81: Building Habits for Financial Freedom with Dr. Bonnie Koo

What are the habits you have around money? Or rather, where do you need to develop habits that help you build real wealth? Our mindset is clearly evident in our approach to budgeting, saving, and long-term financial planning, so to explore how our habits show up in relation to money, I’m joined by an expert this week to walk us through all of it.

Dr. Bonnie Koo is a Master Certified Life Coach, physician, and the founder of Wealthy Mom MD. Through her programs, podcast, and book, she helps professionals define what wealth means for them and shows them the path to making it their reality.

It’s easy for high-income earners to ignore their money, but a lack of mindful habits around money might be hindering you from achieving true financial freedom. Bonnie shares how to establish if this is the case for you, as well as her thoughts about debt, financial agency, what we’re told as women about money, and how to start deciding what financial freedom means to you.

Habits on Purpose with Kristi Angevine, MD | Building Habits for Financial Freedom with Dr. Bonnie Koo

What are the habits you have around money? Or rather, where do you need to develop habits that help you build real wealth? Our mindset is clearly evident in our approach to budgeting, saving, and long-term financial planning, so to explore how our habits show up in relation to money, I’m joined by an expert this week to walk us through all of it.

Habits on Purpose with Kristi Angevine, MD | Building Habits for Financial Freedom with Dr. Bonnie Koo

Dr. Bonnie Koo is a Master Certified Life Coach, physician, and the founder of Wealthy Mom MD. Through her programs, podcast, and book, she helps professionals define what wealth means for them and shows them the path to making it their reality.

It’s easy for high-income earners to ignore their money, but a lack of mindful habits around money might be hindering you from achieving true financial freedom. Bonnie shares how to establish if this is the case for you, as well as her thoughts about debt, financial agency, what we’re told as women about money, and how to start deciding what financial freedom means to you.

If you’re interested in connecting with me for private coaching, I do keep a small panel of private clients and I love helping them explore their minds and explore their habits so they can make real shifts in their lives. To get more information, click here!

What you'll learn from this episode:

  • How Bonnie defines financial freedom for herself and her clients.
  • Why wealth doesn’t have to look like a number in your bank account.
  • Why you always have financial agency, regardless of how much money you have in the bank.
  • How a lack of habits around money prevents you from building wealth.
  • What it means to steward your money.
  • Bonnie’s thoughts about debt, especially student debt, and why it isn’t necessarily bad.
  • The thoughts that might be stopping you defining wealth and achieving financial freedom.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Powerful Takeaways:

06:52 “Most people of our income level, when we die, we’re actually at our peak net worth. That means there’s all this money that you didn’t get to spend and enjoy.”

08:28 “We have agency, regardless of the money that we have.”

11:56 “As women, we have messaging like the pursuit of money is bad.”

17:09 “It’s ingrained in us that debt is bad and that we should get rid of it.”

22:02 “Are those thoughts leading to making more money? Because paying off debt is not making more money.”

26:04 “Almost everyone I work with thinks they’re behind, and it’s going to be impossible to catch up.”

29:55 “You need to know where your money is going so you can make different decisions about your spending.”

Featured on the Show:

Related Episodes:

Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to Episode #81. This is your host, Kristi Angevine, and this week we're diving into habits as they relate to money with the expert on all things finance, Dr. Bonnie Koo. Listen in as she touches on the different types of habits, and lack of habits, that she sees when it comes to money. Let's dive in.

Welcome to Habits on Purpose, a podcast for high-achieving women who want to create lifelong habits that give more than they take. You'll get practical strategies for mindset shifts that will help you finally understand the root causes of why you think, feel, and act as you do. And now, here's your host, Physician, and Master Certified Life Coach, Kristi Angevine.

Kristi Angevine: Hey, everybody, so I'm bringing you this conversation about a very hot topic, money. So much of our mindset shows up in our approach to budgeting and our finances. So, to helped me explore this issue a little bit, and discuss how our habits show up when it relates to our finances, I brought on Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Dr. Bonnie Koo is a Master Certified Life Coach, physician, and the founder of Wealthy Mom MD. She graduated from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, and she's the host of the Wealthy Mom MD podcast and author of a new book called Defining Wealth for Women: Peace, Purpose, and Plenty of Cash. Let's get started, shall we?

I am so glad to have you as my guest today. Welcome to the podcast, Dr. Bonnie Koo. A lot of my listeners actually already know who you are because they know you from your podcast, or they've read your book. But for the listeners who don't know who you are, can you introduce yourself?

Dr. Bonnie Koo: Sure. Well, thanks so much for inviting me. I'm super excited to be here. So, I'm Dr. Bonnie Koo. I'm a dermatologist by training. And I guess the quick version is, now I coach mainly women physicians on money; how to have more of it, how to think about it, and really achieve financial freedom.

We can talk about how I define it, because I don't define it in the traditional way, like when you have $10 million in the bank or whatever that magical number is.

Kristi: I would love that. I just want to say you're the first person who we've had on the podcast, who is focusing specifically on money and financial freedom. So, I definitely want to hear how you define financial freedom. Because knowing you, I know that it is different than sort of the conventional definition out there.

Before we dive into that, can you just share where you're calling in from today, and maybe give something, like an interest or hobby that you have, that maybe some of even your podcast listeners don't know? Just to give a little personal framing.

Bonnie: Oh, sorry. Did you say like a random fact or hobby?

Kristi: Yeah, it's something you're interested in that’s different than money.

Bonnie: I mean, there's so many. I'm just trying to figure out what would be interesting. Because of course, I’m going to like them, but they’re not that interesting. I do love to cook. I feel like everyone says that, but I'm a pretty good cook. I feel like there's the skill of just figuring out how flavors meld, and how to fix flavor if it's off.

And also, recipes are just guides. I think of them as flavor guides. Except for baking. I think baking needs to be precise, especially bread. So, I actually do have a scale. I have lots of weird food tools. I even have a tortilla press.

Kristi: Love it. We may have a lot of overlap in our kitchens. I didn't know you love to cook. I really love that. No one has ever said that on my podcast.

Bonnie: Oh, okay, good. It's one of those things … I mean, you were just telling me before we started how your husband baked bread from scratch, sourdough bread. It's like once you have certain things from scratch, it's really hard to go back. It strikes me, and maybe it strikes you, how different it is from what you buy in the grocery. Even if it's “freshly made” or not processed. So, tortillas are one of them.

Kristi: Absolutely. I feel like, in that same vein… and I promise everyone will get off the topic of food in a moment. I remember the first time I had homemade pasta. It was one of those moments where I thought, “Oh, goodness, okay. I'll make pasta. It’s so much better.”

Bonnie: Yes, I agree. I have a pasta machine, too.

Kristi: Yeah, that's great. We probably do have a lot of overlap that I didn't realize, this is great. So, before we dive into financial freedom, can you share a little bit about your story? I mean, you're a dermatologist, but you're also a coach, and I'm curious what got you interested in helping people with money?

Bonnie: Yeah. So, I didn't wake up one day and I was like, “Oh, let's help people with this.” I mean, I think with a lot of the coaches that you and I both know, I think it started with something that we kind of personally struggled with and then figured it out, for lack of a better way to say it.

Then we just naturally started helping other people. I think it's like when we figure something out, and we're really excited about it, at least I was, you just can't help but talk about it. And when you realize that this is something that a lot of other people are struggling with, you just want to naturally help them, right?

That's kind of how it started. I had no idea that this would ever become a business. A business, having one, never entered my mind, ever. I just was, “I'm going to be a doctor. This is what I'm going to do.” There were a lot of things that happened in between, but obviously, I ended up starting a business. I also started working with a coach who helped me sort of get started. And so, the rest is history.

Kristi: That's amazing. So, you piqued my interest. Tell me how you define financial freedom?

Bonnie: Yeah, I used to define it like everyone else did. People talk about this special retirement number; you may have heard of this too. That's based on the 4% rule. What that means, briefly, is that for every $1 million you have in your retirement accounts, 401k or whatever, you can withdraw 4% a year, and you should not run out of money by the time you die.

So, that ends up being about $40,000 a year. And so, when people do the math, they’re like, “Holy cow, I'm going to need multiple millions to live the lifestyle that I want,” because most of our clients are higher income peeps. I think my number was $5 million.

Let me just talk about this one, before I talk about how I got to another definition. The thing with this is that, then it's like, I can't have financial freedom until I reach this number. And most people, in their mind, financial freedom means… It can be many things, but could be, I don't have to work at my current job. I could work less.

Anything that they're saying they can't do because of money, they think will be fixed by having that amount of money, right? And because it's several million dollars, it's going to take a long time to get there, right? These are sort of just all the things that we’re told, and that I believed too when I was first starting in life. I was like, what's out there, right?

One thing I learned recently… I already knew, but sometimes you know something, and you hear someone actually articulate it, and you're like, “Oh, yeah, that's how it is.” Most people, especially of our income level, when we die, we're actually at our peak net worth, right? Do you want that when you're dead? When I say, “want that,” that means there's all this money that you didn't get to spend and enjoy.

Also, there's this whole thing about leaving money for other people. I'm not saying you shouldn't do that. But maybe you should have some while you're living, too. So anyway, actually, Peter Kim, we were talking about this on one of my podcast episodes. When he said that it kind of really struck me that that is true.

In fact, when I worked with a financial advisor and they were doing projections, I was going to die with $10 million. Because the money just keeps growing, even if you're withdrawing 4%. Anyway, so I digress. But that really struck me. Is that the goal, to have financial freedom, but then die with all this money that we weren't able to enjoy?

So, what I have found, when people say financial freedom, most people actually haven't defined it, what does that actually mean for them. But you and I, we both have met people where they're like, “Well, that would be nice, but I can't because of money.” That's always the reason why they can't do something. Maybe they're in a job they don't love, but they don't feel like they can work less because of money.

Or, I live in a high cost of living area, and because of that that's why we have an expensive house, or etc., etc. Whatever they desire, but they can't because of money; that financial freedom will solve. What I've learned through my experience, and getting coached and coaching my clients is, you don't have to wait for the %10 million, I'm just using that hypothetically, $10 million mark in order to have choices. We have agency, regardless of the money that we have.

Kristi: I think that deserves a pause right there. Just the idea that you don't have to wait for a certain amount of money, that's a big paradigm shift.

Bonnie: Yeah, I mean, I'm the example. There are certain things you probably can't do in terms of it. For example, right now, I have to really think about whether I want to pay for a first-class flight, if I'm paying full price, that is. Because I'm obsessed with the points, as you know. So, I can't wait to get to the point where I don't have to think about it. I could just buy and not worry about it.

Of course, I could technically pay for it, but then that cash is diverted. So, things like that, sure, you do need money. But in terms of the things that people truly want, it's never stuff, right? They just want freedom to do what they want and have a fulfilling job. The people that you and I work with, they’re not trying to just sit around and do nothing. In fact, when we try to we’re actually really bad at that. Right?

So, I think sometimes people think that's paradise. But we all have friends who go on vacation, and most of us don't actually know how to relax and rest. And so, that's really never the goal. They just want to do something that they feel fulfilled doing, and maybe they don't want to work 12 hours a day seeing… depending on their specialty, but for DERM it's high volume. Maybe they don't want to see 30 or 50 patients a day. Maybe they want to see their kids more than an hour a day? That sort of thing.

Kristi: Yes. I mean, this gets to a lot of the coach training that you and I did. It sort of teaches that, and what I hear you teach, is that the way we experience money comes from how we think about it, not how much we have and not how much we don't have.

I'm not sure exactly where I read this, but there's a quote of yours that stuck has stuck with me. And it is, our beliefs about money are what creates our experience about money, and our beliefs, for many of us, have been shaped by our society. Particularly, for many of us, it's been shaped by the idea that there's something negative about money, particularly when it comes to being in the hands of women.

So, can you elaborate a little bit on that idea?

Bonnie: Yeah, there's so much messaging we get about money that it starts when we're super young. So obviously, you have parents, and mostly it's what they didn't say, and just observing. When you're really young, I think about my six-year-old, you’re not going to remember anything, but their bodies never forget, right? They're going to absorb it.

So, if we're always stressed about money, they're going to absorb that stress. And they might not understand why they're feeling stressed about money. So, there are things like that. Obviously, as you get older, you can observe things. My parents always kind of struggled with money, and they actually filed for bankruptcy during elementary school.

I don't think I really understood what that meant. But I did notice that we moved a lot. And every time we moved, we moved to a smaller and smaller house, and eventually an apartment. I would notice, we went to church, and I would go to other people's homes and their homes were a lot bigger. I remember clearly believing, “Oh, we're not rich. That's just not available to us. That's just not who we are,” right? As if that's a fixed identity. So, I remember that.

Then there's just the general societal things. I'm pretty sure it's universal, not just in the U.S. that debt is bad. If you have debt, that means you're bad with money. That is a big message that all of us get. And then as women, we have messaging… Well, everyone kind of does in a religious sense… that the pursuit of money is bad. You shouldn't want to… No one talks about it, right?

You'll be with a group of your friends and people will talk about how they want to lose weight, but I don't think we ever have conversations about, “I want to make more money, and here's what I'm doing.” Entrepreneurs do that, but no one else does.

I think if other people heard what coaches and entrepreneurs talk about; we talk about money a lot, actually. Right? So, when you freely tell everyone, “This is how much I've made. How much have you made?” That kind of stuff.

Kristi: It's kind of so much more normalized.

Bonnie: And we're really excited when we make more money. Then there's a layer of women… Just think about what's portrayed. Ever since I worked with Kara Loewentheil, it’s just brought into my awareness so much about how when we grew up there really weren't any role models of wealthy women. There still aren't that many if you think about it.

And so, it's like, if you close your eyes and think of a rich person, it'd be interesting to know if that's a man or a woman, right? It's usually an old white man that most people visualize.

Kristi: Yeah, exactly. So, a lot of the messaging we got either from socialization, from our culture, from our work culture, or our family of origin, shape how we see money. Let's talk about the intersection of habits and money. Can you elaborate on some of the unhelpful habits that you see your clients sort of grappling with when it comes to their finances, or when it comes to their pursuits for financial freedom?

Bonnie: Well, it's the lack of habits. It's lack of no habits around money truly. And then, I guess, if you could call overspending a habit. But truly, it's the lack of stewarding their money. Just not dealing with it at all. Not looking at it at all.

Here's the thing, I think it's actually easier for high income folks to do this, because we do make a good income. And so, we're not in danger of financial catastrophe, not really. And so, it's so easy to be like, “Oh, I don't have to deal with this right now.”

Kristi: Yeah, yeah. I would think, well, because one of the things I talked about on this podcast is there are the explicit habits; there's your morning routine, and there's not procrastinating, and there's eating. And then, there are those more stealthy, hidden habits. And I think you just nailed one.

One is, when you have a certain degree of comfort with your financial situation, it's very easy to just pretend it's not a thing, just not even think about it much and almost have a habit of benign neglect. You just don't pay attention to it, and it could be fine. And at the same time, you could blink, and 20 years go by, and you think, “Oh, why didn't I steward this differently?”

Bonnie: Yeah, and I really think the pandemic really woke up a lot of people. Maybe not just doctors, but since that's kind of who I know… Because I think traditionally, we all felt our jobs are really stable. And I mean, they still are, but I think the big damage the pandemic showed us, and also the way medicine is going, as you know, it's not really as stable as we were sort of sold.

And so, I think it kind of got a lot of physicians realizing, “Oh, I’ve got to have other ways to make money besides being a doctor.”

Kristi: Totally. Do you think it was a wakeup call that for some people was very jarring, and very destabilizing?

Bonnie: Yeah, I think it depends on where they were financially, right? Because people who are prepared… One of the things I say is… I get a lot of flak for the debt thing. I just did a survey recently…

Kristi: You serious? You get a lot of flak for saying that it's okay to have debt. Is that what you get flak for?

Bonnie: Well, just my philosophy on debt. I did a workshop not too long ago, and I gave a survey out. I can't remember exactly what they wrote, but one of them basically said it was irresponsible of me to talk about debt the way I did. Which, I expect it, so it's not that I'm shocked that some people don't think that.

But what was I saying about debt? Oh, so let's say you are debt free, and then the pandemic hit, and you lost your job. So, the good news is that your expenses are probably lower, because you don't have a large debt. I'm talking about student loans where the payments tend to be large, right? That's the good news. Okay, your expenses are maybe, I don't know, $3,000 or $4,000 less a month.

But the bad news is you don't have other money coming in that could have been happening if you prioritized that. When I say that, prioritizing income producing assets or paying off debt. And so, people who had other streams of income, it doesn't have to necessarily be that, but just things in place to prepare, it wasn't as jarring, obviously.

Kristi: Absolutely. And so, when you're talking about this different approach of spending lots of money to pay off your debt, to eradicate that. Versus being comfortable with debt and using that money to invest in something that's income producing, do you see any particular inflection points for your clients, where all of a sudden, the light bulb moment goes off, and they go, “Oh, my gosh, okay,” and they have a shift in their beliefs? Do you see it? I'm asking, do you see it happen quickly or is it insidious? Or what's it like for them?

Bonnie: I don't think it's quickly for most people. And I really think it's because debt is just so ingrained in us that it's bad, and that they should get rid of it. It really runs deep. And the thing is, people think it's true, like it’s so true. And so, it's literally infiltrated their brain, and they can't help but feel bad about having debt. And so, it does, it takes a while to unwind.

And obviously, the people who spend more time and effort to unwind it, shift faster. I think, money in general, there's a lot of unwinding to do. It's not just a simple snap of the fingers. In certain things, a certain shift in mindset, you're immediately, “Oh, yeah, right.” But money generally isn't one of those things.

Kristi: Sometimes when people think about money, they think, “Oh, well, I just need a financial planner. My financial planner will just tell me what to do and help me look at my budget and help me think.” But when you talk about money mindset, that's when you get to all these sorts of underlying deep beliefs.

What you said just second, I do want to highlight it, because I think somebody might not actually hear the gravity of what you said. When you said that people think that the idea that debt is bad is true. It's just a fact. What you and I are saying, for the person who's, “Well, yes, it is true. Moving on.”

What we're saying is that it's not necessarily a fact that every single mammal on the planet would agree is true, right? Not all the carbon-based mammals will agree that debt is bad. Therefore, we can't say that it's actually just a fact that that is bad. But we can say there's a really strong narrative.

And it's basically, in coaching language, we say, “Oh, that's a thought. That's an opinion. That's a subjective interpretation.” And when we fake that thought, we tell ourselves that it's bad, you can kind of see how it basically, when it infiltrates people's minds, how it affects all of your downstream behaviors, and what they do with their money, how they think about their money.

When really, we could question that. Is it really true? Who says that is bad? There's lots of people…

Bonnie: Most of the money experts, including the physician experts, will all say… I was going to say proselytize, I'm not sure that's the right word… say pay off your debt in five years. In fact, my financial adviser said that. I think they’re well-meaning. It makes sense if the belief is debt is bad, and you should get rid of it. Right?

Kristi: Side note, we're not telling people, we're not giving financial advice on this thing. If you want to pay off your debt, absolutely go do that.

Bonnie: But we're going to give a cogent argument why you shouldn't. When I say shouldn't, I don't mean not pay at all. Pay the minimum. I agree that you should do that. You don't want collections going after you or whatever. But what I'm specifically talking about is extra payments towards student loans.

Because if you think about everyone… Not everyone, I'm thinking of two or three physician finance people who really say pay it off within five years-ish. It's like, wow, where would you be if you took all that money… Because you'll see things, like blog posts, and this couple paid off $300,000 of debt in five years. Or even $500,000.

And literally, when I see that, it makes me really, it's not even mad; I'm not mad at them. But my thoughts are, “Wow, that 500k that could be making a crapload of money for them right now.” Because the thing is, when you pay off debt, and I joke about this, but you don't start getting checks in the mail, when you pay off your debt.

But you would think we would, considering how people are in such a rush to get rid of it, right? If they put 500k towards real estate, that could be a substantial property. I have to do the math; I can't do the math in my head.

For physicians, it's not unreasonable to have real estate income of six figures in five years, with the amount of money you're paying off towards loans. It’s okay, but I'd rather have 100k coming in and tax at a very different tax bracket than your active income, than being debt free. Because think about it, that income stream could be paying off your debt.

Kristi: Yeah, it's so interesting that from that one idea, debt is bad, you can have such different, radically different, outcomes to your finances and to your everyday life. Yeah.

Bonnie: I always say, rich people, and I'm just kind of making up this hypothetical. I mean, they're not hypothetical. They're real people, right. But rich people don't have a problem with that. Most of them don't, some of them do. Real estate investors purposefully go into debt to make money.

Kristi: So, I know this is breaking some people's brains. They're thinking, “Wait a second, but I'm pretty sure it's still true, Bonnie, that debt is bad.” For everyone listening, this is your invitation to… I mean, I think this is actually a great opportunity for somebody to think about. Maybe even pulling out a sheet of paper and writing down all the things that they learned about money from their parents, and all the things they think about money. And then just asking, number one, is it true? Is it serving me?

Bonnie: Yeah, basically, yeah. Is it serving me? I think the litmus test for that is, is it making me more money? Are those thoughts leading to making more money or are they not? Because paying off debt is not making more money.

Kristi: Yeah, that's so good. So, I want to make a little bit of a 90-degree turn, because I want to touch on something that I recently heard one of your podcasts that I thought was so great, and I think everybody should go listen to it. We'll link it in the show notes.

You basically, were talking about how a lot of people will use their past to predict what they can do in the future, what is possible for them in the future, right? And I'm just curious, when I listened to your podcast… and the way you were talking about it, it was just brilliant. I'm curious how you see this showing up for your people?

Bonnie: Well, I'm sure you see it in your clients, right? This is something that once you point out, I think people are like, “Oh, yeah. All we have is our future.” That's literally all we have, right? But our mind is usually in the past. Thinking about past actions as if we're just doomed to continue that into the future. And it's not a surprise, because when you think about…

I'll just give you some examples. Everyone sort of agrees that when you apply for a job, they look to your past. That's what a resume is. They look to your past, right? Everything is based this. Even our training, right? They look at your grades in terms of residency, and not that they shouldn't do that. But truly, it almost doesn't really matter what happened before because you could just do something different starting now, literally.

And so, in the context of money, people, and kind of what I thought growing up is, “Oh, well, this is just where we're at. And we're never going to be one of those wealthier families.” And so, I think about the physicians who are in traditionally lower paying specialties. Though, that's not true. When I say it's not true… I hate picking on pediatricians.

Actually, no, I love picking on them, because most of them have sob stories as to why they can't make more money, and it's just not true. Because I know, I know, pediatricians who clinically, they're not inventing some new device that could make a lot of money.

Actually, some of these pediatricians made way more than I ever made as a dermatologist; I find it fascinating. And I'm not saying this gaslight or to victim blame. But that's an example of someone truly believing there's no upside for their money. They truly believe that they're not going to be able to make more money based on their current situation, their past, or what everyone says about pediatricians.

Kristi: From that, I mean, a lot of the things that we teach is that our approach, it has a huge effect on what we do. And so if we're constantly thinking, “Look at the money I've made in the past. Look at what I haven't been able to do. And this is how it's going to be going forward.” We will recreate that for ourselves, even if we don't mean to.

Bonnie: Yeah, absolutely. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, basically.

Kristi: Totally. And I definitely see that with habits. I mean, I think, with money, you can see it so clearly. And we definitely see it with habits, too. Where people say, “Well, I'm just not the type of person to be able to do new things. I'm the type of person who… I don't have an off switch. I'm not a morning person.” They look to their past to see what's possible.

And they just kind of assume that that's just how it's going to be. It's either going to be hard, or it's going to be something that other people can do, but they can't. And for sure, every time you look back and you don't ask yourself the question, what if something else, something bigger was possible? You kind of put yourself in that little box, and it feels terrible in that box, right? It doesn't feel good.

Bonnie: You just said something, “I'm not a morning person. I'm a procrastinator.” It's like they say it is as if these are facts.

Kristi: Yeah, it's just an observation of characteristics of their personality that are intrinsic to them as a person that are fixed, and won't change. And really, they're all so much more malleable, including beliefs about money. Yeah, you brought up several and kind of just sprinkled through some of the kind of limiting beliefs about money and how they show up. Are there any other any other big ones that you see that crossed your mind?

Bonnie: Well, pretty much almost everyone I worked with thinks they're behind. And that because they're behind, it's going to be basically impossible to catch up. And hopeless. Well, they're not hopeless if they're working with me, I guess.

But I actually have a whole podcast episode on I'm behind. Why do they all say that? And it's not even why, but it's like, what does that even mean? I was thinking about this. And I think that comes from the belief that money is created linearly. And because they're at a certain point, they've missed all this past possible linear growth. That it's fixed increments of growth of money. Does that make sense?

Kristi: Oh, totally. Like, if they could go back 20 years and do the things they think they're supposed to have done, they would have gotten to a certain point, because that's how money grows. Just like, if they would have started running a mile a day, then they would have run so many miles at this point. But they didn't. And so, now they’re behind.

Bonnie: Yes, exactly. I mean, I think that's the main thing of why they say that. And then, because they think what you just beautifully explained, that they're going to have to work until they're 100, or they're going to have to work a lot harder. Just that one belief, that that's how money is made, creates all this angst about their ability to even move forward. Right?

Kristi: Yeah. And I think it's important to point out that saying, “I'm behind, from where I wish I could be. It rained all last week and I'm a little bit behind on my exercise plan because I didn't go outside do what I was said I was going to do. I'm behind on mowing the lawn. The lawn’s a little bit long.” Saying that in a matter-of-fact way, is probably not problematic. “Oh, I don't need to unpack and unwind that little statement.”

But when it's a deep belief of, “Oh, my gosh, I'm so behind,” and you feel just the weight of that, then you're going to end up spending a lot of mental and emotional energy managing those emotions and managing your actions. And then probably, my guess, is when you feel like you're behind, probably a lot of scarcity that goes in. And when your scarcity dovetails with ‘and that is bad,’ therefore we feel stuck again.

Bonnie: Yeah. It's ironic. When they truly believe they're behind, I don't think they're managing emotions, I think they're just avoiding it. And actually, they don't do anything about their money.

Kristi: That's a good point. Absolutely. So, observing your mind from A to B versus believing you're deeply behind are two separate things. Can you think of anything else that we've missed when it comes to money, beliefs, societal messaging, habits, or lack thereof that maybe we didn't touch on yet?

Bonnie: Oh, yeah, habits. This is actually something that I've been thinking about more because I've been paying more attention to my money. And what I specifically mean is my cash flow. I guess budgeting… I actually hate that word. Certain words just have negative connotations. I think debt is one of them, too.

I love Brooke Castillo’s definition that debt is money that you bought. It just makes it so neutral. And so, I like to use the term “spending plan” instead of budget, because I think for most people a budget sounds like a diet. So, this is probably the thing that most of my clients struggle with.

When I say struggle with, it’s they don't want to deal with looking at their cash, their ins, and outs, right? Literally, they're so afraid to look. I was coaching someone the other day, and he was like, “I'm just so afraid to look because I'm going to see that I'm bad with money, then.” I’m like, “I don't think someone who is bad with money has two rental properties.” Just pointing out some facts. Right.

But I think for spending plans, there are habits that are involved. So, the budgeting program that I recommend to everyone is called YNAB. Do you know about that? You Need a Budget, YNAB. That's what I use. And I can only speak for myself. But I would say for me and my family, I like to look at it every week, which I don't think is probably necessary.

But I think if you're starting to examine your spending, and really want to… I don't like the word using control… but just understanding where the money is going, so that you can make different decisions about your spending. Specifically, if you're trying to invest, you're going to have to identify a certain pot of money, right? But you can't do that if you don't look at it.

The reason why we're afraid… and actually, I was kind of brainstorming an email/podcast… is basically, because we know we're probably going to feel bad about what we see. And we don't want to feel bad about ourselves. So, we don't even look at them.

Kristi: And we would only feel bad about it because we look at it. And we think something like, “Oh, my gosh, I'm so behind. I'm really bad with money.”

Bonnie: And yeah, they make it an inherent failing of them versus they just haven't done certain things.

Kristi: Yeah. It's like, “Oh, I have five eggs in the fridge,” as opposed to, “Oh, my gosh, what's my problem? There are only five eggs in the fridge.”

Bonnie: Yeah. I know that sounds so ridiculous. There's money or numbers, and there's drama. So, being able to separate emotions from numbers. And so, it's kind of like when you get on the scale when you're trying to lose weight, and it's literally just a number that flashes. But there's so much drama about the number, right? But it's literally just a number.

So, I think it’s the habit of looking at your finances and understanding what's happening. I don't prescribe a certain cadence, but when you're just getting started, you're going to want to look at things pretty frequently. So, you see kind of a symphony of what happens to your money. And then, you can automate certain things.

When I say automate, it literally could be things like auto pay. which, if you don't have that… It's funny, I just assumed everyone does auto pay, but apparently, it's not true. Then figuring out, okay, twice a year I'm going to look at my investments, and just putting that in the calendar so that's automatic. I'm a big calendar person. I love having recurring events.

Or cashflow, if you're this is all new to you and you've never really gone through your data points of how you spend or what comes in, you're probably going to look at it every week for a while, because it takes time to really figure out what your spending plan should be if you've never examined it before.

We talk about the monthly budget, but that's not actually how we spend money. Certain things are monthly: mortgage, rent, bills. But other things… all of your Christmas spending is usually November and December… but you're not doing that the rest of the year. And so, you need to account for that in your spending plan. That's just an example.

Kristi: This is great. I love it. It seems like all these things that are super concrete, they do rely on you to be willing to look. To have the idea, “Looking isn't bad. Knowing isn't bad. And I can figure this out. It's going to be okay.” And then they can thrive just looking at all those things regularly.

Bonnie: Yeah, I can figure it out. And then, I can make a plan going forward to reach the goal that I want. Yeah. That's so good.

Kristi: So, tell me, and tell all the listeners, where can people find you? Where can they find your book? How can they listen to your podcast?

Bonnie: Yeah. So, my brand is called Wealthy Mom, MD. And so, that's the name of my website. That's my Instagram handle. It's the name of the podcast. So, that's pretty easy. The book is not called Wealthy Mom MD, though. The book is called Defining Wealth for Women.

Kristi: We'll have all that information in the show notes so everybody can find that. I just want to tell you, thank you for coming on and spending part of your day and making part of your time spending plan to coming on to the podcast. It was really great to hear some of these things. I know this has really gotten people's gears turning on their beliefs about money. Thank you.

Bonnie: Oh, you're so welcome. And thank you for having me.

Want to keep this conversation going? Join the Habits On Purpose Facebook group, or get on my email list at HabitsOnPurpose.com. If you're interested in using these ideas and applying them in your own life, and you want to connect for private coaching, check out HabitsOnPurpose.com.com/private.

I keep a small panel of private clients and I have a few spots that are open now. It would be an honor to connect with you. Talk to you next week.

Thanks for listening to Habits on Purpose. If you want more information on Kristi Angevine or the resources from the podcast, visit HabitsOnPurpose.com. Tune in next week for another episode.

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