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Episode 157

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Video Episode

Make Money Fun and Flirty

Episode Description

For many of us, managing our money, or lack thereof can be frustrating. Our next guest, Nicole Iacovoni, was no exception. Through trial and tribulation, Nicole transformed her relationship with money from heavy and serious to fun, flirty, and fulfilled. 

Nicole is a Financial Therapist & Licensed Couple’s Therapist who teaches women entrepreneurs how to make tending to their finances feel fun and flirty instead of boring and overwhelming. Nicole writes a swoon-worthy newsletter called The Comfy Couch, where she dishes on her latest financial crush, offers inspirational ideas for “dating your money,” and helps ambitious entrepreneurs deal with business drama.

Through her trademarked program, Money Therapy, Nicole helps entrepreneurs make more profits, manage their money with Beyonce-level confidence, and transform their toxic relationship with money into a steamy love affair. Nicole has been featured in CNBC, Business Insider, and Elephant Journal. When she’s not empowering women to take a more active role in their financial lives, you can find her chillin’ with her chickens on her little “farmette,” devouring self-help books, and sipping on vanilla lattes.

Bob and Nicole find the fun, in the not so fun world of money. 

[7:03] Keeping busy to avoid feeling things.
[13:43] “If we don’t understand something, we fear it and we avoid it.”
[16:26] Guilt & Shame, the most common emotions around money.
[25:32] Recognizing personal vs systemic conceptions.
[34:42] “Hardship is difficult, but there are also so many gems of wisdom that we can pluck out and learn from.”
[45:13] Are Your Finances Like Fight Club?

Make time for lovin up on your money, so money will love you back! Visit Nicole’s website and download “Date Your Money Planner” for free and experience a fun, flirty relationship with your money.

Connect With Nicole Iacovoni:

Website: https://nicoleiacovoni.com
Money Therapy Online Program:
https://nicoleiacovoni.com/money-therapy/
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/nicoleiacovoni/
Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/nicoleiacovoni/

Episode Transcription

Click to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:30] Bob Wheeler: Our next guest is Nicole Iacovoni. I did it right!

[00:00:34] Nicole Iacovoni: Yes!

[00:00:36] Bob Wheeler: I’m just proud of myself. So people, I’m proud of myself. Nicole is a financial therapist and a licensed certified couples therapist with 17 years of experience. She teaches women entrepreneurs how to make tending to their finances feel fun and flirty instead of boring and overwhelming. She writes a swoon-worthy newsletter called The Comfy Couch, where she dishes out on her latest financial crush, offers inspirational ideas for dating your money, and helps ambitious entrepreneurs deal with business drama.

[00:01:04] Through her trademarked program, Money Therapy, Nicole helps entrepreneurs make more profits, manage their money with Beyonce-level confidence, and transform their toxic relationship with money into a steamy love affair. Nicole has been featured in CNBC, Business Insider, and Elephant Journal. When she’s not empowering women to take a more active role in their financial lives, you can find her chilling with her chickens on her little farm-ette, devouring self-help books, and sipping on vanilla lattes.

[00:01:32] Nicole, welcome to the show!

[00:01:33] Nicole Iacovoni: Thanks so much for having me. I’m thrilled to be here, Bob.

[00:01:37] Bob Wheeler: Well, I’m super excited today because there’s so much to talk about. And I, you know, I feel like we have a lot in common in that we’re talking about this financial therapy and getting a healthy relationship with our money.

[00:01:49] And I think so many people do think it’s boring and overwhelming, so I’ll just check out. And if we just push through a little bit, we can actually have the life that we thought we were meant to have if we can intentional.

[00:02:02] Nicole Iacovoni: Yeah, definitely. I think that you and I are cut from the same cloth in terms of our philosophies about money, because, you know, as you mentioned in my bio, I feel like money should be fun and flirty and you think money should be funny, which kind of rhymes, which is funny in of itself.

[00:02:17] And I love that. And I think that we do need this element of like lightness and curiosity and playfulness when it comes to finances, otherwise it can feel so heavy and serious and hard and something we very much want to avoid.

[00:02:31] So I think adding levity to our financial lives can be beneficial in a number of ways, which is one of the reasons why I love your show and I listen a lot to it, is just that, that element of levity that you bring to the conversation so that we actually want to have the conversation.

[00:02:47] Bob Wheeler: Yeah, well, no, I appreciate that. And what I’m thinking about, and I don’t know your experience with this, but it seems like when it comes to money, well, when it comes to life, there seems like there’s a lot of grief and trauma under the surface that so many of us are unconscious of. And so we may be operating in a pool of grief. But with our head above water, we’re not actually aware of all that we’re carrying. Does that feel true?

[00:03:14] Nicole Iacovoni: Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, money brings up a lot of complicated feelings for people. It’s definitely an emotional thing. And it’s a huge part of our lives too.

[00:03:24] Like there isn’t, you know, any part of our lives that’s not affected by our financial life or our relationship with money. And, and you’re right. It’s, it’s traumatic because we have these money memories from growing up and how money was handled in our family, from our own experiences of handling money and making financial decisions, you know, not all that stuff turns out great.

[00:03:45] So we have these instances of like crisis or despair or things going really wrong or having these financial problems that we have to figure out how to fix. But not only that, we now know, we have research to support that trauma is inherited too. So we actually have generational trauma that is passed down in our DNA.

[00:04:07] So we can experience the trauma from our ancestors, people we don’t even know, who are no longer with us. So if they experienced financial turmoil or if they lived in poverty, then they, you know, have this imprint in their genes that are then being passed on to us. So we experience that financial trauma in addition to our own financial trauma.

[00:04:27] And then you’ve got like this whole snowball effect of a mess on your hands that you have to figure out how to deal with. And we’re not taught how to deal with that either. So that makes it even more complicated.

[00:04:38] Bob Wheeler: Well, absolutely. Because if I have to heal my bloodline, right? If I have to heal the ancestors and I can’t even figure out my own stuff, it feels like, wait a minute, I’m taking on five generations of trauma and hardship. And it’s a lot sometimes to unpack if we’re trying to do it alone.

[00:04:57] And so for me, it’s so important to name that it’s important to ask for support and to look for people that are professionals. Whatever that might be for you, but going it alone, which I tried for quite a while, isn’t so fun and it’s very lonely.

[00:05:16] Nicole Iacovoni: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. I think those supports are really important. I mean, even, even if you work in finances, okay? Like you can’t be your own financial advisor. You can’t be your own therapist. A doctor can’t be their own doctor. A pastor can’t be their own pastor. Like you need to have that third person, that neutral party, that safe non non-judgemental person in your life that can help you work through that. Because when it’s your stuff, you’re just too close to it to really see that clearly. It’s sort of like tunnel vision, you see what’s right in front of you.

[00:05:49] So having someone else that you can talk to and sort those things out with and explore those issues and get some suggestions on what might be helpful for you to do different, can be life changing.

[00:06:02] Bob Wheeler: What was it like for you growing up? What kind of support did you have or not support? What was the conversation around money or not had around money?

[00:06:13] Nicole Iacovoni: So my mom was a single mom. She was very young when I was born. She was 20. And my biological father was like, don’t want kids, I’m out, see ya. So my mom was on her own and because of that, she lived with my grandparents.

[00:06:29] So she just stayed with them. And at that point in time in the early 80s, and here I am dating myself. But I think the 80s was the best decade. So I’m proud of it. In the early 80s, you know, like she was living with her parents and at that point in time, it was like everyone in her family was still living under the same roof.

[00:06:45] You know, like her 30 year old brother was living there and her younger brother and still in high school living there. And her older sister who also was a single mom, was there with her daughter. So it was like this house of eight people. And then I came along in, into that home. And my mom and I lived with my grandparents until, you know, I graduated high school.

[00:07:03] And so it was just like this big family affair, but you know, my mom only had a high school education. She worked two and three jobs a lot of times. My grandparents were from the Midwest. They were like good, old fashioned, hardworking people. My grandfather was a truck driver for 35 years. My grandmother had like a little home daycare and so I just saw them working all the time and yet not having a whole lot of money.

[00:07:29] Like I, they didn’t really talk about money, but you could tell that they were on a very tight budget. Like they did not splurge. They didn’t, you know, have fancy stuff. They were very careful about every penny they spent. And so even though they didn’t come right out and teach me this verbally, I learned through my own observation that you have to work incredibly hard and all of the time just to make ends meet.

[00:07:53] So that was like the money story that really got rooted in my mind. And so as such, I became a workaholic, you know, I, in high school, as soon as I was old enough to work, I got a job and then I got another job and I was working three jobs in college. And then I had like a brief stint where I only worked one job, but that was because I was a police officer working third shift. That’s a whole other story right there.

[00:08:16] And I got sick of that real fast. And so I’m like, well, I’m going to go to grad school. And I worked three jobs in grad school and, you know, it was just like this perpetual cycle of like, I have to hustle and grind just to make ends meet. And there was never a model of anything different than that.

[00:08:31] Like there was never this, you know, now we hear things like “the four hour work week” and, you know, “make a million dollars in a year working 20 hours a week.” Like people are actually doing that stuff. And if somebody had told me that at that point, I was like, you’re insane. Like this is a scam, you’re lying to me. It doesn’t work that way. You have to hustle to make money.

[00:08:51] So it took me a long time to change that script and to change those unhealthy beliefs about what it would mean for me or what I would have to give up to be financially successful or to be wealthy. Because in my mind I thought, oh my gosh, I will literally have to work all day every day, work my fingers to the bone, to have the money that I want.

[00:09:15] Bob Wheeler: Do you think, because I wonder about this, cause I spend a lot of time on the hamster wheel and I can still sometimes feed into my workaholic tendencies. But do you think there’s any relationship with spinning our wheels and working so hard that we don’t actually have to slow down and feel things?

[00:09:32] Like that we don’t actually have to slow down and say, oh my God, I’m not where I wanted to be. I had such a vision for myself and I don’t feel like I succeeded or, or there’s things we might have to feel if we actually slow down?

[00:09:45] Nicole Iacovoni: Yeah, for sure. Hands down, agree with that. Because keeping busy, even if it’s, you know, something worthwhile being really productive we can justify that too, because our culture puts a lot of emphasis on that, you know? Accomplish more, produce more, excel, climb the corporate ladder. Right?

[00:10:02] These are all things we’re told we’re supposed to want. So we’re like, I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. I’m doing a great job, but it’s really just serving as, you know all these different distractions that keep us from getting quiet and really taking a look at our lives, particularly our financial lives, and asking ourselves, is this what I value? Is this what’s most important to me? Is this the way I want to live my life? Is this the way I want to spend my time?

[00:10:27] You know, and not to get too morbid here, but the fact of the matter is we’re all dying. Like right now, every single day and every single day moving forward, we are getting one step closer to death. And so if you slow down and you start to think about that, then it’s like, oh crap. Like if I have a limited time on earth, which we all do, am I using that time in the best way possible? In a meaningful way, in an enriching way, and getting the most out of this life experience?

[00:10:55] And sometimes that butts up against you know, our financial goals, too. Cause it’s like, well, we want to live. We want to enjoy our life, but we also have to bring in an income and we have to work. We have to make money so that we can have those things. And then it’s almost like a contradiction there, you know, like having to choose one or the other. But in reality, we, we really don’t.

[00:11:15] We just have to find the balance between those two things. And you have to slow down to figure out what that balance is going to look like.

[00:11:23] Bob Wheeler: Absolutely. And really, there was a phrase that somebody said to me is, tomorrow’s not promised. And so that has resonated. I have a mentor and she has a, a watch that five or six times a day it reminds her, this could be her last day. And people are like, oh, that’s, that’s morbid. And she’s like, I want to not forget to savor every moment, because we don’t know. And so I always found that fascinating.

[00:11:49] So many people are trying to get to the finish line and I always say, well, I don’t want to get to the finish line, cause that’s my last breath. I wouldn’t, like, I’m like, no, no, no, I don’t want to get there!

[00:12:00] Nicole Iacovoni: That’s right. It’s all about the journey, Bob. It’s all, I just want to live in the journey for as long as I can. Stay away from the finish line.

[00:12:08] Bob Wheeler: Absolutely. Now I have a question you probably, and this, I don’t think this is a gender thing. But when some people have success and then they have nice things, they need to apologize for it. Right? So maybe I have an Audi Q7 and I feel guilty and, how do you shift that mindset to say, oh, it’s okay for me to have this, even though others don’t or things are struggling. I’ve worked hard for it. How do we shift that mindset?

[00:12:35] Nicole Iacovoni: Yes. Okay. Well, I’m going to back up a little bit. I will get to this example specifically, but I want to say first that every single person is in a relationship with money. Because we make financial decisions every day, we do work to earn money every day, we spend money every day.

[00:12:53] And so whatever gets your time and attention is what you are in a relationship with. So we’re absolutely in a relationship with money. And the nature of that relationship influences how we think, feel, and behave with our money. Right? And, you know, I sort of learned through my own financial crisis, how important the money relationship really is and how it influences every part of your life.

[00:13:18] And so one of the ways that I started to shift the way that I think, feel, and behave with money is to personify money. Like to make it a character, or like give it a personality and treat my relationship with money as if it were a romantic relationship. And this might sound a little woo woo, and like, that seems nuts, but there’s research and science behind this.

[00:13:43] Because our minds, if we don’t understand something, we fear it and we avoid it. Right? So we have to get to this place of understanding and comprehension in order to want to pay attention to it. And most people have some sort of experience with relationships.

[00:14:00] Right? We have relationships with our parents. We have relationships with our siblings. We have relationships with romantic partners. So that’s something relatable and familiar to us. But money for many people is something sort of obscure and confusing and complicated. And it seems like, sort of like this abstract idea for many people, especially because it’s one of those topics that’s sort of taboo.

[00:14:21] We’re not encouraged to discuss those things. And so because of that, it can seem very unrelatable and then we don’t understand it. And then we fear it and you see this, you know, like trail that happens. So as a couples therapist, when I realized this, I was like, okay, like I need to shift how I’m approaching my money.

[00:14:40] I need to treat it sort of like a person I need to kind of love up on it. I need to make time for it. You know, I’d always tell my couples clients, have date nights, like make the relationship a priority, which was something I wasn’t doing with my money. I would just brush it under the rug, stuff the bills in the back of the desk drawer, you know, not look at them.

[00:14:58] And, and in that mindset of like avoidance or feeling like money was this abstract thing, I also sort of believed that if I had money, if I was getting money, I was taking it from someone else. That felt really crappy. And I think that’s the thought that comes up for a lot of people who feel the need to apologize for having money or they feel guilty for having nice things, because there’s this belief that they’re taking it from someone else.

[00:15:26] Well, that’s a scarcity mindset. That’s this belief that there’s not enough to go around. There’s a limited amount of money. And so if I have it, then you can’t have it. But that’s not really how it works.

[00:15:38] But the only way we can shift that mindset and know that money is this limitless, abundant resource that is ours for the taking, that it’s not going to take it from someone else, and that money is really a tool for us to use to have the life that we want, whether that means driving an Audi Q7, or whether it means caring for our elderly parents, or whether it means putting our kids through college, or starting a nonprofit, or whatever we want to do with our money to make our lives better or make the world better.

[00:16:08] If we want to get to that place, we really need to change our mindset around money and the way that we look at it. And that’s really what my work is all about. The Money Therapy work that I do is helping people to think and to feel differently about money so they can begin to behave differently with it.

[00:16:26] And so they don’t get hung up on all these psychological and emotional barriers to them having the financial life that they want and having the resources. And so they can also kind of shake the guilt and shame that comes up with money because you talk a lot about this on your show, and I’m so glad that you do, to try and break the stigma, but guilt and shame are like the most common emotions that come up with money.

[00:16:47] Bob Wheeler: Well, it’s so hard and we’re so taught and, you know, I know for me, I was sorta taught, worry about what other people say.

[00:16:55] Nicole Iacovoni: Yeah.

[00:16:56] Bob Wheeler: They’re judging you. And so make sure you don’t do anything so that they can judge you. And so I came from the, okay, don’t do that because then that can’t be judged. Right? And then finally letting go and saying, okay, judge me.

[00:17:09] Nicole Iacovoni: Yep!

[00:17:09] Bob Wheeler: Judge away. I’m moving forward and I’m stepping up. I’m stepping out, and judge away. I’m not that interested in letting go of that.

[00:17:17] Nicole Iacovoni: You’re right. People are going to judge you. Absolutely. No matter what, they’re going to judge you if you don’t have enough money, cause they’d be like, oh, you’re so poor. Or they’re going to judge you if you have a lot, a lot of money, cause it’d be like, you’re a rich jerk. You know? Like you’re going to be judged no matter what. So you might as well do whatever makes you happy and live your life in your own way. And just like, forget the comments from the peanut gallery.

[00:17:38] Bob Wheeler: Yeah, follow what’s true for you. And for me, it also, in my money mind shift, it was also about gratitude, finding the gratitude and realizing and recognizing all the abundance that I did have. You know, we take so much for granted in this country and I talk about this a lot, but you know, I’ve been to Africa a couple of times and into different countries, and they’re just grateful to have a bucket of water to take a shower once a week.

[00:18:02] Or in Nepal, they’re bathing in water that is like 42 degrees. And I’m thinking, this is, this is not what I really would choose if I had a choice and they don’t have a choice. And so being able to see that, oh my gosh, I’m breathing today. I’m able to walk. I have a roof over my head. And people are like, oh, well of course everybody has that. No, they don’t. They don’t.

[00:18:25] Nicole Iacovoni: Yeah.

[00:18:26] Bob Wheeler: And so for me, gratitude is a big piece of this, for me was a big shift, for me when I saw other people living happy lives and I kept going, you don’t have things! What’s, what’s wrong with you people?

[00:18:39] Nicole Iacovoni: Yeah. It’s like, it’s like the plague of Western society, you know? And it’s because of consumerism. And consumerism is like this, this belief or this message that says you need more and more and more, you have to have more, you have to do better. You have to do more, you know. And you need to buy things to be happy, or you need to have material possessions to be happy.

[00:19:00] And, you know, we’re sort of brainwashed to buy into that, like literally brainwashed. And when I say that, I’m not just saying it figuratively, I’m saying like there is neural marketing. Okay? So they use MRI scans of the brain to give, give information to advertising companies of what advertisements make us want to buy the product that they’re selling.

[00:19:24] And so we are actually being mentally manipulated in the advertisements that we see to consume more and to spend our money. And most people don’t know this. They’re just like, oh my God. They’re like mesmerized by the Coke commercial. Like, I don’t know why I want a Coke, but I want it so bad, I’ve got to get one right now. And, you know, and then go get it.

[00:19:42] And, okay. So if it’s a Coke, no big deal. But if it’s an Audi Q7 that you’d go out and we buy impulsively, like then we’ve got big problems on our hands. And they have no awareness of what is happening or, or how they are being manipulated in that way.

[00:19:56] And so, you know, that’s, the other thing I think is really important is to bring awareness. And this is a part of like financial literacy now too, is to recognize the lengths that people are going to, to motivate us to part with the money that we work so hard to earn. And asking ourselves, is this something I really genuinely want?

[00:20:17] Is this important to me, is it going to make my life better in some way that makes it worth this money? Sometimes the answer is yes, right? Like sometimes that ice cold Coke is so darn delicious that it is worth it. Or sometimes like that Audi Q7, I drive an Audi Q7. It’s the most expensive, indulgent thing I’ve ever bought for myself.

[00:20:36] And I can tell you Bob, every time I get in the driver’s seat, I’m like, I love this car so much. I just love this car. Right? And so, you know, sometimes those luxury purchases or those indulgences, just add a lot of pleasure to our life and that’s a great use of money. Okay? We don’t have to be like all philanthropic all the time and be like, oh, if I have a lot of money then I need to give it all away.

[00:20:57] You know, yes, we want to use it for good. We want to help other people and all of that, but we also want to live our best lives with it. But it’s important to recognize and know, you know, like being intentional about what you’re using your money for and making sure you’re not being manipulated to serve someone else’s purposes.

[00:21:15] Bob Wheeler: No, absolutely. I think frugality has really served me because I’m not the best person to market to, because I’m always thinking, I don’t really want to part with that. Every once in a while they get me. Right? But for me, what I do now is if I really need something, even if it’s a deal, they say, “if you don’t act now,” I still wait a day.

[00:21:33] Nicole Iacovoni: Yeah.

[00:21:33] Bob Wheeler: I wait 24 hours. I sleep on it. And what I used to do, when I didn’t know how to handle something, I would just fib and say, oh, I have to talk to my wife. I have to talk to my partner. I have to talk to my, I can’t, I’m not allowed to make this decision on my own. And so then we could blame this imaginary person, whether it was my business partner, whatever.

[00:21:54] And that got me out of situations. Because I wasn’t able to always advocate for myself, but I can have this imaginary person, sorta like money as a relationship thing, imagining this other entity that was stepping in on my behalf. And so finding the ways that you can protect yourself. Even I’m not comfortable signing contracts sometimes because it doesn’t have the right information.

[00:22:16] And I felt bad saying, well, you, you wrote a bad contract. Now I will say, well, as a CPA, I’m sort of required to do a little bit more scrutiny on this document and what I noticed as a CPA, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And they’re like, oh, you’re right. Let me fix that. But there’s this place where we don’t sometimes advocate for self.

[00:22:35] So I’ve found ways to circumvent that, but can you address that a little bit?

[00:22:40] Nicole Iacovoni: Yeah. This is a really big problem, especially among women because you know, like we live in a world of patriarchy. Let’s just be truthful about that. Yes. And that, under patriarchy, women get a whole lot of bogus messages and some of them, really tied to money.

[00:22:59] Like women aren’t good with money. They make bad financial decisions. They’re bad at math. You know, men should be in charge of managing the finances. Men are the breadwinners. And, you know, women, women face some unique financial challenges that a lot of men don’t face. I don’t want to say that all men don’t face, because that is stereotypical, but in general, like things cost women more than men.

[00:23:22] If you look at the price of a haircut, for example, you know, and this is one example, you can see that women pay more for things than men do. The wage gap. You know, women are still making like 78 cents to a dollar that men make. Women live longer, typically on average about 10 years longer than man lives.

[00:23:41] So we need more money in our retirement years to sustain us through the end of our lives. And women typically take off more work, like paid work to raise children, care for aging parents, other family members that need assistance. So we aren’t making as much money per hour. We’re not making as much money over the course of our earning years because you know, we’re not getting paid work as much.

[00:24:05] Things are costing us more and we need more money live. So you have all those things stacked upon each other. And that’s hard to navigate that. And then if you’re getting this message of like, you’re bad at math, you’re bad at money, you make poor financial decisions. You need to outsource that to your husband, your boyfriend, your dad, a male financial advisor, like some other dude that can help you with that.

[00:24:26] Bob Wheeler: Right.

[00:24:26] Nicole Iacovoni: You know, then they’re really disempowered. You know, they, they, aren’t taking an active role in their financial life. They are turning that financial power over to someone else and sort of trusting that that person is going to make the best decisions on their behalf, which is, is scary because I’m of the belief that I’m the expert on myself, and I know what’s best for me better than anyone else does.

[00:24:49] You are the expert on yourself. You know what’s better for you than anyone else does. Because you know your hopes and your dreams and your fears and your values, and nobody else really knows all of that stuff. So as such, you know, every woman really needs to be making their own financial decisions that align with what is most important to them and what their wants and needs are, not outsourcing that.

[00:25:11] But because of these messages that get so deeply ingrained in our psyche, it, it gives us this lack of confidence that we can be successful in managing our own money, that we can do a good job, that we can build wealth, that we can maintain that growth, that we’re not going to do something catastrophic that is going to leave us poor and homeless on the street.

[00:25:32] Bob Wheeler: Yeah. And I think, you know, what, you bring up a really important topic that I really like to bring in is, the systemic versus the personal. So if we don’t know that it’s a patriarchal society, as a woman, she’s trying to get a job or certain things. She can’t get the pay raise, and then she’s taking it personal because she’s like, I don’t understand it. I’m working hard. I followed all the rules.

[00:25:57] But if she doesn’t understand that one of the rules is, you’re not a male and in this company, you’re not going to go far unless you just want to be a secretary. Right? And so people can do crazy-making when we don’t understand the systemic versus the personal.

[00:26:13] Nicole Iacovoni: Yeah. Right. And also like, if we don’t understand the system like you’re talking about, then we are even less inclined to talk about money. And talking about money is one of the things that we can do to start to dismantle this faulty system. Right? And just an example of this would be, you know, you’re working in a company and you are at a certain level of status in your role, and you have peers that are that same level and some are men and some are women.

[00:26:42] Well, it’s good to ask them what they’re making. Right? You know, that’s like the taboo question, never ask somebody what their earnings are, you know, like don’t ask anybody their age, their weight, or how much money they make. But if you open up that conversation, then you might find out that the men at the same level as you are making more than the women are.

[00:27:02] And then that’s something that you can advocate to change in your company. But if you’re not talking about it, you won’t know. You won’t know that there’s a discrepancy there, or that, you know, a group of people is being discriminated against or pressed in some way. You can’t do anything about that.

[00:27:18] Bob Wheeler: Yeah. And it’s so important to ask those questions, like you just said, I know someone who, she got all excited, she got moved to this new company. She was, you know, she’s an engineer and she was so excited cause she got a jump in pay from her other company. And then she found out that the guys she works training were all making more money than her.

[00:27:38] And she had the wherewithal to go to the to, to the folks above her and said, listen, I was so excited when I got this raise. And then when I found out that the people I’m training, the men that I’m training are making less, I mean, are making more money than me. It sort of took the wind out of my sail. And they actually said, you know what? We’ll bump you up. Well, you know, we’ll, we’ll raise you. You’re right.

[00:28:00] And, but had she not said anything, had she just decided, oh, well this is at least better than what I had. She was actually able to speak to, this doesn’t feel good, even though it’s more money. I don’t feel good.

[00:28:12] Nicole Iacovoni: Yeah. And like you said, if she had internalized that and made it personal and thought to herself, oh, well they must be smarter than me. Better educated, more experienced, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

[00:28:23] Going through the list of things that she’s deficit in, and that they are better than her at to justify that discrepancy instead of recognizing like, okay, this is just one arm of patriarchy and I’m seeing it very clearly that that’s what it is. It’s the systemic issue that I need to advocate against to create some positive change.

[00:28:45] That’s a totally different approach and conversation than it would be. Hey, can you please tell me how I suck? And, and what I need to do different to earn as much money as the people that I’m training?

[00:28:56] Bob Wheeler: Exactly. And speaking of, you know, the systemic piece, and we talked about this a little bit before the show, and I want to bring it in, and talking about women living longer and making less money, it brings in the component because this month is also breast cancer awareness month.

[00:29:12] And a lot of women can’t afford health insurance, or can’t afford to have testing because they’re just scraping by. And I mean, I think that’s universally true that health insurance, at least in the US is incredibly expensive. It denies a lot of people that don’t have the resources, the ability to have care. And this is, this is financial.

[00:29:37] Nicole Iacovoni: Absolutely.

[00:29:38] Bob Wheeler: Can you talk about that a little bit?

[00:29:40] Nicole Iacovoni: Yeah. So the first thing I will say is that financial stress impacts every single part of your life. Okay? So it impacts your emotional health and well being and your mental health, because if you are worrying about money all the time, how are you going to put food on the table? How are you going to pay for health care? You know, living paycheck to paycheck, drowning in debt, that lowers your immune system.

[00:30:05] It creates sleep issues, chronic fatigue. It can create performance at work. So then, you know, you’re talking about like a work issue then. It can cause irritability and a number of other mood issues, that’s going affect your relationships with people, you know?

[00:30:19] So, and, and your physical health, you know, it makes you more susceptible to disease and getting sick and having a harder time fighting off that disease. It can cause chronic pain, like the whole litany of issues when you have chronic financial stress. And so, you know, our healthcare system is broken, and because of that, insurance premiums are astronomical for people.

[00:30:43] And if you have to get your own health insurance, like if it’s not offered by an employer, well that’s really tough because not only are your premiums high, like if you’re getting insurance through the marketplace, but you often have a really high deductible to meet too. So you’ve got the monthly expense of your premium, just to have the coverage.

[00:31:00] And then you’re paying out of pocket for almost all of your healthcare that you’re using anyhow, unless you have some catastrophic thing. And so you often are in this position where you’re having to choose between, like, do we eat and pay the mortgage or do we access healthcare? And even for people who have insurance offered through their employer, many companies now are not footing the bill for that premium.

[00:31:22] And so we have to pay a large portion of that ourselves anyhow, and it’s sort of the same dynamic. I think, because of that, you know, a lot of people are opting to not utilize preventative healthcare. They’re like, I’m just going to wait until it’s critical that I access care because I can’t really afford it right now.

[00:31:39] And then they pay even more in the long run or they lose their lives, you know? And like we had talked briefly before this, the way that our healthcare system is currently, it is cheaper to die than it is to pay for life-saving treatment. And that is devastating. It is devastating for the people in that position, for their families.

[00:32:02] You know, my mom died when she was 58 years old. She died earlier this year from cervical cancer. It was stage three when she was diagnosed. There were no treatment options because she had not had preventative health screening for 20 years because she was uninsured or under-insured, or she couldn’t afford it.

[00:32:21] And so, you know, she, she put it off until it was too late and it cost her her life. And we see more and more things like that happening. The other thing that contributes to that too, is that a lot of government funded programs that used to provide preventative screening for women like breast cancer screening or pap smears or things like that, they’re losing funding.

[00:32:40] And so now they’re not able to serve as many people or they’re having to be tighter on like the income restrictions of who they can provide those services to, or the program is closed and shut down altogether, which makes it even more devastating because then women who really need access to that care and those tests and that treatment, aren’t able to get it because the resources just aren’t there anymore.

[00:33:04] Bob Wheeler: Yeah. It’s, and as I hear this, I, there might be people out there saying, well, this is a little bit overwhelming. This feels hopeless. It’s going to, it takes a lot of work to manage my mortgage, manage my health insurance, manage just life. There’s so many broken systems. But there is hope out there, there is support out there.

[00:33:23] And for me, even though it feels painful that if we can push through these challenges, that life on the other side can really be amazing. And it does take work. It does mean you have to be intentional. You have to be conscious. You have to be aware. And I want to bring it back just a moment to you personally, you talked about your mom, and, and I think this is so…

[00:33:49] And we talked about this at the beginning about grief. Grief is out there. It’s, it’s measurable and grief can be transformative. Right? We can take grief and be transformative, but how do we receive the lessons and the gifts from grief and trauma and not be completely overwhelmed and taken out by it?

[00:34:12] Nicole Iacovoni: Oh gosh, this is such a great question. And like experiencing grief myself, you know, like my mom died eight months ago. She was a huge part of my life. We were very, very close. Did absolutely everything together. And then my grandfather died a month ago from COVID. So I’m like experiencing these two losses really close together.

[00:34:30] So I totally get, you know, this, this question. I ask myself that all the time, because some days it’s like, I just want to crawl under the covers and cry my face off and be like, this sucks. It’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

[00:34:42] But you know, there are other times, and this is the more prevailing feeling that I have about it, is that loss is a gift, like any challenge that we face in life, any hardship is difficult, but there are also so many gems of wisdom that we can pluck out of that and learn from, and, and allow it to change us and transform us in positive ways.

[00:35:05] For me, an example of that is what we talked about a few moments ago, is just this awareness of like the impermanence of life and that, you know, I don’t know what happens after I die. I mean, that could just be it, could be like total blackout. But I do know that time on this earth and being able to experience everything that we can experience being human is limited. And so it’s really made me think more about how I want to spend my time and how I want to show up and what kind of person I want to be.

[00:35:35] And I feel like those are all really great things that come from grief and loss. And, you know, I think about how my mom chose to live and what kind of person she was. And, you know, when she, when she was dying, she said to me, you know, if I could do it over again, I wish I could come back as a rich person.

[00:35:56] And she’s like, I think things would’ve been a lot more fun. And I, I’ve thought a lot about that, you know, since then. And it’s like, you know, there’s a lot of truth to that, and it’s not materialism. Money makes life easier. It does.

[00:36:13] And so when you look at loss and you look at like our short life span and wanting to make the most of that, and you look at our healthcare system and you look at all these challenges, you can either feel hopeless about that or you can use that as fuel to motivate you to show up better. You know, to, to learn more, to pay attention to your money, to, to make it a priority, to tend to your finances, to make as much fricking money as you possibly can. You know, and I don’t mean in like sleazy, slimy ways, I mean, like doing work that you love.

[00:36:47] Bob Wheeler: With integrity.

[00:36:47] Nicole Iacovoni: Yeah. Doing work you love, contributing to the world, helping other people, you know, doing things that you’re really skilled at, that you’re passionate at. You know, because that is its own type of wealth in and of itself. And then the money that you make from that is like the cherry on top of the sundae, really.

[00:37:06] But it’s so, you know, I think that we can use those hardships to give us a reason to make more money and be more responsible with it and learn more about money so we can do better things with it and have the life that we want and also help other people so that they can have the lives that they want, too.

[00:37:26] Bob Wheeler: Yeah, absolutely. I so believe, and I say this and I continue to say it. I believe deep down that we all want to be in connection with each other. We all want to be in relationship. We all want to make an impact, a positive impact on the world. And I think, and people want to know that they matter.

[00:37:44] And there are so many barriers that we put up in front of those things, afraid to admit it, afraid to admit that we want to be, you know, missed or loved or cared about. And, you know, in talking about this grief and, and sharing your story, I just want to remind listeners out there, that if you’re living in fear like I did, if you’re hiding like I did, like push yourself.

[00:38:12] It’s so worth showing up and really trying to be the best version of yourself. It’s a lot of work. I did not love it.

[00:38:22] Nicole Iacovoni: Hands down. It’s like marriage too. You know, it’s like marriage is hard work to stay together, but it’s so worth it. You know? And you’re right. I mean, like, it, it is real hard. It is, it is not easy, but like, so just as an example, I found myself in a financial crisis. I was $87,000 in debt. I, you know, had, had expanded my mental health practice. It was losing money every day. I wasn’t able to bring anything home. We’re going further into debt. It was total panic, total financial chaos.

[00:38:55] And that was my motivator though. That was like the wake up call, the slap in the face. It was like, hey, you got to do something different. You know, you can’t put this off anymore. And if that terrible thing hadn’t happened, I would not be where I am today. So I’m so thankful for that situation and that hardship because I had like, it motivated me to buckle down and learn stuff and change my relationship with money and really get to the root of the problem and shift things.

[00:39:23] And as a result, I paid off all the $87,000 of debt in two years, we really hustled. We really pulled it in. Multiplied my income times five in like eight months. I mean, you can see really big results when you putin really good work and, and there’s that direct correlation there. And I think that’s important for people to recognize is yes, it’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be so worth it.

[00:39:48] In fact, probably better than what you can imagine, because in my experience that led to a whole new career for me. Like that’s how I got started doing financial therapy and created my Money Therapy program was because I thought to myself, I cannot be the only woman on the planet who’s trying to run a business and grow the business and is feeling like a total failure at money and, you know, losing sleep at night, worrying about this stuff.

[00:40:14] I’m sure that there are other people out there like me who, who can use some help with it. And that’s how I got started doing this work. And it has been so incredible and rewarding to work with other people and see their lives change for the better and see them gain financial confidence and see them pay off debt and see them buy like, investment properties and create new streams of income.

[00:40:34] And it just, it it’s like the light of my life. It never would have happened if that disaster hadn’t occurred before. So I think that’s something important to keep in mind, no matter where you are now, even if you’ve hit rock bottom, you can only go up from here and you can use that experience as a launching point so that you can transform your life for the better.

[00:40:57] Bob Wheeler: Absolutely. And I would just add to that, don’t use other people’s success as your measurement of where you are, because those are only snapshots. We don’t know what they did to get where they are, and just focus on you and not focus on them.

[00:41:14] Nicole Iacovoni: Totally.

[00:41:15] Bob Wheeler: We are at Fast Five. And so we are going to shift the energy real quick, Nicole. And I’m going to ask you these questions. Yeah, I could talk to you for another 20 hours probably, we could do a marathon. We could do a marathon or telethon. All right. It’s the Fast Five.

[00:41:32] So, what does your budget reveal about your values?

[00:41:34] Nicole Iacovoni: I love to travel. Travel is a very top value. Every month, money is going into the vacation fund.

[00:41:41] Bob Wheeler: If you had to give up either money or love, which would it be? Why?

[00:41:46] Nicole Iacovoni: Oh, you didn’t have to go there. I feel like they’re so deeply intertwined Bob, because I seriously, like, I feel like I have a love affair with my money.

[00:41:57] I have a money date every week for at least an hour where I sit down, I see what my money’s been up to for that week and where it’s going. And we like dream of the future together. So I don’t feel like you can tear them apart, but I’ll tell you what. I have a great husband. We adore each other. We’ve been married for 12 years and we have loved each other when we’ve been so dirt poor, wondering how we were going to get like Taco Bell.

[00:42:24] And we have loved each other just as much when we, you know, have extra money in the bank account or like, what do we do with all this money? So I guess if I had to choose, I would pick love. So cheesy.

[00:42:37] Bob Wheeler: Oh, I’m sure your husband appreciates that.

[00:42:41] Nicole Iacovoni: Yeah. I don’t know. Some days he’s probably like, I want the money, get out of here.

[00:42:45] Bob Wheeler: Give me the money. Give me the money. So you do talk about dating money. Have you ever gotten stuck with the check on an expensive date?

[00:42:53] Nicole Iacovoni: Hm. I like treating people. So I would ask for the check. In fact, I want to be like a money fairy godmother. I want to have so much money that like, if I won the lottery, I wouldn’t tell a single soul.

[00:43:05] I would just come around and like shower money all over people or pay people’s bills and they wouldn’t know who it was. And I would just like delight in that. So I’m usually the one that’s like, Hey, slide me the check so that I can pay it and nobody even knows what’s happening.

[00:43:21] Bob Wheeler: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. That’s fun. Well, I hope you win the lottery and hope it’s millions of dollars so lots of people get their dinners paid for. What song best describes your relationship with money?

[00:43:32] Nicole Iacovoni: Hm, that’s a good one. Maybe “Crazy In Love” by Beyonce. Cause you know, I adore her. I’m crazy in love with my money.

[00:43:44] Bob Wheeler: That’s awesome. What’s one financial habit you want to get rid of within the next year?

[00:43:49] Nicole Iacovoni: Hm. Financial habit I want to get rid of. I don’t know. I like, I have the type of personality where it’s like go big or go home. And so I can get sucked into that, like more and more and more. And I don’t have enough, like I need to have a little bit more to feel safe and secure when really that is not the case.

[00:44:09] So I think the financial habit I want to break is that mindset of thinking that I have to keep making more and more money to feel secure and just recognize that like, I’ve already done the hard work. There’s money set aside. I have the security, you know, quit worrying about it all the time.

[00:44:28] Which I think a lot of people go through too. In fact, if I just took my own advice, like, cause I, I work with people that have this very same problem here. Again, another example, like you can’t be your own financial therapist, but you know, I see a lot of people struggle with that too. I just need to take my own advice.

[00:44:44] Bob Wheeler: No, that’s awesome. And I just want to say to people that we all, it doesn’t, the relationship with money doesn’t end once you fix it. It is a relationship. So you still have to keep nurturing it, loving it, get annoyed with it, get triggered. I still have things that just set me off or freak me out. I at least can go, oh, there’s Bob going crazy again. And then I can just sit through the uncomfortableness, but it doesn’t mean everything’s fixed and everything’s perfect. And I think some people hope that.

[00:45:13] Nicole Iacovoni: For sure. I wrote this blog post entitled Are Your Finances Like Fight Club? You know, that movie Fight Club, because the first rule of Fight Club is like, don’t talk about Fight Club. And like, if you apply that rule to your money, it’s like, don’t talk about money.

[00:45:27] Like, don’t talk about your finances. And then you’re showing up in life with like, all these bruises and scars, but you can’t talk about, like you show up with, you know, financial bruises and scars too when you’ve sort of had it out with your money. Or like you bounced a check or, you know, use your credit card when you didn’t intend to, and it’s sort of like, then this battle between you and the money, like what happened, you know?

[00:45:47] There’s that personification again, but I think that, you know, viewing the relationship you have with money, like a romantic relationship really illustrates the point that you are making, is that you’re going to be tending to this forever and ever like, as long as you’re alive, you’re going to be working with money. So, you know, it’s, it’s going to be ongoing practice.

[00:46:08] And, you know, I say practice because it’s not about getting it perfect. It’s just about making progress in incremental steps. And sometimes you’re going to take steps forward and sometimes you’re going to take steps back, but those steps backward can often give you momentum to propel you forward too. So yeah, it’s definitely a journey and a process til the end of time.

[00:46:31] Bob Wheeler: Til the end of time. Good news. Bad news.

[00:46:33] Nicole Iacovoni: Yep. Yep.

[00:46:34] Bob Wheeler: It’s a process. Do you have a practical financial tip or a piece of wealth wisdom you could share with our listeners?

[00:46:42] Nicole Iacovoni: Yeah. Date your money. Those money dates were absolutely life-changing for me. And make them really fun and playful. Like you would a date with your significant other or, you know, even if it’s a blind date, you know, make it really fun and flirty.

[00:46:57] And so to kind of give you an example of what that might look like, you know, maybe you have like a Netflix and chill night, where, you know, you put on your jammies and you pop some popcorn. And instead of watching reruns of Gossip Girl, you turn on like money documentaries so that you can gain some financial literacy and maybe make some notes about how you’re going to apply some of that information to your own financial life.

[00:47:20] Or maybe you schedule like a swoon-worthy coffee date with your money, where you take your laptop to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, or, you know, the cute coffee shop down the street, and you pull it up and you look at your bank account, you see like, okay, where’s my money going? What’s it been doing all week? You know, like a, getting to know you sort of thing.

[00:47:38] And, and when you do that, it just makes it more pleasurable. Like something that you look forward to instead of something that you dread. So, you know, no spreadsheets allowed, no like boring calculator stuff going on. It’s just like, let’s, let’s use this as an opportunity to kind of approach it in a fun, playful way so it’s something that you want to get in the habit of doing.

[00:47:58] Because when you’re tending to your finances regularly, then surprises don’t creep up, and you know what’s going on and you can have peace of mind in that, and you can make better decisions because of that. And then you’re not going to be in this place where money seems scary and you’re trying to avoid it.

[00:48:14] Cause that avoidance can lead to big money problems. So that financial tip will be like a proactive measure so that you can continue to have a really good, healthy relationship with your money over time.

[00:48:28] Bob Wheeler: That’s awesome. And I really appreciate that you want to bring a lightness to money and you want to bring, you know, a seriousness to it, like a clarity to it, but that it’s not a doom and gloom. That, that it is ongoing, that we can make mistakes and step back, step forward.

[00:48:49] What I’m hearing, even though it’s not specifically said, is that like the non-judgment, non blame. We’re not blaming ourselves and, “oh my God, I’m so stupid.” And even those places where there was major grief, places where we made major mistakes, that there were all gems of wisdom that we’re able to glean from from these things.

[00:49:10] And that if we can just be really intentional in what we’re doing, be really clear about that, we don’t have to step over other people to get where we want and take people out. We can do it with integrity. We can do it intentionally and consciously. And it’s not always fun, but the payoff is amazing.

[00:49:30] Nicole Iacovoni: Yes, absolutely. You nailed it. You nailed that summary. Great job. Are you sure you didn’t go to school to be a therapist? Because so much of my training was to develop that skill right there, to like really hear the message and be able to repeat that back to the person. So good job. Good job.

[00:49:52] Bob Wheeler: People should practice active listening. That’s, that is something that most of us don’t have the patience to do.

[00:49:59] I’ve fortunately have been forced in a good way to really actively listen to what people are saying. I think that’s actually a skill that a lot of couples could, could develop a little bit more because, I know we didn’t plan to go on and I know we’re supposed to wrap up, but learning to stay in difficult conversations and often when it’s money, we think it means having a fight.

[00:50:18] And so if we can learn to stay in difficult conversations and learn to tolerate the uncomfortableness, the payoff is amazing. So…

[00:50:28] Nicole Iacovoni: Absolutely. And you just talked about this recently in another episode that you had on Financial Infidelity. And you know, like not knowing how to communicate with our partners about money is, is one of the most common things that I see.

[00:50:42] And that’s a big chunk of what I teach in money therapy too, is giving some scripts and some templates and some conversation prompts to help people learn how to approach those conversations in like, a calm, cool, collected way so that those conversations can be really productive, because we aren’t taught how to do that.

[00:51:00] So we’re left floundering. We really flub it up good. Then we have this full-blown financial fight with our partner. And it’s like, I’m never doing that again.

[00:51:08] Bob Wheeler: You’re right.

[00:51:09] Nicole Iacovoni: So I think you’re right, like active listening plays a huge role in that and also learning good communication skills that we can bring into those conversations so that they are productive and they don’t lead to somebody sleeping on the couch that night.

[00:51:22] Bob Wheeler: Or many nights.

[00:51:23] Nicole Iacovoni: Yeah. Or like forever.

[00:51:27] Bob Wheeler: Well, Nicole, where can people find you online and in social media? Because I want people to find you.

[00:51:32] Nicole Iacovoni: Yeah. So my website is the best place to find me. And you can find me at NicoleIacovoni.com. I have some really fun free resources there that anyone can access. So even if you’re on a tight budget, if you want to get started loving up on your money, you can find those under free resources on my website. And you can find me on Facebook and Instagram at Nicole Iacovoni.

[00:51:53] Bob Wheeler: That is awesome. Nicole, this has been such a pleasure. Thanks for, for showing up and sharing your wisdom.

[00:52:01] Nicole Iacovoni: Thank you so much for having me. I’ve loved the conversation. Such an honor to be here.

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