Episode 142

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Episode Description

You may see yourself as bold and confident, yet when the subject turns to money: your mind goes blank; a pit opens up inside you, or even panic sets in!

Our next guest is Michelle Arpin Begina. Michelle is a Certified Financial Planner, Certified Investment Management Analyst, money mentor and coach, photographer, and a mom. Her earliest memories from childhood all relate to money.   

What differentiates Michelle from other financial advisors is that she has spent the last two-plus decades studying the unconventional, non-financial aspects of life satisfaction, financial therapy (it’s a thing), behavioral bias, choice, and decision advising.

Michelle believes we all need to examine the money stories, scripts, and lessons that affect our financial psychology to rethink what we know about money and have more of it. 

Michelle Joins Bob to Discuss:

[1:27] The Impact of Money as a child.
[6:30] Navigating the technical and emotional aspects of money.
[10:57] “More money solves everything, right?”
[11:47] The shame and secrecy of money.
[26:50] Healing your money woes through journaling and speaking.
[31:40] Understanding the money narrative in your head.

Michelle’s Good With Money: Success Formula will help you claim your full financial power and leave behind old patterns, beliefs, and stories that are holding you back.

Connect With Michelle Arpin Begina:

LinkedIn: Michelle Arpin Begina CFP
Facebook: @Michelle.ArpinBegina
Instagram: @michellearpinbegina

Creating Wealth From The Inside Out. Michelle Arpin Begina

Episode Transcription

Click to Read Full Transcript

Bob Wheeler: [00:00:00] Welcome to another episode of Money You Should Ask, where everyone has something to teach you. I’m your host Bob Wheeler. And in this episode, we’re going to explore, question, examine, converse, dig deep, expose, laugh and cry about the money beliefs, money blocks, and life challenges of our next guest. Turn up the volume, listen, learn and laugh.

Our next guest is Michelle Arpin Begina. Michelle’s earliest memories from childhood, all related to money. Michelle has used the money lessons from her life to rethink how financial advisors and their clients have traditionally worked together. What differentiates Michelle from other financial advisors is that she has spent the last two plus decades studying the unconventional non-financial aspects of life satisfaction, financial therapy.

It’s a thing. Yes, it is. We talk about that behavioral bias choice and decision advice. She believes we all need to examine the money stories, scripts, and lessons that affect our financial psychology so that we can rethink what we know about money to have more of it. Michelle lives in white coffin, New Jersey with her husband, Mike and sons, Alex and Nick.

She’s an avid photographer and her sons are her favorite subject. Michelle. It is so great to have you here today.

Michelle Arpin Begina: [00:01:11] So great to be here.

Bob: [00:01:13] Well, I am just going to, I’m going to jump right in, you know, you said that all your childhood memories were related to money. So I don’t know if you were like putting money in the bank in your head or they were some negatives was like, what was that first money memory?

Michelle: [00:01:27] It was not putting money in the bank. Actually my, I have two. My, one with my mother, went with my father. The one with my mother was opening up a piggy bank. It was a white ceramic piggy bank of a cat. And around Christmas time she would break open the piggy bank. And that was the money that was used to buy Christmas presents.

My parents had started a business money was pretty tight between the ages of like four and seven for me. The other memory I have was around six years old, my father coming into my bedroom and asking, can I borrow some money? And I had a bank on top of my bureau and I asked him, well, what do you need the money for?

And he said, cigarettes. And I said no. And unfortunately he, right in front of my eyes, he took the money anyway and walked out of the room and I started crying and they were tears of frustration because I was worried he would think I was being stingy when. I was really living my values at six years old that I didn’t want to give him the money because I didn’t want to give him money for something that would hurt him.

So that’s where it all began. And just going back, you know, my, my parents, they started this business when I was about four and around seven or eight years old, their business started taking off and while money was tight, everything in the house was okay. It was when they started earning more money that all of the stuff showed up for me, not for me, for them.

And I just witnessed this growing up. So there’s so many stories I can tell here, but I got really interested in the emotional side of money from really early on.

Bob: [00:03:15] Now, when it started making money, did you get the cigarette money back?

Michelle: [00:03:18] I never did. Good question.

Bob: [00:03:24] So, you know, one of the things when you’re starting to share this and I’m hearing these stories, and at first I was like, do we have the same parents? You know, my, my parents borrowed from our savings and, and many times. Yeah, money would just disappear. But what I want to point out to people that are listening, is that what I’m not hearing you say is my parents are bad people, and this is what they did to me.

What I’m hearing is that, like, look, our parents did what they did with the best intentions. And we received it and took the impact in different ways. So some person might’ve taken that and said, ‘okay, whatever.” Another person might’ve said “to my grave, I will hold my piggy bank and hide it.” Right. We all take on a story and that’s independent of the actual interaction we had with our parents.

So I just like to point that out that I have lots of things to say about my parents, but I don’t blame them.

Michelle: [00:04:19] Yeah, I, well, you’re meeting Michelle 2.0. Michelle 1.0 was very angry, very upset and definitely blamed them. So I have evolved and I’ve come into really some compassion and an appreciation for who they were and what they were dealing with and the stuff that they didn’t know how to do better.

That was definitely an evolution for me.

Bob: [00:04:43] Yeah.

Michelle: [00:04:44] There was a very, there were other moments, like when I was 10, my father wanted to buy a brand new car and my mother was out of town visiting relatives, and he called and asked, “is it okay?” And he always did this pretend permission thing. And it started when I was six.

Can I borrow the money? No, you can’t want me to take it anyway? Can I buy the car? No, you can’t. He buys it anyway. When I was 10, he was hiding out, he was hiding the car in the garage and he swore my brother and I to secrecy. And I remember being a little kid going, do you think she’s not going to notice when she gets home?”

Well, there was a huge explosion and then, meaning between my parents. And then fast forward to when I was 17, and I should have seen this one coming when I graduated from high school, I was standing on a dock at a marina and overlooking my father’s shoulder was a brand new yacht in the water. He had paid $185,000 cash for it in the 1980s.

Bob: [00:05:50] oh, wow.

Michelle: [00:05:51] And he looked me in the eyes and shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t have the money to send you to college.” So the, the comedian in me, I fantasize now looking back that if I had a do-over. I wouldn’t have said a word. I would have just pushed them in the water, but it’s a revenge I’ll never take. And I wouldn’t trade anything for any of these any of these stories, any of these journeys, because it’s made me keenly aware of all of our, the background that we have, that we bring the table, to the table with money, all of our emotions around it.

And my interest in that really led me, like I remember growing up seeing my parents at their highest and best, which most kids do, they were hardworking. They were good people. They were honest people and they had it all together. They just were a hot mess when it came to their money. And I saw that and I remember thinking to myself, they could just get out of their own way.

And I am positive that I grew up to become a financial advisor and coach on both the technical and the non-technical aspects of money, because there’s a little part of me that wants to give to people I work with what I couldn’t give as a kid. I didn’t have the skills and I didn’t have the power to do it, but I do now.

So that’s how it’s all evolved. And like I said, I wouldn’t trade my journey. What ended up happening for me is I, as I stood on that dock. This is interesting. So I was raised, you’ll be the first to go to college. You’re smart. My father even took me on college campus tours. So it was a little cruel that he just bought a boat without telling me, and there was no money, but I had internalized basically that I was a college

graduate in waiting. All I had to do was go to college. I’ll be the first to go. You’re smart. And I was always told you can be anything you want to be. So I did not know how I was going to afford to go to college, but I remember standing on the dock saying to myself, it costs a lot of money to go to school.

You don’t have any money. Right? How am I going to make money? And I got a job at a bank within a few months. They asked me to take a college community course, which I did. And they reimbursed me when I passed ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. So I learned about college tuition reimbursement and over eight years working full time.

That’s how I primarily paid for my education. So I always say. Everybody says when there’s a will, there’s a way I always say the will is the way it’ll show up.

Bob: [00:08:31] So awesome. And I think, you know, what’s even important about that story for me is that it didn’t have to be the traditional. I must do it in four years.

I must live on the campus. I must… like, it doesn’t have to be the same flavor for everybody. What works, is what works. What would you say, cause you talk about this. And I, I, I also believe it that we have stories and scripts that we take on as kids. We make lifetime vows when we’re six. And then we use those vows to make adult decisions that no six year old should be in charge of making.

What were some of the stories and scripts that you saw as a child from that cigarette experience, from the piggy bank, for the Christmas gifts? What were some of the stories that you took on from mom and dad, unconsciously, or just an awareness on your part?

Michelle: [00:09:18] Yeah, well, I, I think there’s a couple sides to this. So my, my parents’ backgrounds couldn’t have been more different. So my father came from a family of entrepreneurs who did very well financially. And my mother came from a background of really partly an immigrant story. And her parents worked in a Converse sneakers factory for 40 years. In fact, if you go to my office, I have a pair of Converse sneakers

hanging in my office in honor of them. So their, their backgrounds were very, very different. And what that brought was a little bit of a confused, mixed message. On the one hand, rich people were snobby and bad. And on the other hand, there was this very hard working, never spend beyond your means kind of work ethic.

And I think a lot of that from the family perspective is, one set of grandparents, they earned what they earned, right? It was factory work. Here’s your hourly wage, simple math. On the other hand, it was a little more entrepreneurial. So, there was a little bit of more money will fix my problems because they had the ability to make more money.

Bob: [00:10:27] Right.

Michelle: [00:10:27] Whereas on the other hand, it was very vigilant. Money should be private. Don’t spend beyond your means. Save for a rainy day. If you don’t have that emergency fund, you’re in a panic. So I got a mix of both of those things. And clearly were my parents evolved together and their relationship was really to a money status kind of approach with some vigilance.

So there was a lot that came through. I’m sort of like Kmart and Neiman Marcus at the same time. Right.

Bob: [00:10:57] Both places have some good bargains. Absolutely. So you said that on your father’s side, “more money solves everything.” That was a belief that I had. I still have found that unconsciously, it still pops in once in a while.

Like, oh my God, like I used money as a way to fix things. Oh, I’ll make this relationship better. Oh, we’re having to fight, here take some money. Can you speak to that a little bit because I’m sure that I am not the only person and your dad’s family are not the only other family that have this belief that if I just have more money, I can solve all my problems.

And can you speak to the truth or the fallacy of that belief?

Michelle: [00:11:40] Yeah. Well, it’s like to me, it’s analogous to something that you want to fix in your life, and you’re not going to be happy until you fill in the blank with that thing, right? Lose weight, find a significant other, you know, any fill in the blanks, right.

It all has to come from within, for me, how that script shows up is in workaholism, which is a hallmark of more money will fix all my problems. Okay. Well, how do you get money? You work right? It’s one way. I decided not to rob banks. I figured work was a better option. So the workaholism, I was definitely unaware of that.

And of course, Michelle 2.0 has become more enlightened to realize that how much that actually plays into my life. And the other side of me, I think, where it came through is in money vigilance. So as much as I can openly speak about these stories of my childhood that was a hard one battle for me to get through the shame and the secrecy of everything that was happening behind closed doors that no one else knew about.

And what was very difficult to wrap my mind around. But I acted out on was, it was emotionally and financially insecure, my entire upbringing. And that really drove a very big script for me on the money vigilant side, which is safety, right. I’m all about safety. And I have to even watch out for that.

It’ll show up in the way that I invest my money. I have to temper that, but I, at least I’ve done the work to see it. Right. And when you can see it, we all know this. When you’re aware, then you’ve got something to work with. And I think for your, for you, I think the, kind of the mutual language that we speak here, I think part of what we’re both up to is in looking within to surface.

Where did your stuff come from? So that, that six year old is not opening up the 401k statement when it arrives in the mail. Right. I always say this to my clients. Like how old are your kids? Six. Okay. Well, when the statement arrives, I want you to just hand it to her and say, listen, let me know what you think about this and which direction we should go in.

Right? Like, you never do that. And it’s not our fault. We don’t know that this is going on.

Bob: [00:14:03] Absolutely. And I, I want to speak to this piece about transparency, about having, you know, the secrets behind closed doors and having your father engage you and your brother to like, not say anything. You know, I had a client that was sharing with me.

They were working through some stuff and the mom’s routine was buy all this new stuff, hide it in the closet. Don’t tell your father, hide it when he’s there. And then two months later start wearing it. So then when he would say, wait, that’s new. No, I’ve had it a while. So that it, she wasn’t directly lying, but what it taught the kids was, you must lie to your significant other, you have to keep everything separate.

They can’t know. And so many people think that a financial conversation means let’s have a fight.

Michelle: [00:14:46] Yeah.

Bob: [00:14:46] And so I really just want to point out this place of the more we can actually be transparent about that stuff. To be able to say, listen, I’d love to have another drink or take a vacation with you guys.

But my budget’s tight right now. I’m a little cash flow poor. I’m not poor. Cashflow is tight. And being able to say, “yeah, I’d love to go to Neiman Marcus today. But I’m going to be doing my shopping at Walmart because that’s what my budget says today.” And, and, and to take away that shame of, we don’t have to keep up with the Joneses.

You might not even like the Joneses like that, but this, this piece about transparency, because it puts everybody in a bind when we’re sworn to secrecy within our own family.

Michelle: [00:15:32] Yeah. It, well, it certainly teaches lots of different things for that. Right. I mean, my father, and in my instance, you know, it’s similar to that mom that you’re describing it was, please keep it private.

And yeah. It’s not the type of stuff that any parents should be dragging their kids into. Right. It’s it, any anxieties that we as adults have, our children are not prepared to deal with those. It’s a really unfair position to put them in, right. They’re going to get enough of our stuff without us trying to do that with them.

The transparency piece, you know, there was somebody that asked me, what’s the one story you never told. And when she asked, I thought to myself, well, I’m not telling that story like ever. And it worked on me. That question really worked on me for quite quite some time. And the one story I would never tell was my quote unquote college story.

I never told a soul about what actually transpired with my going to college. So I’m going to go back to that for just a second, because I think it hits on a couple of things that I wrestled with that may resonate with some of your listeners. So if we just boil it down to our basic needs, self-worth and love. And a lot of our money is tied up in that. Whether we’re trying to strive to feel that by way of our money.

And then how do you get to that place where you resolve that? And you just are enough. And the love comes from the relationships, right? And money is a relationship, which I think is always such a weird thing to say, because it’s a dollar bill. It’s a coin. It’s not a person but it animates our lives just like real relationships do.

My process was actually go back and write what happened from the age of 17 on that dock, forward. And by writing, I basically made myself relive every part of the experience that I could recall from what was I doing when? What were the lucky breaks? And what were the hardships and how did I feel? What was I thinking that I didn’t say? And all of those types of things, and by the time I was done with that, I just decided it’s time to say it out loud.

So, I really, to me, I just decided to make the stakes really high. I signed up for a one day public speaking course in New York city. And my office is in New York city. And I said, you know what? It just doesn’t feel any more pressurized than to get up in front of a room of strangers in a skyscraper in New York city

and tell your story. And at the end of that, refresher public speaking course, I got to do just that. And I thought I was healed enough to do it, and almost had a nervous breakdown before. Like, no joke, before I had to get up and talk. I was fortunate in that, the coach in the room, I asked her if we could step outside.

And I explained to her that I had made a promise to myself that if I had a chance to tell my story that I would do it. And I was crying when I was doing this, I was so embarrassed. And this woman held my hands and look me in the eyes and said,” just tell me your story.” And every time I would choke up and stop talking, she’s like, “just let the tears come.””

“Just tell me your story.” That’s all she kept saying to me. And I told her the whole story. And she said, “do you feel like you can walk in and, and tell the story?” And I stopped and thought and said, “yup.” And I went in and I told the story and thank  goodness, I didn’t die. I literally, it was a biological chemical reaction that felt life or death.

I literally thought,” I’m going to die.” And I didn’t. And for me, there was like life before telling that story and life after. And I never realized how much that story had had a hold of me, even though I was married and had a great family and a great career, the piece I was missing that I didn’t even know.

I had robbed myself of my sense of belonging by not telling all the parts of my story. That’s what I robbed myself of by not sharing the parts that felt shameful. And I know I’m going on and on. I just want to go back to the shame part for a second. What I realized as I was writing my story, because I got to this point where I started asking myself questions in my writing process, and I was asking myself, why did you want to keep these things probably more secret than your parents did?

I mean, my parents never talked openly about it either, but I kind of feel like I kept it more secret. The reason was, really two things. I never wanted to tell the truth of the college story because everyone was anticipating that I was going to go. And my fear was, people would wonder what I had done

that was so awful that my parents would do an about face and not send me. Right. Looking back on that that’s a really heavy burden for a 17 year old. That’s a big number to be doing on yourself. That was the shame. But what it boils down to was, judgment. I was worried about other people’s judgment of a situation that they really had no real context for that that was not a one-time event.

I mean, what I left out is my parents had private airplanes. You name the car. It showed up in our driveway at one point or another. Airplanes, hang gliders, you know, just lots and lots of really big ticket toys. And every single time they would buy one of those toys, they were down to their last $5 and nobody knew that it just looked like a family of four, really successful business. And life’s going really, really?

Bob: [00:21:29] Yeah. Yeah, I really appreciate you sharing that story. And I, you know, for me, there’s so many takeaways, but you know, for people that are listening, there is no shame in being your authentic self. Like there’s no shame in what the truth is. People might judge it or people may not understand it.

But we, you know, I just really encourage people not to hide those pieces. Like the more that you can actually say, this is who I am and be vulnerable. The more you actually get to have your life back. And my previous version of myself, all of my decisions were life or death. And everything was,” that will kill me.”

And so I love that you went towards your fear. And it’s what I encourage people to do all the time, move towards those things that you are scared of the most, because that will be so liberating. And I, I, so I just really appreciate that vulnerability there, because it is hard when, you know, we internalize those things sometimes and say, Oh, the boats more important than I am, or I don’t bring value.

So I know that my self worth has just gone down a few notches because you know, like for me, I was taught that I am my assets. Right. So if I don’t have assets, I have no value. Like my goodness and compassion mean nothing. If I don’t have lots of zeros behind the ones. And so I just really appreciate this piece about like how you were transformed and willing to get up and share your story.

Even through the tears and folks, this stuff is not easy. There will be tears, there will be anger and there will be joy, and there will be laughter, and there will be connection. It takes a lot of work and you gotta be willing to be uncomfortable to do this stuff. It’s not for the light of heart.

I mean, it is, there’s work involved here. And I so appreciate that your, your willingness to say, wait a minute, I want more out of this. I’m going to keep, I’m going to keep stepping up. And here’s the beautiful thing. This woman sat there and said, “tell me your story.” There are people out there. It’s why I believe we have a left hand and a right hand so we can reach out for support.

If we can learn to ask for support. There are so many people that will hold space for us that will make it safe for us. If we’re willing to do a little bit of the work and meet people, even just halfway.

Michelle: [00:23:49] Yeah. I got extremely lucky in that the person who was literally holding my hands and looking me in the eyes that she was a strong, empathetic non-judgemental person.

That was just luck because I, when I look back on it now, like I said earlier, I thought I was healed enough to tell the story. And what I’ve learned is you have to be healed enough to tell a story. But yet you have to tell the story to be healed also. Right? So it’s a really delicate balancing act and you’ve got to choose wisely.

I mean, I went in there a little bit naive. I actually thought I could just get up and tell the story. And then when I was there, I clearly was not all the way ready, but I’m glad that I did it. And I’m glad that you encourage people to do it. And you know, we all say it’s so hard to talk about money.

No, no, no. It’s easy to talk about money. It’s hard to talk about our emotions around money and we’re not taught this. You know, I I read an a research report recently, and this blew my mind that about 65% of people who have a financial advisor, don’t feel like they have anyone to talk to. My mind…

What, wait, you get naked showing me every statement that you have, and you’re not going to tell me how you feel about this stuff. You’re not going to tell me where your anxieties are. But that’s true. And I think, yeah. It’s not modeled for us in a healthy way, how to have an open communication around money from our early upbringing.

And then I think there’s a certain approach that we all need to decide really, that we want to take on. Like, I, I think there’s three steps to it. One, I’m going to decide that I want to talk about it. Two, I’m going to completely panic over it. And then three, I’m going to do it, right? Because if the stakes are really high about something that you’re hiding at some point, the panic is really gonna set in. .

You know, I’m a big fan of Chris Voss and his negotiation tactics, and the FBI has a, has an approach to negotiation, which is not what you think that it would be. But I feel like, you know, telling our stories is, it’s a cross between an FBI hostage negotiation and a 12 step program. So just everyone be prepared and that’s, what’s going to feel like, but it’s really worth it.

But the hostage negotiation you’re holding yourself hostage. Right? Hmm. I’m a believer, and I think that there are a lot of different models for change. I happen to think writing and speaking are two of the most powerful ways to change ourselves and the person that we’re speaking with. If we choose to go that route, we just need to ask them for a few things mostly to listen.

And what we want is. What Carl Young talks about, which is unconditional positive regard. That regardless of what I say to you, it will not change how you feel or think about me. Right. And when we receive that, like we can let it go. Okay. We can let it go.

Bob: [00:27:02] I know for me that I felt so alone and it was very terrifying. And I think a lot of people out there it’s so isolating because they don’t feel like they have anybody to talk to.

Michelle: [00:27:12] I can relate to that. It’s I think what you’re talking about and what I so appreciate about you being open and honest about how that’s, how you felt and how you dealt with that and process it ,is that the being alone part is

when we aren’t telling those stories, right. We do think it’s just us. There’s nothing that normalizes that for us. And when we feel alone, it is terrifying. There’s a biological component to that, right. We all know this, that, you know, we’re going to be put a drift on, you know our own piece of ice, to go float by ourselves.

That’s how it feels, right. Talking to other people is what can normalize our experience, right. Whether that person can totally relate to what we’re saying. What  I think we can give each other is when we talk about our experience, it’s like, we want to get to that place with this person where they are

they over stand us. And what I mean is, they both understand our story and they understand where that story comes from. And when you, when you know the background of how that story originated for that person, where that narrative came from. And may not make sense to you as the listener, but it makes sense to you listening, of why it makes sense to the person who’s speaking the story.

That’s the overstanding. Like, I think that’s what we’re looking for. And when we get to that place, that’s where we feel that connection. And that connection makes us feel like we belong. And, you know, we were talking earlier about. How some of this stuff came up for me. What’s, what’s interesting is, you know, really growing up with spendthrift parents, which, spendthrift is such a tricky little word.

Some people think it means, you know, while I’m thrifty, when I spend my money and the word thrifts used to mean frugal. We think of thrift today as frugal. What the word thrift used to mean was prosperity. So spendthrift means to spend one’s prosperity. My biggest fear was I would grow up to be a spendthrift like my parents were in the extreme, like my parents just didn’t overspend.

I mean, we went down to like, we’re within a hair of bouncing the check, and the house being foreclosed on, but there’s a brand new airplane at the airport. I remember a couple of years back as one can imagine with, with my college experience, as soon as we had our sons, we started saving for them and I never put any type of pressure on them of where they would go to college.

I just wanted to have enough money in their accounts to send them wherever they wanted to go. You know, no limit on that. And a couple of years back, my husband and I were having a conversation and I shared with him that, you know, I was really, sometimes I worry about being a spendthrift and we’re really on board with our money.

I probably am a little more of a spender than, than he is. And that’s probably where some of my concern comes from. And he said to me, so like the way that you’ve helped prepare us for retirement and the fact that the kids’ accounts are locked and loaded for college three years in advance, like, and you worried about being spendthrift? And it was so great because

I didn’t have the outsider’s perspective of it was something that I worried about so much that that worry kind of overrode the, the actual positive behavior that I was doing. And it did take that little outsider’s perspective to say, yeah, but that’s not how you are, are, that’s not how you’re acting and like that

the fear of spendthrift, it totally left me after that. I was like, wow, I’m so glad that I said that. And he, I mean, in a really kind way, he  like, “are you an idiot, like, look at, look at the track record here. Like, let’s look at the body of work here. That’s not how you’ve been behaving.” And I, but I had this like, oh my God. Back to the security.

Bob: [00:31:49] Well, and you know, what’s so important about that, and you mentioned it, I mentioned it, you know, money’s a relationship, right? Our relationship, it’s a relationship with money. And that sounds crazy, but that means we have a relationship with money until our last breath.

Michelle: [00:32:02] Yeah,

Bob: [00:32:02] Right. And even then people are still like, oh, when they get the last breath, do I get their money? Right. So it goes on even after we stopped breathing. But the point being is. I still have some of those scripts come into my life. I still have some of the stories. Fortunately, I’m more conscious and I can go, aha!.

But having another person that can help us say Bob, Michelle, “put that script away. That might’ve worked 20 years ago. But that’s not the actual story that’s happening right now. That’s not actually the truth of things.” And so I just think it’s important to be aware. That even if we’re so refined and we got the money in the bank and life is good and we’re taking vacations and we’re advocating for ourselves, those stories and those scripts still can have a way of creeping in at the most inopportune times.

And to just know that. And it’s not a bad thing and we don’t have to be ashamed of it. We just need to be aware.

Michelle: [00:32:56] Absolutely. Well, it’s very fluid, right? Our our state of mind and our status, right, are  fluid and, you know, I don’t, I don’t love that expression. You know, I knew I arrived when, you know, I think we arrive many, many times in our life and we just, we grow ourselves up into, you know, finer versions of our identity as we

move along. And some of that is you’ve got to shed a skin and get rid of an old script because that was, you know, that was your former self and now you’ve evolved into somebody else. But yeah, it’s really about, I think being cleanly aware of what tape is running in your head, which I know you spent a lot of time talking, thinking about.

Bob: [00:33:44] Absolutely. And you know, the other thing I would just say, and I’ve started saying this a lot, because it feels so important, maybe as I’m a little older, but you know, when you always see that lifeline, they draw the line and this is your timeline. And then there’s a dot at the end. Hmm. Well, that’s when it’s over.

So I don’t actually want to get to that dot. I want to actually delay and have a lot of fun and have a lot of pleasure along the way, instead of just like, I’ve got to get to that dot. No that dot’s coming. Whether I, whether I want it to or not. So the more that I can actually engage in and not worry about that being the destination, but living my life and experiencing it as being, as being what it’s about.

Michelle: [00:34:24] Yeah. I agree with you.

Bob: [00:34:26] I feel like I could talk for another six hours, you know, that we joked about that ahead of time because this stuff for me is so it’s so powerful and like, it’s, it’s available, accessible to everyone if we’re willing to step into it. And it’s a scary thing. So I, I, I love that you do that.

I am going to ask one more question before we go to our fast five, because I want to know, now that you’re married do you and your husband have the same views about money or have you come to be in alignment? And do you talk to your children about money.

Michelle: [00:34:59] We have the same views about money it’s purpose or values our alignment.

How we speak with our children is very different. I’m much more open  but I don’t cross that line to where if I’m feeling nervous about something, that’s not what it’s about. In fact, this is probably awful, but I don’t really, you know, when we say people come from, oh, he comes from a good family or she comes from a good family, you know, they’re really successful.

All good. All true. But I actually tell my kids, “I’m rich. You are not.” And I say that to them because the majority of us earn our wealth one way. We translate our income into wealth and they’re going to do the same thing. Am I going to support and help my children? Of course. And to be honest with you, given the way that I grew up, I’ve had to really think very hard and clearly around

what does financial support for our children mean to me? Financial support was really withheld from me in certain ways. So I’ve had to wrestle with that as a, as a mom. So I hope that answers your question.

Bob: [00:36:06] Absolutely. And yeah, no, it’s so important. And I think it’s important to have, to have some kind of conversation with your kids other than no, you can’t have that .You’re greedy, right.

Like you don’t have to give them all the information. You don’t have to show them the 401k, but you might be able to say, “there’s enough that we’re going to make it through the next couple of months, we’re going to be able to eat,” right. If, if kids are having fears. But having those conversations, including them in family, money conversations and all that kind of stuff.

And now you have two boys. And did, you have a brother in your childhood versus your kids that are now having their childhood. Did you notice a difference in being treated as a, as a girl versus being a boy, or was it equal footing? And do you notice any gender bias with your kids and would have been different if they were girls?

Michelle: [00:36:55] Hmm, my brother and I joke around all the time that we had completely different upbringings. My brother had absolutely no idea what was going on financially in the house. Zip, zero, nada. So he didn’t get a lot of the same stress that I got around it. You know, what’s really interesting is the way that my husband and I are

you know, I heard somebody say this once. You’ll know when you married well when you’ve got leave on an early flight for business meeting and your husband will iron your shirt for the suitcase. It’s got to go in the morning of, for you. Like that’s the kind of guy I married and he’s a man’s man but we don’t have a lot of the traditional lines drawn in the sand of, you know, this is your domain, or this is my domain.

We we just both do whatever needs to be done. I paint and spackle in the house more than he ever has. He cooks a lot more than I do. Like we just don’t. I think we lead by whatever we’re good at and talented at. In fact, even with money I’m in charge of investments, he’s in charge of cashflow.

We delineated It that way, it’s like, I don’t know how to invest. So all of that I’m sure is coming through with our sons. We don’t have specific gender conversations with them at all. And I think that’s because we don’t have any gender specific kind of conversations between my husband and I. Yeah, we just don’t.

Bob: [00:38:18] Yeah. Well, we are at our fast five. So we’re going to, we’re going to just shift a little bit and I’m going to ask you these five questions and just see what let’s see what comes up. What was the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make around money?

Michelle: [00:38:29] Telling my story?

Bob: [00:38:31] What’s the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned from life about your, from your kids?

Michelle: [00:38:36] I think there’s two. We don’t always pass our resilience down to them and they are always wiser than I think they’re going to be. And when a situation arises, that’s what it shows up and they step up.

Bob: [00:38:53] Awesome. Awesome. What was your most recent indulgent purchase?

Michelle: [00:38:57] Most recent photograph.

Bob: [00:39:00] And can you describe your favorite photograph that you’ve ever taken? Best photo ever.

Michelle: [00:39:05] That is the hardest question anybody could ask me in the world. I got two kids. How am I going to answer that question? My favorite subject, it’s got a little bit of a story. I’ll try to make a quick. One of my favorites was actually one of my sons at a And I kept, I had a vision in my mind of the photograph I wanted to take, which was a circular amusement ride up in the air.

And all I said to my son and his friend was I’m going to stand here. And when you guys circle around, Look at me in the camera and I was determined to get my shot. So I bought like 10 rides for them. They were loving it. And I finally got my shot and they are perfectly in focus and everything around them is blurry..

From a technical perspective, it was one of my most rewarding photographs ever taken.

Bob: [00:39:56] That is so awesome.

Michelle: [00:39:57] I am surprised they never got sick going on that ride and they got to do it 10 times.

Bob: [00:40:02] That’s that’s a good deal. That’s a, that’s a fair, that’s fair pay. If you could make one thing free for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Michelle: [00:40:11] Books, free books for everyone.

Bob: [00:40:16] That would be awesome. That would be awesome. So we’re at our M and M moment, our sweet spot, our money and motivation. Could you give the listeners a practical financial tip or a piece of wealth wisdom that you’ve, that has worked for you?

Michelle: [00:40:28] It’s actually what my mother used to say when I was growing up, which is, “it’s what’s inside that counts.”

It’s what’s inside that counts and she meant it in a different context of don’t judge, a book by its cover and what’s inside a person is what really is relevant. And from a money perspective, what’s inside counts. What’s going on inside.

Bob: [00:40:50] Absolutely. Thank you. This has been, Michelle, such an awesome conversation, and you know, one of the things that I want to reaffirm to our listeners out there who are wanting to get their money stories together, get a new script, change their life projectory, find safety.

Well, you talked about safety and I think that this is so important. You can’t always share your dreams and passions and fears with everybody because some people might try to take you out. It might even be a family member. And so it’s so important to look around and find places that feel safe.

That you can get, get support that you can seek refuge and, and, and find those people find those angels. Like, I don’t think it was luck that you had that amazing woman there. I think that was just one of the angels that showed up because you were doing the work. And I think for so many people. Those angels are out there.

If we’re willing to just keep doing the work, people will show up and help us, they will show up. So I just so appreciate your vulnerability because I think we do hold so many secrets. Again, it’s how we took on the story. And we wrote the script, our parents, and yes, I was angry at my parents for many years.

I had a lot of blame. So I’m not saying that that’s not part of the process and I’ve come to realize they were doing the best they could. I believe most parents come into the world with the intention to be the best parent ever, to give the most love and to give the most support. And then life gets messy.

And so, know that your parents did the best thing they could. And, and maybe they’re still doing the best they’re doing, you know, they’re still doing the best they could. And maybe it’s not good enough for you, but that’s like have some compassion and you work on your scripts, let them work on theirs. But really just keep speaking it.

I often felt like everything was life and death as well. And I would just say to people it’s, it’s not. It’s not, it was so hard for me to believe that I literally would tell people, “this will kill me. I will die.” And they’re like, Bob, seriously, so I love that you took the risk and that you did the things that needed to get you where you were going.

Write it down, speak it out. I am a big proponent of both of those, because I believe that they are neurologically connected to our bodies and what we hold emotionally. And so if you want to change things, write it down, speak it out. Yeah. Put it out in the universe and show up even if everybody doesn’t feel like they want to hear you. You are entitled to bring your voice, bring yourself, just as you are.

So I so really appreciated this conversation today. Where can people find you online? And in social media?

Michelle: [00:43:35] The best place to find me is either Instagram or LinkedIn and my website, which is michelleab.com. With two L’s, michelleab.com. Actually there’s something there for your listeners. The success formula guide.

And the reason that I created that is very much like my parents, who I call them high performance teams. Right. They had a successful life and they just were a mess when it came to their money and we don’t always do everything equally. Well, in all these different realms of our lives, we play different roles.

We have different needs depending on, you know, what, what, where we are and who we’re with really. And this guide is, is meant to help people to look back on three or more of their prior successes in any area of their life and really identify. What I call their own unique success formula because every single thing that’s made you successful in another area of life, isn’t transferable skill onto your money, and you can identify that and uplevel your game when it comes to money.

Bob: [00:44:40] Awesome. We will put that up and I encourage everybody listening to go in and download that because like there’s so much information out there. This sounds like an awesome. Piece of success recipe for people that really want to do like have a different life and show up and be the best version of themselves.

So I definitely encourage that and I know you have a book coming out. So you’ll have to let us know when that comes out so we can be happy to push that out and remind people, go check out Michelle’s book. We would love to do that. So folks, if you know someone out there who’s struggling with money, having money issues, having financial shame, let them know about this podcast, let them know about Michelle and let them know that they can have a different outcome..

And I just want to say to our listeners, please, don’t forget to share the love, like, follow and share on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Search for Money You Should Ask, all one word.

Follow this podcast on your favorite podcast player, or visit Spotify and search for Money You Should Ask or click on the link in the description.

If you’re watching this episode on YouTube, don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe. For more tips, tools, or learn how to have a healthy relationship with money. Visit themoneynerve.com. That’s nerve, not nerd. The Money Nerve. Michelle, thank you so much. It has been such a pleasure. I so appreciate what you’re out there doing and bringing to the world.

Michelle: [00:45:56] Thank you. And likewise, you’re, you’re talking about money in a whole new way and I think the conversation… it’s time. We’re ready.

Bob: [00:46:09] Thank you.



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