Episode Number: 257

Episode 257- How to Have a Fun Relationship with Money with Emily Guy Birken & Joe Saul-Sehy

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How to Have a Fun Relationship with Money With  Emily Guy Birken and Joe Saul-Sehy


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Unknown Speaker 0:02

The place to start is not in finding a better lottery ticket. The place to start is actually in learning how to save more money, like what in my budget needs to change. And if we start with the values in the end of mine budgeting and changing our budget isn't a pain in the butt like people think it is. It's freeing, because the things I'm going to jettison are not those things that are important to me. I'm going to build a moat around those. I'm going to protect those things. I'm going to start getting rid of some of the things that aren't as important because I know on my vision board on my timeline, this is important to support this important. I'm going to jettison some of those things that aren't as important.

Intro 0:38

T-minus 10 seconds. 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 1:06

If you love the Journey To Launch Podcast, you are going to love this podcast called Frugal Living. You can tune into the Frugal Living podcast every Tuesday for relevant topics from industry experts on saving hacks, your financial well-being, and of course, a little inspiration. Series four is all about helping you in 2022 with consumer advice, decluttering your life, and answers to questions you're thinking about like, “What's the state of travel,”or one’s you may not be thinking about like, “Why do we even have credit scores?” Hear unique stories on how to shop and live smarter, sponsored by your friends at Brad's Deals, that love sharing deals that aren't too good to be true. Frugal Living is available anywhere you listen to podcasts. Join the conversation and learn something new about Frugal Living.

If you want the episode show notes for this episode, go to journeytolaunch.com, or click the description of wherever you're listening to this episode. In the show notes, you'll get the transcribed version of the conversation, the links that we mentioned, and so much more. Also, whether you are An OG Journeyer or are brand new to the podcast, I've created a FREE Jumpstart Guide to help you on your financial freedom journey. It includes the top episodes to listen to, stages to go through to reach financial freedom, resources, and so much more. You can go to journeytolaunch.com/jumpstart to get your guide right now. Okay, let's hop into the episode.

Hey journeyers Okay, I have a what I think is gonna be a really fun but educational interview for you with some amazing guests. We have Emily guy Burkett, Emily's been on the podcast before I totally did not look up which episode number Emily so it's fine. We'll figure that out later. But it was such a good conversation. You were like one of my earliest guests though. I think it was like back in the teens. Like literally we're on episode 200 And something now.

Emily Guy Birken 3:03


Jamila Souffrant 3:03

And I'll have Emily introduce herself. Yep. And we have Joe saucy. Hi. Hi, Joe.

Unknown Speaker 3:09

You know, I was thinking about Jamila, when you and I first met

Unknown Speaker 3:12


Joe Saul-Sehy 3:13

You hadn't started the podcast. We were at a credit union convention.

Jamila Souffrant 3:17

Yes. Oh, this is gonna be such a fun story.

Unknown Speaker 3:21

If you introduce yourself, and you're like, I'm thinking about starting a podcast, tell me what I need to know. And I'm like, just get in there. Just get in there.

Jamila Souffrant 3:29

my gosh. Okay. So Joel is also the host of the Stacking Benjamins podcast, very popular podcast, and backstory so quickly. I remember first being in the fin con group. So that is the you know, the group for personal finance creators. When I first came into the space, I was like, Oh my gosh, like, don't look at all these people. And I did not have a podcast. And I remember, I think it was you, Joe. Or maybe it was Steve, who was like the editor right of your show. And he's also helped me about a bit in the beginning of my process. Someone said, I think you said like, for, for God's sake, if you're gonna be on an interview, like get a proper mic, and I remember you, like put that in the group. And then we're like, which mic should we get? And then you put the mic or someone put the mic and I and this was before I even considered having my own podcast. I just wanted to be guest on podcast. And I got the mic. And that's why I came up to you at the credit union convention or wherever we were. And I said to you, thank you for posting about the mic, because I just got one. And what that's been like, five years since a long

Unknown Speaker 4:27

time. Yeah, I think that was like 2017. Yeah,

Jamila Souffrant 4:31

that's so crazy to think back. But anyway, so I just want to thank you both because you both were already in this space when I came in, and really sharing some thoughtful ways in which people can think about finances through books, Emily, I know Emily, you've written books before, but I really want you to give just like a one minute two minute background of yourself, like what your platform is what you do, and then we'll hop into what we're going to talk about.

Emily Guy Birken 4:54

So I'm Emily guy, Birkin. I'm a freelance writer and author in the personal finance space. I fell backwards into this work I'm actually an English teacher by training but I had a weirdly time to baby and to move in the same year so I was gonna be able to teach for a year. And the original plan was I was gonna take a year off to stay home with my son and I was looking for some freelance writing work. First first job that I landed was with a financial websites. The editor loved my work passed my name along to friends invited me to fin con. And here it is 11 and a half years later. I am I am a financial writer. That's That's my career now. So my website you can find pretty much everything I do on Emily guy birkin.com. I am the author now of Well, four books and the co author of one the this most recent stacked with Joe saucy Hi, who is also here with me?

Jamila Souffrant 5:53

Yes, okay, Joe, you're your attorney.

Joe Saul-Sehy 5:56

So I was a financial mess up who became a financial planner, which, which was scary, because I was still messing up my money when I became a financial planner. And we've got a book, we have a chapter at the end of the book about hiring good advisors and I, I knew how to give advice. I didn't know how to live it. And I actually had several low points myself and dug my way out of bad stuff. But at 40, I sold that financial planning business, went into financial media after wanting to become a teacher like Emily. And that became a website, which became, which was a blog became a podcast that was about a decade ago here in February, celebrating 10 years of what became the Stacking Benjamins show. And we're on about episode 1200 Now of Stacking Benjamins,

Jamila Souffrant 6:43

that is insane. I love it. So you came together to write this book called stacked? And we'll talk about it but now I'm just going back to your background. Like you were both doing pretty well before the book in terms of just what you were doing the content you were putting out. So what made you say, okay, like now I'm gonna write this book and what made you write it together?

Joe Saul-Sehy 7:03

This one is my story. Because I cuz I went to Emily, I had written a book Jamila, like, a lot of people say, Oh, I got a book. And it's, you know, as we're talking to people, like, Oh, I got this book in me, I got this idea for a book. And, and I had one and I wrote it, and it took 10 years, and I handed it to Cheryl, my spouse who's like my alpha reader. And she gave it back about 12 seconds later, and she's like, this sucks. This is horrible. And it was horrible. It was so bad. It was so Joe knows everything about money. And it was and it just wasn't who I'm about or who what Stacking Benjamins is about, which is much more playful. And so but I knew I had these things to say that I wasn't hearing on my podcasts is similar to you, right, you talk to a bunch of different people. And you kind of see there's some areas. And so I was in Portland, Oregon at this great independent bookstore called Pauwels. And it's a block long, it's phenomenal bookstore. And I love getting lost. And I get this inspiration, just walking through the different sections. And I find myself in the kids section, which both of you can believe because you know me, I'm in the kids section. And I find this book called The Hardy Boys detective manual, that Jamila when I was in fourth grade, my brother and I carried this thing around it was written with the help of a true retired FBI agent, and it told you all the keys, you need to be a detective. And so my brother and I, my dad widly for work, he worked at General Motors, he would pull out on like a wet morning, you know, and we'd go examine the tire tracks. And then my mom, she she'd go from room to room and she touched a door handle, we go over with the tape, and we would get her fingerprint because you don't know where mom's been. And I thought to myself, I'm like this is the idea of really a Stacking Benjamins type book, which is if people can carry this around lovingly in the way we did, and dog hear it and keep it close to them. But it's about money. And it's for adults, but it's also kind of can't be in fun. That'd be great. So that was the germ of it. Then I flew home. And I was living in Detroit at the time. And my mom who was a key to our house. Finally, I was 50 years old. And my mom finally gives me this crap that was in her attic right? The boxes stuff that she has a trust to be with until I'm 50 like the bowling trophy where my dad and I took sixth place in the Little League stuff and but anyway, in there was a Cub Scout wolf guide. And what I realized I wasn't in scouts that a lot for a long time. But as I'm flipping through this thing, I realized what you and I talked about a lot, what all three of us talk about a lot is this idea of gamification turned into a game and it makes it so much easier. And the scouts are so we're so good at that before all these app creators were. And so it starts off with every quote chapter is not a chapter, it's an achievement. And you get a badge, and you start off with things you need. They simply tell you how to do it. And then at the end, you have to check some boxes to show proficiency and then there's a place for your mom to sign it. It's so it's funny when we went to Penguin Random House about this project, so it's So first of all, I didn't trust myself to write it. And I said, Okay, I had a book, it took me 10 years, I really need. And I had this inspiration from a few different places that if I have somebody that knows what they're doing, that can walk me through this, this would be so much better. And plus, I work better in partnerships. It just, it's the type of person I am. And I think for me, like doing my budget is easier. Investing is easier. Having coaches is easier. So I thought who is somebody who's hella funny? And will can bring this campy humor and, and I got very lucky, I thought of Emily right away. And I wrote to her, I'm like, I got this crazy idea. And by the way, the same thing I told Emily is the same thing she and I told, told penguin when when we were trying to sell them on this project were like, so like, at the end of the pitch, it's like so Emily, I want to take the Hardy Boys detective manual, combine it with the Cub Scout wolf guide, make it about money. And it's for adults. What do you think? And I'm so surprised she did hang up on me. And like the Zoom call with Penguin did and quickly, you know, but everybody was like, Yeah, let's do it. That sounds awesome. So

Jamila Souffrant 11:07

and now you guys have a book with Jamila, his name on the back. I know, this was the first time I've been in books inside but not endorsed, like on the cover of a book on the back cover. So that's pretty awesome that I was able to do that. Alright, let's get into the meat of what I would think is going to be beneficial for my audience is that they're coming here they're listening, because they want to reach financial independence, whatever that means for them in the difference definition, they define that as right, they want to one day not to be have to work if they don't have to choose what they do not have to worry about money. But to get to that big goal. Like there's all these little things that they need to understand we need to understand and do. And I think that's where people just get overwhelmed. Because the vision of a financial complete, and fulfilling life is great. But there's all these little puzzle pieces that need to fit together for it to work. So what you do at stack is you literally cover everything in this book. It's very comprehensive. And I'd love to just like get into the basics, a bit like for people who are saying, Yeah, I want to I want to get to the part where half a million $2 million invested. But here I am in debt and listening to this podcast. And I don't know where to start. What are some of the first steps someone can take, if they're listening, and they want to start doing this work?

Emily Guy Birken 12:23

Joe introduced me to this idea of timeline and your goals. So it's very common in personal finance books to start off with, like, what are your goals, write them down writing down means you're more likely to achieve them. And that's all true. And that's something I'm actually very good at. But what Joe does that's different is he suggests you actually sit down and draw it out, you know, like draw a little stick figure on the left side of a piece of paper. And that's because drawing is always going to be more fun than not drawing, and then have a line that goes from that stick figure all the way to the right, and that represents the rest of your life. And then on that timeline, you're going to fill in, where you want to do stuff. So like, if you're thinking I want to retire at age 50, you would put that on, and you're saying you're thinking I want to be able to pay for my kids college. So you put that on when they're going to go to college. You know, I want a trip to Machu Picchu. When I'm in my 40s, you put that on, you know all of the different things that you really are dreaming of doing. And what that does, is it immediately prompts your thinking in a way that just writing your goals down doesn't because you start thinking like okay, I want to retire 50 I am 35 right now. So that means that 15 years. Okay, so what do I have to how much money do I have to have to be able to feel comfortable retiring at 50? How much do I have now? So how much will I have to set aside? And what kind of return will I need to earn on my investments to be able to get to that, that nest egg, then you've got the Okay, I want to be able to pay for my kids to go to school, but oh my goodness, look, they're going to be going to school. You know, if I retire at 50, they're going to be a sophomore in college at that point, am I going to be able to do both? Because it can be really easy to kind of forget that these things will overlap if you don't, you know, put it out on a calendar or timeline of some kind. And so that is just so revolutionary. And you know, I've been in this space a long time I've I've done a lot with personal finance, even before I became a writer, because I've always just been a money nerd. And this is the first time I've ever seen anyone talk about doing this time lining. And I personally have fallen down on that job multiple times. Like for instance as a freelancer I give myself a an income goal every year. And I don't do anything other than say like, yep, that's a big number I want to reach. I don't break it down. He's like this is how much I need to earn each month. This is what I'll do if I'm running behind. On my earnings, I don't do any of that. And so I get to like November I'm like, yep, not gonna meet it. And so that's why I think this is such a useful and helpful tool to be able to, you know, get started to get to that point where you want to retire early, or whatever your big goals are, but putting them on that timeline and really thinking through what it's going to mean to get there.

Joe Saul-Sehy 15:24

What I love about it to Jamila is the kind of some of the secondary things besides being able to compare. I mean, as Emily's talking, as you're listening, you start seeing that I'm having these value discussions, which is really the thing we need to get to is what do I most value, and if I can't get it all, how do these intersect each other what I always found when I was a financial planner, it's been a long time since then, it's been 12 years, but but I was notice people are often with their money, they're chasing something they really don't want, buy, the thing that they truly want is in the weeds, and they're going nowhere on that goal. So you start having these cool value things. And then the second thing that it does that's really cool, too, is that we all get freaked out by this massive range of investments that are out there, and you go my good, you know, I could listen to journey lunch, every single episode forever, and I still won't get through all the investments, I still won't get all the education because I need to know so much. And so we get this fear of missing out. And when you start with the end in mind, and with your goal, instead of having to know everything about everything. Now, I only need to know about the few investments that meet that goal. And now I can forget about all this other stuff, which by the way might be good investments, they're just not for me. And now I can spend a lot of time going deep on those few things that really make sense for my goal. And it's such a better place to start. Because now I can go. Yeah, that's a great investment just isn't for me, which is okay, I don't need to research that. That's good.

Jamila Souffrant 16:50

Yeah, I love the time lining of goals. Because with life, I think oftentimes, you know, we're thinking about numbers and these end goal, which is important, right? But there's so much that happens between them. So like you said, if your kids are gonna be a certain age, by the time you said, you just want to retire, but then your goal also is to still help them while they're in school. Can you do both. And when I was thinking of starting my journey to financial independence, it was just okay, I'll retire, which was really quit my corporate job in seven years. But when I started to map out what that looked like, on a year to year basis, I realized, well, we're also going to want to take a few trips, you know, the kids are going to be at that ripe age to go one day, go Disneyland. And potentially, we are going to want to buy a car at this timeline, because our old cars by then would be old, older or need to be replaced. And there's all these things that happen within, like the journey that we don't account for if we don't sit down and kind of think about our life to the status. So I think it's important, but also important not to get overwhelmed. Because I can imagine someone sitting down and doing all this. And then like, there's so many stick figures, and milestones, because there's all the things we want to do that we don't want to like, deprive ourselves from doing.

Unknown Speaker 17:58

Yeah, like, what are the important ones? And I love those conversations. And it's, it's so important to have them? What are the what are the true things I want. And by the way, that's how we get in trouble is that we don't have this vision board system, you know, you hear these success coaches talk about putting things in a vision board, this is kind of the same thing, but with money, put it in front of you all the time. So you know, what's really what you're going after, because we can see the new expensive sweater that we want today. But we can't see retirement. And if we put it in front of us all the time, it makes it much more real, which means we're going to go after it harder.

Jamila Souffrant 18:27

So how as you are someone is thinking about their goals, and now they're working towards like the money part of it. So I need to invest X amount over this timeframe to get to that goal or save this? How do they practically sit down and decide where that money actually goes? I mean, without getting overwhelmed. What's your advice for that when there's so much information out there?

Emily Guy Birken 18:48

So when you, you know, you know, you want to retire, let's say in 15 years, and you know, you want to have $2.5 million, let's say, and so you start with like, Okay, where am I now, and I can afford to put aside X amount of dollars per month to put into into my investments. And so you can go to one of those calculators that does compound interest calculations and see like, Okay, what kind of return what I need. And so if you find, like, Oh, I'm going to need like a 15% return to get there, you know that something in that is unrealistic. And so you'll have to change things like maybe move out your retirement a couple of years, or increase the amount that you're planning on setting aside or plan on retiring on less, which is, you know, a little bit more scary. But these are all the things that you've got all these moving pieces that you can change to be able to get to something that's more realistic. And then you can also look at what the ranges so you know, like, you know that if you need a 15% return, that's not going to happen, but you can say like, okay, ideally I'd need an 8% Return how would it look if I got 6% and then that way you can be prepared For the different potential possibilities that might happen between now and then, and kind of have a plan in place, because if you're thinking about it now in like a cold emotional state, like, Okay, I'm just trying to figure out numbers now. And you decide like, this is what I'll do, if this happens, this is what I'll do. If that happens, you know, if I get these kinds of returns, maybe I could retire early, if I get these kinds of returns, maybe I could push my retirement back a couple years. And then since you have made those decisions and thought it through in that cold, emotional state, once you get to that point where you have a downturn like, logging into my 401k, yesterday was not super fun. You have already decided how you will handle it. And you can fall back on that instead of being reactive to something that is scary or exciting in a way that could cause you to drift off the plan that you've made. So having that plan in place is just really, really incredible.

Joe Saul-Sehy 20:57

I love Emily's 15% return and the fact that that's not realistic number. Because what does it do? It turns it into a different problem, Jamila because then you know the place to start is not in finding a better lottery ticket. The place to start is actually in learning how to save more money, like what in my budget needs to change. And if we start with the values in the end of mine budgeting and changing our budget isn't a pain in the butt like people think it is it's freeing because the things I'm going to jettison are not those things that are important to me, I'm going to build a moat around those. I'm going to protect those things, I'm going to start getting rid of some of the things that aren't as important because I know on my vision board on my timeline, this is important to support this important. I'm going to jettison some of those things that aren't as important. Another thing there. It might also be sometimes when I was a planner, it was about earning more money and study show and especially women, women don't want to rock the boat, they don't ask for more money, studies show women are less likely to ask for a raise. Yet, studies also show that your boss wants to give you a raise your boss wants to give you money, you just have to ask them the right way, in a way that helps them often often your boss is not the final decision maker. So instead of thinking about it as adversarial think about it, as I'm going to give my boss the ammo to to let them tell their boss, the other decision makers why they need to pay me more. You go in with that. I think that's that's a great thing.

Jamila Souffrant 22:22

And then along the way, right, so there's so many things to consider right thinking about what can we cut back that it's unimportant to us that can help with our cash flow? How can we increase our income? And then where do we invest

Joe Saul-Sehy 22:33

on the investment for Jamila? I do want to say one thing to give people a little bit of a guidepost there. Everybody thinks about perfect. Don't think about that. Don't solve for perfect investment, solve for easiest. So if you have a 401k at work, save there first, you know why? Because it's automatic, and you'll automatically do it. And I know, it might not be perfect, it might not have the sexiest investments that you hear about all the time. But if you can automate it and keep it easy, solve for easy, and you'll keep doing it versus solving for perfect, and you're gonna go a long way. But anyway, I just wanted to throw that in.

Jamila Souffrant 23:03

That's actually a great foundation for investing. Because I think a lot of times we hear all of this. And sometimes even in my content, we'll talk about some of the more advanced things but when it comes down to it, the basics are you are an investor, if you have a 401k plan, it doesn't have to look like you know, what you envision like running around on the in the stock market or the Forex exchange for like, you literally are can do the same things within your 401k. Like Joe said, it does not have to be perfect, but you won't get started until you start and you can best place to start. It's like where you are right now. So let's talk about risk management a bit. Because I know that's something that you it's very dear to your heart, Joe, especially as a former financial planner, let's talk a bit about that and how someone can factor that in to how they are achieving their goals and going forward on the path.

Joe Saul-Sehy 23:54

Yeah, this is a great area because it's a place where we can save some money, potentially, and save a lot of money. And it's because of the fact that the insurance companies want us to have one discussion. And you want to have another the discussion insurance companies want you to have based on all the commercials that you see is what should which insurance should I get? That is the wrong question to ask. The question that Emily and I present that we think you should ask is, what's my biggest risk and how do I handle it? And what's cool about that question Jamila is it opens it up to maybe it's insurance, maybe it's not. And I'll give you an example. One One thing that's likely to happen to all of us is that we have a short term disability like and that's why disability insurance is so expensive, and it's why the Aflac Duck is on every, you know, half hour on commercials. So the way to solve that short term disability problem is to build that emergency fund. And I know there's people who listened to journey to launch who were like, but Jamila, I don't want to build an emergency fund because a savings account earns like nothing like why would I do that when I could go invest money and make a bajillion dollars. The return on invest Money is not in the emergency fund per se. It's once you have it. Now I don't have to buy short term disability insurance because I have that money in the bank and think about that ROI, like like huge return on investment, car insurance and homeowners insurance. Super important. Obviously, we have to have both of them. But we can raise our deductibles on those insurance policies once we get money in a bank account. And so it's not about the point 05 interest anymore. It's about I'm saving money through Allstate or whoever my insurer is, and I'm not paying them this short term money, I'm taking that risk myself.

Jamila Souffrant 25:38

This is such a good point that, you know, we should go back a little bit and I should have said and defined risk management in this context of insurance versus like investing. Because I think most people think of it as like, oh, like in terms of investing and like where you're investing your money. So talk about like, someone's like, the risk and the insurance part context, I think that's important to understand.

Joe Saul-Sehy 26:01

Yeah, I think it's actually take a look at the things that could happen to you. And basically, you know, what you do you do look at insurance companies for this. But because you think about what are the insurances? They're always trying to sell me. What happens if I die? Well, it's not if I was what I wish to be great. Well, what happens when I die? What happens if I'm disabled? What happens if I get in a car accident? What happens if I can't go to work for a while? What happens if what happens if my house burns down? What happens if if I'm reading and a pipe burst? What happens if you know just all these what ifs? What are the biggest risks? And it's cool that when you look at this, and this is kind of this changed? I heard this a long time ago, Jamila, when I was a financial planner, and it changed my whole feeling about how I talked about this, which is insurance people have have these people that they keep in back rooms called actuaries. And they're the super money nerds. They're awesome people. I know some actuaries. And they are super people. They are geeks on top of geeks. And actuaries job is to find out what is the risk to the insurance company. And while people will tell you, they're like, Oh, these insurance companies are ripping me off, maybe, but they're all regulated by the state. And sure, you can pull something over on the state for six months or a year, but really year after year is is State Farm going to pull one over on the state regulator. So it isn't that they're ripping you off. It's that they know the risk. So generally, what I look at is this not in terms of buying insurance, but in terms of what are my biggest risks, if an insurance is really hella expensive. That's because that's my biggest risk. If insurance is super cheap, there probably isn't much risk there. And I'll give you an example. Your car insurance versus your homeowners, right? Your house for most of us is probably worth a lot more than our car is yet which insurance costs more your car does your car insurance. Why? Because there's a much bigger chance that you're going to use that this year, then there is that you're going to use your homeowners insurance. So when I look at an insurance that a lot of people have in their flex benefits at work, accidental death and dismemberment, yet most people that I worked with when I was a financial planner said it a keyboard all day in a cubicle, and accidental death and dismemberment, like gives you money if your finger gets caught in a machine. Well, what's the chance my fingers gonna get caught between the anarchy and snap off? Probably not gonna happen. But and that's why Accidental Death and Dismemberment is cheap. So I would when I when I would look at with clients their their benefit statement, they would always have accidental death. Not always, but they'd often have Accidental Death and Dismemberment, and they wouldn't have disability insurance. Because disability insurance is expensive. And accidental death insurance is cheap. And we would always turn those around, we'd get rid of all the cheap insurances, which would give us money to pay for the expensive ones. And then actually one more quick thing, which which saves you a lot of money. I have my house robbed. I had we were on vacation. We actually were you at Podcast Movement in Chicago. No, no. So I was a Podcast Movement, a big industry conference in Chicago. And a neighbor called me and said my front door was open and they went and looked at it had been forced open and I don't know why my alarm didn't go off but but they robbed us clean. Now what was cool was my insurance company was happy to replace stuff. But they literally gave me like a blank sheet and said write down the stuff you own. And if you have serial numbers that's better. So think about if you're listening to this, do you have serial numbers for your TV, my guy or your for your computer? So maybe you don't go that far but here's what here's what I've told people to do and luckily we had done because I took my own advice. Take your take your phone around your house, and just do a quick MTV cribs, with your with your house and and show off your house for yourself. I keep it you know, on your phone so that when you go when this happens to you, or your house burns down, the insurance company goes, What do you own? You're not going well, I can think of six things. No, you can go back through all these rooms ago Oh yeah, I had that I had that I had that I had that.

Jamila Souffrant 30:19

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I think it's so hard for people to think about, like all the things that could go wrong, you know, because it just puts you in a upset state or it does to me if I think about all the things going wrong in the all the insurances that I need. But it's so important because I've interviewed people were with one woman, she had a disability insurance and she couldn't work like for years. And because of that insurance, her family was able to still financially thrive. And so for this not to be overwhelming for someone, right? Because a lot of times we talk about with finances like Okay, first thing is a budget that you look at, look at your income, look at your expenses, but actually want us to say a little bit more on the insurance side of things. Like you said, step one could be going around their house, I can just like saving that video for in case. But how can they? Or how can someone listening now sit down and make the time to do this kind of work? That is really important in case something goes wrong, but they think well, what's the chances of it going wrong? So I'll just keep on keepin on,

Emily Guy Birken 32:48

it's really hard to think about what could go wrong. There's a there's a great book by Roz chast, who is a New Yorker cartoonist, it's called Can't we talk about something more pleasant. And she was an only child and both of her parents lived to be in their 90s. And we're in the same apartment in New York for something like 50 years. And so it was about Roz having to deal with her parents dying within like two years of each other. And her parents had not planned ahead at all. Because it was always Can't we talk about something more pleasant. And so it's it's moving. It's funny, it's a really great book that helped me kind of contextualize how important it is for your loved ones, to think ahead about these really tough things. And so what I have found, when I don't want to think about things like life insurance, I don't want to think about things like you know, if something were to happen to me or my husband, what would happen with my kids, recognizing that it's not really about me. And so like kind of stepping outside of myself and saying like, Okay, what would I want, if this happened to me, you know, if I were in my kids position, or you know, what would I want, if, you know, I were robbed, or if my house burned down. And so like kind of stepping outside of yourself, and then finding a way to find some humor in it as well. So my husband and I have very dark sense of humor, sometimes. And so we like can find ways to giggle about like, you know, if, you know, we talk sometimes about if he survives me, or if I survive him. And like one of the jokes we had we there's a we saw someone had gotten remarried within like, about a year and a half of when, when their spouse died, and like, I turned away, I was like, three years minimum. I want you to be happy, move on. I feel like I believe that I want that I love you, but you need three years of grieving minimum. And so having that that kind of playfulness in something that's very difficult to talk about. is going to make it a lot easier to talk about it and have some fun with it and kind of enjoy yourself talking about tough things and then you know that kind of third party like stepping outside of yourself and looking at it from the outside can make it a lot easier to make decisions and and, you know, go through this process which can be overwhelming and nobody likes to think about, but your loved ones will be so glad that you did.

Joe Saul-Sehy 35:25

A tactical thing that Cheryl and I use to get this done is we we have a weekly 20 minute meeting, and it's 20 minutes Jamila for reason. Nobody wants to do this for a long time, like you don't but is my money each week worth 20 minutes. But I'll tell you, there's some unintended benefits there. Number one is 20 minutes keeps it light, because we make sure it's fun, it has to be over pancakes or wine depending on the time of day. So we always do it with one of the two, we do it weekly because of the fact that the real win here is if we have the quick 20 minute meeting where we talk about our money or handle one little piece about our money, we find we organically talk about it the rest of the week, like we just have these conversations or making dinner or whatever. But if we don't have the weekly meeting, like some people do this once a month, I like once a week way better, like once a week is better, because we end up talking for probably about two hours, if we do it weekly. If we do it once a month, we get like two hours a month. So the 20 minute meeting. And by the way, when that when that timer goes off at 20 minutes, even if we're having a blast, it's over, like do not go longer than 20 minutes because especially you know people listen to journey launch it probably the money nerds in the family, your non money nerd will tell you that they want to do this longer, they don't. So stop it 20 minutes, and you're good.

Jamila Souffrant 36:38

I really like that. And you know, I want to go back to your financial planning previous life. And because I know for some people especially like in the fire space, the financial independence, retire early spaces, a lot of di wires, meaning when I first came in, I was like, I'll just do it myself everything in index funds, I'm fine, I'm fine. And there's the complexity of just my investment or the things I want to do. Like I've actually now hired a financial planner, and have incorporated that into what I'm doing now. So I'm going to record an episode on all things I'm learning with that process. But for some people who are listening, and they are like, Well, should I get a financial planner? Who gets something like that? Who doesn't? What is your advice on that?

Joe Saul-Sehy 37:21

The thing that I love about the fire movement is is taking personal responsibility for your success. And the thing that I hate about a lot of client financial planner relationships, is people think they can abdicate that in other words, they they're not delegating, they're abdicating. They're going, Hey, money person, take this. Do good. And then six months from now we'll meet again and I'm not going to think of it that that No, I think about Mary if somebody like Mary Barra at GM, who I have a lot of respect for taking this company that was this legacy rustbelt company of General Motors and keeping them relevant. I won't say it's the best stock to own in the world. But she's kept them in the game, when so often they were out of the game. Now, Mary, as the CEO of the company, which were the CEO of our own families, Mary doesn't go, Hey, engineers around me, you guys take care of this car stuff, and I'll be back in six. But Mary goes to all of the conferences, Mary knows everything about a car, she knows all the pieces so that when her advisors tell her stuff, she's able to assimilate it and make good decisions. So I love that relationship with advisors. I think it's ridiculous. Ridiculous to say, I'm doing this myself without anybody helping me because of the fact that I do better when I surround myself to me with smart people. Like I always want to be the dumbest person I want to surround my people myself. I'm all Jimmy Lee, we've known each other for a while. I'm always glasses three is not even half full. It's three quarters full, right? Like I'm always Mr. optimist, I my coach is a pessimist. My I can say this here. I've watched that a lot. She already knows this. My coach Mary Lou, my primary coach is a glass three quarters empty all the time. And I don't hire her to agree with me, I hire her because she has my backside. She knows I'm such an optimist about everything that there is crap that can go wrong. And she reminds me of that and keeps me real about stuff. So yeah, find an advisor who really meshes with you, not in a suck up to you kind of way and they'll take it and take it away. If you've got advisors that take your stuff away from you, and don't make you smarter, you should fire them. You need advisors like Mary has a General Motors,

Emily Guy Birken 39:27

to piggyback on that, as my dad was a financial planner. And the way that I like to think of it is the client, the investor is behind the wheel. And the the best financial advisor will be sitting shotgun with the map. And that's where it's tough in with for folks in the fire movement because they are like these are go getters, these are people like I'm going to get in the car and I'm going to go and that's great and you can get pretty darn far looking at the map yourself. But there's going to be a point where you need Someone who knows the map better than you, who knows like the outlying areas that will be good for you. And you are not necessarily going to be able to find those on your own. And you don't want to do trial and error on that sort of thing. You You want someone who can advise you. And to that point, you know, you don't want someone who's going to be like, alright, you, you can go sit in the backseat, I'm going to drive now. Like, that's not what you want. That's how you get Bernie Madoff scamming people. And you don't want someone who is like going to hide the map from you and say, like, I'm not going to show you how to get where we're going. You want someone who is open and aboveboard and to is providing you with the information you need to go where you want to go, they're not going to tell you where to go, they're not going to take over for you, they're going to just make sure you have the information to make the best decisions for your goals.

Jamila Souffrant 40:51

Right? It's a collaborative effort and relationship in what you're doing. And I found that myself. And it's, it's interesting, because I take it I taken too much ownership of my finances and accountability that now what I am having meetings with are when we are having meetings, as with our financial planner, and they're telling me they're actually pushing me to invest more, if you can, believe it or not, I'm like, Really, I was like, we don't want to spend it now, like I'm actually more into spending money now. And they're like, you know, well, you should do this, and the back and forth, because of what I've learned is helpful, because it's challenging me and pushing us in a way in which we have to think a bit more. So I would just say for people who are considering this or think, oh, I don't want to pay the person because we are paying this person to help us or this, this company to help us. For me, it's money well spent, even if it's just confirmation of what I already know, just because at the level in which and I don't mean, you have to have a lot of money to do this. So it's just it for me where I am in what I want to do in my life and what I want to give my children and it just it makes sense to protect and have these insightful conversations and have that person with a map while I'm still looking over and saying oh, no, I don't think we should do that. It's helpful. And for me worth the price of it.

Joe Saul-Sehy 42:03

It's funny, you say that somebody shared a good quote with me last week, which is good advisors feel expensive, but not knowing what you don't know messing up could ruin everything could just wreck all my goals,

Jamila Souffrant 42:18

right? I do want to say for everyone who was more in the beginning stages of this, and maybe they don't know yet what they want to do. And it is a kind of DIY, like, Okay, I'm gonna look at my own 401k Right now, or, you know, I'm gonna, like, do index funds. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, I think what's beautiful about the journey, and the process is as you get more into your finances and your goals, and you stay open to solutions, then you will, you will make the right decisions, you're just not cutting off a possible solution, like a financial adviser just because I'm just forever going to do this myself. I just I don't want to discourage people who are just starting. And they're thinking, Oh, my gosh, like I'm not at that stage, I'm just actually trying to get a budget together. I think some of these decisions come with time,

Joe Saul-Sehy 42:58

but I'm not even talking about CFPs or whatever. And it's funny because I was a financial planner. But I think if you're just starting out, a great way to start out, is to find people that have walked that journey before you that have been there that are further ahead on the same path you are and just offer to take them to lunch a couple times a year, and the stuff that you will get avoiding the mistakes that they had. To me, that's an advisor. Right? That that can be a great advisory relationship for somebody just starting.

Jamila Souffrant 43:26

Yes, yes. Okay. So that To sum up, just like tips in the book, if there's one other thing I know, we talked about risk management in terms of insurance. And overall, like the broad things that someone could do if there's one other thing that like someone could actually walk away and implement after listening to this podcast that will put them ahead of the game, what would be that thing,

Emily Guy Birken 43:48

something that I think is really helpful is learning to fall in love with the boring, and I'm stealing that phrasing from James clear. He's the author of atomic habits, when talks about people who get really advanced in whatever field, you know, and specifically was talking to athletes, who have to, you know, lift weights for hours a day, multiple days a week, which is incredibly boring. And the way that they do that is they find a way to fall in love with the boring. When it comes to money management. It's the same thing. If you really enjoy the process of tracking your spending, keeping an eye on your investments, all of those things, you're gonna have much better results than someone who hates doing that and rarely does it. And so what's great is you know what motivates you? So if you are you know, motivated by watching movies, you could say, okay, I get to watch a movie every week after I do all the money tasks that I need to do for the week. If you are motivated by you know, artwork and stickers because I'm just missionary girl. And so I get a sticker on the on the on my calendar for every week that I do my money tasks, or I have my money meeting with my spouse, however it works for you to be motivated, that can help you get started with falling in love with the boring. And eventually, as you see things improve, you will have the intrinsic motivation to continue with the boring stuff. Because it won't be boring anymore, because it'll be like I did this and it made this happen. And that was exciting.

Joe Saul-Sehy 45:33

Yeah, you realize that's the foundation, which I think leads to mine, which is, I think that people beat themselves up a lot Jamila, that they that they don't have the discipline. You know, they're like, Oh, if I was just more discipline, if I would discipline myself, you know what I found. It's not about discipline, it's about automation. Cheryl, and I have our weekly meeting on our calendar every week. If it's not on the calendar, we don't do it. So put it on your calendar every week and automate it, automate your savings, don't trust yourself to write a check or to move money over for your savings, automate stuff, take money out of each paycheck, move it to a separate emergency fund at a different bank or something a little harder to get to make investments in your 401k versus, you know, someplace that might be perfect, like we talked about earlier, like automation is the key, not discipline. Man, the richest people that I've come across are not the most discipline, but they have automated everything.

Jamila Souffrant 46:23

Yes. Okay, I love this. And I just can't I can't let you guys go without asking this question for the people who are listening, who wants to make a living, make a living as writers and podcasters and do what we do, not necessarily in the personal finance space. But I just think you guys have such a long career and have been successful with this. And you know, for people who feel stuck in their current careers, they want to pivot or maybe they're just starting out. And you know, they're creatives, if there's another piece of advice that you can give someone about, like the reason for your longevity in this space, and the success of what you've done, what would that be.

Emily Guy Birken 46:59

So there, there are three things that I have seen every successful Freelancer have, and only one of those is completely out of your control. And that's time, it takes time to get gain traction. And that's the one that's hardest, because, you know, you don't know when it will happen, you don't know exactly how it will happen. And so and if you are counting on this for income, that can be very, very difficult to to to give that time in. But if you have the time to give to this, and you know, put things out there and put things out there, then that is going to eventually pay off. The second thing is talent, every single person who's listening to this, everyone in the world has some sort of talent, something they can bring to things. And it's going to be different from others. You know, the what I bring to freelance writing in the personal finance sphere is different from what, like Katra, Tina, or Miranda, Mark Witt or others in our freelance space bring to it. And so you bring that talent to it and just know what you're very good at and really lean into it. And then the third is professionalism. And that's the one that I can see a lot of people wash out, because they struggle with it. Because it's it can be hard to take something you're doing for yourself as seriously as something that you do for someone else. And so working as in creatively or as a freelancer, you can be tempted to be like, Oh, it doesn't matter if I get it in late, you know, it's not like I have like a big boss breathing down my neck or Oh, it doesn't matter if I you know, don't do a second or third read through to make sure that there's no typos or whatever the sorts of thing. And for me, I think the the worst issue with professionalism is following up i There are a lot of times where I see people who struggle with follow up even after they've been given a gig or something. So don't really have control over time. But you know, that talent and professionalism and if you can do things consistently for for a certain period of time, you are going to get traction, you are going to get somewhere I have never seen someone who has all three, not make some sort of success of themselves.

Joe Saul-Sehy 49:09

I think for me, it's finding inspiration around me. I think a lot of us look inside and we think okay, what do I have that somebody else doesn't have? I love this idea that's presented and I always have even before he wrote the book, but he did a great job of packaging this Austin Kleon Steal Like an Artist, which is take things around you and don't rip them off because everybody knows when you're ripping somebody off, but but remix it, pay homage to it and make it your own thing. I have so many people to thank for everything that that I do. And I find inspiration all the time. And by the way, what I found too, is that I find inspiration myself by finding people that have different stories than me. And I think often we get trapped into thinking that our worldview and people like our worldview are who we want To be surrounded by. And studies show I just took a Social Media course this summer. And even that shows we're becoming much more homogenous as groups because we're surrounding ourselves with just people that think like we do. And when I what I love about podcasting, and I know, you do too, is I get to talk to people who aren't like me who have a different worldview than I do, and to tell a story that I've never heard before. And the more I think we put ourselves in those positions, then we find these inspiration, we find inspiration in places that we didn't expect it. And I'll give you, I'll give you an example. Women, they may she I interviewed recently, and she's the Chesapeake Bay Candle Company lady, who really revolutionize this idea of, of making your houses much more chic. And in fact, I'm burning a candle here as we're, as we're talking. That's very Chesapeake. You know, it's very, you know, this this one color monochrome, but beautiful candle. And she said that as an outsider, being someone from China, she was able to go into a department store in the 90s, and see things that people that are there all the time, don't see. So sometimes there's also this cool thing about being an outsider looking into somebody's life that isn't like you. And I find so much inspiration from that anyway, that that for me, I think has been the longevity of Stacking Benjamins.

Jamila Souffrant 51:23

Wow. Listen, I feel like you guys shouldn't rewind, just though the last, what, five minutes. That advice if you are wanting to do anything, and again, you can apply this even if you're at a desk job, right? And like if you really wanted to live a complete life, and I think, yes, we want money to be that tool that we use to do all the things. But really what it comes down to is if you love what you do, or you're bringing something valuable and new into this world, and you're creating selling something, and doing it in this way, with this advice that you were just given is that talk about increasing income and impact. Like that's the way you do it. So, Joe and Emily, thank you so much for coming on the show, it was a pleasure to have you on tell everyone where they can get this amazing book that

Unknown Speaker 52:08

you can find stacked anywhere books are sold. If you're shopping online, the amazon.com of course, is the 800 pound gorilla. We also really like to encourage people to go through bookshop that org because that helps support local independent bookstores because we the idea for the book the germ of the idea for the book came came in an independent bookstore to Joe and so we'd love to send send thank you back out into the world. So if you want to go in person to your local independent bookstore to buy it, that would be great too. You can also find it find links to to getting it on both Joseph's website in mind mine is Emily guy birkin.com forward slash stacked is where you can find stuff about the book.

Unknown Speaker 52:49

If you're an audiobook listener, the audio book has some things that you don't get within another podcast listeners often prefer audio. You'll get Emily and I reading the book to you but also the woman that plays my mom on the show. My friend Julie Ray Harrison does all the mom parts in the book which we think are pretty funny and it's just cool to hear my friend Julie Ray, play my mom in the book as well. It was weird because you know she she hasn't been mom in a while and I called her after not talking to her much for a few years ago and hey, Penguin Random House wants you to be mom again and reprise this and go in the studio. So that was that was super cool. But I'm also going and Emily joining me on a lot of it. She's coming to New York by the way with with with me, we're going on a 40 city tour. We pushed it back because it COVID But it looks like knock on wood. I'm gonna kromm is now kind of abating a bit so 40 cities will be in New York I think in mid April but Stacking Benjamins comm slash stacked or Emily guy Birkin slash stack you'll see the whole 40 cities and come hang out with a bunch of money nerds. Wow, awesome.

Jamila Souffrant 53:53

And I'll link all of that in the episode show notes. Thanks so much again.

Unknown Speaker 53:56

Thank you so much. Thanks a ton Jamila.

Jamila Souffrant 54:02

Don't forget, you can get the episode show notes for this episode by going to journeytolaunch.com, or click the description of wherever you're listening to this and you can still grab your Jumpstart Guide for free to help you on your journey to financial freedom by going to journeytolaunch.com/jumpstart. If you want to support me and the podcast and love the free content and information that you get here, here are four ways that you can support me in the show: One, make sure you're subscribed to the podcast wherever you listen, whether that's Apple Podcasts, that purple app on your phone, your Android device, YouTube, Spotify, wherever it is that you happen to listen, just subscribe so you are not missing an episode. And if you're happening to listen to this and Apple Podcasts, rate, review and subscribe there. I appreciate and read every single review. Number two, follow me on my social media accounts. I'm @journeytolaunch on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And I love, love, love, interacting with Journeyers there. Three, support and check out the sponsors of this show. If you hear something that interests you. Sponsors are the main ways we keep the podcast lights on here. So, show them some love for supporting your girl. Four, and last but not least, share this episode this podcast with a friend or family member or co worker, so that we can spread the message of Journey to Launch. Alright, that's it until next week. Keep on journeying Journeyers.

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This week we welcome two guests: finance writer and author, Emily Guy Birken and host of the award-winning personal finance podcast, Stacking Benjamins, Joe Saul-Sehy. Emily and Joe join the podcast to discuss how to approach your money in a fun but effective way. 

We discuss the first steps you can take to begin your financial independence journey, being proactive instead of reactive when it comes to your overall money goals and how letting your inner kid out can actually improve your financial life.

Emily Guy Birken is an award-winning freelance writer in the financial sphere. Emily is the author of five books and her work has appeared in HuffPo, Business Insider, Kiplinger, MSN Money, and The Washington Post. 

Joe Saul-Sehy learned about money the hard way and much of it as he was telling other people how to manage their money, as a financial advisor. After 16 years in the industry he created the award-winning podcast, Stacking Benjamins, one of the most listened to podcasts in the personal finance sphere.

If you’re ready to get super-serious about your money management (just kidding), this episode is for you!

In the episode we discuss:

🚀 Why playfulness and humor are important for improving your finances 

🚀 The revolutionary act of drawing your dreams on a timeline 

🚀 What to look for when it’s time to hire a financial advisor in your Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) journey 

🚀 Mitigating risk management by asking, “What’s my biggest risk and how do I handle it?” + more

Watch this interview on Youtube here.

Episode 257- How to Have a Fun Relationship with Money with Emily Guy Birken & Joe Saul-Sehy Click To Tweet

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