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Empowering your money

"Let's Talk Money": Podcast dives into the emotional side of money

The goal of a session with licensed therapist Erika Rasure is to help you tell the story you want to tell.

Her tone is motivational and she cares about your wellbeing and your mindset, but specifically through the lens of personal finance. Rasure is a financial therapist.

While she was studying for her Ph.D. in personal finance planning at Kansas State University, Rasure discovered that her passions for gravitated towards the sub-discipline of financial therapy.

“It was really fascinating to me because while the technical aspects of financial planning are interesting like the math, the crunching the numbers, and the do's and the don'ts of investing, saving, and budgeting,” she said, “financial therapy really brings together a little bit of all these other disciplines.”

Rasure helps to host the first episode of “Let’s Talk Money,” a new podcast from Cashay and sister site, BUILT BY GIRLS, which prepares female and non-binary students to step boldly into careers powered by technology. In this episode, Rasure speaks with Rose who is about to get married and is trying to shed her guilt and shame that she feels when thinking about her financial goals.

Janna Herron: This is Let's Talk Money, a podcast about the intimate financial details of our lives and the emotional connections we have to money. In this episode, Erica Rasure a financial therapist speaks with Rose about her finances. Rose is days away from getting married and they get into some great discussion around what might change in the very near future.

Erica: Hi Rose.

Rose: Hi Erica.

Erica: How are you?

Rose: I'm doing all right, how about yourself?

Erica: I'm doing pretty good, not too bad. You look a little nervous.

Rose: I am a little nervous. I don't know. I'm a little nervous. It's really hot in here. I was wearing long sleeves before and I had to go change. I'm nervous and sweaty, and it's really, it's great it's cute.

Erica: It's cute. It's cute. It sounds you've got a lot going on in your life.

Rose: Yes, that is definitely true. I sent you a small email about it.

Erica: Yeah.

Rose: But I can talk about it now at the moment, I don't know.

Erica: Before you get into that, tell me a little bit about how you're feeling in general. Are you feeling overwhelmed, excited, nervous, all of the above?

Rose: I think generally positive and excited. I think that obviously it's been a weird time in the world but I've felt very fortunate to have not only stable employment and money coming in but also I recently started a new job that has prospects.

Erica: Congratulations that's exciting.

Rose: Thank you. Generally, I think that I have a lot of exciting things I'd like to do with my money in the future and that overall [this] is an exciting prospect.

Erica: Let's talk more about the exciting things you want to do with your money. What does that look for you?

Rose: Well, my fiance and I bought a house about a year ago. While we really have been fortunate that nothing A) catastrophic has happened but B) it generally was in good shape when we moved in. We haven't had to necessarily spend a lot of money on emergency things but we're excited to do more renovations, more updating, and make it feel even more home.

We were supposed to get married in April, while that has been postponed and is looking very different, we're actually getting married this Saturday. But planning for the future in terms of having a big party eventually, and going on a honeymoon, and some of those exciting but practical things like opening the right future savings accounts for college savings which is something weird to think about.

Erica: Sure.

Rose: But we're really looking forward to both getting married but also having a big party with everyone once we can do that again.

Erica: You are one of the COVID brides?

Rose: Yes I am, that's true. Luckily our decision was very much made for us.

Erica: Very much so and I'm sorry to hear that it's... Getting married is one of the most meaningful milestones we have in our lives and for it to quote-unquote turn out this way, there's such a sense of loss, grief, and disappointment. There's a certain sense of flexibility, and okay we'll pivot and do something else but I am really sorry to hear that. I know what that means.

Rose: We've had some time to come to terms with it, and we're making the best of it, and I think that everyone who we've talked to about our plans for still getting married, for next year and things like that has been really supportive and really excited. I think that anything that we do will be extra special.

Erica: Absolutely, absolutely. There's definitely a silver lining here. It's memorable in and of itself which creates its own... It creates a much more deeper significance especially as you're getting married, you think about the meaning of marriage and what it means to move forward as a functioning unit, and the emphasis that is placed on getting through life's challenges together. This is a crash course in COVID marriage counseling.

Rose: Well, and we very much we were at the very least outdoor working from home and spending a lot of time together for the last couple of months we still want to get married. We still like each other.

Erica: You still like each other. I read a headline the other day about Kelly Clarkson and Brandon Blackstock, and how they were having troubles in their marriage. They quarantined together in Montana and it doesn't look their quarantine turned out in their favor since Kelly Clarkson filed for divorce earlier this week.

Rose: Oh, no.

Erica: I'm glad it worked in your favor.

Rose: Yeah.

Erica: I'm really, really glad. Gosh, I think this is a really good place to start because we truly never know what life is going to throw at us. But what I want to know now is what life has thrown at you in the past - in terms of where you see yourself financially from your perspective based on your upbringing, and some of the things you've experienced in the past whether it be your family or your peers. Some of the financial advantages or disadvantages you perceive for yourself? Can you speak to that a little bit?

Rose: Yeah. I think I come from a family and background where I'm really at an advantage. In my family, my mom is the person in charge of the finances and in charge of that but really instilled early on about both financial responsibility but also keeping an eye on your money. A lot of the stuff around saving, around tracking and spending, monitoring the usage of your accounts, and having that financial awareness is something that I know is a big advantage, and has really helped set me up for success.

I volunteer with a group that works with former foster youth who are transitioning into adulthood and there's this cultural teaching around money that these young people haven't had necessarily. I mentor a girl for whom the idea of having a savings account is a foreign concept.

"Let's Talk Money" is a podcast about the intimate financial details of our lives and the emotional connections we have to money. The first episode features a financial therapist helping a young woman named Rose. (Photo: Getty Creative)
"Let's Talk Money" is a podcast about the intimate financial details of our lives and the emotional connections we have to money. The first episode features a financial therapist helping a young woman named Rose. (Photo: Getty Creative)

Erica: Absolutely.

Rose: I like the idea of an interest-bearing savings account, or shopping around to find a checking account that doesn't charge you overdraft fees, has other features, and has flexibility is something that I have as part of my upbringing and as part of my financial education from my family that I know to me it feels very much a cultural norm, and very much something that people know. I know that's not the case [for everyone] and I think I really come from advantage place. My family is, I would say middle class and throughout time my parents often fought about money. That was a big thing that happened. I understand it's... I think I have a good idea of its importance and awareness of it.

I think also from the idea of advantages or disadvantages, my parents were always really committed to education. While I was in charge of the tuition part of my undergraduate education, my parents covered room and board because they wanted me to have the flexibility to focus on school and not have to work, things like that. I know that that's really a huge advantage and that has also been a great thing.

Generally speaking, my parents have been really supportive and very willing to help me out of a bind, or be a fallback, or be a cushion in case I bought a plane ticket to go somewhere wild and I hadn't quite saved enough in advance, mom and dad could you hold me over until my next paycheck thing. That has always been an option and I know that that makes me really fortunate.

Erica: Yeah, it does. Having a strong, financial support system is really a wonderful thing, and learning important money lessons along the way is even more key. Going forward as you're looking and assessing your own financial temperature at this juncture in your life, how do you feel about money personally? When I say the word money how does it make you feel?

Rose: I think it depends a lot. I think that how I feel about money as a concept and money as a term even is very dependent on how financially stable I'm feeling at that time. I find that... I think about it professionally as well. I feel to me - a higher salary and better benefits is a huge indicator of how much I'm appreciated in my role from a career perspective.

Coming out of graduate school I felt even if I had loved my first job out of graduate school, they were not paying me very much and I felt, well, they must not value me if they're not willing to compensate me monetarily in a way that I think I should be valued. To me, I think money makes it feel, and maybe it's true, but to me money it feels [like] personal value, appreciation, and is affiliated with success in my mind.

Erica: Yeah, absolutely. When we look at money from a lot of different perspectives and it's interesting that you went this route, which is good I'm glad you did. So much of our thoughts about money are directly related to our own thoughts and feelings about our own self-worth. There's a tendency for individuals who are feeling a low sense of self-worth to absolutely project that into their financial circumstances and that also includes professionally, interpersonal, and all of those things that cumulatively make us who we are in whatever environment where we're living in.

How would you rate your sense of self-worth in general? Then how would you rate it as it relates to money? I know this is a very big question.

Rose: Yeah, that is a big question. How would I rate myself in terms of my self-worth?

Erica: On a scale of one to 10.

Rose: Again, it depends on the day probably. I don't know if I'm particularly inclined to rate myself lower because I had recently started a new job. I'm feeling really out of my element. Feeling a little more worthless I guess, but I'm going to say probably a seven.

Erica: That's a C. Cs get degrees. I probably shouldn't say that, but they do. You're giving yourself a passing grade on that self-worth scale.

Rose: Yeah.

Erica: What's interesting about that especially from a woman's perspective. Women are notoriously hard on ourselves, aren't we? Aren't we mean to ourselves?

Rose: Yeah. I think there's imposter syndrome. I knew coming into this new job and whatever that imposter syndrome was going to be a big thing and I think from the general standpoint of self-worth, I would say in my head the scale of self-worth goes... I don't know what under five is really in my head but a 10 is you're walking around the world with the confidence and being somebody who's like things are going to happen to me. It's the Harry Potter Felix Felicis, right?

Erica: Yes.

Rose: I know nothing bad is going to happen. Everything is going to go my way. A five is, I could be better. I could do better. I could whatever but not hopeless that you don't see the ability to get better, or the ability to feel worth again. I would say probably on average, maybe I'm a seven, some days I'm an eight, some days I'm a five or six. But we'll keep with the seven but I don't know.

Erica: We'll keep with a seven and you're right. We fluctuate in the way we feel about ourselves. Women in general we have this uncanny ability to completely undermine everything we do. It's much related to the way we feel about ourselves at any given point. In a day I may fluctuate by an hour. It's not because we're women, it's because life happens.

Rose: Right.

Erica: But biologically speaking, we do struggle with that a bit more. What's fascinating to this about me is that you mentioned imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is such a powerful statement to make as it relates to conversations about self-worth, our money, and how we process this.

There's nothing like the feeling of starting a new job and feeling like I can't believe I got this job. How did I get to job? Now I'm in this job, I don't feel I know what I'm doing. You get the job, you're feeling on the top of the world.

Like you said, all these great things are happening. Nothing can go bad. Maybe somebody sends a snarky email and it starts chipping away at that 10. We start feeling like we don't deserve being in this role. Somebody made a mistake. HR made a mistake.

But we know deeply that no, we do deserve this but we engage in so much negative self-talk and it's hard to retrain our brains to stop that. There's a lot of stuff out there. Thoughts become things, and think positive and all that. I don't know if that's altogether a true thing, or not but thinking positive things only gets you so far in terms of your self-worth.

It won't help you recover from imposter syndrome without changing something at a cellular level. We have to believe that there's a reason why we feel we're imposters and there's a way to make sure we're on the greater scale of 10 when it comes to self worth on any given day. It's especially true with money. When we think about money and imposter syndrome one of the first things that comes to my mind is feeling like do I deserve this money?

"Let's Talk Money" is a podcast about the intimate financial details of our lives and the emotional connections we have to money. (Photo: Getty Creative)
"Let's Talk Money" is a podcast about the intimate financial details of our lives and the emotional connections we have to money. (Photo: Getty Creative)

In your situation it sounds like you've had a lot of advantage, a lot of support from your parents. A lot of... You mentioned them holding you over because you didn't plan ahead and that's okay. Those are the things that happen in life that give us a sense of, okay learning point taken.

It sounds to me that you've had a lot of support in that way and as you're going along your own financial path you're figuring these things out. Now you're getting to the point where it may be, and again correct me if I'm wrong, that you are going out really independently, you're getting married, you're taking steps to create maybe a family of your own at some point. You're doing something different than what you've been doing.

There can be a lot of challenges even in that in terms of feeling somewhat like an imposter, and trying to move forward in your own finances. When you think about taking control of these exciting things. These exciting things that are going on in your life. Great new job, marrying your fiance on Saturday which again congratulations, that's wonderful, it's so exciting. Are there elements of self doubt that are plaguing you right now?

Rose: There definitely are. I think from a... I find this financially, I think that sometimes I lose track of the future goals, the far goals in favor of the hot new thing here now, stuff which probably is not totally unique. That's one place where I doubt myself.

When it comes to more grown up financial like thinking about, okay I have an employee stock purchase plan for their work. I know things about money. I know things about banking. I know things about the markets, or whatever but I don't know anything about this and I get frustrated, and then I just don't... I take a step back and I say, "Somebody figure this out for me." Or thinking about saving for retirement, or for saving for some of these other things.

I feel it's easy to do the autopilot saving where you're like, "Okay, I'm going to put some percentage to my retirement and maybe that's right, who knows? Maybe that's good enough.” But then when it comes to more complex things I feel this sense of, “oh I don't know anything about this.” Really doubting my ability to understand it, and my ability to try to understand that even. I give up in some sense.

I think maybe part of that comes too from being surrounded by people who know more about it. You feel I don't deserve these things if I can't figure out how they work, or I'll never figure out how they work. I don't know anything about money.

I know in my heart of hearts and full brain that because I have these advantages, because I have the support system, because I have a good baseline education, a baseline knowledge first of all I'm doing much better in that regard. I should have maybe more self-worth than I do, but I'm aware of the things I don't know, or at least aware that I don't know things, and that really brings me back down again. Keeping it in perspective I think has been a difficult thing.

Erica: Right, and you're not alone. I can tell you that. Your feelings are completely valid and they're shared by many others. You are certainly not alone in the way you feel. I sense a strong sense of a little bit of shame even coming from you about “I've had all these advantages but at the end of the day I feel kind of dumb.”

Rose: Yeah. I think that's really true. That's really true. I still think I'm learning, and growing around money, and around finances but yeah, it's like I should know this, or I should be interested in learning this. Sometimes I'm not... That's fine, I'll sign up for this thing and I'll put some money in wrap, and many in traditional and-

Erica: We'll see what happens.

Rose: Exactly.

Erica: Wanting to... You mentioned you're not even feeling motivated to learn something about it, putting it in autopilot. I assure you that's also very cool. It's not something that you are alone in the slightest because money as a topic is incredibly overwhelming. It is so much and it doesn't matter what background you come from.

Rose: Right.

Erica: I could draw the comparison. The individuals you work with, the savings account is a foreign concept. Well, investing in a more complicated way is a foreign concept to you.

Rose: Yeah.

Erica: I want you to give yourself a little bit of empathy and care here, and tell me about when you hear that a savings account is a foreign concept to the person you work with, what feelings you have toward her? You don't think she's dumb, do you?

Rose: No.

Erica: No, no. Because she's not. She doesn't know. She might want to know more, but it can be very overwhelming. It doesn't matter what your respective backgrounds are. It's where you are in your life and how you're learning to approach these different scenarios. You're right. You are growing, you are learning.

My request of you is to give yourself the same space, the same care, the same compassion. Be compassionate towards yourself that you clearly extend to other people in your day-to-day life. You have a great opportunity to learn much about yourself in this situation. You're already very clearly aware of where you're at, which is a huge benefit.

As you're moving forward you've got these feelings of shame and guilt, and a fluctuating scale of self worth. What are the things that you can do to be more kind and compassionate towards yourself, and reaching your financial goals? It's hard to get out of that shame thing. Are you familiar with Brené Brown?

Rose: That sounds familiar. Didn't she have a Netflix special, or something?

Erica: I don't know if it was Netflix but it was that she had this amazing TED Talk that went viral a number of years back. She is a shame researcher... She's fantastic. She's got all these books and stuff but she's a self proclaimed shame researcher. She legitimately is a professor, but she researches shame. The way she describes shame is this phenomenal enlightening experience that I think many of us can relate to.

Shame is truly that feeling that you mentioned that there's something wrong with me. There's nothing wrong with you. It's about meeting yourself where you are, and being able to displace that shame and guilt, and put it somewhere else.

Erica: Put it somewhere else that is going to work in your favor instead of against you. It does require some of a... It's not a mindset shift, it's a heart shift. When we talk about shifting any perspective there's a lot of growing pains that come along with that.

"Let's Talk Money" is a podcast about the intimate financial details of our lives and the emotional connections we have to money. (Photo: Getty Creative)
"Let's Talk Money" is a podcast about the intimate financial details of our lives and the emotional connections we have to money. (Photo: Getty Creative)

What you're experiencing in terms of the I'm going to put things on autopilot, that's a growth shift whereas I'm thinking maybe I should be doing this but I'm doing this, and I don't think that's exactly what I want to do, but I'm a little nervous. I feel I should be doing more for where I'm at. You've got to meet yourself where you're at.

Rose: Right.

Erica: It's establishing expectations for yourself in manageable doses. You mentioned a minute ago that you get caught up in more of your short-term goals and lose sight of those longer term goals.

Rose: Right.

Erica: Let's talk about that for a minute. As you're moving forward, what are those long-term goals you have for yourself? Have you given that some thought? Have you thought about what you really want your life to look like?

Rose: No, probably not. I think it's... Right now I have been thinking a lot about emergency fund or even... It's not totally long-term goals but thinking about paying off my car loan, and paying for... Having saved enough for the wedding in a year but it's so easy to be, "Oh, well we need this thing now."

I have a budget, and I have categories, and I have things that...pulling things from money that's supposed to be for something bigger farther down the road and having... I think maybe it's because that further down the road thing feels really either abstract, or even if it's concrete say, an example of a florist who I will eventually owe money to.

Erica: Exactly.

Rose: It still feels it's really far down the road particularly we haven't figured out when that's going to happen. There's an amorphous amount of time to save. Similar to there's an amorphous amount of time to save for a baby, or save for future child's college, or save for the tree falling down on our house.

For all these things that have this amorphous amount of time associated with them, it feels really hard to not get distracted by the shiny new and now because I have the mindset of “oh well, I'll have plenty of time.” That's obviously not always true. The tree in our front yard could fall tomorrow. Fingers crossed it does not but-

Erica: Knock on wood if you would about it.

Rose: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But there's still... It's the unknown unknowns that really I find hard to save for and also hard to define. Outside of saying “oh, well it's a rainy day fund,” or “oh well, it's a house repair fund,” or “well, it's amorphous honeymoon because we planned to but we canceled.” That doesn't have the same motivator, or have the same feeling of motivation as “oh, I want to buy this dress.” “Oh, I want to buy this thing on this Instagram.”

I think I veered off from what your question was, but I think that I maybe borrowing from the future while realizing it. I was going to say without realizing it, but I realize it. I know that. But it's a matter of actually changing that behavior, and changing that mindset that I don't... I don't know. I've successfully done it in the past.

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Yahoo Money sister site Cashay has a weekly newsletter.

I can remember right out of grad school, maybe six months into this first job I had that was not paying me quite enough to do everything I wanted to do. I had eaten through my savings during grad school because while I was really fortunate that my masters was funded, and I didn't take out loans, and I didn't have to worry about paying back student loans. I had also paid off my undergraduate student loans already. I had eaten through my savings and realized six months into this job that I didn't have any savings anymore. I had retirement accounts but I had nothing if the car died or something. I had nothing. I couldn't do anything about it without turning to my parents and saying, "Hi, please help me." I know that I was... Shouldn't have been in that... Showed as a judgemental word, et cetera but I felt I didn't like that I was in that situation and-

Erica: You could have done better-

Rose: I could have done better. I felt really guilty about it and I ended up basically having a breakdown about it. I remember crying to my fiance who was my boyfriend at the time and being upset about the fact that I had $100 in my savings account, or something less than that which is still, compared to people some people who don't have a savings account but the fact that I didn't have what I felt was the appropriate amount of financial fallback was really scary and really felt a personal failing. In that tearful conversation where I lost it over this, my fiance and I have talked through it and he said, "Okay, you're upset about this. How do we make you less upset about this? What is going to help?" It was even this idea of putting 50 bucks in my savings account every month and building that.

That felt very obvious. This is the thing that's upsetting me. This is a way I can fix it that doesn't require such a heavy lift but I think it gets harder when I'm in a better place from a salary standpoint and financially. We own a home which is wild and crazy in its own right but it gets harder when the goals feel amorphous. There isn't something I can pinpoint and say this is what's making me feel uneasy. Until I have the memory of I was able to do this in the past. That talking about having self-worth around finances, that contributes to the fact that I feel some amount of worth because I was able to say enough is enough, I'm going to change this. I'm going to do this.

But I feel I don't want to get to that I'm really upset about this point. I feel I do this thing with finances where I feel really confident and really good then I feel, "Oh crap, I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know what's going on."

I feel really out of control and poor which is not true. I know it's not true but it's something about my mindset makes you feel it's shameful that I should have spent much from this paycheck, or that I haven't saved more, or that I can't save for these future things in the way that I want to and the difficulty in having... I love to be able to make changes, and move forward, and do things without having let's skip the breakdown part.

Erica: Right. I think what you said about skipping the breakdown part when we are doing things in our lives that create a very strong emotional reaction in us. You had mentioned you were devastated, you were disappointed in yourself. That is a huge turning point and that is a... Those feelings are a direct contradiction. They're the result of a direct contradiction into what we value. Very much more deep soul level what we know and in our human being what is right, and what doesn't feel right to us.

When we do things to ourselves that are in direct contradiction to what we hold most valuable then we have these emotional reactions. We have the guilt, the shame, oh my gosh why did I do this? I know better, right? I know better. I have all the tools in the world yet I still can't seem to get it together. What that tells us is really “Hey, we're doing stuff that isn't what we value and isn't really what we want.”

Each of those moments is a time for us to reflect. You did a really great job reflecting on that, and making changes, and you got yourself out of a hole. You do have that powerful lesson to lean on and say, "Okay yeah, I remember a distinct time where I did something against what I hold most valuable, what I value."

You might not know exactly what those feelings are yet but that's what I'm going to task you with. It's understanding at a very deep level what it is you value in your life and these moments in your money journey that really caused you to take some pause and how? I did this, I felt this way, and this is how I came back from it. How do we come back? How do we bounce back?

When you're looking at the things you're trying to do now, and the things that you want to accomplish especially as you mentioned, I love the word amorphous it's very ambiguous at best. Future things that we don't know are going to happen, or not going to happen and there's much of that uncertainty in life in general. Then you have the money thing. You're telling me to retire comfortably at 65, I have to have $3.4 million saved. Yikes. What does that even mean?

Rose: Right.

Erica: What does that even mean to somebody who gets sidetracked by Instagram marketing? I get it. I've been there done that. It becomes even more uncertain. It becomes even more ambiguous. It's this vicious cycle of ambiguity and it detracts from our motivation. The reason it detracts from our motivation a lot of times is we haven't settled upon what we value the most. It's really easy to value, you mentioned a new dress, or something for the house because that has value to us right now. We can touch it. We can feel it. Sometimes we can taste it.

Our senses are in complete alignment with whatever that thing is that we value now. We can't sense what things taste like, feel like, sound like, smell like in the future because we're not there yet. We might have a general idea of what we want the future to look like. We know as individuals our values change over time. Some people, myself included it's hard to really quantify that with money. It's really easy to, I don't want to say give up on it but put it on the back burner in favor of doing things in the present that we can put a tangible value on.

Rose: Right.

Erica: One of the suggestions I have for you is to take some time to think about what you might value in the future as it relates to your money situation. Here's the thing, to combat amorphousness with amorphousness, keep your future goals somewhat amorphous.

When I retire it would be nice to have my house paid off. That's a goal that isn't necessarily bound by time. You had mentioned time, and time is an important component of that too. When you think about investing, we have the time value of money. Are you familiar with that concept?

Rose: Not explicitly, or at least not in... I don't know about the terminology. How about that?

Erica: What it really means is that the value of the dollar today is worth more than the value of the dollar in the future. When it comes to money time works in our favor because over time if we start investing our money now, we give it the opportunity to earn some interest, grow with inflation, and keep it supported.

"Let's Talk Money" is a podcast about the intimate financial details of our lives and the emotional connections we have to money. (Photo: Getty Creative)
"Let's Talk Money" is a podcast about the intimate financial details of our lives and the emotional connections we have to money. (Photo: Getty Creative)

The idea behind investing, in general, is to put your money away like you said for a rainy day, and that rainy day could be your emergency fund. That could be your retirement. It could be two months from now, it could be 35 years from now. When I think about time as it relates to getting our money matters in check, there are some situations where time is really of the essence and there are situations where time doesn't matter as much. But when we think about those loftier goals or more ambiguous goals. I don't necessarily want to call them lofty. Those more ambiguous goals, those longterm future goals like retirement, or how much money should I be putting away in every paycheck, all of those things.

There's a lot of value in that to you now even though you maybe can't touch, feel, see it, understand it completely because of the time aspect involved in what your money needs to do to be able to work for you, to help support whatever it is you think you might value in the future. Looking into ways to maximize those dollars now for you despite your uncertainty about that is looking into options about how you can make your money work for you now. When we think about some of our smaller or shorter-term goals like the emergency fund, that is a huge thing that everybody should be really focused on is one of their primary short term financial goals is establishing that emergency fund.

Rose: But then you get into the ambiguity of how much. It feels even if you hit a point where I know what my values are, I know what my goals are, I have this idea that I want to be able to say for XYZ thing at short, middle or long term but for some of these amorphous things, it's not that the timeframe is amorphous but the amount. How much is okay?

Erica: Right, right. You hear a lot of people say, "Well, you should be saving at least 10% of your paycheck." Well, that's great general advice but it's not applicable to everybody. 10% could be $100 paycheck. It's relative to what your goals are and how aggressive you want to be.

When we're talking about things like that, well how much should this be? Well, what are you hoping to do? Again, this is going back into ambiguous territory. But when we don't have a clear idea of what we value at any given point, and we're bogged down a little bit by this money block of ambiguity and approach to this.

One of the things I find really helpful is doing some basic balance sheet type stuff with your personal finance. How much am I bringing in? How much do I owe? How much is leftover? From that amount leftover, what part are you contributing your paycheck to your 401(k), or whatever retirement account you might have? Once that's done if you're meeting your employer match which is something you should. Should your right way for your money, how much of that is leftover? Then you can say... Let's say after every paycheck you've got $300 leftover after expenses, everything's been paid for, you got $300 leftover. Some people might say if you don't have an emergency fund you need to save that whole $300.

My personal approach to that is that when you've got conflicting views on value where you're not completely clear and it gets very convoluted we're not sure what we should value because we're afraid of doing something wrong. We're afraid of not knowing enough. We're afraid. We're fearful. Fearfulness is a powerful driver for either not saving any of it, or spending all of it. One of the times it either turns back into black or white despite it's the gray area that is confusing us. My advice is to work within that gray area.

If you're confused as to how much you should be saving, or how much you should be spending with the amount of money you've got leftover, meet yourself halfway and say I'm going to take $150 of this and I'm going to put it into this account, I'm going to call it the amorphous account. Literally call it the amorphous account. You can name your accounts. My recommendations specifically for you since you have a tendency of moving money around, it becomes way too convenient. I would recommend an online savings account where you can earn a little bit more interest but it makes it really hard to access it to the point where you sign up for that account. This is no way an endorsement for Ally Bank but when you sign up for an account with them, they'll ask you do you want us to send you a debit card? My response was absolutely not.

Rose: Yeah. I tried to get my mentee to sign up for an Ally Savings Account. There was a bunch of whatever. She never actually did it but that was the one that I was it's really hard to access. Have things go there automatically. It'll be great.

Erica: My advice to you is to listen to your own advice. Goodness gracious you already have the answers. You already got them. It's learning to work within what you know, what you don't know. What you know is if I've got $300 leftover, I'm going to put $150 in this amorphous account that I have no idea what it's going to be used for but I'm working towards the goal of having an amorphous account that I don't touch. That could be a very great place to start for you. Then that $150 that's left over you could use that on the things that you value right now.

Rose: Yeah. Right now my strategy has even been I use YNAB, You Need A Budget. I have a set of savings things and I've been collapsing that group of categories. I can't even see it. When I'm saying "Oh, I accidentally overspent on, I bought new shampoo and I didn't quite budget enough for it because I also bought toothpaste this month."

If I have to move a couple of dollars around, I can't even see those. I can't see the saving stuff. I'm not going to take shampoo out of my emergency fund because that's not an emergency, or I'm not going to take it out of my vacation fund, or whatever. I've been trying to do that a little bit, out of sight out of mind even if it's not a separate account to try to get at some of that.

"Listen to your own advice," Rasure said. "You already have the answers." Photo: Getty Creative
"Listen to your own advice," Rasure said. "You already have the answers." Photo: Getty Creative

Erica: Here's the thing, I definitely agree with the out of sight out of mind. I agree with that philosophy. It helps when you can stash things away and you're not thinking about but the caveat to that is don't let yourself check out mentally. Is that you've got to stay active and engaged in it. You can keep the actual part of the out of sight out of mind with where your money's going. You can't touch it, can't access it but remind yourself not to go on autopilot.

It's okay to embrace where you're at in terms of things are ambiguous I'm doing this, I'm doing that but don't remain in the habit of feeling eh eh. It takes a little bit more of a hands on approach and the more you're checked in, and when I say checked in, I'm asking you to check in with your values. What's important to you and really giving that some thought, and consideration. Using your past experiences like the example you have given to reframing that going forward you're good.

Financial independence, or wellness, or whatever you want to call it, it truly is a journey. There are going to be detours along the way. There are going to be lots of road bumps. You're going to make mistakes. Remembering that you've got the tools and resources available to you and that you are not dumb. You are a smart woman with a lot going for her. So much of remembering who you are, and what you value will help you value yourself more, and help you understand that you deserve all the good things in your life financially, relationships, good professional career in standing. You deserve that.

Your self-worth is more than the value of money. It always will be. That you'll find the more you value yourself, and the things that you value, and really defining what those are, it will directly translate to what you see happen in the way you shift towards managing your money. The way you approach, the way you view yourself will change the way you approach money. Absolutely.

Rose: That makes a lot of sense. I've seen some of that value-based approach to money management before too in terms of thinking about even a formal value statement or something. I follow a couple of different female-focused financial stuff and I get some newsletters, and whatever. One of the ones that I looked at, or I received recently. I had a little worksheet to do a value statement. It sounded a good idea, and I saved it, and then I didn't do it. It's nice to have it be confirmed and that's okay.

It's nice to have it be confirmed and to hear it from additional sources as well. This idea that it's not... It feels, oh this is nervous maybe can feel a silly activity to think deeply about your values but especially when it comes to money because I feel with money often you value what's in front of your face, like the dinner out or whatever but I think that's really good... I appreciate evangelizing more.

Erica: I think it's... I wouldn't necessarily call it evangelization I think... I don't even know if that's a word, evangelization? I think I might've made that up. I'm not sure, but what-

Rose: That's okay.

Erica: But what it really is, is you're getting confirmation from multiple sources that confirm what you already know within you. This makes sense. I'm getting hit with the same message from multiple sources. What it's doing is resonating with you. It's making some sense to you.

When you find yourself in situations where something is resonating, you're like wow I keep hearing this. It means it's aligning with who you are and where you want to go. When you find stuff that, creating a value statement for yourself, treat yourself your own corporation. You can be the... Especially as you're getting married and you're creating this household.

Rose: It's a big transition time, that's very true.

Erica: It's a huge transition time and this is really great opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your husband from that financial perspective because money is a big player in marital relationships for obvious reasons. The less conflict you have there will only lead to better outcomes for your marriage, and better opportunities to communicate, and reach both your individual financial goals but your overall financial goals.

One of the most creative ideas I'd ever heard was a friend of mine who created an annual financial report statement for his family every year. I thought it was a brilliant idea but it really is taking that idea of taking ownership of your household as the CEO of your corporation and you are making decisions financially, the people involved. All of these things that get you to where you want to go.

Most corporations have a mission statement, a values statement. Mission, values, and vision. We see that almost everywhere. Doing those things for yourself, and writing them down, and really, really honing especially that values part I think will be extremely beneficial for you going forward and trying to manage your feelings about, again, the amorphous financial future, and what you need to value, and honor right now.

There's nothing wrong with honoring the things you value right now. The difference is knowing how much to honor right now and how much to honor in the future without... And being able to trust yourself, and believe in yourself that you can make this happen. That's where working on knowing that you are worth is that you deserve this. That's where that piece comes into play.

Rose: I think about your point too about the annual [financial report] or whatever it's almost the same idea as professionally when you keep track of these are the great things I did and as you come to talk about goals and individual development with your manager you're saying here are the great things I did overtime.

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If you don't pay attention to it and you don't care about tracking it, it can be really hard at that annual thing to say here are all my successes but it feels it could be a good opportunity to say, okay, when I'm feeling financially and having high self-worth about money why, and being able to look back upon that in the future to say, oh yeah I did some good things. I do know some things. I did have some success around that, it definitely feels it would be helpful as well.

Erica: Yeah. It gives myself a raise, I've done such a good job. In theory, you are relating it to a performance review of where we're tracking all of those things and you do get to that position at some point where you want to ask for a raise. There's got to be some justification for it. You can't go to your employer and say, "I need a raise because I showed up to work every day on time."

Well, there's a difference between showing up to work and doing the work and that's exactly what you're talking about right now. You can show up to work in your own personal financial situation but if you're not doing the work, you're not going to see longterm results, or short term results. You're going to find frustration and... Frustrations and money - they don't mix. Nothing gets to move forward. Then it makes you feel worse about yourself. It's this black hole to where you're going down that scale from 10 to five to one which using your Harry Potter analogy might as well be Lord Voldemort, he who shall not be named, right?

Rose: Exactly.

Erica: Yes. Any other thoughts you have? Is this helpful?

Rose: I think so. I think that spending some time reviewing how I budgeted and put together but also how it aligns with my values and whether my values have changed, or are changing, or whatever feels a really useful exercise once the sweating thing is over. I give myself until next week.

Erica: As you think about these values are give yourself some room to allow your values to change. It's okay to change your mind at any point. Your values are going to change. You're going to evolve as an individual. You and your husband to be are going to evolve as a couple. All of those things are going to happen for you and your values will change.

It's important to remain consistent in evaluating and monitoring your values whether it be every couple months, once a year but make it a dedicated practice to get a good sense, or a strong sense of those values and understand where your guilt, your shame, and your self-worth scale are as it relates to all those things. You'll start seeing marked improvement in the way you feel about yourself in the way you feel about your money.

Rose: Yeah. That's great. I will definitely circle back to that and work towards that.

Erica: Definitely. Going forward too, you have my email address if you ever have any questions, or want a little bit of advice, I love it. Feel free to reach out and I definitely wish you the absolute best on your upcoming wedding and...

Rose: Thank you much!

Erica: Calibration in the future to follow.

Rose: Eventually amorphously in the future. We also have that.

Erica: Amorphously in the future.

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