the screens, he listens to podcasts.
  • When Shannon worked at Best Buy, they had the surveillance screens, and the employee watching them, on the sales floor. When she worked there, CDs were the most common item people stole.
  • Jon works at Sears and says the tool area is a hot area to steal from. He has been doing loss prevention for six years and would now like to transition to something like operations. He is open to new opportunities.
  • Other than this podcast, he listens to Listen Money Matters, Dave Ramsey (previously), Chris Hogan, Clark Howard, Taz and the Moose, The Steve Austin Show, Tony Robbins, Ultimate Health – a little bit of everything.
  • Jon isn’t a Gym client, but he has been thinking about it for the last few months.
  • Shannon has nine new trainers starting within the next couple of weeks.
  • Questions from the financially naked discovery questions:
  • Birthday: June 17, 1991
  • Employer: Sears
  • Salary: $52,000
  • Pay Cycle: Bi-Weekly
  • DJ: Pays per gig; approx $15,000/year
  • Sears Net Pay: $1,350/paycheck; $2,600/month
  • Checking account: $1,100
  • Cash: $600
  • Credit Union Savings/Emergency account: $500
  • Marcus Savings: $100
  • Acorns: $1,430
  • Vanguard Roth IRA: $3,881
  • Work 401(k): $1,700
  • HSA: $3,000
  • Student Loan #1: $17,696.94
  • Student Loan #2: $6,445.34
  • Student Loan #3: $1,174.26
  • Original student loan was about $39,000 – now down about $14,000
  • One student loan interest is 6.8% and the other two are 5%
  • AmEx Credit Card: $87.23 (10% interest)
  • BOA Credit Card: $710 (12.99% interest)
  • Apple/Barclay Credit Card: $800 (0% interest for 24 months)
  • Jon calls his credit card companies every few months to ask for a lower interest rate.
  • Jon pays off his credit cards every month and doesn’t pay interest
  • Credit Score: 737
  • Car Loan: $12,000 (2.9% interest; $241 per month)
  • Rent: $825/month for a studio
  • Renters Insurance: None
  • Car Insurance: $540 every six months
  • Disability Insurance: Yes, through work
  • Life Insurance: 3x annual salary through work
  • Will/Trust: No
  • Children: None
  • Pets: None
  • Average Monthly Expenses: $1,500 – $1,800
  • Goals: Transition to operations or public speaking with a company.
  • Mini-goal: Podcasting or blogging about his experience with little savings ideas and tips
  • Goals 3-5 years: Owning a multi-family home and living in part of it while renting out the rest
  • Goals long-term: marriage and kids
  • What’s important to you (sacred cows): Freedom/travel/flexibility
  • Jon has been in debt repayment mode where he minimizes expenses and pours as much money as he can into his debts.
  • Trainers at the Financial Gym prioritize emergency funds. If you don’t have the cash when an emergency happens, you will end up with debt on your credit card at a high interest. Fund it at three to six months of expenses. For Jon, it would be a minimum of $5,000, ideally $10,000.
  • Shannon recommends that Jon make more money.
  • After your Naked Session at the Gym your Financial Gym trainer will calculate how much you need to reach your goals and tell you how much you need to make.
  • On average, Financial Gym clients make about $5,000 to $20,000 more, within the first year of working with a trainer.
  • Lindsey is the Gym’s salary negotiating expert.

Takeaway:My biggest takeaway is that when your monthly budget doesn’t leave a whole lot for the extras you want in life, set out to make more money. We see our clients at the Gym get $5,000 to $50,000 salary increases just by setting out on the journey to make more. As a side note, Jon literally joined the Gym right after we ended our call. I’m so glad that he’s officially part of the FinGym family, and I can’t wait to see what he accomplishes!

Random Three Questions

  1. Where is somewhere you would like to travel?
  2. What is a show you like to binge-watch?
  3. If you were a wrestler, what would your entrance theme be?

Bonus Question for Shannon: Where would you like to go on vacation for a week?

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. 

As many of you know, we increased our rates in 2019 for new clients, but I have instituted a 15% discount for Martinis and Your Money listeners going forward, so the new rates will not impact you. If you’re ready to manifest your dreams, like Jon, in 2019, head over to, or send friends to, financialgym.com to lock in your low rates today.

2018 Year-End Review with the Happy Hour Ladies

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2018 Year-End Review 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 the happy hour on the podcast where I gather great friends with me to drink cheap drinks and talk about money topics. Not only is it the last Friday of the month, but it’s the last Friday of the YEAR, so welcome to our third annual end-of-year Happy Hour special. The ladies and I are going to share our highs and lows of 2018 with you and then set out our plans for 2019. I hope you enjoy!

What are we drinking?

Melanie from Dear Debt — Vodka Martini (vodka and dry vermouth)

Tonya from Budget and the Beach — Chardonnay

Liz, Mrs. Frugalwoods, from Frugalwoods.com — Black Box Red Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon

Shannon — Tito’s vodka, club soda, and a splash of cranberry

Podcast Notes

  • This is the third year-end review with the Happy Hour ladies (click for 2016 and 2017 podcasts). This includes highs and lows of the year and goals for the new year.
  • What were your 2018 highs and lows?
    • Melanie: Highs include Lola Retreat in NYC this past spring, doing this podcast and catching up with the ladies, her cats, and the Ratchet Ride on Tuesdays and Thursdays (spinning class). Melanie is on a self-love journey right now – to love herself, be alone, and find out what she wants. Lows include dating too soon, departing from a friend, and practicing good boundaries. All of the highs have a corresponding low. It has been a great re-building year.
    • Liz: Highs include the safe and healthy birth of her second daughter,  watching her girls grow and her husband be a father, publishing her book (Meet the Frugalwoods), and promoting her book on NPR and PBS. A low is not having enough time to devote to her blog, Frugalwoods.com. A high and low is the postpartum depression she went through. It was a low going through it, but it was a high to get back to feeling normal and back to enjoying life. Other highs are enjoying the homestead and feeling more confidence in what they are doing and an ongoing building of resiliency and self-sufficiency. Another low is the frustration of not getting everything done, like answering emails and messages and being digitally unorganized.
    • Tonya: Lows include work. She is just trying to figure it out. Being too future focused has been giving her anxiety and she hasn’t felt like she has been present in the moment. Tonya is hard on herself and feels like she is trying to beat others to it. She is realizing that she is not being compassionate with herself. Highs include rediscovering beach volleyball, having a greater appreciation for L.A. as she was getting ready to leave, realizing the support system she has in her friends, and saving enough to have a cushion for a big move. A high and low was moving to Boise. She followed through with it and she is trying to learn the lessons the city and the experience are teaching her. Shannon said Tonya has been doing some part-time work for the Financial Gym and has been a lifesaver for Alicia, the COO of the Financial Gym.
    • Shannon: Highs include opening the headquarters Gym in February and appearing on the Today Show. The Gym is always a high and low. They Gym now has over 1,300 clients and continues to grow, and they recently hired nine new trainers. All of the new trainers were manifesting dreams of working for the Gym. There are now 26 full-time people employed through the Gym, plus 10 part-time/contracted people. Lows include the months of April and May, personally and at the Gym. There were a lot of challenges and lower performance that arose during and after those months. It was hard to learn those lessons. Shannon is learning that not all quarters are going to be great, even if you are an overachiever. Tonya said that Michelle Obama’s new book, Becoming, talks about this exact topic (accomplishing).
  • Review of 2018 goals
    • Shannon: 2018 goals included opening the larger flagship Gym in February (check!), opening two more Gyms (no), and raising at least $8 million in Series A (no). Those two things will be pushed for goals in 2019.
    • Melanie: 2018 goals included continuing to build the Lola Retreat brand and doing more events (check!), scaling back on writing a little, having more long-term clients, focusing on personal well-being and mental health, cultivating a sense of wonder, staying curious, focusing on joy and pleasure, becoming a better listener, being more mindful and present, and finding peace. She has done a lot of these things and improved a lot in work-life balance.
    • Tonya: 2018 goals included doing things that scare you (check!), some domestic travel, saving more, and holding a goal-setting party.
    • Liz: 2018 goals included keeping everybody alive (check, except for Frugal Hound), promoting her new book, balancing having a baby with a book release, being realistic about what can be accomplished, and enjoying infant-hood of the new baby.
  • What are your 2019 goals?
    • Tonya: She would like to find work she enjoys, is meaningful, and that pays well, whether that’s working at home, full-time, part-time, in Boise or L.A, it is to be determined. “Pays well” to her means $100,000. She is a video producer and editor, as well as a podcast producer and editor, and she has been doing billing for the Financial Gym. She is looking for freelance work as well as full-time work. Contact Tonya here. Next year, she is focusing on mastering her mind. She is not setting big goals, but what she can do every single day to get 1% better, including being more self-compassionate. Boise is teaching her kindness and she wants to take that with her wherever she goes in life.
    • Melanie: She was watching the Red Table Talk today, where Jada was talking being emotionally independent and not relying on others for her happiness and worth. This is what Melanie wants to continue working on for 2019, where she relies on herself and re-evaluates her expectations of other people. She wants to continue to build Lola Retreat – it will be in L.A. and Seattle in 2019 – and hopefully hold three dinners and brunches, continue to write, and get a second book deal. Melanie wants to become more mindful and present. She would love to continue to do her spinning class two to three times a week and get physically stronger.
    • Liz: She wants to continue to enjoy her children, be present, and see the humor in it. She would like to carve out time for Frugalwoods and accept that she cannot do all that she wants to do. Liz wants to get into better shape, lose the baby weight, and feel better through more hiking, snowshoeing, and yoga. She needs to buy clothing that fits, which she hasn’t done in four years. She has been pregnant and breastfeeding and living in hand-me-downs. Her weight is similar, but her body is different then it was two kids ago. She wants really nice leggings, a couple of wool hiking dresses, and a necklace. She wants to do something about her hair – it is too long.
    • Shannon: She needs to raise about $10 to $15 million. If she gets the money in April/May, her goal is to open at least four Gyms next year. If she gets the money after June, she would like to open two Gyms. The order is DC and L.A., and then Dallas and Atlanta. Personally, she is focused on developing more as a leader and getting an executive coach. She is always working on her relationship with her son, Will, while balancing working full-time.
  • Cheers to 2019! Happy New Year!

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is to take the time and reflect on this past year of your life. I am sure there were highs and lows. I hope your highs outweighed your lows, but if they didn’t, there is always a new year to be hopeful for. Set some big goals for 2019 and keep me posted on your progress! I always love getting notes from you about how you are doing with your personal and financial goals.

If you want to work with my team at the Financial Gym to help you achieve your 2019 goals, you only have a few more days to lock in our 2018 rates, as our rates for new clients are going up in 2019. You don’t have to start your membership until January 2019, but you need to sign up before the end of this year. So head over to, or send friends to, financialgym.com to sign up today.

If you have any topics you would like for us to talk about during happy hour, please feel free to email me at shannon@finblonde.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!!

Millennial Money Survey with Kelly Lannan

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The team at Fidelity has always had a special place in my heart. For those of you who may not know, when we opened our first small Gym location and had a shoe string budget, Fidelity actually sponsored the gym opening because they loved how we help women and young people, and really all people, manage their finances better. So I’m excited to welcome back to the show Kelly Lannan, Director of Young Investors at Fidelity, to talk about their recent Millennial Money Survey and what themes she sees from her travels and talks with young people about money.

What Are We Drinking?

Kelly — Aquafina water bottle (refilled)

Shannon — Black Cherry Schweppes and club soda

Podcast Notes

  • Kelly never imagined herself in financial services. She thought she had to like math and be good at math to work in the industry.
  • Kelly was a double major in history and political science in college and was also one credit away from being a music minor. 
  • After graduation, she had an epiphany. She needed money to have fun, so Kelly went into the restaurant industry for a few years.
  • It was when Kelly went to grad school to get her MBA, that she started considering a career in financial services. It was mostly because of the students she met while she was in her MBA program. It opened her eyes to the opportunities available.
  • Kelly has been in her current role at Fidelity for three years. It was powerful to her to be able to help people. She was previously on this podcast in October 2016.
  • There are a lot of things in the financial services you learn on the job. Everyone should work in the restaurant industry at some point in their career. 
  • Kelly does a lot of college campus tours. College students are now Gen Z. About half of the students she interacts with are interested. The other half are there because they want extra credit or because they were dragged there by a friend.
  • She can get students excited by using personal stories. It’s about letting this age group know that, at the end of the day, everything you want to in life, you need money to do so, it is something everyone can relate to.
  • The Gym doesn’t partner with colleges or go to college campuses, because it doesn’t really hit home, until you are making financial decisions that impact your life. There is a college program at the Gym, but there are only a handful of people in it – typically those with a side hustle or working.
  • When it comes to working, many in Gen Z are actively pursuing the gig economy, where they may not have access to benefits, such as retirement. YouTube is their biggest form of social media. They will need to look for opportunities to save for retirement.
  •  The Gym has a significant Millennial population. 
  • This is the third Millennial Money study, and Fidelity focused on Millennials ages 22 through 37 throughout the country. The study found that Millennials do care about their health and happiness, but they are very mindful about their future financial security. It was found that 66% of Millennials said saving for their future was just as gratifying as living in the moment today.
  • Shannon sees this with her Millennial clients, where they want to be prepared for their future.
  • The survey showed that priorities included: paying essential living expenses, having an emergency fund, and saving for retirement.
  • Beyond financial health, young adults really emphasized their mental and physical health. About 25% said their mental health (therapy and counseling) was an essential expense. Compared to Gen X and Boomers, this is a much larger expense.
  • Gym trainers see many clients list sacred cows as gym memberships and therapists/life coaches.
  • The survey found that over 60% said social media had a negative effect on their financial well-being. Over 20% said FOMO, fear of missing out, was the number one thing that was driving them to splurge. It’s not just keeping up with friends, but celebrities.
  • FOMO is a bigger issue than YOLO (you only live once).
  • Our phones make it so easy to spend money! Put some parameters in place to make you pause. 
  • Top four tips from Fidelity: (1) set boundaries around spending. Social media does not show the full picture; (2) Set goals and a plan to achieve them; (3) Mindful spending. Make sure you are spending on things you really care about; (4) Never hesitate to ask for help.
  • Turn FOMO into JOMO – the JOY of missing out. #JOMO
  • What are your sacred cows? What two to three expenses would you protect? You cannot have a herd of them. The biggest problem clients have is knowing where their money is going. It is so easy to spend. 
  • Most people are not managing their money well, so drop the shame and learn from people who are managing it well. Ask around and keep looking for what works for you. 
  • Fidelity created mymoney website to clear out the jargon and help Millennials find what they are looking for. 
  • Fidelity recently introduced the Zero Funds that eliminates all account minimums, all fees, and allows you to open an account with no money. Fidelity is also eliminating the expense ratio in their index funds and giving it back to customers. This is unique in the industry.
  • Investing gives your money more potential to grow. These Zero Funds remove some barriers. Fidelity lowered the minimum on their robo-advisor, Fidelity Go, from $5,000 to $10 to open and fund an account.
  • A common theme of Millennials is a fear of investing, because they watched their parents lose money in 2008 and 2009. The only way to keep up with inflation is by investing it. 
  • Millennials are living their best life, but they care about their future. They are saving and investing. 

Takeaway: My biggest takeaway is the word of warning around the concept of FOMO. At the Financial Gym, we are frequently talking about JOMO or the Joy of Missing Out. We all have to make choices in our life when it comes to money, and missing out on something at present isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It frequently means that you’re giving yourself the opportunity to experience an even greater joy down the road.

Random Three Questions

  1. What is your most used emoji?
  2. If a movie was made about your life, what would the genre be and who would play you?
  3. What was your least favorite food as a child and do you still hate it?

Connect with Fidelity

Website: fidelity.com/stack

If you’d like a little help managing your FOMO, my financial trainers are
the ultimate BFF, best financial friend, to help you with that. I want to let you know that if you’ve ever thought about joining the Gym, you really need to consider signing up before the end of the year. A little insider tip for all of you listeners is that our rates are going up January 1, but if you sign up for before the end of 2018, you can lock in our rates now. You don’t have to start your membership until January 2019, but you need to sign up before the end of this year. So head over to, or send friends to, financialgym.com to lock in your low rates today.

And until next time, take care!!

Her Money with Jean Chatzky

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Her Money with Jean Chatzky

I know dozens, hundreds of people in the personal finance space, but there are really only a handful of them that I look up to, and Jean Chatzky is one of those people. Jean started her career as a journalist and then grew to write personal finance books, appear on Oprah, become the finance editor of the Today Show, and now she runs the Her Money media brand, which is growing by the minute. Jean joins me today to talk about her career progression and why she’s taking on such a big challenge at this stage in her career.

What are we drinking?

Jean — Chardonnay

Shannon — Malbec

Podcast Notes

  • Shannon has been a huge fan of Jean since the Oprah Winfrey Show. When Shannon was an advisor for Merrill Lynch, she saw Jean on the train platform in her neighborhood. Shannon got to her desk, looked up Jean online, sent her a message, and they met for coffee to discuss women and money.
  • In high school, Jean was focused on theater. In college, Jean worked for her school paper and loved it. While in school, she built a good journalistic resume and knew she wanted to work in magazine when she graduated.
  • After graduation, Jean was hired at Working Woman’s magazine as an editorial assistant to the business editor.
  • Jean wanted to be a fact-checker at Forbes like her friend, but they didn’t think Working Woman’s magazine was serious enough experience and basically told her she needed to go back and get her MBA. Jean didn’t want to go back to school and get into debt, so she applied for jobs on Wall Street.
  • Jean worked at Dean Witter for a couple of years in equity research, because she could apply her writing skills, but also learn about finance.
  • Barbara Corcoran’s first book was called Use What You’ve Got. You don’t always need a higher degree. Figure out how to get to the job you want with the skills you already have. Are you going to bring it every day and are you going to get along with other people?
  • After working for Dean Witter, Jean went back to Forbes and interviewed with the same person and showed him what she had done. He offered her a job.
  • She worked for Forbes as a fact-checker for a year and a half and then moved to Smart Money to work as a writer. While there, Jean started doing television. Her theater background helped and her dad ran television stations when she was growing up and she was able to see the TV anchors as people.
  • Jean wrote a book called Pay it Down, and she was working on a television series called the Debt Diet. She pitched Oprah on a TV show about helping people get out of debt.
  • Louis Uchitelle wrote an article about how Americans own less of their home than in previous generations and are in credit card debt and student loan debt.
  • On the Oprah series, Jean and a couple of others were given six months to work with families to help get them on the right track.
  • Debt is growing. Lenders are offering more and more financing to people. Many people get laid off in January, so be careful of spending and holiday debt.
  • Shannon downsized her life to start her business and help people get out of debt. What do you value? What are your sacred cows? You can have two or three, but you can’t have a herd of cows.
  • The top three spending areas the Financial Gym sees are Amazon, Uber, and Seamless for New York clients and CVS or Duane Reade in other areas. These are not usually the sacred cows.
  • Jean recently acquired Daily Worth. She is building a brand that is bigger than her. We need more voices and a platform where women can come and know that they can get straightforward, judgement-free, quality personal finance advice and information.
  • She acquired the assets of Daily Worth, which is a long-standing personal finance website and incorporated it into Her Money newsletter, podcast, and website. She is looking to do more and more to give the community of women more of what they want and need. Listeners are going for the meat, not the dessert, such as investing, earning more, work-life balance, and stuff that really matters.
  • Jean feels the need to build something bigger.
  • To find and follow Jean, go to hermoney.com, or text 888111, and Breadcrumbs will ask for your email and get you signed up.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to pivot your career. You can actually make money while doing it, rather than taking on student loan debt. Try like Jean to get on-the-job experience in an area you want to work in. I love her story and advise clients to do the same thing, and I think you should consider it as well.

Random Three Questions 

  1. What is a food you hated as a kid and do you hate it now?
  2. What do you do to relax?
  3. If this was your last night on earth, what would your last meal be?

Connect with Jean

Website: Her Money

Website: Jean Chatzky

Podcast: Her Money

Book: Pay It Down! Debt-Free on $10 a Day

Last CallNetworking

If you’ve ever thought about joining the Gym, you really need to consider signing up before the end of the year. A little insider tip for all of you listeners is that our rates are going up on January 1, for new clients. If you sign up before the end of 2018, you can lock in our rates now. You don’t have to start your membership until January 2019, but you need to sign up before the end of 2018. Head over to, or send friends to,  financialgym.com to lock in your low rates today.

 

Getting Naked with the Cash Sisters

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Getting Naked with the Cash Sisters

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 that 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, I shared my financially naked session so this group could start dropping any fear or shame they had around their money. Well, podcast listener and Facebook Group member Dylan suggested I share more naked sessions on the podcast because mine really helped her open up about money with her friends. This is now officially part of the show. I’ve done two naked sessions with employees of the Gym and this is our first non-Gym employee naked session, and it’s actually a two-fer. You’re getting two naked sessions in one, as our clients, Caet and Samantha Cash, share their details with you. I hope you enjoy.

What are we drinking?

Samantha — Pabst Blue Ribbon

Caet — Black Box Chardonnay

Shannon —  Bota Box Malbec

Podcast Notes

  • Samantha had recently switched to a civil engineering position in upstate New York, when she started listening to this podcast. She was making more money and needed help figuring out what to do with it, so she joined the Gym. She found this podcast through Listen Money Matters, about two years ago.
  • Samantha’s trainer is Joy and she is a saver.
  • Samantha’s life goal was to hike the Appalachian trail, like her sister Caet. She didn’t have a timeframe on it until Joy wrote it in her plan.
  • Samantha took six months off work and started the hike on April 26. The trail is 2,089.9 miles. She was the recipient of Gym Magic funds, because she was raising money for Casting for Recovery, which is a charity that sends women with breast cancer, or recovering from breast cancer, on free fly fishing retreats. Samantha visited the Gym after she finished the trail and met Shannon and the other trainers in person.
  • Caet lives in Asheville, NC, and she is a spender. She joined the Gym after her sister and her trainer is also Joy. Caet is a wilderness guide and she works for a small, women-owned hiking company.
  • Samantha bought Caet a gift certificate for the Gym, but Caet hesitated on joining. She was having difficulty getting her finances in order after she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail last summer, which was 2,650 miles. Their mother is an avid walker from NYC, and their father is a woodsman.
  • All of Caet’s hikes are solo, except she and Samantha did the last 277 miles of the Appalachian Trail together.
  • They are both avid podcast listeners and they did not share their numbers with each other prior to this show.
  • Samantha wasn’t nervous for her first financially naked session, but Caet was terrified and cried afterwards. Sam was told to spend money and Caet was told she needed to make more money.
  • Questions from the financially naked discovery questions for Samantha:
    • Employer: A small engineering firm
    • Current Salary: $60,000
    • Monthly Take-Home Pay: $3,500
    • Birthday: 6/15/88
    • Emergency, High-Interest Savings Account: $10,700
    • Checking Accounts: $4,000
    • Betterment (House Goal): $14,000
    • Betterment IRA: $2,900
    • 401k: $8,000
    • AT&T Stock (gift): $1,500
    • Government Saving Bonds: $1,000
    • Student Loan Debt: $10,000
    • Mortgage: N/A
    • Bank of America Travel Rewards: $0
    • Citi Double Cash: $0
    • Credit Score: $760
    • Own or Rent: Renting a room in a house
    • Monthly Rent: $600
    • Renter’s Insurance: No
    • Life Insurance: No
    • Disability Insurance: Yes, through her job
    • Will or Trust: No
    • Children: No
    • Average Monthly Expenses: $1,200
    • Current Monthly Saving: $2,300; Her savings rate is 46%
    • 1-3 Year Goals: Write a book with her sister about their trail experiences; a new car; a canoe
    • 3-5 Year Goals: Purchase a house in the Catskills
    • What is important to you (sacred cows)? Family, experiences, travel
  • Questions from the financially naked discovery questions for Caet:
    • Employer: Blue Ridge Hiking Company
    • Birthday: 3/2/90
    • Current Salary: $25,000
    • Freelance Writing: $3,000 per year
    • Monthly Take-Home Pay: $2,000 – $2,500
    • Checking Accounts: $6,500
    • Emergency Fund: $4,500
    • Investment Accounts: No
    • Retirement Savings: No
    • Student Loan Debt: $36,000
    • Mortgage: N/A
    • Personal Loan: $4,000
    • Credit Score Now: 655
    • Credit Score in January: 595
    • Own or Rent: Lives in a van in the Appalachian mountains
    • Current Monthly Rent: N/A
    • Renter’s Insurance: N/A
    • Life Insurance: No
    • Long-Term Disability: No
    • Disability Insurance: No
    • Will or Trust: Yes, a will
    • Children: No
    • Average Monthly Expenses: $1,000
    • 1-3 Year Goals: Write a book with her sister; build a website around the book; grow the company she works for, so she can make more money
    • 3-5 Year Goals: Hike the North Country Trail; build a yurt in the woods
    • What is important to you (sacred cows)? Family, personal and professional success, making a difference as a woman who is in the outdoor industry

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is the importance of living a life, and setting goals, that are true to you. You don’t need to make six figures and live in a big home to find happiness. Connect with what truly makes you happy and the money will figure itself out.

Random Three Questions

  1. Do you have any trails you want to hike outside of the US?
  2. What shows do you like to binge watch? What is your entertainment in the van?
  3. If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it?

If you’d like to get financially naked with my team and drop any fear or shame you have around your money, I hope you’ll reach out to us at the Financial Gym. My trainers have literally seen it all so nothing will surprise them. We don’t care how you got here, we just care about getting you where you want to go. Head to financialgym.com to sign up for a free warm up call to find out more.