February 23, 2024

For so long, early retirement has been THE goal of those chasing financial independence. Can you imagine waking up with unlimited time, not having to work, and reporting to no one but yourself? Now imagine that day in and day out. Before long, the luster of never working gets to you, and that’s because if you’ve achieved financial independence, the regular type of “retirement” just won’t work. But what if you could restart your career, do something you REALLY cared about, or build your dream business?

Jill Schlesinger, author of The Great Money Reset: Change Your Work, Change Your Wealth, Change Your Life, has redefined what FIRE should mean. Instead of financial independence, retire early, she’s opting for financial independence, new endeavor. Now, those skills you’ve been building for decades can be put to good use, working how much you want, for who you want, and doing what you want.

But what if you’re not at financial independence yet? What if you’re stuck feeling miserable in a job, slogging your way to retirement? Jill suggests performing a “money reset.” Through a five-step system, you’ll see where you stand financially, what’s important to you, and how to change your life entirely so you can stop doing what you must and start doing what you love. Whether you’re retired, retired early, on the path to FI, or don’t know where to start, Jill’s money thoughts will rock your financial world.

Mindy:
Welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast, where we interview Jill Schlesinger and talk about her book, the Great Money Reset. Hello, hello, hello, my name is Mindy Jensen and joining me today is my guest co-host from our sister podcast, On the Market, Henry Washington.

Henry:
Hey, thank you for having me. I’m super excited and I just love hanging out with you.

Mindy:
Thank you for joining me, Henry. While Scott goes off gallivanting to ski town, Henry and I are here to make financial independence less scary, less stress for somebody else, to introduce you to every money story because we truly believe financial freedom is attainable for everyone, no matter when or where you’re starting.

Henry:
Whether you want to retire early and travel the world, go on to make big time investments in assets like real estate, or start your own business, we’ll help you reach your financial goals and get money out of the way so you can launch yourself towards your dreams.

Mindy:
Henry, thank you for joining me today, this is going to be a super fun episode. We have Jill’s Schlesinger from the Jill on Money Podcast, in to talk about her new book, the Great Money Reset, and holy cannoli, does she deliver?

Henry:
Oh man, she’s a rockstar. What I appreciate about Jill most is it’s almost like this, it’s like your, I even think she calls herself this, it’s like your aunt kind of giving you a reality check about how to put your finances on paper and make a plan, but not in a way that you feel judged for it, but just kind of talks to you about the things that we truly … like you need to have a plan and a budget, everybody gets that, but the way she kind of commonsensically talks you through and then gives you a blueprint to follow so that you actually follow through and do those things, it just makes it sound easy, it makes it sound achievable, and I just love that approach.

Mindy:
I do too. And there’s something about her delivery that just makes it sound doable, achievable, like you said. I’m super excited to bring her in. But before we bring in Jill, we have a new segment on the show called Money Moment, where we share a money hack, tip or trick to help you on your financial journey. Today’s money moment, are you bored and want to save money? Take advantage of your library. They offer several entertainment options, including classes, eBooks, and audiobooks, my library even rents DVDs. Some libraries even allow you to stream movies, borrow tools, sewing machines. I’ve even seen some that lend cake pans. How cool is that? Check out your local library and if you haven’t been to your library, you are really missing out on a super awesome resource for your community.
All right, if you have a money tip for us, please email [email protected] Before we bring in, Jill, let’s take a quick break. And we’re back. Jill Schlesinger is the host of the podcast, Jill on Money and the Emmy and Gracie Award-winning business analyst for CBS News. Jill also appears on CBS radio and television stations nationwide, covering the economy, markets, investing, pretty much anything with the dollar sign. Jill, welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast, I am so excited to talk to you today.

Jill:
Have you had a very bad day and this is it? This is about as good as it’s going to get. I mean no, I’m very happy to be with you. I really appreciate it. This is going to be fun.

Mindy:
You’re Jill Schlesinger, of course I’m excited to talk to you. Okay, Jill, I know who you are, but can you walk us through your journey to becoming the podcaster, author, CFP and news business analyst extraordinaire that you are?

Jill:
Well, this is a trick question because you said to me before we got in the air that you were going to ask me many trick questions. This is obviously one of them, which is to basically talk about myself, which I usually have to pay someone just like a shrink to listen to me, but now you guys all have to do it, I don’t have to pay you to do it.
So I grew up in New York City area, the burbs of New York, and my father was a trader on the floor of the American Stock Exchange, and his best friend was a trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, so I kind of grew up around the business. And essentially my journey through life is basically athlete, trader on the floor of the Commodities Exchange, certified financial planner, investment advisor for 14 years and then moving into media full-time. And the journey was lots of jigs and jags, but we’re going to have to go out drinking for you to get the real story, but since we’re just on a podcast, what I can tell you is that I have reset my life many, many times and as people in my family used to like to say when we actually had real address books, don’t put Jill’s address in anything but pencil.

Henry:
My parents say that about me. That’s hilarious.

Mindy:
I am sitting in my 29th home. So we’re all peas in a pod here, Jill.

Henry:
My parents sent all my Christmas gifts this year to a house I lived in two houses ago.

Jill:
Nice. Nice. You got to talk to them a little bit. You know what’s funny though, I think that one of the things that is very clear after you go through a lot of moves and you sort of remember, oh, I know how to do this, and so much I think in life is about this, the change can be really daunting if you’ve never done something before. So if you talk to someone who’s pregnant, they’re like, “I don’t know what I’m doing,” and in the back of your head you’re thinking, we’ve been doing this for a long time, humans know how to have babies, but they don’t know, that person who’s pregnant has no idea, it’s like, I’m going through this for the first time in my life. So I can understand how change can really be daunting. I’ve just done it a lot, and so it feels less scary for me and frankly, some of the reasons why I think I really do love what I do now is that there’s nothing that’s that scary.
I feel like I’ve been through a lot, not just in my own career, but as someone who’s been part of markets, who’s seen my dad make and lose fortunes throughout his working life and sort of stand on his feet and really endure some kind of brutal periods in terms of watching markets and the economy, I tend to get wildly calm when people are going insane. That’s like my little spidey gift, which is there’s nothing that really unnerves me. So I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s good for me to be the kind of person who’s on a podcast answering financial question. This really is nothing that anyone can say to me that I’ve, A, not heard or B, that I would react to emotionally, unless it’s a real thing. We had someone call who said, “My partner has an end of life diagnosis, or my kid has a terrible illness,” that’s the kind of thing that makes me upset. Otherwise, markets and money, nothing, that couldn’t bother me at all.

Henry:
Absolutely. It seems like those life experiences and some forced resets and some chosen resets have kind of made you this, quote, unquote, “expert” on how to do the reset. So talk to us a little bit about, you wrote this amazing book called The Great Money Reset. So how did your journey take you on this path to write this book?

Jill:
Well, it’s so funny because my idea behind writing a book, the first time, I wrote another book called, The Dumb Thing Smart People Do With Their Money. And because when I was a financial planner, I would always be like, “Wow, this person’s so smart. I can’t believe what an idiotic move they just made.” That we all do dumb things with our money and I felt like writing that book was sort of like eating my vegetables, I had to write that book first. This book is delicious, I love it so much. I found that it essentially wrote itself. And it happened for a funny reason and that is that, I hate to say this because it sounds like I’m such a snobby person, which I’m really not, but my book agent called me, which is a silly thing to say. So my book agent called me and he’s a friend of mine, Brian, and he said, “Don’t you have a second book in you?” And it was the middle of COVID, let’s put it, the middle of 2020, maybe it’s now the end of 2020, basically.
And I said, “No, I’m never writing another book again. It was a horrible process, agonizing.” And he says, “Oh, maybe try to put something [inaudible 00:08:33] again.” So I put a couple of things together and nothing that was clicking, and he called me in the beginning of ’21, he said, “Well, what about, what’s exciting to you?” And I think what he thought I was going to say was like, “Well, I just did a piece for CBS Sunday Morning.” And I said, “Well, you know what’s exciting to me and interesting, I have been getting a slew of calls from listeners who are absolutely asking these existential questions of themselves. And I find it fascinating that that’s where they are, that collectively we are all going this through this thing called a once in a century pandemic and it’s causing us to rethink our lives. And I’ve had these really interesting conversations, people doing all sorts of cool things and I feel like my role in that is the coach or the cheerleader to say, “Yeah, you can do it, here’s what you need to think about.’”
And so what I essentially did is I wrote this book as the framework for anyone who is contemplating some sort of change. And it could be in their work, it can be something about their financial life, it could be just a life choice. And it was so much fun to write it because I got to tell the stories of the people who were on the Jill on Money Show and they helped me write the book essentially, and that’s why I did this. And a real specific framework doesn’t mean that I’m calculating a financial plan for people, it’s just that I’m saying, “Here are the things you ask yourself. Here’s a kind of process. And that if I have different things that I’m considering before I reset my life, I want to make sure I take care of these issues that will help me reset my life.” And that’s why I wrote it.

Henry:
Awesome. Can you tell us a little bit about what were some of your community members saying? What were you hearing from your audience about the resets that inspired this book?

Jill:
Well, I think that the most important thing that I bring into this is that again, I’ve been doing this for a long time, many decades. And when I think about the financial crisis, I first got to CBS in the beginning of 2009, and when I first got to CBS I remember thinking that I would get emails from people. I didn’t have a show yet, and I was really trying to be hard news girl, but I found that the questions were sort of like, what should I do? Because it was a housing crisis and people were freaking out, and I get it, that was not a fun time. And what should I do is sort of a utilitarian question, but I do think that people, as we were all going through the pandemic, there was a different kind of question that people were asking instead of what should I do? It’s kind of like, who am I and who do I want to be?
And what I was really inspired by were the stories of people who were going along their lives down a path that they had envisioned for themselves and had the courage to say, “You know what? I’m not loving the path I’m on, and what can I do to try to make something different happen?” And one of my favorite stories in the book was a story of Pam and Tom who were listeners, they’re in the Pittsburgh area. So she is a nurse and it is COVID, she’s working in an operating room, she’s taken on a ton of responsibility, she’s working her butt off. She’s telling me the story, which is essentially that she and her husband are in their 50s, had put kids through college, but they had amassed a bunch of debt in doing so.
And the issue around this was that they both had good jobs, he was a physical therapist, she was a nurse, but they felt really overwhelmed in some respects by the amount of debt that they had accumulated. So she’s in the operating room, it’s probably like mid ’21, getting to the end of ’21, and the surgeon was talking about the housing market, which by the way, sidebar, what a funny thing, you’re the patient, your doctors, nurses, everyone there, they’re talking about their housing values, that’s what’s happening. So they’re talking about house prices and the surgeon’s like, “Oh my God, have you seen how much our houses are worth lately? It’s incredible.” And she was sort of like, “What do you mean?” He says, “Go home, talk to a realtor, have your realtor come over and you’re going to be shocked.” And lo and behold, the realtor comes over and the house is worth a lot more than they had ever imagined.
And her husband’s kind of like, “Well, but we need a house place to live.” And she, almost in a split second could recognize, we have a lot more equity, we now have a lot of choices, and maybe this life that we were about to continue on is not the life I want. And after going through a lot of the analysis, what they realized was if they could sell their house, they could pay off the mortgage, they could pay off the parent loans, they could pay off the credit card debt, they could pay off the car loans, they could put money in the bank. And she said the thing that was fascinating to her was that she realized I didn’t have to work as much, I didn’t have to take all that overtime. I could actually have a career that I really like, working a normal work week, without feeling overwhelmed and kind of crying when it came to the end of a shift because I was so tired and emotionally exhausted.
She felt unburdened by paying down the debt, and they ended up getting a long-term Airbnb, where she essentially was living on a farm. It was a little bit outside of the city, maybe 20 minutes outside the city. And I kept in touch with them and she’s just so happy. And she said, “I never thought I’d be the kind of person who could be happy in a place where I was renting versus owning. I never thought I’d be the kind of person who just could do this. And we as a couple are stronger for going through this. We are happier and we think we can actually work longer and not as hard, so that we can really make the same retirement come to fruition, but without all the burden walking into it.” And I think that’s an inspiring story.

Mindy:
I love their story and I mean she’s living on a farm with horses. She gets to be around horses, which is something that she loves. I really like that story in your book.

Jill:
Yeah, I love that one.

Mindy:
What do you think is the number one reason why people feel stuck or are not pursuing their dream career?

Jill:
I think that part of it is that, well, first of all, I’m not one of these people who’s like, “Oh, it’s always my dream to …” I stumbled into careers in many ways, so I don’t want to put the pressure on that you have to find your dream career. But it’s like, if you think of what AI does, it’s like there’s lived experience, there’s experience and you create a different solution. But we have that as human beings, we are like one giant AI bot. We have lived experience, we know what we like, we know what we don’t like. And when you’re sitting there and dreaming about something, my book is not to help you figure out what the dream is, my book is hopefully a way for you to take something that you say, “I’d like to explore this. How can I get there?”
So if you say, okay, Henry’s like, “You know what, what I really want to do is I’ve been a podcaster my whole life, everything is great, but you know what I really want to do? I really want to be a teacher, and it would mean that I’d make less money, but I really feel like I love kids, I want to do this.” And my goal in the book is that instead of just thinking about that, is to walk people through a process where they can say, “Well, what would that mean?” So I’m going to make up numbers, Henry, so I don’t want to be a little forward with you, but let me just try. So let’s say that Henry has this awesome podcasting career and he’s making 150 grand a year. Let’s just put that out there. And yes, baby, and he’s not such great benefits, but 150 grand and he saved some money. But being a teacher and maybe you play a musical instrument.
So maybe it’s like, I want to be the teacher, I want to help lead the band, I want to do all these things, but I love kids. Unfortunately, doing that would essentially mean that instead of making 150 grand a year, he’d make 70 grand a year, maybe, eventually. So he’d start at 50. And so what I hope I can do in talking to someone like Henry is to say, “All right, well let’s look at the money that you have. Let’s look at what your dream is and let’s work backwards. What would it mean for you to take this cut? What would it mean for your spending? How much of your money would you have to actually allocate towards making a transition? What would you lose, but what would you gain?” And maybe in Henry’s case, he’s like, “You know what? This podcasting thing, it sucks and I’m tired.”
He has not said that at all, I’m making this up, “And I really want to do this and I want to at least try. I want to at least try. And if that were the case, I’d have to use some of the money that I’ve saved up to kind of float my expenses and transition, but I would actually have a pension. So if things worked out really well, I could be part of a pension system and I’d have great benefits.” So what my goal is in terms of the book and talking to people like this is to say, “Let’s open up your opportunities. You tell me what it is you want to do, and then let’s run through an analysis to see if it’s possible.” Maybe it’s not, maybe Henry’s like, “Oh, I like spending 100 grand a year, so making 70 is not going to work for me.” Or maybe it’s, “I’m spending 100 grand a year and you know what? I’m not even happy with this life and maybe I’d be happier if I spent less, but could be in a job that’s more fulfilling.”
So all these things are trade-offs, and there are parts of the book that help people ask themselves questions or give them a process for going through how they can approach a reset or make that dream a reality.

Henry:
Thank you so much. I totally agree, because I have often thought I wanted to leave this all behind to pursue my career, to lead a team of 13 year old piccolo artists. And so now I have a blueprint for how I can map all that out.

Jill:
I thought you’d like that.

Mindy:
Wow, that is not my dream job at all, but I wish you success.

Henry:
Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate it. So on our show, we like to talk a lot about fire. And so tell us about what your acronym of fine is and how’s that different?

Jill:
Are you fire adherence?

Henry:
No, we are a big fan of financial independence. Well, we like to call it, I like to call it financial independence through real estate because that’s my main venture.

Jill:
Okay. And what about you Mindy? How do you think about it?

Mindy:
I am a huge fan of all things financial independence and I like to focus more on the FI part than the RE part. I think so many people here, I can quit my job, that’s awesome, and that’s not what it’s about. It’s about getting money out of the way so you can live your best life. Not so much just quitting your job and laying on the beach and eating bonbons all day. Although that sounds really awesome right now.

Jill:
Yeah, exactly. Listen, I think that when I heard about the fire movement and I interviewed a bunch of people who wrote these books and I did segments on TV about it, and I’m kind of an old fuddy-duddy, so I’m in my late 50s and I came up through a system of work your (beep) off and of retire eventually, but you don’t not work. That’s not something that’s quite foreign to me. So I found the idea of retiring early very weird. And when I would talk to people on the air and someone would say, “I would want to retire when I’m 50,” I’m like, “What are you going to do? You’re going to live 40 more years, what are you going to do?” And we started talking about this on the air quite a bit and we decided that, I did a little contest with the listeners, if we don’t want to retire early, what do we want?
And it’s basically financial independence, new or next endeavor. That’s what fine means to me. And I think that this is probably where most of those people in the fire movement end up frankly because I had spoken to, I remember I interviewed this young couple and they were fire adherence, and they’re in the studio. This is when we still had studios, and they came into the studio and I’m like, “But where do you put your stuff?” “Well, some stuff is at my parents house,” and they point to two backpacks on the floor, like, “That’s our stuff.” I’m like, “Okay, you don’t have kids yet and you’re 35 years old, this ain’t going to work so great, but okay, fine.” And of course life changes and I think it’s kind of a cool thing to consider that you work really hard, you save money. Most of the people that I encounter in my life and on my show were people who were very interested in having enough wherewithal, financial independence to maybe make a change, a new or a next endeavor.
And it may not even be a huge shift, but it’s almost like I also want to go through my career and at some point realize that I am in a very wonderful club. Do you know what that club is? It’s called the one bad meeting club. And what does that mean? You’re one bad meeting away from giving notice and being done, you know that in your heart that I could leave any time, and that is a great source of comfort to many people. My big concern is that even that you’re just one bad meeting away from calling it quits, what are you doing next? Because the idea that we could live till we’re 95 and Henry, [inaudible 00:22:33] you’re probably like 100 because you look very young, that’s daunting. What are you going to do? How are you going to stay engaged? What is it that you … I mean, I just find it hard to believe that so many people out there who are really focused on, I just want to be done at 62 and then I’m going to hang out in, fill in the blank, Florida, this place, that place.
But what do you do when you get there? And so I would like people to really think about what is it the next thing you want to do? What is the new thing you want to do? How do we get you there? And financial independence doesn’t mean that you’ve got a gazillion dollars. It means that you can finance the life that you want. It’s not like what I want for you. Don’t you find it odd when people are like, “I heard you need a million dollars to retire.” I’m like, “Not me. I need a lot more because I spend more than that.” But maybe you do, maybe million dollars is all you need and that’s fine. But I think people really underestimate the amount of money that you need to really feel independent. And it’s such a scary concept that you don’t even want to run through the analysis and you really, really should because it will give you some framework for figuring out what you’re going to do next.

Mindy:
I have to wholeheartedly agree with you. I actually really like this fine acronym, because I live in Longmont, Colorado. It is sort of the mecca for early retirees. We have Mr. Money Mustache lives here, and a lot of people come to Longmont to live because it’s an amazing city. And if anybody wants to move here, please let me know, I could be a real estate agent. It is just a wonderful place that people come to in this space. So therefore, I know a lot of people who are retired early, I don’t know a single one of them who sits around and does nothing all day. They all do something. But because they got money figured out, their whole financial future is completely figured out, they don’t have to work for money.

Jill:
It’s interesting, I was talking to a woman recently and we were talking about she and her husband were going to be traveling. We tend to get, I don’t know why, who knows why an Upper West Side lesbian Jew gets this, but we have a lot of military people in our audience, and so I’m shocked by that. But a lot of those people who have lived a life where either they are in the service or they’ve been in the State Department, and maybe some of them were in dangerous positions and they’re like, “You know what? I can’t do that for a long time, but I want to have a pathway to do something else.” And they’ll often really talk about how that idea of working in a job that they knew had a pension, they didn’t have the pressure of worrying about what the next or the new endeavor would be. They knew that they could kind of finance their way through it.
I do think that what happens for a lot of folks is that you’re so hyperfocused on what you’re doing today and all of a sudden you pick your head up and you might be 61 years old and say like, “Well, wow, how did I get here?” It’s like that talking head song, how did I get there? And so I think it’s worth considering these questions while you have a chance to make a real difference in your life, because most of us don’t have pensions and we don’t have the ability to glide into a second career and a new endeavor, and it’s important that we kind of test ourselves a little bit along the way.

Henry:
Yeah, I totally agree with you and look, I love the next endeavor point, and I don’t want to belabor too much, but I think it really encapsulates the true point of financial independence. I teach people how to build wealth, I do it through real estate, but the goal is I want to teach people how to become financially free. And that’s not the end of the sentence. And I think so many people think that is [inaudible 00:26:38] it’s, I want you to be financially free so that you can, so that you can pursue your passion, so that you can do what you feel like you’re called to do, so that you can take on that next endeavor. So I think it ties in fantastic, thank you so much for sharing that.

Jill:
It is interesting how real estate, I know it’s sort of the mythology of real estate, so I don’t want to go crazy because I own houses, but I would be a very happy renter. So I don’t want to go nuts with that because the dream home, it always makes me a little crazy. But I think the idea of you’re going to acquire, if you’re going to think about how you’re building your life and you say, “I want to use real estate to help do that,” what I always say to people is, “Do you know what that means, before you just trot that out?” And Henry, I got to imagine that you would just kick anyone’s (beep) who’s just like, “I’m just going to be a landlord,” without actually doing the work to figure out how to do that.
And that’s really the other part of this, which is we’re having this conversation and it does require work. And so getting back to the question of why doesn’t a dream become a reality? I think that often it’s because it takes work. It does take work. And no one’s just like, “Hey Mindy, here’s a four family property that’s going to give you passive income for the rest of your life. Good luck.”

Henry:
Passive.

Jill:
Yeah, exactly. Good luck with that. So in so many of these conversations, I laugh sometimes. I’m like, “Well, who’s going to manage that property?” “Well, I guess I’d get a management company.” “Okay, well how much does that cost?” “I don’t know.” “And what happens if one of your units is empty for eight months? What happens if we go into a recession? What if? What if? What if?” And it’s funny, we’re talking today, we’re recording this right on the heels of two bank failures. And someone said to me, “Well, what explains this?” I said, “Well, I can’t tell you how many times people, so-called professionals or managers don’t ask the very important question, what if? What if it doesn’t go as planned? What are my alternatives then? What if interest rates go up? What would that mean? What if we go into a recession? Or what if the technology sector doesn’t do very well, or what if the way that I thought this was going to play out, doesn’t play out that way?”
It’s a funny thing because I’m trained as a derivatives trader, okay, so I’m a little bit of a math head, and so when I think about the way I was trained, it was to look at the absolute worst case scenario first, understand what that would be, and you then analyze the position that you’re holding and saying, “What would happen if things went south?” If everything goes well, we don’t have to worry about it, that’s easy. But if the blank hits the fan, that’s what we have to test against, and that’s what I think people are uncomfortable doing. And I think it’s probably also why I have to bang the drum and kill myself to get people to do their estate planning because they just don’t want to think about death or illness. I’m like, “Well, what, you think you’re getting out alive because you’re not, you’re getting out of this life alive, I promise.”

Mindy:
Spoiler, spoiler alert. Come on, Jill, don’t give away the ending. Okay. Jill, I have heard you say people are afraid to put pen to paper and say, “What am I spending my money on and what do I actually need?” Why do you think people are so scared to take a hard look at their finances? Because this is something that I see too.

Jill:
Yeah, I mean, I think we’re really tough on ourselves, number one, I really do. I think that when you talk about spending or consumption, it’s like you’re making a value judgment of yourself. It’s looking at yourself in the mirror and no one, I mean, probably Henry looks like a very good-looking guy and good in shape and all that, but not many of us feel super comfortable baring ourselves and looking hard. And I think when you’re looking at your spending, you’re looking very hard in the mirror and you make value judgements and you feel ashamed. You’re almost embarrassed. I was with a friend of mine who is a highfalutin lawyer, and I mean she makes so much money and she’s like, “I don’t know, you think I could retire?” I’m doing the math in my head, I’m like, “Yeah, I mean I kind of know how much money you have.”
I said, “Well, how much do you spend?” And she goes, “Oh, I don’t know.” And so I said, “How could you actually even … do you have an idea?” “No.” And I said, “Well, here’s what I’m thinking. I’m thinking you got this house, you have this house, you have this, you have three kids, you got three private schools.” I said, “So here’s what I think you spend. Now you got to figure …” And she was like, “Well, how’d you do that so fast?” I said, “Because I had no judgment about the way you spend your money. I could care less. But what you do is you stop and you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s bad. How could I have spent that much money on a vacation or, oh boy, I can’t believe that.’” And funny thing is, when I was a financial planner, I would always laugh about this part of the process.
It’s the one universal need that everybody has to go through this process of, well, what do I need? What am I spending money on? Interestingly enough, the pandemic was a wild lesson in the difference between what you need and what you think you need. Because what you needed, even in the beginning of the pandemic, when people were freaking out, it’s like, “I need a roof over my head. I don’t even need to pay my utility bills on time because if I lost my job in the middle of the pandemic, I was going to get a little forbearance. But I need a roof over my head, I have to feed my family, I have to keep my family safe.” That’s kind of what your basic needs are, and then everything else is sort of gravy. And what I thought was interesting is, I’m sure you guys are familiar with all the statistics, US citizens saved in excess of $2.7 trillion in the pandemic.
Why? Because we were stuck at home, we had nothing to spend money on, we got stimulus checks and everything was great. But in that moment, wasn’t there a lesson in what you really do need and the difference between what you need and you want is something that is important. I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t spend the money the way you want to spend it, but you should know what your number is and it’s much more important for you to understand what you really, I need $80,000 a year to live because I can pay all my bills, everything’s good. And when people say that to me, they’ll be like, “Well, I could cut it back to this. I spend 100 now, but I could cut it to 80.”
I said, “Don’t cut it back. Let’s just run your numbers, assuming you want to do exactly what you want to do, you don’t want to change a thing, then let’s see. Then you can make different decisions because maybe you want to spend that money, maybe you want to do that.” But we’re kind of tough on ourselves. And I think that having the information about your consumption or your spending is kind of a critical part of your reset, because if you don’t have that, you’re kind of taking a big risk. And we don’t want people, I mean, it’s okay to risk, I’m a risk-taker with my career and my life, but I would hate to take a risk without understanding what that risk really was.

Henry:
I wholeheartedly agree. What I love about how you explain that and how you talk about it in the book, is it’s drawing attention to how emotional, I mean, and you do a great job of never saying the word, but the B word, drawing attention to how emotional budgeting can be. And I’d never thought about it like that before. And when I was listening to you say it, I immediately thought, well, this is what took you so long to sit down and actually do it. There was so much emotion tied to it that it was almost draining before I ever even started. And so I just told myself that I would go into the exercise, not emotional, and I remember you referencing, you just write down your debts. I’m not saying you have to do anything about them right now, just write them down. And there’s so much power in doing that.
So I love that approach of how you help us all address how emotional that really is, and it’s perfect to lead into what your fabulous five is because it’s essentially a blueprint. So talk to us about the, walk us through the Fabulous five and what that means and how it relates.

Jill:
Well, because I’m in network news, I have to have a catchy title for that, so that’s why I had that. So listen, every time I’d have a conversation with somebody, so it’d be like Mindy and Henry are on the phone, they’re a couple, they’re asking me these questions and I would just run through these like, “What do you have?” And I’d ask these questions and I was like, “Oh, these are actually five real steps.” And I listened to a lot of the podcasts that I had used these conversations to kind of remind myself the process that became very natural to me. So the first step in the fabulous five is to really calculate your resources, meaning not just the assets, not just, I have this much in the bank, I have this much in retirement, my house is worth this much, but also your income.
Because often when you’re looking at your resources, the funny thing about that is that people will often overlook the value of the benefits they get. And then when you don’t have them, you’re like, “Oh my God, that was worth so much. I didn’t realize it.” And ask anybody who’s self-employed, oh, it was pretty sweet when the employer was … I might have had to pay something for my health insurance, but it’s not as much as I have to pay all on my own. And so when we talk about resources, I think it’s assets and it’s also your income and it’s your benefits. And that’s just, again, we’re just making a list, this is not math. No math, promise. We’re making a list. So that’s all we need to do. The second step is just, again, we’ve looked at the left side of your balance sheet, let’s look at the right side, your debt, list them out, list out whatever it is.
Don’t judge it. Don’t be like, “Oh, I can’t believe I still have credit card debt.” So what, you do, you are where you are. Who cares? I am not a finger wagging personal finance person. I couldn’t care less. Actually, the funniest thing I once asked somebody, I was like, “How’d you get that much debt? Did you have fun?” And he’s like, “I did.” And I was like, “Okay, good.” At least he had fun. So we want people to just understand, what are the debts that are out there lingering? The third step is to really think about your housing situation. And I point this out, not so much as an asset, as a house as an asset, but I think more that sometimes we learned a lesson amid COVID about our homes are now our offices in some cases. So what does that housing situation look like?
Or gosh, I really felt so far away from my aging parents. I don’t feel comfortable with that. That’s something I need to address. Or you know what I learned, every one of my friends went off and bought a house. I am not that person. That’s not something I really want to do. So that’s a very important piece. Then of course the fourth step is to consider your spending habits, which is our whole consumption conversation, which look, it’s not fun, but you just have to look at it and have it down. It’s a piece of paper. Finally, when we think about making these big changes, there are other people who are inevitably involved and affected by it. So if Mindy and I are married and we said to our kids, “You know what? We’re going to pay for half of your college education. That’s what we’re going to do.”
And then I say to Mindy, “Honey, I’m blowing up my life and I’m not going to make as much money, and therefore we can’t pay for the kids college.” Well, you know what? I already told the kids I was paying for half of college, so how do I feel about that obligation that I made? What do I feel in that moment? Can I break that obligation? I mean, people break obligations all the time, but did you tell your siblings that you were going to help out in terms of, again, your aging parents? Were you going to try to do something different? I think it’s important when you’re making a reset, to check in with the people who would be impacted by that and ask yourself that question, hey, wait a second, does that blow up a game plan that someone else is following? And I think it’s really important for spouses.
When I’ve talked to people, usually they’ve come on and they’re sort of on the same page, but sometimes every so often it would be, there was a little friction, where I would talk to somebody and one would say, “I’m on board. Let’s go. Let’s do it.” And the other would be like, “I’m worried. I’m worried. I need to be convinced.” And you have to be on the same page, presuming you want to stay in your relationship, you have to be on the same page and be able to navigate that. It’s a scary conversation. And it’s also really scary, obviously, if you have a lifestyle, if you created a life with your family. So now I’m married to Henry. Henry and I are married, we have three kids, we live in a nice neighborhood and now I want to try to do something different.
And that difference may be something that Henry’s like, “I’m not on board with that. I didn’t sign up for that. We have a life. I love our life. Is there a plan B here?” And that’s one other critical aspect of having a reset, it’s not an all or nothing calculation. There are many permutations to resetting your life and you can confidently go through this process and feel like you’re going to come to a different outcome and then come back and be like, “You know what? I like where I am. I don’t want to actually … the change that I think I want maybe more than I can bite off right now. Maybe I can do a half step and get myself towards that end.”

Mindy:
So we have people that are listening to this show right now who are thinking about their finances. They’re saying, “I want to make a reset.” How do you start to plan a reset or start to think about a reset?

Jill:
Well, I mean the first thing you do is you buy my book.

Mindy:
And what’s that book called again?

Jill:
It’s called The Great Money Reset, thank you for asking. I think that you run through the numbers first. I really do think that the fabulous five is a great place to start because it’s concrete. And when you think about that, you’re going to spend a bunch of time thinking about your, whatever it is you decide you want to do. We have to have a goal in mind. But you go through those five steps, you look at your spending, you may come to that and be like, “I need to go ask my boss for a raise because I’m actually just underpaid.” Or you might say, “You know what I really need, is I need some more education and I need to think about that.” Or you may find that you’re thinking about, I want to start a business and maybe it’s too dramatic to just jump out of your real life job and start a business.
So I think that the steps that I lay out are a way to walk through a process that will hopefully give you more information on the other side. And it may or may not result in a major reset. It may be a mini reset, it might be a reset in just your own way of thinking about your life. And I think it is vitally important that as you go through the process, that again, you don’t judge it, that you are open-minded, that realize that there are parts of this process that maybe you’re not even thinking about. Again, you might be like, “Hey, I’m going to take a step back in my income.” And then I say to you, “Well, that’s great because now we can convert your traditional IRA into a Roth IRA and we’re going to convert it at a lower tax bracket. So really the IRS code is going to help you out. It’s going to be your friend.”
And so I think that as I wrote the book, I realized that there are a lot of different ways to do this and we just want to give people choices. It’s opportunities. Again, we talked about this, financial independence is truly about giving you opportunities and options.

Henry:
So here’s what I think I’m hearing, getting started, it’s all about getting it down, writing it down. So going through that fabulous five and that might lead you to go and solve a problem that you either didn’t know exist or solve a problem that you knew existed, just hadn’t faced the facts yet, and then you can make your plan. And so talk to us a little bit about what do you think is, what’s a thing you want to leave the audience with, any advice you would want to give them to follow up on those action steps?

Jill:
Listen, one of the things that has always helped me is to have a buddy to walk you through the process also. And I’m that person that when people come on the program, I think that often they are not coming to me as Jill’s Schlesinger, CBS News business analyst, certified financial planner. It’s kind of like my Aunt Jill role, so that I’m your friendly aunt who is going to kick your ass if you’re not being real with yourself, but is going to be kind and loving and is going to try to help you understand what the opportunity is. And I think that it is really good to have people like that in your life. For me, it was a friend of mine, Maureen, who was, when I was trying to figure out, I was a financial planner and an investment advisor, and I had owned a company for 14 years and I’d sold the company, but part of the job of running my company was I would appear on TV, I’d hosted a radio show, and it was a great way to get business in the door.
And when I sold the company, Maureen was just so helpful because she would ask me these questions. She’s like, “Well, tell me about what you like about your job.” And I was like, “The whole money management is kind of boring to me. I’ve been doing it for a long time.” I know that sounds funny because it’s like, people think that’s the sexy part. It’s the most boring part. And I was like, “I really like this media stuff. It’s really interesting. It’s so impactful.” That was the thing that I realized, that one-on-one with a client is amazing, but when you have a broad way to reach people, you are so able to really touch so many more folks and give them what I think was the easiest message in the world, you can do this.
And so Maureen’s like, “You need a pink binder.” I’m like, “What’s a pink binder?” She pulls out a three ring binder and this is a little old school, but we would put tabs in it. And she’s like, for the first part, she wrote money down and she’s like, “You know your money stuff, you fill this in.” And then she said, “Now let’s do a tab for television. Let’s do a tab for radio. Let’s do a tab for writing. Let’s do a tab for consulting. And let’s start writing down every person you think you should be talking to about making this reset and who can give you feedback and what you need to do.” And it was a way of organizing myself. It was a way to put my hopes and dreams into action items. And I think that that’s really the issue, that we do get stuck, and it’s not even so much work, it’s just that you have to get over the hurdle and take little bite size steps, that then do this and understand that it may lead you to a place you never could have imagined.
I think that’s the coolest part. I don’t know your story, Henry, I don’t know your story, Mindy, I think that if you met me 15 years ago, before I was this person, I was running a little business and I was making a pile of money and that was great, but I was running this little business and to imagine that there are two Emmy Awards and two Gracie Awards, and there’s a huge audience and a fun job and wonderful colleagues and the best executive producer in the world of my podcast and my radio show. I couldn’t have imagined that, I didn’t know where this would lead. And it is shocking to me that I think that and sort of sad that I feel like so many people shut themselves off to the potential. And it doesn’t have to be a huge leap, it has to be a considered choice and it does mean some work. It does mean that you’re going to have to run through some analysis and you’re going to have to get real with yourself.
So I’m not a therapist and I think that the problem with the emotional part of money is money’s concrete. So much of our emotional life can get projected onto this concrete thing called money. It’s why couples fight about money. They’re not fighting about money, they’re fighting about a million other things, but we can express it over money. Or that someone told me recently like, “Oh, I just had this huge fight with my father about money because he won’t tell me the details of his financial life and he’s 90 years old and this is ridiculous.” And I said, “Well, he’s just fearful. He doesn’t want to talk about his death, and we have to find a way in. That’s it. That’s what’s happening.” So often this fight, this thing or this worry and this anxiety and it’s money, because money is concrete and I can just push out my emotions and push it onto money and we can untangle those emotions from the reality and then you can have more control over it, which is kind of fabulous.

Mindy:
Jill, I love everything that you have said. This is going to take work if you want to change your financial situation, and I love that you’re not sugarcoating that. You will have to do the work, write down the numbers, figure out where you are, where you want to be, and make a plan to get there. But it’s not insurmountable, you can do it. And like Justin Donald said a couple of episodes ago, live life by design, not default. And I think your book will help our listeners get themselves to the design that they want. Jill, where can people find more about you?

Jill:
Everything in my life, not everything, but many things in my life or on my website, jillonmoney.com. And that’s where I write, that’s where I put my video segments, when you want to see, my mother likes to go to the website sometimes and she’ll say, “I didn’t like your hair in that segment. Who did your hair in that site?” So TV stuff, radio, two podcasts, lots of writing, resources, and anyone who wants to write a question for me and to come on the program, we have a little contact us button. So if anyone wants to do that, and of course you can buy the book there if you so desire.

Mindy:
And the book is called The Great Money Reset: Change Your Work, Change Your Wealth, Change Your Life, by Jill Schlesinger. Jill, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate you and we will talk to you soon.

Jill:
Thanks so much for having me. It was a blast. You guys are great.

Mindy:
All right, Henry, that was Jill’s Schlesinger. That was so much fun. Holy cow, I could have talked to her for another 100 hours.

Henry:
I love her. She’s my new favorite best aunt friend.

Mindy:
I would be hurt, except she is so amazing, I will let her be your favorite. I love her advice. Write down your numbers in a non-judgmental way. Facts are facts, just write them down. Bam. This is how much I make. If you make $100,000, great. If you make $20,000, great. That is a fact. That is not an opinion, it is a fact. Write it down. Do you have $10,000 in debt? That is a fact, write it down. Write down your facts. Figure out what you want your dream life to look like, and then review your numbers and your life goals and make a plan to get from your current financial situation to the dream life. What is your next endeavor and what do you need to do to get there? I love her suggestions, I love her advice and I love her. Jill, we love you, Henry and I both, equally.

Henry:
Besties.

Mindy:
All right, Henry, should we get out of here?

Henry:
Let’s do it.

Mindy:
That wraps up this episode of the BiggerPockets Money Podcast. Oh my goodness, no, it does not. Henry Washington, what is going on with you and where can people find out more about you?

Henry:
Oh, awesome. I get a moment in the sunshine. Yes, you can find out more about me on Instagram is the best place. I’m @thehenrywashington on Instagram. Or you can check out my website at henrywashington.com.

Mindy:
Now that wraps up this episode of the BiggerPockets Money podcast. He is Henry Washington and I am Mindy Jensen saying, see you later, alligator.

Speaker 4:
If you enjoyed today’s episode, please give us a five star review on Spotify or Apple. And if you’re looking for even more money content, feel free to visit our YouTube channel at youtube.com/biggerpocketsmoney.

Mindy:
BiggerPockets Money was created by Mindy Jensen and Scott Trench. Produced by Caitlin Bennett, editing by Exodus Media, copywriting by Nate Weintraub. Lastly, a big thank you to the BiggerPockets team for making this show possible.

 

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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.

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