Getting Financially Naked with Anna
At the Financial Gym, we call the first meeting you have with a trainer the “financially naked session.” In this meeting, you share everything about yourself financially so the trainer knows where you’re starting and so he or she can make the plan for how you can get where you want to go. Above all other meetings, this one scares clients the most because they are afraid or ashamed of their financial situation.
A few months back on this podcast, I shared my financially naked session and it led to a request for more. Getting in the hot seat today is Anna. And I want to say that if you have any emotional triggers around abuse, this will not be the episode for you. Anna joins me today to share how she survived her abusive relationship and how she’s putting together the pieces of her financial life in a very non-conventional way.
What Are We Drinking?
Anna — Coffee with cream
Shannon — Black Berry Schweppes
- Anna started listening to the podcast in the summer of 2016, when she started her new job in Connecticut.
- She started listening to personal finance podcasts, because she is an accountant and the subject interests her. Also, she has always been a saver, and didn’t have any financial problems until she got married.
- Last summer, when Anna joined the Financial Gym, she was getting out of her five-year marriage. Her ex-husband was abusive and had bipolar disorder. Not everyone who is diagnosed with bipolar is abusive.
- A typical symptom of bipolar disorder in a manic state is overspending. Her ex had a lot of spending problems, but they didn’t appear until after they were married.
- Anna didn’t know he had bipolar disorder, before they were married, but there were red flags when they were dating. Her ex was only 24 years old when they started dating, and mental illness tends to evolve over time.
- Her ex would have occasional bouts of depression, but there weren’t any signs of rage until right before they got married. She didn’t really understand it or know what it was. She knew something was wrong, but didn’t know if she should cancel the wedding. After he calmed down, he said he was just stressed out and after they were married, he wouldn’t have the stress of the wedding.
- At first it wasn’t abusive, it was anger. After they were married, there were still only isolated incidents. The day after their wedding, her ex got really angry while he was driving, and he started driving really fast. It was in the middle of a snowstorm and he went off the road.
- Afterward these episodes, he would say it was just a mistake. Then he would have long periods of time where he was fine.
- After her daughter was born, her ex was a great dad and was very supportive. Last January, after her son was born, it got really bad. He went into a really severe episode and refused to get help.
- Her ex’s financial situation was always unstable. He would work and make money, then quit and do something else. He was always jumping from one thing to the next.
- Anna decided to join the Gym after Shannon shared her financially naked session on the podcast. Shannon had talked about life choices she made and why it made sense to her at the time. Anna related to that, because she didn’t know she was in a bad situation until it all blew up.
- When Anna moved to Connecticut, they bought a fixer-upper house. Her husband decided he hated the house and wanted to open a business. The house was really close to Anna’s work, and, after they did a few fixes, they were able to rent it out for $1,000 more than the mortgage.
- Anna’s job was stable and she made a good income, so buying another house didn’t seem like a risky position, even though they were doing renovations and didn’t have a lot to put down on another house.
- They bought another house that was a mixed-use residential/commercial. Her husband was going to run a store in part of it, there was an apartment they were going to AirBNB, and they were going to live in the other part of it. Again, this didn’t seem risky, even though the mortgage was expensive.
- A lot of things ended up going wrong with the house. It was difficult to heat and they couldn’t do the AirBNB after all. At the time, Anna had a newborn and a two-year old, and she realized she had to pay for the house and all of the expenses by herself.
- They didn’t have any savings and her ex ran up a bunch of credit card debt. Anna realized her husband wasn’t going to get better and he wasn’t going to get help.
- Anna was far away from her family and decided to move closer to her parents in upstate New York, so she could have help with her kids. She left to keep herself and her kids safe.
- The best decision she made was pursuing her career, because it is flexible and she was able to find a job in New York that paid well.
- Shannon remembers reviewing Anna’s plan a year ago, because Anna had so much stuff going on in her life.
- Many clients join the Gym when their life is like a tornado, because they need help seeing clearly. The stories may start sad, but they don’t end sad.
- Joy helped Anna negotiate her salary and signing bonus with her new job in New York and helped her reset her expectations.
- Anna’s new job starts in July 2019, but Anna moved early, because she doesn’t teach in the spring, she only does research. She can do that remotely and goes back to Connecticut twice a month. She moved one month ago.
- The tenants moved out of their first house and her ex-husband moved in. His dad is paying for him to stay there, but she wants him to sell it, because her name is still on the mortgage. In order to get her name off of the mortgage, her ex will need to refinance and he will not qualify. They will hopefully either sell it or his parents will buy it. There is probably $60,000 in equity in that house.
- For the other house, she had to pay someone a small fortune to finish painting it, because her ex started painting but didn’t finish. They listed the house for sale in August, but it is a big house in a rural area, and it is not selling.
- The house was so expensive to maintain that she stopped paying the mortgage in November 2018, and she is working with the bank on either a short sale or a deed in lieu of forclosure. It cost over $1,200 a month to heat the home and it was still cold.
- The next step is to get the house appraised. They first had to supply a lot of information to prove they couldn’t afford it. It should appraise for more than what they paid, but there aren’t any buyers.
- Anna will have about a month of overlap of pay, as she will still be employed by her current job through either July or August.
- Questions from the financially naked discovery questionnaire:
- Birthday: May 17,1983
- Job: Professor of Accounting (PhD in accounting); teaching and researching
- Salary: $201,000 current; $145,000 new job (more teaching than research)
- Net Pay: $4,536 biweekly ($9,000/month now; $7,500 estimated for new job)
- Checking Account: $4,890
- Checking/Savings Account: $2,516
- Discover Savings #1: $2,127
- Discover Savings #2: $1,166
- Investment Account – Son: $700
- 529 Plan – Son: $3,157
- Investment Account – Daughter: $225
- 529 Plan – Daughter: $13,132
- Prudential Retirement (defined contribution & 457): $85,509 (after she gave $65,000 in the divorce)
- 1st House: $60,000 in equity; mortgage $2,350/month
- 2nd House: $540,000 original appraisal; should appraise for $550,000 or $560,000, they owe $482,000, but going through foreclosure; $3,893/month, utilities $1,200/month
- Student Loan (Federal): $89,071; $1,125/month; 5.5 years left on public service loan forgiveness; Approx $40,000 should be forgiven
- Student Loans (Private): $14,829 at 6% interest and $17,610; $247/month
- Payment to Ex: $66/month
- JetBlue Barclays Credit Card: $4,122 (waiting for reimbursements from work)
- Credit Score: 660
- Car Loan: $513/month
- Rent: $850/month
- Daycare: $1,600/month
- Renter’s Insurance: Yes
- Will/Trust: No
- Life Insurance: $900,000 ($350/year)
- Disability Insurance: Not yet
- Average Monthly Expenses: $6,500
- Children: Son, 13 months old; Daughter, 3 years old
- Goals 1-3 years: Save $20,000 emergency fund, increase retirement saving to lower tax bracket, travel, pay off car in 2019
- Goals 3-5 years: Pay off student loans, own a rental house
- Goals long-term: Retire or be financially independent by 55
- What’s important to you (sacred cows): Family, kids, and self care
Takeaway: My biggest takeaway is that sometimes the solution to your financial problems is not the best looking on paper, but, when it comes to protecting your family and your livelihood, you may sometimes be forced to take an unconventional approach to financial stability.
Random Three Questions
- What other podcasts do you like listening to?
- What is a food you hated as a child and do you like it as an adult?
- If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it?
If you’d like to get financially naked with my team, and drop any fear or shame you have around money, I hope you’ll reach out to us at the Financial Gym. My trainers have literally seen it all, so nothing will surprise us. We don’t care how you got here, we just care about getting you where you want to go.
The great news is that Martinis and Your Money listeners get 15% off Financial Gym services. So if you’re ready to manifest your dreams, like Anna in 2019, head over to or send friends to, financialgym.com to get signed up today.