Episode Number: 175

Episode 175- How To Build Healthy Money Habits & Become A Smart Money Mama w/ Chelsea Brennan

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Jamila Souffrant 0:00

You're listening to the Journey to Launch Podcast How to be a Smart Money Mama with Chelsea Brennan.

Recording 0:10

Welcome to the Journey to Launch Podcast with your host Jamila Souffrant. As a money expert who walks her talk, she helps brave journeyers like you get out of debt, save, invest, and build real wealth. Join her on the journey to launch to financial freedom in five, four, three, two, one.

Jamila Souffrant 0:37

Hey, Journeyers. Welcome to the Journey to Launch Podcast! If you are completely new to this show to me sit back, get in the rocket with me as we blast off. Yes, blast off to financial freedom and independence. Now today on the podcast, I have Chelsea Brennan, which I had the joy of talking to because Chelsea's story reminds me so much of my story, because Chelsea is the founder of Smart Money Mamas and the annual summit Mamas Talk Money. But let me tell you why I feel like we have a lot in common. Chelsea is an ex-hedge fund manager turned financial educator. She helps moms connect with all aspects of their money in a way that lets them overcome emotional blocks, identify what they want most, and create the healthy money habits that will help them achieve their goals while modeling positive money relationships for the next generation. And Chelsea and I share in common that we walked away from lucrative careers in the finance industry to start our own business and to help others get better with their finances. And specifically, Chelsea helps moms like herself, moms like me. So I'm really excited to talk to Chelsea to dig more into money blocks that we have as moms also to talk about walking away right from something "secure", and starting something on your own. And in Chelsea's case, what I love about her story is she was the breadwinner and she still is the breadwinner, even as an entrepreneur and her husband is a stay at home dad. So I love that dynamic. And I love to exploring that all with Chelsea. The other cool thing about Chelsea is she hosts the online summit Mama's Talk Money and this year I am going to be a guest. I'm going to be speaking. So the summit is from October 12 to the 16th and it's going to be over 30 speakers over five days covering things from thriving with money mindset to investing for retirement, to all the amazing things I'm going to be talking about my favorite subject financial independence, so I would love for you to join me. If you want to join myself Chelsea and other speakers talking about money, go to That's to join us for the Mamas Talk Money Summit 2020. If you want the episode Show Notes for this episode, go to Or you can click the description of wherever you listen to this episode to get the full episode show notes. Now, if you are a new listener to the podcast or OG journeyer, I've created a Jumpstart Guide to help you on your journey to financial freedom. It includes the top episodes to listen to, the stages to go through to reach financial freedom, resources to help you, and so much more. Get it for FREE by texting, "launch" to 33777. Text "launch" to 33777 or go to to get your guide for free right now. Okay, let's hop into the episode.

Okay journeyers welcome welcome to the podcast. I have a special guest in the rocket chair. Chelsea, I'm trying to remember to tell people, they're in the rocket chair. And so like, you know, go with my theme. So yeah. Welcome to the rocket chair.

Chelsea Brennan 4:02

I am so excited to be here.

Jamila Souffrant 4:05

Okay, so we've worked together. And we've been in the same personal finance circles and business circles online. And I love Chelsea's story because it reminds me of my story a little bit because she walked away from a very lucrative corporate career to run and start her own business. She's a mom, and she's passionate about teaching other moms how to manage their money, how to earn more, and really just live their best lives. So I'm really excited to have Chelsea on the podcast talk more about what she does and her journey to financial freedom independence. So welcome, Chelsea.

Chelsea Brennan 4:39

Thank you. Let's do it.

Jamila Souffrant 4:40

Let's do it. Okay, so you started or while you were working in your job, you worked in the financial services industry, right?

Chelsea Brennan 4:49

Mmhmm, yes.

Jamila Souffrant 4:50

you walked away from that to follow your passion similar to me. But you tell me your story. I feel like different from mine because part of my safety net was the fact that, you know, I'm married and my husband was still working. So he has an income doesn't cover everything. But at least there's health insurance and there's income. There's some safety nets there. What I love about your story is like you jumped ship, you were always the breadwinner in your family, right? So you're even when you were working your husband was a stay at home Dad

Chelsea Brennan 5:19


Jamila Souffrant 5:21

And then on top of that, you still chose to leave to pursue entrepreneurship.

Chelsea Brennan 5:26


Jamila Souffrant 5:26

I really want to dig into that. Because I feel like there's a lot of moms listening that either they're the breadwinner, and maybe their husband works or not, but like making that transition and juggling all the responsibilities is a lot. So I know that was just like a big blob of like, throw at you. But tell me how you like did any of that?

Chelsea Brennan 5:47

Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so let's go all the way back to the beginning for a second here. I never thought I was gonna be in my old career forever. I was in financial management for several years. But back in college, when I was making this decision with it was whether I was gonna go be a public school teacher, or go to Wall Street. And these are night and day different careers. And I had this whole wealth equals worthiness mindset that made me really, really nervous to go into a lower paying career. And so what I had decided, even in college, before I met my husband was that I was going to go into this lucrative career and build a career for a while. And some point around 45-50, I was going to leave and have a second act career. I was gonna go do something that I really love to do. And this is before I knew about financial independence, or any of those kind of things. I just knew that that was going to be my path and my mission. And so my first year out of college, and I was on Wall Street in New York, I met my husband on Craigslist, of all crazy things. We went...

Jamila Souffrant 6:41

There was like an ad for husband like How did you meet him?

Chelsea Brennan 6:43

Correct. Yes, ad for husband.I posted looking for a roommate, he responded. And so we were roommates for a while before we started dating. So he met me early in my career. And I always kind of said like, this is for now. This is not my career forever. And so when we got married, the conversation was always we're going to save as much as possible, we're going to make as most of this time, we're going to give generously to charity while we have the resources to do it, and we'll pivot later on. And so then there was the second round of conversations about him being a stay at home dad, even when we started dating. Jamila I made like 10x what he made, right, and so that we already had this huge disparity, and he is not a person, he will be totally fine with me saying this. He's not a person that like works for other people very well. Like, likes to do his own thing. He likes to be in control, and he loves kids. And he was kind of like,"I'd want to support you in your career, like, would it be easier for us, you're always gonna have way more vacation than me, you're always gonna have way more flexibility than me .What if I was just home with the kids, and then we can kind of do what we want?" I had my own reservations about this, my parents were going through divorce at this point, I'm just like, gonna throw all the information. They were going through divorce, and my mom who'd been a stay at home mom for over 20 years was forced to go back into the workforce in her early 50s. She didn't have a college degree. And she laid it on her feet. She's an incredible human being. She's like now a business consultant and makes six figures and she's fine. But at the time, it didn't, we didn't know what that was going to turn out to be. And so I saw this risk for Jeremiah and was like," I don't love this, like, I don't love this as a plan." But we kind of came to a point where we said, okay, he has some certain skills and degrees that make him employable, kind of regardless, even if he takes a gap. And so he was gonna keep up on those skills as much as possible. And we were going to see how it went. The plan had been 45, we were doing I discovered, the year before our first child was born, I discovered the FIRE movement. And we started saving even more money, we you know, we were always around 40 to 50% of our income was being saved, we jacked it up to about 70% at our highest level. And so we were on we were on the FIRE path. And then I had a kid and there was so much that changed when I had a kid and the biggest being, I wasn't setting a good example. I enjoyed my work, it was intellectually stimulating. I like my coworkers to an extent we were really different I but I felt like I was putting on a mask. Every time I went to the office, these were not my people. This was not the life that I wanted to live, it wasn't the impact I wanted to have. And I didn't know how to look at my kid and want to tell him and raise him to be his own person and to have an impact when I wasn't doing that. And then the next level of it was I had bad postpartum depression, really bad. And I put it on my work. And with three years of gap and with better clarity now, it wasn't my work. It was a place that I knew I was disconnected. And so I wanted something to change. And so we went down this rabbit hole of like, what are all the things we could do? I explored like, eight different avenues of entrepreneurship. I got really, really close to leaving to become a CEO of a healthcare startup. I mean, like days from signing paperwork. And then I did the same thing of like, this isn't my passion either. This isn't what I want to do. And so I said no. And a couple weeks after I said no to that, I decided I was gonna start a blog, didn't have any plan with it didn't have any purpose. Like I was just like, you know what? My Facebook community of moms this woman, this group of women that I've gotten to know, constantly asked me money questions. I needed a passion project. I needed something that made me feel more like myself more like I was having an impact. And so I started a blog just to answer their questions. I asked them to tell me what do you need to know about money? And within a couple days, they sent me like 60 questions. I wrote every day on the blog for over a month. And then it was just, I just started to find the kernels of what I wanted to do. And so 10 months later, right before my second child was born, I was 32 weeks, my water broke. So we were in the hospital waiting to see if we were gonna have a preemie baby. We was really scary. Work was still sending me questions. I was really stressed out. I had a hard pregnancy with George and I just didn't want to do it anymore. And so we pulled up all the spreadsheets, we pulled up our FI numbers and everything. And I said, "Okay, are we at coast FI? Like if I leave, what happens to her retirement plan? And how much of a cushion do we really have? And so we ran the numbers, and we said, "Listen, we have two years of money in the bank, that the business has to make money in two years." It from zero because at this point, it's a 10 month old blog that couldn't be monetized. Do we have two years. And then if we just set our retirement aside, by the time I was 45, we could retire. So still retire really early. Jeremiah and I had this deep conversation about it in the hospital. And I said, like, I feel like if one of us has to go back to work, we can go back to work. But right now, as a family, I need to make this jump like I need to try this. I can't keep living this lifestyle, or I'm working really hard in the job that doesn't serve us as a family. And for him, it was scary.

Jamila Souffrant 11:32

We could take a pause because a lot of things did come up for me like things I want to get more clarification on and dive deeper in.

Chelsea Brennan 11:38


Jamila Souffrant 11:39

What was your husband's like field to work in? I'm just curious you.

Chelsea Brennan 11:44

He's all over the place. So his his final career before he left with you as a construction estimator. So he has his master's degree in construction and project management. Before that he was a yacht captain. And so he used to Captain big like hundred foot yachts of all random things. And so the boat license that it takes to do that work is in really high demand. And so you could pretty much always find jobs doing that. But he was he's a jack of all trades type of person.

Jamila Souffrant 12:08

Wow. Okay, that was just me being nosy. I just wanted to know that part. But the other thing about your story that stands out as one, yes, it's very similar, like my story. And what I really like is that you said you had a felt like you had a mask on, going to work. And I felt like that too. Like, I would sit in meetings and hope that none of my co workers, my old co workers, or boss is listening, because I think sometimes they do. But I would sit in meetings, and I look around and I'm like, "I'm in the twilight zone." I felt like I was the only one who felt different or thinking outside. I was like, our sat and looked at the window and envision like, what a life outside like those windows and what I could be doing, and if everyone else seems so into it, and I was just like, and I had to pretend and I did I did good work. This is why like I climbed the corporate ladder, but I was so not into it. Like, again, I was walking two different lines, like, for the most part, I didn't think they knew about Journey to Launch. So how does one because I'm sure there are people right now who are like that, who are thinking to themselves like that, you know, going into work, I can not really show up as my full self. And I'm not really happy. The courage that it took for you to make a decision like can you talk more about that? Because I do think that's something that like people struggle with. And I think financially though, like probably with your background, like saving so much money was helpful. So you have like a cushion to be able to like be bold, and but what advice would you give to someone who feels that way now, especially if a mom who or wants to be a mom who's feeling like this?

Chelsea Brennan 13:38

Yeah, absolutely. I think the mask thing is a really strong indicator that something is wrong, right? And I think that for me, for you guys who can't see the video or listen to the podcast, I'm like in a flannel shirt, right? We have my chickens are walking around the backyard. Okay, like, this is who I am. We always had these dreams of having land and living somewhere rural. And it was just really different from a stuffy hedge fund career, right. This was not the people that I worked with. I still had many, many days, I walked to work in a Carhart big winter jacket. And that was just like, I stood out like a sore thumb. I took it off as soon as I got to the office, but like I stuck out like a sore thumb. And I remember being at a drinks after an event with some of my co workers and making a comment about how I couldn't get wait to get home to change my clothes. And so I don't know about you. But like I would walk in the door when I got home and immediately like sweatpants and T shirt. Like as soon as they walk in the door. And they all looked at me like I was crazy. And I was like "You don't change as soon as you get home?" And they're kind of like, "no, like, we just wait" and I was flabbergasted. So there's these moments that I was like, maybe I'm not with my people. I think the courage part is a really hard question. And I think that I don't know if I would have had that courage if I wasn't at what felt like a breaking point. Mentally and physically, I needed a break. I needed something else and like I was really worried that I was going to cause irreparable damage if I kept hustling and doing the stuff that I was doing, and I needed to walk away. And so the courage more came from, I need to be here for my family. And I need to show up for me. And I am not practicing self care. And so that the brave part was more, I need to finally make a decision that's for myself, which I have a background and a m-and a mindset that that wasn't always where I was at. I have a complicated relationship with my dad. And so we won't go into that. But like, it was a big moment of just, it's time to pay attention to me and pay attention to my family. And so that was the shift for sure.

Jamila Souffrant 15:38

Yeah. And I often think about maybe someone trying to decide like, oh, should I leave my job. And if they're not, you know, same thing, I felt like I had no choice. I felt like I had to leave my job. Because there was no way I can upkeep everything happening in my life, right? And so it's almost like my back was against the wall. And I was like, there was no choice. And part of me feels like because I've timed my leaving my job with after my maternity leave with my daughter. It also felt like, it kind of scared me because I wondered, like if I wasn't pregnant, or if I didn't have like the third child. And it wasn't so much juggling, like would I have, would I've been able to still leave, but it just felt like all the stars align, and my back was against the wall. And that's why I did it. And I think, you know, that made my decision, even though it's scary and a big risk. It felt like I had no trace, at least, you said you felt like that too.

Chelsea Brennan 16:24

I did feel like that. And I was also in a position like we talked about that by the end of the following year. So this is December 2017, we had talked about by December 2018. me leaving anyway, that was kind of the deadline of like, let's get through maternity leave, let's have benefits to George being really little. And then we'll leave. And so we moved it up about a year, when I finally made a decision, I call my manager and said, like, I think I need to walk away. Like I think I need to do something different. And what is that going to look like if I do that? And so I had had a conversation with HR when I got was pregnant with our first that they were like, "Listen, if you're not going to come back after maternity leave, we're fine with that. We just want to know ahead of time, like we're not going to cut your benefits off or anything like we just want to be able to prepare." And so they had set that stage. And so I kind of call them said "Listen, like I'm in a rough place right now physically, like, what is this going to look like?" And so they came back with a package of like, transfer your team off, let's get this set up, we'll pay through maternity leave, like we manage the Cobra stuff and all those things. And I was able to leave that made it easier too, that I had some support for my company, right? And so the combination of having savings and having that support, created a bigger safety net, which we needed because my husband wasn't working.

Jamila Souffrant 17:36

Right. And I think it's important to talk about the lead up to that because I find that you you are on intentionally the journey of saving and investing. So you you were prepared for taking that jump. And there are some people who are just starting their journey and still feel the way that we felt but like logistically it maybe it's not possible for them to leave at this moment. Did you know someone did you just hear like the fire movement or read a article? Like what really prompted you to like to take it seriously and start because that's what really allowed you to, to leave when it was necessary for you.

Chelsea Brennan 18:09

Yeah, so my dad ran a business growing up. And he had a business partner who was super into he was like a boglehead. Like the original original boglehead. Teak taught me about this kind of stuff from a really early age. And that's what started like, from my first paycheck, I was saving 50% or so of my paycheck always. He kind of gave me this, I think this whole discussion of like, this gives you options, it will buy your freedom long in the future. And the sooner you start, the better. And so he gave me investing books. And so that was the start of it. And then I read an article, same as any in a lot of people. I was on Twitter, I think and I saw an article about somebody retiring at 35. And that was a big wake up for me, because in my industry, a lot of people didn't work till they were 65. Like it was mostly 50 to 55 that people would leave. And so me thinking originally 45 was early, but it wasn't crazy. And why I never did the math to show that it actually could be a lot sooner, I don't know. Partially, I think because in the circle that I was in people inflate how much you need, because the lifestyle is so expensive, right? So like, there was a guy who quote unquote, retired in his late 40s in my job and everyone was like, well, he's going to go have to get another job. Like there's no way he saved enough. Like he was a partner for like 15 years. How could he possibly not have enough money to retire? And so I think that was that mindset. But yeah, I discovered an article and my husband and I just start talking about it. And he had said,"I can see you're not happy. And I don't know when you're going to be ready to leave. But the sooner we can have that built out the better." And so we made some pretty minor lifestyle changes to be able to save what we wanted to save. We were already in much lower house than we could afford. We already didn't have extravagant expenses, so we just made some shifts. But that was the thing of like my husband being like, I just want us to have options.

Jamila Souffrant 19:56

Right. And you of course because your husband was always a stay at home dad saved on childcare, which is like one of the most expensive line items after housing before, if you are lucky enough to live where you do free public school or something.

Chelsea Brennan 20:09

Exactly, exactly.

Jamila Souffrant 20:11

How are you with money? It seems like you've always been very money savvy.

Chelsea Brennan 20:15

Yeah. We've always been pretty money savvy, for sure. I was a compulsive saver. And like I talked about that in a positive way, like, I could not spend money. And I went back I mentioned earlier like this wealth equals worthiness thing that I had for a really long time was a mindset I had to work on. But my first Wall Street bonus, so we're talking, you know, a five figure bonus. I couldn't buy a bicycle. Like I was like, in the bike store wanting to buy this bike and was almost in tears, like the idea of spending this money on the bike, and I was with my mom. And she was like, I don't understand, like, you have plenty of money. You bike every weekend, like, why don't you want a new bike? And we left the store, I didn't buy it, I ended up going back later. And she was like, I don't understand it. So for me, I had this visceral reaction to seeing my bank balance go down at all. And like, I had this mentality of like, this is me being frivolous, or this is me being irresponsible. And so I couldn't spend money. And so that helped us in a lot of ways, right? And I think this is a hard part with money mindsets, is that even the scarcity based ones, there are reasons that they help us in certain situations. And so those voices nag, but it was something that I had to find the balance for over time. And that was place where marrying my husband was a real positive because we started to talk about like, okay, we have to enjoy this money. Like, you're working so hard. We're doing so much we don't know what's gonna happen. So it was a balance, but we've always been I have budgeted every dollar we've ever made in, in YNAB, I used it back when it was like a desktop app. And like, Yeah, but yeah, we've always been budgeters, we've always paid a lot of attention to it.

Jamila Souffrant 21:50

Well, and that, you know, I think the scarcity part serves you up until a certain point. I always say like, on the expenses side, you got the scarcity mindset that, you know, you want to, like, optimize everything. And on the income side, you want to have the abundance mindset that you can earn as much as possible. But it's like a fine line to walk the two because if you kind of have a scarcity mindset, and I like this analogy, if you hold money too tight, it neither flows in or out. And I find that while I love the some of the concepts of the extreme people in the financial independence community, like the ones that are saving, like 70% of their income and/or only spending a couple thousand dollars a year, right, is that I don't think that resonates well doesn't really, even though I can learn from that it doesn't fully resonate with me. And I feel like for a lot of people who want to maybe do some of the things that we're talking about, it's like, "Oh, but I don't want to, I don't want to live that way. Like if I want to be able to walk into a store and buy like that bike, or that thing that I like without feeling guilty for doing it." So what are your thoughts on that? Because I just feel like, is there a way for someone to walk that fine line of being conscious about their money and not spending but also realize, okay, it's okay to spend and enjoy yourself in the moment and be in the abundance mindset the same time?

Chelsea Brennan 23:04

I think you can walk that line, I think it's a matter of getting really clear on what's important to you, and what's not important to you. And getting really scarce and cutting like crazy on the things that don't matter to you. And letting go of all the narratives of the things we're supposed to spend money on, what it means to be successful, really getting down clear on what matters to you, and what success looks like to you. And then setting a savings goal. And after you've hit that goal, giving yourself permission to spend. And so it was a major mindset shift and thing for us is that I spent, I set impulse spending budgets. And I set budgets for specific things like vacation, right? And the rule was between me and my husband had these weekly money meetings, I couldn't move money out of those things into savings. And so like, I had to spend that money and it seems very backwards for a lot of a lot of people with money, but it really had to be forcing us to spend money. And so one of the examples that it's like my favorite thing is right before I was early pregnant with our first, we decided to go on this have a special vacation with our best friends to Alaska it was an expedition cruise. So small cruise ship, it only has like 60 people on it. And you spend every day like kayaking and bushwhacking and seeing animals and it was really expensive trip, especially because we live in Connecticut. So you got to fly to get to Alaska, right? And so we went a couple days early. We spent a few days in Seattle, then we went on this cruise and it was the best trip. And a couple years before that I never would have been able to spend that much money on a vacation like ever. And I was so glad that we had prioritized that like yeah, we could have upped our savings rate a couple of percentage points by not going but we still talk about that trip and it was five years ago, right and we'll still talk about that trip for years to come. And so it was forcing us to practice enjoying the money and figuring out what we liked because part of living in scarcity so long as that you don't actually know when you're going to enjoy. So you kind of have to try things out and accept that. I'm going to do something and then turns out, I hate it. My example of that is I went and got a facial a couple years ago. I was miserable the entire time, like, Get out of my face, people think about my skincare routine. And like, I don't have a skincare routine, I felt very judged. It was like being at the dentist, but I just never do that again. So try to let that go.

Jamila Souffrant 24:55

I actually think that's really good to mention, just because other people may like that, right? Like getting manicures, pedicures, I'm not one of those people that actually enjoy that either. Like, I'll just do it just because but like, it's okay. If you don't enjoy those things. It's like, you know, it's like, maybe it makes you a little different from your friends or other people in your circle? Maybe not. But I think it's really important to hone in on the things that you enjoy. So for you like, right, like you made decisions, and you are financially okay to do that, right? So you were able to spend that money on the Alaskan, like cruise and expedition. What about someone who's not like as financially because I feel like people struggle with this part a lot, where they're not as financially stable or where they want to be they have goals they still need to meet. But they still want to do some of the things right, like they still want to do the facials still want to take, you know, their family on a nice vacation? How would you reconcile that with still paying off debt? And like I know again, it's gonna be individual choice for everyone. But how do you think through that for someone who's just like, I don't know if I should do this?

Chelsea Brennan 26:22

Yeah, so I would have this is a place where I'd have really good conversations with your partner or with your family about what is going to sustain you through that debt payoff journey, right? Like, if you go the super hardcore gizelle method, are you going to burn out and slide back and end up right back where you started in debt, and then feel like you're failing, right, which is a huge problem, because then you're not gonna want to start again, you're gonna feel like you're bad at it. So figure out what that balance is. And for some of this, this is practice, this is saying, "Okay, we're going to try with a spending budget and impulse budget of only $10 a month. And maybe that means I can swing through and get a coffee a couple times, or I can do something. And maybe then we'll try it at $100 and see where we get the most enjoyment." Even just tracking that, like, how do I feel emotionally? How do I feel like I'm handling my money at different stages, and then figure out what level works for you, there's going to be trial and error. I think one of the biggest mistakes we make is we set a budget, and then we want to lock it in, like carve it in stone. And that's not how it works it's a living thing, we got to move with it.

Jamila Souffrant 27:24

Right. And you have to be flexible with the things that may come up that you might I mean, you can budget for some of the expected unexpected things. But there are going to be maybe someone comes into town that you weren't expecting, and you want to be able to maybe go out with them and spend that money. And so it's important to be flexible and to recalibrate. So something is not working is being strict, like you like the idea of saving 70%. And it will get you to always say this, if you think about a you know, you do your spreadsheet, and you're like, "oh, if I save this much over I can reach my debt payoff goal and financial independence in 10 years, but I need to save this much and give up this much this much and work this much." Or you can be like, "You know what, especially like as a mom, or you know, someone that has more responsibilities, where it's not just you and burnout is important, then you may say to yourself, you know what, I'm good reaching out in 17 years for a more balanced approach too. So I don't have to do it as fast." But I'm aware now of the trade offs of the time versus money.

Chelsea Brennan 28:26

I think there's there's so many of those trade offs, especially when you're a parent of like,do you want to be completely scrimping, when your kids are little and you want to maybe have some experiences with them and spend some more time with them and not be working 90 hour weeks? I think it's a totally valid choice. And we're always walking this balance of planning to living to where 95 and recognizing that we're not promised tomorrow. And so if you set this goal of like, I can reach FI in 10 years, if I do all these things, I always ask the question of like, okay, but if on the last day of year 10 you drop dead, would you be happy with how you chose to spend those 10 years? And I'm not saying go blow money for 10 years, but make sure you're enjoying the current time too not just prioritizing 50 years in the future.

Jamila Souffrant 29:11

Yeah, I love that and because you can get so just like the people who work in corporate America until they're 65 until they get the pension or you know, their pension still, but like it's the same way where I used to look at it and like I don't want to wait until like 15 20,30 years to enjoy my life and to say where I felt I switched and why I didn't leave my job was because I'm like you know it's okay if it takes me longer because I don't want to wait to enjoy life or be happy until this number that may not even if you do reach it, I really do think whatever it is I'm inside sometimes that's not going to be fulfilled with money like whatever that is but there's a whole there's something missing I think that actually gets exasperated with the more money you get. So when it comes to like now as a mom so I think like a trade off so people think oh is financial independence possible with children? I live still in a high cost of burial place you live still, where are you? What's the area?

Chelsea Brennan 30:07

I'm in Connecticut. So we're in a fairly rural part of Connecticut as much as that exists, but it's still taxes and stuff. It's still not cheap.

Jamila Souffrant 30:14

Right? And I think like, what happens too is that some of the people that I have interviewed or come across that are going towards financial independence and making headway they're frugal, or they're not spending that much money on their kids, which is why I feel like so many people don't want to, like enter the financial independence space, because they're just like, I want to go to Disney World. I want to like put my kids in events and sports and i i agree with those things. I want to do those things. One of the things we did recently was get a housecleaner or keeper that coming in twice a month that cost money. I was actually looking up actually with the iRobot the you know, the room that helps you like clean the floors. And I'm like, wow, like I could save and invest this money or put it towards like something else, but I actually want to invest and spend this to get my time back. So what would you say, for the parents for the moms listening about how they need to figure out where to spend money to get their time back? Or just to make things easier for themselves?

Chelsea Brennan 31:13

Yeah. So we have a homecleaner too. I've looked at the iRobot thing. We have too many stairs, but we've looked at those things because we have a dog so and two toddler boys is I know you do too so it gets crazy. I think that moms we put ourselves last always in time and how we spend our money. All the women in our community, and in the Mama's Talk Money community will easily spend money on their kids exactly what you were saying sports, books, resources, extracurriculars, no problem, I'll stretch it out. But I was actually talking to my chiropractor a few weeks ago, she was like "Chelsea, I can't get women to buy a new bra when it would like help fix some of their back problems are like, well, I can't afford it right now. And she's your kid is in 8 different activities that you can afford to get a new bra."

Jamila Souffrant 31:54


Chelsea Brennan 31:55

We have that level of selflessness. And so I think that it's valuing what you know, what is your time and health and happiness worth? Right? Like, if you were calmer if you had more rest, if you had more health? What would that do for your family life? What would it do for how you show up at work? How creative you're able to be in side hustles or business ventures, right? You have to think about these things more holistically, and start to prioritize yourself. Because as much as it's this annoying, saying that we hear all the time, we can't pour from an empty cup, right? And so many moms are walking around on empty all the time. And it's just not helpful. It's not helpful to anybody, it's definitely not helpful for our kids who just see us as these martyrs that are just serving the kids, right? It's just not a helpful narrative. And so I think it's deciding how do you make sure that everyone in your house is as stable as possible? And so a good conversation that I like people to have as families, if your kids are older with your partner if they're younger, what does security and safety and peace look like for your family? Maybe not thriving. Maybe not the best, you know, highest level of relaxation, but what does peace look like? What What do you need? Do you need an hour a week to yourself to go for a walk without the kids? Do you need a housecleaner twice a month? What does that look like? And then build it into your budget. Because you're going to see it free up money, free up time, free up creative energy elsewhere.

Jamila Souffrant 33:22

Right, right. I love that. And I was like, I need more than an hour.

Chelsea Brennan 33:30

So for some people, that's where you have to start right? When you're starting from zero some people listening are like an hour. Yeah, I don't know when my partner's gonna watch the kids for a whole hour.

Jamila Souffrant 33:38

Right. And then we also have to acknowledge like their different situations, there are single moms who don't have help, or you might have a partner and they're not that helpful, right? And yeah, that you have to work on so. But I definitely think starting the conversation and/or finding those little wins, those little nuggets can be extremely helpful. Like, where can you think about spending and investing but then also draw the line and if it's too much, right? Like if you're trying to buy and like, fill something up, I know, I worked with someone before. And they were feeling guilty with money. So they they overindulged their kids and bought things they definitely like their kids didn't need just because they thought it was filling something for them. But they knew though it was off it was wrong. So I do think there is a fine line in buying back your time. And you can maybe do experiments too right? Try it try the housecleaner, budget for it. Maybe it slows down a bit of your progress to some goals. But it gives you energy it makes it returns something in another way and you can try it out and say "Okay, this is a test and we're gonna be honest with how the test went. And reevaluate and do something different than next time.

Chelsea Brennan 34:45

Absolutely, absolutely. And I think that like we have to broaden our perspective on investment a little bit too and sometimes especially with hustle hustle culture we hear like well, if you can make $50 an hour in your side hustle, it makes sense to hire somebody for $20 an hour to pick up something thing with the kids or to do something around the house. And like, if you get help, that does not mean you have to spend that time hustling and pre creating and producing, I think that like, there's this benefit to our physical health and our mental health to have like, hey, if the house cleaner comes, and then you don't fight with your partner about who's gonna clean the bathroom, like, that's probably a beneficial thing for the family as a whole too, that's an investment in your family structure. And that works as well.

Jamila Souffrant 35:26

Right. And also, like, let's just say you need to hire additional help for someone to help with the kids while you get more time to yourself, or whether that I think that's extremely important. You know, I just, I feel like the phrase, you know, you can't have it all, I feel like you can have it all, you just can't do it all. You can have it all, but you can't all do it yourself. You have to you have to outsource and/or be able to hire people or ask for help, right? People volunteer their time or, but that does take money. So I know one of the things that you talk a lot about and you're big on and with your content is earning more and like the worthiness like not that we are equal to our incomes, like you know...

Chelsea Brennan 36:04


Jamila Souffrant 36:05

doesn't mean you're less than if you're earning less. But the fact that it's okay to earn money, and ways that moms can earn money. So can you talk a little bit more about like, how you feel about the earning side of the equation?

Chelsea Brennan 36:16

Yeah, I think that that worthiness is a huge issue, especially when it comes to working moms, where there's statistics around the fact that like 90% of Americans think the best thing for kids for young kids is that their moms are home full time. And they actually think, like about 90% also think that it's best for the mom, if she's home full time. Which is crazy. Because then if you ask women, what do you what do you ideally want? I think it's like 80% of them, at minimum prefer to work part time, most prefer to work full time. And so we want as women we want to work, but we're feeling like and we're being told that we shouldn't work. And so every time we commit an hour to advancing our careers, to investing in ourselves and our skills to showing up late for showing up for a late meeting, we're beating ourselves up. And so a lot of times we take ourselves out of the running for promotions, we don't start businesses, because we're afraid of investing the money in in the startup or in those first courses, and what if it doesn't work. And so that holds us back from a lot of different things, one being financial success and earning, but two being personal fulfillment, right, and personal growth and leading by example for our families and our friends and things like that. And so I'm big on figuring out, you know, I hate the passion thing, because I feel like that's something you find over time that like, we have this idea that you're finding your passions, like this, like big neon sign that we come around the corner, and it's like, "oh, there it is!" And that's how it works. But I think it's like leaning into your curiosities, letting yourself try different things, try a side hustle, ask to do something different at work, like I mean, that is internal movements at work are completely open. And most companies, they're willing to have those conversations of, "Hey, I think I might really like to try something in accounting or in marketing or whatever", ask questions, raise your hand for projects, and you're completely worthy of that time. And it's actually, for me, it's an investment in yourself and your family, because we don't ever know what's going to happen. And so we hear from women who have lost a partner or they've gone through a divorce. And one of the first things they say is, I wish I had built up my earnings power. Like now I have to maintain my old house own household and I don't have the assets to do it, right? And so leaning in now is a form of protection for yourself and your kids too.

Jamila Souffrant 38:35

Yeah, and that whole part about the guilt kind of placed upon us and again, if if you find joy if that's what you want to do, like I have so much respect for like stay at home moms where like that is what they do like God bless you. Because I know for me like just naturally of course I love my kids, of course like I like being around them but like I also I get energized when I'm actually away from them. And and whether it's like working out and or working on you know, Journey to Launch and so I find that like having that time away, like it's so helpful as how I operate as a mom but then there's still like you know the levels of "but I should be doing like these other things with them and all this and" that I think it's like understanding that you're still mothering even if you're not in front of them because the lifestyle that what you're doing provides for them and that's mothering.

Chelsea Brennan 39:28

Absolutely and your kids I mean they don't know right? Like my kids don't know any different than mom working and dad staying home and they like that they will understand they will be fine regardless. And something that comes up you know we have this different dynamic where my husband's a stay at home dad that's not common. It's getting more common but still, still interestingly less so and less so for more who he meets people who do it voluntarily so there's a lot of guys that he needs that are stay at home dads because they got laid off or they had a disability or for some reason... he always wanted to do this and so that also sets him apart that we had this difference. But even after the boys were born about every six months, we sit down, we have a conversation where I'm like, "are you still enjoying this? Do you still want to be a stay at home Dad? Or do you miss working? Do you want to start something else, you want to do something else?" And he's building his own side business right now, very part time because parenting toddlers all day is exhausting. But we have this conversation. It's something we remind moms all the time and stay at home dads, when I run into them of like, it does not make you less of a parent, if you tried to be a stay at home parent and found out it just wasn't what you wanted. That you got a little bit away from it. And you're like, I'm exhausted. I forget who I am. I forget, like what's important to me, and I want some space for your kids. That's fine. Like, go start a side hustle, go get a job. It's okay to pivot. It does not make you a bad parent. Not everyone is cut out to be with their kids all day. Like it's just yeah, you can be a parent and also be more than that as well.

Jamila Souffrant 40:54

Right. And again, I think it's so great. I love that you know, your husband's a stay at home like dad. So how do you navigate so now you're running your business full time. And you're like working from home like me. It's like so it's so much harder now that the kids are home to get work done. But how do you navigate because you're in your trial run still? You still need a two year mark for are you past that?

Chelsea Brennan 41:18

No. So we're over that now. Yeah.

Jamila Souffrant 41:20

Okay. So you're past it, and you're not back to a traditional job. So I'm assuming it's working for you, right?

Chelsea Brennan 41:26

It's working.

Jamila Souffrant 41:28

So how's that been? Right? So like, now you're on the other side of the two years that you gave yourself, and you're still building up your business and you're taught your business is talking about money and helping people with money. So what's that been like juggling toddlers being the mom and business?

Chelsea Brennan 41:44

Yeah, it hasn't been easy, I think on a lot of different levels. I think that that breaking that wealth and worthiness thing we talked about earlier, really had to happen when I left work. I felt like I had dealt with it over the years. And then I didn't have a paycheck coming in anymore. And then we had to see our savings number actually go down as we built the business. And that was really freaking hard. Like, I mean, my husband laughs now but at the time, he was like, I kept being like, "are you gonna leave me?" like I completely, just like thought that I was like, not lovable anymore. It was really bad. But it's, it's how I had to work through that. So there was that aspect of it. Working from home is while building a business is hard kids are are distracting, we hit recording a video interview, the other day a my two year old came in completely naked, just like to visit, I don't know what he was doing. I forgot to lock the door. And that happens. But I think the hardest part is you're still building a business. And so I work a lot. And I am like, especially as we get closer to we run an online event every fall, which I think we're gonna talk about, then I get really busy. And I'm working constantly. And there's a lot of guilt associated with that too of like, hey, part of the reason I left my job was to have more flexibility, except now I'm still working. And so it's that balance of you know, I will hustle for several weeks and then work half days for a week. So I can spend some more time with them. We're still finding that balance a little bit. But it's better. I mean, even when, when working like crazy, I can open the door and give them hugs and read them a book and then come back to my desk. That is not something you could do in my old career.

Jamila Souffrant 43:13

Yeah, and you know, that balance, it's constantly changing, because I thought at the beginning of the year, I found like this balance and then, you know, pandemic hit, and that had to change. And now I feel like kind of get into a groove. But by the time we're recording this, it's the end of the summer this'll probably come out in the fall. And so but now it's like we're gonna have to get into a new groove because you know, of the schooling starting back up and like home learning and all that. So I feel like there's always going to be again, same thing with your money. There's not going to be just one thing, you're going to set it and it's all just going to be autopilot. No recalibration No, rethinking it. To me, it's not that things won't change. It's just how you adapt to the changes.

Chelsea Brennan 43:52

Absolutely. I mean, my four year old was in half day Montessori, four days a week, he was supposed to go to full days this fall. And then our two and a half year old was supposed to start half days, three days a week, and it was gonna give us some time with both kids and at home, give my husband a break for the first time in a while. And we were all prepared and then like ready to sign the paperwork for the two and a half year old, COVID hit and so now neither of them are going this fall. And it's just a constant adjustment, but you figure it out.

Jamila Souffrant 44:18

Yeah, you have to figure it out. So what I want to I want to talk about is the Mamas Talk Money summit. I'll be speaking at it. Yeah, but I wanted to share more about what it is and and let people know about it.

Chelsea Brennan 44:30

Absolutely. So Mamas Talk money is a five day virtual conference that's happening this year, October 12 through the 16th. I am so excited. We have over 40 women speaking. We work through a themed pattern through the week of really building a foundation. So we go from mindset to foundations, security, legacy and passion and purpose and the event is completely free to attend. We have sessions on all those topics. We have over $10,000 in giveaways. We're giving away $1,000 debt payoff grant we're doing $1,000 small business startup grant. And it's just a lot of fun. It's a chance to have a group of women together who are doing the work and having good conversations about money. I think that was one of the most impactful things to see last year. So last year was our first year of the event. We had 18,000 moms there. And the conversations in the group of people being honest about what they're struggling with, with their money, getting support, giving each other advice, was just a really amazing thing to see.

Jamila Souffrant 45:27

Yeah, I'm excited to one share this with my audience and that I'll be speaking but also I always say with the first time I think we connected about the summit last year, I'm like this is so well put together. Like I think so that you use, your like, Yeah, I don't know it feels like you're very, like, I know you have help but like project management oriented, I'm like,"I need to like you need to come help me if I ever decide to like do an event or summit," because just compared to some other things that happened, I just think it was just really well put together. So I'm really excited to share this with my audience. And then I'll be speaking of course. I'm talking about the five stages of financial independence or the stages you need to get to or go through to get to ultimate financial independence. So this will be great. And I'll link all that in the episode shownotes so thank you so much, Chelsea, please let people know where they can find you. You also have a podcast so...

Chelsea Brennan 46:16

Yeah! So you can find me at where you can get it links to our podcast, the Smart Money Mama show or any of our social platforms. We're pretty across the board. We're @SmartMoneyMamas everywhere. And then if you want to get your free ticket for Mamas Talk Money, there's a link in the show notes as Jamilla mentioned. It's also

Jamila Souffrant 46:32

All right. Thanks so much, Chelsea.

Chelsea Brennan 46:33

Thank you so much for having me.

Jamila Souffrant 46:39

I really hope you enjoyed that conversation with Chelsea. I enjoyed talking to her. Like I said, so many similarities in our story. And I hope it inspires you. So even if you're not a mom, but maybe you're a mom listening. Hopefully this inspires you to still go after your dreams, right? Like there does require planning especially we have little humans depending on us. It takes a bit more work, right? I feel like just in general like not only do we grow these little humans inside of us, or you know if we didn't grow them inside of us, but we'd have a mom role in someone's life. We have responsibilities to others. And I think how we model ourselves how we treat ourselves is the best way we can teach our children how to treat themselves and others. And when it comes to money, we lead by example. I mean, one of the things that I hope that my kids will learn from me over time when they become more aware of it is that I went for it and that I want them in their lives to go for it. And while it's okay to play it safe, that the life that they truly want to live is on the other side of taking the risk, the educated and the calculated risk but there will be some risk taking. So I hope this conversation further inspires you especially you my journeyer moms out there to still pursue your dreams and to get better and normalize money the conversations around money in your household.

Okay, if you want to join Chelsea and myself at the mamas talk money summit that's going to be from October 12 to 16th come to to get your ticket again that's to join us. If you want to check out the episode shownotes, that's where you can get links to anything that's mentioned, find out more about our guests, and even get a transcribed version of this episode that you can read, go to or click the description of wherever you're listening to this episode. Now you can also still grab your free Journeyer Jumpstart Guide by texting, "launch" to 33777 or go to

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Chelsea Brennan, the founder of Smart Money Mamas is on the Journey to Launch Podcast sharing how she went from being a hedge fund manager to a full-time financial educator. She helps moms connect with all aspects of their money so they can overcome emotional blocks, identify what they want most, and create healthy money habits to achieve their goals. 

In this episode, Chelsea and I talk about how we both walked away from lucrative careers in the finance industry to start our own business and help others get better with their finances. Don’t miss these money tips and ways to transition from your career to your passion and get tips to on how to become a smart money mama

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • How to transition from a 9 to 5 career to your passion project or business
  • The importance of boosting your earning power
  • How to cut back without cutting out all the fun
  • Questions to ask yourself if you want more time, health, and happiness
  • Tips for stay at home parents and more

Check out the Mamas Talk Money Summit taking place October 12-16, 2020! I’ll be speaking on October 14th at 10:30 am about Financial Independence! Registration is FREE so don’t miss out.

I'm listening to Episode 175 of the #journeytolaunch podcast, How To Build Healthy Money Habits & Become A Smart Money Mama w/ Chelsea Brennan Share on X

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