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Ambition Redefined with Kathryn Sollman

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Ambition Redefined with Kathryn Sollman

I always say that getting financially fit is just like getting physically fit – they both require that you do two things. To get physically fit, you need to eat less and work out more. To get financially fit, you need to spend less and make more. It sounds easy, but if it were that easy, we would have a bunch of skinny millionaires running around. We joke at The Gym,  where are the skinny millionaires at?

It is hard work to get physically and financially fit, but today we’re talking about one of those areas of financial fitness, and that’s making more money, specifically for women. Women frequently feel torn between caring for their loved ones, whether it is kids or parents, and trying to make money. Today I am talking to Kathryn Sollman, Career Coach and author of the new book Ambition Redefined, Why the Corner Office Doesn’t Work for Everyone and What to  Do Instead.

What are we drinking?

Kathryn — Lipton Tea

Shannon — Coffee, light and sweet

Podcast Notes

  • Kathryn is a career coach for women. Previously, she was a marketing communications strategist for several investment firms. After 9/11, many of the investment firms took this job in-house. Katheryn was looking for something else, and, at the time, there was a woman who was providing programs for women who wanted to get off the fast track, and she wanted Kathryn to bring those programs to Connecticut.
  • Kathryn decided to work with a partner to create programs for women who wanted to return to the workforce. The program was called Opportunity Knocks, and it became very successful and turned into a big network of women called Women at Work. After that, she worked as a recruiter, helping women find jobs, and it grew from there.
  • In 2012, Kathryn left that job and started Nine Lives for Women, which led to her writing a book, Ambition Redefined.
  • Kathryn says it’s important to always work, but in a flexible way. Most women need some kind of flexible work. Not just a part-time job, but professional, flexible work. It is possible to work, whether you have one child or ten.
  • There are six different kinds of flexible work right now, to fit work into your life:
    • Flexible full-time job: some employers are allowing flexibility in terms of hours or where you are working.
    • Part-time jobs: Every professional job, in every industry, could be part time.
    • Job shares: Less common than other forms of flex work. This works great, if you complement the other person. Kathryn recommends Work Muse, which is a job share solutions firm.
    • Telecommuting: working at home or in a shared workspace, either all or part of the time.
    • Freelance: Working on projects in a short-term way.
    • Entrepreneur: Those who decide to start their own practice.
  • How do you have the conversation to create a flexible work environment? There are a number of women who will assume there is no flexibility and won’t ask. What Kathryn sees more frequently is that women ask, but they make a simple ask. For instance, it is brought up as an afterthought at a meeting about something else. If you want to have this conversation with your boss, it needs to be a pitch.
  • Check your company handbook. If there is nothing written in the company handbook about flexibility, create a pitch.
    • What are you asking for? Be specific about the flexibility that you want. Then talk about where the work is going to be done.
    • Be clear that you have the productive, professional setup. Is there other software or equipment? Would you be willing to pay for that if the employer isn’t.
    • How are you going to communicate with the team?
    • What if you manage people? How are you planning to continue that if you are not in the office?
    • What about team meetings? Will you be able to participate in person or offsite?
    • Talk about ways this arrangement could help your employer. Don’t only show how it benefits you.
  • Shannon and Kathryn agree that women should always work in some capacity. Women who leave employment to care for family leave for an average of 12 years. Women need to think about caring for themselves for the long-term, as women live longer than men.
  • If you leave the workforce, you are giving up up to four times your salary every year that you are out. For 12 years, that is 144 paychecks that are not earned, saved, or invested, and that is really hard to recoup.
  • If, through a part-time job over 20 years, you could save and invest and end up with another $500,000, that is huge!
  • Kathryn’s book includes many helpful tips and suggestions.
  • What about the woman who doesn’t like her job? Does it make sense for her to leave her job? Or what about the woman who is out of the workforce and is thinking she wants to get back in?
    • If you don’t like your job, you could find flexible work somewhere else. It is easier to find a job while you have a job.
    • Think about small or mid-size companies. Many large, global companies are not able to offer the flexibility of small companies. As company size goes down, flexibility goes up.
    • Think about your network and get creative about the next chapter of your life. It should always include working.
  • What about women who have a fear of age and that it will dictate or limit their options?
    • Stop thinking about age. There are older and older professionals in the workforce right now. There is a talent drain, because of all the baby boomers leaving the workforce. Companies are no longer pushing older employees out the door. There is real, perceived value  in people who have more life experience and more knowledge about various industries.
    • You don’t need to get hung up on your age. You do need to get hung up on whether you are acting old, dressing old, or your hairstyle is not current. Sometimes Kathryn has to direct women to update their look, otherwise it will work against them.
    • If you are energetic and full of ideas, your age will not work against you, unless you are thinking of going into an industry that is very young. It’s all about how you act!
    • There are opportunities to pivot at any age.
  • How do women approach getting back into the workforce after 12 years?
    • Most women who have been out for a long time end up being mega volunteers in their communities. Step back and describe the activities in bottom-line, business terms. Managed, generated revenues, negotiated, etc. Talk about all of the business skills you used.
    • Don’t downplay volunteer work! If you can describe it in business terms, it should be on your resume.
  • Women owe it to themselves to create a strong financial foundation. Work doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing choice. Caring for family members is temporary during different chapters of our lives, but throughout we need to keep supporting ourselves financially and not making this an either/or decision. You don’t know what is going to happen in the future.
  • If you feel like you need to be home 24/7 with your children, if you are not financially secure down the road and run out of money, it is those very same children that you will burden.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is the importance of continually working, for women. As a single, working mom, I know that it is difficult to balance making money and caring for your family. At some point, the family care needs will lessen, and I want to make sure you are financially set for wherever your life journey is going to take you. Consistent income is going to give you the most flexibility in that journey.

Random Three Questions 

  1. What do you do to relax?
  2. What is a book you would recommend to other people?
  3. If you were to win a million dollars, what would you do with it?

Connect with Kathryn

Website: kathrynsollman.com

Book: Ambition Redefined

If you would like help getting your finances in order to find out how much you need to be making, I hope you’ll reach out to my team at the Financial Gym. My trainers coach men and women on how to make more money and improve their financial health along the way. We don’t care how you got here, we just care about where you want to go. Head over to financialgym.com to sign up for a free warm up call to find out more.

 

Getting Naked with Allie

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Getting Naked with Allie

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

A few months back on this podcast, I shared my financially naked session so this group could start dropping any fear or shame they have around their money. Well, podcast listener and Facebook Group member Dylan suggested I share more naked sessions on the podcast because mine really helped her open up about money with her friends. I’ve done two naked sessions with employees of the Gym, and this is the first non-Gym employee naked session.

Allie, a new Financial Gym client, volunteered to share her numbers with this group. A word of warning though, before you listen to this episode, Allie’s story has a very intense back story. If you are somebody with PTSD, or you have triggers around violence (specifically gun violence), this is an episode you should not listen to. I am giving you warning that this was very intense for me to hear and for Allie to live through, and unfortunately, she was one of the episodes I lost when recording, so this poor young woman had to share this story with me twice. She is an absolute rockstar, and I appreciate her willingness to share everything, but, again, if you can’t handle these types of things, please refrain from listening.

What are we drinking?

Allie — Coffee with hazelnut creamer

Shannon — Coffee

Podcast Notes

  • Allie’s story really begins in August 2017. She had put herself through college and graduate school with student loans and had close to $75,000 in student loan debt. She was on an income-based repayment plan and had resolved that she would do the payback plan for 25 years and then age out.
  • She never saw major movement in her balance, even when she would pay larger amounts. When she did the total calculation, she found that she would end up paying over three times the principal balance.
  • She decided to do a little more research, when her payment increased.
  • Her interest rate was 6%, and she was paying much more in interest than principal.
  • Allie’s friend sent her a debt snowball payment worksheet and she began using it as a starting point. She was able to see the impact of putting extra on her loans each month.
  • She then created her own spreadsheet that allowed for variable payment amounts every month. She figured out her fixed expenses and cut her budget, so she could put extra on her student loans. She was making about three to four payments on her loans per month.
  • On October 1, 2017, Allie was at the Route 91 music harvest festival in Las Vegas. She was on the field watching Jason Aldean and was shot three times by a gunman. She loves live music and the tickets were a birthday present. It was supposed to be a fun, week-long vacation.
  • Allie was close to the stage on the right side, which was the worst place to be, based on the people who were injured and the debris afterward. It was the last day of the festival and she heard what sounded like fireworks going off, but it seemed too early for that. During the second round of fire, she was shot in the leg, and she thought she was burned by fireworks, because it was a searing, burning pain. She was then shot two more times.
  • Allie was with her partner and her friend at this time, along with a 14 and 16 year-old they met that day at the festival. The 14 year-old’s mom was fatally wounded on the field. They applied pressure to the wound, but she didn’t make it. They then had to run because the shooting started again.
  • They ran about a mile and took shelter in a diner.
  • When Allie realized she was shot, she tried to convince everyone she didn’t need an ambulance or hospital, because she was afraid she couldn’t afford the bill.
  • Allie ended up going to the hospital and they found she was shot twice in her leg. They cleaned the wounds, covered them in bandages, and told her to get a tetanus shot when she gets home, since they ran out.
  • The bullets are still in her leg. It’s impossible to forget about the bullets, because they still cause her pain.
  • When she got back to the hotel, she realized she was shot a third time in her hip. The type of bullets she was hit by fragmented on impact, so it’s not just a solid bullet.
  • She didn’t go back to the hospital, since they didn’t do anything, and she figured she would go to her primary care doctor when she got back home.
  • Allie had a high deductible insurance plan and the starting estimate from the hospital was $50,000, for two hours and a band-aid. Her maximum out-of-pocket was $5,000 and she only had to pay $4,500, since she already had paid $500 in medical costs previously. By the end of it, the hospital was paid $25,000.
  • Allie is going through a specific type of therapy called EMDR, which is the most common for PTSD. Prior to the shooting, she had been in therapy. She stopped going after the shooting, because she wasn’t ready to talk about it. She went back in February 2018, and wanted to go to that type of therapy to address the underlying issues. She was eligible for funds from the Las Vegas victims fund, which was started the day after the shooting through Go Fund Me. There was over $33 million in the fund for those injured at the event. She was also eligible for funds from the Victims of Crime fund through the State of Nevada, after her insurance company paid.
  • Allie is getting her plan from the Gym tomorrow. Her trainer is Georgina.
  • Questions from the financially naked discovery questions:
    • Employment: Employed as a trainer
    • Birthday: September 6, 1988
    • Current Salary: $91,700
    • Monthly Take-Home Pay: $4,290
    • Checking Account: $91.50
    • Savings Account: $65.20
    • HSA: $6,400
    • 401k: $50,000 (Target Date Fund)
    • Employee Stock Program: Yes
    • Student Loan Debt: None – paid off $75,000
    • Credit Card 1: $680
    • Chase United Credit Card: $550 (paid off weekly)
    • Car Loan: $5,650 (2.29% interest, 13 mos left)
    • Credit Score: 760
    • Own or Rent: Rent
    • Current Monthly Rent: $760 (half)
    • Renter’s Insurance: $10
    • Life Insurance: Free through employer
    • Disability Insurance: Free through employer
    • Will or Trust: No
    • Children: No
    • Pets: Yes
    • Average Monthly Expenses: $2,800
    • 1-3 Year Goals: Apply to a one-year program at Stanford, which will require a move to the Bay Area (she is able to work while she is in the program); Total cost is $1,500 in 2018, and they only run it every two years. She hopes to attend in 2020. The second two quarters, they pay you about $1,500 per semester, as they teach you to facilitate one of their courses through their graduate school of business.
    • 3-5 Year Goals: Travel, work on her f-off fund
    • 5-10 Year Goals: Possibly have one child and adopt another one
    • What is important to you (sacred cows)? Health care, self-care/therapy, explore pain management care for her leg wound, continue to grow, learn, and push herself, traveling

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is that money should never be a reason you can’t take care of yourself physically or mentally. If you’re finances prohibit you from taking care of yourself, then this is a sign you need to fix your finances and become empowered by them instead of controlled by them.

Random Three Questions

  1. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
  2. If you were on death row, what would your last meal be?
  3. If you were to win a million dollars, what would you do with it?

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

 

Icebreaker Questions with the Happy Hour Ladies

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Icebreaker Questions 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.

What are we drinking?

Melanie from Dear Debt — Ace Pumpkin Craft Cider

Tonya from Budget and the Beach — Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

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

Shannon — Bota Box Malbec

Podcast Notes

  • Last month’s Happy Hour was about mental health awareness and prevention and Shannon decided to have a fun, lighthearted discussion today.
  • Shannon found these questions to help listeners get to know the Happy Hour ladies better.
  • What is an article of clothing someone could wear that would make you walk out on a date with them?
    • Melanie: Suspenders (withdrawn); MAGA hat (Make America Great Again)
    • Tonya: Wife beater tank top and/or jorts, or socks with sandals
    • Liz: Tee shirt with an offensive slogan
    • Shannon: Bow tie
  • The zombie apocalypse is coming. Who are three people you want on your team?
    • Melanie: Unsure
    • Tonya: MacGyver and Ryan Reynolds
    • Liz: Her husband, Nate, and two kids
    • Shannon: Doesn’t want to survive and live off the land; if she had to pick, her brother-in-law, Ben
  • What is your most used emoji?
    • Melanie: Cry-laughing emoji
    • Tonya: Tongue sticking out
    • Liz: Cry-laughing emoji
    • Shannon: Kissy face and prayer hands
  • What is the worst style choice you’ve ever made?
    • Melanie: Overalls and oversized Gap sweaters
    • Tonya: Shoulder pads
    • Liz: Everything she wore in 7th grade
    • Shannon: Shoulder pads, layers of scrunchy socks, and most other middle school choices
  • What was the worst haircut/style you ever had?
    • Melanie: When she used too much Sun-In at age 13; When she tried bangs a few years ago and cut her them too short
    • Tonya: Permed, wavy hair; hair wings
    • Liz: Hair down to her waist; sprayed, curled bangs
    • Shannon: Teased/sprayed bangs and the time she cut her own bangs when her hair was wet
  • Who was your favorite actor/actress crush?
    • Melanie: Joey Lawrence and Jonathan Taylor Thomas
    • Tonya: Anybody in the Outsiders (Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio, C. Thomas Howell, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estavez, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon)
    • Liz: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Joshua Jackson, Prince William
    • Shannon: Kirk Cameron, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, the actors in the Outsiders
  • If you were a wrestler, what would be your entrance theme song?
    • Melanie: Super Freak
    • Tonya: Another One Bites the Dust
    • Liz: Bach’s Harpsichord Concerto
    • Shannon: For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)
  • Have you ever been told you look like someone famous?
    • Melanie: Brooke Shields in Blue Lagoon; Kate Blanchett
    • Tonya: Molly Shannon
    • Liz: Mrs. Frugalwoods
    • Shannon: No one
  • Did you have a name for your first car?
    • Melanie: None
    • Tonya: Rabbit
    • Liz: current – Snowdrop and The Truck
    • Shannon: Marty (1980 Chevy Cavalier)
  • If a movie was made of your life, what genre would it be and who would play you?
    • Melanie: Indie comedic drama; Greta Gerwig
    • Tonya: Indie comedic dramedy; Emma Stone
    • Liz: Western, like Little House on the Prairie
    • Shannon: Comedy; Amy Schumer
  • If you were famous, what would you be famous for?
    • Melanie: Lola Retreat and the things she is doing to mobilize women and money; to become a prominent thought-leader in mental health and money
    • Tonya: Acting
    • Liz: As the mom of her kids (i.e., the president’s mom)
    • Shannon: Financial Gym; for changing the financial services industry
  • You have to sing karaoke. What song do you pick?
    • Melanie: Just a Girl, by No Doubt
    • Tonya: I Want You to Want Me, by Cheap Trick; The House that Built Me, by Miranda Lambert; Portion for Foxes, by Rilo Kiley
    • Liz: Anything from Les Misérables; Jolene, by Dolly Parton; Lonestar, by Norah Jones; Silver Lining, by Rilo Kiley
    • Shannon: You’re So Vain, by Carly Simon
  • What was your least favorite food as a child, and do you still hate it now?
    • Melanie: Mayonnaise, mustard, pickles, and olives; she still hates them all
    • Tonya: Brussel sprouts; she likes them when they are cooked right
    • Liz: Powdered milk; she still hates it
    • Shannon: Her mom’s meatloaf; she likes ketchup-based meatloaf
  • If you were left on a deserted island with either your worst enemy or no one, which would you choose?
    • Melanie: Worst enemy
    • Tonya: Worst enemy
    • Liz: Worst enemy
    • Shannon: Worst enemy – she would use the time to make things right
  • If aliens landed on earth tomorrow and offered to take you home with them, would you go?
    • Melanie: No
    • Tonya: No
    • Liz: No
    • Shannon: No
  • Sixties, seventies, eighties, or nineties, what decade do you love most?
    • Melanie: The 90s for music
    • Tonya: The 60s for music
    • Liz: The 60s for fashion and music
    • Shannon: the 80s for music
  • What is your favorite sandwich and why?
    • Melanie: Grilled cheese with brie
    • Tonya: Grilled cheese with artisanal bread
    • Liz: Grilled cheese with mayonnaise
    • Shannon: Grilled cheese; When she was pregnant with Will, it was all she could eat the first trimester

If you need help getting your finances in order, I hope you’ll reach out to my team at the Financial Gym. There’s no better time than 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!!

Getting Naked with Bridget Todd

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Getting Naked with Bridget Todd

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

A few months back on this podcast, I shared my financially naked session so this group could start dropping any fear or shame they had around their money. Well, podcast listener and Facebook Group member Dylan suggested I share more naked sessions on the podcast because mine really helped her open up about money with her friends. This is now officially part of the show. Last month, my teammate Caitlin got naked with me and today Bridget Todd, employee number one at the Financial Gym, is in the hot seat. I hope you enjoy!

What are we drinking?

Bridget — Malbec

Shannon —  Irony Pinot Noir

Podcast Notes

  • Bridget was employee number one at the Financial Gym, and she recently celebrated her two-year work anniversary.
  • When Bridget started, Shannon had about 30 clients and now the Gym has 1,000.
  • Prior to working at the Gym, Bridget was working for a hedge fund in a middle office type of position, which means she supported the traders and portfolio managers. She found her days to be very monotonous. She felt like she was helping rich people get richer.
  • About three years ago, Bridget found out about the Financial Gym through her friend who was a client of Shannon’s. Bridget heard Shannon speak at an event and signed up as a client with Shannon.
  • Shannon figured out a way for Bridget to save enough money to take a pay cut to come work for the Gym. Bridget was making $85,000 and Shannon offered her $50,000. Bridget countered with $70,000, and Shannon paid her the same as herself, which was $60,000. Bridget accepted the job knowing that Shannon could only guarantee one year.
  • In the beginning, Shannon didn’t have a lot of time, and Bridget had to figure a lot of things out on her own. They would sit down together once in a while if there was something Bridget really needed. Once Shannon makes up her mind, it is not worth getting mad about the decision. Once a decision’s made, it’s made. Bridget feels like she is usually aligned with Shannon’s decisions and where she wants to take the company.
  • Bridget is on the Executive Team at the Gym.
  • Everyone has bad days and Shannon admits when it is not a good day to talk about something. She is very good at making quick decisions. Shannon has the least patience when people waste time on things that aren’t going to happen.
  • They are both good at having disagreements and moving forward from that and don’t hold a grudge. Save the drama for your mama!
  • Shannon wants to serve their clients and make sure everyone on the team is in the right position.
  • Questions from the financially naked discovery questions:
    • Employer: The Financial Gym
    • Birthday: 5/4/89
    • Current Salary: $100,000
    • Monthly Take-Home Pay: $5,700
    • Checking Account: $3,000
    • Account for Work Expenses/Reimbursement: $160
    • Savings Account: $1,500
    • Moving Fund: $3,500
    • Travel/Fun Account: $2,000
    • Emergency Fund: $15,000
    • Betterment IRA: $36,572
    • Betterment Roth: $20,445
    • Charles Schwab Account: $82,622
    • LVest: $150
    • Assets as of Now: $165,000
    • Assets as of 1/27/16: $94,000
    • Student Loan Debt: $0
    • Mortgage: N/A
    • Chase Sapphire Reserve Card: $1,734 (pays in full each month)
    • AmEx: $2.99 per month (pays in full each month)
    • Amazon: $323 (pays in full each month)
    • Capital One Venture Card: $531 (some work expenses)
    • Credit Score Now: 799
    • Credit Score in 2016: 760
    • Car Loan: N/A
    • Personal Loan: N/A
    • Other Loan: N/A
    • Own or Rent: In between/Living with parents temporarily
    • Current Monthly Rent: N/A
    • Renter’s Insurance: N/A
    • Life Insurance: No
    • Disability Insurance: No
    • Will or Trust: No
    • Children: No
    • Average Monthly Expenses: $1,500 – $1,800
    • Current Monthly Saving: $2,200 for a rental or to purchase a studio, $1,500 into investment accounts, $460 into retirement accounts, $500 into travel
    • 1-3 Year Goals: Move out to a rental or purchase a studio; make more money; travel to Europe
    • 3-5 Year Goals: Marriage, kids, purchase a house on Long Island
    • 5-10 Year Goals: Financial independence, travel
    • 10+ Year Goals: Help kids pay for college, purchase a vacation home
    • What is important to you (sacred cows)? Family and friends and being able to buy gifts for them; having money to socialize; traveling; working out at a gym; being comfortable with her own finances; her own place (either rental or owned)

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is the importance of taking a leap of faith. Sometimes it sounds really scary to give up money in the pursuit of your passions, but, from my experience, those leaps of faith usually pay off. As you can see from Bridget, she’s in an even better place than she was two years before she took the leap.

Connect with Bridget

Instagram: @thefinancialgym

Facebook: The Financial Gym

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

 

Declaring Bankruptcy with Colleen

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Declaring Bankruptcy with Colleen 

People frequently say to me they want to join the Financial Gym, but they don’t think they can afford the monthly membership. My reply is always, “If you can’t afford the $85 per month, then you NEED to join the Financial Gym.” Our membership is now over 1,000 people and growing, which means I’ve reviewed probably over 1,500 financial plans, and a consistent theme we see is a need for a lifestyle change, but a lack of knowledge on how best to change it. Some of our clients need to make more money, and we tell them how much. Some of our clients have some glaring monthly expenses that need to be cut and we help them identify them. Some clients, like Colleen, need to be coached on making some extreme changes in life. Colleen joins me today to share her story about why she reached out to my team and the dramatic transformation her life has taken in just three short months.

What are we drinking?

Colleen — Winking Owl Merlot

Shannon — Cavit Pinot Grigio

Podcast Notes

  • Colleen is a client at the Financial Gym. Colleen’s trainer, Joy, requested Gym Magic funds so Colleen could purchase a URL for her blog mystraightuplife.com
  • When Colleen graduated with her undergrad degree in finance, she had about no debt. In 2007, after a year of living with her parents in Albany, New York and working, she decided to quit her government job and move to Charleston, South Carolina in October 2007 with her friend. Colleen’s sister lives in South Carolina, but in a different city, and her first day in Charleston was her first time there ever.
  • Colleen couldn’t get a job in finance because of the economic downturn, so she took a job at Enterprise Rent-a-Car in December and stayed there for two years.
  • She had $9,000 in cash when she moved. A few months later, she was living paycheck to paycheck. She spent money on food, going out, drinking, shopping, makeup, clothes, etc. She ended up in credit card debt and consumer debt. She attributes this to emotional spending, bad relationships, and insecurities. This is when the spiral started.
  • This debt started catching up with Colleen about three years ago, when she couldn’t pay the minimum payments.
  • Colleen left South Carolina and moved to Virginia for her fiancé about a year ago. She met him on a blind date, when she was set up by her sister-in-law. They dated for four months when she decided to move, and they got engaged a few weeks ago.
  • Colleen had never talked to anyone about her finances. She realized about six months ago that she needed help. Colleen searched online and found an article on Business Insider about the Gym. She hesitated because of the monthly fee. A month later, she called the Gym and scheduled an appointment, because she had bill collectors calling her and she couldn’t afford to pay anything.
  • She had her financially naked session with Joy. She had about $65,000 in credit card and personal loan debt, her credit score was about 520, and she had about $200 in the bank. Colleen was embarrassed, but it felt like a weight lifted off her shoulders, because there was no judgement. Shannon and the Gym have seen over $1,500 financial plans so far, and debt like this is not unusual.
  • Joy gave her two options: (1) double her income (she was making $43,000 per year), or (2) declare bankruptcy.
  • Colleen met with an attorney in mid-June and was told that it would be simple, because she didn’t own anything. She decided she wanted to go through the process and she had to pay the attorney and court fees up front, which were $1,600.
  • Colleen lives in her fiancé’s house and pays $600 in rent every month. He waived her rent, so she could focus on saving for the attorney and court fees and she also received an $800 quarterly bonus from work. She was able to pay the fee within a month and file by August 1, and she had her court date in September. Now she is waiting for the discharge letter.
  • A year ago, Colleen’s father gave her a $15,000 loan. She is paying her parents back and she had to list them as someone she owes. Colleen had to tell her parents about the bankruptcy. She decided to tell her fiancé, because of this podcast and the damage it causes when couples hide money problems.
  • She told her fiancé about the bankruptcy first, about three months ago, and she thought he was going to kick her out. He didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Her parents also didn’t judge her. They were more upset that she didn’t talk to them about what she was going through.
  •  There is help out there – you don’t need to go through this alone!
  • When we tell our truth, we all win. Share your truth with others and learn from it.
  • Colleen had a good first quarter review. Most Gym clients have something positive to show during their first quarter review.
  • The Gym is currently offering a money-back guarantee. There is no excuse not to call. They guarantee they can help you!

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is that sometimes it takes money to save money. Investing in yourself, whether it’s your mental, physical, or financial health, from my perspective, always pays off in the long run and you’re worth that investment.

Random Three Questions 

  1. If this was your last night on earth, what would be your last meal?
  2. What is a show you like to binge watch?
  3. If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it?

Connect with Colleen

Blog: mystraightuplife.com

Instagram: @mystraightuplife

If you’d like some help getting your finances together, so you can get unstuck from bad behaviors, I hope you’ll reach out to my team at the Financial Gym. We’ve seen clients of all financial shapes and sizes and my trainers are waiting, without judgment, to help you reach your financial goals. Go to, or send friends to, financialgym.com to sign up for a free warm up call to find out more.

 

Retire Early with Real Estate with Chad Carson

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Retire Early with Real Estate with Chad Carson

I recently met with a client who listened to my financially naked episode and assumed I wouldn’t approve of a real estate purchase she made, because I declared in that episode that I was over real estate. Well, I am over real estate, but just in the sense of owning where you live. I actually love real estate as another stream of income for investment purposes, or, in the case of this client, owning a place that brings joy and makes the daily grind worth it.

Today, I have back on the show Chad Carson, who is a firm believer that real estate is the way to financial independence. He should know, he is living proof. He is going to talk about his latest book, Retire Early with Real Estate.

What are we drinking?

Chad — New Belgium Voodoo Ranger

Shannon — Pinot Noir Irony

Podcast Notes

  • The last time Chad was on the podcast was two years ago, when he was planning his sabbatical to Ecuador. Click here to listen to the show.
  • His sabbatical was planned for a year but ended up lasting from January 2017 through May 2018. Chad and his wife love to travel, both speak Spanish, and wanted to live in another place and have their kids immersed in a different language and culture. After four or five months, their kids were speaking in Spanish. Their kids were ages 3 and 5.
  • Chad and his family lived in an urban area, and they enjoyed not having a car. They were happy without the traffic and walking everywhere. It gave them an opportunity to bump into people. Life was slower there. They learned to take it easy and slow it down a bit.
  • Boredom breeds creativity. Sometimes you need to unplug to figure out what is next.
  • Life in Ecuador is less expensive. The city Chad lived in was $600 a month for a furnished, two-bedroom, two-bath apartment. Monthly living expenses were $3,000 a month for his family.
  • Anything is possible if you have your finances in order.
  • Chad recently wrote a book called “Retire Early with Real Estate: How Smart Investing Can Help You Escape the 9-5 Grind and do More of What Matters”.
  • The framework is to use real estate investing to help you reach financial independence. He gives different options on how to use real estate. There are a lot of diagrams in the book to help explain the concepts. The bottom line is real estate doesn’t have to be complicated.
  • Main concept: Buy a property in a good, working class location, and make sure the income on the property meets a certain goal (rent, appreciation, etc.). The reason you like a neighborhood should be the same reason you buy a property.
  • Do an extra layer of due diligence up front when researching a property. If you do your homework, it can be very profitable down the road.
  • Chad has 90 rental units that he has other people managing. The most important team member is a local property manager. Put the most effort into vetting this person – check their references.
  • If you have good credit, sometimes you only need $10,000 to $20,000 down. You will need to budget the property manager into the income you expect to receive from the rental. If you have more than one unit, you can leverage the amount of units to get a better rate from the property manager.
  • Property managers typically work on commission based on what they perform. Often you pay 10% of the rent they collect and 50% or 100% of the lease when they rent it out.
  • It is important to have written qualifications on what a renter needs to have in order to rent your unit. This could include a certain credit score, income, references, time on the job, etc. If a renter doesn’t meet the qualifications, you move on to the next person.
  • If you have a mortgage, make sure you have some safeguards in place.
  • Big Shifts Ahead, written by John Burns and Chris Porter, is a book about real estate trends that Chad recommends. The long-term trend is that home ownership rates are not going to be as high as they were in the past. Being a landlord is filling a gap in the market. When looking for a property to buy, you need to follow big-picture trends.
  • If you have a location you like to visit, you can live in another place and purchase a rental. Airbnb has made it easier to rent out your investment property, if you don’t want to use a property manager.
  • BiggerPockets is the biggest online community of real estate investors.
  • Chad’s book can be found on Amazon and BiggerPockets.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is to literally buy Chad’s book, if you are thinking about real estate as a part of your investment portfolio. I rarely to tell you to spend your money on things, because I want you to spend it wisely, but I really, honestly love this book. It is such a great all-around resource, and I appreciate all the work he put into it to provide a great real estate solution for just about everyone.

Random Three Questions 

  1. Would you take another sabbatical, and, if so, where would you go?
  2. If you were on death row, what would be your last meal?
  3. If you were to live anywhere in the U.S. other than the south, where would you live?

Connect with Chad

Website: www.CoachCarson.com

Book: Retire Early

Instagram: @coachcarson1

Twitter: @coachchadcarson

Facebook: Coach Carson

If you’d like help figuring out how real estate can lead you to financial independence, or attaining other financial goals, I hope you’ll reach out to my team at the Financial Gym. I believe so much in my team and our process, that we have recently implemented a money-back guarantee. I guarantee that you will be better off having worked with us. There is no excuse to not reach out! Go to, or send friends to, financialgym.com to sign up for a free warm up call to find out more.

 

Debt and Mental Health with the Happy Hour Ladies

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Debt and Mental Health 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. Today is not only the last Friday of the month, but it’s the last Friday in September, and September is National Suicide Prevention Month. This month I committed two shows to talking about finances and mental health.

At the Financial Gym we have a slogan “what are you working for”, and if you don’t have physical health or mental health what are you working for? A few weeks back I spoke with my friend Ash Cash, and today the Happy Hour Ladies and I are sharing our personal stories and struggles with mental health. As a heads up, we got very honest about our personal journeys, and if you are triggered by suicide conversations, prescription drug conversations, or depression conversations in general, you may want to pass on this episode. For everyone else, I hope that this helps you or someone you love who battles with mental health.

What are we drinking?

Melanie from Dear Debt — Margarita

Tonya from Budget and the Beach — Prosecco

Liz, Mrs. Frugalwoods, from Frugalwoods.com — Boxed Malbec

Shannon — Vodka & Lemonade

Podcast Notes

  • For the past three years, Melanie has been doing a blog tour in September with her personal finance friends to get people talking about suicide, debt, depression, and mental health in general.
  • Before the tour, the most consistent search term to find Melanie’s blog was “I want to kill myself, because of debt”. Melanie felt compelled to write about how debt is not a death sentence. To this day, that term is still her top search topic.
  • Melanie’s maternal grandfather killed himself when her mom was five. Last year, her mom wrote a post about being a child of suicide.
  • When Melanie was a teenager, she had thoughts of suicide. She told her mom, because she was scared, and she sought help through therapy and medication.
  • Every September, Melanie wants to reach out to as many people as possible.
  • In 2016, Melanie emailed every personal finance blogger she knew and asked them to write about suicide and debt and debt and depression and publish it anytime in September.
  • According to Psychology Today, people in debt are eight times more likely die by suicide.
  • Liz’s experience with mental health was non-existent, until a coupld of months ago, when she was diagnosed with post-partum depression. She thought how she felt was normal, because she was tired and she has two kids who need her. She started doing more self-care and eating more protein and thought she could muscle her way through it.
  • Liz didn’t want to write, she missed a podcast, and she started to hate the homestead. She questioned every decision she ever made. Liz’s husband convinced her that she needed help and she went to a therapist. Within the first few minutes, the therapist diagnosed her with post-partum depression and recommended that she start taking medication. She went to her primary care doctor who said the same thing and prescribed medication.
  • Liz went through a couple of weeks of therapy, before she had the prescription, and it was clear that medication was necessary. Liz was not able to see this by herself.
  • Within the first week of taking the prescription, Liz was back to loving her life, her husband, her kids, and writing. The medication was transformative.
  • Click here to read more about Liz’s experience.
  • Depression is a liar. It’s easy to get into the trap of hating yourself. When you get the help you need, you realize that you cannot trust your thoughts. There are some periods of time where you cannot just muscle through it.
  • Tonya is more on the anxiety side versus depression. She has gone to therapy but has never been on medication. She has seen the effects of depression on friends who are going through financial difficulties.
  • At the Gym, it is a priority to set aside money for physical and mental health. If something feels off, don’t let money get in the way of seeking help.
  • At the very least, go to your primary care doctor as a first step. If you have an imbalance, you know pretty quickly if medication works. Be open to a solution, even if it means medication.
  • Melanie was on medication from age 16 to 23, because she was suicidal as a teenager. From 23 to 33, she was medication free. She was able to get out of down times with therapy and exercise. Last year, Melanie tried everything and was still miserable, so she went back on medication and it got her back into a groove she needed.
  • If you struggle to get through the day, get help as soon as possible, because medication can take up to four weeks to work.
  • Shannon had a depressing period this past spring and sought help. She didn’t want to be the boss and didn’t want to read emails. Don’t stay in the bad place – there is a solution! Don’t give up on the things you are pursuing.
  • Listen to the people around you, if they suggest you get help.
  • If you are drinking a lot alone or with your friends, using drugs, or other things to numb your brain, seek help!
  • Therapists help you understand different ways of thinking. Women are more likely to believe the bad thoughts.
  • Depression is a medical diagnosis. It is nothing to be ashamed of.
  • Mental health and money are the final taboo topics, because nobody wants to be around the person who is feeling bad. We all want the quick fix, but we need to talk about it more.
  • You do not need to apologize because you have depression. There shouldn’t be any shame around taking medication to get you back to yourself.
  • If your financial situation doesn’t allow you to get the therapy or medication you need, you need to find a way to get your finances in a better place. Nothing is impossible. Your mental health is a priority.
  • If you are in crisis, text the crisis text line at 741741. Trained crisis counselors talk you through what you are going through. This is free for anyone who is less than suicidal but more than depressed.
  • Talk to your doctor, your child’s pediatrician, whoever is the lowest barrier to get information and help. Take care of yourself and the ones you love.
  • If you are in crisis please call 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741

TAKEAWAY: First of all, thank you, as always, to my friends for being as brave and honest as they always are on this show. My biggest takeaway is to never feel as though mental health is a taboo topic. If you’re not feeling yourself, reach out to people you love and share that with them or if people you love are noticing a change in you, don’t dismiss it. Their feedback could be life altering for you.

If you’d like some help getting your finances together, so money doesn’t contribute to poor mental health, I hope you’ll reach out to my team at the Financial Gym. There’s no better time than 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!!

Getting Naked with Caitlin Lyttle

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Getting Naked with Caitlin Lyttle

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

A few months back on this podcast, I shared my financially naked session so this group could start dropping any fear or shame they had. Well, podcast listener and Facebook Group member Dylan suggested I share more naked sessions on the podcast because mine really helped her open up about money with her friends. Well Dylan, ask and you shall receive. I thought this was such a great idea that I’m making it a regular part of this show. Once a month, I’m going to have a guest on who’s going to get financially naked with you and the first one up is my Marketing Manager, Caitlin Lyttle. Caitlin joins me to share her career background, why she wanted to work at the Financial gym, and exactly what her financial picture looks like. I hope you enjoy!

What are we drinking?

Caitlin — Kane Head High

Shannon —  Vodka with Black Cherry Schweppes

Podcast Notes

  • How to make a Rusty Nail cocktail: 3/4 oz Drambuie, 1 1/2 oz Scotch Whisky; Pour all ingredients directly into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir gently. Garnish with a lemon twist. Serve.
  • When you meet with a trainer at the Financial Gym, the first meeting is called the financially naked session. After Shannon aired her financially naked session on the podcast in July, a listener requested that she do more of these with Gym clients and trainers.
  • Shannon’s hope is that people will feel more comfortable talking about money and realize everything financial is fixable. She wants to get to a place where sharing your finances is not being brave.
  • Caitlin has always been open about her finances.
  • Caitlin is a marketing manager at the Financial Gym, but she started there as a client. She originally found the Gym through a marketing event. Crystal is Caitlin’s trainer. Before the Gym, Caitlin worked in merchandise planning through Ann, Inc. and realized she needed a change.
  • Caitlin was very passionate about the Gym and what they were doing, and she referred a lot of her friends. One of her friends encouraged her to talk to Shannon about a job. At the time, the Gym needed a new marketing manager based in New York.
  • When Caitlin was at Ann, Inc., she was making $70,000 a year and received 10 percent bonus payouts twice yearly. Everyone who joins the Gym has to take a pay cut, so they understand what clients are going through. For the first three months, Caitlin was paid a $55,000 salary. After three months, her salary went back up to $70,000. Starting trainer salary is $60,000.
  • Questions from the financially naked discovery questions:
    • Birthday: February 16, 1992
    • Employer: The Financial Gym
    • Current Salary: $70,000
    • Checking Account: $1,000
    • Savings Account: $2,300 (includes travel)
    • Emergency Fund: $10,128 ($128 from interest)
    • Betterment: $15,200 (major purchase/home fund)
    • IRA: $14,500 (previous 401(k)s)
    • Student Loan Debt: $6,800 ($75,000 was forgiven after her father’s death)
    • Co-Signed Loan: $52,000
    • Gap Credit Card: $130
    • Capital One Venture Card: $500
    • Credit Score: 771
    • Car Loan: No
    • Other Loan: No
    • Own or Rent: Rent
    • Current Monthly Rent: $1,200 (Jersey City, one-bedroom, her share)
    • Renter’s Insurance: None
    • Life Insurance: None
    • Disability Insurance: None
    • Will or Trust: No
    • Children: None
    • Average Monthly Expenses: $2,700
    • 1-3 Year Goals: Wedding, September 2020 ($60,000 max, $30,000 each)
    • 3-5 Year Goals: Have a baby
    • 5-10 Year Goals: Buy a home
    • 10+ Year Goals: Buy a beach house
    • What is important to you? Family (beach house)
  • Caitlin has been working with Crystal for the last year and her assets have increased more than $10,000. This includes the time when she took a pay cut. She feels much more financially literate than before.
  • No advice is given during the first session. Some trainers like all of the expense information, others like a ballpark figure.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is to set goals for yourself and believe they are all possible. Of course you can get married and buy a home! Of course you can take a pay cut and still save money. Never sell yourself and your life plan short because of money.

Connect with Caitlin

Instagram: @caitlinlyttle

Instagram: @thefinancialgym

Facebook: Caitlin Lyttle

Facebook: The Financial Gym

Random Three Questions 

  1. Where is a place you would love to travel?
  2. What is a show 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. Head to financialgym.com to sign up for a free warm up call to find out more.