Three months after I left my marriage I had an “oh sh*t” moment as my savings began to whither. We had a large amount of credit card debt that I was paying by myself, I had an enormous amount of student loan debt that was only getting larger. I also had a toddler and had moved halfway across the country in a midnight-emergency, back into my parents place, and left my friends, supportive healing community, and my private practice and clients that I so dearly loved. I had no idea I would leave in the middle of the night and I felt very lucky that I had any sort of savings. Bittersweet as it was, I had $3000 to my name after 20 years of work. We had a good household income, but were living a normal life spending more than needed, not saving any of our income, and not paying any attention to debt.
As horrible as this crisis was, it was one of the best things in my life. It was a very important kick in the butt. I googled “financial advice” and found Dave Ramsey. It took me about 3 months to get on board and I hustled, took every extra shift, took all the back child support, tax refund, and threw every single dollar I had at this debt. I stayed at my parents for a very long time, wore the same few shirts, shared a car for as long as possible, and minimized any spending to close to nothing. We went to the library often, did free activities in nature, and I worked so much to keep out of trouble. All-in-all I paid off $23k of credit card debt in 15 months. I became very educated about debt, retirement, savings, and most importantly about “financial independence.” I finally had crawled out of one huge hole, built confidence and started building wealth.
I took the foundation of Dave Ramsey’s “seven baby steps” and built my house from there. Choose FI podcast came next and Jonathan and Brad felt like old friends. Their guests taught me so much about financial independence, estate planning, Roth IRAs, savings, college hacks, and life tips. I listened to Suze Orman for womanly advice and appreciated her special work regarding financial abuse. I gobbled up inspiration and tips from Mr. Money Mustache, J.L. Collins, and so many others. I learned a lot in this 3 year crash-course called life. I started to speak openly about this to my colleagues and patients and realized many of us were in the same boat. One patient said with all the podcasts I’ve listened to I should have earned my PhD.
CoVid is highlighting the security (or stress) that money can have us feel. I realize we all can work so hard, but not get ahead if we don’t know the game or what to actually do with our income. It’s like being in a hamster wheel with no exit, nor hope for an end. Many of us have blindly worked for years and, being financially illiterate/ Un/under-educated, we have nothing to show for it.
Because of my very open nature with my patients I talk and ask questions about this topic at times and see how health and wealth (or lack of) are so linked and that stress, especially financial and job stability or feeling stuck and unable to create causes so many medical illnesses. With an outsider’s perspective and some easy tips that stress can transform into a plan with a light at the end of the tunnel. People’s eyes brighten and their whole being lightens up- imagine what that feeling will do to your cortisone levels. Weight loss anyone?
I sat down with a colleague that was super stressed about finances and we found an extra $2500 a month that could be better used. Another conversation with a colleague was about maxing out pre-tax investments to lower her tax bracket to help get free college for her kiddos. Another friend had a jaw-dropping moment when she saw my fav- the compound interest calculator -add several zeros to her retirement by upping her investment from the poorly-touted 3% number to the truly necessary plan of 20%. Another conversation involved maxing out retirement contributions for a man who gladly spent 1.5 million dollars on his kids’ education yet had saved nothing for retirement who was 2 years away from hanging up his toolbox.
Taking the leap:
After considering opening this path for a long time I am now diving in. I figure if we can get the finances figured out much of our overall health will improve, stress will decrease, and happiness will increase. People will be able to give more of themselves to their family, start dreaming and creating, living and loving life instead of drowning, and generally society will thrive.
I don’t have a Series 7 under my belt, I’m not a properly trained financial advisor, I do not sell any stocks, bonds, or mutual funds, I am not an accountant. But I do have great experience in the “oh sh*t, what now?!” field. I got out and so can you. The hole is not too deep! We just need a teammate to hold the light as we dig.
I am approachable, non-judgemental, and accepting. I have held many hats leading people on their various journeys- including being a leadership coach, a manager for a musician, a small business owner, a clinician, teacher/professor/speaker. I hope to be your lantern on your own personal journey.
So come chat, we can speak in person (or by phone/video), share tea/coffee, laugh (maybe cry), and then get to work. Bring your finances, your debt, your concerns, goals, and your dreams and we will make a plan. It is not going to happen overnight. But after taking one small step after another you will look back at the height you’ve climbed and feel so empowered and happy for the accomplishments you made for you, your family, and your future.