Episode 100

Ask Me Anything: Preparing Young Couples for Their Financial Future & Debt

I recently asked listeners to send me questions for an ask-me-anything episode, and you did not disappoint. I got so many responses that I’m doing two Q&A episodes full of insightful questions that will resonate with all of you. This first episode is all about debt and preparing young couples for their financial future.

One question I received was, what do you do if you’re in debt and your nervous system is shot? Business owners often have business debt and some have personal debt, so it’s an important topic to discuss, and we’re going deep on the topic of debt in this episode. I’m also answering a question from a father who wants to help his young married children prepare for their financial future.

Tune in this week to get your questions answered. I’m discussing how we can prepare young couples for their financial future, the intricacies of finances in relationships, and how children change everything. I’m also talking about debt, helping you identify unhelpful thoughts about debt, and sharing why debt in a business isn’t a bad thing.

To celebrate 100 episodes of the podcast, I’m doing a giveaway to mark this milestone. Three lucky listeners will win a coaching session with me or a $100 Amazon gift card. Click here to leave your review and enter!

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • My experience of raising my children to be financially responsible.
  • The nuances of money and family life, and how the arrival of children changes things.
  • How to help provide your children with the financial buffers they really need.
  • Why debt isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially in your business.
  • One debt mistake we all need to avoid and how to avoid unnecessary consumer debt.
  • What to do if you already have bad debt and your nervous system is feeling stretched.
  • How to start putting your stories and thoughts about debt and money into perspective.

Resources

Read the full transcript now

Friends, this episode of The Jewish Entrepreneur Podcast was recorded one month ago, before the brutal massacre of Hamas terrorists upon innocent lives in Israel. To date, over 1,400 innocent civilians have lost their lives, along with a few of our brave soldiers and some foreign nationals as well.

My heart is so heavy as I record this introduction. Once upon a time, a month ago, it was much lighter. I guess you will hear that in the podcast episode you will hear today.

We continue to pray; pray for safety, pray for success, pray for the physical and emotional healing of every single person who has been impacted, affected, and jolted. Whose lives have been changed forever by terrorism. By terrorists whose lack of humanity and despicable acts continue to exist in Israel, and unfortunately throughout the world.

Thank you for your prayers, and thank you for listening to the podcast.

You’re listening to The Jewish Entrepreneur Podcast with Debbie Sassen, Episode 100.

Welcome to The Jewish Entrepreneur Podcast. I’m your host, Debbie Sassen. I went from being a financial adviser, author and chronic underearner to building my business to six figures as a financial planner and money mindset coach. And then, on to multiple six figures as a full-time money and business coach.

I help entrepreneurs create money making businesses and build wealth, using sales and money mindset strategies in alignment with authentic Jewish values. Now, let’s dive in to today’s show.

Hello business owners, and welcome back to the podcast. I think that’s going to be my new introduction. I know you’re all my friends, and I’ve been saying, “Hello, friends” for 99 episodes. But 100 marks a shift, a difference. I mean, we are now three figures, in terms of podcast episodes.

I’m speaking to business owners, and I’m going to call you guys business owners. Of course, you’re all my friends. You’re listening to my podcast. You are my virtual friend if we have never met in real life, or if we’ve never met in Zoom. But 100 is a milestone.

So, hello, my friendly business owners. Welcome to Episode 100. I have some exciting news for you today. We’re celebrating 100 episodes of the podcast. We are celebrating 18,000 downloads of the podcast. How beautiful is that? Eighteen is “chai,” 18 is life, and this podcast crossed over 18,000 in the last few days.

I am doing a giveaway in honor of these huge milestones that you and I, together, have achieved for this podcast. There are going to be three prizes. The first place prize is going to be a 45-minute coaching session with me on anything you want to speak about; money, sales, business, business strategy, anything you want.

The second prize is going to be a 30-minute coaching session with me. Again, anything you want: money, business, sales, strategy. You want to talk about your partner and money, and get coached on that? That’s beautiful, it is all welcome. Bring it to the coaching call. The third prize is a $100 gift certificate for Amazon.

All you have to do is wait until the end of the podcast, you’ll go into the show notes and there’s going to be a link for you to click on and follow the instructions.

You’re going to have to leave a podcast review, of course. I love it when you share beautiful, wonderful reviews. Give me a five-star rating if you’ve been enjoying this podcast, if you’ve been with me for a while. And, if you share your review on social media, so that we can get the word out to more Jewish business owners, that gives you more opportunities to win the prizes.

Make sure you stay here till the end. Go to the show notes, click the link, rate, review the podcast. This podcast is the blood, sweat, and tears of so many people; me, you guys, my listeners for the downloads, all the people who have reviewed it, and of course, my wonderful podcast production team at Digital Freedom Productions.

All right, my friends. Let’s jump into today’s episode. After I sent out Episode 99 to my email subscribers, I asked people for feedback on anything they wanted me to talk about. There were so many people who responded by email. We are splitting “Ask Me Anything” into two episodes.

So, Episode 100 and Episode 101 are all going to be questions that you, my listeners, have asked me. Today, we’re going to focus specifically on debt. I haven’t had an episode that was just focused on debt for a while. So, I think it’s really apropos, because business owners sometimes have business debt, personal debt.

One of the questions specifically, was what do you do if you are in debt, and your nervous system is shot? We’re going to speak about all of that. It’s going to be an in-depth episode today. Make sure you bring pen and paper, because you might want to write down some notes. Of course, if you’re listening to this in the car, don’t do that. You can always come back later and jot down your notes.

But before we jump into debt, there was a very interesting question that came through. I’m going to answer one way today, and then I’m going to give more insight into that question tomorrow.

So, the question came from one of my email subscribers, a father whose daughter just got married. The father asked me: What should we do about helping our young married children to prepare financially if something were to happen? The marriage would break up, there would be divorce.

This was a fascinating question for me, in particular, because I’m the mom of five married children; I have three children to go. It actually never occurred to me to even think about this question. I was like, oh, okay, I want to put my head really into focusing on this question.

I have to say that my kids have been married anywhere between three years and 11 years. Really, bli ayin hara; that they should continue to build beautiful Jewish homes. I have to say that when we got through Corona and lock downs, and everybody being sort of under house arrest, as it were, we were socially isolating in our homes, all of our married couples came out intact; still married, still loving each other.

It was a bit of an exhale moment for me as a mom, because that was not an easy situation. I know that there were marriages that did split up during Corona, when everybody was living together under very close quarters. So, I’m quite thankful.

But it’s definitely given me food for thought for my three other sons. Who, God willing, will be getting married at the right time. Even how I can speak to my married children now.

So, here is what I would like to say is the first part of my answer to this question. First of all, in Judaism, we do not believe in the phrase “till death do us part.” We believe that divorce is sometimes warranted. There is a whole tractate in the Gemara, in the Talmud, that specifically deals with Gittin, with the Halakhic aspects of Jewish divorce, and writing a “Gett,” the divorce document.

It is something that our rabbis have been dealing with for thousands of years. So, it’s not like it’s taboo. We do understand that under certain situations a divorce is warranted, and it could be beneficial for all parties concerned.

Be that as it may, I want to suggest that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. What do I mean by that? Divorce is expensive. All of a sudden, one family, that’s been living together under one roof, now has to split into two households. Which means there are two rents or two mortgages, two electricity bills, water bills, two maintenances of homes that need to be kept up. Just keeping the homes stocked and running is expensive.

Then, if there are children involved, in particular, we have to deal with their emotional turmoil, their emotional healing. That beautiful family unit that was together has now been split into two, and they sometimes have emotional problems that need to be dealt with. They might need help in school, they might be falling behind. So, whether it’s tutors or therapists, there’s just a whole system that is involved in the divorce process.

I’m not suggesting that you should stick with a marriage that is unhealthy, that is abusive, emotionally, physically, or otherwise. That’s not what I’m suggesting. But sometimes, we don’t know how to be married. Many of us didn’t have good role models for marriage.

Or when you have a husband and a wife that come together building a new family unit, it could be that one of the partners had healthy role models, and one of the partners didn’t. Anyway, when you bring two people together… Although we do believe, in Judaism, that when two people get married, it’s two sides of the neshamah; two parts of a soul that are brought together in this holy matrimony, in this holy relationship.

But sometimes we just don’t know how to speak with each other, how to deal with stresses. I remember when my husband and I got married. We’ve been married for 33 ½ years. We just celebrated our 34th anniversary of being engaged. I think, if I’m not mistaken, that the first year and 15 months, until our oldest child was born, were pretty idyllic.

We were a little bit older when we got married, we were 26 ½, which in our culture is a little bit older. So, we’d had some life experience. I mean, both of us do come from “broken homes.” My parents got divorced. My husband’s parents got divorced. But then both of them remarried into stable marriages. So, I think we pretty much had good role models as parents. And so, we had similar value systems.

Life was pretty smooth. I did have a little bit of nausea when I got pregnant, and of course that exhaustion. If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know it can hit you. But my husband was a student. I got a job pretty quickly. I had $50,000 in savings from when I’d worked on Wall Street, so we didn’t have any financial stresses. Life was pretty simple.

Then we had the baby, and she was very colicky. I was very sleep deprived. I went back to work when she was four months old. We also bought a house; we moved house during that period. If I’m not mistaken, I think the first time I blew up at my husband… Yes, I can get triggered sometimes, especially when I’m sleep deprived. I think it was after I went back to work, after our first daughter was born.

If I look back at other times, when I had one of my blow up episodes, when there was just a lot of pressure happening. I specifically remember a situation when all three of our oldest children had the flu. I was sleep deprived from the flu, and I was pregnant with our fourth child.

It was winter, it was cold, and we were living in a building where we were in charge of the central heating. There were problems with the heating systems. My parents came to visit from Los Angeles. It was so much pressure on me. I think my pressure cooker just blew. I blew my top. I remember that incident specifically.

Later, after my sixth child was born… There seems to be embedded in my mind certain situations where I lost my temper specifically around being sleep deprived. Sleep, by the way, is highly underrated as a way to heal your nervous system.

I was reading yesterday, just to bring this in, Warren Buffett speaking about three specific things that he focuses on over his lifetime to create such a valuable company, Berkshire Hathaway’s. The first thing was watching your mind and your body. He talks about simple foods, moving your body, and sleep, as three very important factors in his long-term success.

This was an article that I that I read on Inc.com. You can go and Google “Warren Buffett three secrets to success,” or something like that. I don’t remember the title. But anyway, sleep is very important. Sometimes as a mom, as a mom of many, as a family going through challenges, sleep can be in short supply.

If you are one of those people like me, who has a hard time managing everything, and her nervous system, when you’re sleep deprived, then you want to figure out how you can get yourself some sleep.

So, back to the ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. I think what I would like to suggest, as the first way of dealing with potential future upheavals happening, help your children save money on the side for therapy or counseling.

Maybe if I had had someone come into my house to hold my colicky babies… All eight of my babies were colicky. They were probably all intolerant to milk and to lactose, because that definitely comes from my husband side. I did, here and there, try to stay off of milk, it didn’t work so well, for me. But again, maybe if I had gotten some different support, I would have been able to make sure that I stayed off of milk. Maybe what I needed was someone to come into my house to make me meals.

But again, when we can put financial resources into helping smooth out the inevitable bumps in the road that are going to happen, it’s possible that many situations of a family breakup could be prevented. I don’t know for sure. But I think that having these conversations with our children, when they’re about to get married…

Certainly they’re on cloud nine, they’re in a completely different world. “Our marriage is going to be different. Our marriage is going to be wonderful.” And you, as the parent with 20, 30, 40, 50 years of experience, however many years you have been married, you could also start a financial fund for them.

So, that if they ever need therapy, or they need some other help, rather than giving your kids a new air conditioning system for their house. I mean, I think we helped one of our kids with that. We helped another child to expand her kitchen. We’ve helped our kids with some financial investments in their apartments.

I think it would be a really, really good idea. Something to consider is putting funds aside to help your kids get over the rough spots in life. So, that would be the first way of speaking to your kids about planning for the future. Because things are going to come up, arguments are going to happen.

This is also, by the way, October 2023 when I’m recording this podcast, this is 21 years since my husband was diagnosed with cancer. He doesn’t like me talking about it too much. He doesn’t want that to be part of my story, even though it is. So, I’m just going to just leave that there.

But I remember when I was researching his particular situation on Yahoo forums back in the day. For those of you who don’t remember Yahoo forums, because we’re just so used to Google and being able to search anything on Google, or now, ChatGPT. There are so many newer, more modern search engines which did not exist back in the day.

But I remember reading at that time, that once the family had gotten over cancer, the marriage split up. I was so perplexed by this. I was like, “Really? You’ve just spent so much time together and supporting your spouse through cancer. And now you’re going to split up? What happened in this marriage? What happened to this marriage?”

Maybe the marriage, from the beginning, was just on very fragile ground and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. But anyway, I think that it’s important that we get ourselves the support that we need. Really, it does take a village to raise a child. It takes a village to keep couples together.

There are so many pressures on families in this day and age… We’re going to get to money and debt soon… So many things that supposedly we have to buy, so that our children feel like they’re part of their community. They don’t feel like they have different clothes and different name brands and different vacations, and different whatever’s. That’s what sends us into debt.

So, I think putting a rainy day fund on the side, for those life situations that will ultimately come up. I don’t mean when your car has a flat tire, or when you need to have root canal. But I mean, the emotional healing and emotional support that you might need as a couple when you are navigating life’s challenges.

That’s the first answer to the first question. One of the questions that I received in “Ask Me Anything.” Now, we’re going to move on and we’re going to talk about debt. Before we talk about debt, let’s do a quick review of what money is. Because debt is just a type of money.

So, money is a tool. We exchange things with this thing called currency. Back in the day, before there was money, before there was currency… and we’ve had currency around for thousands of years… As I’ve said recently on the podcast, Abraham, Avraham Avinu bought the Cave of the Patriarchs, Ma’arat HaMachpelah, with 400 shekels.

So, we know that for thousands and thousands of years, there has already been something called money in circulation. But before that time, there was a barter system. Meaning if I had chickens that laid eggs and you had cows that produced milk, you could exchange some of your milk for some of my eggs. We would swap them; we would barter them.

Then, along came money. Because money, currency, helps facilitate transactions. It’s a tool that smooths things out. So today, for example, if you want to have a smooth taxi transaction, you can get an app on your phone and Uber or Get or Lyft, right?

You can now just order a taxi. That app on your phone is a way of smoothing out transactions that happen to get you a taxi to your house, to your business, to wherever you are, to the airport very, very quickly. So, money was one of those things that was invented to smooth, facilitate, make more efficient, the process of transactions.

Money also represents the energetic exchange of value. So, let’s go back to the milk and eggs example. Let us say, for example, that one liter of milk is equal in value to 12 eggs. We can’t exchange one egg for one liter of milk. We have to have something that’s going to say, a liter of milk is worth $2. I’m just making up these prices. So, don’t hold me to that. And 12 eggs are worth $2.

There is an equal energetic exchange when we exchange a liter of milk for 12 eggs. But again, we can now go to the supermarket and just pay $2 to get a liter of milk, or pay $2 to get 12 eggs. So, money, again, helps to facilitate that exchange. It represents the value of the different items that we trade, one for the other.

So, what is debt? Debt is a kind of money. Debt is you borrowing money from your future self. Let me say that again, debt is you borrowing money from your future self. Now, you might think debt is because you’ve borrowed $100 from your friend. You might think debt is the $100,000 that you borrowed from the bank as a mortgage on your house. But if we really distill debt down to what it means for you, as a consumer, or as a business owner, basically, debt is you borrowing from your future self.

Let’s just really, really simplify it. Let’s say that I had a plumber working in my house. The plumber charged me $100, and he only takes cash. I don’t have $100 in my wallet, so I go to my neighbor. I knock on my neighbor’s door, “Hey, can you lend me $100.” My neighbor says, sure, take $100. I come and give it to the plumber, and off the plumber goes. My future self is going to be paying back my neighbor that $100.

Similarly, if I borrow money from the bank in order to have a mortgage on my house, my future self is going to be paying down that mortgage. That future self, my future self, is going to be paying down the mortgage every single month, for the next 20 years, 25 years, 30 years; however long your mortgage is.

So, I want you to think about debt not as something bad. A lot of people have full body shudders when they think about debt. “It’s horrible. It was terrible. I can’t believe we’re in debt.”

I’ve spoken with people and they wanted to invest in my group coaching program Wired for Wealth. The thought of borrowing money was so triggering to them, there was so much shame around having debt, that they couldn’t do it. They understood the logic behind it, but they just had these horrible cycles that they were stuck in when they thought about debt.

Again, I want you to reframe how you think about debt; as you borrowing from your future self. Once we can take away some of the emotional charge… You might not be able to do it all with your thought work. You might need some nervous system work, some embodied healing work, some somatic work, in order to dissolve the negative emotions that are trapped in your body.

But you can start by really thinking, “The only thing that happened when I borrowed money and went into debt, was that I borrowed money from my future self. And now, my future self has to pay it back.” Now, if you are one of those people who has debt, you have that debt because you made a decision. That decision was part of what we call your “think, feel, do cycle.”

Where the “do,” the thing you did, was you took on debt, borrowed money, borrowed it from your future self. It could be a student loan, it could be a mortgage, it could be credit card debt, but you were thinking thoughts that triggered feelings, that fueled feelings in your body. And those feelings led to you deciding to borrow money.

So, for example, if you wanted to go to Harvard Medical School, one of the top medical schools in the United States. People think, “Oh, yeah, Harvard Medical School is the best place to go for medicine.” Or it could be Harvard Law School. It could be any one of the top schools.

You would think like, “Wow, if I go to Harvard Law or Harvard Medical School, I will get a good job. A high paying job, a six-figure job, once I graduate from med school or law school. It is worthwhile for me to borrow money to take on student loans.”

Again, we’re borrowing money from our future self. That self of ours that will have to pay back the money. “When I graduate school… It makes so much sense for me to do it.” You feel confident in your decision, and you feel confident in your thoughts.

You’re like, “Yeah, this makes sense. I feel confident. I’m going to go through med school; it’s going to be seven years. It’s going to be hard work. And afterwards, I’m going to get my MD, I’m going to go and get a job, and slowly pay down my student loans.” That’s your thing, feel, do cycle.

That’s exactly what you do, what many people before you have done, and they don’t have any problem taking on student loans in order to fund med school, law school, business school, all the kinds of schools, where the goal is to get a higher paying job at the end of it.

Similarly with a mortgage. People want to buy houses and they’re like, “Yeah, okay. I want to buy this house. I don’t have half a million dollars, a million dollars, whatever it costs, in the bank right now. I can’t buy this house with cash. But if I look at my budget,” assuming you look at your budget.

Even if you don’t, people are usually living somewhere. It might be you’re renting a place, and you’re thinking, “If we borrow money from the bank,” again, you’re borrowing money from your future self, and the bank is just your go-between; between you and your future self. They’re just your agent in helping you to borrow money from your future self. But we’re going to keep it simple.

You borrow money from the bank, and you’re like, “Yeah, I’m going to pay down my mortgage every single month, for the next 20 to 30 years. That makes sense. I’m going to have a roof over my head. The house is going to be bigger than the rental apartment where I’m living. I can make any changes I want. I can put up pictures where I want. I’m going to have my own stable place. It’s in the community I want, where I want to send my kids to school. This makes sense.

Again, you feel confident. You feel, again, that this is a wise or sensible decision. Then you make the choice to take on the mortgage, move into the house, and go forward.

The problem with debt, when people call it “bad debt,” is when people make decisions to borrow from their future self without thinking through the ramifications of their decisions. They don’t realize that they’re borrowing money from their future self. They’re sort of in that Scarlett O’Hara, sort of fiddle-dee-dee, I’ll think about it tomorrow, right?

They want something. There’s an urgency. “I want that new pair of shoes. I want that new car. I want to go out to fancy restaurants. I want that experience.” Right? There’s a sort of wanting, urgency, desire, that’s the emotion. It could be even feeling a sort of like frenetic energy that you feel in your body, that is almost compelling you to take the next step. The action in the think, feel, do cycle of taking on debt.

This often happens with consumer debt. People are caught up in a cycle of over desire. They want, want, want things, experiences, whatever it is, and they spend money, not realizing that their future self is going to have to figure out how to pay it back.

Or maybe they do realize that their future self is going to have to pay it back, and they’re sort of like, “Yeah, but tomorrow, we’ll figure out how to do it.” It’s kind of like you get up in the morning, you know that you wanted to go for a run in the morning, and you even follow those instructions that say, put your tennis shoes right next to your bed.

So, the first thing you do in the morning is put on your running shoes, and you’re going to go out the door and go for a run. You wake up and hit the snooze button, and you hit the snooze button. You’ve hit the snooze button so many times that two hours have gone by, and you’re like, “It doesn’t matter. I’m just going to go for a run tomorrow.” You don’t get into the habit of becoming the person who actually exercises every day.

Similarly, with food, people also have this urgency. “I need to eat the ice cream. Now, I need to get the chocolate chip cookies. Now, I need… I need… I need…” Again, we’re in a cycle of over desire, of wanting things. And we’ll figure out tomorrow how we’re going to deal with the excess weight, with feeling gross, you’ve eaten too much.

It’s sort of like your stomach feels stuffed, or you feel like a goose that’s being used for making goose liver, okay? You’ve overeaten, right? And you’re like, “tomorrow, I’ll figure it out. I’ll start the diet on Monday. Whenever.”

Those kinds of situations also happen with overspending and with debt. My recommendation to you, is that you really sit down and get some awareness around why you have debt. There is no shame involved. No judgment involved, right? It is completely neutral.

But you were in a cycle of thinking thoughts, feeling feelings, and that led to you borrowing money from your future self, creating debt, so that you could have something today that you didn’t yet have. So, here are just a few questions that you can ask yourself.

One is, how did you get into debt? Now, sometimes it could be there was a medical expense. You can go back on my podcast, about a year and a half ago, I did an interview with a friend of mine, Nicole. We’ll put that link in the show notes. There were medical expenses in her family that caused her family to get into debt.

She wouldn’t have changed that situation for anything. Of course, she was going to borrow money from her future self in order to get the health care she needed in the moment for her, for her family. I don’t remember the exact details, but I’ll put the link in the show notes.

So, you want to know what was the reason that you got into debt. What were you thinking? Again, we just want to be able to uncover our thoughts, because when you uncover what you were thinking, and you might not remember exactly… But it might be, “I really loved that pair of shoes. I wanted them so badly. I knew that they were going to go with that outfit, and I didn’t have anything else to wear.”

You might want to notice how often that cycle repeated itself; “I had to get my kids new clothes.” Sometimes we do think we have to buy things for our children. Because we think that if we don’t buy them everything that they ask for, or a lot of the things that they ask for, that they’re going to hate us.

I mean, I’m just going to get really, really down to the bottom line. We think our kids are going to hate us, they’re not going to talk to us, they’re not going to do well in school, they’re not going to be part of their friendship community. And those of us who lead Orthodox Jewish lives, we even are worried, under the surface, that our kids are going to go off the derech, that our kids will no longer be observant Jews.

The worry of that happening, if our children stop being religious Jews, can sometimes be the reason why we decide to buy our children everything that they ask for. Because there is this belief underneath the surface, that we need to do it or else. And again, there’s no judgment here. There’s no shame here. I want you to just get some awareness around why you made the decisions that you made, that led to you being in debt.

Is there people pleasing involved? Are you worried about what people will say? Are you worried about what your parents will say, what the neighbors will say, what your kids will say? You want to uncover what’s happening under the surface, because this will give you a lot of awareness.

Now, you might decide, after you uncover your reasoning, that you like your reasoning, and that you would have done it again, 100% of the time, or 80% of the time. But unless you understand what you were thinking, you can’t change. As I keep repeating, that think, feel, do, cycle will repeat itself over and over and over again; only about 100% of the time. So, you want to know what you were thinking.

If you didn’t have any idea… Sometimes people just have no idea what the ramifications of their choices are, what their spending is. They’re not looking at their credit card bills. They’re not looking at their bank statements. And all of a sudden, there’s like an a-ha moment where their bank is just shutting down their accounts.

All of a sudden, their bank manager is calling them and they’re like, “Hey, I just want you to know that your bank is in the red and we can’t extend any more credit.” They haven’t been looking. Again, there’s a reason why you haven’t been looking. Maybe you didn’t know that you were supposed to look, because nobody ever taught you about it.

So many of us were never taught how to manage money, or what to do. We don’t have checkbooks; most of us, anymore. So, balancing your checkbook. I remember watching my mom meticulously balance her checkbook. We don’t do it anymore. So, we have to figure out other ways to manage our money, and know how much money is leaving our bank on a regular basis.

That might be a little bit more complicated than it used to be. Because it used to be you had your bank, you had your cash, you had your checkbook, and then all of a sudden, there were credit cards. And so, we had to put credit cards into our situation. And then, there were more credit cards. And now, there’s PayPal, and now there’s Zelle and there’s Venmo.

There are so many different ways that money moves through our hands, where it doesn’t even touch our hands. So, we have to figure out different ways from what our parents and our grandparents did, in order to manage our money.

It could be also, especially for my women listeners, that you expected that somebody else would be the person who managed money in your family. Maybe you’re married, and you expected that your husband would do it. Which would be a normal thing for you to expect because most of our fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, were the ones who managed money in their family.

Not all, but we women have few role models for the person who managed money and was the successful financier in the family. So, it could also be that you just went into marriage expecting that somebody else would take care of it. And it’s not happening because maybe your partner also has some financial trauma coming from their family Money Story. And so, neither one of you ended up wanting to manage the money.

That’s just good to know that. “I was thinking he would do it. I sort of felt confident, maybe a little unsure.” Whatever it is, just create some awareness around what’s happening.

Now, I want to give you a few steps for what you can do to manage your money differently if you are in debt. So, the first thing that you want to know is that you cannot keep doing the same thing and expect to create different results. That’s the definition of insanity. Right? We do the same thing over and over again, and we expect different results. But it doesn’t work that way.

If you have been avoiding your money, if you’ve been expecting somebody else to take care of it for you… It’s okay, as women, that you take on the responsibility for managing your money, even as a couple. Even if your husband is not on board with you. Even if your husband has his own financial trauma and he needs to work through that on his own, you taking responsibility for it starts to change the reality for the family. So, you have to decide that you’re going to change your patterns.

The second thing is, I want you to write down every single expense for two weeks. If you’re bold, do it for one month. Many, many years ago, I think more than a decade ago, I was giving a financial workshop live. Once upon a time, when I did things live and not webinars, like I do now.

I gave this exercise to the people who joined my workshop, and after a month, one of the women came back to me. She sent me an email, and she said, “Debbie, I want you to know that I did it for an entire month. I wrote down every single thing that I was spending money on. I had so much awareness.”

One of the awarenesses that she had, was that she was spending a lot of money on junk food. She said, “I never realized how much money was going at the local kiosk to buy candy bars and snacks and other things in the afternoon. I never made the connection between my weight gain and my money spending.”

This a-ha moment led to her changing the way she was spending her money. She ended up saving money and losing weight, because she did this exercise for an entire month. So, if you feel bold, and I really do recommend it, because there are different expenses that come through; utilities might be only at the end of the month. In Israel, sometimes we have utility bills every other month.

But at a very minimum, write down everything for two weeks. I encourage you to keep doing it for an entire month, and then keep going for two months. There is no judgement, no shame for any of your expenses. I want to keep repeating that, we are creating a-ha moments.

When you have to write everything down, and you’re really committed to that process, you will start noticing when you’re buying potato chips in the afternoon. You’ll be able to ask yourself, “Do I really need potato chips? Maybe, for so many reasons, I can throw an apple into my bag. And when I’m feeling a little bit low on energy in the afternoon, I’m just going to eat the apple.”

Maybe you need a yogurt or you need some nuts, whatever you need in the afternoon. I mean, sometimes there’s just like that dopamine effect that you get after you’ve had a long day. At four or five o’clock in the afternoon, you’re just like, “I just want to spend money,” because it does give us a little bit of a dopamine high.

But you’re going to have to start doing things differently if you want to create different results. Get your dopamine high from the fact that you’ve saved a couple bucks on afternoon snacks every single day, for the next 30 days. That’s a great way to be excited, and be really compelled to continue this process and do things differently with your money.

The third thing is, in order to get out of debt, you need to have money in savings. Let me say that differently. Save your way out of debt. It sounds counterintuitive, but just as we spoke about with the first question, that there are always going to be things that happen in life, there are always going to be unexpected expenses that happen in life. Your car is going to have something that needs taking care of. Your family, your health; something is going to happen. There are always unexpected expenses.

Just now, I noticed that in the past week, my showerhead in my shower needs to be replaced. Now, it’s not going to be an expensive replacement, but it’s falling apart. It’s several years old. I guess the hard water that we have here in Israel has probably eroded, corroded, whatever the mechanism and I need to replace it. That’s again, something little.

Sometimes there are big expenses. Like I said, there could be root canals. If your child needs therapy, or you need therapy, or something isn’t going right, somebody’s fired from their job. They’re made redundant. And you need money in savings. There are always things that are going to happen. We don’t plan for them to happen, but they do.

Maybe your kid throws your phone onto the floor, cracks the screen and you need to get your screen replaced. Life happens. So, put $100 a week into a savings account, a special savings account for “oopsies, life happens.” You might call it a “financial freedom account.” I actually love calling it a financial freedom account, because having money in savings will give you financial freedom.

Because you won’t go into debt, you won’t feel tight, you won’t feel really uncomfortable swiping your credit card when something comes up. So, make a goal of reaching $2,000 in your financial freedom account. And if you have to use that money, that’s what it’s there for. Let the money go down, let the balance go down, and then keep adding $100 a week to your financial freedom account until you get back up to $2,000.

Then, you’ll look at your unexpected expenses. If you’re the kind of person who you notice all of a sudden you have $3,000 in unexpected expenses, then you will top it up. Your goal will be to have $3,000 or $4,000 or $5,000. Whatever you need, but at a minimum, put $2,000 into that account so that you don’t have to incur more debt.

Now, you’re going to look at all of the money that you spend on a monthly basis, and you have to eliminate everything. I mean, everything that is not 100% necessary. Be very, very discerning about what it means to be necessary. Again, when your children need clothes, how many new items of clothes do they need?

As I’m recording this in October, we’re moving into fall. So, the rainy season is going to start. Kids, God bless them, they keep growing. Some of your children might need the next size up. Or with teenage boys, they might need the next two sizes up because they keep growing. So, make sure you get the minimum for this season.

I love talking about when I was 13 years old, and my father was made redundant. My parents told me I was going to get one turtleneck sweater for Hanukkah that year. There wasn’t a lot of extra money in the family. I needed a turtleneck for the winter, back in those days, before global warming.

Even in Los Angeles we had rainy, cold winters. I got this turtleneck sweater that I absolutely loved and cherished until I grew out of it. I don’t know what happened to it. But anyway, if it’s not 100% necessary, it gets exed off of the list and you’re going to put into your spending plan.

Of course, you need to know how much income you have. If you’re an entrepreneur, your income can fluctuate. But you’re going to have to look at the last 12 months of income and create for yourself the average income.

And then, we’re going to talk about doing whatever you can to increase your income. But for now, you’re going to have to create a spending plan that is going to be your bare bones minimum spending plan. You’re going to set $100/week aside for your savings, financial freedom, life happens, rainy day fund, whatever you want to call it.

You also need to put in to your monthly spending plan some debt repayment. So, let’s use a simple example. You have $30,000 of debt, you’ve also looked at how much money you owe to your credit card companies, to your friends. I’m not including your mortgage here, because your mortgage is probably coming off; it’s already a regular expense that you that you’re paying.

But the extra debt that you’ve taken on that you’re not used to paying down. Maybe you’re used to paying the minimum on your credit cards. Maybe you have several friends that you owe money to, or family members; add it all together.

Let’s pretend that in our example you have $30,000 in debt. The goal is not to pay down your debt quickly. The goal is to create a payment schedule where you can pay it down over a longer term, period of time. There is no rush to pay down the debt.

So, if you have $30,000, and you spread it out over five years, which is 60 months, you’re paying down $500 of debt every single month. Now, if that’s too much of a stretch for you, then make your debt repayment plan $250/month.

Really look at your debts and figure out how you’re going to slowly but surely pay off your debt without taking on any new debt. Because so many people will have that emotional triggered reaction around the debt.

So, now you have money that’s going into savings. You have money that’s going to debt repayment. You have a plan to pay down debt. Put into your monthly spending plan $100/month for a splurge fund. I mean we don’t want to live on the edge all the time. We do want to have some fun.

Maybe you’ll take your $100 a month and you’ll pool two or three months together so you have a little bit more, so you can do something more exciting. But make sure that you are having a little bit of joy, a little bit of fun in your life.

There are so many things that you can do for free, but maybe you will want to go out for dinner, maybe you’ll want to go see a show. Maybe you want to go travel, you might need to rent a car if you don’t own a car. But really look at putting a little bit aside so that you can enjoy your life.

Really look at the categories in your spending plan that are not necessary. Oftentimes, we find that we’re giving, I’ve seen with my clients, gifts. They didn’t even realize how much money they were spending on gifts. Or again, extras at the supermarket, clothing. Just look at all the different categories.

You could find ways to find pay less for insurance, for cell phone plans. I don’t want to go through all of the different topics here on the podcast, because that’s not the purpose of this podcast.

Again, it’s focused on business owners, but there definitely is value to knowing where your money is going. You can’t change what you don’t know about. Write it all down, be more discerning, eat healthier meals at home. There are so many different ways you can google and find out how to save money on food, how to save money on recipes.

This whole week of Sukkot, when we’ve been at home, I’ve been working really hard to make things with the ingredients that I’ve had in my cupboards. Because I just noticed that recently, over the summer, I had expectations of my boys eating so much more food, and they weren’t here, they were away for the summer.

So, I actually had a freezer full of meat, full of chickens. I had other things in my pantry. I’ve just been working on really using the ingredients that I have. That’s another way that you can reduce your spending.

I mean, eventually your cupboards will be bare and you will have to go shopping, but use what you have. You can find new recipes, new ways of using the ingredients that you already have.

The final way to pay down debt, and this is what I do with my clients, is to increase your income. The simplest way to increase your income is to raise your prices. So many of us, especially women, are living with the belief that we cannot raise our prices. That we’re exploiting our clients, that people are going to judge us, that people are going to reject us.

People are going to have thoughts about us. “How dare she raise her prices?” But especially if you have been holding your prices steady for three months, six months, 12 months, two years. I remember working with a client who had not raised her prices in four years.

I don’t know about you, but if you look at what’s going on around you, outside, your price of your regular consumer staples, your bread, your milk, your eggs, your meat, your electricity, your water, prices have risen tremendously. Not just in the last year, but even over the last 3, 4, 5 years. Inflation is a reality.

You too, deserve to get paid more. Raise your prices. Tell all of your clients that you are raising your prices. Tell them that on November 1, you’re raising your prices by… If you’re charging out by the hour, you can raise it another $25/hour, $50/hour.

One of my clients just did this. She raised her prices from $250 to $300/hour. The first client said yes and then no, which is never a problem. But the second person that she quoted her new prices to, said yes. Do you realize how much that changes your financial reality when you increase your prices by 20%?

Now, every new client that she has for the next three or six or even 12 months, is going to pay her 20% more. She’s just increased her income by 20%. Another one of my clients increased her prices 40% this year, she did it in two jumps.

But again, every client she now signs, from now until she raises her prices again… If she can raise her prices twice in 2023, who knows what’s going to happen to her prices in 2024? It is so much easier than you think to raise your prices.

When you have more income, do not go and add more splurge items to your spending plan. Instead, pay down more debt. If you want to raise your splurge account from $100 to $200/month because you are increasing your income by 20%…

Let’s just say you’ve increased your income from $5,000 to $6,000/month, right? You will be able to pay down more debt. Put more money in your financial freedom account and add another $100 to your splurge account. That’s fine, but don’t go upgrading your lifestyle because you are now increasing your income by 20%.

Anyway, you’re probably going to have some taxes that need to be paid on that. So, that extra $1,000/month doesn’t all go into your pocket. You need to do your numbers for your business, for your home life, whatever.

You can add a little bit of wiggle room into your personal life, because we don’t want to feel like we’re choking the whole time. But don’t go splurging on all of the extra. Don’t think, “Oh, now I have extra $1,000. What do I get to spend it on?” Because then you’re going to repeat the cycle of debt.

Right now, let me go on, because we’re approaching the hour mark. Thank you for staying with me. What if your nervous system is shot? I know who sent me this question. She’s a client of mine. I definitely understand that you have been living in a tight situation and your nervous system has been triggered. I’m speaking to you and also to anybody else who’s out there.

Again, there’s no shame and there’s no judgement here. Financial stress, financial anxiety, it will also cause a nervous system reaction in your body. We don’t function well when are under stress. I spoke a lot about being sleep deprived and being stressed out, not from lack of money, but lack of sleep.

But again, we will do things that don’t make a lot of sense when we are under financial stress. Therefore, I’m inviting you to be very introspective. If this is your situation, I mean, you’re getting help, you’re doing your work, but really ask yourself: Is it true that I can’t work right now?

We definitely have examples in our Jewish history, of our ancestors not so long ago, during the Holocaust and other situations, when we lived with tremendous emotional, physical and financial stress. Our nervous systems do have the capacity to stretch.

So again, I’m not suggesting, I don’t want to be misconstrued that I don’t believe you, because that would be dismissive. That’s not what I’m suggesting, at all. So, please forgive me if anybody thinks that that’s what I’m asking.

But financial stress and anxiety is real. That will also cause a nervous system reaction. There’s going to be a balance there, between what we can do to bring money into our lives when we’re in debt, and how much we can stretch ourselves. Even if you can stretch yourself for just a little bit to bring in some money, so that you’re not in that financial stress.

Maybe I’m going to come back and speak about it a little bit more on next week’s show. But there are so many different reasons why our nervous system can be shot. Maybe we can find ways, easy ways, simple ways, that aren’t going to stretch our nervous system beyond what we can reasonably ask it to do in order to bring more money into our lives.

Because that debt, it’s tough. Living in the red, month after month, year after year, it’s really tough. I mean, maybe there is a way to create a repayment plan, maybe there’s a way to… This person was speaking specifically about a bank account being in the red. But maybe there are family members or friends, someone that you can reach out to so that you won’t be paying interest on the debt.

In the Jewish community, we have a concept of a Gemach. Maybe there is a Gemach that will be able to lend you money, and you’ll be able to come up with a payment plan. Maybe there’s a lifestyle downgrade that you can implement for a short period of time. It could be downsizing your house.

Again, going back to your budget, eliminating unnecessary expenses in your life. There are ways that you can manage it. It’s a complex question. I don’t feel like the podcast is the best avenue, the best venue, for answering this question.

But I invite anybody who’s in the situation… I mean, burnout is real, right? Your nervous system being burned out and being stretched is real… to ask yourself what do you need right now? Where can you stretch? Is it 100% true that you don’t have the capacity to bring money in.

I don’t want to judge anybody who’s in the situation. I really want to be mindful and compassionate and empathetic for people who have lived experiences that have put them in a trauma response, that have put them in a stress response, that have stretched their nervous systems beyond what so many other people are dealing with. It’s real. It’s real life.

You need to get yourself the support that you need. You need to work on this. And maybe, just maybe, let’s just put that little question mark in there, maybe there is a way to bring some money in and pay down the debt. Or maybe there is a way to say no to certain expenses, so that you can pay down the debt.

Because again, that financial stress is only going to exacerbate what is already happening in your body, what’s already happening in your nervous system. That stress response, that fight-flight-freeze-appease. Maybe there are other ways. I’m going to think about it until I record Episode #101, what else I can offer you.

I just want to put that question mark in, that perhaps there is a way to pay down your debt while your nervous system is feeling stretched beyond what you ever thought was something that you could deal with.

All right, my friends, I didn’t really leave on such a positive note. But I hope that you came away from this episode feeling empowered that you can overcome debt, if you are one of those people that’s in debt.

I hope you came away feeling that there is a possibility to invest in an ounce of prevention, in terms of the relationships that our children, even us with our marriages, right? When we invest in help, family counselors, family therapists, marriage coaches, money coaches, people who can help you to navigate the challenges that come up, that there is hope, there is possibility, there is change available for you on the other side.

I want to thank you so much for listening, for sending in your questions, and for listening to this Episode #100. We’re in a new era, and I really want to remind you to go to the show notes, and rate and review this podcast. This podcast is brought to you every week with love, and helping you to really feel confident with your money.

I’m also helping to dismantle the conversation we’ve had around women and money for millennia, and changing the way women show up in their personal life and in their business life for money, for the prices that they charge, for their financial futures.

This is really my goal with this podcast, is to change the money conversation for women, for forever. Thank you for being here. Go to the show notes, click on the link, rate and review the podcast, and you will be entered into the giveaway to either win a 45-minute or a 30-minute coaching session with me, or an Amazon gift card.

Thank you very much for being here. I will see you next week on the podcast. Bye-bye.

Thanks for listening to The Jewish Entrepreneur Podcast. If you want to stop underselling and underearning and close more sales, you need to clear the limiting money beliefs that are sabotaging your business growth.

Head on over to DebbieSassen.com/mindset and download my free Money Mindset Workbook. Uncover and dissolve money blocks, like hundreds of other entrepreneurs who are now building six-, multi-six-, and seven-figure businesses and creating true financial freedom.

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