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

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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.

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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

Moving to London: The Money Lessons

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Moving to London

The Money Lessons with Erica Gellerman

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by The Worth Project’s Erica Gellerman to talk about what got me into financial therapy (read about it here). She generously returned the favor and let me do a mini financial therapy assessment and open up about some big differences she sees with money and lifestyle living abroad with her husband and son.

Of the four money scripts, avoider, worshipper, vigilant, and status, Erica most closely fit into the “Avoidance” category. For a person who literally talks about money for a living, it does seem counterintuitive that she’d be considered an avoider! The unfortunate reality of the financial therapy field is that it’s dominated by a couple of guys who have gotten their data from mostly white males. When I shared this with, Erica, she said, “that makes so much sense. I read the money scripts study that breaks down the four types of money behaviors, and I didn’t find myself in any other the categories.” Below, you’ll see the rest of our conversation. Enjoy!

What was it like to hear you are most likely to be a money avoider?

Surprising. I feel like I don’t avoid looking at my money. I love learning about it, looking at our investments, and making good financial decisions. I never have anxiety logging into our bank accounts. I can’t believe I’m a money avoider! That sounds so depressing.

Alright, let’s talk about the here-and-now. What brought you and your husband abroad?

My husband Jordan works for an energy company. Most of our relationship was long distance. He was in Hawaii, I was in North Carolina. Then he moved to Bangladesh and I moved to Los Angeles. When we were married for just over a year, he was offered a position in London. It was time for us to be together in the same place so off to London we went!

What was the hardest thing financially about moving to London?

The hardest thing to adjust to was the salary being so different. Moving to London meant my marketing salary would be cut in half; literally 50-60% less than what I’d make in the United States. It was hard to take that lower salary when you figure in moving to a place with such a high cost of living. I could feel the cut of my salary. I didn’t understand what life would be like in London; it was hard to imagine being able to have the lifestyle I was used to on half the income.

It was hard to imagine being able to have the lifestyle I was used to on half the income.

It took a few years for our lifestyle to adjust. How we spend money here is so different than how we spend money in the U.S. Every time we go home, we find ourselves saying, “Oh my gosh, everything is so expensive.” I am shocked by how much Americans spend. New cars, new restaurants, new everything.

What are some of the big cultural differences that show up financially?

Socializing is so much more expensive in the States. Most museums in London are free, parks are free, and going out to meals isn’t as costly. We find ourselves eating out much less frequently because there aren’t as many takeaway options. The city isn’t set up for ordering out.

In the US, when you are starting to connect with someone, you go grab drinks. Here, they don’t do that. They invite you over to their home for tea and cake. If I was having someone over for the first time in the States, I’d have a lovely cheeseboard and something pretty fancy. But here, it’s simpler. We literally do tea and scones to socialize.

What about shopping?

Every single town will have these beautifully curated thrift shops right on their main street. They are called charity shops and everyone donates and shops there. Thrifting in the US is more about the hunt to find unique vintage pieces, but these types of shops are everyday kind of shopping.

And housing?

Our friends back home probably look at our 2-bedroom as unlivable, but Londoners see a 2-bedroom and think, “gosh this is big.”

We have less space than in the US. Our friends back home probably look at our 2-bedroom as unlivable, but Londoners see a 2-bedroom and think, “gosh this is big.” Being here and having other British friends and adopting some of their spending habits around kids, we’ve adopted a lot of the same ideals. [Our son] doesn’t have a ton of stuff or a ton of clothes. There are £1 playgroups all over the place which allows us to socialize and let him play with other kiddos for a low price.

How is money talked about?

It’s very British; there is still a large class divide, even more so than in the U.S. The culture around class and money is that people are more static. They do not have the American Dream mentality. It feels very much like things are a given. The class divide is more accepted; this is how we are, this is what we earn, this is our reality, etc.

If you are a higher income earner, you talk in a roundabout way of how much money a person has or earns. You wouldn’t say, “they bought a £50M home,” but you might say, “they get their suits tailored on Savile Row.” Savile Row is a posh street lined with bespoke tailors. It’s really rare to hear someone come from British generational wealth talk about being practical with their money. To hear someone say something like, “we prefer to do these activities because they cost too much,” or “we don’t spend there,” is refreshing but it’s rare.

In a middle or lower-middle class setting, you hear money talked about more openly. Their conversations are so direct. Even more so than with some of your closest friends back in the States.