Episode 001

Reinventing Money

Welcome to the Mastering Money in Midlife podcast, I am so happy you’re joining me here today. This podcast has been a long time in the making, and I’m super excited to get it off the ground. Money is something that we’re involved with all the time, even if you don’t have your own business, this is true. We receive money, pay money, save money, it’s just part of our life.

So for my first episode, I wanted to introduce myself and share my goal for this podcast and a little bit about my journey and how I got here. I want this podcast to add value to your money and your life, so I’m sharing what this podcast will entail and what it won’t, and a little bit more about money mastery.

Join me this week and hear how my experiences with money and business led me to where I am today and how I help people create and share more wealth. Discover something about money that you can use right now, and how this podcast will show you that there is more growth, discovery, potential, and mastery for you and your money.

To celebrate the launch of my show, I’m giving away 5 popular business and money books. I’ll be awarding 5 lucky listeners who follow, rate, and review the show. Click here to learn more about the contest and how to enter, I’ll be announcing the winners on an upcoming episode.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • A question to ask yourself regarding your money.
  • Why everything you’ve done with money up to now is exactly the way it should be.
  • How to start thinking about money in new ways.
  • The problem with thinking “I don’t know how.”
  • Why all of your thoughts are optional.
  • How everybody has money blocks.
  • Why you don’t have to continue with the way things are, and there is always another possibility for your money and your life.


Read the full transcript now

Welcome to The Mastering Money in Midlife, a podcast for midlife women in business to overcome financial anxiety and make more money, without burning out or sacrificing their families. Join Certified Life and Money Coach Debbie Sassen, as she shares practical business strategies and mindset shifts that help you dissolve the money blocks that keep you stuck in a cycle of underearning and under-saving; sabotage the growth of your business and prevent you from building the wealth that you desire.

Hello, my friends, and welcome to the podcast, I am your host Debbie Sassen, and I am so happy that you are joining me here today. This podcast has been a long time in the making. In fact, this is the third time I am recording this podcast. I am super excited to get it off the ground. It is Wednesday evening in my home office. My home office was once the bedroom, shared by my three oldest children, all girls, and in addition to my girls, I am also the Mom of five boys and many grandchildren.

My goal for this episode is to tell you what the Mastering Money in Midlife podcast is, and isn’t, and a little bit about how I got here. And also an inspirational story of a midlife woman who had a major business failure in her forties. She created a new company in her 50s, and 10 years later, her company’s valued at over 2 billion dollars. I hope it will be an inspiration for you and a taste of what’s to come. But before we get into that, I want to share with you something about money that you can use right now. That is, asking yourself, “What could happen if I could?”

It’s on my mind today because, yesterday, when I was working out with my trainer, I was doing step-ups on a CrossFit box. If you don’t know what a CrossFit box is, I didn’t either until a year ago. It’s a rectangular wooden box, each of the three dimensions is different, meaning you can lay it on the floor three different ways, and the box will have three different heights. There’s the lowest height, the medium height, and the highest height. And for the last year or so, I have been doing my step-ups on the medium height.

But yesterday morning, I looked at my trainer and said, you do this on the highest height, don’t you? And she said, yeah. And I was a little cheeky and a little curious, and I asked her, can I try? She said, sure. So, after my first set I got down, she tipped over the box to the highest height, and I kind of looked at it with my eyes bulging out, and it looked a little bit scary. But I’m like, you know what, what could happen if I could? Let’s try.

So, I stepped up once, I stepped up a second time, I stepped up a third time, and before I knew it, I did ten on the right leg, ten on the left leg, three times. And you know what the highest height is, my new normal. And I think that’s an excellent metaphor for money. Asking yourself, what could happen if I could? Because you can also have a new normal, right? Like, what if I could raise my prices? What if I could change the terms of payment and all my clients would pay me upfront? So, I wouldn’t have to chase after money. Or what could happen if I could invest more money? Or maybe, what could happen if I could earn more money and donate more money and make a bigger impact in the world?

Because maybe there are things you’re not thinking about or you’re not doing with your money. Or you’re feeling today it’s not a possibility, I can’t do that, it’s not my job, we don’t do those kinds of things, people will laugh at me, or think I am nuts if I try to do that with my money. Or maybe your partner is used to handling certain things with money in your life, or your accountant, or your investment manager. They have been the ones taking care of money and making the decisions like my trainer was deciding for me about doing step-ups on the medium height.

But maybe if you would ask yourself what could happen if I could? You, too, could have a new normal. Because when we are just letting things continue the way they have always been happening, and not thinking that there’s any other possibility, and we don’t ask the questions, we kind of keep ourselves stuck exactly where we are, right? And if you are thinking, I don’t know how; that’s going to keep you status quo. But that thought is really optional. It’s just a sentence in your mind, and what could happen if I could, is just as optional.

So, if there’s something to do with your money that makes you scared a little bit, anxious, makes your eyes bulge out, or you feel some clenching in your stomach, ask yourself what could happen if I could? And that’s how I got to recording this podcast, which I am recording for the third time because nearly a year ago, I asked myself what could happen if I could do a podcast. And I have to say I was a little bit scared and I put it off for many, many months.

But, here I am today doing what I put in my mind and thought what could happen if I could? And I want you to come here and feel possibility, inspired, uplifted, and maybe even challenged or fascinated by how you can think about money and do money in new ways. And also to believe that everything you have done with money until now is perfect, divinely guided; it is exactly the way it should be. The way you earned money and spent money, saved money, didn’t save money, the way you have invested, or shared, or donated money in the world, and there’s more growth, discovery, potential, and mastery for you and your money.

So, let us dig into that word, mastery. Mastery is the result of a process. We all start as beginners. Right, none of us come into this world knowing anything about money. But we learn about it over time, and we achieve a little bit of knowledge, understanding, competence with money. And I like to compare it with learning to play an instrument. I learned to play the violin in fourth grade; it was a very short-lived career. My daughter learned to play the violin when she was in ninth grade and kept it up for many years. But playing the violin is very, like squeaky and hurts your ears in the beginning. There are many mistakes and lots of dissidence, but if you keep with them after a while, it can become more pleasant and enjoyable. And if you decide to make a career out of music, you can actually achieve mastery playing the violin.

So, those of us who are not musicians. That is not what we are choosing to do with our lives. But we are actually having businesses making money and earning money. Money is something we are involved with all the time. And even if you don’t have your own business, money is something you are involved with all the time. We receive money, pay money, save money; it’s just part of our life.

So, in the beginning, when you were little, maybe you got an allowance, or birthday money from your parents, or your grandparents and you were a beginner. You could have saved some, or maybe you donated, or maybe you bought some trinkets at the local shop or candy, as most kids do. And then when you got older, you understood more about money, and maybe you did some babysitting, or you mowed a lawn, or you walked some dogs, or you worked in an ice cream store, and then you got to be even more proficient with money because you are now figuring out how to earn money.

Then, you might have actually gotten a job in your 20s or 30s, and there might have been a retirement plan that was connected with that, and then there were more types of money in your life than when you were that little kid, just with the allowance and over time we learn about money in new and different ways. And we become more competent, and over time we can even achieve mastery with our money. And I am not here to tell you which part of your money or your financial picture needs mastery because it’s your money, and you get to decide and do with it what you will.

But there are helpful tools, skills, and mindset shifts that I have learned working on Wall Street and later as a financial planner, and I made my big investing mistake that I will tell you about soon. And I worked with a financial coach, and later I became certified as a money coach, and now after coaching so many clients and growing my own business to multiple six figures, I have a lot to share with you, and that’s what I want this podcast to be about. I don’t want it to be about financial advice because each one of us has our own individual situation with money, and when we need money, and our ability to take risks when we are investing our money. So, if that is what you need, please find a financial planner or an investment adviser whom you trust and take those specific situations to your financial people.

But still, I want this podcast to be practical, so we will add real value to your money and your life. So, how did I get here? You might be wondering, right? I kind of discovered the world of money when I was 20. Because growing up in Las Angeles, the land of sun and fun, and the occasional movie star. I didn’t really know too much about money and Wall Street. But my boyfriend in college told me that I should be an investment banker. I didn’t really know what an investment banker was. But I am a good listener.

So, on all of the investment banks that came recruiting on our college campus, I applied and landed myself a job on the trading floor at Goldman’s Sachs on Wall Street. So, I like to say I grew up on Wall Street. Because that’s where I really moved from being a beginner or NOPS around money to that next level of competency. And I worked on a fixed income trading floor for three years. And fixed-income is fancy financial jargon for debt. In a future episode, I will share my thoughts about debt with you. And when I moved to Isreal over 30 years ago—the Central Bank, The Bank of Israel, co-managing the country’s portfolio of foreign currency reserves. And then, my second growth spurt around money happened 19 years ago. My husband was diagnosed with cancer. Thank God he is fine today, a hundred percent remission. It’s not even something we think about.

But at that time, it was very, very stressful for our family. I was the Mom of six kids. My youngest was nursing. I would go to work every day and also visit my husband in the hospital when he was there having his treatments. And then, after a few months, he completed his treatments, everything was good, and two to three months later, my mother-in-law, my husband’s mother, passed away unexpectedly within a week. Those were two big moments of awakening for us, especially as the parents of young children. We realized that our financial house was not in order. Like, what would happen if? We realized we better do something in case of an emergency.


And, there were things that we did that were good. We had savings accounts for all of our children. Because that was something, we knew we were supposed to do. We were being responsible for that, but there were other things that we weren’t paying attention to. So, as the financial person in the family, I was the one with more background. I started looking into our financial stuff. And I discovered three things; the first thing was that my retirement plan with Goldman’s Sachs had been languishing in an interest-earning account for nearly 20 years. It was a real shame because that money could have been invested in the stock market.  Where it would have compounded and multiplied in value over and over and over again. So, we really lost a lot of money by not investing properly. The second thing we uncovered is money we had invested with an investment manager was being churned. That means the investment manager was buying and selling, and buying and selling. He was doing a lot of trading in the account, and every time he did a trade, it cost us commissions. So, our money was basically being sucked away to pay the investment manager. And, it wasn’t growing as well as it could have or should have if we had been smarter about our money.

So, I started learning a lot more about investing. I bought some books, and I read some blogs. And, blogging 20 years ago wasn’t what blogging is today. So I did the best I could, and as I learned more about investing, I also made a big money mistake. I took a hot tip from someone—and it’s something I should never have done because I didn’t know enough about what I was doing. I didn’t know about the ramifications of this investment. But anyway, I invested with someone, and within a few short months, I lost $50,000. That was really painful, and I had a lot of shame about that, and it took me some time to get over that.

But, what it did do was ignite my interest in learning even more about investing. And how, personal investing is very different from the investing that I had been used to from the companies and governments, where I had been working. Then, I also worked with a money coach because I wanted to understand my money story. I went into my family origin story around money. I understood the, or I uncovered the hidden drivers of what was really motivating my behavior, and there was a lot of scarcity and greed around money. So, I unraveled that and cleared that. And, I really changed the way we did the money for our family and ultimately took back the management of our investments from the people who were investing it.

So, in the last 11 to 12 years, I have managed all of our family’s money. This was just a helpful and eye-opening experience for me that after the birth of our eighth child. When I have pretty burned out from my job already, I decided to pivot into personal financial planning. Because I knew I had made some big mistakes with my money, and that was even with my financial background. I didn’t have the blocks to the financial jargon and lingo that a lot of people do, and I didn’t have a problem taking risks because I took a lot of risks. I lost a lot of money.

But if I could make that mistake, as someone who had a financial background, then certainly people who didn’t have that kind of financial background could be making mistakes. I knew that I could be helpful in that way. And as a financial planner, I started meeting with different kinds of people, hearing more stories, and seeing new money blocks. And it didn’t matter if someone had a hundred thousand dollars or 500 thousand dollars in savings and investments, or they received millions of dollars in inheritance. Or they had 10s and 20s of thousands of dollars in debt. Everybody has money blocks.

So, I decided that it would be really helpful for me and my career to get a certification as a money coach. And then, fast forward to today and a lot of hard work later, and I’ve built a successful coaching practice helping people make more money in their businesses. And keep more money, and share more money, and build wealth for themselves and their family for the long-term. And my business now feels like the natural evolution of the life of an entrepreneur. Because I started as a little girl with a successful lemonade stand. After many years and many iterations, I’m now a successful entrepreneur with a business helping people create and share more wealth and its meaningful, important work.

So, that story I promised to tell you at the beginning of this episode is about a woman by the name of Julie Wainewright. She is the CEO of Real Real. It’s the largest online consignment store for luxury resale. And I first heard about the Real Real from my sister several years ago, and I have done some window shopping on the Real Real’s website, but, recently, I saw an article in Forbes online about Julie Wainewright.

Here’s her story, in 1999, Julie Waynewright became the CEO of Pets.com. But by late 2000, pets.com went bankrupt, and that was a huge public failure for Julie Wainewright, and in the same week, her husband filed for divorce. So, she had these two major life crises happening at the same time. And it set her back understandably for some time, but about six months later, Julie decided to go out and look for a job. She was living in Silicon Valley, and she approached a recruiter in the Valley, and he said to her that her failure was so huge that he wasn’t going to introduce her to any company. And I can imagine that that was a big blow for Julie Wainewright.

But, instead of letting that stop her, Julie Waynewright asked herself what could happen if I could? And she decided that she was going to create her own dream job, and she was going to start her own dream company. Because even though people around her didn’t believe in her, she believed in herself. She decided to combine her passion for business, beauty, and fashion with her awareness of landfills and how much fashion is ending up in landfills. She opened up the Real Real, an online consignment store for luxury goods.

And in the article on Forbes, Julie Waynewright shares with us five tips. The first one is to think about your business as a long-term investment. Right, you are here to play the long game? So, number two is to take risks and never stop taking risks. And 20 years after her big failure Julie Waynewright took her company, the Real Reel, public on the naztack stock exchange. And, she is 1 of 25 women who have ever taken their companies public. And today, her company is valued at over two billion dollars. And the third piece of advice she gives us is that you will have setbacks. Right, businesses don’t grow in a straight line? There are going to be ups, and there are going to be downs.

But, never give up. And the last piece of advice she gives is to take care of your body and your spirit because those are the things you are going to need most to support you in your journey as a businesswoman. So, in the spirit of Julie Wainewright, who reinvented herself and reinvented money at the age of 53, I encourage you to do the same. Learn more about money. Take risks, stretch yourself beyond what you think you are capable of doing today. Ask yourself what could happen if I could. And play a long game.

All right, my friends, that’s what I have for you today. Thank you so much for joining me for this first episode of Mastering Money in Midlife, and to celebrate the launch of my show, I’m going to be giving away five popular business and money books, including my book, The 1k Investor, simple, smart steps to start investing with a thousand dollars or less. I will be awarding five lucky listeners who follow, rate and review the show. It doesn’t have to be a 5-star review, although I sure hope you loved the show. I want your honest feedback, so I can create an awesome show that provides tons of value. Visit masteringmoneyinmidlife.com/podcastlaunch to learn more about the contest and how to enter. I will be announcing the winners on the show in an upcoming episode. Thank you and bye, for now.

Thanks for listening to Mastering Money in Midlife. If you want more information on Debbie Sassen or the resources from the podcast, visit masteringmoneyinmidlife.com

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