Money Scripts for Private Practice with Kelley Stevens

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Money Scripts for Private Practice with Kelley Stevens

Episode Cover for Money Scripts for Private Practice with Kelley Stevens

“One mistake I see people make is let’s say they have some sort of policy around raising their fee… kind of like you said, we’ll have these stories in our head, and then they’ll push it off and push it off and push it off, instead of making it a regular part of the emotional health of their practice, and then they are in a position where four or five years down the road, they need to make a big jump.”

~Kelley Stevens

Meet Kelley Stevens

Kelley Stevens, LMFT is a private practice business consultant for therapists. Kelley teaches online courses for therapists looking to build successful and sustainable private practices. 

In This Episode…

Are you looking for ways to talk with your clients about money and fees? Are you unsure about what to do when it comes to sliding scales and reduced rates? Do you need ideas about how to discuss fee increases with clients? Kelley specializes in helping therapists know how to navigate these challenging aspects of running a practice. 

Do not miss this packed episode full of great ideas about specific things to say and do to address these tricky situations and more. Linzy and Kelley really dig into all of the ways that fees and raising rates can impact your therapy practice. 

Want to Connect with Kelley Stevens?

Kelley’s new scripts book for private practice owners is out now! It is all about how to have the nitty gritty conversations that are often part of having a private practice. Find the book and so much more on Kelley’s website: www.theprivatepracticepro.com/scripts

Connect with Kelley on Instagram @theprivatepracticepro 

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Do you find yourself avoiding your private practice finances? Do you have no idea where to even begin?

Well I’ve got something for you. I’m hosting a FREE live 4-day Money Momentum Challenge from Tuesday June 14 to Friday June 17, 2022!

During our four days together, you’ll get my support and guidance to step out of avoidance, take real action, and create ease and flow around your private practice finances, so you don’t need to avoid them!

Plus, you’ll get a clear roadmap to understand exactly what you need to do, to take care of your private practice finances.

It only takes 10 minutes a day.

I can’t wait to see you inside! Sign up for the FREE Money Momentum Challenge here: http://join.moneymomentumchallenge.com/

Episode Transcript

Kelley [00:00:02] One mistake I see people make is, let’s say they have some sort of policy around grazing their fee, kind of like you said, we have these stories in our head and then they’ll push it off and push it off and push it off instead of making it a regular part of the emotional health of their practice. And then, they’re in a position where four or five years down the road, they need to make a big jump. 

Linzy [00:00:28] Welcome to the Money Skills For Therapists podcast, where we answer this question, How can therapists and health practitioners go from money, shame and confusion to feeling calm and confident about their finances and get money really working for them in both their private practice and their lives? I’m your host Linzy Bonham, therapist turned money coach and creator of the course Money Skills For Therapists. Hello and welcome back to the podcast. So today’s guest on the podcast is Kelley Stevens. Kelley is a private practice business consultant for therapists. She first came across our radar on Instagram, where we started seeing and liking her content. And as I chat with her about, at the beginning of our conversation, it kinda seemed like she came out of nowhere. She has now 20,000 followers on Instagram. She’s obviously saying things that are resonating with lots of folks, lots of energy and conversation in her corner of Instagram and we’ll get the links at the end if you want to jump into her world. But we met up recently and got talking and she’s doing very cool things and we decided to do this podcast together, which turned out to be a great conversation. We really got into the issue of what to say. It could be so easy in private practice to trip over our words when we’re trying to have conversations about money. And we dug into some of those hard conversations, and Kelley gave her standard script, kind of what she tends to say. And we compared notes, to what I would say or what I have said in the past, and it ended up being a really interesting conversation. Not just the points that we agreed on, on ways to address things with our clients, but also we had a lot of different ways of doing things, which turned into quite a rich conversation and thinking about how who we serve, you know, the structure of our client or client population, actually means that we do have to do things differently in business as well. And that needs to be a factor that we think about when we’re rolling out fee increases or policies, changes in our policies. Who you work with really does make a difference. Here’s my conversation with Kelley Stevens. All right, Kelley, welcome to the podcast. 

Kelley [00:02:47] Thank you. I’m so excited to be here. 

Linzy [00:02:50] I’m excited to have you. So, Kelley, you came across my radar on Instagram, where you kind of like came out of nowhere. I remember when we chatted a few weeks ago, I was like, I basically asked you like, where did you come from? Like, who have you worked with? And you kind of like –

Kelley [00:03:07] Came out of nowhere.

Linzy [00:03:09] Came out of nowhere. That’s not inaccurate, right? So you’ve built this big following on Instagram, helping folks with practice building. 

Kelley [00:03:15] Yeah. 

Linzy [00:03:16] And I was wondering with that, like, what are the things you notice people are like the most responsive to? Like, what do they want the most help with? 

Kelley [00:03:23] Yeah, it’s interesting. You know, it’s so funny when I first started – and I think this is so true of any type of following online, you kind of start out with this vision of what you think people will want. And then all of a sudden it evolves as you – ideally as you’re listening to people who follow you. And so what I kind of thought people would want, would be a lot of tips on how to build a private practice, which is what I started out posting. And I do still post that, but what I find, just like blows it out of the water, is scripts. People want to know like, what to say when a certain situation happens in the therapy room. And then specifically, I tend to talk more about business development and practice development. So I get a ton of questions just about, kind of the nitty gritty things to say when a client’s late or when there’s a confidentiality issue or when there’s a fee issue. And so people often will respond to like exact scripts that they can take and kind of make their own. So I would say that would be my number one thing. 

Linzy [00:04:26] Right, people want to know what to say. Like, we don’t know what to say, I guess is the problem. 

Kelley [00:04:30] Yeah. I mean, I was this way. So this is a tangent, but I, I follow a ton of mommy accounts, you know, and toddler – and the ones that say, okay, say this or do this with your toddler, I’m saving this. 

Linzy [00:04:44] That’s true. 

Kelley [00:04:44] Like I didn’t even know what to say. You know like, learning how to word things in a certain way is trickier than we think sometimes, you know. 

Linzy [00:04:52] I think especially in a situation where there’s kind of like a lot at stake, right. Or, you know, that you have power, which I think, you know, there’s a parallel there, right, between being a therapist and being a parent. It’s like you are in this position of power in the relationship. It’s not like an equal footing. And they need you and they need something from you. And I think – I wonder if that’s part of what contributes to us wanting to make sure we say the right thing or not really knowing what to say because we’re so mindful of the impact of what we say. 

Kelley [00:05:15] Oh, 100%. I mean, I think that’s so true. And the parallels are spot on. Like I love following Dr. Becky on Good Inside, she does a parenting podcast and she will often say, I want you to be a sturdy leader for your kids. You know, and I think that that’s such a great way of putting it. It’s like, we learned to be gentle and to be kind, but we also have to be sturdy in our own boundaries. And I think that that totally applies to the therapy room. And I think about that when it comes especially to, what to say around scripts related to finance and to boundaries, that we have to be kind of sturdy in our boundaries, while still being kind. And learning how to word those things, is not always how we would word things clinically, you know, like we can be super, super empathetic and we might not be quite as boundaried in a clinical setting. But then it comes to our fee and we have to all of a sudden have a different way of saying something, while still being a therapist and it’s challenging. 

Linzy [00:06:11] Yeah, I imagine it, you know, kind of like switching hats. Like you have to switch hats when you move into these business conversations because they’re no longer, you know, simply therapeutic conversations. Now you’re talking about your relationship and the container in which you’re doing the work. Right? And that requires you to have other things on the radar, besides just like your client feeling, like, comfortable or supported in that moment. 

Kelley [00:06:32] Totally. 

Linzy [00:06:33] So let’s jump into money scripts. 

Kelley [00:06:35] Yeah. 

Linzy [00:06:36] I’m sure folks listening already have, you know, situations in their own mind of like, oh, it’s always so hard to deal with this or to say this. And so, let’s start with what do you see as like some of the money scripts that folks tend to need the most? 

Kelley [00:06:49] I would say, okay, so this one’s always a tricky one, which is why I love following your content because I think you break things down in such a simple way. I feel like that’s what I always get from everything that I hear from you, because I think we all have our own stuff around money. 

Linzy [00:07:05] Oh yes. 

Kelley [00:07:05] So much of our own shit comes into it. 

Linzy [00:07:07] Oh, for sure. 

Kelley [00:07:07] And so first of all, I just want to like name that, that that’s a huge part of this. And so obviously the ones that come up I think of are like, raising your fee is the one I get asked the most. But I think what I like to remind people is that raising your fee isn’t the first conversation you should probably be having about money, but it’s the one that I think a lot of times is kind of the red flag that people say like, Oh, I haven’t done some of that, but we’re already talking about money. 

Linzy [00:07:36] Hmm. Yeah. 

Kelley [00:07:37] That’s the question I get asked the most. 

Linzy [00:07:39] Yeah, that makes sense. So it’s like, if you have not practiced having conversations with money about your client when they started working with you, or maybe even in a therapeutic relationship. If money is something you never touch, suddenly you have to have this conversation with them that you almost like have no footing together in this topic. 

Kelley [00:07:55] Exactly. As opposed to, like, laying the groundwork before. I mean, I think that the best place to start is just like, in your paperwork and in your initial phone call. Which is – I never get those questions on Instagram, but they’re definitely the most important place to start. 

Linzy [00:08:09] Right. Yes. Yes. Because that’s the foundation that you lay before it becomes a problem. Right. Like, I think that probably like, we notice the pain point, how painful it is to raise fees because we’re like, oh, god, now I have to do it. And now we’ve never talked about this. But it’s like, what I’m hearing is you can actually set yourself up to kind of mitigate this long before you ever raise your feet with a client. 

Kelley [00:08:30] Definitely. So I guess we just talk about that. 

Linzy [00:08:33] Yeah. 

Kelley [00:08:33] I usually tell people – and I’m interested to know what you think about this. So the question I get asked a lot is, should you put your fee on your web page? And I am a big believer in, yes. There are – there’s kind of another camp for no. But I don’t know, what do you think? 

Linzy [00:08:49] I think I’m a yes. I have certainly been a no before. I think I evolved into a yes. And I think the reason I probably wasn’t a no before, would have been probably out of my own fear of like scaring people off. Right. Like, I could see the argument for like, you want to have people talk to you and get a feel for you and understand kind of like what is on offer before you tell them how much it costs. I think that would probably be the argument for the other side, is that kind of it? 

Kelley [00:09:13] Yeah, I think, you know, obviously a big caveat is if you take insurance or not. 

Linzy [00:09:17] Right. 

Kelley [00:09:17] So obviously, if you take insurance, you want to list what you’re in-network for. But if you’re in kind of the cash pay, private pay world. Yeah, I think that that’s people’s main fear is if I put it out there, am I going to automatically turn people off, that might of actually been able to afford my fee but didn’t feel like they got that warm welcome or something. But usually what I say to people in kind of the private pay – and I tend to specialize in working with therapists who have cash based practices, you know, certainly clients who don’t, but the majority of mine do. So what I usually would tell people is, number one, like therapy is typically pretty ongoing. Whether you’re running short term or long term therapy, they’re going to have multiple expenses. And so we do want clients to be able to afford our services comfortably. You know, we don’t necessarily want clients that are mortgaging their house in order to go to therapy. So those are the types of clients that we’d like to help find options for therapy that work for their life. Because if therapy becomes such a financial burden, that it’s actually causing stress, then it’s doing the opposite of what we want therapy to do. So that would be my first thing. My second thing is like, as your practice grows, if you don’t have your fee on your website, then that first initial phone call becomes about trying to figure out if the client can afford you or not. A lot of times, clients don’t even look at what your fee is anyways, so you have to have that initial phone call conversation. But I find that it makes it easier if people are like, You know what, I have to use my insurance no matter what. Well, then it’s good that you listed on your fee that you don’t take it. 

Linzy [00:10:53] Yeah, right. 

Kelley [00:10:55] I find for me, when I’ve been afraid to put it on my website, it comes more from a scarcity place of like, there’s not going to be enough clients that can afford me or I have to convince them that they can afford me or something like that. 

Linzy [00:11:06] Yeah, that makes sense to me. And I think that, I’m thinking about the context around the fee. Like I think if you have a website where you have really put yourself across clearly and you’re not just like using jargon that they can’t understand, which I think is always our temptation when we’re kind of feeling insecure, is like drop a bunch of educated words. But when you are actually authentic on your website and people are getting a feel for you on your website, that really is you. Then, that also be part of the context where they see the fee and they’re like, okay, the fee is like maybe higher than I would have thought, but I can afford it and this is my person. 

Kelley [00:11:37] Oh, totally. 100%. 

Linzy [00:11:39] I think that absolutely is possible, just from your website. 

Kelley [00:11:41] Yeah. Oh, I think it’s 100% possible. And I think sometimes therapists will ask me, like on other types of offers they have, you know, on courses and things. They’re maybe not putting their fee out there. But I would argue that therapy in that it’s a 1 to 1 therapy, is different than like an online course where you might not pitch it right away or a book or, you know, other things where you kind of build some momentum behind it because, because therapy is ongoing and because of the health care nature of it, versus just like a course or other services where you might not necessarily say your fee right away, where you might warm people up first. But because it’s health care – and obviously, look, we have no surprises. You know, we have a lot of other things happening to kind of create more transparency in health care. We can probably go on a whole tangent about that. But I am a, put it on your website type of person and then I’m also obviously a put it in your paperwork, really clearly line it out. And that relates to the raising your fee, where I usually suggest to people that they put their fee raise policy into their paper. 

Linzy [00:12:42] And tell me about that. Like what would be an example of a policy that someone might put right in their paperwork that the client signs when they start working together? 

Kelley [00:12:49] So I usually suggest to people that they raise their fee once per year and that they really think in their own kind of financial planning for 3 to 5 years of what that fee raise is going to look like, that ideally there – obviously there’s inflation right now, in the US with a lot of inflation happening. So I usually suggest to people that you put right in your paperwork something that says something along the lines of, “I raise my fee once per year to accommodate for X, Y and Z.” So usually that’s like inflation, increases in my experience, increases in my business cost. You list a few things and then you say that you’ll notice that that phrase happens on X day. Usually I suggest people do it in January, but you can do it at any time. And then saying something along the lines of, “that fee raise is typically x percent or x dollars,” if you know what it is ahead of time, even better. And I tell people, you know, you’re going to see that on your charges starting on January 1st. However, I also will shoot you an email on December 1st, reminding. So it’s all laid out there. It doesn’t mean that the client’s going to read it. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to see it later on. You’re still going to have to have a conversation around it. But at least they know, Oh, this person raises their fee. Just like, I don’t know about you, but my gym does this. 

Linzy [00:14:03] Right. 

Kelley [00:14:04] Where they say, “we raise our fee this time of year,” and I expect it, you know? 

Linzy [00:14:09] Yeah, that’s a really interesting approach. It’s like, it’s definitely different than what I have done personally, and it makes me think about just kind of that difference between kind of setting a course in business. And you’re like, basically, this is the level I already want to be at. So that sounds like a good policy if it’s kind of like you set your fee to a good living level for you now. But you also know that there’s going to be inflation, like inflation in Canada, which is where I am, has been 7% in last year, which is huge, right. So if you’re charging the same amount that you were a year ago, you’re actually making 7% less. Yeah, there’s a loss there, right. So it’s like, I can see that really, it’s almost like when you hit your cruising altitude, that’s like a good policy, right? Where just like my fee is going to just go up a little bit every year, just to accommodate like cost of living or whatever. What I have seen before, though, and I’m curious about your thoughts about this, what about for someone who’s coming in and they’ve maybe set their fee to low and they realize like, oh, shit, I can not do this work for $110 an hour. Yeah, right. 

Kelley [00:15:09] I’ve been in that position. 

Linzy [00:15:09] Yeah, me too. Me too. Where you have to do a fee raise that’s more like $10 or $20 or $30. Right. What do you suggest in a situation like that? 

Linzy [00:15:18] So, you know, everybody is really different. And I think it really depends on where you’re at in your practice development and where you’re at in your senses. So let’s say you’re super full and you have enough referrals coming in, that’s going to be different than if you don’t have enough referrals coming in. What I usually tell people and what I’ve done, and certainly I don’t know if it’s always the right thing, is I usually – if I’m going to do a big fee increase, I tend to just make that fee increase for new clients. I find that that tends to be the path of least resistance, meaning like, okay, every new client you have come in, they’re going to go up to that higher fee. And then any client that you have existing, you can have that conversation. And I usually tell people to take that on a case by case basis. You know, if someone started seeing you a month ago and you’re going to raise their fee $50 a session, you probably want to recognize that you might lose them as a client or they may not be able to afford it. They might or they might not. And I found, it’s interesting, different therapists have different thoughts on this. Like, I have a great family friend who is like, no, I would absolutely raise it. If they leave, they leave. 

Linzy [00:16:20] Mm hmm. Yep. 

Kelley [00:16:21] And I tend to be more in the like, let’s raise the new ones and then let’s take all the existing clients on a case by case basis. And I’m curious, what do you do? What would you do? 

Linzy [00:16:33] I’m definitely the raise everybody person. I am. And like, it’s – I definitely hear that the other way is the path of least resistance, and I’m almost like, that’s why you don’t do it. Don’t do the path of least resistance, right? Because if I think about the work that I did and it can depend on your practice, right? And who you’re serving, like there’s so many variables. But I did like long term, you know, like deep trauma work. Like I might work with you for five or ten years, right? So, like, that would still be the core of my caseload. So if I did that approach, I would maybe only be raising, like I might have three clients come in. 

Kelley [00:17:06] Could be a year. 

Linzy [00:17:07] In a month or two, yeah. It would take me – and folks wouldn’t leave, right. And so I think that in my case, like my bread and butter in my practice was those repeat folks who I was seeing for months and years. And so that’s where I would do it across the board. And I’m a big fan and a big proponent, and I don’t know how you feel about this, but like that, you communicate verbally before you get a letter. 

Kelley [00:17:29] Oh yeah, 100%. 

Linzy [00:17:29] So it’s like, it’s a clinical conversation, right? And they might decide not to work with you or it’s going to bring up their own like, stress about money. And that’s – but it opens opportunity, right, for you to support them and talk about, okay, so you’ve been having a lot of stress about money. You know, let’s talk about that. And I’m also a really big fan of giving a long runway when you’re doing a significant fee increase like not we’re not talking about like the five or $10 annual fee increase. I’m talking about like a $30 fee increase, a $50 fee increase. And for folks especially, like I know I’ve had students who have made the decision when they’ve looked at their numbers, they’re like, I have to be a premium fee therapist. I’m like a single parent. Nobody’s coming to save me. If my daughter is going to have, like a life where she’s well cared for, I need to go premium. So they’re making a jump that might be like $75 or $100, right. So that that is a clinical conversation to have and you give like three months notice, right? You need to give folks basically time to say goodbye if saying goodbye is their decision. 

Kelley [00:18:24] Yeah. Oh 100%, it’s so interesting. I – first of all, I love this and I’m learning from this. And it’s super interesting because I historically have specialized in teenagers who don’t stay a long time. So it’s such a different – and I love that it’s – there’s that difference because I tend to, you know, like if a teenager stays a year, it tends to be like, that’s pretty typical. It wouldn’t be abnormal for a teenager to stay three months, and it would be less typical for them to stay more than 3 to 4 years. 

Linzy [00:18:55] Right. 

Kelley [00:18:57] By the time they get out of high school, would be a longer time. So it’s so interesting because you’re right, it does. And I never thought about it that way, that if you tend to see long term clients, that could be a very long time. 

Linzy [00:19:09] Yeah, for sure. Very, very long time. 

Kelley [00:19:12] That totally makes sense. 

Linzy [00:19:13] Yes. And I will say too, like in my practice, I also had a certain amount of sliding scale folks. And I think that’s another conversation, we’ll talk about that in a minute. Let’s talk sliding scale, in a minute. But I had, let’s say, five clients who were on a sliding scale. And what I would do when I raised my full fee is I would let them know that I was raising my full fee and say, let’s reassess and talk about your fee, now. Would a higher fee become possible or be possible for you to use that as an opportunity to open those conversations because they’re not going to jump up to $175, right. But they might be able to jump up to $80. And I have also raised my sliding scale at the same time. So it’s like, it’s not that I brought everybody up to full fee, but it’s like my floor is now $90. 

Kelley [00:19:52] Right. 

Linzy [00:19:52] And so, that’s that’s how I’ve managed that as well, because I also think it’s really easy for us to, like, tell ourselves stories about people’s financial situations and make all these assumptions, when maybe somebody has gotten a small inheritance and they do have a bit more money available. Right? Or they’ve started making a little bit more at work and they don’t always tell you. They don’t always come and report their financial situation to you. So it’s easy for us to have a story about them, that might not be accurate. 

Kelley [00:20:14] It’s so, so true. 

Linzy [00:20:16] So sliding scale. Let’s talk about scripts for sliding scale. What do you suggest? 

Kelley [00:20:20] Okay, so let’s – I have two ways that I’ve done it in the past. So I’ll tell you the way that I just have done it internally, and then I’ll also talk about the way I’ve been doing it more recently. So historically what I’ve done, is I’ve always had four sliding scales spots in my practice at any one time, and so that’s the way it’s worked for me when I’ve a full caseload, as opposed to like being part time as a mom or something like that. So I’ve always had four and my personal way of doing this is that I save those spots for clients who are making at or below minimum wage. And then I charge them what it would cost for one hour of work. Now, I don’t ask for a tax return, you know, like we do this on our system. And obviously if they come in and they tell me they’re an investment banker who makes minimum wage, like we’re going to have a conversation. But generally I find that people are really honest. And so I – when somebody calls me and says, Do you take a sliding scale? I say, I have four spots in my practice at any one time for individuals who need a sliding scale spot and I reserve those spots for people who are at or below minimum wage, is that you? And I just leave it there and I pause and I find that people either say yes or no and if they say no. I can find that it’s usually not a bigger conversation, you know. And so the reason that I do that is, I’m not a big advocate of lowering my fee $10 or $20 to kind of make it more comfortable for somebody. I would rather make it more accessible for somebody who can’t afford it normally. And then I will say that. And so if somebody says, yes, that is me, I’ll say, Great, then I will charge you what it costs for one hour of work. And I don’t ask them to see their paycheck or anything like that, they just say, I make X amount per hour and I’m like, Great, that’s what it would cost for you to come to therapy. Now, imagine that those spots fill up really quickly. And so if that is the case, I do keep a waiting list. But now, what I do is I refer them to Open Path, which I’m a huge supporter of. I think they’re awesome and they’re basically – I’m sure you’ve talked about them before, but they are a nonprofit that pairs clients who need sliding scale spots with private practice therapists who have those spots available. And my understanding is that they pay between like 30 and 100 a session. But basically the way Open Path works, is they pair you with the client, but then beyond just pairing you with a client, no finances go through them. Does that makes sense? 

Linzy [00:22:53] Yep. 

Kelley [00:22:53] The client pays you directly. Once you’re paired, it’s between you guys, which is a great way to go. And so if I’m full in my spots, I’ll refer them to Open Path or I’ll take on an Open Path client. And I’ve found that that’s a really nice way to do it, because they do a lot of that footwork for you, of like helping you find someone. 

Linzy [00:23:12] I mean, what I love about that approach, Kelley, I mean, gosh, there’s like as many ways to do this as there are therapists in the world, right. But what I do really like about that, is your point about how you’re then really making therapy accessible to somebody who otherwise would not be able to access it, right. And I think that we do conflate like a sliding scale with – I had another podcast guest on last season, Nick Bognar, and he made this point that kind of like stopped me in my tracks a little bit, where like you’re basically actually negotiating with a client when you’re talking about $10 or $20, you know, like you’re talking to somebody who has the money, but you’re having a conversation about what would make it feel more comfortable for them, what they would be willing to pay, right? To see you. Whereas when you are seeing someone for $14 an hour, you are truly creating a spot for someone who could not pay you $150 or $200, right. Like that is truly making therapy accessible. And I really love that approach because I think so often, we get caught up in this like concept of accessibility and like, but I have to be accessible, you know, and I even find this myself with like pricing my own offers in my course where it’s like, well, I want to be accessible. But it’s like, what does accessible mean? And accessible to who? Because there are folks who literally – who couldn’t pay you $20. So no matter what, you’re never going to be accessible to those folks. But your solution actually does catch anybody who’s employed. 

Kelley [00:24:30] Yeah, ideally. And well, and and to be honest, I’ve had it other ways too, where I’ve had clients who truly aren’t employed or are significantly below minimum wage, and I’ve had clients pay me in $1 bills, you know, I have had clients whose family members showed up the next day to bring a payment in $1 bills. You know, so yeah, I had as little as $5 a session and I am kind of a believer of a little bit of skin in the game just because it holds you accountable to showing up to your appointment and that sort of thing. But I’ve had clients pay very little and I think that there’s also a pride in that. You know, like I really value that they’re paying me for services regardless of what the payment is at that point. Whereas when I have had clients maybe slide $10 off my fee, I’ve seen them for a year and I’m like, What are we doing with this $10? You know, what is it? Would this $10 make a difference? You know, why did we do this? It’s like what you’re saying, it feels like a negotiation. And then that’s when it feels icky. 

Linzy [00:25:28] Right. 

Kelley [00:25:29] I wouldn’t go into my dentist and say, can I get $10 off? Unless I truly couldn’t afford it. And then ideally my dentist would have some way to accommodate that, or they’d help me figure out something else. 

Linzy [00:25:41] Mm hmm. Yeah, well, if you truly couldn’t afford it, it wouldn’t be a $10 negotiation. 

Kelley [00:25:44] No. 

Linzy [00:25:45] Yeah, no, I like the clarity of that. That feels very clear to me, because I also think it’s checking with yourself about what will not foster resentment inside of me. And that’s like a question you have to really honestly ask yourself. And that’s what I guide my students sometimes when they’re talking about thinking through like their sliding scale and how many spots they can offer. And it’s like, what would you actually be okay with? Truly down to your bones, would you be okay with? Like, would you be okay seeing three folks who pay you $30 each? Would that be okay? If that became five, would you start to feel resentful? Right? What are you actually okay with? Because I think sometimes there’s what we want to be okay with, but then there’s what we actually experience emotionally when we’re three or four months into an agreement with somebody. 

Kelley [00:26:26] Oh, totally. And I like to tell people to like, it’s really hard for us to show up and be the therapist that we want to be if we’re feeling insecure about money ourselves. 

Linzy [00:26:35] Yes, of course. Yes, 100%. 

Kelley [00:26:39] So like, regardless of sliding scale, this also comes into like the question of do you take insurance? Are you on any tech platforms? Are you contracted with any fee? What do you call it, EAPs? Whenever you decide to take money for the services that you provide, being able to come at that from a place of financial security is really important because otherwise it seeps into the clinical work. And we received so many messages as therapists about being bad people or being, you know, to make money. But the reality is, we live in a world where we have to pay money for things. Like I go to the grocery store, just like anyone else. So, yeah, it’s a tricky conversation and it’s one that I get so much hate for on Instagram. 

Linzy [00:27:18] Yeah, you were saying that off mic when we were talking, that you actually get like hate messages about this. 

Kelley [00:27:23] Oh yeah, every single day. For me, you know, that’s part of being on Instagram. That’s part of facing some sort of public facing profile, right? Role situation. 

Linzy [00:27:33] Yes. 

Kelley [00:27:33] But what makes me more sad, I teach up at Pepperdine and I work a lot with grad students and it makes me sad that therapists get this message that, just because you’re in a helping profession, that you don’t deserve to make money. I tell my students, like, if you were a lawyer, no one would tell you that if you were a doctor, people don’t talk. Well, doctors sometimes get that message, but like, you know, we don’t say this to other professions, and yet we have this assumption that just because therapists are here to help people with mental health struggles, that they shouldn’t charge money for that. And unfortunately, especially here in the States, we don’t have a very good insurance system that’s helping therapists make a livable wage, and some do, some don’t. But I like to help people take the guilt out of it. And as a result of that, I get a lot of trolls. 

Linzy [00:28:24] Yeah, right. Because I think there are people who do want therapists, women, people who have emotional skills, they want us to stay small. They want us to keep doing the work for free. 

Kelley [00:28:36] Yes, literally. I posted this a few months, maybe a month ago. I was awake at four in the morning, I wrote this post out on my phone. It was just going to be like, it’s not a coincidence that therapy was so often considered women’s work, you know, anything – and there are amazing male therapists out there, and I wish we had more. And it’s not shocking to me that then, a job that was often considered a female job is also being told that you shouldn’t make money for that empathy and those skills that we have. And so I got tons of people being like, yes, yes, yes, right. And then I got a ton of like, I got a lot of men saying like, yes. And then I got a lot of guys saying like that, there’s no way this has to do with being female. I’m like, What do you mean? You know. 

Linzy [00:29:22] Yes, you are thicker skinned than I am, I will say that. I don’t know how you deal with that all the time, because it’s true. When you are visible, you attract, you attract everybody, right? You get more of everything. You get more love and you get more trolls and more men telling you their opinions that you absolutely did not ask for. But I think you’re absolutely right and I think something that I have talked about before on this podcast and something I’ve thought about a lot is also how there’s often at the micro level, a personal repetition of a pattern on the individual level, right? Because often those of us who become therapists, we were always caretakers for our friends or family members, or maybe we were a parentified child, you know, and where we experienced trauma and we had no support, we had to just like keep it inside and take care of everybody else. And then we actually got these messages to stay that way, like, no, stay small. Don’t think that you’re allowed to have a vacation. Don’t think that you’re allowed to pay for your kid to go to college. Keep staying small, keep being helpful, don’t speak up, be good. And I’m so fucking over it, like. 

Kelley [00:30:16] Oh my God, 100%. I just, I keep wanting to say, like, the world is a better place if therapists know their value. There’s plenty of other people out there in other professions that make tons of money that know that they are deeply valued and we are in a public mental health crisis. If we don’t value therapists and pay them what they deserve, they burnout and then they don’t – they’re not good therapists, number one, if they were burnt out. I’m not a good therapist when I’m burnt out. And then number two, then we don’t want – we don’t have therapists who are wanting to be therapists. We have a shortage of therapists here in Santa Barbara. I know my husband is a psychiatrist and his waiting list is a year long. He’s booking in 2023 and like because there’s just not enough service here. And he takes every insurance plan on the book, you know, I mean, like so I agree with you. I want more therapists to know that they deserve to make money. 

Linzy [00:31:07] Yeah. And I will add to this conversation, there are also folks who can’t pay $150 or $200 an hour. That’s real, right. And you’ve talked about, like a very elegant solution today to take care of some of those folks within your practice, while not compromising your own financial security and well-being, right. But I think sometimes also as women or marginalized folks, we also take it onto ourselves to personally carry the failings of systems, right. That’s like a systems failure. It’s a systems failure, that like mental health is not covered by governments, right. And even in Canada, where I get coverage, like I can go to a hospital for free, you know, when I gave birth, it was free. Medical care is covered, but still it’s very hard to access free mental health because it’s like, you know, a doctor’s office will have like one social worker you can see once every two months, you know, and they’ll do CBT with you because that’s really all they can do. They can’t do any depth work at all, right. And so even here, it’s still a problem, even though we’re, you know, have a good health care system in so many ways. But like, I as an individual could not make up for like the failure of the state. Like, I can’t take that on and make my personal financial life imperiled to try to make up for something that is like a government issue and a nationwide issue. And I think that’s what we do, we try to carry it all on our shoulders. 

Kelley [00:32:18] Yeah, we try to take it all on and I often will say to people, okay, so like here are other things you could do, right? Like, you could vote. First and foremost, you can vote for politicians that are supporting more mental health funding for nonprofits. You could write letters to insurance companies. Any time in your own personal life that you have claims denied for your own mental health services, advocating for yourself. I think that there’s a lot of things we can do to advocate for the system to change without sacrificing our own practices. And often I’ll say, like as therapists and as clients, in many ways we’re in it together. First of all, a lot of us are clients ourselves, therapists go to therapy. And I know for me, like affording my own therapists is not an easy expense. But I think when the system is not supporting the mental health needs of clients, what we have to realize, is it’s also affecting therapists. And in a way, we’re kind of in the same boat. The system is not doing good things for therapists, and it’s also not doing good things for clients. And so as a collective, we have to advocate and vote and write letters and do all those things to change the system as a whole, without sacrificing our own being. The same way that we don’t want clients to. 

Linzy [00:33:32] Totally. 

Kelley [00:33:32] It’s a tricky balance and it’s especially a tricky balance to talk about in any sort of public facing platform without people saying, What do you mean? I know tons of therapists that charge X amount per hour and it’s impossible to afford. And I agree with them, in many ways. But we don’t as therapists, have to necessarily fix the whole problem yet. 

Linzy [00:33:53] And I don’t think we can as individuals, unfortunately. I think even if a half of our caseload was a sliding scale folks, paying us $15 an hour, we still wouldn’t solve the systemic issue. It’s systemic, systemic reform. We can have a whole other conversation about that. So thinking about then these difficult conversations, like let’s talk a little bit more about why these conversations are so hard and like some of the mistakes that we make because of it, like what are the mistakes that you see folks making or maybe that you’ve made yourself around these conversations, that we need to watch out for as therapists? 

Kelley [00:34:25] That’s a really good question. You know, first of all, there’s so, so many. And I think obviously the biggest mistake is not holding your boundaries from the very beginning around your fee, you know, it’s like – it starts from that very first phone call. That would be one. One mistake I see people make is, let’s say they have some sort of policy around raising their fee, kind of like you said, like we have these stories in our head and then they’ll push it off and push it off and push it off, instead of making it a regular part of the emotional health of their practice. And then they’re in a position where four or five years down the road, they need to make a big jump. They’ve already kind of gotten in that status quo, like of raising or being where they need to be, but then they don’t raise their fee. I think making the mistake of doing it less often because you’re putting it off, I don’t know. I equate it with like not breaking up with someone when you know need to.

Linzy [00:35:16] The conversation should have happened like, a while ago. 

Kelley [00:35:18] Yeah, I think that that’s a big one. I think one big one I see a lot is, the over explanation of your fees. 

Linzy [00:35:24] Yes. 

Kelley [00:35:25] So like, when you’re on call, someone says how much you cost and you say I cost $150 an hour. And then you’re like, but… and you immediately offer. It’s like they might not – you know, I think there’s so much power in the pause. I think, all of us like to fill the silence in many ways, and so stop filling the silence. 

Linzy [00:35:44] I 100% agree with you. And I gave this, I give the same advice when I’m talking to my students about having these conversations. It’s like, say it and then stop talking. Stop talking. Because I think in that silence, a lot is happening for your client and you’re giving them time to process and respond, right. Your client or that prospective client on the phone, right. It’s like, if you don’t give them a chance to respond, they might have just been about to say, great, that sounds good. And instead you’re offering them a sliding scale. And so you don’t even get the chance to hear that. But I think also clinically, when it’s like a fee raise conversation, it’s like give them a chance to have a moment. Right? 

Kelley [00:36:20] Yeah. 

Linzy [00:36:21] Yeah, like we need to stop talking. 

Kelley [00:36:22] Yeah, just stop. I think that’s one of the biggest ones. I’m trying to think, do you have any other ones? Do you see any common mistakes around money conversations? Probably a million. 

Linzy [00:36:33] That I mean, that one up front, they offering sliding scale up front is huge. The overexplaining with fee raises is huge. And I’m also a fan too, of just like, this is a little different than what you had suggested earlier, in terms of working into your policy of why you raise fees. I’m also a fan of just like not explaining why you raise your fee. Folks can ask. 

Kelley [00:36:50] Yeah, you can, like we do it once or whatever, you know. 

Linzy [00:36:53] Yeah, it’s the same as any kind of boundary setting, right? Where it’s like you don’t owe an explanation. And I think there’s a lot of just like, power and groundedness – and I say power in like a, not in a power over, but in just like it’s a very solid thing to do to just say, I just wanted to let you know that as of January 15th, my fee will be $150 an hour. 

Kelley [00:37:11] This is like, goes back to the sturdy leader thing. 

Linzy [00:37:13] It’s sturdy, right? There’s nothing to say, right. And like, I remember when I raised my fee $40 once, I went from 110 to 150, that at the time was like my nail biter fee raise, right? I was like, I’m going to lose everybody. And of all of my clients, probably 25 people or something, I had this conversation with. Only one asked me why, and they were the most boundary pushing client that I had. They actually pushed my boundaries to a point that I actually had to fire them eventually. So it was like, it was interesting that the only person who pushed back and said, why? Was actually someone where there were boundary issues already and everyone else just accepted it, right. And then they made their decision. Nobody left immediately. And then the folks who did leave, it’s because they really, the work was really not that important anymore. You know, they were kind of in a coasting space as it was. But I think that, yeah, we don’t have to explain it. 

Kelley [00:38:03] Totally and I mean, any time, any service professional raises their fee, I don’t ever think, I wonder why?

Linzy [00:38:11] Yeah, tell me why? 

Kelley [00:38:11] My hairdresser raised her fee recently. I have my lawyer, I feel like I have all these people, you know mechanics, gyms. And granted, they’re all different but it’s like, yeah, I just expect it like once a year or once every so months or something, the fee will go up. 

Linzy [00:38:28] And we are offering a service, just like everyone else. Like our life is getting more expensive, just like their lives are getting more expensive and we also need to raise our fees. So and then, I think, like when I think about it like that, like just that solidity of it, as like that sturdy leader analogy is great, right? That’s exactly what it is. And what I did notice when that one client did push back on me, is I actually had a really good explanation. I was like – 

Kelley [00:38:48] Well, what was it? Now I want to know. 

Linzy [00:38:50] Well I said, you know, at the time my response was, Well, I’m very specialized in complex trauma. The work that I do, actually almost nobody else in town is doing. And in order to do that, I actually have to do a lot of ongoing education and travel. I travel the United States twice a year for international conferences, which costs money and events. And I, you know, get the best training that I possibly can to be as effective as I can be in treating dissociation, which is a specialty that many people do not have. And when I said that, I’m like, damn, I should be charging for them. 

Kelley [00:39:20] Yeah. Amen. 

Linzy [00:39:21] Because that’s the thing too. I think, you know, when you are an effective therapist, we also have to think about like quality over quantity, right? Like folks can be paying you $50 more than the person down the road, but they’re going to see you for half the time, with twice the impact, right. So when you really do have a gift and you’ve honed in on your niche and you know that you were like literally changing lives, you don’t have to justify a fee raise. Like you are changing people’s lives in profound ways, that you can’t even understand because you don’t even get to see all the wins that they have, when they’re done working with you. I notice myself when I connect to that, then it’s like, Oh no, this work is immensely valuable. 

Kelley [00:39:58] 100%. And I always say like, put yourself in the shoes of the client. Like if you said that to me, you know, and if I thought about that for my life, like, I could see somebody who’s extremely well trained, talented, really, really a professional and an expert at what they do. And I’m going to pay them X amount more, but I’m going to see them less in the long term. Of course, I’m going to choose that person. 

Linzy [00:40:19] Yes. And people know what effective therapy feels like. You know, they’ve had therapists who are effective. And if they’re with you and if they love working with you, they know the difference of what you’re offering them. So I think that’s also part of it. Right, is like you need to trust that the work that you’re doing is impactful. And if it wasn’t impactful, they wouldn’t be there. 

Kelley [00:40:34] Oh, 100%. 

Linzy [00:40:35] So, Kelly, I feel like I, you know, we could talk forever about this, but if folks want more from you, where should they find you and follow you? 

Kelley [00:40:44] Okay. So number one, you can follow me on Instagram and it’s @theprivatepracticepro. I have the same handle on Facebook, I have the same handle on Tik Tok, me and my 39 TikTok followers. And then also, I have a book coming out which is Scripts, all about these kind of difficult conversations for therapists. And so gosh, I think we have like 30 something of them, of all the different kind of nitty gritty conversations that you have to have to run a private practice. So you find that on – links to that on my Instagram. But you also could find that on my website, everything has the same handle, @theprivatepracticepro. 

Linzy [00:41:23] Great, yeah. And we will put links to your Instagram and your website and that Scripts book as well, which is so valuable. I wish that I’d had a book like that when I started in practice. I feel like I had to construct these conversations myself and it’s always nice, as you say, to just have like, start here because then you can always modify a script, you can always make it yours. But it’s like you have somewhere to start, which is like such a groundbreaking thing to have. Oh, thank you so much, Kelley, for joining me today. It’s been wonderful talking with you. 

Kelley [00:41:48] Oh, fun. 

Linzy [00:42:03] It was so great having this conversation with Kelley and it definitely went in directions that I would not have anticipated. Got a little fiery there for a bit, but because I think these conversations on money are so important and the way that we present these conversations to our clients are important, and the way that we think about money and our own entitlement to have money, to recognize the value of the work that we do and recognize that it’s okay to be paid well for having an incredible gift that changes people’s lives. It’s just a bit of a passion point, for me. I think that resource she has around scripts is awesome. We will have the link for it in the show notes. So if you are either just starting out a practice or you find that you tend to get lost and find these conversations overwhelming, definitely check out Kelley’s package of scripts that she’s going to have available. Such a great starting point, I think she said there’s more than 30 scripts in there, so it sounds like a wonderful resource for, if nothing else, a jumping off point to think about how you want to have these conversations with your clients. And these conversations are so important, they really inform the way that money exists between us and our clients, you know, like whether it’s a thing in the room that we never talk about or whether it’s a space that your clients can actually start to have honest conversations around money and see boundaries around money modeled to them, because many of us have never had that either. So the way that we have these conversations don’t just benefit us, they also benefit our clients. If you want to hear more from me, you can follow me on Instagram @moneynutsandbolts. We are sharing free content on there all the time and as usual, if you’re enjoying the podcast, please take like 2 minutes to jump over to Apple Podcasts and leave us a review. It is the best way for other therapists and health practitioners to find me. Thanks for listening today. 

Hi, I'm Linzy

Hi, I'm Linzy

I’m a therapist in private practice, and a the creator of Money Skills for Therapists. I help therapists and health practitioners in private practice feel calm and in control of their finances.

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Setting Up Your Private Practice to Live The Life You Want with Jena Castro-Casbon

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Setting Up Your Private Practice to Live The Life You Want with Jena Castro-Casbon

Episode Cover Image - Setting Up Your Private Practice to Live the Life You Want with Jena Castro-Casbon

“At some point, you have to start to say, ‘Okay, is this my path? Is this what I want for myself and my life? Or do I want to do something else? Do I want to be in control of my professional, personal, and financial life?’ And I think that is the best thing to do. And to me, private practice is the way to be able to do that.”

~Jena Castro-Casbon

Meet Jena Castro-Casbon

Jena Castro-Casbon, MS CCC-SLP is the founder of The Independent Clinician, a private-practice consultant who has helped 10,000+ speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists start, grow and scale successful private practices through her Start and Grow Your Private Practice Programs.

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Have you been wanting the financial and personal freedom that private practice would allow you but are unsure about how to get started? Jena Castro-Casbon helps Speech Language Pathologists and Occupational Therapists learn how to build up their private practices so that they can have fulfilling careers while also avoiding burnout. Linzy and Jena dig into the common mistakes that people make when setting up their private practices, and Jena shares some simple ways to avoid those pitfalls.

Do not miss this practical and illuminating conversation between Linzy and Jena! It is beneficial not only to those taking the first steps into setting up a practice but also to everyone who is looking for ways to strengthen the business they’ve already built.

Books mentioned in episode:
Rachel Rodgers’ We Should All Be Millionaires
Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass at Making Money

Want to Connect with Jena Castro-Casbon?

You can find Jena on Instagram @independentclinician and on The Private Practice Success Stories Podcast.

Get Jena’s free Private Practice Roadmap: www.startyourprivatepractice.com/freebie

Join Jena’s free Facebook group: SLP & OT Private Practice Beginners Group

And check out her website: www.independentclinician.com 

We're Hosting a Free 4 Day Challenge!

Do you find yourself avoiding your private practice finances? Do you have no idea where to even begin?

Well I’ve got something for you. I’m hosting a FREE live 4-day Money Momentum Challenge from Tuesday June 14 to Friday June 17, 2022!

During our four days together, you’ll get my support and guidance to step out of avoidance, take real action, and create ease and flow around your private practice finances, so you don’t need to avoid them!

Plus, you’ll get a clear roadmap to understand exactly what you need to do, to take care of your private practice finances.

It only takes 10 minutes a day.

I can’t wait to see you inside! Sign up for the FREE Money Momentum Challenge here: http://join.moneymomentumchallenge.com/

Episode Transcript

Jena [00:00:02] And so at some point, you kind of have to start to say, like, okay, is this my path? Is this what I want for myself in my life or do I want to do something else? Do I want to be in control of my professional, personal and financial life? And, I mean, I think that’s the best thing to do, right. And to me, private practice is the way to be able to do that. 

Linzy [00:00:28] Welcome to the Money Skills For Therapists podcast, where we answer this question, How can therapists and health practitioners go from money, shame and confusion to feeling calm and confident about their finances and get money really working for them in both their private practice and their lives? I’m your host Linzy Bonham, therapist turned money coach and creator of the course Money Skills For Therapists. Hello and welcome back to today’s podcast. So today’s episode is with Jena Casbon-Castro. Jena is a speech language pathologist by training. She’s the founder of the independent clinician and she’s a private practice consultant who’s helped more than 10,000 speech language pathologists and occupational therapists start, grow and scale their private practices. I am so honored to have Jena on today. She’s somebody who I really admire in the online teaching space, and I think you’re going to get a taste for why that is today in our conversation where we get into really stepping out and making your own thing, the power of that. And I think as you’re listening to the episode, you’ll hear just the spark that Jena has for that and we talk about that, about that spark and drive of following what excites you and making what you really want, whether that’s a private practice or a course or some other kind of online offer for the people that you love to serve. We get into a conversation of why women should make more money and the good things that happen when skilled, caring women have more money to share with the people around them and taking responsibility and really connecting with your power in private practice. And she talks about this very key point that nobody is coming to save us. It’s all us. And so we are the ones who have to make private practices that work. Here’s my conversation with Jena. 

Linzy [00:02:23] All right, Jena, welcome to the podcast. 

Jena [00:02:26] Thank you so much for having me here, Linzy. 

Linzy [00:02:28] I am so excited to have you here. We were just talking off mic about how we get to talk, like we send voice messages sometimes and we’ve been in groups together, but I don’t think we’ve ever had like just an us, like one on one conversation. So it’s a real treat for me to be able to have this conversation with you. 

Jena [00:02:43] Well, thank you so much for having me. And I look forward to, you know, having you ask me a bunch of questions and getting to know your audience, too. 

Linzy [00:02:49] Yeah. To give context for folks who are listening. So a lot of my audience, Jena, are mental health therapists, but we also have folks in the audience who are acupuncturists, SLPs, OTs, massage therapists, coaches. And some of them might not know who you are yet because you specifically serve SLPs, so speech language pathologists and OTs, occupational therapists. So just to give folks who are listening context, Jena is a rock star in the SLP and OT space. She has a course that I was saying to her off mic, I think of her as the Allison Puryear of SLPs. So in our space in mental health therapy, I feel like Allison Puryear is the one who teaches most of us how to start our private practices if we’ve started in the last five years. And I think that that’s very much who you are in the SLP space. Would that be accurate? 

Jena [00:03:36] Yeah, it’s accurate. You know, I started this company a long time ago. I’ve been doing this for a long time now. I started in 2008. My own practice, I actually start in 2006. And if I could tell that story super quick? 

Linzy [00:03:49] Yeah. 

Jena [00:03:49] So I’m a speech pathologist and I got my dream job at a rehabilitation hospital working with people that had strokes and brain injuries, and I absolutely loved it for about a year and a half. At that point, I started to feel stuck and I started to feel like I was spending so much time on documentation, so much time in meetings, I wasn’t able to give the kind of care to the clients that I wanted to. And I was starting to feel burned out, only like a year and a half into the field. And so I had some coworkers who, they had their own private practices, which I did not know, and they said, Hey, Jena, why don’t you start your own private practice? And I looked at them like they were crazy and I said, I’m 26. How could I start a private practice? And they’re like, Well, we started our own practices when we were in our twenties, so like you should too. And I was like, Oh my gosh, I had no idea that was an option. So basically they really, they mentored me, they helped me get set up and they said, you know, the next time someone asks if you treat private clients, you should say yes. And so, well, that’s what happened, right? I said yes the next time. And it felt so good not only to have that like control over the client care, like I felt so good about it. And I was also making the income that I was, you know, wanting to be making, right? Having been able to set my own rate and people not bat an eye out. It was so awesome. Right? So in that first year of just seeing three or four visits a week after work and on the weekends, I was able to make $24,000 in that first year on the side. And again, I was 26, right? I had student loans, I had a wedding coming up. And that kind of money was a total game changer. So, and it felt so freeing, right? Because I got like, you know, air quotes, good job at a good hospital, but the pay actually wasn’t that good. And so to be able to make that extra income was absolutely like, unreal. And it kind of got me hooked on this idea of earning more than other people thought I could or that other people were willing to pay me. Right. 

Linzy [00:05:50] And I love that you had those supportive coworkers. Like, I feel like there’s that whole thing of, you know, you’re the sum of the five people you spend the most time with or whatever. And just the influence that people have around us. And I think so many therapists and practitioners, when they do work at like, agencies or hospitals, it can become such a demoralizing environment where the people around you are like, burnt out because they’ve been there longer than you. And you actually get the opposite message so often where it’s like, well, this is how it is. And like I came up in social work and that is the social work way. Where you’re just like, Well, that’s it. You go home at night, you drink wine, don’t forget your wine. There’s a lot of jokes about wine in social work, which is like, uh oh, like red flag, right? But what I’m hearing is you actually had these folks who almost like showed you the escape hatch. Who were like, hey, there’s also this other way that you can, like, either make more money now, but it also ultimately is how you got out of an environment that sounds like it would have probably worn you down quite a lot over time. 

Jena [00:06:41] Definitely. Right. So I owe a lot to mentorship, right? Like having – if they hadn’t have mentored me early on, none of this probably would have happened. And I’ll come back to that later because mentorship is something that continues to be a part of my role in the programs that I do. But basically what happened is, you know, I started my own practice, I started seeing, you know, I started with like three or four clients. I worked up to about 12, like again on the side of this job, that was a crazy time, but whatever, it was fine. And at some point my friends from, you know, grad school and other places started asking me, like, Jena, how are you doing this? Like, What are you doing? And so I started to tell them and then I was like, you know, there’s really no information for speech language pathologists about how to start private practices. Like I could probably figure out how to put some information up on the internet that people could download and that I could charge for. And so that’s what I did. So like, you know, nights and weekends, this is before I had kids, I would – that’s what I did. I would, you know, play around on the Internet and figure out how to take what I was doing in my own private practice and teach other people how to do it step by step. Because, again, there just – there literally wasn’t any information and people were hungry, like people wanted that information. And that was also really interesting to me because it was like another source of income, right? So then I had like, until I left my job at the hospital, but like for a while I had like the hospital money, the private practice money and the independent clinicians, the name of my company, I had the money from that. And that was really cool and I really felt like I was fulfilled in terms of like, I would – I had patients, that I was working with, that I loved, they loved me. I was doing my best work. And then I was also able to serve my – the therapists who were purchasing my products and starting their own practices. And so that really got me to think about like, not only the income, which was admittedly very cool, but also the impact. And then at some point a couple of years later, I made the decision to make my practice a lot smaller and then eventually, actually basically close it so that I could grow the independent clinician and teach infinitely more people how to start their own practices, because then they would have their own clients. And so, like, I could serve exponentially more people through teaching people how to start their own private practices than I could at my own practice. And so, that’s been a really cool journey for me. 

Linzy [00:09:08] It’s a very cool journey and I relate a lot to your journey. I feel like I could, like change out some words and a very similar story and something that I notice about you and I always see about you Jena, is like you have such spark, right? In terms of just like seizing an opportunity, and being like, well, I could put something on the internet, I could do that. Right. And I think sometimes I think for folks listening to the podcast, it’s like you might have something that you know you have a unique passion and gift about or something that everybody asks you about, right? Like that’s always a clue is like, what do other people around you ask you about? Or they’re, like struggling and you’re like, Oh no, it’s like this way, right? Like you’ve got a solution that you figured out which other people, it just doesn’t come naturally to them. I think for a lot of folks listening, you might already know what that thing is for yourself, right? And whether that’s something that’s part of your field already in the work that you do or whether it’s something different. You know, we all have these kind of unique gifts and I love Jenna that you just go for yours because I think so often we can spend five or ten years contemplating, well, I could do this thing, but like, I’m busy with clients or like I’m tired and those things are true, you are tired and busy with client. But what I’m hearing from you and what I see in you is like, the possibilities that happen when you just go for it and build that thing, even if it’s like a push. And for a little bit it might feel hard. The possibility and the increased impact that that opens up for you kind of on the other side of that creation journey. 

Jena [00:10:27] Yeah, I mean, I believe that clinicians and therapists, no matter what your background are, are truly the best people. Right? Like we’re the best, most giving, you know, kind, smart people. Right? And we need help, right? A lot of us are really, you know, drowning in our professions, completely burned out, not appreciated. And no one’s coming to save you, right? Like if you work harder at work, right? Because all of us work really hard at work. What happens is, is that the boss notices that you’re working hard and they’re probably going to give you more work. 

Linzy [00:10:58] Right, that’s your reward. 

Jena [00:11:00] That’s your reward. And I see that happen time and again to like the nicest people, right. And so at some point, you kind of have to start to say, like, okay, is this my path? Is this what I want for myself in my life or do I want to do something else? Do I want to be in control of my professional, personal and financial life? And I mean, I think that’s the best thing to do, right. And to me, private practice is the way to be able to do that. Right? So that’s why I’m so passionate about helping in particular, speech language pathologist and occupational therapists start their own practices so that they can create a life that they absolutely love for themselves, for their families, and to be able to give the level of care that they want to be able to do and that they’re truly incapable of doing in a traditional setting just because of all those limitations. 

Linzy [00:11:51] Yes, absolutely. I think those traditional settings, they’re structured to like, maximize efficiency or maximize profit for somebody else. They’re not actually structured to let you be at your best, as a therapist. Right. And really have your gift shine or have creative ways of serving your clients, you know, that work with your specific gifts. Those things are not really available to us when we’re in those other people’s environments, basically. And something that makes me think of Jena, is like I remember when I stepped out of agency work, I started in the violence against women sector, which is a particularly toxic sector because everybody is very traumatized. And a lot of times folks have come from violence or abuse backgrounds. So they also, you know, there’s a reason you’re drawn to certain work. And so lots of dysfunction and lots of toxicity, lots of like, bullying between staff that happens in that sector as a whole, I would say and definitely where I was. And something that I thought about when I stepped out into private practice is I remember thinking like, I get to set the culture, this is mine now, right? Like I set the norm in the culture, even if it’s in this room that I sit in by myself until somebody comes in, I give them a session, I set the norms, I set the tone. I get to create, you know, the environment and a culture in this space. And I think that’s very powerful. You know, in addition to all of the pieces you’re talking about, like getting paid well, building your life to look out well, your actual experience of work can be very different when you consciously build it and when you actually tap into the power that you have to make it what you actually want it to be when you’re in private practice. 

Jena [00:13:17] Yes, 1,000% to all of that. 

Linzy [00:13:20] So I’m curious, Jena, from your perspective, you’ve worked with literally thousands of speech language pathologists and OTs. And I’m curious from your perspective, what are some of the biggest financial mistakes you’ve seen people making in private practice? 

Jena [00:13:33] Yeah. So to me, one of the most obvious ones is undervaluing your services and just not charging enough, particularly, you know, people who go to the private pay room who are able to set their own rate, right. I think people have a lot of hesitations because they feel guilty about charging people, right, because they’ve decided that maybe people can’t afford it, that it’s a hardship that, you know, X, Y and Z reason the people are really putting on, like that’s not necessarily true. Right? So I think that, you know, because of that, people tend to devalue and, you know, undercharge their services. And then the other thing that happens is that people also don’t raise their rates for a long time, right. So not only are people starting off by under charging, again because of that feeling bad, they also are very slow to increase their rates. I literally saw a Facebook post and Linzy, I think that I sent this to you. 

Linzy [00:14:26] You shared it with me, yeah. 

Jena [00:14:27] But this woman was like, you know, after ten years, I’m going to raise my rates by $5 an hour. And I was like, what? Like after ten years? To me, the main reason why I teach my students to increase their prices is if they have more value to offer, right? So if you have more credentials, you have done more trainings, you’ve done more certifications or you’re offering more to your clients, right? Then you’re completely justified in raising your rates, right? You can also do it just because you want to, right? You’re the boss. If you want to increase your rates because of inflation or whatever else, you can totally do that too. But I also tell people like the way to communicate it often is to talk about the increased value and whatnot. But nonetheless, this woman, after ten years, surely she has improved her skills. You know, she’s gotten better as a therapist, she’s offered more. To only increase by $5 an hour, like I wanted to scream. I was like, Oh my God, this is so sad to me. But also like, this is my mission. Like, this is why my work is not done, because I can’t have people out there who are doing this, right. To themselves, right? They’re doing it to themselves. 

Linzy [00:15:37] So something I noticed about that post when you shared it with me is, this is my mental health, you know, my therapist, mind. There was also so much emotion and intensity in this. Like it was like – and I can’t remember the exact wording now, but it was her like really spelling out like that, I really didn’t want to do this, but I have to do it. Like there was so much emotion and intensity packed into it, that it was kind of, like felt like a bit like a punch in the, in the gut to read it. It was like, whoa, this is so intense for $5 fee raise. And over ten years, just with inflation alone, she’s making much less money now, than she was when she started out ten years ago. Right. And I just saw in the paper today that in Canada, at least, inflation has hit 6%. The Bank of Canada just made an announcement today because they’re trying to offset that, everything’s gone up by 6%. So if you’re not raising your rate kind of incrementally over time, you’re actually starting to make less money and your life’s getting more expensive. But you’re actually making the same that you were making three years ago or five years ago. Right. And these are kind of like harsh financial realities that sometimes are hard to stomach because we don’t want to have to raise our rates. 

Jena [00:16:37] Well, right. But that’s also like why people go into private practice, right? Because the flipside of that is when you’re working for someone else as an employee, they are deciding how much to pay you. Right. And they’re deciding if you get a raise, either a market adjustment raise or like a merit raise or, you know, whatever the types of things are, right. You’re kind of waiting for someone else to decide, are you worthy of that? Is that in the budget? It’s completely out of your control, right? When you have your own business, you’re in charge of how much like, of setting that fee rate, right? And so like, take the opportunity to actually do that. 

Linzy [00:17:13] And that’s something that I see sometimes is when we have, especially when we have come out of again, like hospitals or agencies, is sometimes we’ve internalized that feeling that as you say, like somebody else is coming. It’s somebody else’s responsibility. And we don’t necessarily fully step into the fact that you are the boss now. You’re the boss, you’re the CEO, you’re the CFO. You’re all of it, right? You’re all of it. And if you’re not taking kind of like a grounded perspective and making grounded decisions from a big picture perspective about what the business needs, what you need as an employee. Right? If you see yourself as an employee of the business, what is your best employee need to be paid to be well and to thrive and keep generating money for the business? Because if you’re living hand-to-mouth, you’re not going to be doing your best work anymore and you’re going to be on the road to burnout and you might actually be at the point where you leave the profession. And I see that happen to people where it’s just, you’re just done because you’ve been overdoing it for so long, right? So if you don’t stop and take that big picture perspective and make those decisions, sometimes even if they’re hard or scary, nobody else is going to do it for you. You know, you’re just kind of inside of like a machine that’s kind of broken. So that was the first thing then Jena, is fees. You see, people struggle with fees. What other mistakes have you noticed private practitioners making about money? 

Jena [00:18:24] Well, a lot of just not thinking about profitability, right. So people kind of not being fully aware of like what are they bringing in? And then also what are they spending? In my space, anyway, a lot of people feel like you can’t have a private practice unless you have like a brick and mortar location, right? So the way that I teach people to start often is like by going into people’s homes or by using community locations or, you know, kind of not taking on that overhead to start so that you can start with a profitable private practice. Yes. Right. And so what I see is that people like go and they they lease spaces that they can not afford. And you know, then it’s so much stress, right? Because like they see that rent, like let’s just even say it’s like $1,000 a month or whatever. And they’re like, okay, I could probably do that. Like that’s, you know, X number of clients. I could probably do that. But then they forget that lik,e you have to furnish the space, right? And there’s like Wi-fi and there’s like a, you know, maybe a cleaning fee and like extra insurance and all this kind of other stuff. So all of a sudden their expenses continue to go up and they’re kind of still thinking like, okay, but, you know, 12 clients a month, let’s say, should cover it. And so a lot of people come to me like in my later programs with just almost no profit, right? So they’re like working for an entire year and they’re say, oh, I only made, you know, actually like $12,000 last year. And I’m like, oh, my gosh, like, we have to fix this right away. And so that’s something that I see happen a lot is that people just don’t realize how much they’re overspending on expenses and overhead and they’re just not bringing in enough to be profitable in the way that they went to private practice to be. 

Linzy [00:20:04] Right, yeah. Because every dollar that you spend in your business is a dollar that can’t come home to you. Right. And so, like, that’s something to take seriously when you are making those kinds of decisions. Because I totally, I see that in myself sometimes even when you do that quick math of like, well, if I do this thing for me, it’s like, okay, it’s only like two students or it’s only four client sessions or whatever. But you forget that, you know, then you have all these other things you’re paying for and then when do the client sessions start that actually pay you? And then some of those client sessions would actually be going towards taxes, if you want to think about it that way. And suddenly it’s like you’re seeing 30 clients a month, but you’re actually only getting cash coming in home from five of those clients. Right. And you’re working hard and getting paid worse than you were getting paid in that hospital or agency that you worked hard to leave. So I completely agree with you. I think obviously I’m a big fan and I think you are too, of like people seeing their numbers, understanding your numbers, and then like making numbers that work. Like you need to make math that maths, right? It needs to work. And like I’m maybe a former board game player, my partner owned a board game cafe for a few years. So for a while that’s what we did is like, before I had kids also, go there after work, play games. We like, met a bunch of geeky game guys. So I learned how to play these intense board games and in board games you build a machine, right? It’s like you get the ability to do one thing and that feeds into this next thing and then that allows this other thing to happen and that gives you the end result and the winning. And I’m starting to think about businesses like that too, or it’s like you’re building a machine, right? Like your fee, combined with your schedule, combined with your expenses, gives you the ultimate result, which is how much do you get paid? Right. And in that machine, also, we want to make sure you’re saving for taxes. So what you’re getting paid is actually your money, not just money that’s actually 30% taxes that you’re going to owe a tax time, but you’ve spent it, right. So, sometimes we’ve built a machine that doesn’t work. And unless you actually stop and look at your numbers, you don’t know that. So you’re working harder, feeding something that is never going to work because the math doesn’t math. 

Jena [00:21:52] I love that. The math doesn’t math. I’m going to use that. That’s a good one. I’ll credit you with that, but that’s a good one. 

Linzy [00:21:57] Oh, you don’t need to credit me, I got it from financial bloggers. So yeah, I think it’s just out there. It belongs to all of us. So I’m curious, Jena, what resources do you recommend when it comes to money mindset? What has really like, hit the spot for you? 

Jena [00:22:12] Yeah. So I think that money mindset is something again that a lot of clinicians struggle with. And so, you know, for me and for those of you listening, you can’t see this. If anyone is seeing this on video. I have a whole bunch of books behind me. I’m like a big business book nerd. And so the two books that I really recommend to clinicians who are struggling with money mindset, struggling with feeling, you know, worthy, feeling like they have the confidence to charge, are “We Should All Be Millionaires”, by Rachel Rodgers. And “You Are a Badass at Making Money”, by Jen Sincero. I think that those books, you know, they’re both written by women and they both really kind of help women see that like you are worthy, right. And that you don’t have to feel guilty about charging for your services, for which you have a master’s degree or a Ph.D. or like extensive schooling and, you know, whatever. And so I think that those two books are the ones that I recommend the most for people who are really struggling with those money mindset issues, right. I’ve got other money mindset books which, you know, I like to read this kind of stuff. But for the general population, I think that both of those authors do a great job of breaking stuff down, having people think about, like their old money stories and whether things are serving them or not, and just creating new beliefs around money. And so, those are the two I recommend. 

Linzy [00:23:32] Yeah. And I love that they’re books by women too, because I think that as women, we get extra money baggage from society, especially when we’re in helping professions like we are, where it’s like, well, helping is good. Like, that’s the reward in itself. And it’s like, that doesn’t allow you to retire or build a house or send your kid to school or have good food to eat, right. Like we do need to make sure that we really value the work that we’re doing, which often, as you say, like we have extensive education to be able to deliver those services. And I always think about how the fact, usually you have extensive education built on natural gifts and skills that most people don’t have, right. Like not everybody would be able to be an SLP or an OT. I can tell you, like I probably would not be very good at those things. Not everybody is able to be a mental health therapist, right? Like I have a friend who’s a paramedic who would see things that I would never recover from if I saw what he saw. He was scared of my job. He’s like, I can’t believe you sit and talk to people about horrible things that have happened, right? Like we all have our unique skills and gifts and then we do a bunch of schooling and it’s valuable and it changes people’s lives in profound ways, right. And we need to be connected to that. So I love that those are two books by women and we’ll put them in the show notes that you can check out, if you’re finding yourself struggling to value what you do or to feel like making money is an okay thing to do, a good thing to do, a way to have impact. I know Rachel Rodgers, that’s one of the things that she talks about, is like we need more women to have more money. When women have money, good things happen. 

Jena [00:24:58] Yeah, that’s completely right. Like the amount of money that I’m now able to, you know, give to a charitable organization or to like to sponsor things, right? Or just even for my own family to be able to put into, you know, kid’s college savings and retirement, to have that extra level of comfort. Like, I have a seven figure business. Like we bring in a lot of revenue, but like I don’t have a very large house. Like I don’t – like I’m not living crazy or anything, right? I just want to be able to have a comfortable life for my family, to be able to put stuff away, to be able to pay my employees well, right. That’s another thing that’s really important to me is to be able to be the boss that I wish that I had had, right. For example, you know, one of my employees is pregnant and she’s, you know, going to be on maternity leave. And I was like, well, I’m going to pay for your maternity leave. Now, for those of you in Canada, like I think ya’ll get pretty nice maternity leaves. In the States, we get nothing. Like there’s literally nothing guaranteed by your employer. And so I was like, Well, I’m just going to pay you during maternity leave and she was floored. And she was like, really? I was like, yes, that’s like the right thing to do. Like more people should do that, right? So in order to do that kind of stuff, like that’s why I want to have a big business. It’s not so that I can have expensive shoes and expensive car and like an overly large house. Like I want to take care of people like my family, my employees and you know, and other people, you know, in the community. So anyway, that’s why I do what I do. 

Linzy [00:26:25] Yes. And I think that’s really helpful because I think that a lot of us still can have these very simplistic ideas about wealth or if people are making like a good income, that it does become very superficial and it becomes about like handbags and shoes and private jets and yachts. And for many people, it doesn’t. It doesn’t, right. Like they channel that money in intentional ways that make other people’s lives better. And I was reflecting on this just recently because we have family – my partner is from Peru and he has family migrating here from Peru. There are seven of them arriving that are going to be moving into my mother in law’s house. And when I saw this room that this family of five was going to be staying in until they got on their feet, two parents and three kids, I was like, this is not acceptable. We need to make this room way better. And having the money meant that I could like do over the room for them, right? Like I asked questions. Like the questions about the colors that she liked. We were able to, like, make it a completely different space and like, that is really meaningful, right? Like them having a softer landing, arriving in Canada, right. And feeling like they’re being cared for in advance and like having somewhere comfortable to be while they’re like trying to get employed and figuring things out. And like during this massive transition, like that to me is one of the best things that money could buy, right. And that’s what you can do more of when you have more money. I’m getting emotional, but it’s really meaningful, right. And I think that that that is something that we sometimes deceive ourselves about, that it can stop being meaningful when you have more money. But in fact, if you’re intentional, you can just create more good impact when you have more money. 

Jena [00:27:49] Yeah, I think we should all do this right, like I think, I mean, the book, right, We Should all be Millionaires, right? I think we should all be striving toward that, right. To be more comfortable in our own lives and then to also be able to help other people be more comfortable in their lives. Like how, what a great gift, right? To be able to do that, then to be able to provide for, you know, yourself and your family and then for others and through your private practice, right. Or through an online business, right. Like it’s really amazing how creative you can be when it comes to how are you generating that income? Right. But no matter what, like you have to take action. You have to do it, right. One of the quotes that I say all the time is, don’t wait for opportunities, create them. if you’re sitting around waiting to be asked, waiting to be – that to me goes back to kind of that employee mindset of waiting for someone to notice how hard I’m working, waiting for someone to give me a raise or an extra vacation day or something versus being like, No, I’m going to create that. Like if I want a raise, I’m going to, you know, create a new offering, right? Or I’m going to do this or – right. So, or if I want more free time, like if I feel like I need to have Fridays off, well then I’m going to create a schedule that allows me to be able to do that. 

Linzy [00:29:04] Yeah, exactly. 

Jena [00:29:06] For everyone listening, I really want you to kind of think about, you know, what do you want? And like, how are you going to create it intentionally where you are the creator, not someone who is waiting for someone else to make it happen for you. 

Linzy [00:29:20] I love that. So on that note, Jena, if people want to hear more from you. Where is the best place for them to find and follow you? 

Jena [00:29:28] So on Instagram I am @independentclinician. Send me a DM, say hi. Tell me that you heard this podcast online. I’d say that independentclinician.com is the best place to kind of learn more about me and my programs, but Instagram is probably the best place to interact. 

Linzy [00:29:44] Thank you so much, Jena. It’s been such a pleasure talking with you today. 

Jena [00:29:47] Always a pleasure, Linzy. I’m glad that we got this time together. 

Linzy [00:29:50] Yes, me too. 

Linzy [00:30:04] Something that I always appreciate about Jena, whenever I have connected to her or reached out is her spark and energy and drive around what she does, which is help speech language pathologists and OTs build practices. Like you feel, that like passion that she has and I love that that is just on display and just shows and she has such energy around the work that she does. I think that in a way, I think it gives me more permission to also just be excited and take up space and let my passion show about what I love to do. And I think that that’s an inspiration for all of us, where sometimes we have these talents and these gifts and these passions and we kind of keep them quiet and we keep them to ourselves. And by doing that, other people don’t know about them. We can’t have the impact that we want to have when we kind of hide or play small or tell ourselves stories that what we have to offer is not good enough because often what we have to offer is more than good enough. And of course, it’s so uniquely ours in our voice with our values and our gifts. Also, this piece that Jena talked about, about really owning your power in private practice, you know, and connecting to building a practice that actually works for you, that nobody else is going to do that, but you. I think, is also really powerful because I think we can easily internalize that employee mindset even when we’re our own bosses, that somehow it’s going to get better on its own, you know, if we’re not making enough to get paid well, that somehow that’s going to easily work itself out. And often the answers that we do have to make decisions, we have to make moves, we have to zoom out and look at our numbers and understand our situation and then take action based on that information. And as Jena points out, nobody can take that action but us. If you want to hear more from me, you can follow me on Instagram @moneynutsandbolts. We are on there sharing practical and emotional money content all the time. And of course, if you’re enjoying the podcast and enjoying season three, please head over to Apple Podcasts and leave me a review. It really helps other therapists who are needing to hear these kinds of conversations, to find me. Thanks for listening today. 

Hi, I'm Linzy

Hi, I'm Linzy

I’m a therapist in private practice, and a the creator of Money Skills for Therapists. I help therapists and health practitioners in private practice feel calm and in control of their finances.

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Doing Your Inner Work to Reach Your Financial Goals with Jenn Fredette

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Doing Your Inner Work to Reach Your Financial Goals with Jenn Fredette

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“Money is an empty symbol, just like any other symbol. It’s what you decide to put into it. And I think for me, at least, money represents space. Can I have space for myself? Can I have space for the things I want?”

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Episode Transcript

Jenn [00:00:05] Money is an empty symbol, just like any other symbol, it’s what you decide to put into it. And I think for me, at least, money represents space. Can I have space for myself? Can I have space for the things I want? 

Linzy [00:00:29] Welcome to the Money Skills For Therapists podcast, where we answer this question. How can therapists and health practitioners go from money, shame and confusion to feeling calm and confident about their finances and get money really working for them in both their private practice and their lives? I’m your host, Linzy Bonham therapist turned money coach and creator of the course Money Skills For Therapists. Hello, and welcome back to the podcast. So today is our final episode in season two. It is hard to believe, but season two is coming to an end. This is our final episode, and we’re going to take a little break over, probably a month or two, and then we’ll be back at it in a little while. I love, love, love doing this podcast, and I also appreciate having seasons so that we have space to breathe and line up all of our guests for the next season. This is very much part of my kind of sensitive nature or not having endless energy to set it up this way so that we can be nice and grounded and putting out episodes that we feel really good about in the podcast. So look for season three coming in a little while, but for now, our last episode of season two. So today’s podcast guest is Jenn Fredette. Jenn is a deep thinker, she’s a mac and cheese eater, she shared in her bio. She does depth psychotherapy, and she’s also a marketing consultant who helps therapists who longed for more in their life and practice than the status quo. Jenn is a grad of my very first time that I ran the Money Skills For Therapists course back in 2018. She was part of the beta course, which we talk about just a little bit in our interview today, and Jenn is a deep thinker above all, which is one of the things I really appreciate about her. She has a knowledge of mythology and spirituality and just an approach to information that I really appreciate. She’s very much like a bookie kind of human, which I love in this day and age when so many of us are always moving so fast all the time. I feel like she has this real depth in the way that she thinks about and approaches things. And today, we dig in to the challenge of being the default person for everything when you are a parent and a therapist and just a woman in the world. We talk about what money means for her and thinking about the meanings that we attribute to money and what it can do for us. And then we get into the importance of doing your own personal work as you’re growing your practice and maybe even expanding your practice and expanding the amount of money that you accumulate or that runs through your practice and therefore the impact that you have. The importance of doing our personal work and the negative impacts that can come when we don’t do our personal work, while we’re also growing our presence in the world through our businesses. Here’s Jenn Fredette. All right, Jenn, welcome to the podcast. 

Jenn [00:03:35] Thanks for having me, Linzy, I’m so excited to talk with you today. 

Linzy [00:03:38] I am excited, too. So, Jenn, to give relationship context to folks listening. We’ve known each other since 2018. I believe you were in the very first cohort of Money Skills For Therapists. 

Jenn [00:03:50] I absolutely was. I’ve been around. I bought a scanner and expensed it as a business expense, and I still use that scanner and it delights me. So, thanks for helping me get a tax break on that. 

Linzy [00:04:03] You mean, like from taking the course, you’ve got a scanner to scan your receipts? 

Jenn [00:04:06] Oh yes. Yes, yes. 

Linzy [00:04:08] And Jenn, your space that you occupy and I feel like are like carving out and evolving is you’re a depth psychotherapist. You are a deep thinker of all kinds. You have an awesome podcast of your own, A Thinkers Guide. And I’m very excited to have you on the show because when I think about just kind of like thoughtful, informed, someone who knows mythology, which I could not claim to know, I think of Jenn Fredette. And also as a bonus, you also teach marketing to therapists, which we’ll talk about. So you kind of I feel like you’ve got your finger in a few metaphorical pots. 

Jenn [00:04:41] I love that idea. The image that just came to mind is like having a really generous spice cabinet of like, where there’s like lots of things I can pull from. It just depends on what dish do I want to cook up today? 

Linzy [00:04:54] Yes. Absolutely, yes. So with that, I’m curious, Jenn, coming from like the schools that you are, schools of deep thoughts. What have you been thinking about lately when it comes to therapists and money? 

Jenn [00:05:08] You know, it’s interesting. I have – we were talking about how I have a young daughter and we still don’t have child care yet. And I just getting over the stomach flu. It was like celebrating last night by catching up on work. Just, I don’t know something I should be celebrating. But it was like, Oh, this is amazing, I get to stay up. And I stayed up till midnight, which was a terrible idea because the baby wakes up at like 6:30 and at like 6:45, where I’m like, All right, she’s up. I have to get up with her. I’m like, dragging myself to the bathroom to wash my hands, put in my contacts. I thought, You know, it really fucking sucks to be the default. There’s so much in my life and I have an amazing partner who if I said to him, like, dude, I stayed up very unwisely till the night last night writing emails to my list. Could you please get up the baby? He still would, but I still need to breastfeed her. I’m still going to be awake for some portion. Becoming a parent has really showed me in how many ways I operate as default in business, as therapist, as a partner, as a woman in all of these ways. And I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I hear from the healers that I work with who also operate as default, right? That I got to do this, I got to do that. Like, How am I going to fit all of these things into an – I don’t know, like, what should I do? There’s not a sense that there’s a lot of help or ease of like, who can you rely on? 

Linzy [00:06:35] Right, and when you say default, you mean it’s you? You’re the one who’s going to be taking care of x y z? 

Jenn [00:06:40] Yes. 

Linzy [00:06:41] And wearing this hat in so many different areas of your life, being the default person? 

Jenn [00:06:46] Right, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have help, but the default means you have to then opt for somebody else to give you help. 

Linzy [00:06:54] Yeah. 

Jenn [00:06:55] Does that make sense? 

Linzy [00:06:56] It does. It does, yes. Like the work is yours to disperse. It’s on your plate unless you do the work of putting it on somebody else’s plate. 

Jenn [00:07:04] Yes. Which is sometimes more work than actually just doing the work. And so then people are like, Oh, I don’t know. I mean, I certainly do that. Like to go back to this Morning example, my husband absolutely would have gotten up with the baby. He would have taken that on, and he does some mornings. But mornings are not his jam. And so often the way we’ve worked it out is I don’t have to worry about the 5 to 6:30 piece, that’s always his time. And I can just sit and do whatever I’m going to do. That’s not my default. That’s his default. All the other times, though, I have to ask and he’s like, Well, what does she do? Like, how do I do this? And like, Where’s this and where’s that? And do I have to feed the cats? I don’t really want to keep the cats today. Can you feed the cats when you get up? But there’s all these other pieces that end up stacking that it’s just easier to do. It’s just easier to do, for me. And I’ve been thinking about this – you asked specifically about like therapist and money, that there are times that I see therapists not investing in themselves and that it might actually be that they’re spending a lot of money to try to learn, to try to like, do it themselves, like do it yourself to success without necessarily investing in the help to literally like take things out of their brain and like, let it live with somebody else. 

Linzy [00:08:28] Right. Yeah. Yeah, and that’s an interesting thing because when you were saying how, that for you personally it can sometimes be a struggle to, like, outsource. I feel like this is something I’ve very been consciously working on over the last few years. I was just talking about this with a friend this week and I had the the pleasure of using my money to have a spa getaway with a very good friend, going to like the water baths, the Scandinavian spa, like hot pools, cold pools, sauna. It was wonderful and I was telling her how something that I’ve definitely overcome in the last few years is two things. One is the idea that I can do it better than other people. Mostly, I can’t. What I’ve learned is like, I figured out the things where it’s like, This is my gift. This is my own genius. This is where I shine. And like in my business, these are the areas where I am – it’s my business. Like, I make these decisions, these strategic like top level vision decisions about who we are, what our values are, what are our general strategies for going for. But in terms of actually carrying out the work, I have consciously built a team of people who are way better than me at the things that I have outsourced to them, like things that I would struggle with are things that they do with ease. That’s one piece that comes to mind for me is like, I think that sometimes and I’m curious, like your thoughts on where some this comes from for us, like is it conditioning? Is it patriarchy? Is it perfectionism? Like why we often find it so hard? Because I know it’s something I’ve worked very hard to unlearn and shift. And so it’s been kind of like, Oh, do to realize I think I did it. Outsourcing is actually now my natural way of going to which, of course, we need some amount of money to be able to outsource. And that’s always something that, like I talk about with with students and therapists, is like that return on investment. Being able to think through where your money is going to serve you well to outsource because it’s not like we always have like a $20000 outsource pot, just sitting there every month, we have to make choices. But then the other thing that I think about and this might be getting like a little bit too close to the bone, but you know, the concept of weaponizing competence. 

Jenn [00:10:18] Yes. 

Linzy [00:10:19] It just came to me as you were talking about your partner asking you, like, what do I have to do this to have to do this? Like, sometimes we do get pushback from people at our lives because it’s easy for them, easier for them if we are the default. That actually does benefit them unconsciously or consciously. It’s easier for them if we just do the things that we’ve always done. 

Jenn [00:10:36] Well and it’s interesting too, we actually, he and I had this conversation maybe about six months ago, and one of the things I valued was that he was able to like, Yeah, there are some places where I do play that out. But also recognizing places where I also sometimes weaponize my own competence against myself. And he didn’t put it that way. He’s this much more gentle. But there is a place that he will say, but Jenn, if you would just say, like, just come, let me know you want me to take the baby and like, Oh, but I don’t. But I don’t want to. I need to. But I don’t want to, because there’s something. And I do think that for me, it’s a lot of internalized stuff that I picked up in childhood. I mean, not just in terms of the patriarchy and white supremacy and how they teach us that we ought to be in the roles we have to play. But I grew up in a community that amplified those messages that there was really a sense that I was not meant to have a job outside of the home, that I was meant to be a full time stay at home parent who attended the harth. It actually comes up sometimes and I will go for a walk. Not so much with the baby now, but before we would be walking and he’s taller than I am. But he would slow his pace down to crawl and I would still fall a couple paces behind him because there was something ingrained in me when I was younger. You let the men go before you, literally and metaphorically. So yes, I think some is his stuff, but some of it is mine as well. I think sometimes, at least in our dynamic, what can happen is I end up playing victim. Look at all the things that I have to hold, look at all the things I’m doing, l’m so burned out. 

Linzy [00:12:23] Yes. 

Jenn [00:12:23] And I’m the one making this decision. There’s plenty of shit that also happens that it’s like, that’s not on me. Like, that happened, it’s hard. Like, we have to figure out how. To drive us back, you were asking like where some of this comes from? I do think at least in mental health training, I would imagine in other caregiving, especially like more hands on female dominated spaces, that there is a sense of, you’re supposed to be the giving tree. 

Linzy [00:12:52] Yes. 

Jenn [00:12:53] And like, Just just keep giving more of yourself. And wow doesn’t that feel good? 

Linzy [00:12:58] Right, Giving is a gift in itself. 

Jenn [00:13:00] Yes. And here’s what’s so tricky, though, because then it’s like, no, it’s not like it’s terrible. Like, Hold yourself and like, I don’t know, be more like the men? 

Linzy [00:13:09] Right. Yes, right. We can get that backlash. Opposite messaging. Yeah. 

Jenn [00:13:14] But giving does feel good. And so like, how do you then walk that balance of OK, I don’t actually have to be the default in everything, which in and of itself is its own kind of power and control. And you’re asking about perfectionism. I think perfectionism is just, the move to control what you can when everything around you feels uncontrollable. What are you thinking about on this, Linzy? 

Linzy [00:13:39] Yeah, I mean, that’s an interesting thing because it makes me think too about martyrdom, right? And like that – and also just this narrative busy, we’re all busy, we’re all so busy, right. That is in the water now. It’s like as a culture. And I notice myself using that sometimes as a reason that I’m not getting back to a certain person or whatever. Although I know obviously we prioritize things. But there is this culture and narrative of busyness, and I see this, especially for therapists who like ourselves, are also parents where it’s like you’re busy all day. Usually you’ve overpacked your schedule because most therapists that I work with, unless they’ve actually made really specific choices, you default into working a little bit too much or a lot too much all the time. So you’re busy at work. There’s this outlay you’re giving, giving, giving and then you get home. And then there’s this like family waiting for your attention and then you give whatever’s left. Sometimes resentful because you’re already kind of done for the day, but your day is not done and then you go to bed. If you’re me, you scroll and tick tock for far too long and then you go to bed and you start all over. Right. And so I think there is this way in which it’s in the culture. And I think because it’s in the culture and we’re in a caring profession, the way that it looks for us is through this like giving, caring, taking care of all the time, right? And like not just being responsible for like tasks or things that need to get done, but being responsible for emotional caregiving. People’s wellness, right? Like thinking through that client session you just had and going and doing some reading to like better serve that client the next time. It’s like constantly this, like outward facing. Yeah, I think it is tricky for people to find that balance without, as you say, shifting to the exact black and white opposite, which is like, no, it’s all for me, which also, I think is, it’s out of balance. 

Jenn [00:15:23] Neither space actually gives you space, right? I was thinking, as you’re talking about how busy things are. I don’t know that I always think about myself being very busy, although I am. But it’s all the space has gotten filled out a lot of space for me. And so then it’s sort of like, do I sleep or do I stay up and have fun writing emails like, there doesn’t end up being a lot of space for us. It was just thinking about like when people like shift into that place that it’s like quite climbing the ladder, but it’s sort of like trying to reach the pinnacle of success and actually let me back up a little bit. We have known each other for a while, and I’ve hung out in this space of like watching therapists go from, Oh my gosh, I can only make like %50000 a year and that would be like, really like making it, to like I want to run like a seven figure business and like, I’m going to do all these things and like, here’s how I’m going to scale. I have a lot of social anxiety, and so I just have mostly hung out lurking, watching everybody do their stuff, the past few years. And then finally, like with the help of my coach, like, OK, I can like, come hang out with maybe some of them. It’s a really interesting I don’t deserve anything. Therefore, I just have to like, take what I get to, actually, I can have something. I’m worth this amount, I’m worth this amount, I’m worth this amount. This is something I just, I’m always hearing people talk about charging what they’re worth, which drives me crazy because I don’t know how one can quantify that. Like, I charge two fifty an hour for my therapy clients, I charge way more for consulting now. But that has nothing to do with my worth. It has to do with the expertise that I might be able to offer. It has to do with the space that I’m going to hold. And then I watch people transmit this, I’m going to charge what I’m worth, I’m going to make what I’m worth. Then there’s this sense of those who don’t make as much, are not worth as much. And then there’s this dignity piece. It doesn’t actually matter how much money you have or how much money you’re charging. There’s not dignity for you or the people that you’re working with. Does that make? 

Linzy [00:17:44] For sure. Yeah. First of all, I mean, it’s not about what your words. I think the way I think of it is you’re selling a service. What is the worth of your service and the worth of your service is like what somebody is willing to pay you for that service. And there’s a lot of factors that go into what somebody is willing to pay you for a service, right? And part of that is about the learning that you’ve done, the natural skills you’re bringing to it, the experience you’re able to share with them. But also part of it is just how much you’ve been able to convey to them the value of it. How do you set up the structure so that they get maximum value out of that time together? You know, there’s so many components into what you can charge for a service that people will pay sustainably. Yeah, what I hear and what I noticed myself is that I do think that we end up accidentally falling into like capitalist logic, where it’s like more money equals better. If you have more money, therefore you’re also better and if you have less money, therefore you’re worse. Right? And I think that if we actually spelled it out that clearly people would be like, No, no, no, that’s not what I think, that’s not how I feel, but I do think that we could end up slipping into that sometimes when we get so focused on our fees and what we charge and what we’re making and like, I’m always very suspicious of that. That top line number, the seven figure business being a numbers person, I know that that actually really means nothing about how much you’re actually getting paid, how much your team is getting paid. Is it a quality work place? Is the quality of work still the same? Are your clients getting quality of experience? That means that your business is sustainable, like there’s so many other things in that mix that get missed when we go for that kind of like a vanity metric off the top. But I do think that, yeah, we end up accidentally buying into the things that we were suspicious of. Rightly so, which is that money determines your worth. 

Jenn [00:19:20] I love actually hearing you talk about it as a vanity metric. I’m showing all my vulnerabilities with you today, but I sit on a couch about a year ago. I was like, I just want to rent a seven figure business. I think that would be fun and interesting to try to figure out how to do. And she’s like, ok cool like, let’s talk about it. And so I’ve had it in the back of my mind of like, wouldn’t this be cool? Interesting to do? And I am – I’ve done a lot of school. There’s like, Oh, that’s right, this is like trying to get the A-plus, the best all around student. 

Linzy [00:19:51] A-plus in business world. 

Jenn [00:19:52] Yeah, yeah. Like, there is something kind of meaningless about it, which actually in a lot of ways is really lovely because and if you’re willing to be conscious and be thoughtful about it, you can bring the meaning you want to bring. And if you remain unconscious, if you’re not willing to examine your own biases, the own stuff that has seeped into your bones. Audre Lorde says that you can’t rebuild the master’s house using the master’s tools. And I think that’s true, and I think sometimes we take it so literally like, Well, what does that mean? I can’t have money, that I can’t have all of this? But maybe actually what it means is you get to show up, that you show up and you choose to use your own tools that have been diminished or invalidated that instead of giving parts of yourself away, you nurture those things that are actually giving. Does that make sense? 

Linzy [00:20:48] Yeah, yeah. Well, I think I mean, what it makes me think about is, how do you still strive to take up space? Don’t fall into that narrative of like, well, you need to be small because you’re a woman, because you’re a person of color, because you’re disabled, because your family historically has not had money. Therefore, stay in your spot, right? Don’t claim any power. How do we avoid that? And don’t buy into that narrative, but at the same time, be ambitious, build cool shit, you know, like build a business you’re excited about. That is a reflection of your values, right? And the things that are meaningful to you. Because I think that’s where the risk can be, that we sometimes get lost as we do start to get so focused on like those numbers or whatever that a plus that we’re striving for, now that we’re no longer being given a plus as we make up our own pluses to go for. How do you still have like a meaningful values based business or a business that reflects your values and kind of amplifies your values in the world and not fall into those traps of just kind of, money equals good? 

Jenn [00:21:49] We talked before we started recording. I had offered some things that we could talk about today, and you were like reading them back to me. I was like, Wow, those are really hard questions. 

Linzy [00:22:01] The questions you suggested for yourself, just for the listeners who are listening. 

Jenn [00:22:04] Yes, and this is not a question. I suggest myself. I was like, Oh gosh, we should have stuck with my questions, Linzy. That’s a hard one. 

Linzy [00:22:10] Mine are harder? 

Jenn [00:22:12] I like it. I say this often to therapy clients and I started to say to my consulting clients to like, Ooh, I have many thoughts about that. Now let me sort through. Like, where do we go? What I often think about is how we need to do our own work of healthy entitlement, as opposed to continuing to fawn, flee, like, have trauma responses, essentially to those who take up more space than it’s necessary for them. I’ve been off and on watching the confirmation hearings for the newest Supreme Court judge. It’s like watching an abused situation play out. And, here are  these people taking up so much space, so much privilege and not having boundaries. That just isn’t right, isn’t fair. And so part of – I think what we actually need to do is have some healthy entitlement for what do you actually need and want? When I sit with clients as well as my students sometimes like, well, I don’t really know what I need, like I have my basic blah blah blah blah blah needs that say, Well, what would you want for your clients? What would you want for your kids? What would you want for your partner? What is the baseline for other people? OK, that is not the baseline for you. And I think that’s the first piece was the first very random abstract response. My second thought was building a business has felt a lot like gardening to me, I think you are a gardener. 

Linzy [00:23:34] I am, yes. 

Jenn [00:23:35] I am not a gardener. I kill everything. I’m not allowed to touch our house plants. I have these big dreams and like, I can imagine that. And so when my partner and I talk about, like starting a vegetable garden, he’s like, How just feels really overwhelming to like do the planning? And I’m like, you know, I’ll do the planning. Like, I would love that, you do the actual like planting of things or like monitoring me because I’m great at like a big project. But maintenance is not my stack. And when I think about building a business, I think we have to go to the place of like, OK, what works for you? Like, how do you grow things in your life? Are you a big project kind of person? Are you great at maintenance? Are you somewhere in between? And then like, you’re talking about start to hire people to do the other things for you, right? 

Linzy [00:24:28] Yeah. And around that piece of hiring, like something that I think about a lot Jenn, thinking about basically, like how do we do good with the power we accumulate? That’s a big part of it, right? Because money is powerful and money is power. And what I’m hearing is sometimes you’re supporting folks, and so am I, who don’t feel even kind of entitled in a healthy way to what is more than the minimum right? Like we – they’ve kind of carved out a little spot in the world for themself and like, well, this is it. And I mean, it’s fine. So I’ll just stay here, right and you with that little bit of perspective can see like, you could do better than fine. What would be good? You know, so there’s that end of the spectrum. But then I think on the other end, when we do start to build successful practices, either because we have like a premium fee and we really hone in our niche and like clients are flowing in and we’re able to start offering other offers, you know, that bring more money into our world. Or we start a group practice because we’re great at supervising people. And, you know, we start to attract more and more clients to work with these peers that we’ve hired. What I think about, too, is how in accumulating that power, that flow of energy through your business, that money. You also then get to make decisions around what kind of place is this to work? Is this a good place to work or is this just like replicating the same kind of capitalist patterns where it’s like, I don’t really care who you are. I don’t care that it’s your birthday today, happy birthday to you anyways keep working, right? Which is like, we just today we have a new administrator who started with us a few months ago and we found out that it was her birthday yesterday, and the way that her life is set up is like they’d be celebrating late at night because her boyfriend works till very late at night. And when we realize that we just like gave her a day off because like, why would we make her come into work after, like partying? Because she’s young and full of life? Good for her. I’m probably a little jealous. It kind of like blew her mind that we just proactively gave her a day off and recognition her birthday because that’s not how we’re used to being treated. I certainly was not treated like that. You know, when I was at the beginning of my career, people weren’t helping me proactively think about what would be a really nice way to spend my birthday. But we get to do that when we have accumulated the monetary power to be able to employ people and have help. And I think that’s something that is really powerful and that we can forget sometimes when we get to the other end of that spectrum and we become more entitled to now we’re going for those vanity metrics, rather than thinking about like, Oh my gosh, this workplace impacts 12 people’s lives every day. What do I want their lives to be like? How do I want to make their lives better by them working for me? 

Linzy [00:26:46]  I think a lot of the reason that we have people in the mental health space and perhaps in other helping professions who really are shitty bosses and exploitive businesses is because they’re not fucking doing their work. That’s what I keep coming back to again and again. It’s actually one of the things I love so much about my marketing consulting piece. I’m sort of just making it up as I go along, and I’m discovering by being really clear who I’d love to work with, work with people like you Linzy, like thoughtful, grounded, who do their inner work. They go to therapy, they engage in all of these other ways to understand themselves more and more and more. And those are the people I keep wanting to be like, yes, expand, like more entitlement. Like have more because I can trust that they’re going to show up and really treat the people they work with as partners and certainly hold, like the boundary for their boss or with their therapist, but treat them like people and tap into empathy, which is one of our greatest skills. And I think if you don’t do your work, you get calcified and it’s easier to try to meet unconscious, unmet needs through playing out old stories, just with new people. 

Linzy [00:28:03] Mm hmm. That is so true. Yeah. So it’s like this combination of doing your work and then also letting yourself build and going for what you really want, that can create this beautiful impact. You’re operating from a very different space when it’s not about making up for unmet needs, right? When it’s about creating something wonderful in the world. That’s a very different space, than making up for never feeling good enough or trying to accumulate endless amounts of money because you never feel secure. Jenn, thinking about all of these things then, like from your perspective, I’m curious what is then kind of the the value of having your money game in order or having your business really working for you or or being rich or accumulating wealth? Like what is the value of these things from your perspective? 

Linzy [00:28:51] When I was 13 – and my parents have very warped relationship with money, but my dad said to me, Well, if you want to have a car someday, you’re going to have to earn it. And I took him quite literally. And so I started babysitting, worked at McDonald’s, which is the best job I’ve ever had. It was so fun and like, there was always stuff to be busy and then you got to engage with people. So I worked all all through my adolescence and saved about 50 percent, which is like nobody, except the fire people are saving 50 percent of their overall income. But I saved all this money and I bought my car and I grew up in a really highly controlled community. And when I sat in that car, I thought, I can go anywhere I want. I didn’t go anywhere spectacular, went down the street and got a lobster roll and a raspberry lime Ricky. But I could go anywhere that I wanted. I remember at that moment thinking, Oh, I feel rich, like I own my own car. I have freedom. I bought freedom with all of that work, which is a narrative. I still have to unwind in myself that you don’t just have to work hard to get what you need and want. But when you ask me, like, what does it mean to be rich? I think about like, what are those things I really need right now? And I actually keep thinking like to be rich would be to have all the time I want with my kid to get to still see my clients, to still get to do this work because it’s meaningful and like rich to me, but also to go and sit in a different car that is slowly dying and I’ll have to get a new one, probably this year. But just go sit in my car and do fuckin nothing, not have to talk to anybody. Like maybe go to Arby’s and get a shake, like that would feel good and rich. And part of it is a space in life, I don’t get a lot of time to myself. There’s a lot of holding of other people. And so the idea of like, I could just be in my car, and my car could hold me for a little while, like it’s actually made me tear up a little bit like I really actually think I need to go get a shake this afternoon. 

Linzy [00:30:59] Sounds like it. Yes. I encourage this behavior. Yeah, I mean, it sounds a lot like having that money, it gives possibility. In some ways, maybe a little bit of escape from whatever’s difficult at the time. Right? Like, you’re an early parenthood right now. Some time alone is just like the best thing you can imagine, right? When you were younger, being able to be not where you were and be somewhere else was the best thing you could imagine. So it gives us options. 

Jenn [00:31:24] I worked with you 2018. I was in your beta, which is like this big, beautiful, amazing course now. I was lucky because I got lots of access to you. And one of the things I remember really sold me, you talked about. Yeah. And like, you can make sure that you save for maternity leave. I was like, one can do that in private practice? Like that is an option? Like, I just thought I kind of have to pay my taxes and pay myself and like, somehow, maybe it will work out. And I joined your class because I am a straight A chaser, like I wanted to do well. I wanted my CPA to be proud of me and my bookkeeping skills. And when I realized like, Oh, actually, learning to manage my money can allow me to build the kind of life that I want. I actually don’t have to manage my money. I mean, I still manage my money in some ways, but I have a bookkeeper, I have a CPA. 

Linzy [00:32:17] You don’t have to do the labor. 

Jenn [00:32:18] No, I’m a financial planner who gives me suggestions of what to do. And so when it came to the place that I was pregnant, I had a maternity leave fund and I got to take as long as I wanted. And I got to come back part time and I got to come back because I missed my clients, not because I was like, I’ve gotta make money. Money is an empty symbol, just like any other symbol. It’s what you decide to put into it. And I think for me, at least, money represents space. Can I have space for myself? Can I have space for the things I want? 

Linzy [00:32:55] I hear that and I think what I’m hearing for you, is like that space is not just like, I don’t want to work anymore. I want space from work. Because I think that sometimes the fantasy that we can have to when we’re like kind of more of the burnout side of things like, I just won’t be a therapist anymore, I’ll just cook all day. We kind of fantasize what this escape is, but I’m hearing for you. Part of that is like, there is a real balance like, you love the work that you do that nurtures a part of you. And then also, it gives you the opportunity to spend as much time with your daughter as you want, right? So you get both of those things. It’s not an either or, but it allows you to get the right mix of kind of stimulation into your world. I love that. I love that. So, Jenn, I know marketing is your jam, which I so appreciate because it’s so not my jam. So I’m so glad that for people like you out there helping us with marketing. What do you see as the connection between marketing and money? 

Jenn [00:33:47] If money is what holds the space, in fact, let’s say money is maybe the container like the consult room that allows you to do the work, there’s enough safety there. Marketing is message. Marketing is the communication. Marketing is the relationship. 

Linzy [00:34:01] Yeah. And so when you’re marketing, then are you kind of creating those right fit relationships or are you putting it out in the world? Spell it out for me a little more. 

Jenn [00:34:11] So I think marketing is really – it’s sort of like money, like we can come up with lots of like, I got to do all these things, and therefore now I can make money or have money or money can do these things for me. Marketing is really just about relationship. You can’t have a relationship with people if you stay hidden away in your room and nobody ever gets to know you like, that’s going to be really hard to form a relationship. And you get to show up in different ways. You get to choose who you want to be, in some ways. We can all have ways that we feel comfortable, like the social personas that we wear and very much, I mean, that’s what marketing is, is being able to show up in your persona as authentically as you can manage. If you asked me earlier, like, ooh, would this cut too close to the bone? And I was like, no,  literally I just show up sometimes, maybe too naked when I’m doing kind of like, this is sort of a marketing activity for me. I get to come hang out with you, share with people who I am, what I do. I’m not here to sell people on doing anything one way or the other. I’m here to show people like, Hey, this is who I am, and I don’t want to call people to action like, you must do all of these things in order to be successful, but to offer like, Hey, if you want to do some healing, marketing is a really good path that you can start to really get to know yourself and what keeps you blocked from really showing up and being visible. 

Linzy [00:35:41] So there’s a lot of self-worth that can happen. 

Jenn [00:35:43] Always. 

Linzy [00:35:43] As you’re working on your marketing. Yeah, that’s so interesting. And thinking about this, Jen, because I’m somebody who has, you know, I’m sure I could pay you a lot of money to help me with my own blocks with my marketing because I’m a very private person. So it’s not in my nature to really share who I am. And these are conversations that I’m having in my life. Like, literally as recently as yesterday, I sent a good friend of mine, a message about marketing and kind of my blocks, the things that make it hard for me. But something that I do think about, we chatted a little bit before we went on mic about swearing. You asked me if this was a swearing friendly space and I said, Yes, it absolutely is. And that’s actually something, I recently got some feedback from somebody that they didn’t like my cussing, which is like, funny. I remember Laura Long talking about this so long ago, and my response was the similar to what I remember, I saw Laura Long say. Which is kind of like, I’m probably actually not the right person for you then. You know, because something that if I think about myself and I was reflecting this this morning, I do swear, I don’t swear excessively. I don’t just pepper sentences with swear words. But even as a clinician, I would swear with my clients if my clients swear, I’m going to swear back with them to join them in that space, right? And so that’s actually kind of part of my authenticity. And if I did try to hide that and never put myself out there swearing in things that could be marketing activities, I’m kind of not really giving them the full picture of what the experience of working with me is like. Right. So it’s actually in a way, it’s part of my marketing. Is swearing and letting people know I do kind of authentically express myself like this from time to time. 

Jenn [00:37:06] There was a study several years ago that actually said that when people in positions of authority swear like, their trustworthiness goes up. Because it is seen as something that is, maybe that it is more like a private thing. And so then if you’re willing to do it on a public stage or in a public arena, it makes you more relatable. It’s interesting that you say like, Well, and I’m a very private person, which in a way is its own defense. I don’t have to do that because here I fit this archetype of, like, very private. One of the things I do with my students and actually I have a free offer that your audience might like. Really like, let’s break down those blocks of what are you actually playing out when you say, I’m a very private person or I don’t do self-disclosure because that could like rupture the therapeutic relationship in the future, blah blah blah blah blah. That there is a way that we’re trying to guard our own pain as opposed to letting it breathe, like letting it get some air. I don’t know that you always have to, like, do the most raw thing in your marketing. Sometimes if you can examine like, what is it that is holding you back? Like, what is the thing? Like, I will not do that. It’s like, Oh, what am I avoiding in myself? That play is like something I just cannot do. Like, how can I bring more play into my own life and actually be willing to show up and like, look incompetent? So I’d be curious what your privacy might actually be?


Linzy [00:38:42] I’ll take it to therapy. Don’t worry about me.

Jenn [00:38:43] Oh, good, good. Good.

Linzy [00:38:45] So, Jenn, for folks who want to find you. Where is the the best social media place for them to find you? Or are you really hanging out in a few?

Jenn [00:38:53] Tic-Tok is my – they can come follow me on Tik Tok if they want. It’s like a sandbox for me. Like it’s play therapy. Like come hang out, but I am not consistent or regular on that platform. I regularly show up on Instagram @athinkersguide. So Instagram’s probably the best place to come and connect. I aim to respond to people’s DMs, so if you’re listening, feel free to drop me a DM or come hang out with me on a live where Linzy is not here to keep me grounded. And so I just ramble about what’s in my head.

Linzy [00:39:24] And then you mentioned a free offer, so if folks want to get more in your world, what do you got for them?

Jenn [00:39:29] You talking about your privacy. I thought oh, I got to tell Linzy’s people about my Diagnosing your Struggles with Marketing, it’s a workbook. But those of you who will get to know me know that I do not do anything systematically. So it’s like a ten page, like journaling prompts, like let’s dig deep and like, really get into what is your marketing actually say about what’s going on underneath? And because I’m a therapist, I have five different interventions to help you start to work through each of those places that you really get stuck. They can check that out at a athinkersguide.com/dx. 

Linzy [00:40:06] Great perfect, and we’ll put the link to that in the show notes, so it’s easy for them to get to. I love thoughtful, meaty freebies, so thank you for putting that out there. And thank you, Jenn. It’s been lovely talking you today. 

Jenn [00:40:17] Same, same. 

Linzy [00:40:32] In my conversation with Jenn, this piece about the importance of doing your own work that she brought up just really sticks out to me and really rings true. It makes me reflect on some of the behaviors or impulses I’ve sometimes seen in myself when there’s something that I’m trying to live out through my business that is not really about, you know, the work that I’m doing or or the money, you know, when we kind of attach other meaning to our business because of stuff that we have worked on personally. It also makes me think of behaviors of therapists and other business owners who I love, who sometimes I see that the thing that’s driving them is not really something that’s balanced, you know, it’s more about an unmet need. As Jen would put it, I think there’s so much wisdom to that. Maybe this should be a reminder to all of us to keep doing our personal work. And if we’re noticing that something in our business is feeling really anxiety producing or we’re feeling really rigid around a certain thing, it’s probably not about our business or our private practice. And it is a chance to step back and be curious about ourselves and work on things so that the impact that our businesses have in the world can be aligned with our values and can align with our politics and making the world better, rather than what can sometimes be a bit of an unbalanced force. If you want to hear more from me, you can follow me on Instagram @moneynutsandbolts. That’s where we put out our practical and emotional mindset money content all the time, and that’s where you can keep in touch with us between podcast seasons as well before we’re back in season three. And if you’re enjoying the podcast, please jump over to Apple Podcasts and leave me a review. That is the best way for people to find us. I hope that you all have a wonderful month or two. If you’re at the end of season two and there’s no season three yet, I look forward to connecting with you all again when season three comes around soon. 

 

Hi, I'm Linzy

Hi, I'm Linzy

I’m a therapist in private practice, and a the creator of Money Skills for Therapists. I help therapists and health practitioners in private practice feel calm and in control of their finances.

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How to Get Paid During Seasonal Slumps in Your Practice Coaching Session

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“[If I did this plan, I would know] that I was taking care of myself, taking care of my business, and not relying on a credit card or something else to help me out, which is amazing that I was doing this all and moving money around and taking control over a situation that sometimes feels out of control.”

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Episode Transcript

Linzy [00:00:03] So thinking about this plan, if you were doing this, what would you know about yourself? 

Donna [00:00:07] That I was taking care of myself, taking care of my business and not relying on a credit card or something else to help me out, which is amazing that I was doing this all and moving money around and taking control over a situation that sometimes feels out of control. 

Linzy [00:00:28] Welcome to the Money Skills For Therapists podcast, where we answer this question. How can therapists and health practitioners go from money, shame and confusion to feeling calm and confident about their finances and get money really working for them in both their private practice and their lives? I’m your host, Linzy Bonham therapist turned money coach and creator of the course Money Skills For Therapists. Hello, and welcome back to the podcast. So today’s podcast episode is with Donna Peters. Donna is a graduate of Money Skills For Therapists, and this is one of our coaching sessions. So Donna went back to school after her youngest started school himself and finished her her undergrad, which she had not done before. At the time, she was also volunteering at a domestic violence clinic, and one of the women there said to her, This is obviously your calling. You need to go into social work. So she went on to do her master’s in social work, and as she put it, she’s enjoyed every minute and has never looked back. She works for a group practice and does some online work and also is looking at moving more into private practice. So Donna and Is conversation today is around a very familiar pain point for those of us in private practice, which is weathering those slumps that happened the summer slump, when suddenly all of your clients are off having wonderful summer vacations and the December slump when they’re off with their families and suddenly your income hits the floor. We explore how to build a buffer in anticipation of this and plugging this into the system she already has. Notably in this episode, because most of Donna’s income is as an employee of a group practice, we’re exploring actually how she can work with this issue at home because she gets paid a paycheck from group practice. So if you’re in group practice, and if sometimes it feels like these private practice things don’t quite apply to you, this is going to absolutely apply to you because we had to figure out how to solve this problem for Donna, not in her private practice, but actually in her home finances to be able to weather these ups and downs. So here is my coaching session with Donna Peters. 

Linzy [00:02:38] All right, Donna, welcome, thank you for coming today. 

Donna [00:02:41] Thank you. Thanks for having me. 

Linzy [00:02:43] So Donna, you came on today that the question that you submitted is about basically weathering this summer slump, like that summer income drop. Can you tell me more about what’s going on with that? I have always noticed that July and August, the first weeks of August, really there is a huge drop in clients coming in. And then of course, when school starts, you get a huge influx of clients coming back. But it seems like this year there was a huge drop. And that was probably because everybody was like, yay, we’re free, we can go. But I was not expecting that big of a drop, where I really had to dip into my savings account to cover things. And I was – that’s very scary, when you start having to do that kind of stuff and it’s like, Well, how do I cushion myself for these type of situations, especially since I know another one’s coming up in December. 

Linzy [00:03:36] Yeah, there are all these like natural ups and downs in the season, and as you say, COVID is going inside and having fun for the first time, in a long time. 

Donna [00:03:44] Right. In a long time, but when you have a really good, steady income where you see all these different clients, all the sudden they’re like, I am going on vacation, I will see you and whenever. You don’t know if they are going to come back or not, because now they have all this freedom and they’re like, they’re using their coping skills that what they’ve been used to in the past. 

Linzy [00:04:03] Right. Yeah. 


Donna
[00:04:03] They’re building those up again, so they might not be coming back. And so it’s like, Oh, OK, where where am I going to find all these new clients? How am I going to reinvest in all this? 

Linzy [00:04:15] Yes. So my my brain is kind of going two directions, so you tell me which one will be more helpful, first. One is the policy side of it, of how your practice is set up and the questions for you there. Or we can think about creating a financial buffer, which one would be more helpful for you? 

Donna [00:04:30] Probably the financial buffer because I think there’s still some COVID laws still in place where they don’t have to pay cancelation fees. I think those are still in place. 

Linzy [00:04:43] Because these are insurance based clients? 

Donna [00:04:45] Yes. 

Linzy [00:04:45] OK, let’s talk about the financial buffer side of it. So during the year, how are you managing your money? What is that looking like right now? How do you manage the money in your business?

Donna [00:04:56] What do is, I take 30 percent because I have a group practice that I’m still part of. And then I still have my telehealth, which I’m almost – I’m so proud of myself that I have whittled down to very few clients. So I’m not overworking, I’m not burnt out anymore. And what I do with that money is I automatically take 40 percent because I want to have a little bit more cushion for taxes after the end of the year. Because 30 percent is a great amount, but 40 will give me a little bit extra and I know I’m not touching that money whatsoever because that’s not my money. 

Linzy [00:05:33] Yes, OK. So that 30 percent you mentioned in your practice, is that what you’re paying to? The practice is what you mean or that’s what you’re Setting Aside Enough For Taxes? 

Donna [00:05:41] That’s what I’m setting aside for taxes. 

Linzy [00:05:43] Ok, great. 

Donna [00:05:43] I’d always call that one the telemedicine, the telemedicine part of the job. I just set that aside for my “just in case, emergency money,” I really – because there is not that much money coming in lately because of me scaling back. 

Linzy [00:05:57] OK, so from your group practice income, then you’re sending 30 percent of taxes, from your telemedicine, you’re basically using that as kind of like a little emergency fund. 

Donna [00:06:08] Yeah, telemedicine, I’m taking 30 percent off and then using the rest for set aside for just in case money. 

Linzy [00:06:13] OK. The rest of the remaining 70 percent is just in case money. 

Donna [00:06:16] Right. Because the group practice, is a W-2 company. So I don’t have to worry about taxes whatsoever. 

Linzy [00:06:21] OK, I see. Right. So with the group practice then, you are kind of being paid as an employee? 

Donna [00:06:27] Mhmm. 

Linzy [00:06:27] Yeah. So you’re not necessarily able to kind of manage how much you get paid. You get paid, whatever you’ve kind of earned in that period. 

Donna [00:06:34] Right. I get a percentage of what I earn. 

Linzy [00:06:37] OK. And so with that, if we were talking about a private practice, Donna, actually, you know what, with that, though you are, are you getting paid? It’s a W-2, so you’re getting paid right to your personal bank account. 

Donna [00:06:48] Mm hmm. 

Linzy [00:06:48] If that was your own practice, like if we were talking about you being out on your own, there be a different way of managing this right, which is kind of like you might make and have the money to pay yourself four thousand in a month, but you pay yourself like thirty five hundred. Right, that’s how we would manage it in practice. But I see how this would be extra painful because it’s kind of like you’re getting a paycheck and then suddenly your paycheck starts to really suck.

Donna [00:07:09] It does suck, bad. 

Linzy [00:07:11] Yeah, OK. So this is more actually about how you manage the money at home, in this case. So how do you manage money at home when it comes in the door? 

Donna [00:07:19] I have my own personal bills and I just take care of those. 

Linzy [00:07:23] Ok, you have your personal bills and then, is there any saving that happens? 

Donna [00:07:27] Yeah, that’s automatically taken out, I take that out at the very beginning of every paycheck. 

Linzy [00:07:32] OK, great. And what are you saving for? 

Donna [00:07:34] I have no idea. I just do it. 

Linzy [00:07:35] OK. Well, that’s an interesting thing right there. So these would be the savings that you actually dipped into this summer?

Donna [00:07:43] Right. My savings, I dip into when – because I’ve been trying to start a private practice, but because of – during COVID and the telemedicine, that kind got huge. 

Linzy [00:07:53] Yes. 

Donna [00:07:54] I was never able to really start a private practice because the telemedicine component took up so much. 

Linzy [00:08:01] Yes. And are you still looking to eventually start a private practice? 

Donna [00:08:04] Yes. I’m still in the process of doing that, and that’s why I still have this overhead, of you know, simple practice, a phone – which I do get phone calls and I do get people who want to be part of my private practice. But if they have insurance, then I just move them over to the group practice. 

Linzy [00:08:21] OK. So coming back to this piece about, how do you manage these ups and downs? I am hearing that you already have a savings system at home, but it’s saving for savings. 

Donna [00:08:31] It’s that rainy day savings account that like, Oh, I have extra money I can use it for here. 

Linzy [00:08:36] Right, OK. So I’m curious, is the summer a rainy day? It feels like a rainy day because you just – it really does, because you don’t have the normal like, like a normal amount of money that you’re used to coming in. And all of a sudden it’s cut in half, you’re like, Whoa. 

Linzy [00:08:52] Mm-Hmm. Yeah, because what I would suggest Donna, is because you are getting paid a paycheck and there’s this W-2 situation, you are going have to manage that money at home. But the way to manage it would be to kind of squirrel away a little bit of those high times. So when the low times come, you’re like, I planned for this. Here’s my summer, my summer slump fund. 

Donna [00:09:13] Right. It still is like, I don’t want to touch my savings. 

Linzy [00:09:16] Yes. So tell me, tell me about that. Tell me about not wanting to touch your savings. 

Donna [00:09:20] Because it’s like that nest egg that it’s like, No, I don’t want to spend that money because I don’t – it’s kind of like, you know that plate that you put in your cabinet and say that I’m going to use that for a special occasion. Is that my special occasion plate? But I use my special occasion plate all time. But my money is a totally different story.

Linzy [00:09:40] Uh huh.. Right. So what would be the special occasion, that would warrant those savings being spent? 

Donna [00:09:46] I guess if I if I could not pay, I couldn’t pay for something like my rent or something like that. 

Linzy [00:09:53] OK. So it’s like emergency money. 

Donna [00:09:55] Mm hmm. 

Linzy [00:09:56] But this summer, is not an emergency because you see it coming. So I wonder, Donna, like what would it be like if every time you got paid, you squirreled away some money, planning for the summer? 

Donna [00:10:10] I see what you’re saying, that it’s just seeing in a different way, like this is not really an emergency. This is just, this part of the game. 

Linzy [00:10:21] It’s like, you know, and it sounds like based on the fact that you’re on insurance, like having a robust cancelation policy, which can help to offset this in private pay isn’t possible right now, potentially, that’s something to still look at. So you know that naturally, there’s going to be this decline, in especially July, kind of like a like a six week decline, like July into two weeks of August? 

Donna [00:10:40] That’s it, yeah. 

Linzy [00:10:40] And I will tell you, this happens like across the board in so many types of businesses, except for people who sell like, I don’t know, like beach inflatables. For the inside people, this is normal. So, yeah, so if you did expect this and if this was just a normal, neutral event, a normal low in the year, what would it look like? How would you be saving for it? 

Donna [00:11:00] By probably putting a little bit extra and the closer, it got to the summertime. So that I would know that, like if I was doing it in the springtime, like, OK, we need to pay a little bit extra, summer is coming up. But we don’t know what that summer is going to look like, if it’s going to be a really hot summer, then people are going to be out. 

Linzy [00:11:20] Yes. So based on your experience, how much does it tend to drop in the summer? 

Donna [00:11:24] I wasn’t expecting it to drop this much. I think that kind of threw me. 

Linzy [00:11:29] Because this was, did you say like a 50 percent drop? 

Donna [00:11:31] I almost want to take a 60-70 percent drop off. 

Linzy [00:11:35] Ok, huge drop. 

Donna [00:11:38] It was a huge drop. 

Linzy [00:11:38] Ok, so being concrete about it, how much money would you have needed to have to kind of just cover you for these six weeks? 

Donna [00:11:44] Probably to feel comfortable, about two thousand. 

Linzy [00:11:47] OK, so it’d be having two thousand dollars saved. 

Donna [00:11:49] Mm-Hmm. 

Linzy [00:11:50] And so those two thousand dollars like I’m hearing, there would be this, one plan could be you save for it kind of as it’s coming, like in the spring, do you mean? Winter or spring? 

Donna [00:11:58] Well, adding a little bit more in the spring just to make it a little bit bigger or make the pot a little bit bigger. 

Linzy [00:12:03] Yeah, I mean, another way you could look at it, Donna is kind of with your paychecks. What is the paycheck amount that’s like, that’s enough? And that covers for my home and that gives me that extra. And there’s kind of extra on top of it and putting away that extra. Right. So if you know that you need twenty five hundred dollars a month to cover your bills and be healthy and you get a paycheck for twenty nine hundred, you automatically put that four hundred into your summer fund. 

Donna [00:12:27] That makes sense. I never thought of it like that. 

Linzy [00:12:29] Because then, rather than potentially having to like squeak away those savings on a tougher month, you’re kind of like, you’re taking the fat off the top. 

Donna [00:12:36] Yeah, that makes more. 

Linzy [00:12:38] How did that feel for you? Do you think emotionally, if you did that? 

Donna [00:12:40] I think I would feel much better about it emotionally. It’s still, it’s like I hate using my savings account. I think I was just taught, don’t touch your savings, whatever you do, don’t touch your savings. That savings is supposed to be there. 

Linzy [00:12:51] OK, so what if this wasn’t a savings account? 

Donna [00:12:54] And just a checking account? 

Linzy [00:12:56] Or it’s a savings account that holds your summer fund? 

Donna [00:12:58] Yeah, that I would probably use that, only in the summer, then. 

Linzy [00:13:01] Because what I’m hearing is there’s a specific story about savings. Can you tell me a little bit more about that story, about savings? 

Donna [00:13:09] It was just like 20 – I can’t believe this – 27 years ago, when I got married, my husband and I really sat down and talked about what we wanted to do with our money. And one of them was -because my family was not very good with money and his was, was that we’re going to do this with our savings and savings is not to be touched. And so I’ve always had that, and ever since I had a job where I was like, I always had this savings account and I would, if I needed the money, then like, this is an emergency, I need to pay this bill, that I put in there. But as soon as I had enough money, I’d put it back right back in. 

Linzy [00:13:42] And is there like a certain number you try to keep your savings at? Or is it just, whatever it’s at? 

Donna [00:13:47] Wherever it’s at. As long as – I should take that back, as long as it’s not under like a certain amount, a certain amount makes me kind of go, Oh God. 

Linzy [00:13:56] So, there’s a minimum you want to see. Can you tell me what that number is that you want to see? 

Donna [00:14:00] The minimum amount or the minimum amount is like five hundred dollars where I’m like, Oh, this hurts. 

Linzy [00:14:06] Yeah. OK. So you always want to see it above five hundred. And then if you take money out, you put the money back in? 

Donna [00:14:13] I always put the money back in. 

Linzy [00:14:14] OK. So I’m hearing that that’s kind of a rule that you and your husband established. 

Donna [00:14:21] Mm hmm. 

Linzy [00:14:21] I’m wondering, is there any cost to that rule? 

Donna [00:14:25] Emotionally for myself because I’ll beat myself up, if I take it out or if it gets lower, I’ll beat myself up like nobody’s business. 

Linzy [00:14:32] OK? Because what does it mean about you, if you took money from it? 

Donna [00:14:36] I think it means that I’ve wasted away money. 

Linzy [00:14:39] You’re wasting money, right. So with this Donna, like what I’m wondering is it seems like it’s a bit of a bind, right? It’s like you have this mechanism and you are saving and you do save, but then you’re not allowed to touch or use it. And if you do have to use it, then it’s like, it’s a failure, you’re wasting the money. 

Donna [00:14:57] Right. 

Linzy [00:14:58] How else could you possibly think about savings? 

Donna [00:15:00] That it’s there for very specific reasons. You know like if I plan to buy a pair of shoes or something fancy and I put it aside just for that. And I would say just for that. 

Linzy [00:15:13] Right. So like earmarking it for specific things? And what would it be like, do you think to save money for like a pair of shoes? And then when you have that money, you be able to buy the pair of shoes. What would that be like emotionally? 

Donna [00:15:24] I’d be fine with that. Yeah. As long as it doesn’t go to a certain amount, then I’m OK. 

Linzy [00:15:29] Right. OK, so there’s still that minimum. And we all have those numbers, right? And they’re just kind of random numbers, usually. And sometimes those numbers can creep up, too. I will say, like the where we have the last of the year, is also very stressful. Thinking about this summer slump. What if, rather than it being savings, you had like a specific account that’s for the summer slope?

Donna [00:15:47] I could do that and I could do that for just like slump month. 

Linzy [00:15:51] Right because there’s December as well. 

Donna [00:15:53] Right. 

Linzy [00:15:53] But for those low months. Because as I say Donna, like if this was just within your private practice and when you are in your own solo practice transition, where you know you’re going to be, you could manage this differently. Like what I would advise and what I teach in the course right, is like if you have those high months and you make more, you still pay yourself that same normal, reliable paycheck. And then that means on the low months, there’s extra money there to pay yourself. Because you’re that W-2, you don’t have the ability to do that. You can’t make them pay you less, you know, on a higher month. But you can, you can mimic that at home. 

Donna [00:16:20] Right. 

Linzy [00:16:20] Where you are consciously putting away money for the normal things that you know are going to happen. And thinking about it practically, how would you do that? Do you have a separate bank account? Would you just keep track of Post-it Notes somewhere? How would you know that money is for your slump months? 

Donna [00:16:35] I definitely would open a different account and just put it in there. It’s easier for me to transfer it that way. 

Linzy [00:16:42] Yes, OK. And I’m hearing two thousand dollars for the summer. 

Donna [00:16:46] Mm hmm. 

Linzy [00:16:47] And then what about for December? How much would you need in there for December? 

Donna [00:16:50] Probably not as much, hopefully not as much. 

Linzy [00:16:53] Yes, because it’s like a quiet couple of weeks rather than six weeks. 

Donna [00:16:57] Right. And plus I would be taking time off at that time, too.

Linzy [00:17:00] True, yes. And so maybe for December, something like $700 or something? 

Donna [00:17:06] Probably, something like that. 

Linzy [00:17:08] So that means over the course of the year, you would be putting like twenty seven hundred dollars into this account and taking it out when you need it? 

Donna [00:17:14] Right. 

Linzy [00:17:15] So thinking about this plan, if you were doing this, what would you know about yourself? 

Donna [00:17:20] That I was taking care of myself, taking care of my business and not relying on a credit card or something else to help me out, which is amazing that I was doing this all and moving money around and taking control over a situation that sometimes feels out of control. 

Linzy [00:17:37] Mm hmm. Right. So this would be you proactively taking care of this situation. 

Donna [00:17:43] And taking control over it. 

Linzy [00:17:44] And taking control. Yeah. Is there anything about this that could be tricky or that you anticipate might not work? 

Donna [00:17:51] No, I don’t think so. I think it’s just, it’s always being in the mindset of I’m going to work on my money time and getting that money time in and looking at all your cookies. I like to call them my little cookies. Looking at all my cookies, including my cookie jars. 

Linzy [00:18:07] So cute. 

Donna [00:18:08] So as long as I can – I have this cookie, I can move this cookie over here and I can do that. 

Linzy [00:18:15] Right, OK. And so you’ll have a a slow cookie jar. 

Donna [00:18:19] Yeah. 

Linzy [00:18:19] And then when you need it, you take the cookies out. 

Donna [00:18:21] I can take my cookies. 

Linzy [00:18:22] So coming to the end of our time together, what are you taking away? 

Donna [00:18:27] That I actually do have more control over this than I actually really thought. 

Linzy [00:18:30] Hmm. Right. 

Donna [00:18:31] It’s so anxiety based feelings and all of this stuff because you’re like, I’m doing it wrong. I know I’m doing it wrong, and just having somebody else say, Well, think about it differently. 

Linzy [00:18:42] And I mean, even with the summer, you know, something that you may want to consider is, do you want to be taking time off in the summer or just taking more downtime in the summer, knowing your clients will be around? 

Donna [00:18:51] And that’s what I have been doing, I’ve been doing my CEUs. I’ve been taking some really great time just to recover from COVID burnout and removing a whole bunch of clients. 

Linzy [00:19:03] So there’s also opportunity in this downtime, and especially if the anxiety was removed, I wonder how much more opportunity it would feel like.

Donna [00:19:09] Right. Yeah. I don’t know if you remember, I was the one that went from 52 to clients. I was seeing 52 clients in a week. 

Linzy [00:19:15] I do  remember that, that was very memorable. Yes. 

Donna [00:19:18] Yes. And now I’ve got it down to twenty five.

Linzy [00:19:22] Which is a huge reduction. And like, I’m sure, was no small feat. 

Donna [00:19:26] I think that’s another component to it is like when you have all this huge influx of money and then all the sudden it goes “woosh”. 

Linzy [00:19:33] Yes and something, Donna. Maybe a coaching session for some other time would be about getting your private practice really, really rolling right and commanding those fees that you know that people are willing to pay you for the work that you do. 

Donna [00:19:45] Yeah, I’m slowly working on it, I’m getting paneled, I’m working on all that. So I’m getting there. 

Linzy [00:19:51] Yeah, great. Well, thank you so much, Donna, for joining me today. 

Donna [00:19:53] Thank you so much for having me today. 

Linzy
[00:20:08] Something that really sticks out to me in my session with Donna is just how powerful the names or categories that we can put on money, can be. So even though she already had a system in place where she was automatically saving, because those savings were kind of vague or emergency savings, it was really hard for her emotionally to be dipping into them. But just by realigning the way that she was thinking about it and recognizing she already had the system and the tools set up. But it’s recognizing that actually she does need specific money for the summer slump. How relieving that was and how it removes the emotional weight of having to use that money, just by saying, this is a normal thing that happens every year. Every year my clients go away and I have less sessions at these times a year, so I’m building it into my system. I’m naming that my slump of money and suddenly there’s no difficulty with taking that money, right? Suddenly, it doesn’t mean that you’re doing something wrong or you’re stealing from somewhere else. It’s money that you’ve intentionally set aside from a problem that you know is going to come up every year, which makes it no longer a problem, when we have that intention and we have that solution already in place. Sometimes it’s those little tweaks that we can make and also noticing our intention around it, noticing we’re already doing so many things around money that can really shift how we feel about our money and how we feel about ourselves in relation to money. By taking that time to be with what we’re already doing and tweak and tune up the things that we’re already doing to suit our needs. If you want to hear more from me, you can check me out on Instagram @moneynutsandbolts. We share free, practical and emotion focused money content on there all the time. And if you’re enjoying the podcast, I know I always say this, but it’s because I mean it. I would love it if you would take a couple of minutes to review it on Apple Podcasts. That is the best way for people to find the podcast. Thanks so much for listening today. 

Hi, I'm Linzy

Hi, I'm Linzy

I’m a therapist in private practice, and a the creator of Money Skills for Therapists. I help therapists and health practitioners in private practice feel calm and in control of their finances.

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Here’s how you can connect with Kim:

You can find Kim on Instagram @ameltherapy or @askamel.co

You can also find her at www.ameltherapy.com

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Episode Transcript

Linzy [00:00:03] What else does that mean for you, when you say money is a tool? 

Kim [00:00:06] If I don’t have it, it’s not like, Oh my God, I don’t have this, I’m a bad person or I’m not worthy of something. It’s literally like, OK, if you’re trying, if you need to dig out of a hole and your shovel isn’t there, you would kind of panic. It would be the normal thing. It isn’t me like, Oh my god, you aren’t deserving of a shovel. It means like, I need a shovel, where’s my shovel? This is really hard to dig with my hands. How do I get a shovel? 

Linzy [00:00:35] Welcome to the Money Skills For Therapists podcast, where we answer this question. How can therapists and health practitioners go from money, shame and confusion to feeling calm and confident about their finances and get money really working for them and both their private practice and their lives? I’m your host, Linzy Bonham, therapist turned money coach and creator of the course Money Skills For Therapists. Hello and welcome back to the podcast. So before we get started today, I wanted to share another review from Apple podcast. It’s so nice to have these reviews and your feedback on the podcast, and this review was titled “So Needed”, they said, “loving this podcast so far, having real, honest conversations about our money stories, what it means to work through our money stuff, and how to use our money for our personal lives and our businesses as healers. Such a needed discussion. Can’t wait to hear more.” Thank you for your review and whoever left that review. This episode is going to be right up your alley. Today’s podcast guest is Kim Wheeler Poitevien, she is a therapist in Philadelphia. I’m not going to go into introducing her to too much because we actually start her interview with her talking about the wide range of work that she does. Our conversation today is kind of more of an interview than I think I’ve done before in terms of getting into Kim’s transformation around money. She’s a graduate of Money Skills For Therapists. We get into where she started, her money stories, the money legacies that she inherited from each of her parents. And then we talk about how that fear of having too much money, the fear of taking up space and being ambitious that I think so many therapists can relate to, was showing up in her relationship with money in these really specific behaviors. Along the way, we also get into systemic racism, and she makes some really insightful points about how scarcity and competition between therapists can actually be facets of systemic racism and systemic sexism. It’s a really rich conversation. I so appreciate Kim’s openness and honesty in sharing her story, and I hope you enjoy it. 

Linzy [00:02:51] So, Kim, tell me about yourself and your practice and what you do. 

Kim [00:02:55] So I am a child and teen therapist. I have a small – well now is actually a group practice that’s in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and my specialties are that I work with kids of colour who are dealing with racial trauma and also kids who are dealing with grief and loss. So now that I’ve expanded, I’ve added on two new associates who are working with truancy, school refusal and mother-daughter Relationships. And I also have a huge population of transracial adoptees that I work with. 

Linzy [00:03:26] And you do therapy and coaching, is that correct? 

Kim [00:03:29] Yes, I do. So along with my practice AML Counseling Consulting, I also own a parent coaching firm, Eskimo. So there we do, one on one coaching, and we’re also starting small cohorts of six week parent coaching. 

Linzy [00:03:43] Great. So, Kim, I think it’s fairly obvious to everybody listening that you are very ambitious and very confident. But tell me about your relationship with money, kind of like going back a year or two. Like, how did you know that something needed to change with your relationship to your finances? 

Kim [00:04:00] Let’s see. About a year and a half ago, pre-COVID, well, I made the most money had ever made, in my like my solo practice. And I was like part time, but I was like, I did really well. I was really proud of myself, and then I ended up paying like $600 in bank fees because I had mismanaged my money so poorly. So I was really ashamed and really upset. And so then I was in this Facebook group that I was in with other practice builders and they mentioned actually your program and they were like, You should do this. And I was like, OK, I should do this. This Is the first time I actually am honest about the struggles that I’ve had with money, and I knew that I could build a practice, like I knew that I could get people in, I knew that I could be successful. But what is the point of working so hard when all of your money is just like kind of just flying out the door? So that was the time that I knew I really needed to get a handle on it. But I, from the beginning, since I was a teenager. Like, I always had this belief that I can’t handle money, I’m going to mismanage money, I’m not going to be successful, or someone else needs to manage my money for me. 

Linzy [00:05:06] And do you have a sense of like where that came from in your life? 

Kim [00:05:09] Family wise, like my mom, did all the finances and she’s like, mis-managed money. And so my parents would just have these arguments about, you know, this and that. And I didn’t realize until I was older that it was really the fact that my mom just didn’t manage the money well. And it was like part of the reason why, you know, we had struggles. And it wasn’t until I was in my early 20s and she passed away that my dad had kind of taken over things and I was like, Wow, there’s like, there’s money here, this is amazing. There’s less income, but there’s more money. And I saw that in a different way of managing it. But then I just said, OK, I’ll just have my dad manage stuff. And that was OK when I was in grad school, until like he passed away like, you know, a year or two later. And then I was just like, I don’t know what to do. 

Linzy [00:05:59] Right. So I mean, it kind of sounds like you inherited, in some ways, a story that was kind of about your mom’s behavior. Is that a fair understanding? 

Kim [00:06:07] Yeah. 

Linzy [00:06:07] Right. 

Kim [00:06:07] So it’s like, I’m like, I’m a shopaholic or I like to spend things or spend it before it goes, robbing Peter to pay Paul, even when it’s there. So even the notion of me having money in my account, if there was like, if it hit a certain amount, I was like, This has to be spent. It can’t stay here. But if it was less than a certain amount or I knew, OK, I need this to last for this amount of time, then all this stuff that my dad taught me would pop up and I could manage things and I could know like how to prioritize things. But it was just this dichotomy thinking of like, OK, it’s either this or it’s that. That it was never in this space of actually being able to apply the things that he was teaching me, like consistently so that I could have these things called budgets and savings. And you know, have plans, you know, and I look around and be like, all these people are making these moves because they have some kind of stability or they have some kind of plan. Where it’s, I’m like, the only way that I’m ever going to be successful is if I feel like this windfall of money and I plop it into something and it will generate more. And so I’ll just always have money to just like kind of spit out. 

Linzy [00:07:22] Right, yeah. And I think like for a lot of us, when we’re struggling with money, there can’t be like that fantasy of like if only I had a bunch of money winning the lottery, right? There’s that fantasy. But I think, something like you pointed out, it’s like, so true, which is that when you have that behavior, though, because it sounds like for you, there was like this number that above that number, it’s like in a way, the money’s got to go. Like you would spend above that. And like, there’s yeah, there’s kind of this concept of the financial thermometer where it’s like, what’s the range that we’re comfortable with? And it sounds like for you, there’s like a range above this range, you do a certain thing, below this range, you do the opposite thing. And what was happening in the middle of those behaviours?

Kim [00:07:56] I mean, in the middle, it was like I was not spending anything. I was like, OK, there’s like this like this spot where I was like, I’m OK. Like, as long as nothing comes out or as long as nothing touches because I would look at my account and say, OK, I could go an entire month without spending anything. And I was like, That’s kind of interesting, you know, even if something was like, Oh, that looks nice. I have no desire to buy it because I didn’t have a need to buy it, you know? And so then it was like, OK, is it that I need this particular thing like because of their function? Or is it because it’s serving another purpose for me? 

Linzy [00:08:31] Yeah, right. And with that piece of like money being above, I’m curious now like looking back at it now with the eyes you have now, what do you think that was about? Why was it uncomfortable to have money above a certain amount? 

Kim [00:08:43] Because money above a certain amount. For me, it was like, OK, this is good and this is safe, right? So you have a certain amount of money above, like it’s safe and you can dream and you can want more and you can expand, right, because you have all these things. But that comes with risk that something’s going to – there’s also this thing in the back of your mind. If something is going to take that and then you’re just going to kind of fall and there’s no net. You know, when you have more of a resource, you’re more likely to kind of stretch out to try and look for other things. But if you’re kind of hoarding that, you’re not going to do it. And so I think that I would consistently try to find – sabotage and say, OK, I’m not going to have this money because I’m not going to kind of go out and actually try to make more money. You know, I’m not going to try like, I don’t want to have more money. I have these thoughts that if I had more money, then something bad would happened to me or somebody is going to take this or is going to change me? Or having money is bad, I wasn’t realizing that I was keeping myself in this really crappy pattern. 

Linzy [00:09:51] Yeah, yeah. Like in a way, were you keeping yourself small? 

Kim [00:09:54] Absolutely. Yeah. 

Linzy [00:09:57] So I’m wondering, Kim, like as you start to become aware of these things and decided you wanted to change and work on your finances, your relationship with money, what were the fears that came up about that? 

Kim [00:10:09] The fear was a lot of shame, you know, or a lot of like, I should have done this before or if I had done x y z, I wouldn’t be in this particular position. And then also, I would have to be honest about how much I was making, how I was collecting money from my client when I wasn’t collecting money because another part of the reason why I would have these overdraft fees and all this is because I would not collect no-show fees and late cancelation fees from my clients because I would feel terrible about it because I would be like it’s around the holidays. And then they’re going on vacation. And I was like, they’re living their best lives, you know, and I’m like, Oh my gosh, like, I have to pay my office rent. So I knew that if I actually looked at my bank account, I would see how much it was. And I would – every time I opened my bank account anyway, I would just be like, kind of pressed myself for it. Let me see a negative. Let me see – and I would just feel really bad about myself, so I conditioned myself to like not looking at my bank account unless I absolutely had to. And so I knew that if I was going to start actually working on my money stuff, that I actually had to look at it. I had to really look at what I was spending, and changing those habits, even if they were comforting for me. So it does. It stirs up a lot of shame. It stirs up a lot of fear. But the bigger thing this also stirs up this drive to do more and to make more money. And that was really what I was afraid of. Like, I wasn’t afraid of working hard to make the money, but I was really afraid of all the other things that you need to do to make money, which is raise your rates, collect, have difficult conversations with people. That was what I was struggling with. 

Linzy [00:11:58] Right. I mean, to connect it back to what you said earlier about, like in a way you were keeping yourself small. Making more money means you have to like, take up space. You have to say, like, I deserve a good rate for my expertise. This is the agreement we have and you didn’t show up, which means you owe me x amount cancelation fee. You have to really like be there, be present. Yeah. Like what you’re describing, I think a lot of people experience when they start to look at their money is like, it’s not comfortable. It kind of sucks, especially if there’s stuff that you know is a problem. Like when you look at it, that stuff is there and then you have to face it and you have to face the shame and face – yeah, just looking at the consequences of your actions. So I’m wondering for you now, Kim, what’s different about your life now because of that work that you did, and because of the fact that you did look at it, push through the shame, make these changes. 

Kim [00:12:44] I think I probably, I looked at my – actually looked at my bookkeeping system because I have a bookkeeping system now. So I looked at that from when we actually worked together, like January 2020. And I think I had made like, I don’t know – I felt really good about myself. I made like four thousand dollars that month, and we’re not at the end now, and like I have taken weeks off and I probably made, like double that. Me, I’m probably going to make ten thousand this month. So and I’m like, That was cool. That’s cool. That’s an understatement. But I was like, That was cool, and I didn’t have overdraft fees. I think that’s the big thing. There were no overdraft fees. So before, yeah I could make four thousand, but again, I’m making like three thousand or thirty five hundred because I’m paying all this money in fees. Where as, now I’m like, you know, I actually have that money. I mean, it’s great to write it off on my taxes, but I would have liked it to actually help with something else. 

Linzy [00:13:46] Yes, that’s not a strategy to save money. Money being gone, doesn’t mean you save money on taxes. So I’m hearing, like part of you, of getting more of a handle on your money and like being present with it, is you have more. Like, you’re making more, for doing the same amount of work, or are you working more now, than you used to? 

Kim [00:14:06] I’m actually probably – I’m working – I’m probably working the same amount, honestly. I’m working that same amount and I have, you know, associates under me part time and I feel comfortable with like letting them gradually build their caseload. So, I’ve tripled what my take home is because I actually was really clear about what I actually was taking home. I have a plan for growth, which makes sense. It opened me up to actually start to do the parent coaching things and actually plan those other things to join Masterminds, and to do all these other things that I was saying that I didn’t have any money to do. I would never be able to do. 

Linzy [00:14:46] Mm hmm. Yeah. What have you learned about yourself, seeing yourself now doing all these other things that you never could have done before? 

Kim [00:14:54] I mean that I’m actually a business owner and like, I’m not playing therapy, and I’ve always known that I’ve been a good clinician. But this is, you know, it’s a difference in that, you know, I actually have a viable business. And then you go into bank to open a bank account and they’re like, Oh, this is good. And I’m like, Oh, OK, like, I don’t feel like this is a lot, but they’re like, This is good. Like, they see like your company has grown, you know, for the past two years, and it’s like your revenue is like consistently quadrupled. So that’s huge. And I wouldn’t have had the energy or the desire to keep going, had I not actually looked at where is all my energy being used? Am I actually maximizing my potential, which I definitely wasn’t doing before. 

Linzy [00:15:42] And something I hear in you too, as you’re talking about your group practice growth as well is like, you seem calm about that, like they can grow at their own pace. Sometimes I see people when they step in a group practice, there’s this like urgency like – I need you to build your case load and I need you to earn this much, right? Because there’s a void there that needs to be filled, right? There’s like a need for revenue, and I’m hearing something very different in you, the way you’re talking about yours. 

Kim [00:16:04] I definitely occasionally have that, where I’m just like, Oh my gosh, like, I’m running, you know, I’m running at a deficit. And my husband’s like, what are you talking about? Again, because we sat through and we looked through all the stuff like, I looked at what my operating expenses are, they went back down, you know, and I was freaking out because they went up again and then I was like, OK, but I’m going to transition into a business. So that’s what it’s going to be. And it’ll go back down and I have a target for what I need to do, and I have to come up with a plan with it ,for it. I mean, occasionally I do still look at that and say, oh I need them too. But then I also think about, but I don’t want just any client in our practice, like that’s – I don’t, I’m not taking money out of desperation. I’m not setting them up to do that. And I have a bigger, a bigger plan and we’ll be OK. 

Linzy [00:16:54] Yeah. So how do you think about money, now? 

Kim [00:16:58] I think of money as a tool. The emotion is – I look at my bank account like every day now, which I never did, I look at it basically just be like what’s the date, I’m expecting to be in there. OK, that’s what’s in there. I’m OK, I’m good. Huh, this thing right here, is off and I look through it today and I was like, OK, this thing’s off. And you know, I had those initial twinges of like, really beating myself up again. Like, I mismanaged this and then I look through and I’m like, OK, well, then obviously what I need to do is then reset a date to look at things. Like instead of it being a shame spiral. It was like, OK, well, what am I going to do about this? Like, I need to be on top of like, what exactly is coming out, and then make a plan. How do I pay this? I’m going to break this into an installment, I’m going to talk to this person about this. How much I’m paying for payroll? And like, really looking at it that way, instead of, my life is over. And I say that very quickly to my husband who looks at me and says, OK. And then I go on and I figure out what I’m going to do. Like, it still has to come out.

Linzy [00:18:00] A little twinge of, my life is over. 

Kim [00:18:04] My life is over. And he’s like, I need you to center yourself. 

Linzy [00:18:08] That’s a therapist husband phrase. 

Kim [00:18:11] Do you need me to call you back, so you can centre yourself? 

Linzy [00:18:16] Right. So money being a tool, then it sounds like there’s this neutrality to that. Like, it’s information. You use it to do things. What else does that mean for you when you say money as a tool? 

Kim [00:18:25] If I don’t have it. It’s not like, Oh my god, I don’t have this. I’m a bad person, or I’m not worthy of something. It’s literally like, OK, if you need to dig out a hole in your shovel, isn’t there, you would kind of panic. It would be the normal thing. It isn’t me like, Oh my god, you aren’t deserving of a shovel. It means like, I need a shovel, where is my shovel? This is really hard to dig with my hands. How do I get a shovel, right? And then it also isn’t, OK, well, what is it that’s keeping me from getting a shovel? Is it like this A-hole over here who is saying you can’t give it a shovel? Is it because you lost it? Is it because you misplaced it? Did it break? And then what are your strategies to get it, right? So I look at it, like it literally is a tool. That’s exactly what it’s worth. That’s why it was created. And there all these other emotions that are tied to it. And oftentimes, that’s kind of intentional. And it’s because of people who have more money. 

Linzy [00:19:25] Right, like the system is set up that way. And in terms of how the system is set up, something that you mentioned before is like, that it’s set up to make us feel scarcity. Tell me more about what you mean by that. 

Kim [00:19:37] There’s always this message that there isn’t enough. And I know, and this is just for me as a black woman and I’m in the US that the system is set in a way that I am not meant to be successful. It just is. I’m just not meant to be successful. So when we look at like, in my viewpoint of all of these isms, you know, classism and racism, it’s really like kind of set into this idea of scarcity. That there are only a certain amount of people who can have something. And so it’s much easier to pit people against each other when we’re all fighting for a particular resource that has artificial scarcity placed upon it, right. You know, we’re all fighting and we’re spending all this money on diamonds, but no one’s saying how many diamonds are really out here, right? Let’s be real. It’s that thing like, oh my gosh, only so many people who can have power. There’s only so many people who have it can have money. And it’s like, That’s not true. It’s really not. So that’s what I think of when I say that this is kind of a system that is designed to make you believe that and it’s not to your benefit. Now, a lot of people think it sounds really woo-woo to say, if you kind of think about it, you will actually have abundance. But I think it’s – part of it is also saying, no, there’s a dude over there who probably has like a billion of something, and he doesn’t need all of them. Right. So that’s yours for the taking. Right? They’re not even going to miss that. 

Linzy [00:21:12] No, absolutely not. And in terms of like systemically, I think you’re absolutely correct. And I think something that I think about sometimes is like, how much is actually required to like, really experience abundance, right? Because there is a certain amount, a system that’s designed to push wealth to the top, and there’s people at the top who have an amount of wealth that is unfathomable and really at this point is not improving their life at all. Whether you have $10 billion or $500 billion, your life can’t really get better. You’ve peaked. Any dissatisfaction you have is spiritual, mental health, relationship, right? But the difference that moving yourself from $40000 year to $200000 a year for the rest of us is massive, in terms of what that means for your life and what you can do for your community and how you can empower initiatives around you. And like the change that you can make with that money is huge. I think especially in therapy and health professions where we also have that additional layer of being caretakers or empathetic people, we really buy into that story. I think it’s trained into us to think that we are not entitled to ask for anything above survival. 

Kim [00:22:25] Yeah. And the thing is, I was watching something that was on channel four. It was like a clip and it was like, you know, like poverty or during the lockdown or something. And it was like, it just showed, like this family and they were really poor. And I’m like looking at it and like a lot of the things I could kind of relate to, as a kid. And it was just like this twinge analysis, like, Oh my gosh, I feel so guilty for like minding all these other things, when this kid and his family are like struggling and then I was like, No, because at the end he’s like, I want to get out of poverty. And I’m like, Yeah, so how is me being impoverished, helping him to get out? You know, there’s a difference. It’s like, Yes, if I have abundance and if I have more, then I’m sharing and making sure that he and his family, or whomever could also get out of the same situation. But me being down there with them isn’t helpful, but that’s the thing that I constantly have to like challenge myself because there’s a lot of shame about that. A lot of times, if we kind of do buy into this, the system, is – especially white supremacy, that when you buy into it and you make it, that you just hoard all your stuff and this is like, OK, well, you should have done what I did, to do that. And when you’re growing up, and you don’t have a lot, you kind of like, abhor anyone who is like that or has money because that’s really typically what you encounter. It’s people who are spending – who are giving all these judgments about money. So, yeah, you kind of say, OK, well, I’m going to be successful, but I’m not going to be rich, you know, because rich has like a very bad connotation, right? Or some people who like, I want to be rich, like, I want to floss on everybody. I want it to be like, shoo poors, because that’s what they want to do. 

Linzy [00:24:16] Yeah, well it’s like, I want to win, so other people lose. And I didn’t – be on that side of it. 

Kim [00:24:21] Yeah. And in that respect I’m like, you still aren’t winning. But I don’t have to play that game, and I think that’s the thing in this whole year and change that I realize that that’s not the only way to be wealthy, hoarding all this money and having all this and looking down on people and throwing out a couple of buckets here and there, to make yourself feel better, that there are other ways. 

Linzy [00:24:44] Yeah. Another piece that you mentioned earlier that I want to go back to is, you know, with money being a tool, and I hear that what you’re saying now too like, we can choose to use it like when we build more money, so we’re not hand-to-mouth and we’re not in survival mode. We can choose to use that money in all sorts of ways, right to make the world around us better. But also, when you talk about money being a tool and like not having money, something you said that stuck out is like if you look at your bank account, you’re like, Oh, shoot, the money’s not there that’s supposed to be there, it doesn’t say anything about you and your value. Can you tell me more about that? 

Kim [00:25:12] Yeah, I look at it and I’ve learned that you’re going to run a business and you’re going to fail. And so this week, I fail to remember that something comes out like once a month. And that’s a system fail, right? And so it’s not – I mean It’s like, probably, it’s definitely a human error, but it’s also like, you know that was – I need to check that. Not oh my gosh, like, I just screwed up this other thing about like, and I’m never going to be able to like, make money, which is not true because I made that money back today. So, it literally is like, I look at something and I’m like, OK, I just need to figure out, how do I fix the system? How do I get more of this resource to keep me running, right? If I burn through all my gas, I’m not going mad at myself about it. I’m going to be like, How am I going to get some more gas? Like, I got to get the gas. 

Linzy [00:26:05] Yeah, if you run out of food, you got to get more food. 

Kim [00:26:08] I should get more food. Will I be upset that my child literally eat a whole bag of bagels in two days? Absolutely. But I can still go and get –

Linzy [00:26:17] That sounded like a real life example.

Kim [00:26:18] It’s like, Oh, well, that I got some carb hands over here. And once I kind of detach myself from that, I felt, you know, and also didn’t feel as bad about more money coming in because that was the other thing, I was feeling really bad about more money coming in, really guilty about some of my colleagues who weren’t doing as well in private practice because that pops up and they’re like, Oh, you know, you constantly get the, “I’m not in this for the money.” And I’m like, OK, well I am. So like there is no reason that I could just be making a salary somewhere and be miserable. It’s this sanctimonious, like, I’m not doing this because of blah blah blah. And you know, or therapy should be whatever, it should be free or these things should be free. And and the same people who say those things, also have a salary. So it’s like you have a fat salary. So you have money, like you have something guaranteed that’s coming in. You have an income stream, but is a judgment of you shouldn’t want more than that because you want to. More than that takes away from people who can’t afford what you’re providing. And it was one of the things where once I realized that if I raised my rate, then all these like pro bono charity things that I was doing, I could actually afford to do them, like legitimately afford to do them instead of sitting here and starting to feel resentful because people weren’t paying me, or I’m reducing or sliding your fee. So instead of me running a charity, which charities get grants, they need to make money, they get grants. My grant writing is collecting my no-show fees. Like, let me do that. So fighting through all that, fighting through other people’s opinions about making money. The message that we get consistently about the fact that we shouldn’t be in it for the money, that we shouldn’t even look at this – you shouldn’t even try to increase your revenue. You should just be so happy about this. Or you shouldn’t be resentful, or making a little bit of money like, Oh, I do this, so I feel fine. It’s like, that’s great. But we also have to realize that not everyone has a partner or a spouse at home who has that income that’s coming in to stabilize. And not everyone has the bandwidth or the ability to work another job and to do multiple things, to do that. Or some people – seriously, I like to drive a nice car. I’m a social worker. I’ve spent years driving really crappy cars, I like my nice car. So those things that keep me, you know, happy. 

Linzy [00:28:56] Well, something that occurs to me. And this is kind of like a response that just popped into my brain when you said like therapy should be free. When I hear that, I think, yeah, sure, therapy should be free and therapists should get paid like doctors. So if you want to value the work that we do, at the impact it actually has, then set up a public health care system, which we have in Canada. And doctors here are free. The consumer, we don’t pay for them, the patient, but they get paid really well by the government as they should because they’re dealing with life and death situations, as are we. Right. And so I think there’s that piece there, like what’s not said is like therapy should be free. And also we should just struggle and suffer because we’re doing it out of the good of our hearts, which is just keeping us small, just stay small. That’s what I hear over and over. 

Linzy [00:29:40] And also, when we’re looking at particular fields that are dominated by women, is that, you know, all of this is just like charity work, it’s just this some busy work, like you don’t really need to make any money. There’s no value to that or thinking about the fact that in our field, a lot of times to be able to get these post bachelor degrees, that’s a lot of money and time and privilege to be able to do those things. And so those are different classes, those are different, like – and so we’re not really thinking about the fact that like you have the resources to be able to do that. If we really care about diversity, if we really care about inclusion, then we have to also understand it in order for us to have a more diverse population of providers, than we need to be able to like increase what the pay is. And even with entrepreneurs, we should do this. I mean, I know that I was looking at this stat for in the states. It was a stat in the states that basically said, out of psychotherapists in private practice or something, that there were about 80 something percent like high eighties that were quite – there were maybe three or four percent that were like Hispanic, Latino, two percent there were like black, one percent for Asian and there was like zero point whatever percent of indigenous therapists. Now if we’re looking at what the actual population is, and we’re looking at the fact that there’s lack of representation – then one of the big reasons for that is because of the gatekeeping to actually have access to education, to provide that and then also the incentive to actually go into these professions that are typically low paying because everyone wears this mantle of, I’m not in it for the money, but the people who are able to say I’m not in it for the money literally have another way to live and survive. 

Linzy [00:31:28] Yes. They probably have generational wealth. 

Kim [00:31:30] Absolutely. Yeah. They can drive into these impoverished areas or work with the less fortunate and then they go home. Note, there’s a drive because they have cars. They get access to these things. It was those that are things that like once I really started looking at it and recognizing like just my privilege in itself, the fact that I’m educated and have access to that, like I have access to business advice because I have relatives that are successful in business and really being OK with that, acknowledging what it is and then saying, yes, this is the privilege, and I’m going to make the best use of it so that I can help myself and I can help other people. And I can be an example that you can actually be successful, even if I’m not necessarily like Mother Teresa and like shelling out a whole bunch of stuff, to me, actually being out here and being vocal and being present in, you know, mentoring and helping other people, shows like you can charge your worth, you can be successful. And that’s huge, and I think that that’s absolutely huge. 

Linzy [00:32:36] Yeah. And in that, I’m kind of hearing your taking that tool that you have, right? And using it intentionally. Right, and like setting an example, taking up space in a way that the system is designed agains, it’s not what it wants you to do. So Kim, for other people who are thinking about doing what you’ve done and improving their relationship with money and like looking at it and like, you know, I’m hearing that there’s kind of two stages to what you’ve done, right? There’s the practical skills. But then also there’s this mindset work that you’ve done right, so people who are knowing that maybe they need to do this. What advice would you give them about stepping in to doing that work? 

Linzy [00:33:13] I think the first thing would be to be kind to yourself, know that there are a lot more people out here who have many issues than you think and a lot of us dress very well, and drive very nice cars. We look really good on the outside because we’re masking all this other stuff. And, you know, so that we all kind of have our own struggles. And that, one of the things I would say is that be kind to yourself, be honest about your situation. If you’re like, Well, I’m really struggling with money, just be honest with it. It doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be successful in business. It just means that that is just something that you’re going to have to learn. That’s not something that you’re born with. Wealthy people teach their children, if their children actually know, wealthy people teach their kids about money, that’s what they do. And it’s a skill, literally it’s a skill. And you have to you have to practice it. And that sometimes you’re going to feel really embarrassed. And that’s OK. 

Linzy [00:34:13] Great. So Kim, what offers do you have? What are you doing right now that our listeners who might want to work more with you could be interested in? 

Kim [00:34:22] So, if you’re in the Philadelphia area, I have two amazing clinicians who are taking new clients. We’re actually running a bunch of groups. I’m running child anxiety groups, a parenting group, a parenting talk therapy group, I’m running a group for transracial adoptee teens. I’m also offering a six week coaching cohort for parents on my Ask Amel parent coaching firm. 

Linzy [00:34:48] And where can people find you and follow you? 

Kim [00:34:50] So the best way to reach me would be through social media. So I have two. On Instagram. It’s @ameltherapy, a m e l t h e r a p y and ask AskAmel, a s k a m e l . co, also my website www.ameltherapy.com. 

Kim [00:35:09] Great, and we’ll put those in the show notes so people can check you out there. Thank you so much, Kim, for coming on today and sharing about your own changes around money and some of these juicy ideas and thoughts that you shared with us today. Thank you so much. 

Kim [00:35:23] Absolutely. Thank you for having me on. 

Linzy [00:35:39] Re-listening to this conversation I had with Kim, now a few months later, as we’re putting together this episode. I was struck by how inspiring she is. You know, the work that she’s done, how she’s worked hard, the ways that she is taking up space now and working to take up more space and challenging narratives around therapists and wealth and race. Just such a transformation that I’ve seen in Kim in the time that I’ve known her. And at the time of her recording, I don’t think she was doing this work. But I will also say that Kim is now also doing some coaching with Alison Puryear at Abundance Practice Building an Abundance Party. So if you were inspired and if you felt connection with Kim, I know she’s doing some coaching work over there, so you should definitely check that out over at Abundance Practice Building and the Abundance Party. So, such interesting points that Kim made today, especially her metaphors, I found around money being a tool. That’s just such a neutral metaphor for money that she described so well. And just thinking about money as a tool, it’s just a neutral thing. If you don’t have a tool, if you don’t have a shovel, how can you get a shovel? It takes so much of the emotionality out of it. And as she shared, it doesn’t mean she never has emotional moments around money, and it doesn’t mean she never has scarcity or fear pop up. But she’s really obviously connected to this grounded, practical way to relate to money that allows her to take action and keep moving, and she’s taken so much action. If you would like to hear more from me, you can follow us on Instagram @moneynutsandbolts. We are sharing practical and emotional money content on there all the time. And if you’re joining the podcast, please jump over to Apple Podcasts and leave me review. It is the best way for other therapists to find me. Thank you so much for listening today. 

Hi, I'm Linzy

Hi, I'm Linzy

I’m a therapist in private practice, and a the creator of Money Skills for Therapists. I help therapists and health practitioners in private practice feel calm and in control of their finances.

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Putting Yourself First to Become a Better Therapist with Nick Bognar

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Putting Yourself First to Become a Better Therapist with Nick Bognar

Putting Yourself First to Become a Better Therapist with Nick Bognar

“We didn’t get taught in school to take care of ourselves first. So many of us joined the field because we want to help. We sign up, we get the degree, we do the tremendous amount of sacrifice financially, making all of these sacrifices to learn so that we can help other people. The result is you get newly licensed clinicians who don’t really know how to care for themselves, and they get burned out or they go deeper into debt or they learn to resent their clients, or they hate the field! There are just so many pitfalls that they do not discuss at all, and it all starts with taking care of yourself first.”

~Nick Bognar

Meet Nick Bognar

Nick Bognar is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Pasadena, California. Although Nick’s clinical focuses are men’s issues and codependency, his mission is to help people become who they wish they could be – both in self-acceptance and in leading a more exemplary life. Nick also offers Action Practice Building to clinicians who want to take matters into their own hands and fill their caseloads. Nick is looking forward to meeting you, and is pretty sure that he already likes you.

In This Episode…

Do you struggle with figuring out the balance between setting fees that help you live a full life and your desire to help other people? Do you have trouble putting yourself first? Listen in to hear Nick Bognar share his thoughts about setting fees and taking care of ourselves first. Nick shares about how setting appropriate fees can help us have more time to also serve in meaningful ways through volunteering and pro bono work. He also talks about the problematic nature of sliding scales and about the importance of discussing rate increases with clients.

Don’t miss this episode full of tips and perspectives that you might not have considered when it comes to your rates and your work helping others. 

Connect with Nick Bognar

Here’s how you can connect with Nick:

@nickbognarmft on Instagram

www.nickbognartherapy.com

www.actionpracticebuilding.com

We're Hosting a Free 4 Day Challenge!

Do you find yourself avoiding your private practice finances? Do you have no idea where to even begin?

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During our four days together, you’ll get my support and guidance to step out of avoidance, take real action, and create ease and flow around your private practice finances, so you don’t need to avoid them!

Plus, you’ll get a clear roadmap to understand exactly what you need to do, to take care of your private practice finances.

It only takes 10 minutes a day.

I can’t wait to see you inside! Sign up for the FREE Money Momentum Challenge here: http://join.moneymomentumchallenge.com/

Episode Transcript

Nick [00:00:00] We didn’t get taught in school to take care of ourselves first. So many of us join because we want to help. We sign up, we get the degree we do the tremendous amount of sacrifice financially and making all these sacrifices to learn so that we can help other people. The result is you get newly licensed clinicians who don’t really know how to care for themselves, and they get burned out when they go deeper into debt or they learn to resent their clients or they hate the field. There’s just so many pitfalls that they don’t discuss at all, and it all starts with taking care of yourself first. 

Linzy [00:00:29] Welcome to the Money Skills For Therapists podcast, where we answer this question. How can therapists and health practitioners go from money, shame and confusion to feeling calm and confident about their finances and get money really working for them in both their private practice and their lives? I’m your host, Linzy Bonham therapist turned money coach and creator of the course Money Skills For Therapists. Hello, and welcome back to the podcast. So today’s guest is Nick Bognar. Nick is a licensed marriage and family therapist. He’s in Pasadena, California. His clinical focus is men’s issues and codependency, but he also has this broader mission of helping people become who they wish to be, both in terms of self-acceptance and leading a more exemplary life. Nick, in addition to the clinical work that he does, he’s going to tell us more at the end of this interview today about the work that he’s doing with supporting therapists and filling up their practice through Action Practice Building, which helps therapists take matters into their own hands with filling their caseload. So if you’re someone who is waiting for your caseload to fill and you feel like everybody’s telling you to just like, wait and it will come or do these little things, but nothing’s really working, stick around till the end. I think Nick is doing some cool work in this area and bringing in some knowledge from outside of our field, which is always a good thing. Today, in our conversation, we get into money and the therapeutic relationship. We get into how to set yourself up to be able to actually really give back in your community. And ultimately, we dig into this idea that kind of made my brain a little twingey, of separating our private practices in our businesses from the idea of helping, which was a little bit of a mindfuck for me. You’ll hear that. If you are looking to get a new perspective on how to be effective in our practices and think about money, Nick’s got some interesting stuff to say. Here he is. All right, Nick, welcome. 

Nick [00:02:35] Thank you. Thank you for having me on. 

Linzy [00:02:37] I’m very excited to have you here. We were just talking off-mic about all of the various connections we have in the therapist’s consultant universe, but we have not actually met until just now.

Nick [00:02:47] Isn’t that something? You know, some of my very, very favorite people in the world and I was listening to your episode with Tiffany. Anything Tiffany, you know, if she was on – anything she talks about, I want to hear it. It could be on any topic. So it’s so nice to finally close the loop.

Linzy [00:03:01] Yes, absolutely. Starting off, Nick, we wanted to start by getting into kind of like, where we start as therapist with our education, right? We all start by going through these various educational programs, you know, regardless of like what type of designation – and people listening to this podcast, Nick. Just so you know, we have mental health therapists, but we also have like nutritionists and massage therapists. 

Nick [00:03:19] Oh, right on.

Linzy [00:03:20] Yeah, and acupuncturist, we run the gamut. So, you know, but I think that this probably equally applies in so many fields. So I’m curious from your perspective, what is the main thing, the number one thing about money that we didn’t get taught in our professional licensing degrees, that you think that we should have?

Nick [00:03:38] Well, I hope this doesn’t apply to acupuncturist and nutritionists, but if it does, I’m hoping they’re hearing this. We didn’t get taught in school to take care of ourselves first. So many of us join because we want to help. We sign up, we get the degree, we do the tremendous amount of sacrifice financially in terms of time. Some of us are working jobs at the same time as we’re getting this education, you know, making all of these sacrifices to learn so that we can help other people. And then I think without a little bit of sort of up guidance on taking care of ourselves or do a job meeting our own needs before we try to meet other people’s needs. And then just the fact that a lot of the sort of pre licensed hours that you can get are hours that are not paid. The result is, you get newly licensed clinicians who don’t really know how to care for themselves and they get burned out or they go deeper into debt or they learn to resent their clients or they hate the field. There’s just so many pitfalls that they don’t discuss at all, and it all starts with taking care of yourself first.

Linzy [00:04:32] Absolutely. Yeah. And I think, you know, you make a very fair point that even in doing that education, most – the vast majority of the time, we’re incurring debt.

Nick [00:04:40] Yeah.

Linzy [00:04:41] Depending on where you are, it might be a large amount of debt, it might be a humungous amount of debt, depending on where you go to school and when you go to school for. So we’re kind of starting in this financial loss position. We start off our careers, before we even get to practice, we are putting ourselves into financial debt. And yet at the same time, we’re not being taught to actually take care of ourselves. You know, I would say financially or in general, out of the gate, like we kind of start behind and then we are set up to fail, burnout.

Nick [00:05:11] Yeah. Well, at least, you know, to be operating from that place of deep debt, which I think is psychologically taxing to people, you know, to emerge. And I remember feeling this, you know, to emerge feeling like, Oh my God, I am starting this with a $50000 debt. I attended a talk from a, you know, very notable, very smart speaker who said, you know, I used to work in the admissions part of a grad school, and one of the things that I’m kind of ashamed of was that for years, people would ask me about the cost of it, and I would say, you know, those are just at the bottom of the page. And I don’t think that came from a place of dishonesty from that person. But I think that they hadn’t really put into their mind or really gained an understanding of what it means for somebody to gather $50000, $100000 in debt. And especially, you know, I don’t know if this is true for you, some of the people that I went to school with didn’t become therapists. So what does that mean for them that they’re $50000 in debt and they’re not even going to partake of the thing that is supposed to pay that debt off, you know? So I hope that we see some change in terms of people being told sort of the real ramifications of that debt and then also people being set up to emerge in the field, to take care of themselves so that they can just feel great and do great work.

Linzy [00:06:22] Yes, absolutely. Yeah. And with that too, I mean something that I notice, the word that comes to mind for me when I often talk to therapists about their student debt is like, defeat. There’s this defeat about it from the beginning because it’s like this inconceivable amount of debt. You know, it’s an amount of money you’ve certainly never held in your hands in the positive. And now you owe it in the negative with interest. And I do have to say too, like the way – I’m a Canadian, and so I have this like a bit of more like distance on some of the American policies and the way that American loans are set up are shocking. The way that you can make a payment so small that you’re actually not even paying down principal, you’re just accumulating more and more interest, like the machine that grows your debt while you’re trying to get your footing professionally and doing a job that is about taking care of others, it seems crushing to me.

Nick [00:07:12] I mean, I think it is crushing. I think it does crush people. And I think that one of the most important things we can do as stewards, or sort of elder class people of the field is to teach the people who are coming up after us to take care of themselves and not offering, you know, I think there are supervisors that do predatory practices in terms of how much they pay their associates. And I think we kind of owe it to the field, ourselves, our community is not to perpetuate that system. Well, whether or not you and I fix that, whether or not therapists fix that, that thing will still very much be in place in the United States and there will be a few people getting very, very wealthy off of the debt of other people. And that’s a shame. So we really need to talk about it.

Linzy [00:07:53] Yeah. And with that Nick, I’d be curious, like your thoughts on specifics, like what are the things that you think we should actually have been taught? Like, what are the specifics of taking care of ourselves financially that you think would be a game changer for anybody who’s new and just starting their practice?

Nick [00:08:06] Well, one thing that I learned from painful experience was that my first sort of business model, when I was pre licensed and really looking to build up clients that didn’t know how that worked, was that I was the inexpensive guy. Which is a terrible business model – people, if you’re out there and you hear me, don’t be the inexpensive guy. There are more inexpensive guys out there than, you know, and you don’t want to be them. It’s a miserable way. And I remember, you know, seeing clients for like, you know, I, you know, 20, 40 dollars, you know that I was splitting with my supervisor, then they’d cancel, chasing them around, you know, and then only getting referrals for really, you know, people who couldn’t afford anything else because I was the inexpensive guy. And that was such a painful lesson, but I didn’t have it in my mind that I could charge more. I didn’t have it in my mind that people would pay me more. And honestly, I really only had one person in my life that was kind of, you know, I had the benefit of a great mentor who told me really not to believe the bullshit and that you really can charge more. You can make more, you can take care of yourself. And I’m glad that eventually I believed her. But it took years of practicing, taking Tiffany McLain’s excellent course and really working to build up that kind of a thing. So I wish that I had gotten a lot more like, Hey, listen, I don’t want to clap because there’s a microphone here, but somebody clapping my face and going like, hey, hey, listen, seriously, you got to take yourself really seriously here. I know you’re happy to pay your therapist X amount ever having to pay your couples therapist x amount. You go out there and you charge that much.

Linzy [00:09:30] Well, that’s interesting. So you were happy to pay other people a higher fee, but you were not charging that yourself.

Nick [00:09:37] Linzy, I was waiting tables and I was – I used to have this joke for ages that I needed to wait tables to pay for my therapy, but then I needed therapy because of the waiting tables, and it was like kind of one of those jokes, that’s not really a joke.

Linzy [00:09:51] Yeah, like, LOL, LOL, this is terrible.

Linzy [00:09:55] Laughs in pain.

Nick [00:09:56] Oh my god. Exactly. Yeah, parentheses, right? And so, no, I was happy to, and I still see that therapist. You know, my therapist is invaluable to me, she does incredible work. We’ve worked through so much stuff. I notice it, you know, if one of us has to cancel, I notice it. I notice the difference in my mood that week. It’s an important punctuation mark to my week, so I have never had qualms about paying her, her fee, which is lower than mine now, as it happens.

Linzy [00:10:20] Yes, that happens.

Nick [00:10:22] But I never believed for a minute – and you know, maybe this is some of my own stuff that I sort of came into the field equipped with in a negative way. But like, I just didn’t believe that anybody else would think I was as helpful as she was to me, which is bullshit. Plenty of people don’t, but plenty of people do.

Linzy [00:10:36] Yes. And there’s that mindset piece there, like those deep beliefs about yourself, you know, articulated or not, are you know, underpinning that. And then the other piece that I think of Nick, like I’m big on thinking about kind of the emotional piece of money. So there’s that story that like, well, nobody would pay me that much, even though I pay other people that much, I couldn’t possibly be as helpful as my therapist. But that on the other side of that, I think about the actual practical, like the math, like, I’m sure the math was not mathing, right. Like, it’s easy to build a practice where just the structure of your fees, the amount of hours that you would need to work a week to make you know the money that you need to make – it’s not a workable model. Right. If your people are paying you $40, but you’re getting paid $20 because half goes to your supervisor, you would probably have to be working 50 hours, 50 client sessions a week to be able to pay your rent and like get some groceries and still waiting tables, right? It’s not a workable model, but those stories are so profound that I think it keeps us from like actually being able to sit and do the math and be like, Wait a second, even when I do have a full week, does the money work for me?

Nick [00:11:36] 100 percent and that – and forgive me, I’m probably just saying something that you know, and I’m probably frankly saying something that you teach and forgive me if I’m stepping on your toes here. But like the big thing that I find myself thinking about all the time and telling other clinicians all the time is that it doesn’t have anything to do with you, what people will pay. There’s not a thing of I am an x number of dollars therapist. I’m a I’m a $200 therapist and my clients know that, and that’s why they’re willing to pay me. It’s like the client is going to pay based on their own finances. You know, there are people who love you and will never pay you $200 because it’s never going to be in their width to do that. There are going to be other people that are going to pay you way more than that, or people are paying terrible therapists way more than that because they have that amount of money and it doesn’t mean anything to them. You know, they have the money, they want the change. And so we get so caught up in making my fee about me, making my money about me when really what it is is it should be calculated on the basis of what I want or need to make. And then you find people who can pay it.

Linzy [00:12:29] Yes. Right. For people listening then, if somebody is listening and they’re like, Oh, God, that’s me, this is my situation. I think many of us realize that at a certain point where we realize, OK, these numbers are not working either because they never worked or because they used to work. But now, like, I have a kid, like this is true. I have a kid now, his child care is $1300 a month. What used to be a livable income for me is no longer a level income because just that expense alone drastically changes our family’s financial picture, right? So for people listening who maybe have had a change like that happen or are realizing like, OK, my fee is too low, I think there’s this temptation when we raise fees to send an email, send a letter, like just kind of like just slide it over. But we’re scared to talk about that in the clinical relationship. I’m curious, what is your opinion on this? Why is it important to actually talk about it?

Nick [00:13:16] Yeah, I do. You guessed my stance on this, I hate the letter. I actually received the letter from a clinician that I work with, a day after I had the session with my nutritionist. And they’re terrific, they do great work. But it was just like, Why the fuck are you sending me this? Why didn’t you tell me this yesterday and not even because I wanted to discuss it, I was happy. Their fees are still too low, frankly, and I did tell them that. Maybe that’s battery failure on my part, but I feel like if I say it once, it’s not battery failure. But I got that letter and just thought, like, why in the world? It feels almost a little bit like a sniping, like, I turned my back and then they sent me this thing, which to me feels like and I know it’s not, but it feels slightly adversarial. And I think it does come from a place of like, I don’t know how you will take it. And so I want to send this to you. And if you flee, you know, if you get mad, you can do it via email and then I won’t have to deal with it, right? When the truth is, there’s a really, really rich and wonderful and therapeutic conversation to be had around our fees. We want to be able, just in this one place to be wanting and needing in front of our clients, right? That’s the only thing that we really can ask them for. Every other need in the relationship needs to be us, you know, transferring the energy to them, needs to be taking care of them. But this is the one thing that they have to do for us. So we have to get it right because otherwise we’ll build resentment and all this other stuff. But even beyond that, when you start that conversation with clients, there’s so much material, you get into the clients beliefs about money, you get into the clients beliefs about worth. Maybe they’re under charging at their job and they don’t know how to get out of it. And then also, you model the ability to advocate for yourself and to say, Yeah, I need a raise and this is how much it’s going to be. And if you can’t make that work, I’ll respect it and I’ll understand it, but you and I will have to terminate together. And people have never had that conversation, they’ve never seen that conversation, they don’t know how it works. They think you either send – if you’re in a position of power, you send a letter to somebody or they think you have to go in on your knees and beg, Please, would you please give me a raise? And neither of those things needs to be true, especially not in this relationship. So I think when people send the letter, it’s fine. But I think it’s missing several enormous opportunities.

Linzy [00:15:23] Yeah, I would agree with that. I think it is rich therapeutic material. And even even if you say with your nutritionist, even there was a little element and you’re – that’s not a therapeutic relationship on an emotional sense. But even still, there’s a little bit of like, I just saw you yesterday – like, this is a little funny and probably not a good analogy, but it makes me think of like having a great time with somebody, having a great day. And then the next day, they’re like, I actually don’t want to hang out with you that much. And you’re like, what? I just saw you yesterday, I thought we were good? I don’t think it’s a good analogy, but it does like, there is an emotional component that feels a little bit like that, where you’re like, Oh, this other thing that we probably should’ve talk about in person, but instead, I’m emailing you about later.

Nick [00:16:00] I actually think that’s brilliant because I think that’s exactly what it’s like. On some level, it forces you to just sort of recontextualize the past bit of relationship. It’s almost like, it’s not exactly like, but you know, when people cheat, then the person who’s been cheated on has to go back and they have to re-understand the relationship in the context of the person cheating on them. This is why it always blows my mind when people are like, Well, listen, I want to break up with him, but it’s his birthday next week, so we’re going to go to Six Flags. I’m going to take him out to his favourite dinner and then the next week, I’m going to lower the knife and finish him off. And it’s just like, Oh my God, I mean, like, there’s just not – like you’re either going to ruin, maybe ruin his birthday a little bit or at least give him an opportunity to drink irresponsibly. Or you’re going to give him a great birthday and then you’re going to snatch it away from him right afterwards.

Linzy [00:16:45] Yeah. And as you say, it does make them wonder what was going on in your head when we were having those interactions. Was this sitting there? Whereas I think when you bring it up with a client, whether it’s a mental health therapy client or, you know, other kinds of caring work that you’re doing, it does give you the opportunity to receive their response, answer their questions, let them see like, I love working with you, this is my fee, let them have that response. And that’s always what I advocate, right? Say your piece and then like, let your client do whatever they’re going to do and half the time, they’re like, OK, when is that again, November, OK? Good. Anyways, like my mom called me yesterday and she said this thing, right? Like so often it’s a non reaction. But we’re not letting them have that reaction with us if we’re not actually communicating it face to face, as much as possible. Obviously, there’s going to be circumstances where you haven’t seeing a client for a while. There’s always exceptions to every rule, but I think it’s like putting faith in the relationship by actually communicating in person.

Nick [00:17:39] One hundred percent and one of the best things that my therapist ever modeled for me was that, you know, when she would bring up tough stuff, she’d say, I want to know, does that bring anything up for you? And I think clinicians don’t often ask that question, either, whether it’s because we worry that we’re going to invite something that’s painful for us, or maybe we’re worried about the client going, No, I don’t give a fuck how much you charge. Why are we not talking about my marriage or something like that? It really – it’s clinicians are afraid to open up the space. And again, I just think like there’s no time wasted in asking a client for their response to this stuff, and it can be so healing.

Linzy [00:18:08] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And there is an opportunity there for modeling, as you say, like, it makes me think about the closest thing I can relate it to, which is even more extreme is like, I’ve shut down my therapy practice twice, just like fully closed the doors. And it’s not a fun thing to talk about. It brings up a lot of feelings, let me tell you, I have a book of feelings that I’ve talked through with clients, that run the whole gamut. But what it ultimately is, is it’s an opportunity to model to your client, this is what healthy closure looks like. This is me giving you lots of notice, this is us talking about all the different stages of grief that are coming up in the next few months as we work together, knowing that our work is ending. This is us getting to like, look back and summarize the work that we’ve done and this is me transferring information to somebody else so they can support you and supporting you and thinking through who’s the right next person for you? Like, that’s an opportunity we so rarely get in life to have healthy closure, and we have the opportunity to model that. I’m talking about mental health therapy specifically right now, obviously, but I think it’s the same with fee raises, as you say, is it’s this rare opportunity to show somebody, this is what I’m charging now. You don’t even have to explain your reasons, but obviously for your own life and your needs, and because you have a kid and you know, outdoor preschool. And you get to just be in that and let them respond and be open to it and just own the fact that you also have needs.

Nick [00:19:26] Yeah, and that it’s actually really OK, if they don’t like it, it doesn’t have to be adversarial. They can be mad or sad or upset or resentful, and it’s all OK. I have room for all that stuff. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m going to be raising my fees, doesn’t change the fact that this is what it’s going to do. But how often do you get to have a really negative response to something in the moment as opposed to having to sit on it and smile and go, oh I’m very happy for you and then going home to your partner or your parents or somebody else and going this mother fucker, I can’t believe they did this thing. You know it’s so healing.

Linzy [00:19:56] Yes, absolutely. So for people who have identified that they do want to be building up their fee, that they do need to actually be making money and want to be making money in their practice; there is the story out there that by doing that, by saying like, OK, I need to make this much or I want to make this much, that by building that into our practice, we’re like neglecting and rejecting, you know, the helping element of the work that we do, which is usually the reason we got into the work in the first place. So I’m curious from your perspective, like how is it possible to build up a lucrative practice that does support you and your family and your needs and your wants, but still also provide help and services to people who legitimately can’t afford the fee that you’re charging to make that happen?

Nick [00:20:35] I’ve tried it both ways, Linzy. And what I have found is that setting up a lucrative practice that supports me and meets my needs is actually the better, easier and more effective way to give back, and I will clarify. I did plenty of giving back when I was in the inexpensive guy. Plenty of people got clinical services from a boundaried, educated person who was an associate and sometimes a licensed professional for pennies on the dollar. And that was plenty nice, but it was rough on me, and I think I was still so desperate enough that it still created a power imbalance in the relationship that wasn’t necessarily great in terms of like me kind of really needing them. What I did eventually, was once my practice started to build up a little bit, I actually took some time off from giving back and I just finally said, You know what? I just have to build something for me. And so I spent a little time and I built this beautiful, thriving practice where I charge real money to get my needs met, work with the clients I like, and that’s great. And now I don’t have to haggle over 40 dollars for somebody, I can actually volunteer. I do volunteer supervise. I’ve done volunteer pro-bono work for organizations. Like, you can do so much and you don’t have to worry about leaving stuff on the table, right? Like you can give so freely once your needs are met. And so many times have I seen – this is one of my least favorite things that clinicians do, and I get it, but we need to stop doing it, is the sort of like using the sliding scale as the name for something that is actually negotiating, and then negotiating when we don’t need to negotiate. So how many times have I heard a client say, Well, you know, my fee is a buck 75, but I slid down to 150 for this person, and I want to say, who the fuck are you helping? Right? Like, if they can afford one hundred and fifty, they can for sure afford 175. Maybe they don’t want to, and that’s fine. But like, really, you’re helping somebody who can afford low-fee retail therapy, you’re giving them a discount. So you’re supporting that person and then you’re sort of helping yourself make money, and that’s all fine. But let’s not pretend like that’s charity, and let’s not pretend like that’s something that you’re doing, that’s really making the world a better place, that’s you negotiating with somebody, to find a fee that you can arrive on. Right? I like the sliding scale where I don’t slide for people, you know, rarely do I. I have a very few clients that I do that for, and it’s only when I’m really, really certain that it makes sense, right? And then I go find other places where I can virtually give it away. And I’m very comfortable with that because the people that receive my pro bono services really, really need pro-bono services and can’t afford stuff. You know, the 5, 10, 20, 50 dollars or whatever is is dear to them and they show up for the work and they’re excited about it. They know they’re getting something incredible, they know they’re getting an incredible value and they take it really seriously. As opposed to the person who’s paying a buck 50 instead of a buck 75. And they’re resenting paying a buck 50 anyway, which is why they talk to you down there to begin with, right?

Linzy [00:23:23] Yeah. I mean, it sounds like you’re actually making a bigger impact by holding to your fee.

Nick [00:23:29] I think so. 

Linzy [00:23:29] Because that $25 difference actually is not going to make – hugely change that person’s financial picture. I’m sure about $100 a month that they’re saving by negotiating with you is not changing their financial life, if they’re able to pay 150 or 175. Whereas for someone who truly does not have the money, you giving them that service, is immensely valuable to them.

Nick [00:23:51] I think so. And I mean, I think that’s a way for us to, you know, ultimately we wanted to get in, we wanted to help people who really needed it. And I think we get so caught up in our own stuff and we get so caught up in the not enoughness and the, you know, wanting to help but also wanting to make money that we confuse those things. And I’m always very clear with myself that the therapy works that I do is commerce, and I never lose sight of that. I don’t love the like narrative that were such wonderful people and were saints for giving back to people. I charge money for that. I do, right. And I mean, I think I do a good job of it and I’m proud of what I do and I’m happy. But, it is commerce. And then I have this other side of myself that I do as charity and it’s actual charity, and I feel really good about it.

Linzy [00:24:30] That’s interesting. That’s making my brain a little niggly. 

 

Nick [00:24:33] Oh, tell me.

Linzy [00:24:34] Well, I like, I mean, niggly in a good way, niggly is not the right word. But it’s like, I think for so many people in the field and mostly like myself and the folks around me, we tend to be kind of like the sensitive therapist types like I’ve been a therapist since I was like, 12, Nick. Like, that’s the first time I had somebody be like, You’re my therapist and I remember my 12 year old brain being, That’s bad. This is not friendship. So it’s like such a part of – for me, it was such a part of my identity long before I was a therapist that this is how that I help people and like – and I have these abilities and I’m the person at the party who’s like talking to somebody quietly, you know, while everybody else is partying like and they’re pouring their heart out to me. And this is how, this is how I support it and this is how I give back. Like such an identity piece there right, which obviously has been unpacked in therapy and more unpacking, you know, will happen in the decades to come. But I think for so many of us, there is that identity piece coming into the work that I am a helper. I am, you know, they’ve usually been the therapist in their family for years and years. So it’s interesting to me, just the clarity that you have between like, this is my business, this is commerce, this is how I make money, and that’s what this is. And then over here is where I’m just like, truly just giving. And I think for most therapists, and I’m going to guess, like most therapists listening right now and practitioners, those things are very blurry. It’s not so clear cut in their hearts.

Nick [00:25:50] Yeah. And that was what was making me uncomfortable, for me. I mean, if it works for somebody else, God bless, that’s great. But for me, it was really making me uncomfortable to have those two things overlap. So, so very much. And again, I haven’t given up the notion that I’m a helper, but I think it’s for me, it’s clearer. It just makes everything clearer and cleaner to me, and it makes me feel better about the work, the pro bono work, or the charity work, or the helping work that I do, makes me feel better about that. And it really takes away a lot of the static that I think we get or the white noise about, if a client, you know, wants to negotiate, or if a client doesn’t feel like a great fit, but they still really want to work with me. Or all of the other stuff that keeps us from just really getting the clients that are great for us and enjoying our work and helping in ways where we’re really effective and then also not working with people that we’re not terribly effective with, right?

Linzy [00:26:42] Because if it’s a business, I’m thinking through this out loud, I’m thinking through your framing here. So because if it’s a business and somebody is not a right fit, you’re like, Well, my services aren’t really a fit for them. There’s someone else who could be of more benefit, I’m going to move them along. Right. I’m going to help them find the right person who will serve them and then I can be better serving somebody who is a fit. They’ll have more success with my model because ultimately what my business is trying to do is generate money by helping people achieve x y z, whatever, you know, our focus is, as a therapist. Yeah, taking that kind of like, I’m a helper and I’m helping them out of the equation seems like it would help you think much clearer about, Does this make sense?

Nick [00:27:16] Yes, and it does. I mean, that’s the clarity that I wanted. And just for me, I got rid of a sort of icky feeling that I was having where I felt like my ethical wires were a little crossed, prior to that, doing that kind of thing. I want to say as emphatic as I speak about these things, I’m emphatic about them, for me. If somebody else has a great way to do it, I’m not trying to like crap on somebody else’s wonderful model that they have for themselves. But for me, this felt really important and for me, it really used to bum me out when I or somebody else would say I slid for this person and the fee would still be very high. That really bugged me because in my mind, sliding scale is something that we really put in place, I think the only reason it exists was at some point fifty years ago, somebody said, Wow, poor people really can’t afford this. We really need to make this accessible for them, and this is how we will do it, we’ll have a sliding scale. And then that became the norm for us. It became a thing where we go – it makes me crazy when I see people’s Psychology Today profiles and they say how much you charge? Oh, one hundred or three hundred dollars. That means one hundred, that’s what it means. Nobody looks at that and says, Well, maybe I can pay them two hundred. Everybody says, maybe I can pay them one hundred. It’s just gotten so perverted over the years into something that just doesn’t mean at all what it used to mean or what the stated purpose of it means and that kind of incongruence, like makes me feel icky.

Linzy [00:28:27] Interesting. Yeah. And something that occurs to me, I mean with that, is that in many cases, it probably impacts the clinician more than it impacts the clients, that financial hit, right? Like you taking a hit where now every month you’re making, you know, 100, 200, 300 dollars less on the spot of time, which is finite, you only have so many spots in the week that you have energy to see people. You losing that money is probably having a greater negative impact on you and your business because if you’re running your business too, with any kind of budgeting, actually only half that money is going home to your paycheck. The rest of it is going back into like growing the business, making sure money is there for taxes. So like, that’s actually significantly reducing what you are getting paid more than it’s probably impacting your clients quality of life. That two or three hundred dollars.

Nick [00:29:07] Yes. And I was listening to one of your episodes, I think it was the six figure student loan debt one, so maybe that’s why this is on my mind. But the thing that is in the room and we we think we can handle it and we can, but it’s not a good idea; is that when you slide for somebody, then every vacation they take, every raise they get, every sort of little step forward that they get becomes something that lodges in your mind and affects your part of the relationship. Hopefully, you hide it and the client doesn’t have to deal with it, unless you’re really willing to have one of those hard conversations with them about it. But I’ve had that situation where, I had a situation years ago where a client, their partner wanted to go do something different with their life that wasn’t going to make any money and so the client was going to be the sole income earner. And could we please lower our fees? And I said yes. And then afterward I thought, why in the world did I do that? I’m subsidizing somebody’s career who I haven’t even met. And then I stayed in that relationship and the client – and they weren’t messing with me, I know this, you know, without sharing history. They weren’t messing with me, but their career continued to improve and they continued to have, you know, financial windfalls and wonderful things happening and taking vacations. And it never occurred to them that, in fact, that actually should also translate into them raising the fees back up. So unless you’re the type of person that gets off on having that conversation with them, don’t put yourself in a position to have that conversation with them. 

Linzy [00:30:24] Yeah. Oh gosh, yes. It makes me think of what you said earlier about what happens when you actually build a practice that works. And I think you use the word like prosperous and people can’t see Nick because it’s a podcast, but he’s kind of made these expansive motions when you were talking about that version of your practice, right, which is when you have now. It occurs to me that when you are in that place, then you could actually, you know, have those pro bono spots and you’re not impacted because you are actually fine. Your needs are actually covered. You can go on vacation, right? You can save for your life goals. And so you can genuinely give just from a place of like wanting to help and support somebody or a place of justice without the resentment because you’re actually OK. Right, but when we slide for someone and it actually is not OK on some level, then that is going to be coming up and there’s going to be static there for you in the relationship.

Nick [00:31:10] Yes, 100 percent. And for me personally, the other added benefit was that it allowed me to help the people that I actually wanted to help.

Linzy [00:31:17] Right, right. And can you say more about that?

Nick [00:31:19] Yeah. Well, so I mean, I love the clients that I see for money and that’s meaningful to me and I enjoy them and I’ve curated that population. I’m happy to send people out that I don’t think are a good fit, and I keep the ones that I think are good fit and I’m really pleased with that. And then on the other side of it, there are clients who I would love to work with and who need help, who cannot afford me. And this allows me to help them and feel really good about it. That is the thing for me is, I do, you know, we talked about sort of the American economic problems that, you know, the many of them and how some people get crushed under it. You know, there are millions of people in this country who desperately need services and can’t get them at all. And I think that by saving our sliding scale spots for people who can pay one hundred and fifty instead of hundred and seventy five, we’re tricking ourselves into thinking that we’re helping those people and we’re not. I can’t help a ton of those people, but I can help a few of those people and I’m able to do it and I’m delighted to do it.

Linzy [00:32:10] Yeah, because I mean, functionally, what we’re doing is we’re subsidizing the middle class, who have like luxury spending that they can do, rather than just fully giving to people who legitimately are living hand-to-mouth.

Nick [00:32:23] Yes. A thousand percent.

Linzy [00:32:24] All right. I feel like we could keep talking for a long time, but we should start to wrap this up. So I know that you do therapy work and you also do some work as a consultant for therapists. So can you tell me a little bit about that work?

Nick [00:32:34] Yes. Thank you for bringing that up. OK, so I have a new thing. I’m really excited about it. It’s called Action Practice Building. It’s a sort of a response. As all things we know, we become therapists to live out our own traumas in a healthy way, right? Like we ultimately are going to do to work on the stuff, that worked for ourselves. So one of the traumas that I am working through actively as a consultant is the one where I emerged into the field and no one could tell me how to build my practice. I had – my first supervisor really wanted me to get out there and build a case load. She didn’t know how to build a case load. She took all insurance clients, but she had this notion that I was going to find all these clients, and then I was going to make her rich. And she would even say stuff like, other clinicians will never send you cash for your business. They will keep it all for themselves. So that is where this person was functioning from. That is what she knew, right? So I got out of that and I got into another private practice where the supervisor said, I will never bother you, but I also have no referrals for you. So I moved over there, and that was when I had to start learning how to build up my caseload. And to do that, I actually had to build on networking skills that I learned from a previous career, and I’m happy to report that it was very, very effective. And as I’ve maybe overstated it during this podcast, I have this really wonderful practice that’s full and that has clients that pay a lot of money and are happy for the work and happy to work with me. And I love sending our business to other people, which I do all the time. So I kind of achieved the dream that I didn’t think was possible and that somebody told me was possible. But then they told me like, Oh, it just takes time. I’m here to tell people, Yeah, it takes time. And the truth is, if you don’t do anything, your practice will fill up no matter what, because there are not enough therapists. But if you’re sitting there, you have your degree, you have your $50000 in debt, you have the student loan goons breathing down your neck and you’re sitting there in your office going, Oh my God, I want to work. Then you can use Action Practice Building because it’s finite skills to tell you how to use your time, this week, next week, next month, to be able to get out there and find people who can send you the clients that you want. And this is the hidden part, that you can send them the clients that they want because a huge part of this is helping other people. So that’s sort of the main thing. It’s a daylong intensive. It’s individual attention. It’s not a group thing. People who join this are going to get to sit with me all day. And then there’s 20 days of accountability via Voxer and the closing thing. My goal is to get people in a place where they don’t ever have to sit there and think, I’m sitting on my hands today. Where they can say, I know what I’m doing today to build my practice, and then they’re seeing results.

Linzy [00:34:47] So there’s this group thing or just a one on one?

Nick [00:34:49] One on one. It’s all one on one.

Linzy
[00:34:50] Ok so this is like an intensive VIP day model. Got it. With support afterwards. I really like this model. Nick, I’ll say in general, I’ve done a little bit of this for some of my grads, although I’m now building on my level two, so I’ll be doing different programing for them. But there is something so focused about, like really doing that intensive work together and then being like, OK, here we go. We know your plan. So now I’m going to actually help you have the accountability and the support to do it, right. Because how often do we know what we need to do, but we just don’t get to it because other things are being prioritized or because the things we have to do are scary and hard sometimes.

Nick [00:35:22] And the plan is different, for different people. We really want to take into account when we’re doing this kind of thing, where a person comes from, what their expertise is, you know, how comfortable they are talking to other people. I have this thing about the three different reasons that somebody sends you a referral. One of them is location, one of them is expertise and the other one is I just saw them, right. It’s one of those things where I want to find – location, maybe not so much, but I want to find whether it’s expertise or whether it’s your ability to relate to people and have them like you, that we’re going to build off of and then create a plan that really works for people individually. So, yeah, I really believe in the individual sort of model.

Linzy [00:35:52] Perfect. So that’s action practice building?

Nick [00:35:54] Yes, actionpracticebuilding.com.

Linzy [00:35:56] Okay, perfect. And that’s where they find you. So go over to actionpracticebuilding.com to check out Nick, and I’m sure you’ve got some other stuff on there that they can dig around.

Nick [00:36:05] Absolutely.

Linzy [00:36:06] Yeah. And I think this is really, I think, filling a gap, Nick, because I think your approach to like networking, relationship building, bringing in some of these like business skills you acquired before, I think our skills that we tend to really lack in the therapy field even though we are professional relationship havers, it can still be hard and scary. And I think also a lot of therapists are actually introverts, so that makes it even harder. So I love that you’re giving this very focused support around this way to solve this problem that so many of us have.

Nick [00:36:35] Oh, thank you so much.

Linzy [00:36:36] So, check out Nick. We’ll put the link for that in the show notes. Thank you so much Nick, for hanging out with us today. Oh, and one more question if people want to hang out in your world, your social media world, where should they go?

Nick [00:36:44] Yes, so I’m on Instagram @nickbognarmft. It is a fine mix of contemporary issues that matter to me, clinical issues and then also a lot of stuff about, you know, little freebies and little things about how to build your practice.

Linzy [00:36:56] Beautiful. Awesome. Thank you, Nick. It was great talking to you.

Nick [00:36:58] Thank you. It was a pleasure.

Linzy [00:37:14] Something that stuck out to me while I was talking to Nick and then I commented on a little bit during our conversation was when he was talking about, you know, the version of his practice that he has now and what happens when you do actually set up your practice to support you and to allow you to thrive? He was making these like big, expansive arm motions. And it makes me think about what it feels like in our body. You know, when either our practice and the practices that we have within it are working for us or not, right? And how it feels when we aren’t charging enough and we don’t think that what we do is valuable and we’re financially stressed because the debt that we have or because the fee that we’re charging is not actually supporting our life. That feeling in our body and that like heaviness or collapse or anxiety and how that’s showing up in our daily life and also probably in our clinical work vs. what happens in our bodies when we do take these steps to align our practice with the needs in our life. Whatever that is, that’s very personal, right? That doesn’t look the same for all of us at all. But just by owning our needs and building a practice that helps to sustain us and nurture us and allow us to thrive. How much more embodied we be and how we are taking up space financially, which allows us also, as Nick was saying, to have these impacts in other areas of the world and just be able to actually genuinely volunteer or do pure pro bono work for people who couldn’t even pay us $15 an hour. What that makes possible by allowing yourself to take up space, you’re also able to impact your world in all of these other ways. Very interesting, very cool conversation with Nick. If you are curious about his approach to building your practice, which is all about networking and building relationships, check him out. I think that what he’s offering is really filling a gap, and him and I had talked before we started recording today just about how networking can be so hard for us as therapists. Even though we’re professional relationship people or professional healers that are all about connecting with other people on these profound ways, how scary and hard and counter to our nature it can be to reach out and build relationships. But how ultimately, so often people refer to us because we’re top of mind, right? Because they’ve recently had a pleasant contact with us that makes them think of us when they’re looking to send out a referral and how valuable that is when you’re building a practice. So you can check out the link in the show notes to get over to Nick’s website and his Instagram. Thank you so much for joining me today. If you want to hear for more from us, you can follow me on Instagram @moneynutsandbolts. We are always putting out free money content there, both on mindset and practical pieces of money. And of course, if you’re enjoying the podcast, I know I always say this, but please jump over to Apple to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. That is the best way for other therapists and health practitioners to find the podcast. Thanks for listening today!

 

Hi, I'm Linzy

Hi, I'm Linzy

I’m a therapist in private practice, and a the creator of Money Skills for Therapists. I help therapists and health practitioners in private practice feel calm and in control of their finances.

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Connect with Angie Noll

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Episode Transcript

Angie [00:00:04] So that’s the good thing to know about money, is that it’s not permanent. So I like to call money a renewable resource because if you lose it all, that’s OK. You can, you can lose it all and you can still come back stronger than ever. 

Linzy [00:00:28] Welcome to the Money Skills For Therapists podcast, where we answer this question. How can therapists and health practitioners go from money, shame and confusion to feeling calm and confident about their finances and get money really working for them in both their private practice and their lives? I’m your host, Linzy Bonham, therapist turned money coach and creator of the course Money Skills For Therapists. Hello, and welcome back to today’s episode. So today’s podcast is with Angie Noll. Angie Noll is a bookkeeper. She’s the owner of Reconciled Solutions, where she has a team of bookkeepers and accountants and profit first advisors. They work with small and micro-sized businesses, so for many people listening today, our businesses are actually right in the range of who Angie works with. And as you’re going to hear in this episode, a big part of what Angie believes is in financial sustainability and business, and helping business owners to achieve that and achieve profitability, but also at the same time, lifestyle sustainability. And that was actually a really pleasant, almost surprise for me, actually in this conversation with Angie is that we really got into talking about balancing money and numbers with your life and your lifestyle. Not necessarily what we would expect when we think of that stereotype of a bookkeeper, but we chat about that today. We also talk about how we’re all learning in terms of money and as business owners. Angie shares some of her own experiences with learning as we go. So, yes, even bookkeepers are learning as they go when it comes to money sometimes. And finally, we get into some real, tangible tips on how to set yourself up to be in a better position come tax time. So if with tax time coming, you’re feeling super stressed right now, we talked about ways to catch up that are not going to be as painful as what we sometimes tend to do when we need to catch up, but also how to set yourself up for a better tax season next year. Here’s Angie Noll. So, Angie, welcome to the podcast. 

Angie [00:02:40] Thanks, Linzy. I’m so excited to be here. It’s a good day. 

Linzy [00:02:43] It’s a good day, I’m excited to have you here. So Angie, you are a bookkeeper, and so I’m especially excited to have you on, like on the podcast we have that account inside before, but mostly we have therapists, right? Like mostly the folks that I’m chatting with on this podcast are people whose brains are, like, pretty similar to my brain. Right. We’re kind of the same kind of human now, something I want to start with right away, talking to you as a bookkeeper is kind of the elephant in the room, which is that I think that therapists can have this story about accountants and bookkeepers, like numbers people, that numbers people have like no baggage around money that they’re just like perfect money, perfect at math, it all comes very easily. They’re just like, they have this in the bag and they’ve always had it in the bag. Can I ask you for your thoughts on that kind of story that we might have, even unconsciously, that we might have about bookkeepers?

Angie [00:03:31] Well, Linzy, it’s not true. I mean, I don’t know how much we want to go into this. 

Linzy [00:03:38] Sure, sure. 

Angie [00:03:38] Yeah, we certainly don’t have our act together. And it was kind of funny, when I started my business years ago – I’ve been in business for 15 years and when I started my business back in the early 2000s, I just could not figure out that triangle between me as the business owner and the deliverable to my clients and the person that was working for me and to keep everybody on all three sides happy because the person that was working for me was always wanting more money and I wanted money to, and the clients wanted, you know, wanted to pay less and wanted less for their money, but they still wanted the deliverables. So that relationship was super hard and I had so many money shortages. 

Linzy [00:04:32] Sure, right, yes. 

Angie [00:04:32] And I’ve had to reinvent myself. So what it started out looking like 15 years ago, is not what it looks like today, and that’s because I’ve slowly made changes. So that’s the good thing to know about money, is that it’s not permanent. So I like to call money a renewable resource because if you lose it all, that’s OK. There’s – you can, you can lose it all and you can still come back stronger than ever. I mean, I think that Shaquille O’Neal, he went bankrupt. He talks about this story about spending $1 million in one day, and he really only had like seven hundred thousand to spend, but he blew a million, so he was in the hole three hundred thousand dollars for a single day. 

Linzy [00:05:15] Wow. Right. And he came back from it, I assume. 

Angie [00:05:19] Yes. Yes, he came back from it, he’s a wonderful businessperson. So, yeah, I think therapists might have that expectation that maybe all accountants and bookkeepers never make mistakes with their financials, but we do. And I would say, you know, on the reverse side of that, we’re thinking every therapist has got their crap together as far as other relationships in their lives. You know, they must have perfect relationships with their mom and their dad and their kids and their spouses and all that kind of stuff? 

Linzy [00:05:50] Yes. And obviously, that is also not true, right? So which is, I think, great to hear, though, Angie, and I’m sure like people know that logically, of course, bookkeepers and accountants are humans who are also learning as they go. But I think that’s especially important for – if I think about the therapists I work with in the course, and the health practitioners in the course. And I think about myself like, I think when you are used to being good at things and when you’re used to being a high achiever in other areas, it can be really demoralizing and defeating when money is hard or when the business isn’t working or, as you say, like the way it’s set up is just not working and you’re struggling at something and it feels like it’s not going to work. And I think a lot of therapists at that point, think about giving up and just like going back to group practice, right or even changing careers. And what I’m hearing from you is you can reinvent yourself, like even if you start off on the wrong feet or with the wrong structure, that’s not going to work. You absolutely can learn these things as you go, and even people who literally do numbers and finances for their business have to learn the financials as they go sometimes. 

Angie [00:06:52] Absolutely. I’m still learning things every day, 15 years in business. We’re talking about intimidation factor, and so many people have intimidation factor when it comes to their numbers. But it’s interesting that therapists, when they’re working with bookkeepers and accountants, they might have this intimidation factor fear of their financials, understanding their money demons and all this kind of stuff. But I’m sure that we can flip that around 100 percent because think of the clients that you’re meeting with day to day, people are scared to go see a therapist. They’ve probably got their stuff together. There’s intimidation factor there. We don’t want to tell them our dirty underwear. You know, all that kind of stuff. And I almost think we’re in the same business because bookkeepers and accountants, we also know our clients dirty underwear. We just have a different way of doing it. We know where they eat, we know what they spend too much money on. We know its clients are slow paying them, which clients are really good about paying. We know lots of stuff about their business. So I think it’s just overcoming the fear, the inadequacy, the do I deserve this? You know. 

Linzy [00:08:12] Because what I’m hearing is like, you know the intimate details of your client’s financial lives, right? We tend to know the intimate details of our client’s emotional lives, their relationships, their inner worlds. You know their financial lives. And I’m curious, Angie, with that, like what do you see as kind of like your role? How do you think about what you’re doing with clients when you are working with those numbers with them? And when you do know their numbers, what are you trying to accomplish with them? 

Angie [00:08:36] Well, the biggest thing that we’re trying to accomplish is that they have visibility and clarity to their financials. That’s super powerful. There is power in understanding and absorbing and being able to make decisions more than just on how we feel inside ourselves and on our gut, but based on numbers and data and the story that the numbers tell. So the numbers do tell a juicy story, and that’s what I want therapists to understand is if we set this up, we’re going to be able to tell those details about your business and you’re going to be able to make better decisions knowing this. 

Linzy [00:09:16] Right, having that clarity and that’s empowering, right? As much as that can be scary to face. And I mean, you and I are doing similar work in different areas supporting in different ways, but helping people get that clarity, it can be scary. Sometimes we don’t want to know what it is, but it’s only when you have information that you can actually do something about it and improve it. 

Angie [00:09:33] Yeah. And then I think, you know what happens after fear, the fear of the unknown, the intimidation and stuff. And if you let us get past that and work through those numbers with you, well, then the next thing that might happen is there’s a bunch of guilt that comes in, right? Like, why did I spend that? How did I get this credit card debt? You know, I’m in this position where I am, not where I should be at this age or stage of my life and all of that kind of stuff. So then, we’re probably not your favorite person because you’re feeling guilty, right? 

Linzy [00:10:09] Yes. To draw it back to therapy because now you’re getting me thinking about all these similarities. I feel like it’s the same thing with therapy and the way that we work with clients or we also have folks in the course who are like dietitians where you’re helping your client look at what they eat, right, or like, look at their exercise, their relationship to their body. And yeah, sometimes that’s not actually the fun role to be in because you’re sometimes, you’re getting people close to stuff that they’re avoiding because there’s hard emotions there. Right? And so, yeah, that’s interesting to think about how we probably project a lot of our feelings onto bookkeepers and accountants in the same way that our clients projects feelings onto us as therapists or practitioners where it’s like, Oh talking to her is stressful. 

Angie [00:10:46] Yeah, right. 

Linzy [00:10:47] But it’s about things that are there anyways. 

Angie [00:10:50] Right, and if you think about it, if your client is coming to you with their personal issues and they’re having that conversation, you don’t want them to feel, you know, judged or guilty or upset about how they’ve handled stuff because we cannot change the past. So that’s why it’s so important to remember this whole concept of money being a renewable resource. We can change things today for the go forward, so that we won’t make those mistakes again, and we all have that ability to fail forward to fail faster. We know that the fail is coming, but can we learn from it and move forward faster and reestablish our financial health and wellness? 

Linzy [00:11:37] Right. Because as you say, it’s a renewable resource. There’s always opportunity to make more money as long as you’re working and able to work right, which for most of us will be for a long time. There’s always the opportunity to make more money, make it in a more strategic way, put it to more strategic ends and have your financial picture look really different, even if you’re like 20 or 30 years into your private practice. There’s still always opportunity to turn it around. 

Angie [00:12:00] You know, I know you talk some about Profit First, but I just completely believe in this ability to draw the line in the sand and say, You know, I may have made this mistake in the past, but no more. Today, I declare permanent profitability, and I think that’s just super powerful. And that’s what you get when you have good clean books and visibility and clarity to your financials. 

Linzy [00:12:26] Absolutely. Now, Angie, we’re coming into tax season, dun, dun, dun. I’m sure – I was going to say a busy time of year for you, but maybe not. I guess you’re really helping folks throughout the year so that tax season is not that crazy of a time for you, right, like everything is done already by taxes season? 

Angie [00:12:43] Yeah, January and February and March are really, yeah, we’re busy. 

Linzy [00:12:46] OK, you are. Yeah. So, for people listening today who are maybe not feeling quite so clear about taxes, I’m curious if we can dig into taxes a little bit. I’m wondering from your experience, Angie, what are some of the biggest mistakes that therapists end up making, that makes tax time harder? 

Angie [00:13:04] OK, so let’s talk about taxes. There’s a few things that we can do with our financials, and I think that the most is to keep it organized throughout the year because, well, now we’re sitting on February, the end of February, going into March as we record this. I can tell you that next January or February, when you’re trying to pull together your taxes, you’re not going to remember what happened in 2022. So just keeping organized throughout the year, and it doesn’t have to be a super complex system. You can have a January through December hard copy folder and a digital folder, and just put stuff in receipts that happens in January in the January folder and stuff that happens in July in the July folder. And that is one thing that really helps, so I would suggest that. Another thing that I could suggest is that as a small business owner, I don’t care if you’re a solo entrepreneur and you’ve been in practice for twenty five years, you still want to keep your personal expenses separate from your business expenses. That’s super important because that business is your livelihood, and we need to be able to extract its performance from your performance because the business may have had a good year, but you may have had a crappy year. I bet that happened for a lot of therapists during pandemic, like their businesses were going crazy. But personally, they’re like, I’m struggling with the same stuff, the same lockdown issues that everybody else is, and my personal mindset isn’t good. So that comes into play with our financials. We have to have it separate so that we can view it separate. It’s not an end all situation as far as if you didn’t do that last year, oh, no, I’m screwed, I didn’t do it last year. You know what? We can still make do and what I would suggest, if you’re a person who’s, you know, just getting started and you haven’t separated business from personal from a bank account level and a credit card account level, that what you can do is go to your banking or credit card institution and download your activity into spreadsheets and then just highlight the ones that are separating them. If you have more personal transactions, just highlight the business transactions. If you have more business transactions, highlight the personal transactions. It makes it a lot easier for us as bookkeepers to get the year end totals correct and to get the right numbers in the right spots. 

Linzy [00:15:46] So just taking that time to pull it out, and that’s a very systematic way to do it that you’re talking about, like just grab everywhere that your financial information is. And I love that, that’s such a simple tip, but I can see that making a huge difference, like highlight the thing that there’s less of. So if you’re looking at a personal bank account and for every one business transaction, there’s five personal, then just focus on picking out those business transactions, highlighting those, so that they stick out. Yeah, you are absolutely speaking my language. I always suggest people do that bank account separation first because I think, as you say, like it creates such blurriness of not being able to distinguish what’s even happening with the money. But as you say, too, it’s like maybe your business is doing really well, but you can’t see that information because personally, you’ve had a hard year and maybe you’re spending quite a bit of money and you don’t feel the gains in the business because you don’t even see like, oh, the business actually made a lot of money, but then I spent a lot of money at home. But if they’re mingled together, you can’t separate that information and see what’s actually happening. 

Angie [00:16:39] Yeah, I mean, so many people say at the end of the year, like, where did all that money go? I don’t see it right? Well, you’re really going to have troubles seeing where all the money went, if you’ve got it all lumped into one bank account. So really, the very first thing you need to do is to set up separate business and personal bank accounts. 

Linzy [00:17:00] That’s the biggest thing. And then, you know, the second piece, as you mentioned, is if you haven’t, here’s a process to do it. Print that stuff out. And I would suggest, like this is my therapist brain, like set up a reasonable amount of time to work on it. Figure out what works for your brain because I’ve definitely heard stories, Angie, of people, they take like an entire weekend. 

Angie [00:17:16] Oh yeah. 

Linzy [00:17:17] It’s just a weekend of hell, of just like, you know, and they lock themself in a room because I think there’s also this element of like, now I have to punish myself, you know, like, I didn’t do this all year. So now I can make this easy on myself, I have to get it done. So they set it up in a way that’s even like, not that pleasant. Like, I’m going to close myself in this room and I’m not allowed to come out until I’m done, which is like a pretty like hard line way to treat yourself.

Angie [00:17:38] Yeah. No food or drink in here. You know, this is strictly work. And you know, got to have somebody standing over me, beating me a little bit. 

Linzy [00:17:47] Yeah, right, so I never do this again. Yeah. And like, I would be curious to hear more from you about like, what would you suggest therapists or health practitioners, if they do find themself in this situation, it’s like they’re coming to tax time. All their money’s mingled together, they’re going to have to pull it apart. What is your suggestion for like how they should think about this, how they should treat themselves? What’s your bookkeeper perspective on this? 

Angie [00:18:07] Well, I do think that, you know, it goes to kind of those successful mindsets or I’m a big person with understanding the Atomic Habits by James Clear, he writes a book about atomic habits. And so setting yourself up for success, I know that dealing with your financials is something that might be very painful for you. But we do our best work in the morning when we’re full of energy and setting yourself up for success means maybe setting aside thirty minutes or an hour, you know, consecutively for a week to work on that. And when the timer goes on, your time starts and you get to it, you have to focus. And when the timer goes off, then you get to quit and just reward yourself. I mean, a big thing is just saying, I did it, I did the task. I ate the frog, I did the thing that I didn’t want to do, and now I can go on to the other parts of my job that I like a little bit better. 

Linzy [00:19:05] And with that Atomic Habits, I’m not familiar with – I know the book, but I have not read the book. Is there a certain period of time that’s suggested there or do you find your own period of time that works for your brain? How does that work? 

Angie [00:19:15] No, I don’t think there’s a period of time. Atomic Habits is about, just establishing ourselves for success and what success means to us, and how can we take our bad habits out and regrow into good habits, right? Replace those habits. So that’s a really great book. But that concept of, we do our best work in the morning is very well documented in a lot of business sources – will document that. And working in snippets, it’s not working in a – I’m going to lock myself in this room for the next 72 hours until the job is done. Nobody can work like that. 

Linzy [00:19:57] No, certainly not. And I think with that, something I think about a lot Angie, is when we do stuff like that, if you already have the story that money is hard and negative, that’s only going to deepen that story so much more, right. Because now you’ve actually created a situation that is hard and uncomfortable. And you know, now when you think on finances, you’re just going to remember this like horrible experience of like, well, finances is when I lock myself in my room for three days to do all the tracking I didn’t do all year, right? So it just reinforces that negative story and negative experience of money, when we do punish ourselves in trying to catch up in that kind of restrictive way. 

Angie [00:20:32] Yeah, I mean, I really think that money is something that we need to look at every month and probably more than once a month. Even if you’re a solo practitioner, I would say at least twice a month, you need to be kind of adding up the totals, seeing how things are going. So if we follow that Profit First concept of the 10th and the 25th of the month, you know, we generally have to look at our personal bills about twice a month. So why not be looking at the business at the same time? And as you think about it, on the 10th of the month, you should be wrapping up what happened in the prior months and paying the bills from the prior months. And then by the time 25th comes along, you should be able to be saying, well, this month is looking pretty good or it’s not looking good, and why is it not looking good? And what am I going to do to change the trajectory as I move forward? A lot of times too, I think that when you think about bookkeepers and accountants, you think about us as being historians and we’re always looking at the past performance of the business. But really, managing your financials, past performance, that’s a lag major, it’s stuff that you cannot change. But a lead major is stuff that you can change. We have to change that mindset, of thinking about our financials is something that’s all historical to something that is, history is going to give me good clues about solving the way I want to move forward and what my future looks like and how do I lead into the success that I’m trying to reach? 

Linzy [00:22:17] Yeah. I mean, something I think about a lot Angie, is having presence with money, right? Like, as you say, not just looking at it later to see what happened because it’s done, as you said earlier, the past is the past. Right. And so now you’re looking and you’re thinking, Oh, I really overspent on business expenses this year. It’s too late at that point, right? I think about it as developing, especially for therapists who have like anxiety or shame, or all these hard emotions about money that make them avoid it – developing the ability to be present and be with. And I think, if I think about kind of what the ideal of bookkeeping is in my mind, that’s what it’s about, right? Is having a relationship with a bookkeeper who is going to give you information ongoingly and quickly and be able to help you look at things that have just happened so you can adjust your behavior like, now. Not look back and wish that you had done it differently. Is that an accurate description of kind of what bookkeeping is about or would you describe it differently? 

Angie [00:23:10] I think so, I mean, I think it’s all about marrying the history with how we want our financial health and wellness to be. So what is really powerful for me is setting yourself up as an observer in your business. You know, not the business owner, but I’m just a random observer, and I’m going to look down on these financials and see how it feels. OK? So for example, if you have determined in your business that you want to see twenty five clients per week, then if you’re doing a 10th and a 25th review, then you can look back at the past two to three weeks and say, OK, I saw 20 this week, I saw twenty eight that week, I saw twenty three this week. That felt for me, it felt good. You know, this way it didn’t feel good that way. It wasn’t worth Work-Life Balance for taking care of my kids and whatever responsibilities I have outside of my job. But just kind of having that ability to set yourself aside from the financials and see, well, look, when I did twenty five sessions per week, that resulted in this kind of financial gain. And was that financial gain feasible and reasonable for me as it relates to work life sustainability and how I felt about my day to day and my positive and getting all the things that I want to focus on in my life, done. 

Linzy [00:24:38] Yeah, I like that. That’s a very balanced approach to money. I really like trying to balance right, between the numbers of what the numbers tell us, because you might look at the numbers be like, that’s a great number. Wow. When I see 30 clients a week, I’m frickin rich. But then if you do think of the other side, like you said, like what was how did I feel that week, was able to be present with my kids that week? Oh, I forgot to pick my kid up at school that week because I was so busy and distracted. That gives you different information. 

Angie [00:25:02] It gives you different information. And like I’ve been hearing from a lot of therapists over the past year that so much had gone virtual, right? And there’s a virtual burnout. And maybe the emotional exhaustion that comes with being in person is different from the virtual exhaustion. And maybe it’s better or worse. I mean, everybody’s individual, but you know, taking some of those into accountability is going to help you determine what you’re shooting for in the business. Does that make sense? Like what are my goals? 

Linzy [00:25:37] Yeah, because both matter. Numbers matter, but also, what is your actual experience? Is this sustainable? Is this the business that you want to be running? I sometimes see therapists and business owners where we get so fixated on a certain number that we’re not being honest with ourself, that this is not sustainable or this isn’t actually the life that I want to have. But the numbers, I think also when we get fixated on certain, what I would maybe call vanity metrics. Like, this year is going to be my like, six figure year or I’m going to hit three hundred k this year. And usually I find those metrics are about revenue because that’s an easy, quick – that’s your biggest number, right? Is your revenue number. We don’t necessarily stop to think about, does this actually fit how many clients I’m able to see? Am I actually being my most effective self or am I actually like pretty tuckered out by the end of the week and not doing my best sessions? You know, am I actually getting time away? Am I able to like, have quality energy left for my spouse or my partner? Like, those questions, in my mind are just as important because that’s about your actual life. 

Angie [00:26:36] Well, I would say that this is something that accountants and bookkeepers have in common with therapists because we get really hooked on those vanity measures. I know I do, personally. That would be a money sin for me, is that I get hooked on the vanity measures, and I’m really not measuring it against what it feels like in my lifestyle. 

Linzy [00:26:57] Right? That’s only one piece of information. I always think about it, and maybe this is a little morbid. But like, first of all, life is short and unpredictable, but also like if this is our one and only human life and I don’t know if it is, is this how we want to be spending it, right? And it’s so easy sometimes, especially when we’re in certain age ranges, like I find or maybe it goes on like this forever, like in your thirties, you’re kind of establishing, you’re building. Your forties, you’re trying to create like stability for your kids, be able to send them to school. But then I’m sure probably retirement starts to become a big pressure in your fifties, if you’re not already set up. There’s always some reason to be working extra hard or seeing more clients than you really ought to be, right. 

Angie [00:27:32] My high school girlfriend, she told me that it’s just wrong. We should have babies when we’re in retirement so that we can be spending all that time nurturing. 

Linzy [00:27:43] Totally. 

Angie [00:27:44] You know, and when we’re young and our joints all work and we have the energy and then we should work when we’re getting older, because then we’re more mature anyway. 

Linzy [00:27:55] Yes, true. Yes, there’s always some sort of life stage that maybe makes us – we’ll work on that. So Angie, I’m wondering for people listening, what is the biggest thing that you would suggest, that’s like a good enough, that can make tax time better next year. Like I heard, bank account separation, but you and I were chatting before about some other things, too. What would you suggest if they’re like, OK, I want to get a little bit better at this tax time? I know it’s going to be hard. I want to make next year’s tax time not this painful. What would be like a minimum, doesn’t have to be perfect thing, that they could do to improve their relationship with taxes? 

Angie [00:28:29] Yeah. OK, so then we’re going to go back to keeping things organized throughout the year. We’re going to get to the bank and separate those accounts and start using them separatingly. And if that means taking a certain credit card or debit card out of your billfold so that you won’t use it, then do that. OK, so just being very purposeful about that and then just kind of generally knowing your categories, I mean, if you set yourself up to look at your financials twice a month, any bit of organization that you can do twice a month is going to help. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but I would say there is really two types of expenses, and dumping it into two categories of expenses would be really useful. So the two types of expenses would be what accountants refer to as cost of goods sold or cost of services. And the other one would be operational expenses. So your operational expenses are made up of the general and administrative stuff, it would be: your email subscription, your phone service, your medical biller and all that kind of stuff, people that might answer the phone for you, paper supplies, business cards, all that kind of stuff, listings, all your sales and marketing stuff, like if you paid for a listing in a professional directory, that kind of stuff all goes in OpEx, and those are part of general and administrative. And then on the flip side of that is the cost of goods or the cost of services. So that is if you are paying someone else to deliver services to your clients. So if there’s therapy services that are delivered by somebody else, the type of expenses that you are paying to that other therapist are going to be considered your cost of services. And really, there is no money in your business until the cost of services is covered. So you have total revenue coming in and then you’re going to pay a contracted therapist or specialist to help deliver that service to the clients. And then from there, that’s where you have this real revenue and you’re going to pay different operational expenses out of that, you’re going to pay yourself out of that as well. Being able to separate that into the different hats, so to speak, in the business, I would say, is super important. 

Linzy [00:31:07] So even just having those two things separated, like just make sure whenever you pay one of your subcontracting therapists or practitioners, categorize that one way, business expenses the other way, even that is a huge start. 

Angie [00:31:18] Yeah. And one other thing I want to mention, Linzy, that I see people make a mistake on is paying themselves in different ways. So what I mean is, this month I’m going to pay my rent from my business checking, but next month, there’s enough in my personal account this month, so I’m just going to pay it for my personal account. That’s a mistake. Either you’re going to pay it from one or the other account, but not both. And so then setting yourself up for a systematic owners pay, just paying yourself, is my owners pay going to be a transfer from my business bank to my personal? And I always set it up in that direction every time I have a little bit extra versus, oh, my credit cards really expensive this month, so I’m going to pay as much as I can for my personal account. And then the rest of it, I’m going to pay for my business account because I’ve got money in my business account. That’s a no no. 

Linzy [00:32:15] And what is it about that, that is a no no? 

Angie [00:32:17] We can’t trace it back. Again, we’re sitting there a year later trying to figure this out. We don’t remember? We can’t get a clear idea of how much you’ve been paid, and we need to know how much you’ve been paid. 

Linzy [00:32:30] Absolutely. Yeah. And something with that, Angie, that it makes you think about is, you mentioned this a little bit earlier in passing. Like when we do it, you’re suggesting right now, do it the same way, do it the same way, so you see what it is. But also when you do that in February, when you pay, you know, your credit card half from the business and you pay your rent from over here. You think you’re going to remember, but you won’t remember. You won’t remember next tax season, right? And so that’s also where I think that wisdom of what you’re talking about of like just working on it regularly, you know, like every couple of weeks. Like in the course, I suggest every week because people tend to be more avoidant. So with more avoidant, it’s actually better to touch it a little more often, realize that it’s not too scary, you don’t die. Come back the next week, do it again. Those things are fresh in your mind and you’re able to – even if you do something imperfectly, you’re able to label it properly, so later you remember what it is. Rather than a year later, almost being like an archeologist on yourself. It’s just so much more mental work and emotional work later, than if you’re keeping, even just kind of good enough records as you go. 

Angie [00:33:26] Good enough, right. And you know, what happens is, if you put it on your calendar every week and you’re going to spend an hour a week on it or two hours a week, it becomes less cumbersome and burdensome because, you know, you only have to spend an hour. I only have an hour scheduled. All you do is get through this one hour and I don’t have to do it again for a week, you know, then it just becomes less of a big deal and more of a, Oh yeah, I can get that done and it feels OK. 

Linzy [00:33:55] Yeah, it takes the charge out of it. And I would say, you know, it takes the phobia out of it because you do it, you don’t die. It’s not that hard the next week, you’re like, Oh, you know, well, I did this last week and it wasn’t that bad. And it gets easier as you go along. Awesome. So, Angie, one final question I have for you is, when would you say it’s time for a solo practitioner or a group practice practitioner – we have both who listen to this podcast. When is the right time for them to hire a bookkeeper? What would be the things that would let them know, it’s time to start looking around for a bookkeeper?

Angie [00:34:25] If you’re not able to pull it together, to get the work done, or if your time is just too burdened. A bookkeeper is probably the easiest first thing that you can outsource. So if your schedule is jam packed with clients and you’re going to be more profitable and more peace of mind satisfied by not having to do the books yourself, it’s OK to hire a bookkeeper and you can still be mindful and know your finances, even if somebody is putting it in into the books for you, right? It doesn’t have to be that you have to categorize every transaction. Your bookkeeper gets to know very specifically about your business and understand how you go to market. 

Linzy [00:35:11] Yeah, the way that I think about is your bookkeeper, they’re doing the labor for you, right? Like they’re organizing things, they’re making sure everything’s together, but you’re still responsible for it, right? And you can still have an empowered role in running your business finances. It’s just now your bookkeeper is taking their time to do something that you have better uses for your time. 

Angie [00:35:30] Exactly. I mean, if your superpower is doing something else other than bookkeeping, then don’t do it, right. Use your superpower where it’s most powerful. 

Linzy [00:35:40] That makes sense. So, Angie, if people want to get more into your world, where’s the best place on social media for them to follow you? 

Angie [00:35:47] Probably LinkedIn, Angie Noll, is my number one spot that I hang out on social media. And that’s Noll, N-O-L-L. 

Linzy [00:35:56] And Angie, do you have any special offers and promotions for our audience? I know you do. 

Angie [00:36:02] I do for Money Nuts & Bolts listeners, we have a 10 percent discount for 12 months when you subscribe for our Balanced Solutions Bookkeeping. And also, I have a group coaching course, it’s called Startup Solutions and Profit First. And it’s about marrying your financials from a compliance tax standpoint with financial health and wellness, and putting permanent profitability into your business. So we can offer a $100 discount for that group coaching course as well. 

Linzy [00:36:37] Great. OK. So 10 percent off bookkeeping services for a year or $100 off that coaching course. And Angie, you are a profit first consultant. 

Angie [00:36:45] Yes, I’m a Profit First Mastery Member. 

Linzy [00:36:48] Correct, so you live and breathe this stuff. So if you’re interested in that, we’re going to have the links in the show notes. You can click the link. We’ll put Angie’s LinkedIn link in there as well. You can check out those offers that she has, that we have a discount code with her. Angie, thank you so much for joining me today. I feel like this is – even for me, this was a very like, therapist and bookkeepers, maybe we’re more of the same than different. 

Angie [00:37:12] Perfect. I think we do have a lot in common. 

Linzy [00:37:15] Awesome. Thank you, Angie. 

Angie [00:37:17] All right. Take care. 

Linzy [00:37:32] There are many things that stuck out to me from this conversation today with Angie, but one of them is about that intimidation factor that she talked about. You know, where when we tell stories about certain types of people, certain professionals, how that actually makes it harder for us to work with them because we are telling a story that they’re perfect and they can’t relate to the fact that our business numbers aren’t working or that we’re not paying ourselves in consistent ways. When often, probably they can relate more than they’re going to let on. Just like us therapists and practitioners, sometimes we can relate a lot to what our clients are talking about. But because we’re in a position in that role to support them and treat them and serve them, we’re not going like, Oh my God, me too. But we probably could, a lot of the time. And it makes me wonder about how many accountants and bookkeepers might actually be a lot closer to what we’re experiencing than we think, because so often, you know, we apply our gifts to other people before we apply them to ourselves. So something to think about the next time you’re sitting across from an accountant or your bookkeeper and you’re thinking that they have this perfect relationship with money and they live and breathe numbers and can’t possibly understand what you’re going through, they might understand more than you think. And I hope that that reality check helps you to ask more questions, not assume that they’re judging you, but actually build a relationship with them to help you get the most support that you can because they do have skills and knowledge that you don’t. And they’re also humans who want to support you and teach you. If you’d like to hear more from me, you can follow me on Instagram @moneynutsandbolts. We’re posting content on there all the time about both the practical and emotional parts of money. And of course, as always, if you’re enjoying the podcast, I would love it if you would take a minute to go review it on Apple Podcasts. That helps other therapists and practitioners find us, which is wonderful. It’s always wonderful for me when new folks find the podcast and it helps to help them have a better relationship with money. That’s what I’m all about. Thanks for listening today. 

Hi, I'm Linzy

Hi, I'm Linzy

I’m a therapist in private practice, and a the creator of Money Skills for Therapists. I help therapists and health practitioners in private practice feel calm and in control of their finances.

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How to Motivate Yourself to Prioritize Your Private Practice Finances Coaching Session

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“I also had this belief system that if you were wealthy and had money and were rich, the money was going to ruin you in some way. Everybody was anti-wealth, anti-capitalism, anti all these things. And I had that belief system, and it definitely didn’t do me any favors to think that way. Now I think about money more as being part of like an energy or exchange and something that is part of our wellbeing rather than it being this ugly, dirty, negative thing that we don’t talk about.”

~Kristen McAdams

Meet Kristen McAdams

Kristen is a LPC-Associate in ATX, podcaster, and aspiring speaker. Prior experience in addictions and doctoral level studies in trauma and addiction. Her practice focus is on therapy for the modern world and practicing what she preaches; this includes real world approaches to health, money, and mindset. 

In This Episode…

Do you ever feel stuck when it comes to managing your finances? Do you find yourself putting off the financial planning you need to do even when you’ve set aside time to do it? In this coaching session, Linzy and Kristen really dig into Kristen’s financial goals and what might be holding her back when it comes to working on her finances.

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Plus, you’ll get a clear roadmap to understand exactly what you need to do, to take care of your private practice finances.

It only takes 10 minutes a day.

I can’t wait to see you inside! Sign up for the FREE Money Momentum Challenge here: http://join.moneymomentumchallenge.com/

Episode Transcript

Kristen [00:00:00] And I also had this belief system that if you were wealthy and had money and were rich, the money was going to ruin you in some way. Everybody was like anti-wealth, anti-capitalism, anti-all these things and I had that belief system, and it definitely didn’t do me any favors to think that way. Now I think of money more as being like an energy in exchange and something that is part of our health and well-being, rather than it being this ugly, dirty negative thing that we don’t want to talk about. 

Linzy [00:00:29] Welcome to the Money Skills For Therapists podcast, where we answer this question. How can therapists and health practitioners go from money, shame and confusion to feeling calm and confident about their finances and get money really working for them in both their private practice and their lives? I’m your host, Linzy Bonham therapist turned money coach and creator of the course Money Skills For Therapists. Hello, and welcome back to the podcast. So I wanted to start today by sharing a review that we got on Apple Podcasts. I’m so appreciating seeing the reviews come in from those of you listening, and this review had the title A Must, the reviewer says, I cannot accurately describe how refreshing it is to listen to a podcast about money/finances, that is 1) specifically for therapists 2) talking about how it’s OK to make and have and enjoy money, and 3) encouraging listeners to explore and recognize the emotion that comes with their own beliefs, values, perceptions of money, and how that impacts our behavior with money. I have always struggled with all things money related, except how to spend it. Despite being well aware that the numbers are very black and white, and finances come down to simple addition and subtraction. Listening to this podcast has felt like my own personal light bulb moment, and I could not be more excited. This podcasts gets me. Thank you so much to whoever wrote that review, it’s so nice to get your feedback. I am so enjoying making this podcast, putting it out in the world, and it makes me so happy to know that it’s connecting and useful and inspiring you. So today’s episode is with student Kristen McAdams. Now, she’s not a student anymore. We’ve recorded this episode back in the summer, and we recorded this episode when Kristin was, like, very much kind of in the beginning stages of Money Skills For Therapists. Kristen McAdams is an LBC associate. She’s a podcaster and inspiring speaker. She has experience in addictions and doctoral level studies in trauma and addiction. And in this coaching episode today, we got into this issue that is so common for therapists and health practitioners and coaches, which is getting stuck when trying to work on your finances. So even though she was like in the course and committed had, you know, made that commitment to work on money, it was summer and she was getting stuck. She was going on vacations, getting distracted, other things were coming up and becoming a priority. And that time that she told herself that she was going to be using to work on her finances was just always going to other things instead. So if that is something you can relate to, if you have set the intention before of like, no, this is it, I’m going to be working on my finances and then suddenly you find everything else becomes a priority except for finances, when those times in your schedule come along, then this is a great episode for you. In the process of digging into this issue and helping her get more connected and clear around it, we talk about growing up with the experience of both privilege and poverty simultaneously in her childhood, and we really get into her real numbers. Kristen was so open and generous with sharing her real numbers with us to understand exactly where she was in her practice, and we get into the real numbers of not just where she is, but where she wants to be, which ultimately is one of the things that we identified was helpful for her, for actually getting really motivated and clear and actually making this a priority. But I don’t want to give too much away. So check out this episode if you feel stuck around your finances, if you often find yourself not prioritizing it. We really get into how to make money a priority with your actions, not just with you’re thoughts. Here is Kristen. All right, so, Kristen, welcome to the podcast today. 

Kristen [00:04:18] Thank you. Thank you for having me. 

Linzy [00:04:20] So, Kristen, for our coaching session today, you submitted a question about getting stuck, talking about this experience of getting stuck as you’re trying to actually kind of sit down and make changes and and work on these things. So tell me a little bit more about what is happening and what you’re noticing. 

Kristen [00:04:39] Well, it’s interesting because it’s like, when you think about getting stuck, it feels like this very broad sort of like, I’m just stuck. But when I started thinking about it, you had asked me a specific question about like the avoidance, and then I realized how many different pieces of things were getting me stuck because it wasn’t just one thing. So when I was able to break down sort of the stuck points, I saw that it was sort of a multitude of factors that were contributing to this overall feeling of like, What am I doing? I’m not moving forward. And then, you know, you go into this like panic downward spiral of like, I’m not doing it right or I’m not doing it well, or I won’t finish it. 

Linzy [00:05:12] Yeah. So there’s actually a lot that’s happening in this getting stuck, it’s not one thing. 

Kristen [00:05:15] Yeah, yeah, there’s a lot going on. 

Linzy [00:05:17] So tell me about that – the getting stuck, we’ll pull it apart a second and try to shift it and look at it, what is it looking like right now? 

Kristen [00:05:27] So right now, I was moving along in the program and I took a vacation, went out of town, and I had these time constraints that were coming up, so I had originally put time blocks on my schedule to address some of these financial goals. But the time constraints are getting all messed up and then I wasn’t meeting the blocks that I had assigned, which for me is one area, like one stuck point of like, I bounce back and forth in my life about, do I do an hour block at a time? Like mental health therapists do, right. Like we know how to join in like one hour blocks or do I do like a flow state sort of situation where I can, like contribute like a big chunk of time to learning something specific? So I’ve realized that I do better with the flow, for personal use, flow type of work because I can really get into it because the second thing I realized about getting stuck was that learning how to tackle my finances has been a complete rewiring of how I think about money and the act of actually addressing them and looking at them and plugging finances into individual categories and boxes and numbers and stuff, is having to come up against like, OK, you think of it this way, but that’s not working for you. Now, I have to figure out how to think of it in a new way through the process of practicing this. So I was like, OK, flow block chunk is right. 

Linzy [00:06:48] Yes. So you need to have like a good period of time and for you, what is a flow block, like how long do you need to get into flow? 

Kristen [00:06:56] Probably like chunks of three, like three hours. Maybe so I have like some some leeway. I don’t like to feel rushed, so I noticed that strongly in the last year, I’m like, oh, it feels way better to not be rushed and feel like I have to get everything in 45 minutes. 

Linzy [00:07:13] So these blocks then. Is it the three hour blocks that you’ve had in your calendar already, then that you’re kind of not getting to? 

Kristen [00:07:19] Yeah. So I had them in two hour blocks and I had them on particular days, but I noticed that they didn’t like fit into the day. So like, for instance, like one day last week, we were supposed to be home from traveling Sunday night and we didn’t get home till Monday night and then it messed up my Tuesday. And then this last Tuesday, I had a health issue that came up, so I had to erase that block. So it’s like these things that were taking priority or preventing me from hitting those time blocks was – and then that was like, What happens is I get frustrated and I hit this like spiral of like, you’re not doing it right or you’re not doing it well enough. And then I had to step back from that stress and like, manage that differently so that I can feel like, OK, no, realistically, one’s happier. I use the word avoidance. You were helping me and I realized also that like avoidance is sort of like an easy cliche tag term that I put on. Yeah, I must be avoiding and then I was like I’m not actually avoiding this. 

Linzy [00:08:16] Right? Yeah because it’s not like the time comes to do it and you’re finding yourself like on Facebook. 

Kristen [00:08:21] Right, right, right. Just, the time’s just not there anymore. 

Linzy [00:08:24] Yes. 

Kristen [00:08:25] I think it’s taken up other priorities, yeah.

Linzy [00:08:26] Yeah. And that’s – I was just going to say, that’s the second thing I’m hearing. Like, I’m hearing there’s a time crunch, but there’s also a priorities peace. So that is something that I’m curious about is for you right now. How much of a priority is it to be working on your finances, working through the course, making these shifts? 

Kristen [00:08:44] So I like to say it’s the biggest priority because it’s sort of the last thing in my life I have to address. Like I’ve addressed all these things over time, like depression and anxiety and like way in my past and all these things. And now last year, it was like really into health. And this year I was like, All right, well, the finances is the last piece that was underestimated. And yeah, it – I would like to say it’s highly prioritized, but realistically, I can tell that it’s not because I tend to over commit myself – so I’ll over commit myself to like social activities or other training. That’s really one of my biggest hang ups is like taking the priority and keeping it a priority and focusing on it. 

Linzy [00:09:25] Yeah. Like your actions are showing you that it’s not a priority, like other things are taking precedence into your schedule. 

Kristen [00:09:31] Totally. Yeah. 

Linzy [00:09:32] Yeah. So let’s let’s focus on that piece then, tell me why. Why is this a priority for you? I’m hearing. First of all, I’m hearing like a really common and relatable kind of journey or progression. Right? It’s like you move through like mental health staff and physical health stuff and now you’re onto money. I think that’s something that like I certainly do to, and I think a lot of people listening will relate to because I think money is one of those things that comes later as we kind of like work through our shit, right? And you’re here now. 

Kristen [00:09:57] It’s like survival mode, type of situation where it’s like, All right, well, if I don’t feel well enough, I can’t make decisions and if I can’t make decisions, you know, I’m just living paycheck to paycheck because that’s just like white knuckling thing was financially, while you’re trying to get everything else up on your feet. 

Linzy [00:10:10] Totally. Yes, absolutely. So now you kind of, it sounds like you’ve gotten grounded in some other ways. So now you’re working on money, your company finances. So tell me, why is this important for you? 

Kristen [00:10:21] So I grew up with a really crazy sort of money story where my parents were separated, my dad had filed bankruptcy and was living in his parent’s attic, and my mom had married this really wealthy man in town and he had had a stroke. So I grew up kind of with two different – like a lot of privilege and a lot of poverty on all sides. So growing up in the privilege, it was interesting because it sort of deteriorated like my right to have a bad day or right to do something wrong. And I lived in this very like weird, privileged bubble, and I always knew that the money wasn’t mine. So we had these like really extravagant spending habits and things like that, and I was at that age where it was like, All right, you would think that school or something like that would provide financial accounting information, or you would learn some kind of skill right through like high school or maybe a family member. But I was just sort of on my own, living in privilege and having no idea what to do with it. And then when we, when my mom moved on from that marriage, what I had expected came true, which was that, that money was not ours, it did not belong to me and I knew from, I knew from a very young age I was going to have to figure out money. Like when I was a little kid, I was like running around my neighborhood, trying to sell balloons and like getting a dollar here. Like, I always worked, it was always a thing. But I just didn’t know like what to do with it, you know, if I had it or how to keep it if I had it or how to spend responsibly. So it went through this very long term tug of war between, you’re doing something right versus you’re doing something wrong. You’re being frugal in this sense, but overspending in that sense. So it was like, a lot of shame and guilt I feel like was wrapped up in that because there was just so much like chaos and confusion. 

Linzy [00:12:03] Yeah, right, OK. And that messaging that you got, where did that come from? Like, are there actually particular voices that go with that or was that more societal? 

Kristen [00:12:14] I think it was a little of both. Like, there was this expectation that we lived a certain way and we did live a certain way. But underneath that sort of bubble, was like, there was no direction or structure or any sort of tools that I could use to effectively budget or use finances. I tell people all the time, like you could give two people each $10000 and depending on what they know how to do, one will invest and make a ton of money and one could lose at all. So, having the tools and the skills at that time, I think would have been helpful. And I was like very thirsty for that and couldn’t figure out how to get it. 

Linzy [00:12:48] Yeah, right. Yeah. And it sounds to me like from what you’re describing, there was this like insecurity that, you know, as part of that, like knowing, like this money is here. We’re living this certain way right now but this isn’t really ours. 

Kristen [00:13:01] Yeah, it was like fluid. It was like liquid, like it was like quicksand. You know, it’s just like, like, I could just see money just falling through our fingers. And I also had this belief system that if you were wealthy and had money and were rich, that like the money was going to ruin you in some way. You know, like everybody was like anti-wealth, anti-capitalism, anti-all these things and I had that belief system, and it definitely didn’t do me any favors to think that way. Now I think of money more as being like an energy and exchange and something that is part of our health and well-being, rather than it being this ugly, dirty negative thing that we don’t want to talk about.

Linzy [00:13:38] Right, OK, yeah. So then it’s like, I’m hearing, you’ve already kind of made some shifts then, in how you think about money. Now you have more this energetic way of thinking about it, rather than this kind of shame based way. So let’s come back to this piece about priority. Why is it important for you to develop these skills now? Because what I’m hearing is you were hungry for these skills as a child and you wanted to figure out what to do with money. You were making money as a kid. You and I could have been friends, by the way. We could have some little businesses together. Yeah. But now, as an adult, you’ve worked with these other things, you’re coming to money. So why is this important now? 

Kristen [00:14:16] Now I’ve worked, you know, 20 years studying psychology, and I always – I think my reasons for being in the mental health field have always sort of fluctuated and changed over time as I’ve grown and developed as a person. But the underlying theme was always like, I want to open my own business. And now I’m finally at that point where I’m like, Oh, wow, this is happening. I have a business, I have an income, I have clients, I’m building the skills because, you know, in mental health schools, they don’t teach you business and marketing at all. Yeah. So it’s like you have all these skills and it’s like, again, what do I do with them? You know, how do I, how do I build this? So I’m at a point now where it’s like, if I don’t make the finances work, then I’m going to have to go back and work for somebody else, And I know I could always go get a job someplace else and work for a corporation and work for somebody else. But that was never my goal or my dream like, this was the goal or the dream. So if I don’t figure out how to make it happen now, then I’m not going to figure it out, right? And I’m the only one that’s in control of that. 

Linzy [00:15:15] Right. So there’s something on the line now. If you don’t figure this out, you’re going to have to go back to working for someone else. You’re not going to get to have this business that you’ve wanted for so long. 

Kristen [00:15:22] Yep. And I really do love the business, I love the quality of life, I love the lifestyle, I love what I do, so I’m realizing that as I’m doing it and going, Oh, wow, this is actually really important. This is not just like a job that’s replaceable anymore, then I can just go get another job. 

Linzy [00:15:38] No, once you go self-employed, it’s hard to go back. 

Kristen [00:15:43] It’s tough. And I’d like to build from here, like my dream, ultimately, I run a podcast, I’d like to monetize that. I’d like to build the podcast company into a total health and wellness business outside of being a therapist. So I feel like this is the foundation, and this is the place where I get to develop the skills now. This is the time. 

Linzy [00:16:05] So, yeah, so it’s not just where you are now. There’s this whole possibility that the foundation of that possibility is having this healthy business that works. 

Kristen [00:16:13] Yes, absolutely. 

Linzy [00:16:15] So what you’re describing to me now, the importance of making this work – like it sounds like there’s a little bit of like do or die, which, you know, I would wonder like how absolutely true that is. But you know, there’s certainly a lot hanging on this right? The business working. This is getting you a lot of what you want in life and sets you up for even more of what you want in life. 

Kristen [00:16:32] Absolutely. 

Linzy [00:16:33] How connected are you to that on a daily basis? 

Kristen [00:16:35] I think the days that I’m working, I’m connected to it, I don’t know, kind of fluctuate. It’s kind of hard to ask me now because it’s July and we travel a lot. 

Linzy [00:16:43] On summer mode. 

Kristen [00:16:44] Yeah, like little in vacation mode, like my time like off, but I don’t think I am connected to it as I could be. I think that I could be more connected to the reality of, You’re doing this and it’s happening and you’re building the skills. 

Linzy [00:17:03] Yes. And I’m wondering, Kristen, like, what are you doing? How are the numbers working in your business? Are they working? 

Kristen [00:17:11] I have to say that after COVID, they’re really not working. As a mental health professional, I just felt this immense pressure to like, show up and and help support in any way that I could. So I dropped my prices to the absolute bare minimum, I did pro-bono sessions, I have done peer support sessions. I’ve done all these things where I was working really hard and having no income, and now my caseload started to build and I don’t know where we’re at in COVID, but I don’t care anymore. Like, you know, I can’t keep these types of rates and these types of behaviors and the guilt that comes with being a mental health professional, I can’t let that dictate my finances anymore. I can’t allow that to be the the foundation. 

Linzy [00:17:59] And do you have a sense of your numbers, like how much you’re bringing in each month, how much you’re actually able to pay yourself each month, those kinds of things? 

Kristen [00:18:07] So right now, I have to admit it’s kind of ugly because it’s just – I just set up the separate bank account. So I’m trying to navigate how that all is going to flow because it’s just been like income in and bills out. And that’s it. And having to separate it, I think, has also been a little intimidating just because I can’t see how it’s going to work yet. I haven’t plugged the numbers in, so my business itself is doing great because it turns out I’m actually really good at what I do and people talk about that. So my caseload has filled up quite a bit and I have some more consistency with that. Now another thing I run into, I think a lot with owning your own business and it being a private practice is sort of the unpredictability of the income. It’s not like a steady paycheck that you can just balance, you know, a weekly similar income every week. 

Linzy [00:19:00] No, it’s not. Yeah, you need to create that stability with your systems. 

Kristen [00:19:04] Yeah. So that’s another part that’s like really, feels insecure for me. 

Linzy [00:19:10] Yeah, we won’t dig into the tool here because we’re on a podcast. But have you played with the – first of all, have you actually layed out your numbers so you know exactly how much you’re making and exactly how much you want to make? 

Kristen [00:19:24] I think I did loosely, but I don’t think I did clearly. 

Linzy [00:19:28] That’s, you know, that’s something I would say, first of all, Kristen, for how do you snap this back into a priority? Right is like, there is this process – when you’re describing kind of like how every things a mess right now, it makes me think of that process where it’s like, you’re like cleaning a room. And so you like, pull things out and you’re in the middle of organizing and it’s just like, this just got worse. Like, there’s no way this could get better. We’re kind of there it sounds like, in terms of just like your bank accounts getting set up and systems. 

Kristen [00:19:53] It’s going to get messier before it gets tidier. 

Linzy [00:19:56] Yeah. And part of it too is actually being real about your numbers, right? Like having those real numbers, like right in front of you to actually see what’s happening. Because what I’m hearing is, you know, intellectually that your rates are too low. You know that you’ve done like a lot of bending out of caring and compassion during COVID. But you know, you’ve done a lot of work for free and you know you’ve basically set your your fee as low as you can, but you also know that that’s not working. Right.

Linzy [00:20:31] So that would be a question for you. Would you be open to pulling up some numbers here that we can look at together or talk through together? 

Kristen [00:20:38] Yeah, we can talk, yeah. 

Linzy [00:20:38] I’ll just run some numbers. So do you know what your revenue is right now each month, like how much comes in from clients? 

Kristen [00:20:44] So it’s recently increased. I was making on average a thousand a month, and now I think I want to say it’s probably doubled, 

Linzy [00:20:54] About two thousand a month? And with that, like, are you saving for taxes already? 

Kristen [00:21:00] I’m not, no. I never do.

Linzy [00:21:02] So we know with that two thousand, you’re not seeing your taxes yet. I mean, you’re not going to owe a lot of taxes, frankly, you know, with income at that level, but still, you will owe some taxes. How are you paying yourself? 

Kristen [00:21:12] I just get my payment directly. So I am an LPCA, right now, so my supervisor pays me, it goes through her company, so she’ll pay me directly. And then that just goes, right now it just goes into my personal account. I do have the business account set up, but there’s nothing in it,. 

Linzy [00:21:28] OK, Right. Yeah. So what I’m hearing is like right now, it’s almost like you’re functioning kind of like an employee. You just kind of like, get paid. 

Kristen [00:21:35] Yeah. 

Linzy [00:21:35] And then you’ve been paying the money out of your own mixed personal money. That’s how you been paying for this. So, yeah, so I can see how like you’re kind of in this like messy midway, now that you have the business account because you are going to have to, like, get stuff flowing through it because that’s when you’re really going to start to see, Kristen and get real because there’s two pieces here in terms of making this a priority. One is the pain. 

Kristen [00:21:57] Yeah. 

Linzy [00:21:57] How in touch are you with the pain of the situation? Basically, like, how real is this to you at this point? And I’ll ask you that question, how real is it to you that right now your revenue is about two thousand a month? 

Kristen [00:22:09] So I feel like I’ve been operating so long on so little that the increase in pay feels safer and healthier, even though it’s still a very low number and nowhere near where I want to be. It’s still been steadily increasing since – because even before when I was interning, I worked for free. I was making like, you know, one hundred and fifty bucks on the side, working the front desk at a gym and then, you know, working 11 sessions a day for free interning and craziness like that. So. 

Linzy [00:22:41] Yes. 

Kristen [00:22:41] And then on the flip side of that, right after college, I went and worked in addictions and made the most money I’ve ever made. But it was so stressful that the amount of money that I used to offset the stress between tolls to get to work and coffee in the morning, just like dumb things. 

Linzy [00:22:57] All of it. Yeah. 

Kristen [00:22:58] It didn’t matter. So now I feel in a healthier space, and I feel like this is a space that I can actually start to build with. 

Linzy [00:23:07] Mhmm. Yeah. And I mean, it is interesting that you mentioned like the internship because it almost sounds like in a way you’ve been conditioned to work for free. 

Kristen [00:23:15] Yes, big time. 

Linzy [00:23:16] So the fact that you’re even making two thousand a month now feels like, pretty good, that’s a lot more than nothing. 

Kristen [00:23:22] Yeah. Yes, exactly. 

Linzy [00:23:24] So I’m hearing that the pain right now, you’re used to being so low that two thousand is feeling OK. We are not saving for taxes, so that might be some pain that’s coming, that you haven’t experienced yet. Tell me now about the flip side of it, which is the pleasure, the vision, like where you want to be. How much do you want to be bringing home to your family? Let’s start with that. 

Kristen [00:23:45] It depends on what we’re talking about because there’s a lot of things I want to do. I want to open this business, I want to do public speaking, I want to finish publishing books and the podcast and everything. So I have all these multiple streams that I would like to tie together in a consistent, efficient way. So, but just from the mental health practice alone, like, I would like to be able to keep my fees relatively low, but – and have everything else sort of offset that. So I would like to build it into like three, maybe four thousand a month and like double it from there, not including the other income streams, so. But again, as you’ve pointed out, which is totally accurate, I haven’t had – I don’t have a clear picture of it, right? I haven’t really thought about what I want to make. 

Linzy [00:24:29] Yes, yeah. And I think that that, you know thinking about how it’s been hard to make this a priority, that makes sense to me. One, because it’s summer and there are actual things in your life out of routine. And that’s great because it’s summer and it’s been COVID and like, go places, be with humans, that’s nice. It’s so worth. So that’s one thing right, like, first of all, it’s totally fine to have times when we’re like less motivated and less on the ball and just living our lives. But the second piece is like when you’re talking, I’m hearing about vision of kind of like what you would like to be doing and the kind of work you want to be doing. But what I’m not quite hearing yet is like a compelling reason how money comes into it. 

Kristen [00:25:11] Right? There’s no numbers attached to any of it.

Linzy [00:25:14] No numbers attached. So it’s kind of vague right now. 

Kristen [00:25:16] Yeah. 

Linzy [00:25:17] Right. And it’s hard to be motivated by that, especially when it’s sunny outside. 

Kristen [00:25:20] Yeah, exactly. 

Linzy [00:25:23] So if we were going to like hone in. Tell me about your peresonal goals in your life. What do you want to be accomplishing? 

Kristen [00:25:29] My life goals, I would really like to – I would like to be a millionaire. Like to be honest, like and it’s hard for me to even say that if you notice me like hesitate because that whole old story of like, you shouldn’t want to be rich, right? But I’ve always had this dream of like being really wealthy and doing it in a way that supports other people around me and that using that money with a purpose. So I’ve definitely thought about like what I would like to do with money once I get it. But there is a big chunk missing of –

Linzy [00:25:59] That middle piece. 

Kristen [00:26:00] Yeah. 

Linzy [00:26:01] Yes. OK, so you want to be a millionaire? And how much money do you actually want to have? 

Kristen [00:26:06] Have, like specifically in terms like how many millions? 

Linzy [00:26:11] Yeah, what do you want? Let’s say, how much money do you want to have like in the bank? Like how much cash you want to have? 

Kristen [00:26:16] I would like to have at least twenty thousand in the bank. Just I mean, for now, and that’s not really millionaire status, but.

Linzy [00:26:24] Twenty thousand in the bank would be like a starting place and twenty thousand in the bank. What about like tangible goals that would involve money? Is there any kind of trips, home investments, gifts to family, anything like that? That’s exciting. 

Kristen [00:26:42] So we would definitely like to buy our forever home in South Florida in the Keys, which is a very high priced home, you know, they’re usually in the million to 1.2 million range. That’s been a goal. And we, me and my partner have recently decided that we aren’t necessarily trying to have kids. But we’re open to the idea.

Linzy [00:27:02] You’re not, not trying. 

Kristen [00:27:03] We’re not, not trying. Exactly. So that is another piece of the picture and I have student loan debt. I mean, the thing that takes like the biggest amount of space in my brain is debt. 

Linzy [00:27:15] Yeah. 

Kristen [00:27:15] Student loan debt, debt revolving credit card debt. Paying off my car, things like that. 

Linzy [00:27:20] Yeah, OK. And that student loan debt. How much is that? 

Kristen [00:27:23] I believe it’s one hundred and forty thousand or something like that. 

Linzy [00:27:28] OK, 140. And then credit card debt?

Kristen [00:27:31] I believe it’s like eleven thousand, I want to say. The credit card debt kind of revolves, though, like I’ll pay off like a ton of it and then it goes back up. 

Linzy [00:27:40] So I’m hearing like, there are some quite specific things that have number value associated with them. 

Kristen [00:27:46] Yeah, it’s usually debt, though. 

Linzy [00:27:49] That is part of it, for sure. But there’s also this home in the Florida Keys, right? A million dollars or a million plus, there’s going to be a specific down payment number there. You can name for it. If you have kids, that cost dollars, let me tell you. You know, so thinking about when you want to have a maternity leave, you know, when you have those kids, how much time would you want with them? What kind of life do you want to be offering them? Do you want to be saving for their education, you know, so that they have support when they do post-secondary? It’s these things that I think might be a missing piece of your equation. 

Kristen [00:28:20] So putting clear definitions to the future, to the bigger future goals rather than the individual? 

Linzy [00:28:27] Yes. So it’s – what I’m going to encourage you to do, Kristen, is find these numbers. And then actually start to set a timeline to these numbers, when do you want that house? When would you potentially be taking a mat leave? It could be as soon as nine months from now if you’re not, not trying. 

Kristen [00:28:42] Right. 

Linzy [00:28:42] And you know, and so too to use mat leave as an example, because that’s a potentially a shorter term thing. You know, if you’re talking a mat leave, let’s say, a year from now. Right? And for that mat leave, how much time would you want off? 

Kristen [00:28:55] I’m not really sure. I never thought – we only just wrapped our head around having kids. So that’s a great next question. 

Linzy [00:29:05] Yeah. Just to give you a sense of like making this concrete, right? Because what I am noticing is there’s quite a gap between what you’re bringing in now and and where you want to be. The way to get where you want to be is by changing what’s happening now. And making it so that money is working for you today. So there’s down payment money building up every month, today. Right. That’s going to build up towards that hundred thousand dollars or two hundred thousand dollars that you need for that down payment. And same with kids, right? That’s, I bring that one up because it’s a shorter term one. I’m hearing it feels a little abstract. But you know, if it’s in a year and you want to save $12000 to cover you for like three months of mat leave, that’s a thousand dollars a month to set aside between now and then. And so that’s a very concrete number that you would want to be making your business work to serve those numbers and those goals. 

Kristen [00:29:59] It helps actually to like, get rid of some of, not the imposter syndrome because like, I believe that I can make these things happen. It’s the tyranny of how I get wrapped up in and sort of like how to get there when you’re not tackling like the how and like putting numbers like you just suggested. Like when you’re not doing that, it makes your dreams feel like they’re like some weird fantasy. 

Linzy [00:30:23] Yes. Well, I mean, really, they’re wishes at that point, right, they’re not goals, they’re wishes. Yeah. Like, a wish is a goal without a plan. By putting a goal and a plan in place, then you’re actually making these things happen. So thinking about this, then Kristen and starting to come to the end of our time together. How can you connect with this? How do we use this to help to make money a priority today? What do you need to do next? 

Kristen [00:30:47] I think just answering your question and tacking on realistic like financial timelines to what it is that we’re trying to accomplish and trying to figure out if if I can tack on those specifics to the dream right? And have it become a goal with action steps. Then it helps carve out my time management as well. It helps carve out like what I’m doing with my time, how I’m going to spend my money and what that money is going towards. Because right now it’s that mindset of like, Oh, I have some extra money in the bank this month, like, let’s go out to dinner and that money never gets put toward anything that is building toward that goal, so. 

Linzy [00:31:28] OK and knowing yourself, what will be the process to keep this front and center for you? Once you’re connected to these numbers, how do you make that actually present in your life? 

Kristen [00:31:39] I think it would have to be sort of similar to the way of – I prioritized health, which is to tend to it every day, something you tend to every day. You know, I keep telling people, I”m like can we normalize mental health as something that’s like a standard daily behavior rather than like something that’s this bold, courageous move? Because I feel like health, mental health and finances being part of my health like I, I look at them every other day, but I want to, like, attend to them and make sure that financial base right? 

Linzy [00:32:10] And what will that actually look like? 

Kristen [00:32:12] Probably setting aside maybe an hour a day or setting aside, I kept saying, I want to do the flow state thing. So I think training wise in terms of like tackling how to think about it might take a little bit more time than that, but actually attending to it and being clear about where the money is going day to day, that could be more of a behavioral habit. 

Linzy [00:32:38] Yeah, I was going to say it could be less than an hour or two. And something about that, Kristen, that might also be helpful, is it just kind of breaks down the phobia to just like touch it a little bit every day. Even if you’re just like looking at where things went, looking at like your budgeting before you make a purchase. Just being with it a little bit every day, it demystifies it. 

Kristen [00:33:01] Yeah, I don’t want to be like blindly throwing darts at the wall anymore. Take the blindfold off.

Linzy [00:33:08] Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And taking the plunge is also the only way to actually get where you want to go and there are places you want to go. 

Kristen [00:33:15] Yeah. 

Linzy [00:33:16] So it’s like, getting clear about the present and also like setting that path to the future. 

Kristen [00:33:21] Yeah. Absolutely. 

Linzy [00:33:22] And I’m curious, once you do these things, what that’s going to do to your ability to prioritize working on this stuff and how it might shift on the priority list, even one other things come up in the space you planned. 

Kristen [00:33:36] Yeah, I think just even having like the conversation or just even having the quote on quote permission to be like, OK, yeah, yes, attend to this every day. It’s like, that’s motivation enough to just be like, OK, yes, you can now incorporate these things and focus on these things and bring them into focus, rather than ignore them for so long. 

Linzy [00:33:56] What is the biggest thing you’re taking away today? 

Kristen [00:33:59] I love the clarity around the plan, right, the clarity around bringing clear numbers and clear direction and laying that out for myself in a way that isn’t like, OK, well, I need to make more money first. If I can’t figure out how to work with what I’m working with now, then why would I be able to work with more money later? Like that – I want to develop these habits now that are mildly limited, you know, then just wing it later, so. 

Linzy [00:34:29] Yeah, and that’s – there’s such a myth about that. I will say, like, there is this idea in the culture, like. And then when you have lots of money, then you know what to do with it? 

Kristen [00:34:38] Yeah. it’s fine. 

Linzy [00:34:40] And that is absolutely not how it works. So I love the idea of you developing this now because that’s also going to get you there a lot faster. 

Kristen [00:34:49] Yeah. I feel like I’m looking at it now more of as like a consistent relationship, like I did the same with health, right? Like, I got all the stats and information that I needed, and I know what I need to do now and now I can just execute it. So I feel the same way about the wealth piece, now. It’s like I’m building that skill set and the tool – and picking up the tools. And once I have that a little bit practiced and learn how to look at it in a different way, then it can be a healthy relationship with money. 

Linzy [00:35:17] Great. Awesome. Thank you so much, Kristen, for coming on today. 

Kristen [00:35:21] Thanks for having me. This is actually very, very helpful and very enjoyable. 

Linzy [00:35:26] I’m so glad, thank you. Something that stuck out to me in this coaching session with Kristen is how, even though her finances were essential to getting where her and her partner want to be in terms of their goals, their dream home, their new plan to possibly have kids. Without having that clarity of the actual numbers, it wasn’t really motivating. It wasn’t real, right? And so that piece that we got into about making those numbers real and also for me, really seeing the gap between where she is now and where she wants to be is so clarifying. And as we talked about, turns that wish, those wishes, you can actually turn them into goals when you know what you’re actually working towards and you can reverse engineer from there, a plan to get there. That can help to create so much more clarity in our businesses about what our businesses need to look like today, when we know what it’s actually going to take to get us where we want to be tomorrow or in this case, a few months or years from now. So that clarifying is so, so valuable and just helps to make it an actual executable plan that we can do something about, rather than this kind of like vague more, which is always really difficult to achieve, both in terms of how we structure our business, but also in terms of making it compelling or motivating to sit down and work on money and figure these things out when we don’t really know where we’re going. If you want to hear more from me, you can follow us on Instagram @moneynutsandbolts. We are putting free private practice money content there all the time. Practical, emotional, mindset. If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, you get it by now, we cover all of that. If you’re enjoying the podcast, please jump over and review us on Apple Podcasts. It’s so nice to get your feedback, and that is the best way to help other people find the podcast. Thank you so much for listening today. 

Hi, I'm Linzy

Hi, I'm Linzy

I’m a therapist in private practice, and a the creator of Money Skills for Therapists. I help therapists and health practitioners in private practice feel calm and in control of their finances.

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Episode Transcript

Erin [00:00:04]  What is my fee and what’s actually sustainable, and so I use that kind of algorithm or whatever you want to call it, to realize, OK, I have to charge what, to me seems like an uncomfortable amount in order to not burn out and still make enough to pay off my loans little by little. 

Linzy [00:00:29] Welcome to the Money Skills For Therapists podcast, where we answer this question. How can therapists and health practitioners go from money, shame and confusion to feeling calm and confident about their finances and get money really working for them in both their private practice and their lives? I’m your host, Linzy Bonham therapist turned money coach and creator of the course Money Skills For Therapists. Hello, and welcome back to the Money Skills For Therapists podcast. Today’s episode is brought to you by the waitlist for Money Skills For Therapists. Coming into this new year, if you are ready to finally get money really working for you and your private practice, if you’re ready to no longer feel confused or stressed about money and instead feel clear and calm and confident, then definitely jump on the waitlist for Money Skills For Therapists. That way, you will be the first to know when doors to the course open again, which is going to happen pretty soon. The link for that is in the show notes. So on today’s episode, I am joined by Dr. Erin Elmore. Erin is a psychologist turned educational coach, and we dig today into her experiences, basically moving in and out of private practice. In her practice, she worked with children and families and adolescents. So we dig in today about setting fees for specific niches and really that value of recognizing the specific things that you do because of your specialty that are valuable to your clients. We talk about these as boundaries with clients, and she shares about her experience with paying off six-figure student debt in four years, which is incredible. So if you’re looking for some tips on how to structure your practice to really serve you and also serve the clients that you’re serving and some inspiration and tips on paying off student debt, this is definitely the episode for you. So, Erin, welcome to the podcast. 

Erin [00:02:38] Thank you. I’m very happy to be here. 

Linzy [00:02:40] So, Erin, before we kind of get into some of the stuff we wanted to dig into today, I would love for you to share with people listening a little bit about your, kind of journey or trajectory as a private practice therapist, because I think it’s maybe a little bit different than some people listening in that you’re out of private practice right now. Maybe for now, maybe forever. So let’s let’s talk about, just briefly kind of your journey through private practice. 

Erin [00:03:04] Yes, definitely. So when I first got license, I worked at a group practice for a year to see if I liked that setting and kind of learn the ropes, and then I decided to go out on my own. So I did have my own private practice for about three years. And then more recently, I have closed my private practice and moved into working for this company called Triad. They’re really like, becoming the leading provider of education and career resources for behavioral and mental health. So they provide resources for social work, MFT, psychologists, counseling. And so as a psychologist, I do licensing exam coaching for the national EPPP exam and also I’m in California, so I provide coaching for the state licensing exam in California. So technically my role is Educational Consultant, right now. Yeah, there’s other little things I do as well, but most of it is coaching, so that’s where I find myself now. Yeah. Right. 

Linzy [00:03:57] So you’re a psychologist. You kind of did private practice for three years, and right now you’ve stepped in to basically like educational coaching. 

Erin [00:04:03] Exactly. Yes. 

Linzy [00:04:05] OK. So tell me about the work that you were doing when you were in private practice. What was your niche? 

Erin [00:04:10] Yeah. So my specialty all through grad school and then in private practice is working with families, kids, teens and families. So all the way up till probably age like 25. So I did a lot of individual work, but also a lot of co-parent sessions and family sessions and parent-child sessions. 

Linzy [00:04:26] Right. Yes. Which is like a very specific niche in terms of like all those different configurations. 

Erin [00:04:32] Yes, it’s almost like four separate specialties in one. Yes. 

Linzy [00:04:36] Yes. So I’m wondering for you then, being that as it was where you have all these like different types of sessions that you’re doing with your clients, how did that affect money in your practice? Like, for instance, like how did you think about charging for those, that different type of work that you were doing all within your one practice? 

Erin [00:04:53] Yeah, really interesting question. So I mean, coming out of my training, everything was very by the book. And so I assumed, OK, 45 minute sessions, one fee, that’s just how it’s going to be. But the child-family world has so many unique needs and timeframes that I realized that it made more sense to be a bit more individualized. So one thing I would do is if I had a family session, I would book an hour and a half and I would charge kind of a pro-rated rate for that time. So those sessions would actually be more expensive. But it just felt right because I always felt like I was rushing if it was 45 minutes to an hour for those sessions and you’re working so much harder, the more people there are in the room, so families totally understood that and were fine with that. Or I often checked in with parents by phone. There’s always extra phone calls and extra check ins that you do as a child therapist. And so I started charging just per 15 minutes for those types of calls. So if it’s just a quick check in, no worries. But you know, if I’m spending 30 minutes here or there, 10 minutes here or there, it adds up. And so I ended up charging for those extra supplemental times. I knew some child therapists that would charge, like if they visited the school, they would charge a transportation fee. Some would charge more for certain evening times that were more desirable and charge less for other session times. 

Linzy [00:06:11] Like premium spots, yeah. 

Erin [00:06:12] Exactly. I didn’t end up doing that, but there’s just so many different ways, I think you can individualize the fee structure that we don’t hear about often in grad school. 

Linzy [00:06:22] Absolutely. Yeah, and something I really appreciate about that, and I’m curious if that was always kind of – if that came naturally to you or not, I’m going to ask you that in a minute, but I know so many people listening struggle with that. Where it’s like, we’re almost like, so in our niche that we don’t realize that there’s things that are special about it and there’s things that we are doing that are specialized and exceptional and are valuable to our clients, right, beyond just sitting together in that room. And what I’m hearing is, you really built a practice that recognized all those different pieces of work that you are doing, right, of using your clinical skills that went beyond just sitting in that room. 

Erin [00:06:58] Exactly. Yes. Yes, exactly. And I will say I didn’t have that idea on my own, soI learned that from consulting with other child therapists and actually even more seasoned therapists who maybe worked with adults, but they had been in the field for a long time in private practice. And it didn’t come natural to assert my fee or these unusual structures, but I thought it out ahead of time. So by the time I had my first client, I was like, Hey, this is just how I do it. But it felt very unnatural, I had to work up the courage to say, Yeah, I’m going to charge you if you call me after hours because your kid is having trouble and we have a therapy session. And so it took, I would say it probably took a good year before I felt fine doing that, but I’m really glad that I did because our time is valuable, you know? 

Linzy [00:07:44] Well, and I’m curious, what do you think the impact that that had on those clinical relationships? How did that impact your relationship with those clients or families? 

Erin [00:07:52] I was surprised that it was harder for me than it was for them because I think everybody was like, OK, cool. Yeah, that’s fine. And I think it did sort of set the bar for certain, not every family, but some families who struggle with boundaries or need a more hand-holding. It really sort of was a buffer naturally for me that, you know, they would think twice before calling like, Do I really need to call Dr. Elmore or can we figure this out on our own? And so it sort of empowered them to practice the skills we’ve been working on and not just use me as like an easy coping skill because they would have to pay for a little bit of that time. And you know, it’s up to you, sometimes you can wave it. 

Linzy [00:08:29] Yeah, you get to make the rules. 

Erin [00:08:30] You get to make the rules. But I did find it helpful to have that policy to fall back on with certain families. And I think they may have appreciated it too, because it gave them a chance to again, practice what they’re learning on their own first. 

Linzy [00:08:42] Yeah. I mean, you’re setting clear professional boundaries. There you go. That’s something that really strikes me and something that I notice is, you know, sometimes as therapists and other types of health practitioners as well as coaches like, we’re doing it because we care and it’s easy to think that we’re doing somebody a favor by being on the phone with them for half an hour. At the end of the day, even though we’re tired and we want to go home, you know, or by doing a visit somewhere and it takes a lot of your time, but you don’t charge for it cause you’re like, Well, but this isn’t a therapy session, right? It’s so easy to justify not enforcing boundaries and not charging fees around those things. But what I’m hearing is like for some families, those clear boundaries are absolutely essential because there is boundary pushing, or there could have been a tendency to lean on you heavily rather than actually owning their skills and practicing those skills. 

Erin [00:09:28] Exactly. 

Linzy [00:09:29] But I think with all clients, there’s truth to that. Right. And as you say, we get to be flexible. We get to choose like, you know what? I’m waiving our phone call this time, this time it’s fine. But you’re making that active choice and they know that they’re accessing you in a professional manner. 

Erin [00:09:43] Exactly. 

Linzy [00:09:43] You’re not a friend who’s available for a little phone call because they’re having a moment of crisis. 

Erin [00:09:47] Right. And I think people know, they can feel if you’re in it for the money or if you’re in it to help them. And so at least my clients don’t have a problem with that because they knew – I mean, it was hard for me to do that, so they knew that I really wanted to just help them. 

Linzy [00:10:00] Yes. 

Erin [00:10:00] It never became a problem, at least as far as – no one brought it up or, you know, push back on it, which was really nice. And I kind of expected somebody to at some point, but nobody did. I think people, you know, they know that you’re professional and they want to pay for your services. I think that’s OK. I think it’s OK for us to say, Well, here’s my fee then. 

Linzy [00:10:17] And I think that’s so often the truth that it’s harder for us than it is for them. 

Erin [00:10:20] Yeah. 

Linzy [00:10:21] You know, we make up stories sometimes about our clients and their resilience or their financial situations or their ability to hear “no” or to receive a boundary like, we can make up all these stories, you know, maybe based on our own families of origin or our own, you know, stuff, you know, for lack of a better term. But so often, like you said, they make no deal of it at all. It’s like, Oh, OK, yeah, now they know your boundaries there. 

Erin [00:10:43] Now they know. And I will say the one area I had struggled with, or would go back and do different is fee reductions. So I had several families that were like, Hey, we want to get our kid involved in jujitsu and soccer and et cetera, like, can we do a reduced fee or some of them are more serious, like, you know, somebody lost their job and needed a reprieve. And so that was hard for me because I was always very agreeable, but it’s so much harder to get back to your normal fee when you have given a discount. Sometimes it’s very legitimate and I had no problem doing it. And sometimes in the course of a few weeks later, the child would tell me like, Oh, we just bought all new bedroom furniture for me and we’re going to Disneyland. And I was just sitting there thinking like, And you’re not paying me my regular fee, what’s going on?

Linzy [00:11:24] I know, I know. 

Erin [00:11:26] So then – so that was hard, and I think that was probably where I was the most awkward, is asserting the follow up conversation of, Hey, you know, let’s revisit this fee reduction. I hear this, this and this, you know, can we go back to the regular? And I think that was always the hardest part because you want to be considerate of what people are going through, but you know, you also need to get paid.

Linzy [00:11:47] Yes, you do. And I think that resentment, whether we like it or not, does come into the clinical relationship at some level, right? Like if we hear that – I remember a client who I worked with, sliding scale, who I loved working with, she was a long standing client, but she went to Iceland twice in like a year. And I was like damn, I want to go to Iceland. Like having that little part of me, like that little like what? That’s unfair. You’re paying me like $60 less than my fee. And you’re going to Iceland twice. Right? And like that does impact our work on some level. It doesn’t mean that we give bad service or that we’re cold to them or something like that, but it’s not a great thing to have in the relationship at all. Right? Like, we should also feel respected and like, we are getting the compensation that we need to be well as much as somebody who is able. 

Erin [00:12:30] And I think it helps people appreciate their sessions, too and know when they’re ready to graduate. Because if they’re just getting it for almost free, they’ll just come forever, and then it’s really awkward to say, OK, I think you’re ready to graduate because you’ve become a resource in their life. So yeah, I think there is that balance of, you know, there’s a reason that we have a fee and it really does help keep, like you said, the professional boundaries around. 

Linzy [00:12:50] Absolutely. And something I would notice sometimes when I’d raise my fee, is I never had a client quit because I was raising my fee. Like, I, you know, the fear is that your client is going to be like, You’re greedy, how dare you? I’m never coming back here. I’ve never had that happen, not even a version of that. 

Erin [00:13:06] Same. 

Linzy [00:13:06] But what I have had is people who already, I was starting to feel like, do they still need to be here? And I would raise my fee and two or three sessions later, they’re like, I think I’m good. Right, like, it just gives them that little nudge for them to also realize that like, yeah, as you say, maybe I’ve become a resource in their life, but do they really want to pay me my full fee anymore? 

Erin [00:13:24] Exactly, yes. It is a sort of reset or a reevaluation of where are we at with this? And is this worth it or not for you and for me? Yeah, I think that’s a good point. 

Linzy [00:13:34] So, as a psychologist, I’m going to guess that you have done a lot of schooling, as is the way. 

Erin [00:13:38] Yes, it is the way. 

Linzy [00:13:41] And we were chatting a little bit before we started recording about debt, student debt. Right. And your experience with it. I’m really curious about – for you, your experience with student debt, being a psychologist and doing the amount of education you did. What did that look like for you coming out of school? 

Erin [00:13:56] Yes, I have had such an evolution with student debt, so I think I was like most people that I know, most of my colleagues. So when I started the program, a grad program, it just seemed so easy to take out student debt. You know, the program’s pretty rigorous and it didn’t make sense to try and work through it, although some people do, I admire them for that. I just, for some reason decided not to. So I took out student loans, and if I could go back in time, I would not do that. I hate student loans, I’m sure most of our listeners do, too. Yeah. And it just, it was presented to me, and I’m sure most people like, that’s just what you do. It’s just it’s so easy. It’s like it makes no sense that you can just click two buttons and be in debt so deeply. Because I mean, who reads those forms? I didn’t read those forms in front. You know, there’s no screening procedure, or anything, and it just seems so easy. And so I went down that route, and of course over the six years or whatever that I was in school, it just sort of snowballed and I did my best to keep up with the interest, but it was harder than I thought it would be. My plan was to pay off the interest throughout the program, when the loans were frozen. And so then my genius idea was, you know, by the time I graduate, then I’ll just have the actual loan amount to pay off or maybe even a little bit less. But that just, you know, good intentions, it just didn’t end up happening. And so then upon graduation, I just felt so – like this weight of how am I going to get this handled? And obviously, I was very well educated and I loved my field and I wanted to work, it wasn’t that. But I really felt like my options were limited as far as what I could do to survive with this mountain of debt I had at that point. 

Linzy [00:15:32] And can I ask you Erin, can I ask you how much debt you had or are you open to talking about real numbers? 

Erin [00:15:37] It wasn’t the six figure range, so it was a lot. 

Linzy [00:15:40] Yeah, okay. 

Erin [00:15:41] Not not like deep in the six figures, just like barely in the six figures, but it was, yeah, it was significant where I would get anxiety, like checking on it, you know? Yeah, it’s just always – it’s like a little living thing that’s always with you.  

Linzy [00:15:55] So many therapists just don’t even look at it, right? Like this is what I’ve noticed is it almost feels so large and surmountable that it’s just like this – the attitude I’ve heard from some therapists who’ve joined my courses like, it feels like it’s just been with you forever. Like, you’re like, This is just mine till I literally die. And that’s the only way I’ll be free of it. 

Erin [00:16:13] For sure, because it’s not an even understandable number. You know, it’s like I’ve never seen that much money in one space in my life, and suddenly I owe this amount of money. Like, how is this possible? And so it’s so hard to even wrap your mind around that, yes, it’s very defeating, it’s like, Well, I guess I’m just going to be in debt until I’m 60. Or, you know, yeah, if I die, it’ll get paid off, that’s a solution, you know, like – I mean, well, not not like I’m suicidal. I just mean, like, you know, lying on my death bed at 90 or whatever then finally, it’ll go away. 

Linzy [00:16:40] At least that student debt’s going to be gone, right? Yeah. 

Erin [00:16:42] Yeah. So it just seems so overwhleming – and obviously, I knew the path was like, OK, just paid off, like little by little bit. So that’s a huge reason why I actually went into private practice. I mean, I love love working with clients, I really do. But I felt like that was the only way to make money quick enough without burning out. And actually, most of my training was at nonprofits, and so I actually really enjoy working at nonprofits or community mental health clinics. But I just – looking at the numbers, I was like, Yeah, that’s not doable for me. So that’s how I ended up in private practice, and I really, really loved it. But over the last three to four years or so, my husband and I have found a way to actually pay off my student loans, which I still cannot believe. So I’m sitting here without that weight on my shoulders. 

Linzy [00:17:27] It’s incredible. 

Erin [00:17:27] It is, and I – four years ago, I would have thought that was a miracle. And so because of that, now I have more opportunities to do other things. It’s not that I didn’t love private practice, I may end up doing that again at some point, but I had this opportunity with Triad and you know, was able to actually not see clients for the first time because that debt wasn’t there and it just feels so different. 

Linzy [00:17:46] Totally – that’s a really interesting perspective that you had, that you recognized the income earning potential of private practice. Because I think so many therapists, even therapists who are in it, haven’t worked out their numbers in such a way yet that they feel like, this is an easy way to make money. I think a lot of therapists feel like this is a hard way to make money. I’m curious for you, Erin. Like, what are some of the specific things in the way that you did in building your practice, that made it like a real income generator for you and allowed you to accomplish this incredible thing and pay off this student debt? 

Erin [00:18:17] Yeah. Well, I agree. It’s easy, but it’s also so hard because the clinical hours are hard, but on paper it is easier to make money there. Yeah. So one thing was I actually realized, that first year when I was in a group practice as an independent contractor doing therapy, I realized I have to get out of this setting because I’m doing everything, but part of my money is going to someone else. And I wasn’t sure about the paperwork and billing and all of that, so I’m glad I was there that year to learn those things. But I realized like, I could do this, like, I’m pretty organized. I can handle and take paperwork, I can schedule my own clients, I don’t really need marketing anymore, like, you know, so I realize one thing was just actually being on my own, which was a little scary, especially newly licensed. But then all the money is mine, you know? So that was one thing, and I created a structure of support around me with consultations and old supervisors I would check in with, so I didn’t feel super clinically alone. But that’s where the money was, was being on your own. And then I went through this process, I’m sure you explain in your podcast of trying to figure out, what is my fee and what’s actually sustainable? And so I used that kind of algorithm or whatever you want to call it, to realize, OK, I have to charge what to me seems like an uncomfortable amount, in order to not burn out and still make enough to pay off my loans little by little. And then I just worked my butt off, like really long days. And I think that honestly, that’s part of the reason I now want a break from private practice. I think the weight of student loans made me work so hard. I don’t want to say I was burnt out, but it was like headed that way. And if I didn’t have that weight, I would have had a more reasonable client schedule. But yeah, I hustled, I hustled for three years to make that money, yeah.

Linzy [00:20:00] It sounds like you kind of did private practice like fast and furious, and now you’re taking a break from it. 

Erin [00:20:05] Exactly, yes. And so, you know, I look back and I’m like, Man, if I didn’t have student loans, maybe I would still be doing it. Maybe I would have done the same thing, but just slower and enjoyed it more. And don’t get me wrong, I love my clients, I really do and miss them. But yeah, it’s like, it’s just it’s the way my path ended up, so it’s interesting. Yeah.

Linzy [00:20:24] Yeah. And I mean, thinking about your journey through private practice, it’s interesting because I feel like, I also feel like I kind of went through private practice fast and furiously. But in my case, it’s that I didn’t work too much, but I chose a really intense niche. Like I was kind of doing work when I first got into practice that other people were like, Oh, you’re too young for that. And I kind of. 

Erin [00:20:43] Oh, I would have referred to you those cases then.

Linzy [00:20:45] Like kind of dived in with two feet and like, did this really intense, really gratifying work. But like, it’s hard to sustain, right? When you’re doing something so intensely, whether it’s the amount of sessions you’re doing or the type of work that you’re doing. And what I’m hearing from you is, by being so diligent and focused and like working together with your husband to pay down this debt, now you have the choice to not have to do that. You’re not stuck there and now you’re able to go do different work. 

Erin [00:21:12] Right, yeah. I was surprised how much I was leaning towards not doing it once I had the option because I really did enjoy it. But it’s, you know, money shapes so much of our decisions because it’s not an option, it’s a must, it’s a need, you know, you need to make that money. And so then with that removed, I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still need to make some money. But with the weight of that removed, I was surprised how many other things I was interested in as well, that just weren’t even an option before. 

Linzy [00:21:40] And I’ve definitely seen many of therapists that I’ve met at like a trauma conference or whatever who I’m like, Oh, should you still be doing this work? You know, like, are you – is your heart really still in this? Are you? Are you super burnt out and you have been for a decade? But I think people sometimes do feel trapped and they don’t feel like they have the option to make a move somewhere else or try something different. And so they do continue practicing, even when their heart’s not in it. And I have to say, like, I don’t think there’s any way that doesn’t impact, you know, the clients. 

Erin [00:22:08] Absolutely, yeah. 

Linzy [00:22:09] So obviously, you’re somebody who is very like, diligent and focused around money with this like incredible thing that you accomplished paying off the student debt. I’m curious for people who are listening today who are like, That’s great for Aaron, but holy shit, I would have idea how to do that, I have no idea how to start. What would you suggest for them as a first step in starting to build a better relationship with money, build up their confidence, more knowledge? 

Erin [00:22:32] So glad you asked that because that was me, that was me a few years ago or during grad school, so the number one thing – well, number two things that helped. One was budgeting, which I know can make you want to run for the hills, especially when you budget and you’re like, Yeah, I have negative money, this is not helpful. But just knowing down to the penny where your money is going, what you’re spending it on, sometimes it feels like you get a raise when you do that because you realize, Oh, I’m like, frivolously spending this on, you know, DoorDash or something and I don’t need to. You know, especially during the pandemic, it’s just so embarrassing. Or maybe it’s just, nothing’s labeled and so you don’t realize, Oh, like, I have this extra money I’m just kind of sitting on and I could put it to use or put it towards my goals. So being disciplined and getting help, if you need to about how to actually set up a budget monthly, track exactly what you’re doing. This works for your business, too, you would need a budget for your outgo and income with your business, and so doing it for your personal life is helpful, too. So that was one thing just to help – it was hard at first because I was like, Oh wow, this is a big mess that I’m in. But at least then you know what you’re dealing with and then you can figure out, OK, what’s next? Like, How do I get out of this? And then the second thing that was super helpful was my husband and I followed The Dave Ramsey plan, he is pretty conservative, so it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But you know, the principles that he teaches are super helpful, very practical, that was the number one thing that actually helped us get out of debt. And I didn’t think that was possible, but here I am, and it’s possible. And I had the six-figure debt, it was a lot. So he has a podcast called The Ramsey Show or I think his website’s ramseysolutions.com, and he has step by step plan of how to get out of debt and how to get back on your feet, so that was helpful for us, too. And then on the business end, there’s this book I used to set up my practice, and that’s where I got the idea of how to set the fee. And I’m sure some of that’s repetitive from your listeners, but it was called the Paper Office for the Digital Age. 

Linzy [00:24:30] I have never heard of that book. 

Erin [00:24:32] Yeah, it was actually recommended to me by a lawyer – I consulted with the lawyer just for like 10 minutes of How do I know my paperwork is right for my practice? But they did have interesting things in there about fee setting and managing your time. And so it just helped me sort of create an identity as a private practice therapist, and I was newly licensed and didn’t know what I was doing. 

Linzy [00:24:53] And like that is a, you know, I want to give you props for that because I think it’s so easy to go in and just kind of flail around a little. And it sounds like, what I’m getting from you is you sound like a, you know, you’re diligent, right? Like, you’ve kind of, you did your due diligence, right? You talk to a lawyer. 

Erin [00:25:08] I overthink everything before I do it. That’s a nice way of you saying that, yeah. 

Linzy [00:25:14] Overthinking can, you know, serve a purpose. And it’s sounds like you really used your overthinking for good, right? Like, it’s helped you accomplish a lot. You’ve harnessed that. 

Erin [00:25:23] Yeah, I I’m proud. I am proud I can look back – I had very mixed feelings about deciding to end the practice, but one of them, I was like, Yeah, I’m really proud. Like, I pulled that off early in licensure when a lot of people don’t, and it was successful. And so I am very proud of how well that turned out, but it came from a lot of not knowing and mistakes and just figuring out what I needed, which I think is what we’re all trying to do. 

Linzy [00:25:44] I think that that’s a very good summary of we’re all trying to do. So, Erin, thank you so much for joining me today. This has been so lovely talking to you. 

Erin [00:25:51] Thank you. 

Linzy [00:25:52] I’m curious if people want to learn more about Triad, what are some of the resources that Triad has that could be helpful for our listeners? 

Erin [00:26:01] Yeah, Triad actually just launched, it’s like our version of Facebook and LinkedIn for psychologists, mental health professionals and that’s called hellotriad.com. And Triad is spelled Triad. So if you want to get connected with other professionals or see what CEUs use we’re offering. Sometimes people post blogs on their job opportunities on there. So that’s kind of the hub of communication for Triad. But obviously you can learn a lot more about what Triad is from there as well. 

Linzy [00:26:29] And we do actually have a discount code, if we can use our discount code here. 

Erin [00:26:33] Oh, wow, OK. 

Linzy [00:26:34] People can use the discount code, I’ll share the code in the show notes. So you can also get a discount on CEUs, I believe it’s 10 percent, but take a look in the show notes to see that. 

Erin [00:26:43] That’s great. Yeah, we have exam prep materials, CEUs, and then just kind of a community that you can connect with. 

Linzy [00:26:50] Great. Well, thank you so much, Erin. It was great talking you today. 

Erin [00:26:52] It was so great to be here. Thank you for having me. 

Linzy [00:27:09] Erin’s story about paying off her student debt is so inspiring, I know I’ve said the word inspired many times in this podcast, but it’s rare that you meet someone Erin’s age, she’s probably in her 30s, I’m guessing, Aaron, if I’m wrong, I’m sorry – who has paid down student debt, it’s incredible. And so I hope that for those of you listening who feel maybe disempowered or overwhelmed by your debt, that Erin’s story lets you know that it is possible to pay off the debt. And even if you don’t want to do it like she did, you know which in a certain way did have that cost of kind of doing private practice so hard that now she’s taking a little break from it. It did open up this huge financial freedom for her, that now she can do whatever kind of work she wants. And even if you take some of the tips that she suggested around budgeting and looking at different methods for paying down debt, Dave Ramsey being an example. Then, you can get that much closer to not having that debt hanging over your head and be able to make decisions about money that are rooted in what really makes sense for your life right now and what kind of work you’re drawn to – not kind of getting trapped somewhere because you have the stress of paying down debt. Today’s episode was brought to you by the wait list for Money Skills For Therapists. The New Year is a perfect time to start working on your private practice finances in a real way to set yourself up for success for the rest of the year. So if you’re ready to do that deeper work, jump on the waitlist and you will be the first to know when the doors open for Money Skills For Therapists next. If you want more free money content from us, you can follow me on Instagram @moneynutsandbolts. And if you’re enjoying the podcast, please jump over to Apple Podcasts and leave us a review and tell your friends about it. That is the way to get this information to the right ears and get therapists feeling more confident about money and less alone. Thank you so much for listening today. 

Hi, I'm Linzy

Hi, I'm Linzy

I’m a therapist in private practice, and a the creator of Money Skills for Therapists. I help therapists and health practitioners in private practice feel calm and in control of their finances.

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Planning Ahead with Your Private Practice Finances Coaching Session

Planning Ahead with Your Private Practice Finances Coaching Session
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Planning Ahead with Your Private Practice Finances Coaching Session

Planning Ahead with Your Private Practice Finances Coaching Session

“This feels like helpful clarity. I like how this is working, and I’m already seeing what you’re saying about putting that amount aside for bills and obligations, and then once I’ve reached what I need for the year, I don’t need to put in anymore. So that’s really reassuring. I can see all of that, and it works well for me.”

~Fireda Ahmed

Meet Fireda Ahmed

Fireda Ahmed is a clinical social worker in private practice and has been in the field for over 15 years. She was recently the school social work clinical services manager at a French public school board in Ottawa. Fireda is passionate about equity and mental health and she will be joining School Mental Health Ontario as their Organizational Equity and Education Lead. 

In This Episode…

What is the next step with budgeting when looking toward the future? How can we make sure that we are saving appropriately for upcoming expenses? In this coaching session, Linzy and Fireda really dive into what is going well for Fireda with her budgeting, and they focus in on her desire to take her budgeting planning to the next level.


Don’t miss listening to this practical coaching session full of great tips! You can hear how Fireda is already leveraging budgeting software to help her manage her money within her private practice. She and Linzy really focus on what concrete steps she can take next to really get her money working for her even more effectively, and these action items apply to all of us who are looking to better plan for our future with our money!

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Do you find yourself avoiding your private practice finances? Do you have no idea where to even begin? Well I’ve got something for you. I’m hosting a FREE live 4-day challenge, the Money Momentum Challenge, from June 7 to 10th, 2022! 

During our four days together, you’ll get my support and guidance to step out of avoidance, take real action, and create ease and flow around your private practice finances, so you don’t need to avoid them!

Plus, you’ll get a clear roadmap to understand exactly what you need to do, to take care of your private practice finances.

It only takes 10 minutes a day.

I can’t wait to see you inside! Sign up for the FREE Money Momentum Challenge here: http://join.moneymomentumchallenge.com/

Episode Transcript

Fireda [00:00:04]  And this feels like helpful clarity. I like how this is working, and I’m already seeing what you’re saying about putting that amount aside for bills and obligations. And then once I’ve reached what I need for the year, I don’t need to put it any mor. So that’s really reassuring, I can see all of that and it works well for me. 

Linzy [00:00:29] Welcome to the Money Skills For Therapists podcast, where we answer this question. How can therapists and health practitioners go from money, shame and confusion to feeling calm and confident about their finances and get money really working for them in both their private practice and their lives? I’m your host, Linzy Bonham therapist turned money coach and creator of the course Money Skills For Therapists. Hello and welcome back to the podcast. So today’s guest is Fireda Ahmed. Fireda is a graduate of Money Skills For Therapists. She’s a clinical social worker in private practice who’s been practicing for over 15 years. She was recently a school social worker at a French public school in Ottawa, Ontario, that’s where she was working, I believe, when she started Money Skills For Therapists. She is passionate about equity and mental health, and she will soon be joining School Mental Health Ontario as their organizational equity and education lead. Fireda is a really thoughtful, lovely human, and today we dig into a very practical issue around budgeting. This episode, I think, is the most practical one that I’ve recorded in terms of coaching sessions with graduates. We get into a challenge that Fireda has with budgeting around, kind of taking that next step to create more clarity in what money is going to be due in the future, like getting more ahead of herself, looking around the corner from money that’s due after she hit a bit of a snag in the road and spent some money thinking that it was fine to spend, and it actually turned out that she was going to need that money very soon. This is a very tangible episode, and we really get into the value for Fireda that I think so many of us find in having money in tangible buckets. You know what I find with money? There’s kind of two types of people, you know, to say it very simply. Some people are happy to see numbers on paper, and that feels real and tangible and fine. So like a spreadsheet or tracking software is going to do more than enough to give them clarity on money. And other people really need to have that money in distinct buckets for it to be real – like separate bank accounts, it needs to be very tangible, and Fireda definitely falls into that camp, as you’re going to hear in this episode, so we look for some very tangible solutions to her challenges with budgeting and getting ahead on her money. Enjoy. So, Fireda, welcome. 

Fireda [00:03:08] Thank you for having me. 

Linzy [00:03:10] So, Fireda, you are a graduate of Money Skills For Therapists. And remind me, how long has it been since you finished up the course? 

Fireda [00:03:18] End of January, I would say about four, three, four months. 

Linzy [00:03:22] OK, three four months. Yeah. So tell me about the piece that you’re bringing today to our coaching session and what do you want to do some work on together today? 

Fireda [00:03:30] Yeah. So throughout the course and afterwards, I think I’ve really been able to start my practice on the right footing because I think when I started the course I was at a previous job – was, you know, coming to terminate and I’ve got a lot of things settled. So I have my Profit First set and I know how to budget all the income that I’m getting from my clients, whether it’s counseling or consulting. I feel ready for tax season, which is amazing, like it’s my first year and I’m set up for that. I also started seeing money differently. So, you know, whatever income comes from a consultation contract, I don’t get impressed with the numbers. I started breaking them down like, what am I actually making at the end of the day? So those pieces are, you know, settled in. But where I notice that I’m still struggling is in terms of like future – by that, I specifically mean budgeting. So I have the money, it’s in the right envelopes. When I need to spend it, I know how much I have to spend. But what happened between December and January is that I’ve spent all of my operating expenses on a training that I wanted to take, and come January, I had to pay rent and all of my other subscriptions and was like, Oops, I didn’t calculate for that. And it sounds really silly, I should have seen that coming, but this is where it kind of was a hint to the fact that that’s where my weakness is. I don’t have a budget where things are accounted for ahead of time. And if I had, I assume that I would have seen that coming when I made the decision to to sign up for that training. 

Linzy [00:04:59] You are doing some budgeting, but it’s not that detail oriented. You’re doing Profit First, so you have some separate bank accounts. So what I’m hearing is like the money was in that operating expense bank account when you saw that trading opportunity come up. But what you didn’t calculate was the money that was going to come due, you know as soon as we switched over to the next month? 

Fireda [00:05:17] Exactly. 

Linzy [00:05:17] OK, yeah. So with that Fireda, my first curiosity is what comes up when you think about now layering more of a detailed budgeting system on top of the system you already built? 

Fireda [00:05:28] I think it’s going to be a lot easier for me now. I know when I started taking the course because I was just starting my practice, a lot of things were not set up yet. I didn’t even have the income coming in to be playing around with the numbers, so that took a while to to build up. So I think it should be easier now because I have a better understanding of what some of my regular expenses are, with some of the unexpected expenses are like trainings that just pop up that you really want to take advantage of and things like that. So I think that part is OK. But then the other part is when I start thinking about the budgeting softwares and I get flustered again. I never got around to mastering YNAB and now I’m like, Oh, it’s still catching up with me. 

Linzy [00:06:05] Yes, OK. Because what system are you using right now for tracking your money? 

Fireda [00:06:09] What do you mean by tracking specifically? 

Linzy [00:06:10] Like, where are you keeping a record of the money that you have spent? 

Fireda [00:06:13] It is going through YNAB, like, YNAB is connected to my bank account. But I’m not going back to look at it very frequently. 

Linzy [00:06:22] OK. So YNAB for people listening is You Need A Budget, which is a program that is one of the options that we give in Money Skills For Therapists. And it’s one that many people choose because of exactly what Fireda’s talking about. It has this ability to budget forward, but also track the past. So I’m hearing you’ve already got YNAB connected to your accounts and do you have your categories set up in there as well? 

Fireda [00:06:43] I do. 

Linzy [00:06:43] OK. So, you know, whenever you sit down, that information is going to be there ready for you to categorize, to see where the money went. And what I’m hearing is because you’ve been using profit first, you are in integrity with your money in terms of like you do have these buckets, tax money is cared for and your paycheck is coming out of a certain place. But it’s this like more detailed, being able to see what’s coming around the corner, that is missing right now. OK. 

Fireda [00:07:07] Yeah. So like, December was a big month because I had to renew my membership with the Association of Social Work and with the College of Social Work, and so those were two big chunks. But now I know, you know, the end of January, 12 months from now, I’m going to have those expenses. I’d like to start saving those, and that’s the kind of budgeting I need to learn to do. 

Linzy [00:07:30] Because that’s the first thing I think about Fireda is what kind of budgeting do you want to do? Right? Because we do have that kind of software solutions available. And what I’m hearing is you’ve already got YNAB hooked up and it’s like, you’re kind of – at least you’re in position to be able to use it for half of what it does, which is tracks the money you’ve already spent. Right? The other half would be going back and learning to plan ahead with it. Tell me more about what comes up when you think about, basically kind of diving back in and continuing your learning curve with that particular software.

Fireda [00:08:04] Do you mean at the emotional level and struggling or at the intellectual level? 

Linzy [00:08:08] Let’s start with emotional. 

Fireda [00:08:09] I don’t know. I mean, there’s a bit of resistance still. I think I know I need to do it, I think there’s a bit of resistance, and it’s part of why I wanted to make this coaching call about that because I need a push, I know I need a push. I think I started to internalize that I don’t know how to do this and that I won’t figure it out. And so it’s just like, Wow, whatever, I don’t need to waste time anymore on this, it’s not something I, Fireda, am going to figure out. But at the same time, there’s a tiny little piece of hope, which is why I’m here, I guess. 

Linzy [00:08:39] Yes, because what I’m hearing is, you have figured out like 80 percent of your system, right? 

Fireda [00:08:47] That’s a lot more than I thought. 

Linzy [00:08:49] Oh, I think so. You have bank accounts set up, you have Profit First working for you, which in itself has a learning curve and planning. So you’ve planned out your numbers, you’re moving them every month, which means your taxes are taken care of and which means your paycheck is coming out of a regular place. Do you have like a regular paycheck that you’re taking at this point? 

Fireda [00:09:06] Not yet. 

Linzy [00:09:06] Or little up and down, OK? 

Fireda [00:09:08] I did just sign a major contract, which I’m excited about, so there will be a regular income. 

Linzy [00:09:13] Yes, because you’re in a building place still. 

Fireda [00:09:15] Yeah. 

Linzy [00:09:15] So you’ve got all those things done. You’ve also, Fireda, just to stop and validate, you’ve confronted and looked at your resistance to money in general and connected with enough motivation to learn all of these things. Because where were you before, like, let’s say, when you started the course? What was your relationship like to money back then before you did all this work? 

Fireda [00:09:35] Oh, it’s a whole other world. I knew I had a steady paycheck because I was working at a school board at the time. And, you know, as long as I needed to spend, I spent. I never really thought about what money was going into my pension plan or what money was going into my benefits. All of that was taken care of by the employer, so I wasn’t worried about those elements. And then in terms of what I had to spend, as long as the money was there, I just spent it. I never even looked at trainings. I only, you know, took the trainings that were being offered within my organization. Or I would look for them if I could propose them to the organization for them to pay. So I was still like dependent on their budget as my own budget. So there was a bit less freedom in that sense, which meant that when it came to my own personal money, I gave myself all the freedom, so I would spend on whatever I needed to spend. There was a bit of a challenge with saving up for my kids RESP in a regular manner, so that was something I needed to work on as well. But all in all, I think it was just a little mindless the way I managed money, and this made it so much more mindful, obviously, but just more intentional. Like, there was a very clear way in which the money came, in which the money was being placed, the percentages that I allotted to the different categories and Profit First, that was the first step in the intentionality, and it was very rewarding to watch, you know, this amount specifically every month going to my kids RESP, for example, or watching the amount of taxes I’m paying. It’s not something I would think about throughout the year, when I had an employment. At the end of the year, you kind of, you gasp at how much taxes you have been paying out of your paycheck. But now I know, I see it monthly because I’m calculating it monthly and putting it in the right bank account. So I’ve become a lot more aware and in control and a lot more free as well, because now I’m looking at trainings that I’m interested in and I can decide whether I can afford them or not, and not have to wait for anyone to tell me whether they’re in their budget because they’re in my budget, right? 

Linzy [00:11:35] Yeah. Like, I’m hearing so much more empowerment around money there, like it’s yours. Before, it sounds like it was something that was being managed for you. But then also, there was a flip side to that where at home, you were almost being extra mindless with it because it’s kind of like you weren’t the boss of it. Or where do you think that extra mindlessness at home came from? 

Fireda [00:11:55] I think it’s just a mental exercise, like you’re either looking at it and managing it or not. And I was not at that point, you know. 

Linzy [00:12:02] So I’m hearing now there’s a lot more – intention is a word you used a few times, which is like one of my favorite words around money because I think intention is so much more of like a gentle, compassionate word than something like control or – right. So you’re being intentional and mindful, and I’m hearing there’s now this extra little step that you’ve identified. Maybe it doesn’t feel a little, from where I’m looking over here, it seems a little, but from where you are, there’s this extra step to get into planning your money proactively in a more detailed way, right? To be able to say OK next year, I know in December my college fees, which is our regulatory body here in Ontario, I should say, and my association fees come out at the same time. So next year, I want to make sure the money is there, right? So I’d be doing that thing of like setting aside a little every month, you know that process? 

Fireda [00:12:48] Yeah. 

Linzy [00:12:49] What do you think is the belief about what that process is going to be like, that’s making it hard to take that step to go back and learn this last bit? 

Fireda [00:12:57] I can’t visualize it. Like I know, for example, those two subscriptions at the end of the year, they’re about $600. So I can take the $600, divide it by 12 and that money needs to be put aside, but I have an envelope for my operating expenses out of which I’ll be paying for those. But where do I put it aside? Like, am I going to have to create another envelope? And the abstract notion of the budgeting system with the YNAB, is that you’re putting money aside as a concept, it’s just not tangible. That’s why so far, I’ve gotten this far because everything else was quite tangible, but this seems a little not tangible to me. 

Linzy [00:13:35] OK, great. And that’s really helpful to know about yourself. I was just on a call last week with a student. She said, like for her, YNAB feels like make believe. Like, it’s like, Oh, I’m moving money, but I’m not really. And so that’s really good to know about yourself because it sounds like Profit First is giving you this tangibility. The money is really there, it’s really earmarked in a bank account that says taxes, and that’s really the money you have for taxes. And with budgeting Fireda, you can bring that tangibility into your planning if you know that’s important for you, right? Like the multiple bank account thing, for some people, that’s like hell. Like, they’re like -find it so overwhelming and it feels so cumbersome and confusing. But for those of us who are tangible and I’m counting myself in that category right now, too, because I started doing this at home, I’ve got like a dozen bank accounts at home, and I would not have thought that would be helpful, but it’s been really clarifying. It’s so clarifying to have that separation. So with your system now, what if you did set up a bank account, that is for future fees and to even get you ahead a couple of months? Basically, your like operating buffer because that sounds like something you might not quite have in place yet, right? If this expense cleaned out your operating expense account, then that’s another piece that would give you more cushion is having a couple of months operating money set aside, but also there’s those annual fees that you know are coming, and we know that there’s these two. Are there other annual fees that you anticipate will be coming in the next year as well? 

Fireda [00:14:56] I think my liability insurance, I’ve paid that one, so I probably have to pay that again on an annual basis. 

Linzy [00:15:02] Yeah, OK. So those are three big ones. And as a, you know, we’re both social workers in Ontario. So those are the ones that I always have in my mind, as well, those are the three big ones for us. So what do you think it would be like every month to actually move money from your operating expense fund into that, like annual fees? And maybe it’s an annual fees and buffer fund like, actually do have a separate account that is just for those big things, so you know that money is protected and it’s there when you need it. 

Fireda [00:15:30] That sounds pretty simple. So what I would need to do for that is figure out what my annual fees are, add whatever buffer amount I want, split that into 12 or 24 because I do Profit First twice a month and then transfer that amount. So it’s not necessarily a percentage of my income, but it’s a fixed amount that would be transferred? 

Linzy [00:15:50] It would be a fixed amount, yeah. So it’s looking at what would be, you know, two months of operating money for you and then what would be, you know, those totals, as you say, you got the math right there immediately. You know, you would divide by 24 because you’re doing 24 transfers right, 2 transfers a month, and then you would actually physically move that money aside, because what that would also do, Fireda, is it would give you a little bit of like a buffer, like sink money, so that if there is an opportunity for a big payment that you do have to make right away, like sometimes when trading opportunities come up, you have to pay it all at once. 

Fireda [00:16:19] Yeah. 

Linzy [00:16:20] It would mean that there would be a buffer that you could have taken like, this month’s rent money, you could have taken from that buffer fund to cover rent, rather than being down to zero on that account. 

Fireda [00:16:29] Right. That makes sense. Yeah, because that’s where it gets complicated because if I’m zero on that account, but really need the money like I did just this month, I’ll go take it from my salary and then I have to remember to pay my salary back. Whereas would make it much easier because it would all be for operating expenses, but annual, plus buffer, versus monthly. 

Linzy [00:16:49] Yes. And then what you could do is if you do have to dip into that buffer, then you just figure out, OK, how quickly do I want to pay it back? OK, for the next couple of months, I’ll put an extra hundred in there among until I’ve talked it back up to where I want it to be. What do you notice thinking about this idea, this add on for your system? 

Fireda [00:17:04] This seems really feasible. Like I can visualize it, I can see the bank account sitting there and I can see the category added on my excel sheet for my Profit First. So I would just subtract that fixed number from my income for that period, and then the rest will be split up into the percentages that I’m going to put into the different Profit First categories. 

Linzy [00:17:25] Nice. And is there anything else that you would need to or want to layer to give you more clarity on the system? Or does it feel like this would be the clarity that you need? 

Fireda [00:17:33] So that’s one level, I think even the monthly payments, like my other subscriptions and rent, again, I don’t have a plan in the budget for them. The money comes into my account, I split it up, and then when it’s time to pay, I just pull out of the operating expenses. So, so long as there is money in the operating expenses, I don’t have any concern. But after what I had just gone through, I just would like to not always depend on the money being there, but really know that I’ve put the money aside for it.

Linzy [00:18:02] Right. Yeah. And in that case, Fireda, you know, another option with budgeting, and I know this is what we do in my personal budget at home, as in any situation, be it a business or a home, there’s always those like fixed expenses that we can expect every month, and then there’s our variable expenses, right? So in your business, every month I’m hearing like, you have rent that comes out, you probably have your your clinic management software, your EHR, and you’re going to have like a list of expenses that are there pretty much every single month, they’re usually subscriptions. Would it be clarifying for you to separate those out to have like your -basically your bills, your operating expenses bills account, which would be separate from the variable expenses like trainings where you might not spend on a training for months and then suddenly you might drop $2000? 

Fireda [00:18:46] Exactly, yeah. 

Linzy [00:18:47] Would that be a helpful addition to your system as well? Or does that start to become too much if you think about separating into bills and variable expenses?

Fireda [00:18:54] No, it be it would be helpful. And what would that look like? It would be another account that I would label as – what would I label it? 

Linzy [00:19:01] It could be operating expenses, bills and obligations or something like that. And then it’s fixed because then you’re also going to know as you change things like if you add a different software, if you get another subscription to, you know, an online listing, you’re going to know, OK, I just signed up for this online listing, so that’s another 30 bucks a month that I needed to make sure is there for my bills, right? And then when money comes in, the very first thing you fund is your bills. You make sure your bills are covered, right, and then when you fill that up, say, if you know, every month, OK, it costs me $800 a month to run my practice. When you fill that account up to $800 and that $800 is covered, then you can move the rest of the money into that variable. Basically, like, what do you want? Right? You’re covering off the needs and obligations in that bills account and then on the variable account, that’s where you get to have your training money, your beautiful stuff for your office, travel money, that kind of stuff. 

Fireda [00:19:52] OK, so we’re talking about three different accounts. One is bills and obligations, one is variable account and one is annual fees? 

Linzy [00:20:00] Yeah. 

Fireda [00:20:00] OK. And the annual and the bills and obligations, those are fixed amounts because I know them? 

Linzy [00:20:06] Exactly. 

Fireda [00:20:07] And whatever is left is my operating expenses for the variable account? 

Linzy [00:20:11] Yes. 

Fireda [00:20:12] All right. 

Linzy [00:20:13] That would be another way to put it, and it’s like, it’s whatever, Fireda, basically makes your brain happy. Right? So you can always make it as simple, as complicated as you want. Right? Like some people, their version of clarity is have it all in one place, then I know it’s together and like, I’m going to look at it on a spreadsheet. That’s their version of clarity, right? But it’s always building a system that when you look at it, it’s going to click for your brain, it’s going to make your brain happy. You’re going to see the right numbers immediately and have the information you need to make those decisions, you know, pretty much right away. So for you, does that start to feel like too much? Or does that feel like helpful clarity? 

Fireda [00:20:49] No, no. This feels like helpful clarity. I like how this is working, and I’m already seeing what you’re saying about putting that amount aside for bills and obligations. And then once I have reached what I need for the year, I don’t need to put it in any more, so that’s really reassuring. I can see all of that and it works well for me. 

Linzy [00:21:07] And with the bills and obligations find, too, Fireda, like most the time bills and obligations, they’re things where we have either like a set check or – Canadians, we have e-transfers, like a money transfer that comes out. So we point those coming out of that bills and obligations account and then usually we would attach like our debit card to the variable account. Right. So it’s kind of like all the bills are covered out of that bills account, but you might want to put your debit card with the other account because that’s where you’re more likely to just like, go to the store and buy a book, right, or whatever, so you can figure out where to have money coming out of and how, to make a useful system, right? You want to have it so that when you’ve got to pay for something, it’s easy for you to, as much as possible pay for what you want to pay for out of the right place. 

Fireda [00:21:49] Right, right. That makes sense. All right. That looks good to me. Now, the other part that I want to bring up, if I may. 

Linzy [00:21:56] Yeah, please. 

Fireda [00:21:56] Initially, when I did my Profit First, I set up my operating expenses, I think it was 25 percent, and now I brought it down to 20 percent because it’s not that high. I don’t have that many expenses because I do work from home. I have an office, I rent one day a week, so that’s my rent and it’s minimal. And so I’m wondering how to figure out what’s the right percentage because I’m wondering if even 20 percent is too high? 

Linzy [00:22:21] Yeah. And that number, you know, the biggest thing about that number, Fireda, is it’s going to change as your income changes, right? So as you grow your practice, basically your operating expenses are probably going to go down, right, because they might not – they’re not going to grow, hopefully, they’re not going to grow as quickly as your practice is growing. So it’s mostly something to keep an eye on, like month after month. Does it end up feeling like you have extra money left over? Like, do you end up kind of accumulating a bunch of OpEx? You’re like, I would really get paid, like rather get paid that money instead. 

Fireda [00:22:49] Mm-Hmm. Exactly. 

Linzy [00:22:50] Or does it end up feeling tight because maybe you take on some extra expenses and you start to notice I could use an extra five percent in OpEx? Right. So it’s kind of feeling your way through that situation. And then if you do start to notice, Fireda, that you’re over contributing to OpEx. And when we say OpEx, we’re talking about operating expenses just for people listening. You can always choose to move it later. Like, that’s the nice thing, right? Is you don’t need to kind of get it perfect as you go, and I’m not hearing that from you, which is great. I think sometimes with Profit First, I notice people get stuck in that where they’re kind of like, well, this month I actually need a little less, so I’m going to change this percentage and I’m going to change this percentage. And then next month, I need a little more, so I’m going to change them again. But the ideal is like, you kind of set it and forget it. So it sounds like, that at 25%, that ended up being too much, so you brought it down to 20%, so I would say just keep an eye on it. And if you notice that it starts to accumulate too much again, then you can always split that money up between your salary and taxes account, take it as a paycheck, and then trend down your operating expense percentage a little bit more. Right? 

Fireda [00:23:44] OK, that makes sense. And this is the beauty of it is like, you get to learn one year after the other and you get to learn, you know, monthly, there’s so much learning throughout. And this is what I find really nice about this whole process is that, you know, you’re really in tune with, you know, the ebbs and flows of your business because that’s how it is when you’re an independent worker, it’s not a regular salary, so it’s nice. For me, I like the spreadsheet of Profit First, and I’ve now started using it for my home. I’ve converted my husband to, it took a while, but he came around. And so the same kind of clarity that I’ve grasped in my business, I’m happy to now transfer and grasp in our home home finances. 

Linzy [00:24:24] Oh, that’s so good. Yeah. And with this, Fireda, like what I’m hearing, and maybe you could agree with me a little more now, I don’t know, its like you have set up so much clarity, right? Like you have built out so many systems and now you just get to tune them up to fill in the gaps, right? But like, you’ve identified those gaps by actually doing it right, it’s not kind of an intellectual exercise, you’ve actually noticed, like, oh, I actually spent money that I needed for the next month because I didn’t have any kind of failsafe to prevent that. So now you’re building that. 

Fireda [00:24:52] Yeah. 

Linzy [00:24:52] Right? But you know, what I notice about you and maybe you’re just presenting very calm, is that you’re just like, very thoughtful and intuitive about it. Like, I’m not hearing you spinning off in any negative directions about what this means about your system or you or money in general. You’re you’re just thinking about, OK, what do I need to add here? 

Fireda [00:25:09] Yeah, no. It’s all running really well for me. And I’m, you know, I guess I am agreeing with you that I probably have it more under control than I thought. I think for me, it’s the YNAB piece. It’s still, like what you’ve proposed is to build on what I already have, and that works well for me. My fear and concerns came around jumping into YNAB and trying to work with that and perhaps having spent the next year doing it this way, YNAB will start making more sense, eventually. I just, I like to get things, and that’s frustrating that I don’t get YNAB. So maybe it’s just a matter of time. 

Linzy [00:25:44] Yeah. And with YNAB, like, what I’ve noticed is, some people work and work and work at it, and then it clicks and they get it, and they’re like converts, almost. 

Fireda [00:25:52] Yeah. 

Linzy [00:25:53] And other people, it just doesn’t click, like it’s just not meant for their brain. And I’ve seen students, I’m thinking of one student in particular, who I worked with back in 2018, when I first – my very first round of the course, YNAB didn’t click for her and she never used it, and she is doing amazingly with her finances, right? Like that just wasn’t the right tool for her, right? And so just because it is the right tool for a lot of people, doesn’t mean that it is for you. But also, as you say, as you get your feet under you and you’re like that much more grounded in your systems and you have that much more clarity and confidence, is how I think about it. You might come back to YNAB and noticed that there’s almost like increased resiliency there, around the learning curve and working away at it. But I think that what we talked about today would actually be a good – in the meantime, if not just full on replacement for YNAB. 

Fireda [00:26:37] Yeah, no, I like it. I’m excited to end the call and go put it into practice before I forget because I can see this working and I like to plan to plan ahead. So, this will be good. 

Linzy [00:26:49] Beautiful. All right. Thank you so much, Fireda, for being here today. 

Fireda [00:26:52] Thank you. 

Linzy [00:27:08] Something that I noticed in my conversation today with Fireda, is how easy it is to not fully own or sink into or feel the gains that you’ve made with money. You know, on one hand, Fireda was, you know, saying and she knows just how different her relationship to money is since she’s done this work. And yet, on the other hand, she definitely came in with this belief that this next part was going to be very challenging and figuring out this problem was going to be the thing that she wouldn’t be able to figure out, right? There was still this defeat there and not seeing all of the groundwork that she’s done and all of the foundation that she’s built, which actually made this particular challenge something that was pretty easy for us to figure out a fix. Sometimes the challenges with our money don’t require a huge overhaul, sometimes they just require tweaks and add ons and once you have a system that’s working for you and – it’s also once you’ve done that emotional groundwork on money and you’ve kind of cleared aside some of the noise and obstruction and you can look at it and think about it with your full mind, those little add ons can make a huge difference in getting your system really working for you. The final thing that I really noticed this episode is, money is something that you do. You know, Fireda was talking about how like, you know, she’s doing this and see as she’s continuing to do this, how it’s going to become more and more clear. So often, I think we’re daunted by money because we think that money is something you think about and you have to understand and it’s this very intellectualized thing. But really, money is something that you do, and by Fireda moving that money every two weeks and seeing where it goes and having that tangibility around what money is for what – that’s how she’s actually learning how to manage money, and that’s how she’s building confidence by doing, and that is so key. I really encourage, if you’re listening today, if you’re feeling paralyzed around money, just start to do something small. Maybe something like what Fireda is doing, where, create a little bit of clarity, so you have a bucket you can start to fill up, little by little for a distinct goal or need that you have. And it is amazing how solid and clarifying that can feel to start to just take small, meaningful action. If you want more content for me, you can follow me on Instagram @moneynutsandbolts, we’re putting out free content there all the time. And if you’re enjoying the podcast, please go give us a review on Apple Podcasts, that really helps people to find us and tell your therapist and health practitioner and coach friends about the podcast if you’re enjoying it. Thanks for listening today. 

 

Hi, I'm Linzy

Hi, I'm Linzy

I’m a therapist in private practice, and a the creator of Money Skills for Therapists. I help therapists and health practitioners in private practice feel calm and in control of their finances.

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