Lifestyle Creep and Travel Hacking

Two new videos up! Watch below and if you are in space where you can’t watch, the transcripts are available as well.

If you are technically making good money or you've been getting raises but you still feel like you're having a hard time figuring out where that money goes or feeling like you have a hard time making ends meet, you might be falling victim to something called lifestyle creep. 

Lindsay here, a financial therapist with Mind Money Balance. I shared a post on The Middle Edit, a site for women in their  30s and it got some great feedback so I wanted to share it with you here. The link for that post is here.

Lifestyle creep is what happens when you start making more money and start subsequently spending more money. This happens gradually as we get raises or bonuses. Maybe you and your partner used to do date nights once a month or once every other month at a nice restaurant and then once you were them got a raised you start finding another example is say it's time to turn in your car and get some new wheel, rather than looking for something in your former price range, you look for something a little on the edge of your former comfort zone.

You feel like you're saving and spending more money in a way that feels good to you easy I want you to First plan it out. Write down or put this on your phone. What would your dream be if you had a bit more money? Ask yourself, “What would I do if i had an extra 2 or 5 or 10 thousand dollars land in my lap?” Would you upgrade your house or take a vacation? So once you get that raise or bonus, go back to that dream and see if your raise can fund it. Even better if there is money leftover afterward! You can throw that towards saving or investing in your retirement. So this is how you mindfully, intentionally plan to save and spend your money so you don’t fall victim to lifestyle creep.

If you wanna travel but you feel like   out of reach for you financially, I’m going to show you something called travel hacking so you can travel for pennies on the dollar. Today’s video is a little outside of the realm of the type of content I usually publish, but I put this on my Instagram stories and got a lot of comments, questions, and feedback so I want. I got asked for more information about how I travel hack. So what I’m going to do in this video is show you the exact breakdown of how I took my partner and I to Europe in 2016 for a 20,000 dollar vacation and paid under 800 dollars out of pocket for it.

First things first. Travel hacking relies on credit cards. It does not mean I want you to rack up debt or carry a credit card balance. This is ONLY for people who are organized financially, who are in good standing with their credit and have a good credit score, and know that opening up a credit card won’t tempt them to spend more than they can safely pay off. If that is not you, I want you to hit pause and bounce out of this video because this information is not for you.  

Now that we got that out of the way, let me show you exactly how that trip broke down. I’m going to hop over to my computer and show you the spreadsheet that tracked how I did everything.

This is the actual spreadsheet where I put everything. In this column what we were purchasing, the second column is what things cost in retail in 2016, this one is what we paid whether it was taxes or fees, and this one is what types of points we used or redeemed. So I’ll just go through a couple so you can see what I’m talking about. On this first line we flew from Detroit to London Heathrow on business class and it cost $8,100 dollars, we paid $11, and it cost us 100 thousand American Airlines miles to do that. We went to London for several nights and the Edwardian Vanderbilt Hotel and it cost twelve thirteen hundred dollars and we paid zero. And we used 150 thousand Club Carlson points. You can see how that broke down.

I really get excited when I total everything up and what it came down to is the total cost of the trip was almost twenty thousand dollars but we ended up paying about seven hundred sixty-four so when you break it up we paid 4% of the retail cost. So that is how we did it so now I’ll hop back over to how the heck you get all these points.

 Almost every credit card issuer is going to offer a card that offers some sort of reward. Some of them are cash back, some of them are for things like frequent flier miles, and some of them are more general rewards points like Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership points. So I would say this took me one and a half or two years; I’m not a crazy travel hacker that is taking these trips multiple times a year, I take them every few years and still feel like I’m winning. So, what you do is sign up for a credit card that has a sign-up bonus. Make sure to read the fine print. Usually, there is something called a minimum spend. That is the amount of money you have to spend in a certain amount of time on that credit card in order to get that sign up bonus. For some of them, it's spending three thousand dollars, for some its one thousand dollars. To meet minimum spend, I like to put a charge on the card that is large and something I’d have to pay anyway. An example would be putting six months of car insurance on a card to meet the minimum spend, then pay it off right away. So that’s how I did it several times over. I’ve put some of my favorite cards below that you can check out.

The other thing is that I’m getting ready to take another Euro trip on points with my partner this summer. So if you’re interested in learning more about that or seeing that points breakdown, be sure to hit the thumbs up on the video so I’ll know to make a video on this summer’s trip to Amsterdam and Berlin.

My philosophy is that your money should work for you. In this video, I give you a behind-the-scenes peek at how I funded my 30th birthday trip to Europe with points. This is called Travel hacking. Prerequisite: YOU MUST have good credit and be incredibly organized. If you have CC debt, if you frequently misplace your bills or can’t remember when things are deducted on autopay this is NOT for you.

If you are interested in getting started, here are some cards with low-to-no annual fees that you can check out. These may be affiliate links, meaning I may be paid or earn points at no additional cost to you if you click through.

Chase Freedom Unlimited: Earn $150 bonus with Chase Freedom Unlimited if approved.

Chase World of Hyatt: Earn up to 50,000 bonus points with the World of Hyatt Credit Card if approved.

American Express Preferred Everyday: Earn 20,000 Membership Rewards Points if approved and you meet the minimum spend requirement!

American Express Blue Cash Everyday: Earn a $200 statement credit if approved and you meet minimum spend requirement!

American Express Platinum Delta Skymiles: Earn 75,000 Delta Skymiles if you are approved with this link and you meet minimum spend requirements!

American Express Simply Cash Business: Apply for an American Express Card with this link. Earn a $250 statement credit if approved and you meet minimum spend requirements!

The information and content provided by Lindsay Bryan-Podvin LMSW, LLC/Mind Money Balance is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice. You should consult with an attorney or other professional to determine what may be best for your individual needs. No one should make any investment changes without first consulting his or her financial advisor and conducting his or her research and due diligence. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Lindsay Bryan-Podvin LMSW, LLC/Mind Money Balance disclaims any and all liability in the event any information, opinions, advice and/or recommendations prove to be inaccurate, incomplete or unreliable, or result in any investment or other losses.

5 Steps to Spend in Line with Your Values: Using ACT for your money

Check out my latest financial therapy video on how to apply acceptance and commitment therapy to your money. Transcript below:

Are you feeling like you are spending money on shit you don’t care about? Watch the video above, or check out the steps below, and I’ll give you the exact exercise you can do to spend in a way that feels right for you.

If you look at your spending at the end of the month and feel like you are flushing money on stuff you don’t need, I’m here to tell you how you can shift that so you can spend on the things that matter. I guarantee that practicing this will help you feel good about your spending habits. 

First, let me break down what ACT it. ACT stands for acceptance and commitment therapy. The idea is that when we live our lives aligned with our values, we feel better about ourselves.

5 Easy Steps to Spend Money in line with your Values

  1. Write down the five most important values in your life (example: empathy, freedom, love, health, and sustainability).

  2. Look at last month’s spending.

  3.  Highlight or write down the 2-3 areas where you spent in a way you aren’t proud of (fast food, parking, clothes).

  4. Reference your values and see if they match up. If they don’t, there is a good chance you feel conflicted or guilty when you spend For example, if you value health and love, your money would probably be better spent taking your partner rock climbing instead of buying another drive-through meal. Or if you value sustainability, maybe you could shift your spending from a parking pass to a bus pass.

  5. Shift your spending toward the things you value. The goal isn’t to spend less, though you might, but to spend in a way that feels more like YOU.

What areas are you going to shift your spending towards to align with your values? Or are you going to shift some spending away from a certain category that doesn’t match up with your values? Let me know in the comments!

If you are getting stumped on values, I have a free download full of values you can reference to practice the exercise I reviewed in the video. Here’s a free worksheet to help you find ways to line up your spending with your values.

Video: CBT For Your Money Mindset

New video up! Check it out for the exact exercise I use to help my clients work through negative thoughts.

Transcript Below:

What if a technique for re-framing your thoughts existed? In this video, I’ll show you exactly how to do that.

If you are looking for a proven technique for reframing your thoughts, Cognitive Behavioral therapy or CBT does just that. When it comes to our money, often our beliefs or thoughts are the things keeping us from achieving our goals. I’ll walk you through how we can use CBT, a proven intervention for anxiety and depression, and apply it to your money worries.

Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is a type of therapy that says your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all related. They way you think impacts how you feel, and how you feel changes the way you act or respond to something. This can lead a person to feeling like they are in a downward spiral. In CBT, a person works on reframing or changing their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors for a better, more positive outcome, or as I like to say, “spiraling up.”

Let’s try an example.

  • Thought, “I’m socially awkward”

  • Feeling: Nervous, anxious

  • Action: Avoid attending a neighborhood BBQ

A therapist would ask you how you’ve dealt with similar situations in the past, and encourage you to look at the thought realistically.

“I feel nervous and anxious and it’s making me worry I’m socially awkward. At a recent work party, I did feel nervous at first but after connecting with others in my department, my worry wore off and I ended up having a good time. Instead of avoiding this BBQ, I can try and find someone I know to go with me.”

Let’s do one that is money-related. Here’s a money one:

  • Thought “I’m terrible at saving money.”

  • Feeling: guilt, shame loathing

  • Behavior: spend money quickly when I get paid

Using CBT to spiral up to a positive or neutral place, we’d say:

  • Thought “I’m terrible at saving money;” becomes “I haven’t been great at saving money but it is important to me to have a little cushion in case of an emergency”

  • Feeling: apprehensive, excited, nervous

  • Behavior: move $100 to savings account before spending money

You can go in any order-work on your behavior first, see how it impacts your thoughts and feelings, etc. It doesn’t matter as your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are connected.

In the description box, I’ve linked a free “spiraling up” worksheet for you! It provides a summary of what I’ve talked about in this video so you can practice on your own.

Please let me know in the comments below how you will use this technique. Will you start by un-spiraling a negative thought? Maybe changing a bad behavior. Drop it below! This is the first video in a new series called Tips from a Therapist. I’ll talk about different therapy techniques and how they apply to your money.

Interview by Tess Wicks at Wander Wealthy


I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Tess Wicks, a high-performance money coach. Her goal is to normalize and diversify money conversations. She and I talked about how I got into the field of financial therapy, some of my first money lessons, and a brief review of the four Money Stories archetypes. PLUS she totally punked me and got me to share an incredibly embarrassing money story from my early 20s. #facepalm

Click here to take a listen.

Video: Manage Holiday Stress Four Ways

Watch here or read the transcript below.

I'm going to tell you today for different ways that you can manage your stress this holiday season using my cleansegiving technique! If you are more stressed out than you are being able to actually enjoy what's going on during the holidays, stay tuned for my four different ways that you can quiet your stress down and manage your stress levels so you can enjoy this time using cleanse giving.

I'm a financial therapist. I created cleansegiving to help my clients who are struggling with the stress of finances over the holidays. As I worked with my financial therapy clients on this idea of cleansegiving, I realized all people can use cleanse giving whether or not its related to finances.

So, take the opportunity to just take a break from whatever it is that's stressing you out over the holiday season and quiet those negative thoughts. Here are the four ways to manage your stress:

1: Hygge-style

Invite over a few friends, Hygge expert Meik Wiking says 4-6 people is optimal for a Hygge gathering, and get your Danish cleansing on! Hygee is a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being that is experienced in a cozy blanket-and-candle-filled environment. Boil a pot of water for tea, have some cookies or cake on hand, and invite your friends over. You can talk about what you'll be letting go of during the cleansegiving season and have lots of safe support.

2: Journal

Write down a few prompting questions when you can carve out a few minutes for yourself. Try the following: what have I assigned to 2018 that is no longer serving me? Have there been any unhelpful statements I've been carrying around this year? Do I have any holiday-resentment pent up? What holiday expectations are getting me into trouble? See what comes up as you write out your responses.

3: Meditate

If talking and writing aren't your style, try a more contemplative practice. How is your breath pattern shifting? What response is your stomach sending you? Are there any sticky or tense areas in your body? Allow the somatic signals to rise to the occasion and invite them to head on out this cleansegiving.

4: Ritualized with Sage

Honoring the rituals of Native Americans, use sage to help symbolize the release of negativity. This practice is called smudging. Smudging is the ritual of cleansing yourself or your space of negative energy. Traditionally, dried sage is bundled and burned. Spiritually, it is the idea of driving away negative energy. Scientifically, burned sage actually changes the molecular structure of air by releasing negative ions which have been associated with a decrease in negative moods. Gather dried sage, often sold in bundles with sweetgrass, and a tray or plate that the sage can sit on and catch ashes. Once you've lit your sage, blow out the flame, so you have a smolder-style smoke. Lifting the sage towards your heart with one hand, cup the other hand towards your body, stirring smoke towards yourself. You can then bring the smoke towards your third eye if desired. Allow this ritual to cleanse the negative energy you don't need. The belief is as the smoke from the sage dissipates; it allows a space of positive energy, abundance, and light into its place.

Now that you have the four different ways to release holiday stress by using my cleanse giving technique I have put together a cheat sheet summarizing these four techniques that you can download and the nice thing about having this cheat sheet at the ready is that cleanse giving these types of techniques work in any situation I'm just talking about using them during the holidays.

One thing that stresses people out around the holidays is money. I should know, I'm a financial therapist! I'm so excited to be giving away a free 30-minute Financial therapy session with me and my favorite personal finance book “Get Money” by Kristin Wong. All you have to do is follow me on Instagram (I’m @mindmoneybalance) and post your version of cleansegiving and make sure to hashtag cleansegiving. This giveaway runs till the end of December and 2018 and the winner will be drawn randomly.

Upcoming Workshop: Empowered and Abundant

Hello Ann Arborites, Detroit chicas, and Toledo ladies! Join me along with Christine O'Connor and Carryn Lund for a half-day workshop in the New Year designed specifically to inspire and empower you to be more balanced in your relationship with money! Through financial psychology, yoga, and breathwork, we will help you identify problematic beliefs or patterns around money and equip you with tools to feel empowered and abundant in your financial life.


We are all familiar with the stats that females make 80 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts and are not as likely to advocate or negotiate for themselves. We also know money can be difficult to talk about and that it can be hard to feel confident, knowledgeable, and empowered to take steps towards financial health. In this workshop, you can expect education on the psychology of finances, individual exploration of your relationship with money, and an embodied experience to help you feel empowered and abundant! The workshop will including journaling, discussion (optional sharing), yoga (no assists) to help you access feelings of power in your body, and breathwork to help you release any stuck or stale energy.

By aligning the emotional, physical and psychological aspects of ourselves, we expand to allow more abundance into our lives, including financial abundance.

By aligning the emotional, physical and psychological aspects of ourselves, we expand to allow more abundance into our lives, including financial abundance.

This workshop is for you if you are:

  • 18 or older and identify as female

  • Frustrated with your current financial reality and know you are capable of financial abundance

  • Feeling “stuck” in your relationship with your finances

  • Aware you have some difficult emotions or behavioral patterns around money

  • Interested in learning healthy strategies for approaching your relationship with money

  • Wanting to feel empowered and inspired to meet your financial goals

  • Seeking guidance to kickstart your balanced money relationship

Please note that this workshop is not a great fit for you if you are:

  • Seeking personalized financial or investment advice

  • Extremely financially strained (e.g. having a hard time paying your bills)

  • Seeking a quick solution to your money problems

  • Not interested in yoga, breathwork, or more expansive practices

This workshop is open to all individuals who identify as female, ages 18+. No previous experience with yoga, breathwork, or financial psychology is needed. Come with an open mind, ready to feel inspired, empowered, and abundant! Bring a fellow gal-pal. Space is limited, register early if you’re on the fence.

Saturday, January 12, 2019 9:30 am - 1:00 pm | $75 [$60 early bird price by 12.25] The Barn at Gretchen's House, 2625 Traver Rd., Ann Arbor Register here