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Achieving the Impossible with Laniece and Jo

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Achieving the Impossible with Laniece and Jo

At the my company, the Financial Gym, we like to call the financial plan you get from us the starter plan. It really is an initial roadmap plotting out how you can achieve your goals. Some clients get the road map and put everything into place and follow it to a tee. Some clients get the roadmap and think it’s impossible and never even do the work. And then some clients get the roadmap and life throws them a series of detours and the road trip changes. The plan is a guideline but it’s never really set in stone.

Some plans we work on are easy to put together because the clients’ financial lives are easily aligned with their goals, and then some plans, like today’s guests, are not easy to put together because the roadmap is filled with uncertainty. When my trainers have to deliver those types of plans, they’re actually not overly concerned, because after years of doing this, we know that anything is possible if our clients put their minds to it. We actually LOVE it when our clients accomplish what seems impossible at the beginning and this is the case with Laniece and Jo. They are two Financial Gym clients working with my trainer Joy, and they join me today to share why they wanted to fix their financial lives and how they went about accomplishing what seemed like impossible goals from Joy.

What are we drinking?

Laniece — Apple Cider Mimosa

Jo — E & J and Cranberry Juice

Shannon —  Gin and Tonic

Podcast Notes

  • A year ago, Laniece reached out to the Gym, because she and Jo were engaged and were going to combine finances.
  • About 95 percent of warm-up calls are female. The Financial Gym community is 60 percent female and 40 percent male.
  • The biggest cause of fights and contention in marriage is due to money and they wanted to have a third-party involved to make sure they are going in the right direction.
  • They were both invested in their finances, but not in the details.
  • Everybody has a vice – Jo spent a lot on food, but not much on other things. Laniece spent a lot on her hair.
  • The first meeting it was surprising to see their incoming and outgoing numbers on a screen.
  • The biggest difference in goals is that Laniece didn’t want a wedding. She thought it was a waste of time and money. Their financial plan showed that it was going to be tough to pull off.
  • For the wedding, they called in a lot of favors and they made many things themselves. Instead of a limo, they rented four luxury SUVs from a rental place for less than half the cost of a limo and they had them for the entire day. They chose brunch for their meal at 3pm on a Sunday, and saved compared to serving dinner on a Saturday night.
  • In addition to paying for the wedding, Jo and Laniece wanted to buy a house. Jo wanted to buy a house right away, because the area Laniece was living was not safe. Laniece wanted to stay there for two years to pay off debt and save up a down payment.
  • They came back from their honeymoon and their landlord said they had 65 days to move. There is a program called NACA that offers financial benefits to home buyers, but it is a strenuous process.
  • Rent in Philadelphia is typically $1,500 to $1,700 per month, and they were paying $900 per month, so they decided to purchase a house.
  • The NACA program restricted the purchase amount and required that they keep a certain amount in their bank account at all times. It was an extreme financial reset from spending on their wedding.
  • Anything is possible depending on how much work you want to put into it. It’s your journey and you are the driver.
  • At their quarterly review, Jo and Laniece were saving 21 percent of their income. Their mortgage is $1,382, which includes escrow.
  • They attribute their success partly to their support network and their faith.
  • Once you know where you are financially, it helps you make better decisions.
  • Goals help you stay focused. When you get complacent, you fall off the wagon.
  • Sometimes you need to delay or cut in order to meet the bigger goal.
  • There is always a goal.
  • Clients who have goals will get there. It is difficult to motivate clients who don’t have goals.
  • One of Laniece and Jo’s goals is to leave a legacy. Another is to make more money.
  • The reason the Financial Gym exists is to help this generation and future generations get and stay financially healthy. The biggest problem is financial education is not happening at home.
  • Laniece’s advice is if you are feeling like your finances are out of shape, reach out for help and get the reality of the situation.
  • Jo’s advice is to not wait to get help with your finances. Get started as early as you can. The earlier you get on top of it, the healthier you will be. You will slip, but there will always be a boulder you can hold onto.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is to never give up on your dreams and never think that any financial goal is impossible. For the last five years of building the Financial Gym, I’ve witnessed many stories similar to Laniece and Jo’s, and the greatest common denominator was a sheer determination to make their dreams a reality and never giving up even though the path seemed hard. I hope you set out today to lay out your hopes and dreams and take action in making them a reality

Random Three Questions 

  1. Is there any place else in this country you would like to live?
  2. What is a show you both agree you like to binge watch?
  3. If you both won a million dollars, what would you do with it?

If you’d like some help in laying out your financial plans and putting those plans into action like Laniece and Jo, I hope you’ll reach out to my team at the Financial Gym. If you’ve ever thought about joining, there’s no better time than now. We have a number of summer promos for individuals and couples that are about to come to an end. Go to financialgym.com to sign up for a free warm up call to find out more.

 

Vacations with the Happy Hour Ladies

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Vacations with the Happy Hour Ladies

Today is the last Friday of the month and my regular listeners know that on the last Friday of the month, I host a happy hour, where I gather great friends to drink cheap drinks and talk about money topics. I know it’s literally one of the last weeks of summer but this week we’re talking about vacation, the importance of it, how we like to take our vacations, how we pay for vacations, and what we like to do on vacation.

What are we drinking?

Melanie from Dear Debt — Riesling

Tonya from Budget and the Beach — Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

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

Shannon — Gin and Tonic (Bombay Sapphire)

Podcast Notes

  • Tonya’s post about moving.
  • Shannon instituted mandatory vacations at the Gym. They are closed the week between Christmas and New Year’s and one week in the summer that is voted on by the team.
  • Shannon wrote an article in their newsletter about vacation and how important it is to take, but she wasn’t planning to set up an out of office on her email. The Sunday before, she decided to actually take the week and unplug.
  • Vacation is the time to remember why we are working.
  • When was the last time you took a vacation and how do you view vacation in your life:
    • Tonya: Loves vacation! It depends on the year. She was supposed to go to the Canadian Rockies in June, but she had to cancel it because of a death in the family. She likes to visit her family in Detroit, because it is inexpensive and she doesn’t feel like she needs to do anything. She doesn’t have anything planned for 2019, but she will do something. Tonya set up an auto draft into her savings account for vacations.
    • Liz: It has changed because she has two children. You are always working when you are with your kids. Before kids, she and Nate traveled abroad at least once a year and did other regional trips. They would still do that if they didn’t have kids. Her in-laws live in North Carolina and her parents live in San Diego. Last summer, she and her husband went alone to Portland, Maine, and nine months later her second daughter was born. She looks forward to traveling with her kids when they are older. Liz has the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card (recently merged with Marriott) and racks up points on that card to use on vacation. If you travel for work, see if you can use your personal credit card to get the points. They would choose a week to travel and find the cheapest airline tickets to any destination. Traveling internationally during the week of Thanksgiving is cheap, because nobody in the US is leaving the country. Only pay for one meal out a day – try to get breakfast included at your hotel and buy food at the grocery store. Plan your itinerary around free activities.
    • Melanie: The last couple of years she has had working vacations, because she is a freelancer. She uses credit card points. In June, she went to Mexico City and stayed in an Airbnb. A couple of years ago she went to Spain and Portugal for two weeks and stayed with friends and in hostels. This vacation gave her clarity around paying off her debt and it gave her motivation to keep going. Vacations are a great way to reset.
  • There is a right way to take a vacation when you are in debt repayment. Don’t put your vacation on a credit card, if you have a credit card balance!
  • Is staycation a vacation? No! You have to get out of your house, otherwise you will still feel compelled to be productive.
  • If travel hacking stresses you out, don’t do it! It is not for everyone.
  • What are your philosophies on travel hacking:
    • Liz: Once she and her husband are ready to start planning trips with the kids, she will get more organized about it. She is concerned she will not meet spending limits, since she doesn’t spend much in a month other than her mortgage. She currently has the Starwood card. The best way to do it is to know where you are going. She does plan to take a vacation with just her husband next summer – possibly Scotland.
    • Tonya: She goes back and forth on travel hacking. She knew she was going to be moving, so she got a Citibank American Airlines credit card. For 50,000 points, she had to spend $2,500 in three months. Tonya doesn’t plan her cards around where she wants to go. The Chase Sapphire card is one of the more flexible cards. She has thought about traveling to Hawaii to visit Kauai. She has been to Hawaii four times, but never to Kauai. There are Airbnbs and other ways to save on the cost.
    • Shannon: She promised to take Will to Universal to see Harry Potter land. Other than that, she is interested in taking him to Ireland. She currently set up an auto draft to save for vacation. Shannon got the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, but there is a $450 charge to have the card and it is charged on day one. They give you a $300 travel credit, which she used on a vacation, but it still cost her $150. Don’t overspend just to get points!
  • What is your ultimate goal of vacation?
    • Melanie: New experiences, relaxing, and practicing Spanish
    • Tonya: Europe is sightseeing and history, Hawaii and Costa Rica are more for relaxing. It depends what she needs and wants. She doesn’t need to be sightseeing hardcore every vacation. She likes to have balance.
    • Liz: They vacation by walking around and stopping for coffee and then stopping for beer. They don’t usually have an itinerary. Now, vacations are about relaxing. She is a fan of the Sheraton and loves hotel points.
    • Shannon: She would rather stay in a hotel than an Airbnb. She wants new towels every day and her bed made every day. She would rather save longer and spend a little bit more and it has to be relaxing. Shannon uses vacations to unplug.
  • How do you feel about the work you leave behind? Do you feel stressed about it?
    • Melanie: She used to get stressed, but now sets expectations by telling people ahead of time that she is going to be on vacation. The work is not going anywhere. Thinking about work detracts from the point of a vacation.
    • Tonya: No
    • Liz: Being away from her children is a vacation. She finished her book when they were on vacation. It was relaxing, fulfilling, and she could get uninterrupted work done. She wasn’t answering emails.
  • Set vacation goals for yourself and the plan becomes easier.
  • Allow yourself to really enjoy your vacation. We get too caught up in work and it ruins your vacation when you think about it. Don’t miss the opportunity you are given to unplug and relax!

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is that we all work hard and plug into our jobs on a regular basis, and we need to take vacation as an opportunity to unplug from work and plug into what it is we’re working for. For me, I unplugged from the gym and plugged into reading and relaxing and being fully present in the day, and I shared all of this in my Insta story and felt it was so important that was saved. I encourage you to find the time and money to unplug from work and plug into something more fulfilling as much as you can.

If you need help finding the money to go on vacation, I encourage you to sign up for a free warm up call with my team at the Financial Gym. There’s only a few more days left of summer and we have great summer promos going on right now. So head over, or send friends to, financialgym.com to sign up today.

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

Accepting your Financial Reality with Paulette Perhach

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Accepting your Financial Reality with Paulette Perhach

Today I’m talking to journalist, and now published author, Paulette Perhach. Paulette joins me today to share her honest and sometimes cringeworthy journey from writing the viral fuck-off fund post to having no fuck-off fund at all. She shares why she wanted to write a book for writers that’s not just about how to make money writing. It’s a great conversation with lots of learning lessons.

What are we drinking?

Paulette — Mate

Shannon —  Club Soda

Podcast Notes

  • Cut down on non-essentials, don’t cut them out completely.
  • Willpower Instinct – a book about the hidden factors about willpower and how having something be forbidden and bad is not helpful.
  • When you cut out everything, often times you will go to the other extreme. It’s like yo-yo dieting.
  • Unfortunately, the biggest way to build credit is by using credit cards. Credit card companies report to the credit bureau the most. You need to know how to play the game.
  • Take the buffet of wisdom that is out there and apply what works best for you.
  • If you join the Gym, you need to commit to it for about six months. The plan is very formulaic, but the magic happens in the trainer/client relationship. The trainers find strategies for each individual client that work for their financial health. There are over 700 clients at the Gym and their plans are all customized.
  • Saying you hate yourself because you failed is just a waste of time. You could spend that time solving the problem.
  • Paulette has had a tumultuous time with money. When she was around eight or nine, her dad lost his job and they had to live on her mom’s small teaching salary. Buying basic needs was difficult. She was scared and embarrassed a lot.
  • When Paulette was 17, her dad was working again and was killed in an accident at work.
  • When she was 23, Paulette received money from her dad’s death and put it into purchasing a house in Florida in 2005. She had to short sale her house later.
  • Paulette joined the Peace Corps after that.
  • Paulette has a journalism degree but was moving toward creative writing.
  • In her 30s, Paulette had a good job and a few thousand dollars in the bank. She realized how different her previous situations, including a bad relationship and being sexually harassed by her boss, could have been by just having some money saved up. She would have had an exit.
  • In 2016, Paulette wrote The Fuck Off Fund essay and it went viral. In 2017, she decided to travel in South America for three months. She drained her fuck-off fund and then moved to Seattle to a 150 square foot apartment and tried to rebuild her fund. She was the fuck-off fund girl with no fuck-off fund.
  • Paulette started a blog at fuckofffund.com.
  • Any time you start getting down about yourself, you have to say this situation is a result of your choices and if you want it to change, you have to make different choices. Take the emotion out of your financial situation.
  • Half the battle is seeing the reality and acknowledging the choices you’ve made. Getting out of a bad financial situation is not easy. If you put in the hard work, you will get results.
  • Move from the victim mindset to a power mindset around your financial situation.
  • Women don’t think about growing richer. Often, they feel bad about wanting to make more.
  • “What would I do if I were a man?” has been Paulette’s guiding question.
  • Paulette wrote her writing course after she had a bad day at work and read The Four-Hour Work Week. She wanted to be a writer who helped writers be writers. She wanted to open up and be really honest about the difficulty of being a writer.
  • A book deal was offered to her through Sasquatch Books in Seattle and she wrote Welcome to the Writer’s Life. It’s a combination of some of the things in her writing course and her life. Paulette’s style is to write about things that confuse her, because she wants to share what she learned. This book lays out a buffet of options if you want to incorporate writing in your life.
  • Paulette got paid $40 for the Fuck Off Fund essay. It has taken her 20 years to make money from writing. Write because you love it.
  • Paulette’s safety net is knowing that at any time, she can move into a room and make a life there and be okay with it.
  • Over the next year, Paulette wants to give herself a freelance MBA, where she learns about being an entrepreneur.
  • Shannon attributes time blocking as a huge part of her success and her trainers’ success. Time blocking is all about taking an assessment of the things you have to do in a week and figuring out what gets lumped together naturally. Then choose the most efficient time to address those. Are you more creative in the morning or at night? Match your tasks with your most productive time in the day or week.
  • Paulette’s book, Welcome to the Writer’s Life, came out on August 14, and it is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Powell’s. There are a lot of online elements including courses and coaching. When you get the book, join the Facebook group to become part of a community of writers.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is the importance of accepting your financial reality and acknowledging the choices you made to get there. I love that Paulette embraces her decisions, even the bad ones, and she continues through her journey. At the very least, she’s getting lots of fodder for her next book.

Random Three Questions 

  1. If you were to write another book, what would it be about?
  2. It’s your last night on earth and you are on death row. What would be the meal you eat?
  3. Where would you like to travel to next, if money was not an option?

Connect with Paulette

Blog: The Fuck Off Fund

Podcast: Can We Talk About Money

Website: Paulette Perhach

Instagram: @paulettejperhach

Twitter: @pauletteperhach

Facebook: Paulette Perhach

If you’d like help saving and preserving your fuck-off fund with an accountability buddy, I hope you’ll reach out to my team at the Financial Gym. If you’ve ever thought about joining, there’s no better time than now. We have a number of summer promos for individuals and couples that are about to come to an end. Go to financialgym.com to sign up for a free warm up call to find out more.

 

Homeownership after Foreclosure with Jess Garbarino

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Homeownership after Foreclosure with Jess Garbarino

One of the things I love about having a podcast is that it gives me a great excuse to catch up with friends, with just a few people eavesdropping along the way. Today I’m talking to my friend and Gen X Spirit Animal, Jess Garbarino, Founder of Every Single Dollar, about her journey from home foreclosure to buying a home again without any credit. Her story is an inspiration to anyone who thought home ownership would never be in the cards.

What are we drinking?

Jess — Jamison Ginger Ale

Shannon —  Boda Box Rosé

Podcast Notes

  • In January 2010, Jess decided she wanted to get out of debt.
  • Her grandparents came to the United States from Cuba when they were in their late 30s and paid off $55,000 of their mortgage in one year.
  • Jess was inspired by them and paid off $56,000 of debt over the course of five years, and she became debt-free on March 5, 2015. She started her blog Every Single Dollar later that year.
  • Jess didn’t have student loan debt from her undergraduate degree, but she accumulated $29,000 of debt getting her MBA in Philadelphia. She got her first credit card at age 21 and was always in credit card debt. When she started her journey, her balance was around $14,000. When she moved from Philadelphia, she bought a new car for $13,000.
  • Shannon said the best thing her mom taught her about money was the value of hard work.
  • In 2011, Jess decided to move to Florida to help care for her grandparents. She arranged with her current employer to work on contract. After the work dried up, the economy still hadn’t rebounded, and Jess couldn’t find a job. At this point she had paid off around $30,000 in debt, but she had to decide if she should pay for her condo in Minnesota or the car that she needed to get her to job interviews. She decided to stop paying on her condo.
  • When she got a job, she was already four or five months behind on her mortgage. Around Thanksgiving and her birthday that year, she moved her stuff out of her condo into a storage unit. She bought her condo six years prior, in 2005, for $109,500 and it sold at the Sheriff sale for $35,000 in 2012.
  • After the foreclosure, she slowed down on her debt payoff for about two years and just paid the minimum payments. In 2014, a friend sent out a challenge on Facebook: what do you want to accomplish this year? Jess was reenergized and wanted to get rid of her remaining debt, which was her student loan. She paid it off in about seven or eight months.
  • Jess decided to buy a house this year. She has lived in Florida for seven years and wants to put down roots. She has money for a down payment this time and she financed her condo in 2005 with $0 down. Jess no longer looks at owning a house as an investment.
  • Jess doesn’t have a credit score, since there has been nothing to report to a credit agency for a few years. To buy the house, she had to do manual underwriting. Since it hasn’t been seven years since her foreclosure, she is doing an FHA loan. Manual underwriting is a process where the lender has to look at everything in your finances. She had to give them several years of tax returns, W-2s, proof of rent payments, proof of utility payments, explanations of why she didn’t have a lease at her grandparents’ house, why she received a large deposit in her bank account, etc.
  • She got the name of the lender from her realtor.
  • Jess plans to pay the house off quickly. This home is $249,000 and she is putting 10% down. The mortgage should be between $230,000 to $235,000 after closing costs. She hopes to pay it off in five to seven years.
  • Jess likes to have goals. After she paid off her debt, she thought “now what?”. It took her a long time to spend money on herself.
  • Her income is now at least two to two and a half times more than what it was in 2005, and back then she was approved for a $240,000 mortgage.
  • Everything you do financially can be undone. You can still get a mortgage if you are within seven years of a foreclosure.
  • If you have blemishes on your credit report, the best way to make them less noticeable is by behaving. Show lenders that you have figured it out by showing a pattern of regular payments. Everybody makes mistakes!
  • The biggest reporters to credit agencies are credit card companies.
  • Jess will be closing on her house within the next few weeks.
  • She has learned that she is more capable than she gives herself credit. She has the tools available to hustle to make her payment, if she were to lose her job.
  • Everything is fixable, short of death. What are you afraid of?
  • If you say no to help, you are denying the opportunity for others to be charitable.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is what I always say at the gym – anything you do financially can be undone, and in Jess’s case, even a home foreclosure. The biggest thing you have to do is show people, and yourself, that you learned your financial lesson and all will be forgiven in time.

Random Three Questions 

  1. If you were to start a company, what would it be?
  2. If you were on death row, and it was your last night, what meal would you order?
  3. What is a show you are binge watching or love to binge watch?

Connect with Jess

Blog: Everysingledollar.com

Facebook: Every Single Dollar with Jessica Garbarino

Instagram: @jessicagarbarino

Twitter: @jessgarbarino

If you’d like to get your finances back on track after a setback or in general, I hope you’ll reach out to my team at the Financial Gym. We are working with clients on all different types of journeys and, if you’ve ever thought about joining, there’s no better time than now. We have a number of summer promos for individuals and couples, so go to financialgym.com to sign up for a free warm up call to find out more.

 

Financial & Emotional Costs of Moving with the Happy Hour Ladies

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Financial & Emotional Costs of Moving with the Happy Hour Ladies

Today is the last Friday of the month and my regular listeners know that on the last Friday of the month, I host a happy hour, where I gather great friends with me to drink cheap drinks and talk about money topics. Today we’re talking about moving and the financial and emotional implications that come with that decision. As many of you heard, I recently sold my home to move and downsize into something more affordable in my budget, well my Happy Hour friends have also handled some big moves or have them in the near future and we’re sharing all about it.

What are we drinking?

Melanie from Dear Debt — Merlot

Tonya from Budget and the Beach — Pinot Grigio

Liz, Mrs. Frugalwoods, from Frugalwoods.com — Called in sick!

Shannon — Boda Box Rosé

Podcast Notes

  • Melanie moved to Los Angeles two years ago. She is thinking of downsizing from a one-bedroom.
  • What is the farthest move you ever made?
    • Melanie: LA to NYC; NYC to Portland. Melanie moved to NYC with two suitcases. It was the first time she moved from Oregon.
    • Shannon: Florida to NYC. A multi-state move is one of the most stressful things you can do to yourself. Will was two at the time.
    • Tonya: Detroit to Seattle in April 1995. She made the drive with a friend and videotaped the entire trip. It is the most memorable move she’s made.
  • The ladies discuss futons and whether they are ever a good idea.
  • Shannon recently moved two miles from her home.
  • Are your moves financially or emotionally motivated?
    • Melanie: The move to NYC was for school, the move to Portland was for financial reasons (to cut her rent) and emotional reasons (she wanted to be with her partner), and the move to LA was emotional (Portland made her miserable).
    • Shannon: The house she just sold was an emotional purchase. This recent move was financially driven and she is much happier. Her monthly bills have been cut in half.
  • Where emotions and money meet is where finances become a disaster.
  • Moves cost money – even if you try to do it on the cheap. Even apartment hopping is a few grand.
  • Tonya is about to move from LA to Boise. Everything there is about half the cost of LA. She is currently paying $1,450 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in a very good location. The move is more emotionally driven. She feels like she is in a rut and hasn’t been taking chances, and she hates the traffic in LA. She wants to stretch her adventure muscle. Tonya plans to do a packing pod, where it is dropped off in the front yard to load and then is driven to the new place for unpacking. It costs roughly $1,300 for the pod.
  • Tonya will need to drive two days with her 18 year-old cat to get to her new location. When Shannon’s ex-husband moved their 16 year-old cat from Florida to NYC, they talked to the vet about anti-anxiety pills.
  • Tonya will be taking a trip to Boise in August to find a place to rent.
  • Shannon doesn’t advise buying a house in a new area, if you have only visited a couple of times. Only buy if you are really familiar with the area. It is costly to get into and out of a house. Take your time to figure it out.
  • Tonya has live in LA for 10 years. What is the worst that will happen when she moves? If she hates it, she can always move back to LA.
  • Tonya has been wanting to move from California for several years. She evaluated a few different areas by using cost of living calculators online. She looked at Austin and many areas in Colorado. Some amenities she was looking for included big small town, less traffic, lots of accessible outdoor recreation, and an affordable cost of living.
  • Boise kept popping up on her radar and she started researching it. Forbes listed it as the fastest growing city in America. Tech is becoming huge for the city and Boise State is right in the heart of the city. Boise is a very bike-able city and is very hot in the summer. Tonya is hoping to find a place for $750 to $900 a month.
  • If Melanie moves from a one-bedroom to a studio, she would save about $200 a month/$2,400 a year. She wants to save at least $5,000 a year in order to make a move worth it. She works from home and she would have to move two cats.
  • When Melanie moved from Portland to LA, costs included renting a car to drive from Portland to LA, the hotel stay to break up the 15-hour drive, food on the road, security deposit, first/last month rent, and new furniture to replace what they sold. She estimates the cost to be at least $4,000 to $5,000. She did not hire movers.
  • Stuff creep happens when you move into a new place, because things don’t work the same as in the old place. There is usually an extra $1,000 in expenses that you don’t expect.
  • The first time Melanie hired a house cleaner was when she was moving out of her apartment in Portland.
  • Moving requires a lot of time packing and cleaning.
  • Most people do not plan for all of the expenses and then end up with credit card debt. Plan ahead. If you want to move to a more expensive place, practice paying the extra money to yourself each month. Create an auto draft to simulate the extra cost. Don’t move broke!
  • If you need to get rid of something, in many areas you can advertise it on Craigslist or Offer Up for free and put it on the curb.
  • Forgotten costs: broker’s fee (in NYC), pet deposit, security deposit, first and last month rent.
  • Shannon has done moving estimates for clients that come in at $8,000 to $10,000.
  • Think through your move decisions with the emotional and financial costs. Is it worth it?
  • If you are moving for a company, check out their relocation package. Some include movers, flights, help with selling a home, tax preparation fees, bonuses, etc.
  • If you are considering a move outside of your city or if you are feeling unsettled, don’t get a pet.
  • Moves are high on the list of top stressors in life.
  • Think about the short-term and long-term when you are thinking of moving. Run all the numbers and weigh all of the options. Try to keep emotions to a minimum when making this decision.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is to not let our moving stories sway you from the next chapter in your life. Just make sure that you’re fully informed and as financially prepared as possible before that next move. It will make for an all around less stressful experience.

As many of you know, I’m spending most of my summer getting the Financial Gym ready to raise more money. Something that always appeals to investors is new client growth. If you’ve ever thought about joining the Financial Gym, there is no better time than now. You’ll be helping me raise money to continue to grow the gym, but we’re also offering a number of summer specials so I hope you’ll take the time to go to financialgym.com and sign up for a free warm up call about how my team can help you with your next big move no matter where you’re going.

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!!

Financial Gym Client Stories – One Year Later

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Financial Gym Client Stories – One Year Later

This time last year I was actively looking for investors for the Financial Gym, and as part of the process a number of people asked us what the experience was like, so I decided to record a happy hour with three financial gym clients to ask them about their experience and their thoughts on the gym. If you haven’t listened to that episode, I highly encourage you to go back and find it to get more background on these clients. So fast forward to a few months ago when one of them says to me, “You know it’s almost been a year since that show, we should record a check-in show”. I thought it was a great idea, especially since all three are still Financial Gym clients. So, without further ado, here are Jen, Kelly and Maria back to let you know what they’ve been up to the last year and where their finances are now.

What are we drinking?

Jen — Grapefruit infused water

Kelly — Founders All Day IPA Session Ale

Maria — Water

Shannon — Pinot Noir, Irony

Podcast Notes

  • Kelly has been a client at the Gym for about three and a half years. Jen and Maria have been clients for about two years.
  • Shannon has been coming up on some big milestones with clients that have been three or four years in the making. The small things add up over time and it is important to focus on that.
  • Where are you now?
    • Kelly: Last year, Kelly was pregnant with her third child and now the baby is six months old. One of her goals was to sell her condo and buy something bigger. She sold the condo for more than listing price, and last week she moved into her new house. Kelly’s husband has a new job and is making more money. When she started, she had $2,000 in the bank. Now, she has $30,000 in the bank.
    • Jen: She finally got to visit the Gym and NYC for the first time. Jen finished her second year of her PhD program and is going into her final two semesters. She tripled her income from when she started at the Gym. Jen will be moving to San Francisco in a couple of months and is currently applying for jobs. She is living Ohio and Arizona, in addition to San Francisco. Jen has paid off over $20,000 of debt since joining the Gym and now is focused on investing. She will be debt free in about a year.
    • Maria: She sold her BMW convertible and feels relief, because she freed up over $500 a month. She now takes public transportation or Uber, and yesterday she rode her bike from Brooklyn to Govenors Island. Maria is 52 and is always working out. She went to Hawaii this year, which was her dream vacation. It wasn’t in the plan, but it was possible because of the plan. Maria always had credit card debt and was not financially naked before joining the Gym. After joining, she paid off her credit card debt and it has not come back. Maria is debt free and now she wants to work on her mortgage. She wants to travel more and spend on experiences.
  • The Financial Gym is in a growth period and there are special promotions going on.
  • The cost for a membership begins at $85.00 per month, but on average clients save $2,500 in a quarter. When people put in the work, they get results. It takes most people three to six months to see results to change their habits. By the second quarter review, there is a 75% – 80% success rates, and a high retention rate after that point.
  • The Gym will be implementing a money-back guarantee soon. Shannon is currently working on the details.
  • The trainers work with clients as their plans change. When Kelly started, she was saving for a house and now they will talk about the mortgage payment for the house they bought. Maria was paying off debt and saving for early retirement, and now she is prioritizing travel. Jen is now moving and planning for that change.
  • The hardest part of the trainers’ job is when clients quit within the first three months. It takes time to get your finances in shape! The trainers don’t want you to give up.
  • Sometimes slip ups happen and the quarterly reviews put you in check. At the review, trainers give a letter grade to assess the client’s performance that quarter.
  • How do you describe the experience of joining the Gym?
    • Kelly: It is so nice to have that third person at the table with you, especially when you cannot come to a conclusion on a financial decision. It is nice to have help making these decisions.
    • Maria: She has never had anyone look at her finances holistically and come up with a plan and point her in the right direction, while taking everything into consideration.
    • Jen: You can be so vulnerable and have a lot of acceptance. You have another person to bounce ideas off of. You use a personal trainer to get in shape and a counselor to get through school, why wouldn’t you use a financial trainer to get your finances in order. There is so much caring and acceptance from the trainers that makes it special. The mission of the Gym is to make a huge social change.
  • Shannon and the trainers do not quit on their clients, especially if the client wants to keep going. They work with them and help them be successful.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway from all of their stories is the power of change and how anything is possible when you put your mind, and sometimes your money, towards making changes happen.

Random Three Questions 

  1. Comedy or drama?
  2. Wine or mixed drink?
  3. Beach or mountains?

I can think of no better commercial for the Financial Gym than hearing our clients’ stories. If you’re interested in investing in financial change for your life, now is really the time to do it. We are offering a number of summer promos we’ve never offered before so there’s no excuse not to try us out. Go to financialgym.com today to schedule a free warm up call and find out more about how we work with our clients.

Divorce-Proof Your Finances – with Lisa Zeiderman

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Divorce-Proof Your Finances – with Lisa Zeiderman

Despite the fact that I’m divorced, I’m actually very optimistic about relationships and their long-term potential. As I have shared on this show, money and a lack of transparency around it was certainly an issue in my marriage, and that’s why I was really excited to talk to Lisa Zeiderman, a family law attorney and partner at Miller, Zeiderman and Wiederkehr, about ways that people can divorce-proof their relationships. After dozens of years seeing all of the ways that people can financially handicap their relationships through various divorce negotiations, Lisa shares some great insights on how you can let money enhance your marriage and not lead to the downfall.

What are we drinking?

Lisa — Iced skim milk latte, decaf, with a half a shot

Shannon —  Coffee in a Hello Gorgeous mug

Podcast Notes

  • Lisa was in the fashion business when she was 18 years old, and then started her own fashion business. After she went through a divorce, she decided she wanted to help people going through divorce. She closed her business and went to Fordham undergrad and then law school. Her passion was to become a family law attorney.
  • Lisa was married at 24 and divorced at 32. She wanted to help people go through this experience in a better way.
  • Lisa graduated law school at 42 years old. People can pivot at any point! It is better to have more life experience to practice this area of law.
  • When picking a divorce attorney, you need one that has gone through a divorce. It is a very emotionally charged experience and you are not always thinking clearly and without emotion. You need someone who can advocate for you, think ahead, and think without the emotion. You need someone who you feel will watch your back, is responsive, listens to your concerns, and works with you in an efficient manner.
  • Shannon did her divorce pro se and she had an attorney friend review the agreement. It helped her to have someone point out what asset she was giving up and tell her she was entitled to it. Shannon amended the agreement because of the advice.
  • Sometimes guilt gets in the way and people are more willing to give up something. It can be guilt about what happened in the marriage or because they feel bad about initiating the process.
  • Think of the ramifications of rushing through a divorce. It is easy to just want to get it done, but you don’t want to miss something that could affect you later.
  • People get attached to the marital residence because of children or because they’ve lived there for so long. It may be a financial burden and become a liability later on. If it is for children, there may be other ways to stay in the same area and the same school.
  • When splitting assets, remember that you may not want the things after the divorce.
  • Before you get married, sign a prenuptial agreement. It gives a roadmap. It is a place to learn and share about finances. During the agreement process, the couple shares information about their finances – their income, what they own, what they expect if they have children. It allows each person to enter the marriage much more in the know about their finances and what they need to do to keep financially sound.
  • When you are getting married, you are usually at the happiest, most optimistic point in your relationship. You get a better idea of who you are marrying. It helps you discuss how you are going to manage your finances in your marriage.
  • The world of alimony and spousal support is not very kind, especially if one spouse did not work during the marriage. A prenuptial agreement will tell you a lot about who you are marrying.
  • It is a good idea to get an attorney for a prenuptial agreement. Attorneys can look down the road and see what issues may come up, offer suggestions, and help you think about what some of the issues may be. There is statutory language that is necessary for these agreements. Spend the money now instead of later.
  • If you are presented with a prenuptial agreement, get your own lawyer to review it. This is the place to protect your assets.
  • If you are married, you can sign a post-nuptial agreement. This spells out what the finances are now and what will happen with those finances, should there be a divorce. Make sure everybody is being fair-minded and one is not trying to get a better divorce settlement if the other is feeling more generous.
  • The biggest mistake is not opening the mail. So many people do not look at the bills or bank statements or know what money is going where. Have an idea of what is going on in your finances. If all of the financial mail is going to a spouse’s office, that is a red flag. Redirect it to your house or a joint email address.
  • Make sure you have access to all of the financial accounts by having all of the passwords.
  • Debt accrued during a marriage is joint debt. You will be responsible for half of it, so make sure you know what debt you have. There are some exceptions, such as gambling, drug or alcohol issues, or spending money on a boyfriend or girlfriend. These are divided differently.
  • In many cases the assets will be divided 50/50. Just because you put an asset or money in your name doesn’t mean it is only yours.
  • The healthiest relationships are often the most open about their finances and have joint accounts. They also tend to be the happiest.
  • Setting up a spending allowance is a way to have some freedom.
  • Lay it all out there before getting married. If you don’t want to get financially naked with someone, you shouldn’t be marrying them.
  • Never sign anything without reading it or asking questions – especially taxes. You are responsible for what is going on. Keep asking questions until you understand.
  • Divorce proofing anything is open, honest communication. Once a month or once a quarter have a conversation about your finances. You need to be prepared in case you get divorced or a spouse dies. Go to a trainer at the Financial Gym!

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is to be open and honest about your finances sooner than later in any relationship you’re serious about. If you can trust this person with a physical relationship, then you should certainly trust them with a financial relationship, otherwise the relationship is not as strong as you think it is.

Random Three Questions 

  1. If you were to be any other kind of attorney, what part of the law would you practice?
  2. If you were to win one million dollars, what would you do with it?
  3. If you were on death row, what would be your final meal?

Connect with Lisa

mzwnylawyers.com

Phone: 914-455-1000

If you’re ready to get financially naked with your significant other, I highly encourage you to make it a threesome and include one of my trainers at the Financial Gym. We have a number of summer promos in place specifically for couples, so now is the time to check us out. Go to financialgym.com to sign up for a free warm up call to find out more.

 

Shannon’s Financially Naked Session

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Shannon’s Financially Naked Session

At the Financial Gym, we call the first time our clients meet with their financial trainers and share all of their financial details the financially naked session. It’s typically a meeting where a lot of clients start out anxious and honestly a number of people avoid joining the financial gym out of the fear and shame they have around their money situation and I want to tell you that no matter what your situation you shouldn’t feel that way. The only reason you could possibly feel like that is if you’re not willing to do anything about changing your money situation. To help anyone out there who may be feeling bad about their financial situation, today, I’m going to let you know you’re not alone. Today, I’m sharing with you my financial situation ALL of the numbers and all of the details. As I said on the show, I have been just about all of our clients at some point in my adult life and you’re about to find out why. Joining me to hear all the dirt is one of my all time favorite trainers at the gym, Joy.

What are we drinking?

Joy — Boda Box Rosé

Shannon —  Simply Lemonade and vodka with a splash of club soda

Podcast Notes

  • Joy, one of the financial trainers, was invited on the show to interview Shannon for her financially naked session. Joy works remotely for the Financial Gym.
  • At the Financial Gym, the first session clients go through is called a Financially Naked session. The trainers give clients a sense of acceptance and no judgement. The trainers care about where you want to go.
  • Shannon was a business major in college and her goal was to make a lot of money. She started at Bank of America, in investment banking, in Florida right after college, making $55,000 (18 years ago) and she earned a $10,000 bonus the first year. Her financial decisions were never a problem, because she would just make more money. She paid off her car with her first bonus, and then four months later she bought a new car.
  • Shannon identifies with all of her clients, because she has been in their seat.
  • Shannon kept getting promoted and worked her way to $200,000 a year. She still felt like she wasn’t making enough, because she knew people who made $600,000 a year.
  • She left the bank in June 2008, because her total compensation (pay plus bonus) had been the same for three years and went to work for a hedge fund in NYC. Her salary was $110,000 but she had the potential for bigger bonuses.
  • By December 2008, the hedge fund industry had changed completely, and her bonus potential was severely limited. This was when Shannon realized how much she counted on her bonuses to pay for her credit card balances.
  • Two years later, Shannon got a call from the bank to come back to work. She didn’t want to leave the hedge fund, but she was able to negotiate a $250,000 total compensation package. At that point, they moved from their apartment at $4,000 a month in rent to an apartment on Bill’s school campus for $300 a month. They had extra income and used it for trips ($6,000 for Disney World), parties, and other things instead of saving it.
  • Will started interviewing for kindergarten and the school recommended he have a neuropsychological test, which cost $3,500, and found he had ADHD. After that, they had bills for the psychiatrist, psychologists, etc.
  • Don’t spend money before you have it! Will was accepted to his dad’s school, so they were able to stay on campus and save for a house.
  • At the same time Shannon took a pay cut to became a Merrill Lynch advisor, at $110,000 and 100% commission after that. Shannon was receiving notes home from teachers everyday about her highly energetic child.
  • After a conversation with Will at age 5, after two months in school, she knew she had to move him to a different school. She found a rental home ($4,500 a month) in a school district that would be better suited for Will.
  • They liked the school so much they decided to buy a house in the school district. They were originally approved for $750,000, and bought a house for $620,000. The down payment was $120,000, and they were close to $100,000 between their savings and a gift. Bill took $10,000 from his IRA, and Shannon took out $10,000 from hers. When they got to closing they found some issues with the house and they needed another $10,000 for taxes. They covered the difference with their 401(k), for a total of $30,000 for closing. Their mortgage was $4,200 a month: $2,100 was for mortgage and interest and $2,000 was for taxes. In addition, HOA fees were close to $700 a month.
  • They closed on their house the first week of July, and two weeks later Shannon decided to quit Merrill Lynch and start the Gym. She planned to finance the Gym with her retirement account.
  • When they filed taxes the next year, they had an extra $60,000 in income from their borrowing and ended up with a $30,000 tax bill. She didn’t have enough loss on her business to offset the taxes.
  • Shannon and Bill each put $15,000 on their credit cards. Her mother-in-law lent them some money they used for the higher interest card. Prior to this, they didn’t have credit card balances they couldn’t pay off. On average, they had about $5,000 on credit cards per month.
  • Shannon had two credit cards that each had $20,000 limits. After two years of starting the Gym, they were both maxed out. She originally had $250,000 in her 401(k) and she used it all to fund the Gym. During this time, they got their expenses under control, but she wasn’t making any money. She was ready to go back to the bank to fix their finances, but Bill convinced her to keep going and offered her his retirement account.
  • Shannon converted a life insurance policy when she left Merrill Lynch, worth $750,000 ($36 a month), so she felt some peace for her family, since she was using up her retirement fund.
  • Two years in, her former boss gave her the first $100,000 for the Gym. She gave herself $5,000 per month to live on and has never made less in her life. The numbers still didn’t add up. One of her utility bills during a bad winter was $1,100.
  • Around this time, Shannon went through her divorce, and she couldn’t afford an attorney. She kept the house and her mom moved in. Her mom didn’t help out as much as Shannon had expected.
  • The next year, things started spiraling and Shannon made minimum payments on everything and would use that credit to pay for things she needed. She was completely maxed out and figured she would sell the Gym eventually. She learned last year that it will take a few more years for the Gym to be sellable.
  • After raising more money for the Gym, Shannon raised her income to $100,000. She and Bill looked at getting a home equity line to pay down some bills, but they were declined. Shannon was at 100% utilization on her credit cards and she believes that was the deciding factor.
  • Shannon’s mom moved out in December 2017, and in January 2018 she sat down and decided she needed to sell the house. Her expenses were cut and she didn’t want to sacrifice at the Gym to give herself a raise.
  • They decided to stay in her son’s school district and find a rental house. The realtor said they could list the house as is for $680,000, or paint it and do a few other things and list it for $729,000. Shannon didn’t have a way to pay a painter. Her dad lent her $8,000 for the paint and deposit on a new place. After two days on the market, they received a full price offer on their house. Shannon was able to find a duplex for $2,700 a month. Prior to this, her fixed housing cost was $5,000.
  • Two weeks ago Shannon moved into the new place, and one week ago, she closed on her house. At that time Shannon had about $50,000 in credit card debt. After she received her check, Shannon paid off all except $5,000 or $6,000, because she is going to get a balance transfer card. She opened a Betterment account and invested $15,000 to start. She opened up a high-yield savings account with another $15,000.
  • Her average monthly expenses will now be around $5,000. For a six month emergency fund, she will need $30,000. She invests her Betterment account at 90% stocks and 10% bonds.
  • Shannon set up $1,000 a month to go to Betterment, and she moved money to travel savings so she can take her son to Universal Studios. Shannon put $3,000 in an Oh Shit fund.
  • When the numbers don’t work out, you only have two choices: massive expense shift or massive income shift. There really is no magic. It is tough no matter how you look at it.
  • Working a financial plan is totally doable – you just need to make the decision.
  • A lot of times solopreneurs and entrepreneurs have debt and shame around that debt. When you are building a business, it can get uncomfortable. Shannon is not ashamed of her finances from the point she became aware she needed to change. She is practicing everything she tells her clients.
  • Most people don’t live a financially perfect life. There are a lot of emotional challenges with money.
  • If you reach out to the Gym, you may get some difficult advice that you don’t want to hear, but you need to hear. Shannon and her trainers get where their clients have been and want to help them. They are not emotionally tied to these decisions and can offer disinterested/interested third party advice. They give real, practical financial advice.

If you’ve ever thought about joining the Financial Gym to either enhance your financial situation, like our financially fit clients, or improve your financial situation, like a number of our clients, there really is no better time than now. This Fall, I need to raise $5-7 million dollars to keep growing the gym and something investors want to see are lots of clients in the gym. We have a goal to reach 1,000 clients by the end of the summer and I really need your help. We’re offering all sorts of deals and incentives, so I hope you schedule a free warm up call at financialgym.com to find out more and get started on your financial journey with my amazing team of financial trainers.