#2 - Night of No Shame
Transcript from Episode 2 Night of No Shame
Welcome to the I ALSO Want Money podcast, where our mission is to democratize, demystify and demasculinize making money. I'm your host, Nicole Kyle, and I'm here with my co-host, Sophie Holm and ally, Harrison Comfort.
One of the things we learned and observed about ourselves and our friends, is that a big barrier to investing isn't as much the knowledge of how to - certainly that plays a role - it's also our fears, our past associations with money, maybe our past failures or missteps that make us feel like investing, wealth management, saving even, is a step we can't take. In the interests of taking this limiting belief and throwing it out the window, tonight, we're leaning into our shame. We're going to normalize talking about money by running through some of our own money, wealth, mistakes and missteps. There's this thought in therapy that in order to deal or overcome something, you have to name it. And so that's what we're going to try and do today. We have a bottle of wine and we've invited one of our dear friends, Sam, for a very open and cathartic discussion because we believe the first step to getting comfortable with money is talking about those thoughts, feelings, and associations that hold you back. So with that, Sam, thank you so much for joining us today.
Yeah. Thanks for having me.
I want to kick this off with a statement that I've made a lot of mistakes in the past with money. And even if they're not mistakes, there are also places where maybe I didn't do as much as I should have. And I think that feeds this insecurity I have about money and investing. It's almost as if, because I've never started, or because I haven't been building a nest egg for the past four years, I feel like I can't start. It's too late. And quite frankly, it's a little bit of an insecurity for me. Sophie, Sam, when you think about your relationship with money and investing, how would you characterise it?
Facebook status... it's complicated.
I should have started a long time ago. I started when I was 28... 29, oh my god.
And you're 29 now?
Yeah. I started six months ago. I had definitely saved some money. I'd saved my last bonus that I got. I had started realizing that I probably shouldn't be spending as much as I did. And then, I started saving a little bit....Harrison and I started this whole wealth journey and we were in Denmark meeting a very, very senior guy from the finance industry. He's retired and now is kind of a consultant and adviser. And he just looked at me and he said, I think you are probably a unique case. Women don't care about investing and women don't care about money. And I had never had a panic attack before, but I actually had my first panic attack. We walked around Copenhagen... my chest was pounding, I was crying. I was just feeling all of these emotions, and after two hours of that, I was like Harrison, I want to start investing. Right now! We sat down in a cafe. We opened up a Vanguard account. I created my ISA, and that's when I started my journey.
There was this inciting incident.
There was a massive wake up call and just somebody being so in my face about how women don't care about these topics. And it just insulted me so deeply to my core. And I was also a little scared that it was actually true, because I was 29 and I hadn't done any investing...
Yeah, which then I think, maybe prompts, a reflection on, I want to prove this guy wrong.
Then it also promotes this reflection on, if it is even a little bit true, there's factors outside of your control that make it true. Like the messages we are sent in society, the fact that wealth doesn't look like a place for us...
But I don't think I realized that yet.
Yeah, exactly. So, Sam, how would you characterize your relationship with money?
My relationship to money, particularly in my younger days, has been definitely more around treat yourself versus save for yourself, which I am definitely not advocating for. However, I would say I have had quite a lot of fun in my youth. The memories and stuff that has to count for something... but yeah, in terms of like putting away a nest egg, saving up a buffer, that is something that I don't have yet. And with everything that's happening now, you know the potential redundancies and the economy tanking, now is the time where you start to think: oh, shit. Maybe I should have put away some money.
I think the point around wanting to treat ourselves and looking the other way when it comes to savings for a number of years, that really resonates with me. As far as my relationship with money, once I got a job and was kind of totally on my own post college, there was this feeling of, I get so much value out of the things I spend my money on that I don't mind if there's an opportunity cost to saving. And it was definitely the wrong way to think about things. But in some ways, the economics classes I had worked against me because they gave me this new way of thinking about utility. Sometimes I would rationalize purchases like a trip or music festivals, that I'm getting so much utility out of this, who cares if I'm spending money on these tickets and not putting into a pension? That's how I would rationalize it. So that resonates with me. The other thing I'd say about my relationship with money is money just gives me a lot of anxiety. It always has. It was the cause and root of a lot of anxiety in my family growing up. It was a real anxiety for me in college. And even when now it's my own money and I have more of my own money, it's still anxiety provoking. And I honestly think because there's such a strong tie between anxiety and money for me, that's been a real reason why I haven't dived in and started investing, thinking about being more strategic with my spending, with my saving, with my pension, and what have you.
But you have started a little bit, right, Nicole?
Yeah. Now I've started. Well, it's a whole long story, but I'm a risk averse person because of the anxiety about not having money. I'd rather have it and not have it grow than risk losing it. When I got my first job out of college, yeah, I enrolled into the [pension scheme], but it was at the minimum contribution amount, and it was basically just sitting in a money market fund, which basically means it's just cash. And then with the confidence I've built now, after working on this project, and talking to more women and men about the markets and the options - I'm taking steps - and I find that like the first step is the hardest. With each step, the anxiety becomes a little bit less. Of course, we also have to acknowledge while I'm not speaking from a position of great wealth, I am speaking from a position of I have a salary, a reliable income, and all that. For those who don't have that, it is obviously much harder. Sam just thinking about your relationship with money, and I love how you described it as love, hate. We love to spend it, we love to have it. We hate when we don't have it, and we hate when we have to put it away. How, if at all, has that contributed to any insecurities you have about money or insecurities around investing.
Yeah, to be honest, I actually think it stems from like a younger age. I was a bit of a spoiled brat when I was younger, up until the point that I wasn't. And then it was almost kind of like right, you're 21, 22, whatever age it was, you're an adult now go pay for your own stuff. And I was just kind of like, what? But how? I'm not one of those people that would say, right. I have a budget for the month and if I'm kind of out off budget, I do still have money left. And if someone says, would you want to go for dinner? Do you wanna go out, go to the theater, go see this band? I don't really have a family, I don't really have obligations, I don't really have a mortgage to pay yet. So you know what? Screw, I'm just gonna do it. But now, I have been a little bit more strict with myself, and I have one of those help-to-buy ISAs, which is actually really good, because as soon as you put the money in, you physically can't get the money back. It's a huge long process. I have that. I've paid down a lot of debt over the last couple of years and stuff to get a bit better, but it all kind of stems back to I don't really have many obligations right now. I'm just going to treat myself, and it is really difficult to change that main set. And then coupled with the fact that you were just never really taught growing up, not that it's an excuse, but it's never really been ingrained from an early age. Save, get a house, blah blah. Yeah, I think that's kind of all amalgamated into the spectacular mess that I am today with money.
So I would do the same, right? I would put money aside and pretend I was going to save it. And at the end of month, when I was running low and I wanted to do things, I would just move it back because, unfortunately, because it was a savings account, you could move money back and forth so easily. So I would move the money back and be like, oh, it went there in the first place.
Yeah. And we're not taught personal finance in the U S. in high school, or in Denmark.
But it's a balance. I mean, Sam, I'm sure you know you would say that, too. You still want to have some fun.
Oh, yeah. Completely. I think this is probably the wrong posture to take, but I am very much of the fact that, why would you just save all your money and be miserable every day, counting every single penny and depriving yourself of any type of joy? Just so you can say you have money at the end of the day. If you were to get run over by a bus tomorrow, you can't take money with you. So I think there is definitely a balance to be had. I do recognize that is the wrong posture to take, but I do still think there should be a balance. You shouldn't be worrying your whole life.
I don't think it's wrong.
Well, it's fun. It's not great.
It's wrong when you're maxing out credit cards or taking up Klarna, which I've never actually used before.
Can we talk about credit cards and Klarna real quick?
I don't even know what Klarna is. I don't know if that's a symptom of my privilege.
Let's enlighten you. I'm going to let Sam enlighten you a minute about Klarna. We'll talk about debt in future episodes, but it's such a slippery slope. When I graduated from college, that was basically it. I didn't have much parental support coming out of that. I had a job lined up ahead, I had my signing bonus, whatever meager savings from undergrad. I was looking at a lot of student loan debt, and I was looking at a big move from my parents' to D. C. And that move had to be funded. My bank at the time approached me with this no interest credit card for the first year. And I said, sure. And, you think you're gonna be responsible. And, it's not as if I'm in too crazy amounts of credit card debt now, but I still have credit card debt because of that credit card. And couple that with student loans... My point is, it seems like there's so many engines that are readily available to put you in a debt position, and very few engines that are readily available to put you in a wealth position.
It's how the finance system makes money.
Yeah, exactly. It just feels like the cards are stacked against you if you're not enlightened to some of these things. But, Sam, I'm not sure if you have any perspectives on credit cards or Klarna?
Why yes, Nicole. I do.
I'm not sure, even though we've talked about it over wine a million times.
I remember my first credit card, I think I was in the first year of uni. I don't know what it was like in the U. S., but in the UK, particularly in Scotland, you don't actually pay for your first four years of uni. You get that free from the government, which is great. So in my very first year of uni, I wasn't paying to attend school, and then you get all this money sort of chucked at you. You don't have to worry about paying for your room, or your food and stuff like that because that's all taken care off, and then they chuck money at you which goes into your student debt pot. I remember being at the bank, depositing a check or something and the girl said, oh, you know, you qualify for our student credit card. At that point, I said I don't think I could be trusted with a credit card. I remember she said, Yeah, we'll put the credit limit really low. It was only £500, it would be really good to build your credit. And I said okay, great. To my credit, for the first six months, anytime I used the credit card, I would pay off straight away because I was really scared about racking up debt. I remember really clearly one time at uni, my ghds broke. And this is gonna make me sound like I'm really ridiculous, but true.
Ghds for the non-indoctrinated?
Oh, sorry. Ghd straighteners. Hair straighteners, they broke. But yeah, my straighteners broke and I said, oh crap, I need straighteners. So I said, you know, what? I don't really have the money to pay it back, so I'm just going to use my credit card. Then, when the bill came and end of the month, I noticed that you could pay a minimum payment rather than pay the full thing, and that was life changing for me. And ever since then, I really got used to buying whatever and not paying it all back, all at once. It got to ridiculous levels. That 500 pound limit, after a few years, they've given me a 10 grand limit on a credit card. For a very young person, this was just insane. I racked up quite a lot of debt when I was younger. I've basically paid it off. Now, I'd say I have a normal amount of debt - a credit card that I pay each month. But it's not anything that would be like, oh, God, kill me now. I think it's a really, really slippery slope. If I could go back to that moment, and say pay off your credit card every month. And if someone really stressed to you the importance of doing that, I don't think I would have ended where I was. But you know, life takes over and you can't go back and change it. But yeah, that's my experience with credit cards.
In college, I racked up my credit card every month. I maxed it. What's your biggest horror story, Sam?
I'd say one of the biggest mistakes, or horror stories, that I made actually stems from someone giving really good advice. So when I was a uni, I was studying law and part of the law society, not requirements. But you were kind of forced to go to all these extracurriculars and listen to the lawyers talk about how they interacted with clients and the advice that they give. I was at a financial services event one night. I remember really clearly the guy speaking, saying, you know, there's a 0% interest rate for credit cards. So if you have debt, my advice is move over onto 0% interest credit rate, and then, you're not paying back anything more than you have to, and it makes more manageable, and all that fun stuff that comes with it. I remember being like, oh yeah, I have my student credit card I am paying interest on now. I'm gonna go back and do that, and I did, which was all fine to begin with. But they off course give you a higher limit, and then I would spend that limit. So for one point in my life, it was literally ping pongs of interest rate cards to new interest rate cards to new interest rate cards. And that's how we ended up with, literally a credit card that had an eight or nine thousand pound limit on it. Thankfully, I didn't spend all the way up to the max of that. But I could and it was just ludicrous seeing the deals that people fling at you. Once you're in the cycle of bad money management, and the banks are making money off of you, they fling more deals at you. And then when you try to cancel your credit cards - I don't know about your experiences with this - but Barclays, if anyone banks with them, I tried to cancel a credit card with them and they passed me on to this other team. And they're like, Oh, you've been with us for so many years, what would it take for you to stay? And I said, nothing. I just wanna cancel my credit card, please. And they said well, we could give you two years interest free and double your credit limit. Would that work? I remember saying, yeah, that would work, thank you. It took quite a few years of just being a financial mess for someone to be like, you need to get your shit together, and then I did.
I feel very similarly to you, Sam. I'll look into my friend network, which is, both guys and gals, obviously. And some of my friends, they've been able to make money through investing. They have significant emergency funds. And sometimes I feel like, what do they know that I don't? What am I lacking? Is there anything specific that Sophie or Sam, you guys feel that everyone knows, but I don't?
No. I felt the same way, but I think one of the key things I've learned from Harrison is not picking stocks, specifically, because that's such a gamble, but picking some funds or some ETFs that historically have proved good returns, or steady returns, over the years. Even in the financial crisis in 2008, or the crisis now. Leaving that money for 10 years in that fund... it's going to go up again, if you believe in capitalism. And if you believe in some of the world's largest companies like Microsoft and Amazon and the rest, they aren't just going to disappear from one day to the other. So I think one of the biggest things I've learned that I didn't know before, but it's not rocket science, it's just what are some of the good funds? What are some of the good ETFs that you should be putting your money in that are fairly low risk from a long term horizon perspective, and maybe a little bit more risky from a short term horizon perspective.
I agree with you. I think it makes you realize that our generation, we came of age in 2008. We were just on the cusp of adulthood in the financial crisis, and that's when, some of the world's biggest companies did go under. So I do wonder if, as irrational as it is, our fear rooted in that experience is translating into our investor profiles.
It is interesting, right? Sam, It sounds like you're very aware of your financial position right now. You're in savings mode, you have low risk tolerance, and I think even a win coming out of this conversation with just being open to some of these other options. Sam, as part of this podcast, we try to encourage our listeners to ask for more and really internalize this idea that there's more to get out of life from a financial position, then maybe you're getting today. We ask all of our guests to come up with a hashtag I also statement to communicate to our listeners. Thinking about your relationship with money, relationship with investing in the past and moving forward, is there an I also statement you're trying to embrace?
I also love treating myself, but from a bargain mindset. Don't splurge big, love a bargain, still treat yourself, but definitely keep saving for that house.
Just a quick story for anyone listening to this podcast, Sam and I are friends, but we met at work and we sit next to each other. At work, Sam is known as the woman with all the packages.
So much so, that our facilities team, they lock everyone out of the mail room. So to get a package, you can't scan your badge and go in. You have to go and get them from a facilities person. Except for Sam. Sam has been given a badge that allows her to swipe into the mail room because she orders so much stuff online. Sorry, Sam. I just think that's a perfect example of who you are.
Yeah, you know, what can I do? I just love a bargain.
Thank you for listening. If you like what you're hearing, join us in the #IALSO movement. This means, take to your social platforms and post a #IALSO statement. Follow us on Instagram at IALSO podcast. And, of course, subscribe. This podcast is produced by Harrison Comfort, and the theme tune is by Malin Linnea.