Getting Financially Naked with Paige
At the Financial Gym, we call the first meeting you have with a trainer the “financially naked session.” In this meeting, you share everything about yourself financially so the trainer knows where you’re starting and so he or she can make the plan for how you can get where you want to go. Above all other meetings, this one scares clients the most because they are afraid or ashamed of their financial situation. A few months back on this podcast, almost a year ago, I shared my financially naked session, and now it is a regular series on the podcast.
Getting in the hotseat today is our client Paige. Paige has a really fascinating backstory and I applaud her for her bravery in sharing it, but I have to warn you that if you have triggers around substance abuse or physical abuse, you may want to skip listening to this episode.
What Are We Drinking?
Paige — Crisp Rosé
Shannon — Hampton Water Rosé
- Paige has been a podcast listener for almost three years and she joined the Financial Gym about a year ago.
- Shannon feels like she and Paige are long-time friends.
- Paige was attracted to the podcast because Shannon is unapologetically who she is, and that level of vulnerability cannot be fabricated.
- We are all unique human beings and we all have a voice. There is a reason Shannon is saying things and the people who are meant to hear it will hear it. She cannot lose sleep over the people she is not impacting, because there are people she is impacting.
- The people in the cheap seats are the ones that will put you down and yell the loudest, but it is the people who buy the prime seats who will cheer you on.
- Hoda Kotb recently posted on Instagram, “You will be too much for some people. Those aren’t your people”.
- It is not Shannon’s intention to purposely inflict harm on another person, but if that’s how they are receiving it, they are free to shut her out. Don’t tune in, don’t subscribe, and don’t follow.
- The more Shannon is out there, the more she realizes why she is supposed to be out there. She realizes the importance of being open and honest. We each have to live our own lives.
- Paige has a really fascinating background, because it is truly unique.
- Paige was born in Oregon and grew up with her two siblings, brother and sister, and her mom and dad.
- They grew up in significant poverty. Her mom grew up in her own tough situation of abuse and drug addiction, and that translated into Paige’s family’s life. Until someone comes in and breaks that pattern, it is cyclical.
- Paige’s mom was with three men in just under four years and she married Paige’s father, who is a kind and hard working man. After a couple of years, her parents got divorced, and they were living in a trailer park.
- Paige grew up in trailer park situations, which is a hard way to grow up.
- Paige has very distinct memories that, looking back, she should have realized her situation. When she was four, her family moved to Bend, Oregon, where she lived until she was 18 years old. They didn’t have trash service, so every time they emptied the trash, it would go to the backyard. Eventually they had their trash service reinstated, but in the meantime, they had months and months worth of trash sitting in the elements in their backyard.
- Paige’s chore after school was getting the trash from the backyard and putting it in the trash can. When she was 10, Paige had a friend that wanted to come over and play, but Paige had to do this chore. She told her friend that if she helped pick up the trash, she would be done quicker. Paige’s friend came over and vomited because of the smell and had to leave. They never hung out again.
- It was at that point Paige realized that maybe it wasn’t normal to have your trash service turned off or to not have food in the refrigerator regularly.
- Paige was on the free and reduced school lunch program and she thought it was normal to get your breakfast and lunch for free every day.
- She realized they weren’t paying for things and their water and electricity was being turned off, if not both then one or the other, on a semi-regular basis.
- This was when she realized she was growing up in an environment that she wasn’t seeing being mirrored around her. She described it as “icky” and she wasn’t like the other kids in her neighborhood, so Paige would go to other kids’ houses to play.
- After her mom and dad divorced, her mom married another man. He was an extremely abusive alcoholic. They were all being physically abused, including broken bones and bruises.
- They would leave the house and her brother would go to their grandparents’ house, her sister would go across the street, and Paige would find friends in the neighborhood and spend as much time with them as possible.
- After the divorce, Paige’s dad lived in Portland, which is three hours away from Bend and it is over a pretty significant mountain pass.
- He would call Paige all of the time and when the phone line was turned off, he came over and installed a separate phone line in her room. He paid the phone bill monthly, so they would have a way to call him if needed.
- When she was young, her dad wasn’t going to live in the same town as her mom, because her mom was in a very toxic place in her life.
- Her dad was present in Paige’s life and would call, send gifts, and drive over to pick her up and take her back to Portland on a Friday, a six hour drive, and then bring her back on Sunday, which would be another six hours, when her mom couldn’t afford to drive and meet him halfway.
- Paige’s sister and brother have different dads and her dad wanted to see them and also take them to Portland, but Paige’s mom and stepdad decided to not let him do that.
- They asked for Paige’s dad to pay child support for the other two kids, and when he didn’t they said he couldn’t see them any more.
- Paige’s and her siblings were not told this happened until years later, so at the time they were more angry with Paige’s dad than her.
- Paige got away from the chaos for one weekend a month to be with her dad, and it gave her 36 hours away.
- Paige’s brother would go to their grandparents’ house up the street and they were intentionally ignorant about what was happening in Paige’s house. Paige and her sister had to stay with their stepdad, so they both were resentful to their brother since he had a regular place to go.
- It was very challenging for Paige to stay focused in school. She loved school, she tried really hard, and she graduated high school. There was never really any risk of her not graduating, but she was exhausted.
- When you live in an environment when you are constantly in fight or flight mode, it is exhausting.
- When Paige was in the second grade, she remembers talking to another student about Roman numerals. No matter how hard she tried to memorize them, she couldn’t get them to stick in her brain. It was very clear to her then that they were growing up in two very different homes. He lived in a wealthier situation and she didn’t know if they were going to eat that night.
- This is when she started backsliding in math and science. Up until that point she had been pretty good at those subjects.
- When you are in that situation and you go home, you don’t think about school, because you just have to survive.
- Paige’s mom was dating her stepdad when she was still married to Paige’s dad. Her stepdad was around when Paige was age four until age eleven.
- At that point things started getting trickier. Although he wasn’t bringing in a ton of money, and he was spending a lot of it on alcohol, it was an extra source of income. As soon as he left, they were evicted and had to move into a motel.
- Paige’s mom was a waitress. She was always a hard worker and she always had a job for the most part. After Paige’s stepdad moved out, her mom got a job at the motel they were living in, running their events department. Now her mom works in the medical field as an office assistant.
- When they lived in the motel, it was her mom, brother, sister, and her living in a two queen bed room with all of their stuff. Paige went down to the pool a lot just to get away.
- Paige fell at the pool, and later found out she broke her tailbone, but was too afraid to tell her mom, because she knew she didn’t have the money to go to the hospital. It took her well over a year before she didn’t have to take her time standing up.
- Paige’s dad had met a wonderful woman named Becky when Paige was in the fifth grade, dated her for several years, and then married her. They eventually moved to Bend.
- Becky had two kids, she kept an immaculate house, and she always had food stocked in the refrigerator. Paige started going over to their house regularly, when she was 11 years old.
- She started realizing that things were different there, because they had money to plant flowers in their yard, people were home at night, and they had family dinners.
- Her stepsister is one of Paige’s best friends now. They are only 10 months apart.
- It was interesting to see the differences between their home lives, but it wasn’t until she was 16 that she had a moment, when she was standing in the driveway at her mom’s house. Paige had asked for months if she could get her bellybutton pierced and her mom kept saying no. She came home one day and her sister had gotten her bellybutton pierced and her mom said it was okay because she got good grades.
- There was an imbalance, because her mom thought she needed to protect her sister more, since Paige had her dad. She thought if she didn’t change her life now, she would stay in toxic relationships forever.
- She moved out of her mom’s house when she was 16. Her dad and stepmom had just given her a car, which Paige paid part of. The rule was that she could only use the car when she was at their house. One day, she packed up her stuff and moved to her dad’s house.
- When she moved in with her dad, it was the first time she talked about college.
- It was about this time, at age 16, that she started following the Lord. Her faith is now central to her life. She had gone to church a little during elementary and middle school. Paige worked at Red Robin and she was spiraling and crumbling at the weight of what was happening at home. She was dealing with the desire to be loved and cared for in a way her mom wasn’t able to provide.
- A girl at work pulled Paige aside and asked if she could talk to her about it. She said there is freedom from what Paige was going through. Paige called her a couple of weeks later and asked her a bunch of questions. She didn’t have all of the answers but listed what she knew to be true of God.
- None of Paige’s immediate family go to church on Sunday or believe in God. Paige thinks her mom felt like she was losing her, because Paige wasn’t able to continue living in the environment her mom was providing. Her mom was resistant to Paige reading her Bible.
- She believes her mom did the best she could with what was available.
- After high school, Paige applied to a few different Christian colleges. She graduated high school in 2008 and central Oregon had the highest unemployment rate per capita in the nation at that time. About 60 percent of her town was laid off, because they were all general contractors and everyone stopped doing work on their houses.
- There was a point where you could drive around town and there were houses boarded up all over the place.
- Paige’s stepmom was a painter and she was out of work for a long time. Paige assumed her dad and stepmom were going to help her pay for college, because other kids’ parents do and because they had money to buy things.
- The colleges she was applying to were private and very expensive. Paige’s stepmom sat her down and said they could not afford to help pay for those colleges and she needed to find some other options.
- On a whim, Paige applied to Portland State University. She wrote an essay for their diversity scholarship for socioeconomic diversity. Her essay was about growing up in poverty and how that impacted her life.
- Paige received the scholarship, which paid for one full year of tuition at Portland State University. She didn’t have any money for housing or anything else, so she took out student loans.
- The first year was terrifying, but she lived with a wonderful woman who gave Paige a massive discount on rent. She didn’t realize what a big discount it was until years later.
- It is a hard school to find a community, if you are not living near campus, so she moved to Bellingham, Washington, and attended community college after she was rejected from Western Washington University.
- If she had attended university right away, she would have needed to pay out-of-state tuition. She took a year off of school and then went to community college.
- Eventually she transferred to Western Washington University and she did her time there in a year and a half. She ended up taking 60 credits her senior year, because she knew if she didn’t do it then she never would.
- Paige finished her degree in five years at three different schools. She wanted to be a lot of things when she was younger.
- Encourage young women to stick with STEM!
- Paige chose to back away from STEM subjects because she couldn’t keep up with school. It was also the stigma of if she didn’t know it on the first try, she must be stupid.
- Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance, is a great book and somewhat mirrors her story. He said, “a lack of knowledge is not the same as the lack of intelligence”.
- Paige wanted to be a doctor when she was younger, but by the end of elementary school she was terrified of math and science, because she thought she was too stupid.
- She then thought of going into nursing or broadcast journalism. For a long time she wanted to be an actress, but after Paige started following God, she realized that was not the environment she should be in because of the pressure.
- Paige knew she was good at speaking and writing, and particularly public speaking. She got a degree in communication with a minor in multimedia and diversity.
- After all of this, Paige ultimately ended up working for Microsoft. She was at school in a communication class in the fall quarter. Her professor told the class they could either go to the career fair, which was during the time of that class, or come to class.
- Paige put on her best suit and went to the career fair. There was a booth for Microsoft and she stood in a long line to submit her resume that she worked on in one of her communication classes.
- She got an email a couple of days later from Microsoft asking her to do a phone interview. Then they paid for her to go to Bellevue, which is outside of Seattle, and she spent two days there interviewing. It was five interviews in four hours and she only had $75 in her bank account, and she spent $50 of that to fill her gas tank to get there and back. She didn’t have any money for food so she didn’t eat during the time she was there, because she didn’t know she had a stipend for food.
- After her interviews, they pulled her aside and offered her a job. She was shocked. She graduated college with a job as an associate consultant. Six years later, she is still working for Microsoft.
- Paige’s family was thrilled. She was offered the job in January of her senior year in college and she graduated in June. There is a picture of her dad hugging her and crying at her graduation. Out of 3,000 graduates and only two photographers, they managed to capture that photo. Her family has cheered her on the entire time.
- Paige now earns six figures and she is no longer the little girl with trash in her backyard.
- When you grow up not having enough, you are always afraid you are going to lose what you have. That was the biggest mindset shift Paige went through. The biggest thing for her was how to operate with so much money. She didn’t start out with six figures, it has grown over time.
- There are two parts to the poverty mindset:
- I am going to lose everything I have, nothing is permanent, and if I lose this everything is over.
- I want to buy this expensive item. If I can’t buy this expensive item, it means I can never buy this expensive item.
- A big financial challenge Shannon sees when people go from having so little to a lot is that there is a desire to have so much. If feels like an entitlement because you have worked so hard for it.
- Shannon started making money and then starting spending money, because she had a need to get those things to justify the success in her life. She had to realize that was not what defines success.
- It is going from one extreme to another.
- Paige recommends counseling for anyone whose situation mirrors hers in any way. There is a certain feeling she gets when she feels like she can’t have something. Her heart starts racing and she feels like she is going into a panic mode. She had to learn how to talk herself down by telling herself she is going to be okay if she doesn’t buy those shoes. She will still have other shoes to wear and she will look just as fabulous.
- When you are in a panicked mode, it is not a good time to make big decisions, financial or otherwise. Paige waits until she is in a logical mode. If she is eyeing a purse, she will start saving for it, even if she can buy it now. It buys her time to figure out if she really wants it.
- This is an unfortunate side effect of overcoming a struggling background. Most of Shannon’s clients that come from this background struggle with the spending side of it. It creates another extreme and it hurts you just as much.
- Paige grew up with a kind of identity crisis. When she started at Microsoft, she had the financial resources and the stability to begin the process to find out “who am I” in this greater world.
- In the book Educated, author Tara Westover said, “The greatest luxury of having money is not having to think about money”.
- Paige went on a soul searching journey, but it landed her in more debt.
- If you are struggling with identity or who you are, no amount of buying the shoes everybody else is wearing or going on the vacations everybody else is going on is going to make you feel like you fit in at that table or in that social circle.
- Go on your personal journey, but don’t let that journey get you more in debt.
- The stuff you can buy doesn’t define you. It is important to be mindful of where you came from and what you have overcome. Don’t ruin your story by overspending and creating a lifestyle that is not going to bring you the joy you thought you were missing out on at the beginning of your life.
- It helped Paige to have somebody safe to talk to about money, coming up with a plan, and figuring out how to get out of debt. Once Paige got out of debt she joined the Financial Gym, but she recommends joining before that time, because she wishes she would have joined earlier.
- Once you get through the tactical stuff with your trainer of saving and spending, you see a clearer picture and that is where the magic happens. The first six months is a lot of nuts and bolts. Once you see results you start to have more options.
- Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable with your financial trainer.
- You have complete control over your life, it just takes some help.
- Be aware how your past affects your future. The biggest misconception of money is that it is just black or white. It’s not – there is a lot of grey. Your past will affect how you handle money, because you are not a robot.
- Paige is starting a fashion and lifestyle blog call Brave Originals and it can be found at www.braveoriginals.com, and on Instagram at @braveoriginals. For the ones who chase their dreams on their own terms.
- When you reach your dream, dream bigger.
Takeaway: My biggest takeaway is to be mindful of the effects your past will have on your financial decisions in the present. It’s easy for us to justify the decisions we make, but are they coming from a healthy point of view and will they contribute to our financial health in the future? If not, take the time to reflect on why you’re making the decisions you are, so you can start making better decisions in the future.
Random Three Questions
- What is the big goal you have for yourself?
- What is a show you like to binge watch?
- If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it?
Connect with Paige
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 Paige in 2019, head over to or send friends to, financialgym.com to get signed up today.