Client Happy Hour with Kelly, Maria, and Jen
Two years ago, when we first started to raise money for Financial Gym and we were working on growing our client numbers, we decided to record a podcast episode with current clients so that potential new clients knew what the experience was like. So Kelly, Maria, and Jen all joined me to share their experience as Financial Gym clients.
Last year, Jen reminded me that we were coming up on the one-year anniversary of recording that episode, so we checked back in with this FinGym threesome. Well, my friends, another year has passed and these three women are still Financial Gym clients and join me today to share what’s happened with them over this past year.
What are we drinking?
Kelly — Josh Cellars Rosé
Jen — Plum Loco Red from St. Clair Winery
Maria — Water
Shannon — Boxed Rosé
- This is the third annual recording with Kelly, Maria, and Jen and they are all still clients.
- Kelly was the first to join the Gym. Shannon did the financial plan for Kelly and her husband, Carl, on August 29, 2015. Jen’s plan was done on October 17, 2016. Maria’s plan was done on November 17, 2016.
- When Maria joined, she didn’t think she would be a client this long. She figured she would get some information and move along. Kelly thought it would be a pretty long journey. Jen is big into commitment and she hoped she would stay for the long term.
- They all started when the Gym had fewer than 100 clients, and Kelly and her husband are in the top 10.
- When Shannon started building the Financial Gym, she figured it would be a one-year plan for clients. Now she wants clients to be in it for the long haul. So many things happen from quarter to quarter.
- Clients two and three are now married and are coming up on six years at the Gym this fall.
- When Kelly and her husband started, they had $2,000 in the bank and their mortgage was about $2,500 a month. When Shannon did their plan, she didn’t know how they were going to pay their mortgage. They had significant credit card debt, student loan debt, and Kelly was staying home, because it was cheaper than paying daycare.
- In the last episode, Kelly’s third child was six months old. She was a surprise baby. They were just moving into their new house and they had about $30,000 cash in the bank.
- They’ve now been in the house for almost a year. After they moved in, their oldest son was having difficulty at his new school. He was in first grade and they had to have him assessed. He was diagnosed with autism and ADHD.
- They have been really focused on that all year and Kelly realized she was suffering from post-partum depression. She started going to therapy and went on medication. Mrs. Frugalwoods talked about her post-partum depression about a week after Kelly started therapy. She had the same symptoms and their babies are only about a month apart.
- Kelly suffered from it with the last two babies, but this time it seemed worse. They are still working through all of that as well as helping their oldest son.
- Their middle child is suffering, because there is a lot of focus on the oldest child and the baby. It has been a long year!
- Kelly, Carl, and Shannon recently had a financial review and they went from $30,000 in cash to $24,000 in cash. On paper they have less money, but they have been dealing with so much emotionally. It was expensive to get the testing for her son and therapy for herself.
- It is challenging for Kelly to work, with all of this stuff happening. It is not always a win on paper, but the win for them is that they don’t have credit card debt like they did before.
- Being financially healthy allowed them to take care of their family. Kelly cannot imagine going through all of this without being financially healthy. So much is automated now that they can focus on other things. It took four years to get to this point.
- It is not perfect and Kelly feels like she is slipping. She is an interior designer and IKEA is her happy place. Groceries have gotten higher, because they are not being mindful and food prepping. She also has a picky eater. Right now it is just survival, but Kelly knows they will right the ship eventually.
- They keep showing up for their quarterly reviews and do the work they can. That is all you can do sometimes. Shannon is so proud that they are doing so well, knowing where they came from.
- Work is now picking up for Kelly and she has two new clients. She also helped design Shannon’s new place.
- Jen is living in the San Francisco Bay Area during the school year, which is the most expensive place in the country. She also lives in Tucson, Arizona, which is her home base.
- She moved to San Francisco in August and they looked for an apartment for weeks. They finally found an apartment, but there was a one-month wait. They lived with a friend (three of them) in one bedroom, before they moved in.
- At this time, she was still traveling to Ohio for her PhD. When she first moved to San Francisco, she got a position as an assistant kindergarten teacher at a private school, because her PhD is in education policy. She felt that it was really important to have classroom experience and she needed money to live, so she took that job.
- Every Tuesday, Jen would get on a plane at about 5:00am, fly to Ohio, go to class from 6:00 to 9:00, then get on a plane in Ohio at 6:00 and make it back to work on Wednesday at 10:30am. This was every week for the whole semester. She finally finished her course work and didn’t have to travel during the Spring semester. It was very expensive and taxing.
- It took her three months to schedule a call with Bridget, her Financial Trainer. In the meantime, she was able to get her student loan paid off.
- Jen was able to apply for a student loan forgiveness, because she is a veteran. She was able to get about $80,000 paid off. She applied for the disabled service member benefit.
- Another client of the Gym was recently able to get about $100,000 of student loan debt paid off under the student loan forgiveness program.
- If you have Federal student loans, don’t always be in a hurry to refinance them. When you do, you refinance into a private loan and then you lose out on all of the repayment options. One of those is disability forgiveness.
- Jen was expecting the worst about the loan forgiveness, but she feels like for veterans they streamlined the process. She is happy to give advice to people about the student loan forgiveness program or navigating the VA process. Keep going until they say yes.
- Jen saw Shannon in San Francisco when she attended the Bay Area Money Tribe meeting.
- Now Jen is back in Arizona and she has a job, but she may be leaving it. She was just appointed as the Director of Education and Programs at the Modern Military Association of America, doing LGBTQ work for service members, veterans, and their families.
- It is full time and she is just waiting to get her contract. Jen has been doing advocacy of military service members for years now.
- Jen got a call a couple of days ago from a presidential candidate’s policy staff asking for advice.
- Her finances have only gotten better, since she has joined the Gym. This new job is $10,000 more than she was making at her previous job.
- The rent in San Francisco is crazy. Jen just moved into a new apartment. The previous rent was $3,200 a month and now it is $2,200. There is a lot of good stuff happening.
- Jen has always been a huge supporter of the Gym. They are getting close to about 2,500 clients now, but Jen was highly anxious when she started with them. She was Bridget’s second client and she was emailing and texting Bridget a lot. It was new to her and she was getting her feet wet. Jen was so anxious about her money, she went to therapy about it. Now, it takes her three months to schedule a review with her trainer and she is not stressed out about it.
- For people who feel anxious about joining the Gym, it is normal. You are going to go through a lot of emotions during your financial health journey. The more you work on it and the more you work through the challenges with your trainer, the less anxious you will get. Things will become easier and, once you can automate things, it will feel like you aren’t doing any work.
- Shannon did Jen’s warmup call. They use Jen as an example for new trainers if they have highly anxious clients. The Gym has now done over 3,000 plans and they have seen a lot of different client types.
- Early on, you are bringing up all these new things compounded with old emotions. It does get easier with time. Now Jen can talk to anyone about money.
- It is not just about money, it is about everything. Jen was taking a diversity and inclusion certificate program this summer from Cornell, and she had to write about a good customer service experience. She wrote about the Financial Gym and how they made it okay to be vulnerable.
- Jen feels like she is more compassionate and generous with her money because she can be. Jen has given to the Gym Magic Fund and has sponsored scholarships for Lola Retreat.
- The Gym now has 2,500 clients and 16 Financial Trainers. A large portion of the training program is the collective knowledge of understanding the emotional aspect of money and where the client is coming from.
- The Gym has five core values and one of them is empathy and understanding they don’t truly know someone until they have walked in their shoes. That is core to everything. This is a huge part of the training program.
- Maria’s journey has been amazing, but she didn’t want to get financially naked. She was 52 years old when she had her first meeting. She came to an event at the old Gym and did an in-person warm-up call with Shannon.
- Shannon didn’t think she was coming back. When Maria came in for her first session, it was the first time she shared her finances with anyone.
- Maria feels like she is in a really great place, but there is a lot she still wants to do. She gave up her car over a year ago and she isn’t missing it too much. She has been riding the train. It has helped her save more money and focus on other things.
- Maria needed to get some electrical stuff done to her house and she needed to buy a washer and dryer and she is happy to say those things have been done.
- Shannon gave Maria the go ahead to have a vacation the last time they spoke.
- Maria has had a very emotional year with her family. Her parents live in Puerto Rico and were affected by Hurricane Maria. On top of that, her mom has health issues and Maria is living in Brooklyn and has children and grandchildren, a job, a boyfriend, and a very active social life.
- Financially, Maria has been on a set it and forget it plan for the last year. She saved $600 a month by getting rid of her car. Her finances have been doing great. Maria had debt and credit card problems for most of her adult life and hasn’t had that since she started working with Shannon.
- Maria is going to need to make some trips to Puerto Rico in the future, which will impact her budget.
- Before she started at the Gym, Maria didn’t know what she was doing and what direction to take. Now she is able to get that guidance and make choices.
- Financial Trainers get a front row seat to clients’ stories. It is very rewarding.
- Initially it was awkward for all three of them to talk about money, and now they are all completely comfortable talking about it with everyone. Money touches everything in your life.
- Maria’s brother just joined the Gym and he never wanted to talk about money. Now he wants to talk about it with her and her dad. It helps alleviate the stress.
- Don’t wait – join the Gym now! Everybody should come and try it. It has changed Jen’s life, and she wants everyone to know how life changing it is.
- It has also been life-changing for Maria. She is looking to retire in a few years and she is in a good spot. This is because of the Financial Gym. Everyone should have the Financial Gym in their lives.
- The youngest Gym client is 17.
- The Gym instituted a money-back guarantee last July, and they have never needed to use it, because they get results. Some people will not get results in the first 90 days, but give the trainer six months. It compounds over time as long as you are willing to put in the work.
Random Three Questions
- If this was your last night on earth, what would be your last meal?
- What do you do to relax?
- If you had an extra $500, what would you do with it?
TAKEAWAY: I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Kelly, Maria and Jen today. Can we just give a big round of applause to these women for making such an amazing commitment to their financial health? My biggest takeaway, and I hope it comes out in these episodes, is that our lives are not set in stone. No matter what plans you may make, you never know where life is going to take you. The best way to enjoy the ups and downs of life’s journey is to be financially healthy and have flexibility to tackle the curveballs that are thrown your way.
If you’d like some company and accountability on your life journey, I hope you’ll reach out to my team at the Financial Gym. The minimum time commitment we require is three months, but as you can see from this episode, we also love a long-term relationship with our clients. My trainers have literally seen it all and helped advise clients through it all. The great news is that Martinis and Your Money listeners get 15% off Financial Gym services So head over to, or send friends to, financialgym.com.
If you have any topics you would like for us to talk about during happy hour, please feel free to email me at email@example.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!!