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Getting Financially Naked with Tai and Jordan

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Getting Financially Naked with Tai and Jordan

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.

Today’s naked session is a super special one for me. Not only is the person in the hot seat one of my trainers, but she also brought her husband along for the ride. This is actually our first couples’ naked session with both partners present and fully financially naked. My trainer Tai is a financial work in progress, like many of us, and I give her mad props and respect for sharing her numbers, even though she is relatively early on in her own financial wellness journey. She did this because she wants to help others and I know this will. 

What Are We Drinking?

Tai — Rosé

Jordan — Old Fashioned

Shannon — Simply Grapefruit, Vodka, and Schweppes Club Soda

Podcast Notes

  • Tai is a trainer at the Financial Gym. She interviewed and was in the T2 training class in September 2017 and everybody fell in love with her. 
  • Everyone was excited, but when they gave her an offer letter, Tai turned it down because she wasn’t ready to move forward. She needed more time.
  • After that, she and Jordan joined the Gym. 
  • When the next trainer class started, Tai was ready for it. On her first day, Shannon was waiting at the front door and Tai was crying happy tears. She was unhappy at her job because of changes that were being made and she kept seeing all of the great things the Gym was doing on Instagram.
  • Knowing that it was finally a reality, and they wanted her to work at the Gym even though she turned them down, it was a huge sigh of relief. 
  • Tai and Jordan went to high school together 19 years ago. They met in their freshman year, but they didn’t date.
  • After high school they kept in touch through social media and about eight years ago, they talked back and forth because of a status Tai posted. They moved to messaging each other and then to talking on the phone. 
  • From there they started dating, they got engaged after a year, and they got married a year later. They have been married for five years now.
  • They both went to Brooklyn Tech, which has about 4,000 students. Tai thought he was cute, but she doesn’t remember much else, because she only saw him about four times the entire time they went to school there. They didn’t have any classes together, but they played spades together and she thought he was funny. It was always easy to be around him.
  • When they reconnected, they started cracking jokes and they haven’t stopped. 
  • Before they got married, they did premarital counseling with their pastor and there was a lot of talk about communication, but only 10 minutes about money.
  • Neither of them had a strong background with money growing up. It wasn’t really talked about.
  • Tai’s grandma and her dad were good with money, but they didn’t teach her anything. Her parents have been separated for most of her life and didn’t get married until about four or five years ago. 
  • Tai has a vivid memory of a day when the cable or lights were cut off and her mom was hysterical and upset about it, because she wasn’t expecting that to happen. Tai learned that money was stressful.
  • On the flip side, Tai’s grandma was paying bills and she had a credit card limit of $20,000. 
  • Jordan’s mom was a single parent with two kids — a younger brother and himself. She never showed that she was stressed out about money. Now he realizes how much she did for them.
  • Jordan’s mom used to have a big jar of coins and it was filled to the brim. One day they started counting the coins. His mom made a game of who could wrap the most coins. Jordan was about 10 and his brother was around 5 years old. The total was somewhere over $300, and he didn’t realize they were doing it because she had to make rent that month and she didn’t have enough money. 
  • Jordan learned to rob Peter to pay Paul to make things work financially. 
  • Financial literacy needs to start in the home and most people are just stressed out about it.
  • The best lesson Shannon learned from her mom was the value of hard work. Her mom had five kids at home and always had three jobs.
  • The month before they got married, Tai opened up a bunch of credit cards to cover incidentals for the wedding.
  • They were 28 when they got married and both went from living with their parents to living together. They never lived together or on their own before they were married.
  • They each paid a few bills for their parents, but they never paid rent or all of the bills.
  • About six months after they were married, they had a late payment notice on their door. Tai missed a rent payment, because she didn’t have enough money. She swore that it would never happen again, because it was scary. 
  • About two years after they were married, Tai discovered Dave Ramsey. She didn’t realize people talked about money and that there were ways to get out of debt. She went full steam ahead, dragging Jordan along with her kicking and screaming. 
  • They listened to the podcast, they taught Financial Peace University at their church two times, and she got a better job.
  • When they were first married, Tai was working as an assistant. Then she changed companies and was promoted to a sales rep. She got used to commission checks on top of her base pay.
  • Tai makes less at her job now than she did at her previous company, and she has more money saved here than she did before. It isn’t all about income, it is all about managing it and your savings and lifestyle.
  • They never had talked about money before. Jordan was uncomfortable talking about it. He was hesitant, because of the fear of confronting his failures.
  • About five years ago, Jordan was almost 400 pounds and it happened quick. One day he just noticed that he was overweight and he wondered what happened. It was the same with money for him. 
  • He was carefree and he didn’t want to stop enjoying himself. He didn’t want to face his own mess.
  • The shame around money is unnecessary, because there was no way you could have known. For most of Americans, there is no reason you should be good with money. You didn’t talk about it and you didn’t learn about it. Since money is such a big part of our lives we assume that we should just be good with it.
  • About 95 percent of people who do a warm-up call are women. Many times they get push back from a spouse.
  • Tai and Jordan’s financially naked session with their trainer last October was terrifying. Tai understands why clients are so anxious about it. She was the one who had all of the numbers, but relinquishing that information makes it known to another person.
  • Having someone else look at every single thing you do and ask you questions about it is awkward in the beginning. Crystal was able to bring them into a place of comfort and made it a very open and honest place that was safe and non judgmental. 
  • When you talk about money, someone else is going to want to have an opinion. Whether you agree with it or not, you are going to feel defensive about it, because it is not their money. 
  • People think that when they come to the Gym the trainer is going to be very judgmental. There is so much emotion that is being brought into the room and that first session can be intense. 
  • You not looking at your numbers is like you eating a bunch of stuff around the holidays and not stepping on a scale. When you step on the scale, that makes it real. When Tai and Jordan got their plan, it felt like they stepped on the scale and realized that things were not where she thought they were. Tai felt like they had been doing it all wrong.
  • You make decisions that seem like the best one at the time and then they all add up. 
  • You need to make conscious decisions and when you stop doing that it starts to add up.
  • Tai and Jordan had a setback during their second quarter and Tai tried to get out of doing this podcast because of the shame she was feeling. 
  • Shannon doesn’t want perfect financially naked episodes, because most stories are imperfect. They are about progress not perfection. Just like getting physically healthy, it is a lifelong journey. It is not always going to be all A’s. Even the A students have setbacks.
  • If you need accountability, the Financial Gym wants to be on the journey with you. The quarterly review is the weigh in.
  • It typically takes about a year for clients to hit their emergency savings goal. Most people don’t have emergency funds. If it takes you a year instead of nine months, you are still ahead of the game.
  • If you have setback, it’s okay. Things happen. Get it out of your system and then focus.
  • Questions from the financially naked discovery questionnaire:
    • Birthday: Tai 6/5/86; Jordan 3/18/86
    • Job: Tai – Financial Gym; Jordan – NYPD
    • Salary: Tai $60,000; Jordan $51,000
    • Net Pay: Tai $1,900/twice a month; Jordan $2,500/month
    • Checking account: Tai $200; Jordan $20
    • Checking account (joint): $0.90 (rent was just paid)
    • Ally Savings: $7,848 (up from $1,200 in Oct 2018); goal is $10,000
    • Retirement: Tai $5,500 (rollover IRA); Jordan $40,000 (pension)
    • Mortgage: Not yet
    • Student Loan: Tai $34,270; Jordan $0
    • AmEx: Tai $1,000; Jordan $0
    • Personal Loan: $26,595 (transferred from credit cards); $622/month; Previously the minimum monthly payment on the credit cards was $686.
    • Personal Loan: $156/month; $10,000 for the car
    • Pension Loan: $160/month pre-tax; $14,869 for the car
    • Auto Insurance: $128/month
    • Net Worth Increase: $15,000 in six months
    • Credit Score: Tai 802; Jordan 723
    • Rent/Utilities: $1,058/month 
    • Renters Insurance: $13/month
    • Health Insurance: Yes, through Jordan’s job
    • Will: No
    • Children: No
    • Tithe: Tai 10% gross; Jordan 10% net
    • Average Monthly Expenses: $3,000
    • Goals 1-5 years: Tai – buying a house, traveling more, knocking out debt; Jordan – kids, house, knocking out debt, financial security
    • Goals long-term: Tai – purchasing multiple properties, ability to help parents financially, saving for kids’ education; Jordan – helping his mom financially, traveling with their kids, providing for his children
    • What’s important to you (sacred cows): Tai – tithing and travel; Jordan – tithing and entertainment (including wrestling, games, and movies)
  • The setback during the second quarter is that they got sloppy with their credit cards. They were supposed to be on a credit card fast, but they don’t always do what Crystal tells them to do. Things got tight and they charged their credit card and didn’t talk about it.
  • They had to take about $1,200 out of the emergency fund to clear Jordan’s credit card. A year ago, she wouldn’t have had the money to cover it.
  • Clients forget where they were a year ago. Trainers need to keep that memory alive to show clients how far they have come. 
  • Personal loans are like lapband surgery. Either you are going to clean up the debt and have better behaviors going forward, or you are going to take the weight off and gain it back, because of credit card availability.
  • Tai has always been good about always paying at least the minimum on things and not being late, but not good about having a cushion.

Takeaway: My biggest takeaway is that the path to financial wellness is not linear and is not direct. You will have ups and downs, you will move backward and forward, and all sorts of directions. This is why it is important to remember that it is progress over perfection. Trust the journey no matter how difficult it gets for you. I promise that you will get results.

Random Three Questions

  1. What is a move you can watch over and over again and not get sick of?
  2. What is your favorite meal?
  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 money, I hope you’ll reach out to us at the Financial Gym. My trainers have literally seen it all, and Tai is a great example that they’ve lived 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 Tai and Jordan in 2019, head over to or send friends to, financialgym.com to get signed up today.

Investing Revisited with the Happy Hour Ladies

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Investing Revisited 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. We’ve been doing these weekly happy hours for quite some time, and we’re always cognizant to try to pick fresh topics that we’ve never addressed before on the show.

I knew that we spoke about investing in the past during a happy hour, but a few tidbits from a conversation with Mrs. Frugalwoods made me think that we should revisit this topic having a gut feeling that the conversation would be fresh. Well, as you’ll hear in this show, we were all shocked to find out that it’s been over four years since we talked about investing on the happy hour and you better believe the conversation was fresh. I hope you enjoy hearing our investing experiences.

What are we drinking?

Melanie from Dear Debt — Coffee Martini (Cold brew, kahlua, and vodka)

Tonya from Budget and the Beach — Merlot

Liz, Mrs. Frugalwoods, from Frugalwoods.com — Caramel Vodka and Seltzer

Shannon —  Boxed Rosé

Podcast Notes

  • The last time the Happy Hour ladies talked about investing was April 24, 2015 (Ladies Talk Investing – Happy Hour 4).
  • At the time, Liz had her husband handle all of the investing, Melanie wasn’t debt free and wasn’t able to invest yet, and Shannon had all of her money invested in the Financial Gym.
  • All of the ladies are in different places now.
  • Shannon was disappointed when, before, Liz said she wasn’t really involved in their investments.
  • Liz’s introduction to money management was debt aversion, being frugal, and saving money, which doesn’t lead well into investing.
  • The thought of investing was very scary to Liz, because the market goes up and down, and it was difficult for her. She originally started investing by contributing to her employer’s 403(b) and maxing it out.
  • Liz does total market index fund investing and it is not complicated. You own a little piece of everything in the market and it is a good aspect of diversification.
  • If you have your debt paid off, if you have an emergency fund, if you have retirement savings, the next step is investing. That could be through the stock market or real estate. This is where you grow wealth.
  • The Financial Gym has a webinar available on-demand called Investing 101. In this webinar, Shannon goes through the reasons why you should invest.
  • Liz started getting more involved in investing within the last four years, because of her blog. She has pretty straightforward investments. Usually the best things to invest in are the simplest – buy and hold.
  • It is hard for people to accept that the most boring answer is the best answer.
  • Fidelity did a study that showed dead investors performed the best. They literally set it and forget it. The only caveat is to rebalance as you go along.
  • Think of wealth as a tree. When you start investing, the trunk is your core portfolio, whether in a brokerage account or a retirement account or both. You want to create a really strong foundation for your tree. It is going to be boring, but sturdy and supportive. Once it it starts to grow and take root, then you have the tree branches which include cryptocurrency, individual stocks, and commodities.
  • Liz has four different index funds through Fidelity. She likes them because their fees are low.
  • Pick a site that is the easiest to figure out. You want it to be easy when you go to their website.
  • The website Acorns invests your change. If you use a service like this, ask about their fees and their returns. They invest in low-cost ETFs.
  • If you are not going to feel comfortable picking two or three funds or rebalancing, it is worth it to go through a roboadvisor to do it for you.
  • Ninety percent of your returns are based on your asset allocation. The other 10 percent is based on the actual fund and the fees. The best thing to do is to do it yourself. The next best thing is to use a roboadvisor, because it is better than not investing.
  • The fees are taken out of your investment returns. You don’t actually have to send them a check. If you make a 6 percent return and your fee is .50, you actually make 5.5 percent.
  • If you do a lot of trading and individual stock picking, some of the sites have trading fees and that is where you are actually paying money.
  • As Liz got more engaged with her community, she got more engaged with her own investing.
  • Liz looks at her investment account very infrequently. Her husband looks at them more than her. It is helpful to insulate yourself, especially if you are pretty far from using those funds. Make sure your portfolio matches where you are in life. If you are retiring next year, you need to be in a less aggressive position.
  • For Liz, this is more of a long-term thing and her portfolio is aggressive and weighted for growth. It is set to automatically invest a set amount every month. It insures they are buying consistently and it spreads out the risk, because they are buying at different times throughout the year.
  • The last time they did the investing conversation, Shannon had $50,000 of credit card debt from the Financial Gym and her personal finances were a mess. Since then she straightened out her finances and opened a Betterment account.
  • Shannon started the account with $11,000. In the last year, it was as high as $11,800 and now it is $10,878. In October it was down to $10,200. Sometimes the best way to invest is to just do it.
  • Shannon wants her clients to consistently contribute. Set it and forget it if you don’t need the money anytime soon.
  • When investments are down, it is called unrealized losses, because the losses haven’t really happened. It becomes a realized loss if you sell your investments.
  • If you are really anxious when the market goes down and it is a non-retirement account, when that account does come back to a higher point, you need to consider selling and being more conservative with that money. You don’t want to put yourself into a mental warfare. You don’t want investing to cause more stress in your life.
  • Don’t invest your rent money or grocery money. If you are going to be buying a house in a couple of years, it is probably not a good idea to invest the money. Investing is a long-term proposition.
  • The market has about a two-year cycle. Every two years it will go back to where it was.
  • It took about four years to recover from the 2008/2009 downturn.
  • What is happening this year in the market is a great example to expect the market overall to grow, because there are always new entrants. Uber, Lyft, and Pinterest weren’t listed before and now they are going to contribute to the market. There are always new things happening. It is always evolving.
  • In April 2015, Melanie was still in debt and she got out of debt in December 2015. She was so excited to start investing, but then life happened.
  • In March 2016, she moved back to California, which was expensive, and three months later she had a huge tax bill that wiped out her emergency fund. She was back to ground zero.
  • Her partner at the time wasn’t bringing in any income, so Melanie was taking care of all of the bills.
  • In 2017, it was a similar story and it was the collapse of that relationship. She was a mess and could hardly work and her income went down $20,000. All of the money she thought she was going to be saving and investing didn’t happen as much as she wanted.
  • During this time, Melanie opened a SEP IRA, which is for self-employed people. She also opened a Vanguard account with index funds. Two months after she started investing in Vanguard, she didn’t understand why she wasn’t making any money. She didn’t realize that she had to do another step to purchase the investments.
  • Melanie used to write for Robert at the College Investor, and when she started investing, she emailed him and asked him what to do. He walked her through step by step so she could get started.
  • Roboadvisors invest your money for you. Investing is not easy for everyone. If it is going to cause friction, take away the friction and just choose a roboadvisor. You need to know what is going to work for you and the worst thing to do is to not get invested.
  • Looking at compound interest, you really need as long as you can possibly give yourself in terms of your age versus when you are going to retire.
  • About every seven years, you can expect your portfolio to double, but you need to have your money in there.
  • At the time of the last recording, Tonya had her money invested with an active advisor at Raymond James. In December 2015, she worked with Shannon to move her money. Since it has been moved, there is very little she has done with it, other than adding to it or taking money out of her brokerage account.
  • When Tonya was working full time, she was adding quite a bit of money to a 401(k). Since she has not been working full time, she has not been adding to it and has been taking money out of her brokerage account more than she likes.
  • She checks her Personal Capital account once a month, because she does a tracking spreadsheet. The last month Tonya did her net worth spreadsheet, it was up the highest it had been even when she had a full-time job, which was more than a year ago. Now it is $10,000 less. Most of that is not something she can control, but seeing it keeps her accountable and more in tune with her money.
  • If you are in your mid-60s and are going to retire from your full-time job, on average, you are going to be living to 85 (for women it is 87), according to Social Security. You have another 20 plus years that you need your retirement portfolio to work for you.
  • Many Baby Boomers have been too conservative with their investments and they don’t have enough saved.
  • If you are near retirement, you still need a portion of your portfolio to be aggressive.
  • If you do a rollover of your 401(k) into an IRA, the money gets put into a cash account and you need to invest it from there.
  • Tonya had a financial advisor and now she handles her investments herself. She had never met the advisor in person. Her dad set her up with him, because he is an advisor in her hometown.
  • Tonya understood nothing, when he did her annual review. She had very little interest in learning, because it wasn’t very fun. After she met with her accountant, she was told about the fees she was being charged.
  • When Tonya told her dad that she left Raymond James and invested in Vanguard funds, he said that he did that years ago.
  • Tonya hasn’t done much with her investments. She has let it sit and grow. It makes her feel good that it is there. Tonya is happy she got rid of her advisor. It gives her piece of mind, because she likes to know where her money is and that she has control over it. It is better for her to simplify.
  • The number one challenge with investing is confusion and jargon. There are roboadvisors that you can use to keep it simple and so you don’t have to get in the weeds on it.
  • The number two challenge is to have the money to invest. If you don’t have it, you need to work on budgeting expense management to get to that point.
  • The number three challenge is knowing your different goals. There are different roller coasters for different life goals. Your retirement roller coaster is very extreme. Saving and investing for five to ten year goals is a moderate roller coaster. Investing for two to five years is the kiddie coaster. It is all about knowing what buckets you have.
  • In 2008, some people who were close to retirement were freaking out, because the market went down. The problem wasn’t the market, the problem was that they had the wrong asset allocation. They were on an extreme roller coaster when they had a different goal.
  • If you feel like you don’t know how to open the account or if you have questions, call the 800 number at Fidelity, Vanguard, or your 401(k) provider. It is their job to help you and make sure you are comfortable. If they are not, you need to think about moving your account to somewhere that is helpful.
  • Liz has a 529 plan for each of her kids. She goes back and forth on whether or not they are a good idea. It all depends on your state and your tax situation. It is something to explore and think about it. The other side of it is that you can take out loans for college but not for retirement.
  • You can go on the Social Security website and find out what you can expect to earn.
  • Investor.gov is another good website to use.
  • If you haven’t started investing, or if you feel like you are behind, remember that investing is just one component of your retirement/financial independence. A very large component of it is your lifestyle and the expense choices that you make. Take a deep breath. What you can control is your lifestyle.
  • Your portfolio only needs to be as big as your lifestyle in retirement. If you can start working on a healthier, lower-cost lifestyle, then you do not need as much money. Your lifestyle is totally within your control.
  • Make the effort to be consistent. Even if that means contributing only $50 a month. Keep track of it, but don’t go crazy over it.

TAKEAWAY:My biggest takeaway is that investing is personal and can be personalized. Find the best approach that works for you and stick with it.

If you want to work with my team at the Financial Gym and let my trainers become your new BFF, best financial friend, 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@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!!

Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk with Cameron Huddleston

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Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk with Cameron Huddleston

I get requests almost daily for people to come on my show, specifically to talk about books they’ve written. Most of the time I say no, because I’ve checked out the book and wouldn’t recommend it to my worst enemy, or the topic is not something that I believe all of you would want to hear about.

When my friend Cameron Huddleston reached out to me to tell me she wrote a book, I knew right away I wanted to have her on the show, because this is a book and topic we all need to know about. Cameron is a financial journalist and author of the book Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations with Your Parents About Their Finances. This is a topic that not only hit me personally, as you’ll hear, but also I deal with this a lot in helping my clients plan for their future. If you’re parents are still alive and in your life, this is a podcast you won’t want to miss.

What Are We Drinking?

Cameron — Bourbon on the rocks

Shannon —  Grapefruit Schweppes & Vodka

Podcast Notes

  • Cameron has been a personal finance journalist for 17 years. She has been a journalist for even longer and she never thought she would write a book. 
  • Cameron writes articles that are typically around 1,000 words and writing a book with 50,000 or 60,000 words seemed like so much. Even though she could have written 100 books with all of the articles she has written in her life, the idea of a book just seemed overwhelming. 
  • Cameron went through something in her life and she realized there were a lot of people that were going through something similar, or would be going through something similar, and she could help them by sharing her experience. 
  • It doesn’t matter how old you are, talking to your parents about money is challenging. Money is a taboo topic and people are afraid to have these conversations or they don’t realize they need to have these conversations. 
  • Cameron was 35 when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and one of her big regrets was that she had not talked to her about her finances. 
  • At the time, she was writing for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and she had moved from Washington D.C. to her home state of Kentucky.
  • Cameron was living across the street from her mom and said that she should look into long-term care insurance. Her mom met with an insurance agent and unfortunately, she had another pre-existing health condition that made her too much of a risk.
  • Cameron feels like she should have talked to her mom then about the assets she had to cover long-term care if she needed it.
  • Shannon talks about money all day long and she finds it difficult to talk to her parents about money too. Shannon did talk to her mom about money when her mom moved in with her a few years ago.
  • It is one thing if your parents won’t open up about it, but somebody needs to take care of things if something happens to them. 
  • Shannon has a stepfather who will not talk to her about money. It is her job and she is an expert, but it is still challenging talking to parents about money.
  • It’s not so much about getting the details, it is talking about those financial issues. The Power of Attorney (POA) is really the biggest one, because you need to be mentally competent to sign it.
  • When Cameron saw her mother losing her memory, she told her they needed to go in and update her legal documents. She was competent enough to name Cameron and her sister as her POA and update her will.
  • Meeting with the attorney opened the door to having those conversations, because she gave them suggestions about what they should be doing going forward with her mother and her finances. 
  • Without that POA, Cameron would not have been able to do anything for her mother. 
  • There are different types of POAs, but you want the most robust, where you can open and close accounts. You don’t want a limited one.
  • If you have not talked to your parents about money, you need to start. It doesn’t matter if you are 18 or 60. You need to start having a conversation, because at some point you may need to be involved in what is happening in your parents’ financial life, whether providing financial support or if they become incapacitated.
  • The likelihood of you becoming involved as a child in your parents’ finances is pretty high.
  • If you are not involved in their finances when they are alive, you will probably get involved when they die, because you have to deal with everything they left behind. 
  • When your parents are in good health, have these conversations. You don’t want to have these conversations when there is a crisis because you have fewer options to deal with the crisis. If they have not named you or a sibling or someone else as POA, nobody will be able to step in and help them with their finances or make healthcare decisions without going to court.
  • The cost of the legal documents now is much less than the court costs later.
  • Cameron lists 10 different ways in her book to talk to your parents about money. 
  • If you are in your 20s and just starting out, the best way to do this is to ask your parents for advice. Even if you are in a situation where you are financially savvy and your parents are not, it’s okay. Just pretend. Should I get life insurance? Should I get a will? Should I save for retirement? This will open the door for them to share what they have or haven’t done.
  • You want to be very tactful and respectful in these conversations and you don’t want to push too soon or too hard for details. It isn’t about how much they have in their bank account it’s about where they are banking. You need to know if their bills are paid automatically or if you need to write a check. If something happens to them, you need to make sure those bills get paid.
  • It isn’t “How much have you saved for retirement?” it is “What does retirement look like for you?”
  • If you are in your 30s, you can use a story. By that time you have a story you can share about a friend whose parent died without a will, or a colleague who had to stop working to care for an aging parent.
  • There is a good chance you have a story, or you can borrow one: My friend Shannon’s mother lost her job and couldn’t financially support herself and at 63 she had to move in with Shannon. I want to make sure our family does not end up in a similar situation.
  • Seventy percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Your parents could likely be in this boat and what happens if it is before the ability to collect Social Security? How are they going to support themselves if something happened? You might need to get involved before Social Security. 
  • You don’t want to scare them, but you want them to realize that bad things can happen if you don’t have these conversations. 
  • The first time you bring it up they may not be eager to talk about it, but that doesn’t mean you should give it up. Find a different approach, use a story, use what-if scenarios, or use an event. 
  • If your parents are a lot older and you are already in your 50s, you can send them an invitation to have a conversation with you. It is a polite and respectful way to do it and it is better than putting them on the spot. You are laying out the reasons why you want to have the conversation in the invitation and giving them time to think about it. They may be more willing to open up and have that conversation with you.
  • Nearly half of adults between 50 and 64 don’t have a will. Another good conversation is if they have a will. You may not need to be involved now, but you want to make sure they have a plan if something happens. 
  • When you bring up the topic of a will make sure it is framed in a way that talks about their wishes, not because you want to know what you are getting. Make it clear that you want to make sure they have something in writing that spells out their wishes, because if they don’t have one, the state will decide for you.
  • It is so stressful to bury anybody, and it is added stress if you don’t know their wishes. Have the conversation with the people closest to you. 
  • Never assume that your parents are on top of everything. Cameron’s father was an attorney and he didn’t have a will. As difficult as it is to talk about death, asking about your parents’ wishes is certainly a way to start the conversation.
  • If you think at some point you will need to get involved, you need to be having these conversations. You have enough stress in life. You can have these conversations now.
  • Your finances could be involved, especially when it comes to long-term care. Most people do not have long-term care insurance and Medicare doesn’t pay for long-term care.
  • There are so many things that are known that you can plan for, but long-term care is the biggest unknown and if someone will need it.
  • The national average of monthly cost for long-term care is $5,000 for assisted living or in-home care. Nursing home care is about $80,000 to $90,000 a year.
  • If you say you cannot afford long-term care insurance that costs $200 or $300 a month, depending on coverage and your health, how are you going to afford $5,000 a month for assisted living?
  • There are other options. You can get life insurance with a long-term care benefit. You either use it for yourself for long-term care or your kids get the death benefit.
  • You can get an annuity that is geared toward long-term care coverage or you can save the money on your own.
  • Most people don’t do any of these things and their kids are their long-term care plan. You need to know if your mom and dad have resources to pay for long-term care, because if not, that will affect you financially.
  • Being a caregiver is a full-time job. 
  • The long-term backup is Medicaid that would provide the assistance, but there are so many parameters with it. Medicaid will take your parents’ Social Security and they will have access to their assets. There is a clawback provision where if your parents pass away and you sell their house, Medicaid can take the money back after the fact.
  • Even if your parents saved for long-term care, you need to know what they have done. They may have the assets, but the assets you choose to liquidate for their long-term care, there are tax implications. There is a certain order that you should follow to draw down the money. You need to be strategic.
  • If you don’t talk to your parents, you may have less money for their care because you are losing a lot of it to taxes if you are not withdrawing it properly.
  • What happens if you need to use their assets to support your parents’ needs and you don’t have access to them because you don’t have POA? You need to go to court and spend thousands of dollars putting your parent on trial proving they are no longer competent.
  • If you are named conservator, you need to file a report with the court every single year, spelling out how you spent your parents’ money. As a POA, you don’t need to do that. 
  • The importance of a POA was the biggest lesson for Shannon, when she was at Merrill Lynch. 
  • The consequences of not having the conversation with your parents are so much scarier than the conversation. If you have a good relationship with your parents, what are you afraid of? They aren’t going to fly off the handle or get angry and disown you. They might be reluctant and it may take awhile for them to be comfortable. Sometimes it can take years. Take those steps and slowly open the door.
  • If you are a parent, please talk to your kids about your financial situation so you can help them in reverse. 
  • One of the easiest ways to approach this conversation is by talking about scams.
  • The one thing you don’t want to do is let your parents think scammers are targeting them just because they are old. You want to frame it that scammers target people their age because they are retired and have a large source of money and they see them as a cash cow. Scammers are counting on them to stay on the phone because they were raised to be polite.
  • Red flags: getting a call from the government (IRS or Social Security), getting a call telling you that you won a prize and you need to wire money, getting a call that your child or grandchild is in prison, etc. If your parents are single, talk to them about sweetheart scams. Go over the red flags with them. 
  • If your parents don’t talk to you about sex, you will figure it out. If your parents don’t talk to you about their finances, you will not figure it out on your own. You need to get the information from your parents.
  • If your parents are reluctant to give you the information, ask them to write it down. Make a list of the accounts and passwords and keep it someplace safe where you will be able to find it.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is to take a moment and think about whether or not your parents’ financial future will impact your own. If you know that you will have to get involved in some way, shape, or form, then you need to start finding ways to talk to your parents about their finances sooner than later and Cameron’s book is an amazing resource for this.

Random Three Questions

  1. What is the one thing you wish you could have done differently and you wish everyone would know?
  2. What is a show that you like to binge watch?
  3. What do you do to relax?

Connect with Cameron

Website: cameronhuddleston.com

Book: Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk

If you’d like to talk to my team at the Financial Gym to help you financially prepare to help your parents out, I hope you’ll reach out to us at the Financial Gym. 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.

Educounting with Ben Jones

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Educounting with Ben Jones

I created the Financial Gym so everyday Jacks and Jills could get personalized financial planning services just like the wealthy. In the process of working with over 3,000 clients, I’ve realized that, beyond financial planning, what my team and I do everyday is educate our clients on personal finance. At the end of the day, the Financial Gym is a financial literacy hub. So you know I got excited when I heard about Ben Jones, an Entrepreneur and Financial Educator, who is equally passionate about financial literacy. He joins me today to talk about the resources he’s created to help people of all ages, especially children, become financially literate.

What Are We Drinking?

Ben — Cosmopolitan 

Shannon —  Grapefruit Schweppes & Vodka

Podcast Notes

  • Ben grew up with five siblings and his parents and he was the one who tended to hold onto his money. He is an accountant and originally started out at a public accounting firm.
  • Ben always wanted to travel the world, and he got an internal audit position with Tupperware. He was traveling to 20 different companies for his job. 
  • When Ben was in Venezuela and they had hyper inflation, they had to count the Tupperware, because people would steal it and sell it. Since it is a durable good, in a couple of weeks, the item would be worth 40 percent to 60 percent more, because that is how hard goods work when you are in a hyper inflation environment.
  • Ben loves taking tests, because his parents always wanted their kids to be certified in something. His mom was a registered nurse. After Ben got certified as a CPA, the CFP sounded good and so did the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst). Only 20 percent of people who start the CFA actually finish it.
  • When Shannon was working at an investment bank, before she had a baby, she thought about getting a CFA.
  • There are three levels to this certification and she was busy at her job, so she thought she would take the first level since it is offered twice a year. The other two levels are only offered once a year, so it takes a minimum of three years to complete.
  • Shannon decided not to study much for the first one, because she thought if she didn’t really have it in her to pass, it will be a lot more work. She is thankful she didn’t pass the test.
  • Ben and his wife dated for 13 years before they got married, but it was easy for him to commit for three years to get the CFA certification. 
  • For one of the tests, Ben was in London at Wembley Stadium in a side building and Lionel Ritchie was warming up.
  • Being from a big family, Ben didn’t have a lot of money, so he was working and saving as much as he could. He always knew he was good at money and he wanted to get the certification.
  • By the time Ben moved back to the United States, he fell into a job where he was teaching people about becoming CPAs.
  • He took the CPA exam the November before he graduated college, so he was teaching people that were 3 to 20 years older than him.
  • He had a knack for teaching and he was rated in the top 10 of over 500 instructors in the nation.
  • He was good with money and, growing up with a lot of siblings he learned to speak up and be entertaining. 
  • When he came back to the U.S., he got a job running a CPA review company called Becker CPA Review. It was the number one review company in the country. They reviewed over 50,000 CPAs a year. He really enjoyed his time there.
  • After about ten years there, he decided it was time to help get people involved with their money. 
  • Shannon is always looking for compassion and empathy when she hires financial trainers.
  • When Ben started working with people, it always surprised him how uncomfortable they were with money. 
  • It is such an amazingly emotional thing. You can mention one thing and people get really upset. People are really triggered with money. The emotional side kind of kicks you in the face. Many times people didn’t have someone who was good with money, or they grew up with parents that fought about it, and they don’t think they deserve to have it. 
  • Ben found that the people who were the best financial planners or financial managers were the ones who were the most empathetic, not the ones that were the most educated, because people trusted them and liked them.
  • Parents are more likely to talk to their children about sex than about money. Money is a taboo topic.
  • Financial literacy is like regular literacy — it has to start in the home. 
  • The Gym’s most financially literate clients have parents who had healthy conversations around money with them at an early age. Most people don’t have that. 
  • The Financial Gym exists to change financial literacy and health for this generation and future generations. Once their clients have a more comfortable relationship with money, they start talking to their kids about it.
  • Ben went home one night and created a video. Then he created another video. Before he knew it, he had 220 videos that are helpful, because he boils things down really simply.
  • Ben was setting up a teleprompter in his basement. His daughter was about seven or eight at the time and started reading the teleprompter.  It was this squeaky little voice that was talking about how bond duration was a measure of risk.
  • Ben realized that kids needed to know about finance and managing money. The younger they are the more they will not be afraid of it. He thought that he could do a couple of podcasts and videos and reach out to parents who had kids and make them more comfortable with finance.
  • Everybody needs a doctor and a lawyer, but we aren’t taught that maybe we need a financial advisor to help guide us down the path.
  • Ben has a podcast called Money with Mak and G. Mak is for Makenna and G is for Grant. They started to play around with it and it started gaining traction. Parents wanted their kids to feel comfortable with money, because they weren’t comfortable with it themselves.
  • Mak and G are Ben’s 10 year-old twins that are soon to be 11. When he started the podcast, they were around 8 years old.
  • Ben started talking to his kids about money when they were around four years old, because he didn’t want them to be scared of it.
  • Think about your entire life and the things you learn about. The number one thing you need to know about is money, because it affects everything. 
  • The two words they hear at the Gym are fear and shame around financial situations. Shannon says to think about money as part of your DNA. We need it to exist and to get through life. To think that fear and shame are running though people’s DNA, it motivates Shannon to do what she does every day, because no one should live like that.
  • It never ceases to amaze Ben that when he talks to women about money, in general, they tend to be less secure and more savvy.
  • When you look at the numbers, the best investor in the world is a 42 year old woman. She picks a solid investment and leaves it.
  • The biggest thing about financial advising is getting people comfortable with who they are and what they need to do. Everything is possible, it is all about how much work you are going to put into it.
  • Women have less confidence in their decisions, even though it may be a smart and thought out decision.
  • Have confidence because, a lot of the time, Ben sees women making great decisions.
  • Ben started creating the videos and sharing them with other people to get them comfortable talking about money, to help them understand what is going on, and to give them a couple of tools so they could do what they needed to do on their own in order to give them the confidence they needed.
  • We are in a funny phase right now, because paper money is going out and most people are using electronic money.
  • Ben started with the dollar bill, because he wanted to connect money to something, so his kids could start to understand. He would give one of his kids five dollars and tell them to give it to the person working at the cash register and see what they get back. Then they talked about it.
  • They started having those basic beginning conversations. Ben and his wife do the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, and other stuff. When his kids get money, they save it and start to relate it to something real.
  • Ben and his wife are completely honest with their kids about money. If they ask how much he makes, he tells them. When they said it was a lot of money, he talked to them about how much their house, car, and other things cost. When they started to lay that out, it put things into perspective and that changed the whole conversation.
  • When you have the conversation and show kids the money by giving them an allowance, they start to realize how it works.
  • You need to start the conversation. The earlier the better. 
  • Even if you don’t think you are great at money, you are making financial decisions every day. You are your own economic system. You should at least explain why you are making the decisions you are making. The older they get, the more involved they should be. 
  • You need to have a numbers conversation with kids. They get it. 
  • Kids are smarter than you think they are and they will understand most of the things you tell them about basic finance. It is just basic math.
  • Do not lie to your kids, tell them the truth. If you are having financial issues, tell them and let them know how you are working on it. Have discussions with them when they ask.
  • Seventy percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and there are all different sized paychecks.
  • Teach your kids that you need to save for the future. You need to get good at saying no and explain why.
  • The best teacher of money is cash. We learn more when we count the dollars and see it move. 
  • Teach your kids about investing by having them choose the companies they want to invest in and have them watch the performance.
  • Create an economic system however you can, where they earn money and spend it too. When you don’t learn about this at home or school, you will not know what to do when you are actually in it as an adult. 
  • Teach your kids that the market goes up and down and that investments are for the long term.
  • You know more than you think you know.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable, listen to the Money with Mak & G podcast with your kids. 

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is that financial literacy is just as important and regular literacy. We owe it to ourselves and our children, if we have them, to make sure we are all financially literate. With resources like the ones Ben is producing, we have no excuse not to seek it out.

Random Three Questions

  1. What is the big goal that you and your family are saving for right now?
  2. What is a show you like to binge watch?
  3. If this was your last night on earth, what is your last meal?

Connect with Ben

Website: www.educounting.com  

Podcast: Money with Mak & G

Instagram: @educounting

Facebook: @educounting

If you’d like to get financially naked with my team and get more financially literate, 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 head over to, or send friends to, financialgym.com to get signed up today.

Friends and Money with the Happy Hour Ladies

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Friends and Money 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 friends and money. Have you ever tried to talk about personal finance with your friends? Have you ever gotten financially naked with your friends or vice versa? I’m asking my happy hour friends about how they interact with their friends about money, and you’ll be surprised by the responses. As always, we had a great time.

What are we drinking?

Melanie from Dear Debt — Tempranillo Wine

Tonya from Budget and the Beach — Huckleberry Vodka

Liz, Mrs. Frugalwoods, from Frugalwoods.com — Smirnoff Kissed Caramel Vodka

Shannon —  Smirnoff Kissed Caramel Vodka

Podcast Notes

  • A conversation between the happy hour ladies and a conversation later at the Financial Gym inspired this month’s happy hour topic about talking to your friends about money.
  • At the end of the Fireside Chat with Mrs. Frugalwoods, Shannon, and podcast listener Danielle were sitting at the Money Bar at the Gym. Danielle was talking about about how excited she was about the financial changes in her life and how she wanted to talk about it with her friends. She asked for tips about how to talk to friends about money.
  • Money is typically a taboo topic, but not at the Gym, and it is easy to forget that people have a difficult time talking about their situations.
  • Liz, Melanie, and Shannon went out to lunch and Shannon was very open about asking money questions.
  • It doesn’t bother Liz to talk about money, but she is very cognizant that it is not just her financial situation, but her husband’s as well.
  • Liz and her husband agreed a while ago about parameters of what they are comfortable sharing with other people. She knows what she is and is not comfortable sharing.
  • Liz has never had any friends ask her how much she makes a year.
  • Melanie wasn’t surprised that Shannon asked her what she made last year, because it was in typical Shannon fashion.
  • Since it was Shannon, and Melanie is her friend, she didn’t have any issues sharing her yearly salary with her. She didn’t feel weird about it.
  • If a non-finance friend asked Melanie about her annual salary, she would tell them.
  • There is a lot of shame around income. It is easy to equate your self-worth with your net worth.
  • Melanie was recently at a blogging event talking with other money bloggers, and a fellow blogger said when she started making more money, her audience said that she was no longer relatable.
  • This happens in the blogging community with income reports.
  • There are different events at the Gym and one of the activities is to share your annual income with others. The people who make between $40,000 and $100,000 have no qualms about sharing. Women who make more, like $300,000, don’t want to share.
  • Tonya hasn’t had anyone directly ask her how much money she makes a year. For her to share that information, it would depend on who is asking and the context of the conversation.
  • Why are we not having more of these money conversations with friends? How many of us have had sexual conversations with friends?
  • Tonya would not have either of these conversations unless it is with someone who is trusted and will not judge her.
  • Tonya has had money conversations with friends, but she is not open about it with every single person she meets.
  • Be cautious about who you tell your dreams and goals to. It is a trust thing. This includes money, sex, goals, and dreams. Tonya doesn’t want to have these conversations with people she doesn’t trust or have a bond.
  • Liz agrees with Tonya. Context comes up a lot. In what way can we help each other and in what way is the information useful. This goes for any conversation and any topic.
  • Income is such a small piece of the money conversation.
  • Shannon doesn’t want money to have that much power over her life, so talking about it doesn’t bother her. They are just numbers and they don’t define us. Why do we give it that power? If she shares it, nobody has power over.
  • Part of why Shannon is so passionate about this is because she sees how much power it holds over her clients in a negative way.
  • These numbers are not fixed. They are not set in stone, so don’t fix them in your heart and brain.
  • For Tonya, it is nobody’s business until she decides to tell them. It isn’t because she is nervous or feels shame about it.
  • Liz feels the same way about weight. It is personal. She didn’t hesitate to tell the airline her weight when she was boarding a small plane, but she doesn’t feel like it is helpful in most situation. The food she eats and her exercise plan seems more helpful.
  • Years ago, when Tonya worked for a company, they had a girls’ dinner and it turned out to be an awkward, divulging of so much information. Tonya was uncomfortable hearing this stuff from her coworkers. It felt like TMI, because she didn’t want to know this information.
  • Shannon’s life coach said people want to come to you as who they are and they want to be seen without judgement. They want to share what they are.
  • At that time, Shannon felt like she had a lot of secrets and she had this need to share things with others, because she felt like nobody knew her.
  • There is a very strong connection between Financial Trainers and clients, because they share so much together. People want to share things, but they don’t have the right outlet.
  • Liz goes out to dinner with a couple of friends, without their kids, and they talk about money, sex, health issues, parents, etc. There is an understanding that everything shared is confidential within that conversation.
  • Melanie thinks everyone should go to therapy, because you should be able to tell someone everything. You can’t tell all of your friends everything.
  • We can create spaces within close friendships to share these things, but we have to be careful. What if a friend gives you bad advice or if they judge you? It makes it difficult to open up again.
  • There are a lot of people out there who want to talk about money. How do we create these safe spaces and how do we test that?
  • It may not be your closest friend or spouse that you can have that conversation with, but you can find a tribe where you can share.
  • These conversations happen in the Financial Gym Money Tribes.
  • Other than going to Lola Retreat or joining an organized Money Tribe, you can find people in different Facebook groups, like Choose FI and Martinis and Your Money.
  • It doesn’t have to be about the numbers right away, but maybe about the strategy, like how to save money grocery shopping or traveling. As things get more comfortable, you can share numbers if it is helpful.
  • Liz is more of a passive evangelist. People in her real life know she works in personal finance. Sometimes people come to her, but for the most part they don’t.
  • Liz always offers to do a free reader case study for her friends, but they never take her up on it. They know she is there, but she doesn’t push. You cannot force people to be interested in a topic or make good financial decisions.
  • Liz has tried to get her book club to do a money-related book, but they always pass.
  • The Year of Less, by Cait Flanders, or You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero, are good, inconspicuous personal finance books.
  • Before Tonya moved last year, two years in a row she had a goal-setting party in January and money definitely came up. It was a natural space to talk. There were some people who were into it and some who weren’t. It was a good way to find the people who were interested in it and to follow up with them later.
  • Shannon has 20 employees and this is all they talk about at lunch.
  • Guys talk about money, jobs, and income all the time. It helps them collectively as a tribe make better choices, make more money, and invest better.
  • Shannon’s personal friends don’t want to talk to her about money, but she enjoys talking about it in a positive way.
  • Liz always asks people what they wish they were doing with their lives that they aren’t doing now. In her mom groups, money comes up a lot in the context of how much time they want to spend with their kids.
  • People are very open about how much they hate their job. Tonya asks them what is holding them back from leaving.
  • Ask questions about their situation, because people will open up. The worst thing you can do is give your opinion.
  • The best thing to do is reserve judgement and your opinion and give people the space to open up. Being a good friend is about listening to what is going on in your friend’s life.
  • The key to success in any goal-setting situation is having accountability.
  • Shannon wants people to talk more about money. She sees the transformative power of releasing the negative emotions around their financial situations. A safe space is critical. Until Shannon has Gyms around the country, she wants people to find these safe spaces.
  • Start the safe space, be the safe space, create the safe space around financial conversations.
  • Shannon wants a financial version of Cards Against Humanity.
  • Lead by example. Sometimes people are waiting for someone else to break the ice. Melanie has people ask her about paying off her student loans, because she talked about it on her blog.
  • Tonya has had so many people, who she has known for years, send her private messages saying how glad they were that she wrote about a certain topic.
  • Being open and honest without being preachy is important. Be cognizant that people may have different emotions when they are talking about money. Be vulnerable and judgement free. Be the most open counterpart for people to go to.
  • Many people feel like their finances control them. It usually comes down to how you feel about your money.
  • About 70 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. The monthly membership to the Financial Gym starts around $85 a month. If you don’t feel like you can spare $85, you are not preparing for your future and there are blind spots. No one should live a life like that.
  • The Gym offers a scholarship to college students and people who really need the help. They have a higher dropout rate of people who get the scholarship than people who pay the regular price every month.
  • The advice is only as good as the work you put into it. Ninety percent of Gym clients meet their goals. It is like weight loss — it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to believe you can do it.
  • Get comfortable sharing, because they are just numbers. Talking about money can be fun and empowering, and we all need to help each other out.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is to remember that just because you may be comfortable talking about money, not everyone else is. If your regular friends don’t want to be your money friends, there are plenty of people out there who would. Making new friends is always a good thing!

If you want to work with my team at the Financial Gym and let my trainers become your new BFF, best financial friend, 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@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!!

Getting Financially Naked with Kayla

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Getting Financially Naked with Kayla

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. Getting in the hot seat today is our client Kayla. She started her journey with us to getting financially healthy only to take a huge step in another direction, which was certainly not part of the original plan. She joins me today to share her story and how that impacted her finances.

What Are We Drinking?

Kayla — Opolo Rosé

Shannon — Grapefruit Schweppes and Vodka

Podcast Notes

  • Shannon met Kayla at Lola Retreat and at the Money Tribe Meeting in L.A.
  • Over the last three months, Shannon has visited the top four Money Tribe locations and San Francisco.
  • The L.A. group has been meeting up every month and they went on a Saturday hike recently. Kayla likes the accountability of the group and Crystal, her Financial Trainer. 
  • Another New York Financial Gym is needed, because they are outgrowing that space. That will happen alongside the D.C. Gym. D.C. will be the first non-New York Gym and they have narrowed down two spots for two more physical locations. Once the D.C. location build is finalized, the L.A. location will be next.
  • Shannon set a goal to go to all of the tribes during the first quarter of the year. Being with everyone and asking where they should put the new Gyms has motivated Shannon to raise the money she needs to get them up and running.
  • In January 2018, Kayla was reading an article in the New York Times about upleveling your finances and getting your finances on track. This led her to the book Your Money or Your Life, which completely upended everything she had learned about finances and saving up to that point.
  • In a small workshop in college, she learned that if you are saving five to ten percent of your income, you are doing great. After reading the book, she learned that she could save 30% or more of her income.
  • Kayla then started listening to podcasts including Martinis and Your Money, which she leaned about by hearing Shannon on another podcast.
  • One year ago, Kayla decided to sign up as a client of the Gym. She benefits from external motivation and having someone help her lay out a plan was critical. The time has gone so quickly and she has changed and her goals have shifted. She now feels more ownership over her finances.
  • It is the little changes you make that add up over time.
  • Sometimes it is difficult to stay motivated and focus when the changes aren’t massive, but it is worth it.
  • Kayla veered off the road a few times, but Crystal helped get her back on track. The important thing is for clients to feel good about their decisions and not have any regrets.
  • Wherever you are is exactly where you need to be. If you are listening to this podcast, you are already miles ahead on educating yourself on your finances.
  • Don’t feel guilty or regretful of the past, just continue to look forward. Small steps really do add up.
  • When Kayla started at the Gym, she was in a different job. She recently changed jobs. She worked in the higher education field for most of her career and moved from a traditional campus role to working for an ed tech startup.
  • When she joined the Gym, she wasn’t planning on looking for a new job. Career change was a goal that she outlined with Crystal, but she was originally focused on saving toward a skills training course. 
  • Kayla reached a point in her previous job where she felt better walking the path of risk taking and challenging herself to get the new role than she did suffering day after day in her position.
  • She considered the financial impact of the job change and intentionally saved to have a cushion.
  • The Gym is obsessive about clients saving for the emergency fund/larger life fund. It is freeing to have it there. It gives you more choice and freedom to dictate where you want your life to go versus having to be somewhere. There is nothing worse than having to be someplace, especially if it is to stay in a place of unhappiness.
  • After six months of joining the Gym, Kayla established her emergency fund. She went from someone who was just marginally spending more than she was making for a long time to the emergency fund being her biggest focus. It saved her a lot down the road when things went crazy.
  • If you are thinking of changing jobs, find out what your company’s policy is on paying unused vacation time. It may be the deciding factor. 
  • Unused vacation payouts are different based on what state you live in and the company. The payout could really add up.
  • Questions from the financially naked discovery questionnaire:
    • Birthday: 12/21/86
    • Job: Works at an ed tech company
    • Salary: $70,000 
    • Kayla’s Net Pay: $1,900/bi-weekly
    • USAA Checking Account: $1,656
    • Discover Emergency Savings Account: $8,402
    • Betterment Account IRA: $70,049
    • Roth IRA: $6,197
    • Transamerica Retirement through work: $355
    • Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card: $234
    • Alaska Airlines Credit Card: $41
    • USAA Credit Card: $0
    • Car Loan: Paid off in January (was $3,830 when she started) 
    • Net Worth Increase: $24,000 (Goal: $100,000 by Dec 31)
    • Credit Score: was 790 in January; a couple weeks ago it was at 756
    • Rent/Utilities: $1,500/month (split evenly between her and her boyfriend)
    • Auto Insurance: $90/month
    • Health Insurance: Yes
    • Life Insurance: through work
    • Long-Term Disability: through work
    • Will: Yes
    • Children: No
    • Average Monthly Expenses: $1,820
    • Goals 1-3 years: get net worth over $100,000; save $10,000 to $20,000 for continuing education; continue saving and investing
    • Goals 3-5 years: Increase income
    • Goals long-term: Saving for financial independence 
    • What’s important to you (sacred cows): traveling to see family and health
  • Kayla took a substantial pay cut ($16,000 – a 28% reduction) to take her new job. She was willing to take the pay cut, because it still put her in a comfortable place and she was gaining a lot of other things. She now works fully remotely, and she doesn’t spend and hour plus in her car getting to work every day.
  • When she tallied up the pros and cons it was things like this that she couldn’t put a monetary value on but she knew it would have lots of effects on her overall happiness and satisfaction.
  • Research consistently shows that we undervalue time and overvalue money.
  • The Gym has a lot of clients on an exercise now of how do they lower their cost of living so they can have more flexibility in their job.
  • Before Shannon started the Gym, she was living a lifestyle where she had to make $200,000.
  • When Kayla was in transition to her new job, she picked up a side hustle, freelance writing, that earned about $200 – $250 per month, depending on how many hours she worked. 
  • Kayla was unemployed for about four months before she started working at her current job six weeks ago.
  • Her assets have increased by $21,000 in the last year, even with taking a job cut and being unemployed for four months. 
  • Shannon really focuses on clients’ cash, and Kayla’s cash is up by $3,000.

Takeaway: My biggest takeaway is the value that financial health can give you when making life changes, especially around jobs. The more healthy you are financially, the more options you have for making changes when you need to.

Random Three Questions

  1. Do you have an interest in traveling, and if so, other than traveling to visit family, where would you like to go?
  2. What are some of the other podcasts you listen to?
  3. If this was your last night on earth, what would be your last meal?

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 Kayla in 2019, head over to or send friends to, financialgym.com to get signed up today.

The Wedding Hacker with Heather Fier

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The Wedding Hacker with Heather Fier

As some of you know, I have a gripe against weddings. I don’t love watching clients go into credit card debt planning or participating in weddings. So you can imagine how excited I was to hear about Heather Fier aka the Wedding Hacker. She created her business to literally help couples plan the weddings of their dreams in the most cost-effective way. Heather joins me to share why she decided to start this business and share some really great ideas for how couples can save on their wedding.

What Are We Drinking?

Heather — Bulletproof Coffee (includes butter & coconut oil)

Shannon —  Black Cherry Schweppes

Podcast Notes

  • Shannon met Heather through Stacey, who is a listener and former guest on the podcast.
  • Heather started doing event planning when she was in middle school, and she was on every dance committee. She loved organizing and putting together events.
  • This continued through college with planning huge fundraisers and events at UCLA that provided funds for pediatric AIDS research and other things.
  • This fed in naturally to a company Heather’s mom started locally in San Diego that did event marketing in natural food stores. 
  • After Heather graduated from college, she came back to San Diego to help her mom grow the company.
  • Over 15 years, they took this event marketing company, working with Whole Foods, Jimbo’s, and other big chains that were just starting to bud at that time, and they grew national.
  • They ended up with 3,000 field reps across the country doing in-store events for store launches, grand openings, and themed special events.
  • Heather was coordinating building up the team, training everyone, and learning how to put on events on a scaled model.
  • When Heather’s mom was ready to retire, the business was acquired by a competitor and it left Heather wondering where she should go next. It was exciting and terrifying all at the same time.
  • Heather was deciding where to go next when she looked back and realized she had helped about 20 friends with their weddings. Her friends were referring their friends to her and it was becoming a small side business.
  • Heather’s friend group were all middle class and they were comfortable talking to her about their budgets and what they could spend.
  • Heather was good at guiding them with budgets of $10,000 and $15,000 price points. These were the only weddings she was planning. 
  • Over time, she started getting referrals for friends who were UCLA based and they were spending significantly more. Their parents had more to spend, and she started planning weddings that were around $30,000 and $40,000. 
  • It seemed easy to plan a wedding with a higher budget, because they could go anywhere and it would fit in their budget.
  • Heather really liked the challenge of planning weddings on a lower budget. She started thinking about how she could do this and make money. When you work for people on those budgets, there is no room to pay a wedding planner. 
  • This opened her eyes to how the wedding industry worked. The wedding industrial complex has a lot of dark undertones, where there are kickbacks and wedding planners have preferred lists of vendors they refer you to.
  • Heather wanted to build something that was a different model, so she started writing a book. She pulled together all of resources she knew of, talked to other people, and came up with a model of doing a virtual wedding planning company. This way she can help many people in a group setting and offer the little one-on-one support you need, like reviewing contracts and coaching clients through the family drama that comes up.
  • This is the same guidance she would give everyone, like how to locate a venue that is off the radar of the wedding industry. She figured if she could do this on scale, she could make it affordable and approachable.
  • Since she has the experience of building a company to a national level, Heather is building out a network of regional coordinators. Once she does the online planning with people, she can hand them off to someone locally who can oversee the day.
  • Where money and emotion come together, it is difficult to be rational in our financial choices. The two most emotional times in our lives are usually getting married and having children.
  • Shannon has had six clients who have been with her from the engagement to the wedding. They have all gone over budget, but none have gotten financially crazy. 
  • Shannon makes sure there is money available and that her clients don’t go into credit card debt for their weddings. 
  • When there are so many emotional decisions, you tend to make the easiest decision possible.
  • One of the first things Heather tells couples is to not look at their wedding budget as monopoly money. If someone else is contributing to the budget, it is easy to think that contribution doesn’t count. 
  • Heather recommends putting the money in a bank account so they are looking at it. This way they can realize that if they stay under budget, they get to put that money into their savings account and invest it in something that is valuable to them long term.
  • It is important to make it a tangible thing.
  • There are so many decisions around the wedding, and every line item has a financial impact. It is easy to get lost in those decisions.
  • Be careful of what wedding sites you are looking at. Most vendors want to do a good job for the couple, but they are not marketers. They don’t have a full team of people in their office helping them run ads themselves, so they turn to the big giants to find their clients and they pay too much. That cost is passed on to the customers.
  • If you look on those sites and choose all of the one dollar sign options, which are the cheapest options available, it will still push you over $20,000. 
  • Venues charge different prices for weddings than they do for other events. It is about 50 percent less to hold a graduation party or anniversary party at the same place. 
  • There is a wedding tax that is applied, because it comes from the marketing expense vendors need to pay. 
  • Walk around the neighborhood that you think is cute and look at the restaurants, parks, and community center. Explore those things and consider the places that aren’t advertising for weddings. 
  • Don’t look for the people who are looking for you. 
  • Cover bands that play in bars are usually good at playing the top 40 songs and they are usually much cheaper than wedding bands. Since they play Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, they don’t need to make all of their money on one night. 
  • Don’t be afraid to hire older, more experienced bands. If you look up wedding bands, it could be $5,000 and more.
  • Sometimes DJs do a little better job at being the Master of Ceremony (MC).
  • If you hire a bar band and are concerned about them not being a good MC, have an outgoing family member do it. Schedule all of the MC duties at the beginning of the night (introductions, cake cutting, special dances, etc.), so when you are two hours in, you don’t have a drunk uncle still talking in the microphone.
  • Having the day flow well helps guests enjoy the day more.
  • Think about the weddings you’ve been to and what is the most memorable thing? Is it the food or music or is it the flowers and little place cards?
  • There is crazy pressure to have the perfect wedding. The wedding website pictures are all staged. They aren’t real. It is impossible, because there are people at real weddings and people are messy.
  • If you are looking to have a highly styled wedding like the pictures you see online, consider eloping. If you are looking for gorgeous photography, go have that done and then come back and throw a party a month later. You don’t need to do it all in one day. 
  • If you are the bride and you are concerned about the look and feel of the room, you aren’t going to see any of it. The most styling you want to pay attention to is your outfit and your spouse’s outfit, because that is what you are going to see the most, other than your guests.
  • Give yourself space and room to enjoy all of the special people who came to celebrate you.
  • Book your photographer for minimal hours on your wedding day, so they can get your ceremony pictures and the main highlights of your reception, and then have them leave. Do all of the portraits of you and your spouse another day. The cost of redoing your hair and makeup again and doing a couples photo shoot is going to be significantly less than paying the premium of a wedding day photography rate. You will save money and you will be less stressed and more natural.
  • You don’t need photography quality shots at the end of the night. Your friends will be taking those with their phones. 
  • For the super low budget couples, consider only having a photographer at the ceremony and have the reception be crowd sourced. You can set up different tech now where people at the wedding can post pictures from different perspectives. They will be doing this anyway.
  • Look at who is giving you advice when you are spending. It is probably someone who will benefit from you spending more.
  • You don’t need to tip everyone. Most vendors, like your florist or photographer, are not expecting anything other than what you agree to pay them. If you want to do something to thank them, consider a nicely written thank you note or a bottle of wine. If you hated working with them, don’t give them anything extra. 
  • The one group you should tip is the servers. Give them cash tips directly or have someone in your staff do that. If you have a fully stocked bar, make sure your guests are still throwing some tips toward the bartender. The workers on the ground are going to be the most appreciative of getting a tip.
  • Most catering companies or venues are going to charge a service fee and they tell you that in the fine print. In your contract it may say it will be $59 per head for the meal “plus plus”. This means you are going to add a lot more money to it. That $59 may turn into $120 per person.
  • Often in the fine print it will say it is $59 plus plus, but there is a minimum of $20,000 you need to spend. If you only have $100 people, you are almost forced to spring for the open bar and extra appetizers, just to hit the minimum.
  • Budget Busters:
    • Venue: If you choose the wrong one, it can lead you down a more expensive path. Every venue has a preferred list of vendors, and those vendors are not dedicated to you, they are dedicated to the venue. If you look up reviews of those preferred vendors, a lot of times they are not even that good, because they don’t need to be. Avoid venues that have preferred lists and have minimum spends in the fine print.
    • Wedding parties: It is a tradition that you don’t really need to do. You can have all of these friends at your wedding and not pay the money to transport them across town, for proposal gifts to propose to all of the women in your bridal party, or the forced moments. It will be a relief to them and to you to not have those required gifts or expenses. Let your friends come to your wedding as your guests. You can find ways to involve your friends in your day.
    • Wedding Sites: Avoid the major websites to find your vendors. There are some really great resources that are a little off brand from weddings, like Thumbtack, GigMasters, and WedBrilliant. These are all sites where you can define what you need for how long on what date and location and put in the price you will pay. If a vendor can do it, they will reach out to you. You can find vendors who are suited to your needs. 
  • At the end of the day, your wedding is the most special to you and your spouse. 
  • There is an episode of Adam Ruins Everything, and it cuts straight to the bone about weddings. Let the traditions go that you don’t like.
  • Heather did a webinar at the Financial Gym in March about weddings.
  • Own your money and do not feel obligated to do anything you don’t want to do.
  • It will be a special day, no matter your budget. It is only one day, this is just the beginning, and there will be so much more you will want to accomplish with this person. 

TAKEAWAY: I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Heather today. My biggest takeaway is that your wedding day is an important official kickoff to your relationship; however, it’s just one day in what will hopefully be thousands of days spent with your significant other. If you can make this day as cost-effective as possible, it will be the best kickoff to your relationship.

Random Three Questions

  1. Do you have a favorite wedding movie?
  2. What is your favorite food option to serve at a wedding?
  3. What is your favorite place to recommend for honeymoons?

Connect with Heather

Website: The Wedding Hacker

Instagram: @weddinghackerclub 

If you’d like to get financially naked with my team, and budget for a wedding or combine finances with your significant other, I hope you’ll reach out to us at the Financial Gym. We’ve helped hundreds of clients plan amazing weddings without going into debt.

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 of budgeting for the perfect wedding, head over to financialgym.com to get signed up today.

Getting Financially Naked with Rebekkah

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Getting Financially Naked with Rebekkah

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. Getting in the hot seat today is our client Rebekkah who is coming up on one year at the Gym. When she started with us, she had $767 in the bank and wondered if it made financial sense to join. She’s going to share her journey and where she is today.  

What Are We Drinking?

Rebekkah — Ketel One Botanical Vodka Cucumber and Mint, Water, and Lemon Essential Oil

Shannon — Hendrick’s Gin and Tonic

Podcast Notes

  • Rebekkah is coming up on her one-year review at the Financial Gym. She cannot believe how much she has accomplished.
  • Rebekkah tried everything before joining the Gym — podcasts, books, Dave Ramsey approach, etc. It kept leading to results like yo-yo dieting. She would work really hard to pay something off and then something would happen, or she would stop buying things and going out and she wasn’t able to maintain it.
  • She wasn’t getting results and then she found this podcast. Shannon spoke about finances in a way that she understood.
  • Rebekkah had her warmup call and didn’t know how she was going to afford the Gym membership. The next day she got an extra check from work that was the exact amount she needed to pay the Gym.
  • If you can’t find the money to afford the Gym, you really need to join the Gym. Something needs to change if you can’t afford $85 a month.
  • If you are really committed to working on your finances, it will work out. If not, there is a six-month, money-back guarantee.
  • Rebekkah’s budget was really tight and Joy found about $1,200 to set aside for savings and debt payoff. 
  • Rebekkah had never been able to do lump sum savings or payments without bonuses. Now she sees her savings account balance going up and her credit card debt going down. It makes a difference having a trainer.
  • The average Gym client stays about six months, but there are others that stay for years. The bulk of clients who leave are hitting their goals and they are more of DIY people. The clients who stay like to have someone on retainer to give them a quick response or perspective about a decision.
  • Getting physically and financially healthy takes work. It isn’t going to happen overnight, but if you put work into it you will get results.
  • The Gym offers clients a side hustle opportunity to take warm-up calls on nights and weekends. Rebekkah started doing this in November and it has helped her save for travel.
  • All trainers need to believe in magic to work at the Gym.
  • Gym trainers are cult-like about saving for emergencies and they prioritize that over debt repayment and all of the other goals. You just feel better when you have money in the bank. It is motivating to see your balance go up.
  • Questions from the financially naked discovery questionnaire:
    • Birthday: 7/3/91
    • Job: Lead Program Coordinator (helping individuals with disabilities)
    • City: Flagstaff, Arizona
    • Salary: $46,000
    • Rebekkah’s Net Pay: $1,500/two times a month
    • Husband’s Net Pay: $954/bi-weekly
    • Side Hustle: $600/month
    • Future Car Fund: $315
    • Emergency Savings: $15,222
    • Travel Account: $4,200
    • Emergency Savings for Brother: $2,000 (brother has autism)
    • Life Purchase Account: $500
    • Brokerage Fund Account: $410
    • Total of all Savings Accounts: $22,647 (from $767 one year ago)
    • Retirement Account: None yet, spouse has pension
    • Car Loan: Paid off; had $5,000 balance one year ago
    • Credit Card: Paid off; was $5,600 on hers and $10,000 on her husband’s one year ago
    • Net Worth Increase: $45,000
    • Student Loans: $32,000 (four years left)
    • Credit Score: 727 (was 662); husband’s increased by 20 points
    • Rent: $1,175
    • Car Insurance: $45/month (recently lowered from $165/month); once your car is paid off, you can look at lowering coverage and divert the savings and the amount of your previous car payment into the car fund
    • Will/Trust: Not Yet
    • Life Insurance: Yes 
    • Long-Term Disability: Yes
    • Average Monthly Expenses: $2,000
    • Children: No
    • Goals 1-3 years: Quit current position, start investing, move to a bigger home, trip to Europe in October
    • Goals 3-5 years: one larger trip a year 
    • Goals long-term: Financial independence, travel, live in different places 
    • What’s important to you (sacred cows): Subscriptions (HBO, Hulu, Netflix, audiobooks) and expensive vodka

Takeaway: My biggest takeaway is to not be afraid to invest in yourself, especially where your financial health is concerned. We see transformations like Rebekkah’s every single day at the Gym. The hardest part, like any journey, is just getting started.

Random Three Questions

  1. What is the next big trip you would like to take?
  2. What do you like to binge watch?
  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 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 Rebekkah in 2019, head over to or send friends to, financialgym.com to get signed up today.