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#1 - Talk Isn’t Cheap with Dr. Jamie Traeger-Muney

Transcript from Interview #1 - Talk Isn't Cheap with Dr. Jamie Traeger-Muney

Nicole:   0:00

So we're here, Guys, We did it. Welcome to episode one !

Nicole:   0:03

Welcome, guys. So exciting. 

Harrison:   0:05

So... do you guys come here a lot?     

Nicole:   0:00

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. 

Nicole:   0:35

Dr. Jamie, I think, is so unique in that she's one of the very, very few people talking about wealth and psychology and how those two things are related. She actually works exclusively with inheritors, women and couples. She's the founder of the Wealth Legacy group. What Dr Jamie specializes in is the psychology behind money, our relationship with money, our relationship with investing, and with wealth. And I think for me it's really hard to talk about money. And not starting that conversation means we never start our wealth journey. Welcome, Dr Jamie Traeger-Money. Thanks for being here.

Dr. Jamie Traeger-Muney:   1:11

You're welcome. I love that you've now made my name into money. It's actually Muney. People have a lot of trouble with it, but it's fine. I think it's very... it should be money, right?

Sophie:   1:22

It's very fitting !

Nicole:   1:24

For purposes our podcast, exactly.

Harrison:   0:00

Freudian Slip. 

Dr. Jamie Traeger-Muney:   1:32

I may have to change it... Dr. Jamie Money!

Nicole:   1:36

Well, Jamie, we're so excited to have you on the podcast today because I know that you're going to help us unpack a lot of the shame and psychological barriers that exist around even to starting the conversation around money. It's really fascinating, because something we've observed in planning and preparing for this podcast is that women in particular feel very vulnerable when it comes to money. Yet we aren't talking about it with our girlfriends and in our female friendships. And I guess, from a psychologist perspective, Jamie, why aren't we opening up more about money when we open up to our friends about so many other things?

Dr. Jamie Traeger-Muney:   2:19

Well, I love it. You guys are hitting on questions right on the nose, Nicole. I think shame is such an important part of that. I think that money is the last taboo that we don't talk about. Whenever you don't talk about things, there's shame related to it. Because everybody has this sense of we don't exactly know why it's taboo, but there's that sense of, oh, I'm getting to a sticky subject. I don't know how to do it and then everybody just keeps perpetuating that taboo of not talking about it. So, you know, when women started talking about sex when people started talking about sex, it was uncomfortable and vulnerable, and to a certain extent it is, but we have much more fluidity with it now because we practice and because those boundaries have come down. And I think it's just a process of saying we don't have to feel ashamed about talking about money. We don't have to be experts. I say to my clients all the time, if your parents speak French, but they never spoke French to you, and you never had the opportunity to practice speaking French and make mistakes with French, you don't magically know how to speak French. You're not born with that knowledge. It's a learned process, financial literacy, and we don't get it. We don't get it in schools, and we don't get it in our ability to talk and find out from one another. It's one of the reasons I'm so glad that you guys are doing this podcast.

Nicole:   3:57

I really like your point there around just needing to practice. Having the conversation. Practice makes perfect as they say, is what we're both kind of saying. Women, in particular, are socialized to be quiet about a lot of things, but certainly to be quiet about money. And we've come so far in so many other realms, right? You think about the cliche of the sex and the city-esque brunches where you are sitting around the table talking to your friends about sex and relationships. In the same way, let's just start talking about money a bit more and that practice is really going to help break down that barrier. Jamie, in your experience, who are good confidants to talk to about money?

Dr. Jamie Traeger-Muney:   4:35

Well, again, I think you hit it on the nose, Nicole. It's those friends that you feel like you can go to and be vulnerable and that you don't have to show off how smart you are, or you can be silly. And I think this is the opportunity to start to minimize the shame, because sometimes inadvertently, we shame each other. You know,  I shared with Sophie and Harrison before, a story that I think is relevant now, that I got a PhD in clinical psychology. So I was in school a lot longer than some of my friends. And I asked my best girlfriend once, who went right into a marketing career, and I knew [she] was at one of the top firms, and had been there for several years. I said to her, what what do you make a year? And I could have asked her anything about sex, and that would have been okay. And she was taken aback. She couldn't believe that I'd ask that, and I immediately felt very vulnerable and felt that I had been inappropriate. So I love what you said about practicing, and I think there's certain ways we can start to introduce the conversation, teach each other, and to say something about, money is a taboo only because we don't talk about it openly, and we don't have to do that amongst ourselves. Would you be willing? Would you be open to having some of these conversations? I know I certainly don't have all the answers, but I really respect your opinion. And that's why I'm bringing this conversation. I think those are really nice opening ways to start to have these conversations amongst trusted friends.

Sophie:   6:19

Yeah, I think what you said there around asking for permission or approval to talk about these things can really help create that safe place, that safe space that we're talking about now. Not everybody is going to be comfortable, right? Talking about this. So should we respect that some people don't want to be part of the conversation?

Dr. Jamie Traeger-Muney:   6:40

Absolutely. I think that's really important that the way that we don't shame people in the way that we get around vulnerability is to name that it might be there and to give people the option. You know, you wouldn't force that conversation on everybody about sex, nor would it be appropriate. I think, sort of introducing already that this isn't something that we normally talk about, would you be willing to? Is a good way to start to give permission while acknowledging that this isn't an area that most people in general, particularly women, talk about with one another.

Sophie:   7:20

We've been talking a lot about what it means to be economic agents here and related to that, are there any kind of patterns or behaviors that we can adopt to become more savvy as economic agents and really adopt this agency mindset?

Dr. Jamie Traeger-Muney:   7:41

The idea of the word agency is an ability to do something. So really taking on our own personal agency doesn't mean that we already have to a priori know all the answers. That's where I think people get into trouble. They think, well, I'm gonna seem foolish if I ask questions. I do a lot of advising to financial advisors, and so often, when they're talking to a couple, the woman in the room sits there quietly. And the most of the discussion is between the adviser and the male partner. And I think it's because women are afraid to ask silly questions. So you know, as advisers are as friends, we can say there's no silly questions here. The agency is to say let's have the conversations. Let's tear down the walls of this being taboo, so we can all learn together. And why should I have to recreate the wheel of my own financial success? We talk to people about how to have business success all the time. And what are you doing in your business? And how are you cutting costs? So why not about building a nest egg or building savings.

Harrison:   9:02

Do you feel like men are more comfortable pretending like they understand some of these complicated financial concepts?

Nicole:   9:11

Yes, I do think that, Harrison. No, seriously, Jamie, what do you think?

Dr. Jamie Traeger-Muney:   9:15

Yes, I think there's a lot of faking going on, and it doesn't benefit any of us to try to fake to look good.  And again, it's so funny because I don't know how many financials advisers I've worked with, and they said, I'm pretty sure my client, you could see it in their eyes when they start to get lost, but when you ask them if they have any questions, especially men, you know, both are like no, no, no. So sometimes I say they don't even ask the question. If you can see they're getting lost, start to explain it in more simple terms. Just take it as a given that you need to break it down.

Nicole Traeger-Muney:   9:54

So, Jamie, what have you observed, maybe with respect to your uber wealthy clients, or certainly clients of higher socio economic status? Do they experience the same vulnerabilities and insecurities around money, in some ways?

Dr. Jamie Traeger-Muney:   10:10

Oh, absolutely. One of things I always say is that wealth is kind of like wax on wood. Whatever beautiful grain there is in the wood, it just amplifies that. But also whatever knots are there, it amplifies that as well. So I think the shame could be off the charts. Because, first of all, they're hiding a lot from their friends because it's uncomfortable to deal with people's envy and jealousy and then on top of it, even whether you've inherited it or made it yourself, just because you've made the money, there are two different skill sets: making money and managing money. So, just because you've done well, making your own money doesn't mean that you know how to be a savvy investor -  that's a different skill set too. So I think all of the feelings that millennials in general are feeling just get amplified when you're talking about larger amounts of wealth and there's a lot of guilt about having more than others. And what I say is there's unique challenges that come with whatever level of wealth that you have.

Nicole:   11:29

Yeah, I really like how you broke it out into two skill sets. There is the managing of money, and then there's the making of money. I think it's a really important reminder that just because maybe some some of us who are early in our wealth journeys don't have a lot of money today. If we manage it well, it doesn't mean we're not good at managing it, right? Just because we don't have a lot of money doesn't mean we're not doing good things with the money we do have. And it's really important to remind ourselves of that.

Dr. Jamie Traeger-Muney:   11:57

And that's a skill set you want to build. Absolutely. If the goal, just like you want to be moving up in your profession and gaining skills, you want to be gaining knowledge of how to manage, save and grow your wealth at whatever level.

Sophie:   12:17

As a clinical psychologist, can you help us understand what happens when we start feeling that shame as it relates to money and money conversations? And what are some ways in which we can recognize that when it starts approaching, and how can we tackle it?

Dr. Jamie Traeger-Muney:   12:35

First of all, the first step is to develop as much as we can, the ability to notice when we moved into shame. So what happens on a neuropsychological level is that our amygdala gets triggered, and that's the part of the brain that controls our fight, flight or freeze response. So whenever you start to feel your heart racing like you want to run away, or you want to get into a fight, or you just feel like the deer in the headlights. The more you can recognise when that happens, the more that you're able to recognize when that starts, the more you're able to do some really easy things to get yourself grounded. And the easiest thing to do when you recognize that you're in some sort of fight, flight or freeze reaction, is just just feel your feet on the ground. If you're sitting feel the back of your legs in your chair, your butt in the chair, your back in the chair and start to take a couple deep breaths. And then you can say, OK, what's the best question right now that I can ask to help me to get more information? That's a great way to shift your mindset.

Nicole:   14:00

It's really good advice, Jamie, and it starts to help me think about the psychology of what's running through my brain, at least, when I'm thinking about money and wealth decisions. It actually makes me think of this, this idea of you know, where I stopped identifying the desire for money as normal and actually where I start to think about it as greed because we're socialized at a really young age to reject greed. To not want more, to not ask for more. And I think it's really easy for us to conflate this idea of greed with the simple idea of just wanting more money. So what's your perspective on this limiting belief that wanting more money means you're greedy and it says something negative about you?

Dr. Jamie Traeger-Muney:   14:48

I would say, first, how do you define greed? There are ways you could define greed that I would say absolutely, that should not be our goal. When I work with clients, because I like to come from a positive place, as opposed to any of those words that are triggering? So I always work with my clients about: what is the life that you want to lead? I know that we talked before about having a fuck you number of when you could stop working, And I was sitting with that and thinking about it; I wouldn't even recommend having a fucking number, because I think there's so much we gain from work. There's so much we gain from feeling like we're meaningfully contributing to life. So what I would say to someone at any place in their journey is: what is the life that you want to lead, both from a work perspective and a leisure, and then think about what that kind of life would cost you, and then think about how can I do with my life so that I can afford to do the things that I want to do.

Sophie:   15:55

And, yeah, I agree with you. I don't think it's about not having a job. I think you're right about that. There's a lot of purpose that we gain from having a job. For me, though, asking, what's your fuck you number... it's about breaking the ice. It's a way for me to open up for that conversation that otherwise I wouldn't know how to approach.

Dr. Jamie Traeger-Muney:   16:19

I totally agree, and I think that's great. And just realize that your number today if it starts a conversation is great. But as you have a different kind of life, that number will shift. It's a great tool to break the ice, and I'm a huge proponent of whatever fun ways you can have those conversations, but that number won't be static for most people.

Sophie:   16:46

You know, What I've really taken from this interview is just how important conversation really is to getting started on your wealth journey. I recently heard a quote, which is, wealth is a function of friendship, and I don't think I properly understood just how meaningful and impactful that statement is before this conversation today.

Dr. Jamie Traeger-Muney:   17:10

Yeah, I love that.

Nicole:   17:12

Jamie. If there's one big thing I'm taking away from this conversation, it's that planning and going after the money you need in order to build the life you want, it's not the same as greed. That's a big takeaway for me.

Sophie:   17:28

One thing that we really try to internalize and embrace is this I also - I also can have, also will, etcetera. So if you had to give an I also statement to the audience, what would it be? 

Dr. Jamie Traeger-Muney:   17:50

I would say, hashtag, I also talk about money with my friends or hashtag, I also ask questions, and I'm also learning.

Sophie:   18:02

We all need to have more conversation. We all need to ask more questions, that's great. Part of it is getting uncomfortable to get comfortable, right? Like I think that's a big message of what we're talking about here today, that uncomfortable space we have to go through.

Dr. Jamie Traeger-Muney:   18:23

Allow yourself to be vulnerable and to laugh at it like yeah, of course, we don't know these things, we've never had to. We're gonna be awkward with these things, we've never had these conversations, and just laugh at yourself and make it fun, because then you'll want to have more of those conversations.

Nicole:   18:41

Yeah, it's exactly right. That's fantastic, Jaime. Thank you so much for your time today. We really appreciate your willingness to talk to us. I know we both have a lot of takeaways, and I'm certainly leaving this conversation feeling ready to start talking about money and wealth with my girlfriends and with my networks. Thanks, Jamie.

Dr. Jamie Traeger-Muney:   19:00

My pleasure. This was a lot of fun. And, you know, I'm happy to support you guys in the future because I think these conversations need to be had more frequently, So there's a lot of fun.

Nicole:   19:10

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.

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