The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | Giving and Philanthropy for Physicians with Dr. Recha Bergstrom

85: Giving and Philanthropy for Physicians with Dr. Recha Bergstrom

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The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | Giving and Philanthropy for Physicians with Dr. Recha BergstromThis episode is such a fitting topic for Thanksgiving. We're talking about philanthropy. Now, you're probably thinking philanthropy is only for super-rich people. But my guest Dr. Recha Bergstrom is here to discuss this and we're going to try and change your mind on that. Recha is a radiologist based out of Northern California, and we got connected by a mutual coach friend because of her knowledge of philanthropy and giving. 

One thing I've been trying to do in my business is give money to causes that I feel strongly about. However, I found myself overwhelmed by having to choose an organization, and even how to even make a donation, and Recha helped me greatly through this process.

Tune in this week to discover why you don't have to be a billionaire to be a philanthropist. Recha is sharing how to decide where you want to focus your giving, and why there is no donation too small to make a difference.

If you're ready to take control of your money and practice medicine on your terms, you need to check out Money for Women Physicians. Click here to learn more!

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • How Recha became a philanthropy educator for physicians.
  • Why you don't need to be a billionaire to be a philanthropist.
  • How we unconsciously perpetuate a mindset that we don't have enough money to give.
  • Where I struggled so much with picking a charity I really wanted to help.
  • How to decide whether an organization you want to help is reliable and in good standing.
  • What the Effective Altruism Movement is and how it helps you make the biggest impact with your money.
  • How to decide where you want to start your giving journey and how you can support the causes that matter to you.

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Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it, and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level your money and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Welcome to Episode 85. So this episode is so fitting for Thanksgiving Day. Our podcast, as you know, comes out every Thursday and this will be coming out on Thanksgiving Day 2021. I hope you are having an amazing day, or if you're listening to this after Turkey Day, I hope you had an amazing Thanksgiving and you were able to spend time with your families.

I would say in the Koo-Wolf family, we don't have a particular tradition. We live in New Jersey, as many of you know. I live within a few miles of my mom and my brother and his wife. And so we get together as a family. We basically decide who's going to host it. We're not hosting it this year, it's been a while since we have. My mom is hosting.

And here's just a random little factoid about my family. So my mom is Korean as you probably could guess, I'm Korean. And we have a traditional turkey dinner. And of course we have some Koreanized things like we always have kimchi and rice and all that good stuff.

But my mom always makes lasagna. And that is not a Thanksgiving thing, it's definitely not a Korean thing. I don't even know why we started making lasagna, but it's been happening for a long time since I was super young. But it's not very good lasagna. At least according to my partner, Matt.

Now, how many of you out there have some food from your childhood that you know logically, it's probably not that good. But because it's something from childhood it is so good and it's that comfort. And I remember one year when my mom said she wasn't going to make it anymore, my brother was like, “What? You're not going to make it?”

So I just think it was funny just thinking about it. So I'm sure all of you have something like that where you know it's really not that actually good in terms of taste or gourmet-ness, but you just can't help love eating it. So that's a little factoid from the Koo-Wolf family.

Okay, so today's episode, we are talking about philanthropy. Now many of you are probably thinking philanthropy is for like super, super, super rich people. But I'm hoping we'll change your mind on that.

Now, the guest I have today is Dr. Recha Bergstrom and she is a radiologist based out of Northern California. And she and I got connected through a mutual coach friend around philanthropy and giving. And so one of the things that has been a priority for me and my business is to really think about how we can give money to causes that I feel strongly about.

But I found myself being really overwhelmed with how to choose an organization and how to even do it. And so you'll hear a bit more about Recha's story and how she got into being a philanthropy education person, I guess you could say, for physicians.

And so I'm super excited about this episode. I think you will learn a lot. And hopefully, it'll encourage you to think about how you can give no matter how much the amount is and call yourself a philanthropist, which is so fun. So here we go.

Bonnie: All right. Welcome to the show, Recha. Thanks so much for being here.

Recha: Thank you so much for having me. I'm really happy to be here with you.

Bonnie: Yeah, I am super excited about what we're talking today. And so just as a reminder to everyone listening, back in episode 35 I did a podcast on charitable donations. Mainly just around the mindset that's useful for giving and also just some ways to actually do it in terms of vehicles, like donor advised funds.

But I wanted Recha on the show today. I was really excited when we got introduced by our mutual friend because one thing that sort of struck me this year or something I've been struggling with a long time is how do we actually pick the charity?

Now, for some people listening, this might be an easy thing. But for me, it was like super- It was because there were so many things that I wanted to help with and it just seemed overwhelming, the task of finding out what charities are “good.”

And I know we're going to talk about that, how people can actually evaluate charities. Because I don't want to give money and then learn later down the line that they didn't use the money well. So there's just so much stuff. So I'm super excited.

But first, I want you to tell us how you got into this exactly.

Recha: Well, it's not been a direct path for me. It's been a pretty meandering one to get me where I am today. But I can tell you that things started for me kind of learning about philanthropy when I was actually on the receiving end of other people's charity.

This was several years ago when I needed to depend on other people. Then it kind of grew when I became part of a giving circle. And I realized that I didn't actually have to be a billionaire to be able to make a difference and to consider myself a philanthropist.

And then it all kind of came together this year as I turned 50, where I did a lot of soul searching. And I was thinking about what was important to me, how I wanted to face my next half of my life. And I realized I had no idea what was important to me personally.

I had been spending so much of my time as a doctor, and a mom, focusing on other people and what they wanted and what they cared about. And so these things started to really come together for me over the last year or so.

And realizing that this is what's important to me, this is what I care about, this is what I want to give. And I feel like kind of just what you're saying there, it's a huge topic. It can be very complex and confusing. And the more I learned about it, the more I realized I had some really valuable, helpful information for other people that could really amplify what they were trying to accomplish.

And so I've been working on educating, learning, and helping, specifically with physicians to be able to understand kind of the landscape of philanthropy and things about how to decide who we're going to give money to, who we're going to donate to, how to decide how to evaluate them, things like that.

Bonnie: Yeah, I also really liked what you just said about you didn't have to be a billionaire to start giving. Because I do think that is a limiting belief that many people have, whether they're a physician, because not all of my listeners are super high income earners. And so I definitely had that belief.

There's this Tony Robbins quote that I talk about a lot, and I'm paraphrasing, but he said a lot of people have this limiting belief that's like, “Oh, when I'm rich, I'll give.” But then the milestone keeps moving. And so just to summarize how this was relevant to me is I remember thinking as a medical student, “Well, I don't make any money, I definitely can't give.”

And then I became a resident and you know, I was making 50K-ish a year, which is what, the median income in the US, maybe even higher. And the same thing. Well, I'm a resident, I'll give later. I'll give when I'm an attending. That sounds good, of course I'll do that.

And then I became attending. And then I was like, “Well, I've got student loans.” And it was just like perpetuating this mindset that I didn't have enough money to give. And what Tony Robbins said in his quote is if you don't start giving wherever you are right now, whatever income level you are right now, he's like, you're not going to start giving once you're super rich. It's just not going to happen. You have to start training that sort of mindset muscle now that you can give a little bit.

And I think what you'll probably tell us, Recha, is that there's no amount that's too small, is what I'm guessing you will probably say.

Recha: Exactly. That's exactly right. And what you're saying, I think, is very important because you are going from this scarcity mindset to kind of this abundance mindset. And actually, the numbers show that it's not necessarily just wealthy people or people who identify as millionaires that give money.

There's a lot of people who have very little, who still donate a certain amount of their income, or their time, or possessions for the help of other people. So you definitely do not have to be really wealthy or really at a certain point in your financial journey to make a difference.

Bonnie: Yeah, so I thought the first thing we could do is, because you know I like definitions, is to talk about what is the definition of a philanthropist? Because I don't actually know what the dictionary says. But I think many of us when we hear that word we think, “Oh, super rich person.” You know, it's like if you look it up it probably says a philanthropist is someone who has at least a net worth of X to give X. So tell us what it means actually.

Recha: So the word philanthropy actually means love of mankind. And when you do look up the definition, a philanthropist is a person who seeks to promote the welfare of others, especially by the donation of money. That was one of the definitions that I saw when I was looking it up.

But I think you're absolutely right, people have this idea of it's like this older white haired couple who has huge amounts of money and then they put their name on the side of some building or something like that. And that's this concept that we have of a philanthropist.

And for the majority of us, that's probably unattainable. And so, again, it makes us feel like we can't give. But in my mind, if we just go by a person who seeks to promote the welfare of others, then anybody who donates anything; their time, goods, any amount of money. If you can donate $5 a month, if there are millions of people doing that, you can have an impact together.

And that was kind of a big thing for me to realize about the definition, that I had this preconceived notion of what a philanthropist was. And then when I realized, well, if I'm in this giving circle, and I'm giving $25 a month, actually, all of us together are making a big impact. And that makes me a philanthropist.

Bonnie: Yeah, so I just love that all of us can identify as a philanthropist no matter what our income, our net worth, et cetera is. And I just think that's so cool that I can walk around saying, “Hey, I'm a philanthropist.”

Recha: Absolutely, it's empowering. It really is an empowering kind of thought that you can think that's part of what I do, that's part of my identity. And then you can really kind of present yourself in the world with that thought.

Bonnie: Yeah, totally. All right, so actually this is fitting, because yesterday I got an email from Wikipedia about donating. And I use Wikipedia a lot, actually. I think a lot of us do, right? When you look up stuff, we generally trust its validity, right?

And he was saying, or the founder, I forget his name. But he was saying something like, if every person who used Wikipedia donated $1, it was a very small amount. Maybe it was $1, maybe it was $5. He said, we wouldn't have to ask for donations for decades.

And so that just reminded me of what you just said about even if you give a little bit, but just if everyone does it, it can make a huge impact. So I actually did give because I was like, “You know what, I do use Wikipedia and I'm happy to give and support this because I want it to keep existing.” And the founder feels really strongly about never using ads or that kind of stuff. He really wants it to be funded by the readers. So I just thought that was super cool.

Okay, so let's get into the nuts and bolts. So I don't know if you have a process that you want to specifically talk about. But this is how I think about how to pick a charity or a group of organizations. So let's just assume that someone has some areas of interest. So, women and children, it's super broad, but you can get narrow from there.

Do you feel like there's some top end categories that people can start and then start sort of honing in on? And what would those be?

Recha: Yes. So this is where I think of philanthropy as a very personal kind of thing. And I think it's really helpful to start exactly where you're saying, with these focus areas. And I think these focus areas, when you start thinking about it, can be very broad. Like women and children, that's one of kind of my go-to areas.

So my kind of process, one of the things I think about is when I choose my focus areas, what I like to do is to maybe choose between three and six basic focus areas of what are the things that are most important to me? What do I most want to have the impact on in the world?

And then when I start to dig down a little bit deeper in those, think about deciding on an organization to give to, I can use something like personal experience, which I've had. Or emotional response to current events, like this is happening in the world, this is a really important thing, I want to make this part of my plan. I can be inspired by others or see that there's something that needs to be done.

So those are kind of the things that you can think about while you're looking at these. But there are some people who don't even have that basic focus area. And so if you have no idea where to start, if you want to pick three focus areas and you don't even know where to start, if you go to some of these charity evaluation websites, there's drop down lists of subjects. And you can look at those lists and they can kind of inspire you like, oh, actually, I do want to focus on this or that other area as well.

So, for me, I would say as you're deciding this part, if you decide on a few focus areas, what you can also do is decide that you're going to have a certain amount set aside for reactive giving. Which is exactly what you did with Wikipedia. You thought, “Oh, this is something that I care about, I'm going to donate a small amount to.”

I'm sure we all get requests for like Facebook donations from friends for things that they believe in and you want to support that. So I would say that's part of the kind of philanthropy plan, is decide I'm going to have these basic focus areas. And I'm going to have this set aside for my reactive giving.

Bonnie: Oh, I really like that you said it that way. Okay, so this is just to summarize to make sure I understood you.

So first of all, I love the whole idea of just like making plans. It's kind of a lot of what I teach inside my program, because it's like just spending some time deciding ahead of time how you want to spend your money. And this is obviously part of that, like philanthropy.

So what I'm hearing is you almost think of it as like two buckets of money, so to speak. One is your planned giving that you've decided maybe who to give, or how much you want to give per month, per year, however you want to decide. And then have sort of a spontaneous pot of money for what you called reactive giving. So I didn't realize- that makes sense that's what it's called. So I really like that.

Okay, so this is where my mind goes. So I feel like there's so many-  Actually, I haven't sat down. But if I did sit down and made a list of things that were important to me or just all the examples that you gave, like I see something-

Just for example, women and children, it is a super broad topic, but just to give you some specific things that call to me is, I'm a huge believer in water safety for children. I know a physician mom who lost her daughter to drowning. And so that's one thing that I know I feel strongly about just personally. And I made sure that my son got lessons, but it's something that I want to help support.

So I'm sure my list probably has like 100 things on Recha. So I feel like, okay, I have a list of things that are important to me or that I'd like to help with. And then my mind goes into overwhelm, “Oh my God, well I can't give to all these places.” And so I end up really not making a plan to give at all.

So I've worked on this somewhat, but I'm curious of what you would say to someone like me or to other people. What would you say?

Recha: Well, first of all, I can totally relate. It's a really overwhelming thing when you first start to look at this. There's something like 1.8 million organizations, nonprofit organizations that you can give to. But this is the part I think you might like, because if you like making plans then this is kind of a way to do it. Is to really give yourself time to think through the most important things to you.

And start before you even start looking at what specific organizations can accomplish what you care about most, to really make a plan to focus on a few. Because this is exactly what happens to a lot of us, we are very- You know, doctors care about people, we want to help a lot of people. And when we're faced with, oh my gosh, this is everything that's going on in the world that needs help and that needs fixing, it can just be a complete overload, completely overwhelming.

So before you look at that, if you start with, “I'm going to have these few focus areas,” and really make yourself whittle it down. And there are certain kind of thought processes that you can go to to make sure that you're really focused on what's most important.

Now I love the example that you gave about water safety because that's something very specific. And that will be easier to kind of get to how you can support that. But when you're faced with all of these other choices, if you have spent the time deciding what your focus areas are going to be, then you can say, “I have this planned. I'm not going to be overwhelmed or distracted by all of these other things. And this is what I'm going to put my attention to.”

And it actually takes out a lot of the noise and a lot of the overwhelm if you start there. If you start with a clear plan. And it can take a little bit of time and effort if you want to do that. But then I think it'll pay off because in the end, you're going to be able to be more effective when you have that ability to not be distracted and not be overwhelmed.

Bonnie: Yeah. What that reminds me of, Recha, is I have a business coach that I've been with for over a year. And one of the things that she's really taught me and I've really internalized, not just for business, but my life is she always has us pick, she calls it three essentials per quarter that we're working on.

Basically, it's like focus areas, priorities. But like really picking three max. And so I could see this being applicable to what we're talking about is having three maybe specific focus areas, probably not as broad as women and children. That's probably too broad, but that's a place to start if you don't have any focus areas.

And then maybe doing that- I'm just sort of thinking out loud here after hearing this. That could be for the whole year. And then maybe every year you'd re-decide, like, do I want to still pick these three? Maybe it's time to do something else.

And I also see that pot of reactive giving money is also a way to kind of add on more in case things come up that you want to just- Well, we're recording this in the end of 2021 and it's been quite a few years, right? Lots of crises, local and abroad, and so it's nice to have that sort of ability and plan to plan for both, I guess.

This is how I think of spending. There's like planned spending, people call it a budget, I prefer the term spending plan. And I have a lot of clients who say, “But you know what if there's something that's just random and spontaneous?” I'm like, “Well, you can plan for that and have just a pot of money for just buying whatever you want to.”

Recha: Exactly. That's exactly right. And I think that's a great way of doing it. And I think that actually, I like to think of a giving plan or a philanthropy plan as being part of your regular financial plan. And it's something that you can make as simple or as complex as you want. And over time you can figure out what works for you. But I think that having that plan makes it less overwhelming.

Bonnie: Yeah, no, totally. Okay, so let's say we've figured out the focus areas, we've whittled that down to super specific focus areas. And let's say we have a shortlist of charities. Now, it's another opportunity to get overwhelmed here. Basically, it's well, how do you know which one to give to?

And what I mean by that question is it's not just Eenie, Miney, Mo, but I think most people listening to this podcast are going to want to make sure it's a legit organization. That it's actually doing something with the money. And then I hear some people throw around terms like what how much do they spend on administration?

And one point that I saw you and some other women bring up is, it's not that the administration fees are not useful as a metric, but you really want to know, I think-  What did you call it? Was it like an impact metric?

Recha: Yes.

Bonnie: Like how do we know that the money's actually doing something? What are the results and outcomes this charity is creating? And so what are your thoughts on that?

Recha: Okay, this is a really great question and it can be kind of a complex answer. This is not necessarily an easy thing to evaluate. So the example that you gave is, one of the things that we often go to when we want to donate to a charity is we go to one of these online charity evaluation websites. And one of the most common ones that people seem to use is Charity Navigator.

And that can have some helpful information on it. But most of the information it has is financial information, like the financial wellbeing of the organization and basically if they file their taxes appropriately and stuff.

So I like to think of that as well, would you go to a doctor just because they file their taxes correctly and their practice is solvent? Is that the judge of a good doctor? You know, not necessarily. It could also be, but that's not going to be necessarily the way to do it.

So this is a complex question, I'm going to try to break it down a little bit. One of the ways to be able to evaluate is, if you or somebody you trust and know has personal experience with the organization. This is actually really helpful because they can get internal insight about how things are done and about what kind of metrics they're using to evaluate things being done along the way. And if they're getting the desired outcome. But we don't always have people on the inside.

So there are other ways of doing it. There are other charity evaluation websites, I would say that one of the basics if you're presented with something that you don't know anything about, I like Guide Star. It's also called Candid. But it's a website that does have the mission statement of the organizations. And you can look up what's called the 990 form.

So this is one of the kind of basic things that you can look at, which is filed to show that it is tax a deductible charitable organization that's in good standing. So Guide Star can give you that kind of first basic step, like is it legit? Is it a real business? And then the second step, look at the mission statement, does that go with what I already have as my focus area? Does that align with what I'm trying to do?

Then the next part, measuring the impact and seeing if they're actually doing what they're saying they're going to do. That becomes incredibly complex. And there's a couple of things to look at. One of them is actually looking at the websites of the organizations themselves.

If something is really well organized, they will have an annual impact report. And that impact report should tell you who is trying to make the change or who is trying to affect the change.

You don't want to be coming in from the outside and being like, “Oh, this is how you fix everything.” You want the people who are going to be the beneficiaries to really be informing what's going on. So that should be part of the impact report, is who is informing it.

The impact report should also have how they're measuring it along the way and what they are accomplishing. The website should have some of that evaluated.

One of the much more limited but a fantastic website for charity evaluation is the Give Well website. And that one is part of this effective altruism movement, and that one has all of those things measured really well. They're very evidence based, they do a lot of evaluating the impact. They're going to have a group of like nine organizations or something like that, that they would recommend. But you know that they're going to be doing what they say they're going to be doing.

Bonnie: Tell us more about this effective altruism movement. That's a term I've been seeing more and more.

Recha: Okay, that's a great question. So it's kind of a movement within philanthropy that tries to have the most impact, kind of the most bang for your philanthropic buck. And that's often done in these organizations that deal with global health issues.

So the focus of effective altruism is to have the most impact for the least amount of money. And often that comes out in these global health initiatives, and it very much is evidence based.

So just to give an example, one of the examples that they give is a program that was in Kenya to try to help students, children be able to have better attendance at school and better scores and better outcomes. And so this group went in and tried to see what was going to work to help these kids.

And they started out with things that have worked in other places like giving them more textbooks, there were classes where they might have one textbook for 30 kids. And they measured the impact, there was no appreciable impact. They had smaller class size. Again, something that has worked in other places but that didn't actually make a significant difference there.

And then somebody suggested a $1 de-worming treatment. Now that might not be on your focus list of this is what I'm going to do. But it turned out that for the cost, you know for $1, they could do a de-worming treatment for these children. All of them had better attendance, all of them had better grades and outcomes.

And when they actually went back and measured it, I believe it was 10 or 20 years later. Those benefits from one de-worming treatment actually held up in terms of the amount of income they had later on.

So effective altruism is based on these very clear evidence based ideas to try to help people, mostly people in the greatest areas of poverty.

Bonnie: Yeah, I feel like I actually heard about this study or this example you just gave, I just can't remember where. But first of all, I think our listeners are just going to love the whole idea of effective altruism, that it's evidence based, because we love that as doctors. We want to see that this intervention actually works and it's been studied.

So what came to mind, and we don't have to really go into this, but obviously, someone has to pay for these studies, right? So is that something the organization actually conducts? Or is this like a third party? Or is it both? I'm not sure if you know the answer to this.

Recha: It can actually be both. So there are a lot of organizations that do their focus on research. And there are some that have their focus both on research and carrying out the results of the research.

Bonnie: Yeah. Okay, well, that was super cool. This was something new for me, so thanks so much for educating us. All right. Well, I think this was such an amazing conversation, I learned so much. So I just kind of want to summarize, and feel free to correct me if I got something wrong.

So the reason why I wanted to have you on here was to help people figure out who to give to and not feel overwhelmed about doing so. And so I think what we're recommending is first, just start with some focus areas, like don't make a list of 100 like I was doing before.

Maybe pick three focus areas for the year. And it just means that that's what you're going to focus on for the year, or whatever cadence resonates with you. And just helps you sort of prioritize and focus who you're going to select.

And then once you have really whittled it down to these specific focus areas, then if you want to go deeper, when I say deeper meaning you want to make sure you're picking legit charities. It sounds like having a trusted referral, meaning someone who knows the organization or maybe if you have a friend who's in the organization that seems to sort of work for many things, right?

Like when people always ask me how do you find an estate planning lawyer? I think a trusted referral is always number one before you kind of just Google stuff, right? So I think the same sort of advice holds true for this.

And then if we don't happen to have a friend who's on the board, which most of us probably don't, then there are some websites that can help but using a website like Charity Navigator, not that it's not helpful, but it's limited because it's giving you information that doesn't necessarily reflect the impact or what they actually do.

I love the analogy you gave about picking a doctor. Do you look at whether they file taxes or whether they pay the doctor? I don't think any of us think about that remotely. We just want to know if this doctor can help us. And if they're nice, that's an added bonus. I mean, ideally, you have both.

And I also love this idea of effective altruism, meaning does the organization actually do what's it's going to say it's going to do? What is the actual measurement of that outcome they do? Does that sum it up pretty well?

Recha: That does, that sounds great.

Bonnie: Yeah, my one quick question about effective altruism, my guess is that not every organization has been able to study their impact. It just sounds like it requires resources to do that, right?

Recha: Yes.

Bonnie: Yeah. So just because the organization hasn't been fully vetted by research doesn't mean that they're not making an impact, correct?

Recha: That's absolutely correct. So really, when you go to the website that's part of that movement there are going to be very few charities that you see on there, very few organizations. But it absolutely doesn't mean that- There are so many others that are doing incredible work.

Bonnie: Yeah. And another thing I wanted to add, I said if you have a trusted referral or know someone in the organization is, a lot of my friends have been saying that one of the things they love to do is really get involved with something local in their community. And I think that's a great way to also get involved. Not just involved, like making an impact, but also getting to know the organization if it's local to you, right?

Recha: Absolutely. And actually I would recommend looking for a community foundation. So community foundations are the ones that are in your area and that address issues that are very local to where you are.

Bonnie: Yeah. All right, well this was such an amazing conversation. How can people find you Recha?

Recha: Well, I can be found online on Instagram @Physicianphilanthropist. On Facebook I am also the physician philanthropist on Facebook. And I have just opened up a private Facebook group, for physicians only, about philanthropy. I have a website now, thephysicianphilanthropist.com. And now I'm questioning my decision of using that as the title, saying it over and over again.

Bonnie: Well, I think it's good to have the same name for everything. We'll link everything in the show notes so people can just click on it.

Recha: So on that I do have a short free webinar to kind of give an intro, a lot of the stuff that we've talked about today. And I'm also soon going to have an online, on-demand course that goes into a lot more depth. So if this is interesting and there's more that you would like to learn or know about this subject, it will go into a lot more detail.

Bonnie: Awesome. Great. Thanks so much for being here.

Recha: Thank you so much for having me, this has been great.

Hey, if you enjoyed this episode and don't want to miss out on new episodes, please hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app. See you next week.

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The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | How to Maximize Your Credit Card Points with Devon Gimbel

84: How to Maximize Your Credit Card Points with Devon Gimbel

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The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | How to Maximize Your Credit Card Points with Devon GimbelInside my program Money for Women Physicians, we hold a weekly live call where I coach my clients on whatever they need help with. But occasionally, I have a special guest come on to talk about a valuable money topic. I'm sharing one of those conversations with you in this week's episode, and it's all about getting the most out of your credit card points.

My guest this week is Devon Gimbel, a double board-certified physician, and magician when it comes to maximizing credit card points for luxury travel. Did you know you can use your credit card points to fly in style on an economy budget? It's way simpler than you might think, and Devon is here to show you how.

Tune in this week to discover how to fly first class for economy prices. As physicians, we're in the perfect situation to make the most out of these points offerings, and I'm sharing my own experience of booking a luxury vacation for just $5 after receiving the advice that Devon offered in this call.

If you're ready to take control of your money and practice medicine on your terms, you need to check out Money for Women Physicians. Click here to learn more!

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • The story of how Devon discovered the magic of credit card points.
  • Why physicians are in the perfect position to leverage the money they're already spending for credit card points.
  • How to see the expenses you already have that you could use a credit card to pay for.
  • Where you can find the perfect credit card that gives you amazing points offers.
  • Why you don't need to have 17 credit cards like Devon to start getting some amazing deals.
  • How both Devon and I used to use our points, and how to avoid wasting points.
  • Devon's simple tips to start making the most out of your credit card.

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Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it, and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level your money and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Hey everyone, welcome to episode 84. So this is going to be a super fun episode, at least it was for me. And so this episode, the meat of it is actually going to be a recording of a call that we did inside of my program, Money For Women Physicians.

So as you probably know, there is a weekly live call. And usually I'm coaching people on the call on whatever is coming up for them money wise. But occasionally I will have some special guests. We don't do this very frequently, but if there's someone or some topic that I think would be super valuable for the people inside the program, I have them come on.

And so my really good friend and colleague, Dr. Devon Gimbel is a magician when it comes to maximizing credit card points for travel. And not just any kind of travel, we're talking like luxury travel. Because as you know, I like to fly in style when possible.

I am not about maximizing points just to fly or to book low cost hotels. Now there's nothing wrong with that, it's just what I prefer. But you can do that with points, meaning you can use points to fly in style on an economy budget. And so I am all for that but I wasn't always like that. And it took me a long time to come around.

In fact, I remember when I was a dermatology resident and I had a really good friend who was really into points and she was traveling all the time to Europe, to South America. And I remember thinking how is she doing this on a resident's salary? Now, I just assumed that maybe she came from money or something like that. But what I've learned over the years is she just really understood how to use points.

Now, the points game has changed, it's always evolving. And many years ago it was really easy to get several credit cards and take advantage of some amazing sign-on bonuses where if you spend a certain amount of money in three months or six months, you'll get something like $100,000 bonus points, which can really jumpstart your points accumulation journey.

It's a little bit harder now, but it's still possible to get some amazing sign-on bonuses. So what you're going to listen to is a recording from Money For Women Physicians, and we ended just before the Q&A part. And then I'm going to come back on and actually tell you about how I just booked an amazing, very expensive trip for, I think, $5 on points. So here we go.

Bonnie: So Devon and I have become good friends over the years. And she talks about her credit card points and how she gets these amazing deals a lot. And then I think finally I was like, “Okay, teach me something.” Because I always collected points but I learned through her I was not maximizing them.

So I thought it'd be really fun for us to talk about this, basically how to fly first class on an economy budget, basically. And so the way we're going to do this is we're going to do sort of interview style, Devon and I. Well, Devon, why don't you introduce yourself in case people don't know who you are?

Devon: Yeah, absolutely. So as Bonnie mentioned, my name is Devon and I am a double board certified physician, so I'm boarded in anatomic pathology as well as dermatopathology. So I'm technically very qualified in diagnosing disorders and diseases of the skin. Which is what I was doing in my doctor day job for many years until around two years ago, when I actually started transitioning into coaching. Which is what I now do full time.

I am a one on one coach for women physicians, and do a lot of the same work that Bonnie does. Talking about our lives, how do we make our lives wealthier, both financially, monetarily as well as experientially. And that kind of ties into why we wanted to talk about this particular topic today, which may seem a little bit kind of off center from a lot of other financial type talks and financial type ideas, but it's really just a world of extreme fun. And I think it also really ties in with this idea about how can we live the wealthiest lives possible?

Bonnie: Tell us how you even got into credit card points. Like why did you get into it? What piqued your interest?

Devon: Yeah, I'll tell you the story. So I have been a lifelong lover of travel and specifically international travel, meaning very long flights away from wherever I have been based in the United States.

So to give you an idea of what that looked like for me, in undergrad I spent a summer living in Kenya. When I was in residency, I did a couple of research projects that took me to Vietnam. And I'm talking about over the course of like four days. I would fly to Vietnam on a Saturday, it would take two days to get there, I'd spend three or four days there. Fly right back and come back to my rotations on Monday morning.

I've spent time in several different places in Africa, India, all over the place. And the entire time, my 20s and early 30s, that I was doing this travel, it was, of course, all in economy coach. I was your very typical poor, very poor medical student and resident. And so when I was taking all of these trips, it was very much just what's the cheapest way I can get myself there?

And so I have spent hundreds of hours squished in all manner of economy and coach international seats for 10, 15 hours at a time. And when I finished residency and fellowship, you know, we have this idea that we're going to become attendings, we're going to have so much more money, we're going to be able to do amazing things. And while it is true that I was definitely making more money as a new attending than I was, as a resident or fellow, I also had really high expenses.

I had a lot of student loans, my husband and I had bought a home, we had our first child. So it's not like all of the money that we were making was now just disposable income for me to go gallivanting around the world. And so about three years into being an attending is when I really started learning about all things just financial health.

I got really educated for myself around how to manage our finances, the difference between different kinds of investments. And sort of as a corollary to that I started reading about this idea of travel hacking, which is how can you actually fly and travel in a business class, first class sort of experience without having to pay tens of thousands of dollars.

And so this, for me, just became a really, really fun hobby to allow me to travel in a really wonderful, really comfortable way, to be able to share those travel experiences with my family, who maybe would never get to have those otherwise. And at the same time, not actually be spending tens of thousands of dollars a year on travel because I had all these other areas in my life and financial priorities where I actually wanted to put that money.

And so that's how I really got started in this about six years ago. And since then, like I said, it's just become so much fun. I know, we're going to talk a little bit about ways that I've personally used points, the types of trips I've planned that if I didn't have access to credit card points and airline miles, I don't know that I would have been having those experiences, certainly at this point in my life when I'm 40 years old. And again, I still have normal people expenses that a lot of my money is actually going to.

Bonnie: And so I was someone that also, I'd been collecting points for a long time but Devon soon taught me that I was not using them the most efficiently. So let's talk about why should someone bother to do this? I feel like I know the answer, but how do you explain it when- When you find out someone is not using points, I know you get very passionate about this.

Devon: I do, probably more so than makes sense. But I think the reason I'm so passionate about it is because I see it as such this untapped resource. And I actually think physicians are in the perfect position to really leverage the money they're already spending.

So that's one of the big points that I want to make. It's not about spending money you don't have or spending money that you aren't currently spending. The way that I think points can best be utilized is we're all spending money all the time. We all have expenses, we're all buying groceries, we may be purchasing Netflix, you know, streaming services. We may be paying tuition bills for our children to attend certain schools.

Whatever the case may be, we're all spending money all the time. So why not leverage the money that you're already spending and just get a lot of free or highly discounted, amazing travel out of it. And so the first thing I always encourage people to do is just say, “Hey, what are you spending monthly that could be put on a credit card if you wanted to?” Because I know a lot of people still want to use debit cards or just direct transfer to pay bills from their bank account.

But if you wanted to put all of your current expenses that you have right now, how much of those could actually be put on credit cards? And that will give you a good idea of just where you could even be starting with leveraging this hobby.

Bonnie: Okay, so that seems to be tip number one, if they're not already putting things on credit card. I can't even remember the last time I wasn't using a credit card to pay for things. There's very few things I don't use a credit card for, like when I pay my monthly rent or things that require an ACH transfer. Although I don't pay taxes with it. I know you do.

Devon: You do, yeah.

Bonnie: In my mind I'm like, but there's a fee involved, blah. But I know you have figured out a way to maximize it that it's worth paying those extra fees. And so number one would be if you're not already using your credit card for most of your expenses, just looking at how you're paying for things and could it be moved to a credit card? So these are for people who are doing that already.

Would step to be- Well, some of the folks listening may not even have the right card. So do you want to talk about that a little bit?

Devon: Yeah, absolutely.

Bonnie: Or cards.

Devon: Yes, I was actually really curious about how many credit cards people even have and why. Because I think we all tend to have a really good reason for the number of cards that we currently have. And what I mean by that is when I go back to the year 2016, which is when I started getting really interested in this, I had one credit card.

So, like I said, I was an attending at that point. I had been out of training for a number of years and I had a single credit card because I had always been raised to believe that credit card “debt” is bad, even if it's paid off in full on a monthly basis. That credit cards are a way that you can become financially irresponsible.

And I think also too, just being part of the generation where when we were kids, teenagers, we weren't nearly as digital as we are now. So actually cash was a more normal part, I think, of our everyday lives, certainly in our teens and 20s than it is now. And so when I started this I only had one card and I used it sparingly because I was taught credit cards for emergencies. Like this is what you use when basically you don't have enough cash to get yourself out of a really bad spot.

And so the first credit card that I got, I didn't even honestly really know that it was a points credit card. My husband had applied for it when I was in fellowship and he was in residency. And we just charged our regular residency level expenses to it for three years before I even knew that I had points, that I could do anything with those points. And before I started making the mistakes about using those points in a not great way, and then figuring out how I could use them much better.

So wherever people are in the beginning, I would say just start with one card. You do not need to become crazy like me and have 17 credit cards right off the bat. You may never want that many, and that's totally fine. But you can start with one card. And there is no one right card or one best card.

But what I tend to recommend to people is pick a card that gives you what's called transferable points, which means that you can take the points you earn on that credit card and you can transfer it to a number of different airlines or a number of different hotels, because that just maximizes how you can use those points.

And I think two of the most powerful transferable points currencies in the credit card world are Chase points and American Express points. And so like I said, you really can't go wrong. A very sort of basic strong introductory card where if you wanted to kind of play this points game, but you didn't want to have loads and loads of different credit cards, I think two of the most reasonable cards that you can start with if you want to stick with American Express is the Amex gold card.

It's a great personal card, it gives you four times bonus points on anything that you spend at supermarkets. So all that grocery spend, you actually get four times bonus points on. You also get bonus points on dining. So a lot of us when we can't do a lot of travel, especially the last year and a half, we're spending money on eating, you know, having food delivery services. It's great to get bonus points for that. It's a relatively low fee annual card, so you're not going to be spending $600 to $700 a year just to maintain that one card.

And then on the Chase side, a great sort of solid mid-level, entry level credit card that you can get in order to earn these types of points is called the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. And that's usually one of those two is where I tell people who want to just begin in this hobby.

Start with one of those, just put all of your spend on one of those. And then as you learn more about how you want to leverage those points, if you want to add on different credit cards at that point, great. You can always do that. But you do not have to start complicated whatsoever.

Bonnie: Do you want to add, I'm just curious what you say about this, like when you sign up for one of these cards to try to make sure you get like a high bonus sign on.

Devon: Yeah, absolutely.

Bonnie: Sign on bonus points, do you want to talk about that a little bit?

Devon: Yes, so you can even just do a Google search and you can see what Bonnie and I are talking about. So pretty much every credit card will have what is called a bonus offer for a new member. So the first time you sign up for a credit card, they want to incentivize people to sign up for these cards and so they will oftentimes offer you what's called a bonus if you meet a certain spend requirement in a certain amount of time.

So just to give you more examples, like those two cards that I just mentioned to you all, I actually looked this up earlier this morning because I was curious what the bonuses are right now. For the Amex gold card if you signed up right now, as long as you spend $4,000 total over your first three months of having the card, you get a bonus of 60,000 American Express membership rewards points just for that spend.

So that doesn't even count any bonus points you're getting for shopping at supermarkets or putting any charges for dining or restaurant eating. So you get 60,000 membership points just for signing up for the card and meeting that initial spend requirement.

Signing up for cards can be one of the fastest ways to really increase kind of your number of credit card points. And that's why it's a really popular way and why you do sometimes find people who have 10, 15, 20 credit cards, it's usually because they're trying to leverage getting that really nice, big sign on bonus, because you can stretch those points really far away.

And I think a valid question people usually have is like, okay, so I get 60,000 bonus points for signing up for this card. What is that really going to do for me? If I need a million points to go somewhere, 60,000, okay, is that really that big a deal? But as Bonnie and I will talk about in a little bit, even 60,000 points can be leveraged for some amazing travel experiences.

And then obviously, if this is the card that you're using for your usual daily regular spend, over a couple of months or over a year you're going to accrue a tremendous number of points. And then you can really start getting creative about how you want to use those points.

Bonnie: Yeah, I think that's such a great introduction that you gave. I love that you gave examples of two cards that don't have a super high annual fee. So I have the American Express Gold Card and I got the 60K bonus, actually Devon messaged me and told me to do it.

I think my first card that I remember, I don't even know when I first got into it, was a Chase Sapphire Reserve, which is not the Preferred. The Reserve does have a high annual fee, it's like 600 bucks. I have the American Express Platinum personal card.

So for both of these cards I actually got 100K sign on bonus. You can still get that with Amex Platinum, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, they don't give 100K anymore. And then I have an Amex Business Platinum, I think you told me to get that too.

Devon: Yes I did.

Bonnie: And I think that was a 100K sign on bonus. So you can see, I have like hundreds of thousands of points now, but it wasn't until very recently that I knew how to use them properly. And so I love what you said, Devon, how you're like, “Okay, 100,000 points, 60, but what does that get you?” Because I'm sure people are like, “Okay, what does that actually mean? Is that one flight, two flights, whatever?”

Devon: Right, It's like okay, do I get to fly a one hour domestic flight in first class, which is nothing to get super excited about, or is this actually going to get me something really amazing?

Bonnie: Yeah. So we talked about how people can get started if they don't have one, which cards. And then the cards I've mentioned, they cost 500 or 600 bucks a year but I get all of it back, so to me it they're free. So we can talk about that later if people have questions about it. But I would say if you want to get started and not have a huge annual fee, the two cards she mentioned, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Amex Gold are good cards. They're like, what 100 bucks a year, I think?

Devon: Yeah, exactly. I think the Amex Gold is like 95 a year and right now the Chase Sapphire Preferred is also 95 years. So I think that's really reasonable compared to some of the premium cards, which again, I have. I have all of them, I have the middle ones and I have the premium ones. And it's because I know how to get enough value that for me it does offset that really high annual fee of some of the more premium cards, but that does not have to be a place where people start.

Bonnie: Yeah. Okay, so should we talk about how not to use points before we talk about how to use them?

Devon: Let's do that, yeah.

Bonnie: Why don't I give an example of how I used to use points and then you can say why-

Devon: And I have an example too.

Bonnie: Yeah, and then you can tell you could tell us why that's not. Okay, so I first started using Chase Sapphire and I had so many freaking points. I remember it was so fun to see the points rack up because it's not just like dollar per dollar. You get a point per dollar, so some of you might be thinking like, “Oh, that's going to take a while.” But because there's certain categories where you get triple or quadruple points, and so I think travel and dining are like triple points on Chase, so those rack up pretty quickly depending on what trips you take.

So the way I used to use points was I would log directly into the chase.com travel portal and I would book through the portal and pay with my points. So I remember thinking this was really good. But then when I told you, you were like, “Eh.”

Devon: When I had a heart attack.

Bonnie: Yeah, you had a heart attack. So it was four years ago, yeah, because Jack's four, my four year old. So we went to Paris for my baby moon and I remember being so proud of myself because I booked round trip flights and our hotel using points on the Chase portal. So the trip was free and there's like some fees you paid, and we had to pay for food while we were there. But the travel and the hotel was on points.

Devon: Bonnie, do you remember- I have two questions because I'm dying to know. Do you remember, one, how many points you spent? And, two, were the flights economy or were they business class?

Bonnie: They were not business class. I don't even remember the airline because it was so long. It was like economy plus.

Devon: Okay.

Bonnie: It was like that level. So yeah, it wasn't business. I don't remember how many points, it was four years ago, so I don't remember.

Devon: Yeah. So I'll share with you one of my worst points redemption stories, and it's something sort of similar. Like I mentioned, my husband had actually applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Again, this was years ago when I was in fellowship. So this was like 2011, there was no Chase Sapphire Reserve card, that one has only been around for a few years.

So this was the card that we had that, again, I was still paying mostly in cash so he would pay a lot of his expenses when he was out and about doing things with credit cards. I wasn't really using the credit card that much.

So we had three years' worth of accrued points. And again, it was the same thing you're saying. You'd log on, you'd see the number going up,  we were residents' fellows, I'm like, “Holy cow, we're rich. We've got hundreds of thousands of Chase points, this is amazing. We're going to take this incredible trip.”

And in 2014, so this was three years' worth of our Chase points, everything. We had not spent a single point up until those three years. My husband and I, we live in the Chicago area, and we were taking a trip to Marrakesh for the week. So we wanted to fly from Chicago to Morocco.

And again, I think this was a couple months after we'd bought a house, we didn't have you know, tens of thousands of dollars lying around to take this amazing trip. And so we were like, “Great, we're going to use these points, this is what they're for.”

And this is before I knew anything, so I did exactly what you did, I went through the Chase travel portal, which is essentially like an Expedia search engine. And when you use your Chase points, even through the Chase travel portal, they have a fixed value, which means that each one of your points will get you like one cent per point. With the Chase Sapphire Reserved it's a little bit higher, it's like 1.5 cents per points.

But it's fixed, so that means that we found flights in economy. So economy, like plain old coach class from Chicago through Spain to Morocco, for two people round trip. And I distinctly remember it was around $2,500 cash total for those two economy tickets. Because the number of points that we spent to offset that and not actually have any out of pocket expense for those two very long Economy Class flights, was our entire Chase points balance, which was 250,000 Chase points.

And I thought we were getting the deal of the century. I was like, “This is amazing. We just got two round trip, international economy class plane tickets. Didn't have to spend anything out of pocket. Phenomenal.”

Now, in reality, that is phenomenal, right? Like I tell people, the best use of points is the use that makes you happy. And at that point, going on a trip that we otherwise would not have had the money to go on, that was an amazing use of points.

But what I know now, and I'll give you all some examples a little bit later in the call, of what you can actually do with 250,000 Chase points is orders of magnitude higher than just having the equivalent of a $2,500 round trip or two round trip coach flights.

And so that was not only my very first points redemption, but to date my very worst points redemption. Because it was after that, that I really started learning how to use these points in a better way. So it was an amazing trip, and I loved taking it. And I love that now 250,000 Chase points for me gets me, I mean, at least 5, 8, $10,000 worth of value, not just $2,500 worth of value.

Bonnie: Okay, so the lesson here is if you have one of the Chase cards, Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Preferred, I also- So for those of you who have a business, like many of you are practice owners or partners so you can get like business cards.

So for my business I have an Amex Business Platinum, and then I have a Chase, it's called Ink I think. There's like three types of Ink, I forget which one I have. And I just combine all my Chase points into one account, all my Amex points, it's just like an account.

So it sounds like what not to do is to book directly through the Chase portal. And would you say the same goes for American Express to don't use their portal as well?

Devon: Yeah, that's exactly what I would say. The only caveat, the only exception to that is if there's a particular flight or a particular hotel that you want to stay at and you have no flexibility. Where you're like, “It has to be these dates,” or you're booking on really short term, and so your only option to book that flight or that hotel is going directly through the portal, then it's like I said, the best use of points is the one that makes you happy.

But if you have any flexibility whatsoever, you never want to use your points going straight through the portals because you get the lowest amount of value using them that way.

Bonnie: Okay. So how should we actually use our points?

Devon: Yes, this is the fun part, right? So we know what not to do with them, how do we actually use them? And the way, this is why I love things like the Chase points and the Amex points so much is because they are transferable. So you actually transfer your Chase points to one of their partners.

So for instance, United Airlines is a partner of Chase. Hyatt Hotels is a partner of Chase. So if you have 100,000, Chase points you can literally just electronically transfer them into your United frequent flyer account or into your Hyatt, they're equivalent. It's a hotel, so it's not a frequent flyer, but their equivalent of a frequent member account, and those are all free to join.

And that's where you really start getting out sized value. Because oftentimes, when you use your points through a hotel, or through an airline, they don't have that fixed value per point, like they do if you leave them in Chase or in Amex.

And so what you really want to start doing is looking at, “Okay, where's a place I want to fly? Or what's an airline that I really want to fly? And where are the places, where are the ways that I can use for instance, 100,000 Chase points, to get much higher than just a straight $1,000 value out of them, if I were to leave them in Chase and book through the portal?

And this is where, again, there's so many different options that we're not going to go through them today, you can always start Googling this stuff and you will find just, I mean, a plethora of things. But just to give you all an idea, in general, most one way business class flights, again, I fly from Chicago in the United States. And so when I'm thinking about flying over to Europe or I'm thinking about flying to Africa, I always booked my flights one way, because it means that you can book a flight on a different carrier on your way over then your way back, it gives you a lot more flexibility.

And I tend to think about any business class flight, one way flight that prices out between like 60,000 points and 100,000 points. That is what you can expect. And if you were to just run a Google flight search, look and see, what would it cost you if you wanted to fly those same, you know, wherever you're starting from to wherever you're going?

So for me, like Chicago to Paris, what would that cost me just in cash, if I was going to buy a one way flight for one person? Thousands of dollars, usually, multiple thousands of dollars. But that's where I'm saying this is where the value comes in.

If you can spend 75,000 credit card points transferred to an airline to get a flight that would otherwise cost you 4, 5, $6,000. That is where you're getting enormous value out of these points. So much higher than if you were trying to book that same flight, even with your points, through the Chase or through the Amex portal.

Bonnie: Okay, why don't you give your example because I know you just booked some trips recently. So you just booked a trip to Paris.

Devon: I've booked multiple trips, which I constantly text you about because it's usually on the heels of finding some amazing deal that I want to share with people. So yeah, I want to give you all just real life examples. So these are not theoreticals, these are literally trips that I booked for myself or for my family very recently, actually. Probably all within the last two or three months.

So I was just bouncing around on United's website as I do, just randomly looking at flights and seeing what was available for points because sort of how I spend my fun time is just travel perusing. And so I was looking, this is the amazing thing about United, so even though your points may be transferred to United, United has what are called partners. And it means that you can book flights on any of their partners, even with United points.

So United Partners with Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Airlines, all sorts of different airlines. So you can actually book international business and first class tickets on those airlines through the United website using your United points. This is why I love the transferable points, because you can just use them in so many different ways.

So I was bouncing around looking at flights. And my husband and I, our anniversary is in the end of March. And I found on United's website that there were one way tickets from Chicago to Paris, right over the dates of our anniversary on Swiss Airlines. Which is an amazing International business class airline, for it was I think for that flight it was about 65,000 points per person.

Okay, that's one way. I found us flights coming back the other way on a different airline, on KLM, which is an airline through Amsterdam, which is also amazing. And I found flights for us for a total, for two people for business class, for a total of 98,000 points, which is ridiculous.

And so I just want to give you an idea of what this actually looks like is that our total out of pocket cost for two people to fly business class round trip from Chicago to Paris, and these are not bad flights. It's not like we've got a 30 hour layover somewhere or we're routing through nine different cities. This is like a normal type of flight. For both of us, those two flights cost me $248,500 points.

If I was to pay cash for those exact flights, like if I went to Google Flights and I booked out the flights over that we have on Swiss Airlines, the flights home that we have on KLM, for two people those tickets would price out at $20,400. That's a lot of money. That may be a trip, honestly, that my husband I, for an anniversary, we may take once every, I don't know, five years or 10 years.

$20,000 is still a lot of money for me to outlay for flights for a four day trip. But 250,000 points, that's nothing. That's literally signing up for two credit cards, you can get that amount of points in six months or less.

And the way that I always look at this is what is the overall value? What is the value of cents per point that I get with that redemption? And so spending 248,000 credit card points to get over $20,000 of value out of these airline tickets, it's an overall value of eight cents per point.

Which is ridiculous, because like I said, if I was to book those same exact flights through the Chase portal, I would need almost a million points to do that. Because through the Chase portal you get a fixed value of one and a half cents per points. So it's like the same exact Chase points, do you want to spend 250,000 or do you want to spend a million for the same exact points? That is the power of transferring your points to these different airlines.

Bonnie: Yeah, that's such a powerful example. I think what comes up for me, and maybe other people have this question too, is you have to be looking for these deals, right? So if you think of, I think it's safe to say most of us are like pretty busy. We're not like Devon and just looking at united.com.

Devon: You don't do this for fun.

Bonnie: Maybe we're scrolling Facebook and Instagram for fun, although it's probably a better use of our time for scroll united.com for fun. But for a new person, I mean, I still consider myself pretty new. I started subscribing to the points guy newsletter, which I thought was a good thing for me to do. But how do we get started without having to like peruse all these different websites?

Devon: Yeah, and it's similar to when I was suggesting what's the credit cards you get started with. There's no one right answer, which also means you cannot do it wrong. And so what I tell people is, okay, where are you literally, like geographically in the world. What's the airport, especially the international airport that you have closest access to one and what are the airlines that fly through there?

Because if you're like me, I live outside of O'Hare, which is an incredible airport. But it's really a hub for United and American Airlines. There are some Delta flights that come through, but it's the vast minority. And so for me, I probably wouldn't start with like, “Oh, let me find great Delta flights.” It's just not relevant for me. But if you live outside of Atlanta, which is a huge Delta hub, maybe Delta is where you want to start.

So what I tell people is think about the dream trip that you want to take. Is there a place that you would love to visit if you didn't have to pay tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket to do it? Is there a place you want to go? Is there a hotel you want to stay at? Is there a flight that you want to take?

Start there because you don't even have to pay attention to all the other destinations, all the other hotels, all the other flights in the meantime. So start with just what would be amazing for me. I've talked to people who are like, “I'm dying to go to Bora Bora. I'm dying to go to the Maldives, it's a place I would never ever, ever be able to spend actual cash, outlay money for. But if I could do it on points, that's what I want to do.”

And that just simplifies it. Because then all you do is look at what's the hotel you want to stay at, what's the credit card that you want to get and put all your spend on in order to facilitate doing that?

And so that's something where there's so many resources, so many groups on Facebook where you can just go and ask a simple question like that. Like, “Hey, I'm dying to go to Paris. What airline should I be focusing on?” And then just learn how to search for flights on that one airline. You don't have to learn how to search flights on 27 different airlines.

So it's really about knowing just what is the one thing I want to focus on learning how to do? Like what's the trip I want to take or the one way I want to use these points, and then learning that one method of finding things.

And it's actually very simple when you're not trying to learn all of the sweet spots for all of these different airlines from all of these different cities. It doesn't matter, focus on your city. Focus on where you're flying out of and that will actually kind of eliminate a lot of extraneous options for you up front.

Bonnie: Yeah, so just want to kind of quickly summarize. So what you're saying is- Because I think it's really easy to get overwhelmed by this and think this sounds really-  These are my limiting beliefs about points until Devon was like, “We need to fix this.” I was like, “This sounds really complicated. I can't keep track of this.” That's kind of what I was telling myself.

And when I decided to- Like I said, I remember I used to always book stuff through the Chase portal. I didn't really do so much Amex because I noticed that I could tell the redemption wasn't great. I knew that even before you and I became friends. But Chase seemed reasonable.

So I think the first- And this is what I still do, so I live just outside of New York City. So I actually have three amazing airports, I have Newark International, I've got LaGuardia, I've got JFK. Actually LaGuardia is actually closer to me than Newark, even though I live in New Jersey. But I mainly fly out of Newark because it's an international airport and it's a United- I don't know if it's a hub, but there's a lot of United flights, all the major airlines.

And so I've decided to focus on United, kind of like just focus on one airline. But all the airlines are available to me technically, but I just have to focus on one. And so what I've been doing is transferring my points, I forget which card. Do they both go to United or just one of them?

Devon: Any Chase points can transfer to United.

Bonnie: Yeah, so I just look up like the flights I want to do and then I'll transfer them. And the points transfer instantaneously, it's not like you have to wait a week or something. So I've been doing that. And I've been personally using points for our family personal travel, not for business because for business you can write off things. I don't usually use points for business. Do you do the same thing?

Devon: Yes, I tend not to use points for business unless it's for international travel. So for instance, I booked myself on a flight to South Africa for next year. And I actually did use points but they were all points that came from within my business account spending to begin with. So I wasn't using personally accrued points for a business expense. I was using business accrued points for a business expense.

Bonnie: Yeah, so focusing on maybe one card, accruing points on one card. And then focusing on maybe one airline or airline partner. So I personally do United because I fly United pretty much all- And I don't even think I fly that much, but I guess I flew enough and I have some kind of status now with United, which is kind of fun.

Devon: What you'll notice too, I think the ways that you can leverage this, I feel like if you're just a single person with only personal expenses, meaning you don't own a business, you don't run a business, this is a way- First of all, you can still accrue a ton of points.

This actually magnifies if you do own a business, because you can also get business credit cards for all of your business spend. And it can also magnify if you have a partner or a spouse or someone who you share your household with because what I would always recommend in that case is to never do what's called an authorized user.

That was also one of our preliminary mistakes many years ago where we were married and so the idea was okay, one of us gets a credit card, we add the spouse as the authorized user. It's a very common thing to do. It makes sense, unless you're trying to maximize the number of points that you're accruing as a household.

So as a rule, now, my husband and I, we are never authorized users on each other's credit cards. That actually counts as a credit card on your personal credit score, credit report, even if you're an authorized user on someone else's card. And so we are always solely primary card holders each.

And the benefit of that is that if you and your partner or your spouse or the person you share your household with, if you're both applying for these cards, that means you're both eligible for the sign up bonus. So this is the way where two people can both apply for the same card, they both get the initial sign on bonus. And now we're really talking, especially when it comes to pooling those points as a household and being able to book round trip flights for two people.

Or if you're like me and has a partner who actually doesn't really love traveling, you just steal all of their points. And then there's even more points for you for your own personal travel, because you can combine them across those household accounts.

Bonnie: Yeah, I'm so glad you brought this up. Because I used to do that, I would add Matt as an authorized user. And they charge extra fees for this.

Devon: Yes.

Bonnie: And so I've just been unwinding that. And I told Matt, you need to get your own cards and get your own bonuses.

Devon: Absolutely.

Bonnie: And I'm the one who travels more than he does and so I'll probably be stealing his points too. But that's a good point because then both people can both get like a 100K or a 60K sign on bonus.

Devon: Yes.

Bonnie: And yeah, and just maximize points. So yeah.

All right. So I hope you found that call super useful. I hope it's perhaps inspired you to get some credit cards. And so let me tell you the cards that I specifically have and let me tell you how I recently used the points, with all the knowledge I've learned from Devon, in booking an amazing trip.

Okay, so here are the cards that I use personally for racking up travel points. So personally, I have a Chase Sapphire Reserve. I've had that for a long time and I was able to get it when they were still giving out a 100K sign on bonus, now it's a 60K sign on bonus. They no longer offer the 100K bonus. I also have an American Express Platinum Card. I also have an American Express Gold Card as well.

And we use them for specific things. We pretty much charge most things on our Chase Sapphire Reserve, we really love having Chase points because they transfer directly to United which is the airline that I generally fly from the New York City area airports. And for American Express, the Gold we use specifically for grocery shopping because I think you get 3 or 4X points.

Now, on the business side, the two cards I have are, I have another Chase Card, it's one of the Ink cards, I don't recall offhand which one it is. But I'm able to combine those Chase points with my Chase Sapphire Reserve points. And then I also have an American Express Business Platinum card as well. And that was a relatively recent addition, I was able to get a 100K sign on bonus for that.

So let me tell you about the trip that I booked that I was super excited. Now, before I learned all these things about points, I pretty much used points by booking directly on the Chase portal. Now, there's nothing wrong with doing that, so if you've been doing that don't feel bad. It's just not the best way to maximize points.

But if you've been following me for some time, you know that my motto is always to start simple and get fancy later. So if you're brand new to points, as Devon suggested, you just kind of pick one area, maybe just pick one card and just do all your spending on that one card. Not everyone is like Devon who has, I think she's got over a dozen cards.

So anyway, one of the best ways to use points is to transfer to specific travel partners. Not all travel partners like airlines or hotels will be worth it. But Hyatt is actually one of the best ways to use points because the average amount of points to reserve a room is actually on the lower end.

And so I just booked this about a week ago. And so I'm recording this between October and November of 2021 and I basically asked Devon for help in helping me find a trip to book during the winter holidays, specifically during Christmas week.

Now I had basically given up on the idea that I could find something reasonable. Now what's reasonable? I was willing to spend money because I knew it was the most expensive time of the year to travel. But I really wasn't willing to spend $1,000 a night for a regular hotel that didn't include any food, does that make sense? But I was willing to spend a good amount of money.

Now, everything that I had found the flights were all marked up, double or triple what they usually cost. I looked into going to Hawaii, my favorite place in the world. And flying there was reasonable but staying there wasn't. Plus it's really far, which doesn't normally pose a problem to me, but I wanted to specifically bring my son who's four years old and possibly my mom. And so I decided that I want to fly something that was going to stay likely in the same time zone and be less than a five hour flight.

So long story short, I was able to find a Hyatt resort in the Bahamas for 20,000 points per night. So I booked five nights at Baha Mar, which is not that new, but it's relatively new, it's a high end luxury resort. My MO was to find something tropical with lots of great pools for my son. He's a great swimmer, it's a fun activity for the whole family. Plus it tires him out so he goes to bed at night very easily.

So I booked five nights there at 20,000 points, or 100,000 points total. And the way I was able to transfer points to Hyatt was I transferred it via Chase. So I logged onto chase.com. And I clicked on transfer to travel partners, clicked Hyatt. And I already had some Hyatt points so I just transferred the difference. And most of these point transfers are pretty instant, they're not always, but this one was. So as soon as I transferred it, it came into my Hyatt bank and I was able to book it.

I ended up paying cash for the flights because it wasn't going to be worth using points for my flights. Now just to give you an idea of how much money that I'm saving, because for many of you 20,000 points, that doesn't translate to money. And so Chase points are valued at 1.5 cents per point.

So if I used 100,000 points, that's about a value of $1,500. So if I book something on the Chase portal, that's how they would value the amount of points that I used, 100,000 points would be $1,500. So it's easy math.

But the cash price of this room on Hyatt, and I actually took screenshots of this, was actually a little more than $7,500 to book it in cash. So I actually did this where I went online, there's an option to book just regular versus using points. So I picked the regular option just to see what the total was and it was over $7,500 for those five nights because each night was close to $1,000 and then when you add up all the taxes and fees and et cetera it was over $7,500.

I got this for 100,000 points, which is the equivalent of $1,500. But obviously I didn't pay for the points. I got these points accumulated by spending money that I normally would have. And I think I paid a fee of like 5 or $10.

So basically, I got five nights at a luxury hotel for $5. So that is the power of points. And this is right during the week of Christmas, I'm super excited. So start collecting points, apply for a credit card that gives you points. My picks are either the Chase Sapphire Reserve personally, or one of the Chase Ink business cards and or an American Express Platinum.

Now, if you are a physician who owns your own practice, you probably have a business credit card, are you spending everything on the credit card? The Amex platinum is a great card for high spend because it technically doesn't have a limit. So if you're buying really expensive equipment, the Amex might be a better card for you.

So I've been encouraging all my clients if they're already spending money, like we all spend money, so you might as well get points for this and be able to take some amazing trips for extremely low cost, including staying at really nice resorts or using the points to fly first class or business internationally. Have a great week.

Hey, if you're ready to create wealth, I want to invite you to join my program, Money For Women Physicians. You'll join a community of like-minded women physicians who are committed to creating wealth. Just head over to wealthymommd.com/money to learn more.

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The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | Gifts and People Pleasing

83: Gifts and People Pleasing

Apple Podcasts Spotify Stitcher

The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | Gifts and People PleasingThis is the fourth and final episode of my mini-series on all things spending. And today, we're discussing something that comes up for so many people, and they don't even realize it's happening: overspending on gifts from a place of people pleasing.

This is something that tends to get amplified around the Holidays, but it's a problem I see in my clients all year round when things like weddings and birthdays arise. And people pleasing is an area so many people, especially women, struggle with. So, what can we do about it?

Tune in this week to see if you're spending on gifts for other people from a place of people pleasing. People pleasing plays into so many things when it comes to money, but I'm sharing why spending from this energy is such a problem, why we feel the need to buy expensive gifts for the wrong reasons, and how to put all of this into perspective so you can stop overspending from this emotional space.

If you're ready to take control of your money and practice medicine on your terms, you need to check out Money for Women Physicians. Click here to learn more!

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why we are so prone to people-pleasing tendencies, and the conditioning that contributes to our people pleasing.
  • How to see those times where you're overspending from a people-pleasing energy.
  • What is happening in your brain when you feel obligated to overspend on a gift for someone.
  • How to start honoring what you truly want and put your own needs and desires first.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:


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Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Welcome to episode 83. So, this is the fourth and final episode in my miniseries on All Things Spending, just in time for the holiday season. And today we are going to talk about how many of us spend money to people please.

And so, this might seem like an unlikely combination to talk about. But it is something I have been seeing a lot in my clients. Especially the clients who are inside my program, Money for Women Physicians. And so, I wanted to devote a whole episode for this. Because I think it tends to be amplified or flare around the holidays. But definitely other times of the year, like big events, weddings, and birthdays.

So, first I wanted to kind of give a definition of people pleasing. And so, I actually found it on Merriam Webster. Merriam Webster defines a people pleaser as a person who has an emotional need to please others, often at the expense of his or her own needs and desires. So, many of us, probably all of us are people pleasers.

So, I want to talk about why human beings, and especially women, why we are so prone to this. There are explanations. There are actually quite a few. I am not going to all of them. But I just wanted to set the stage a bit before I get into the meat of today's topic.

So, let's just talk about it from a purely primal survival standpoint, right? Being a part of a social group was essential to our survival, right? Like wanting to fit in, being accepted, and so pleasing others kind of makes sense in that regard, right? We want people to like us. And then, as women, we have been socialized to place other people's happiness above our own. This is especially true if you are a mother as well. And we also feel like we need a legit reason to do something. To justify why we do anything.

At the end of the day, it's pretty uncomfortable for people to not like us. For us to have that experience of not being accepted. We're not good at that, basically. Even though, logically, we know that not everyone can like us. I think it is safe to say it is a pretty universal human trait to want to be liked and accepted by other people.

Most of us just haven't really examined the why we do this, why it's so bad if people don't like us. So, I can't speak for everyone, but basically not being liked or accepted by other people is basically bad, and why is it bad. Because most of us, especially women, we tend to hinge our sense of value, our worth, based on what other people think. And so, it makes sense that if we do that, that we are prone to wanting to please people. Because people pleasing is our way, our kind of weird way to get people to like us.

Now, people pleasing comes up in so many areas of money and I could probably do a bunch of podcasts on it. But I wanted to relate it to specifically to spending today. And so, how do they relate? We are nearing the holiday season, and so I see it come up a lot around this time of the year.

How many of you buy gifts for people for the holidays because you want to? You really want to do it, you love doing it, and it gives you great pleasure. Or are you someone that does it because you feel obligated. Because if you don't, someone might say things, or you don't want to deal with such and such person's reaction.

And I am just talking about the holidays. But I see this come up for even birthday gifts, wedding gifts, or even when you are going to someone's home for a cocktail party, or dinner party.

And so, what I see a lot is, I am in these Facebook groups and sometimes there will be these, what I call crowd sourcing questions. Where people are asking, “How much should I spend on a wedding gift?” And there's nothing wrong with asking a question like this first of all. But I think most of us ask questions like this, to kind of find out what quote unquote normal because we don't want to deviate from it. Because we don't want people to think we are doing the wrong thing.

Or a lot of us buy gifts, like I said, out of obligation to spend money on a close friend or family member. And so, here is what I want to say about this. No one can actually make you feel obligated. That is not a thing.

What's happening when we feel like we are doing something, spending money, buying a gift for someone out of obligation or something similar. What we are actually doing is we are not listening to ourselves. We are not honoring what we want. Remember, as I said earlier, as women we think we need a good reason to do something or to not do something.

Specifically, we don't think, “Because I want to,” is a good enough reason to do something. So, like I said, we aren't honoring what we want, our true desires. Instead, we are honoring what we think they want. They, being either the other person or society at large. Because we want them to think highly of us. That is what people pleasing is all about.

So, we are essentially lying to other people and to ourselves. I think that is the most damaging part of all of this. When you are people pleasing, you are basically ignoring yourself. Then the messed-up part is, most of us end up resenting those people. As if it's their fault that we have to do this. I mean, it is kind of messed up when you really think about it.

All of us do this, by the way. It's not just you, and I am not saying this as a way to make you feel bad about it. I do it too. So, I guess the question is what do you do about this? So, I think the first thing is to just be aware that you are doing this. The next time this is happening, see if you can even notice that this is what's happening.

Here are some questions I want you to ask yourself. Why am I doing this? Do I actually want to do this, or am I doing it for another reason? What is that reason or reasons?

Now, I am not telling you that you shouldn't buy gifts for people, or you shouldn't spend money on people. I just want you to own it, meaning I want you to spend thoughtfully, and own that you are actually spending money on them. Versus telling yourself things like, I have to do this, or this is just what people do. Just notice how you feel when you are doing that. That's honestly what all this comes to. When I think of thinking or spending intentionally, it is basically the experience of what's happening.

I am going to give you a concrete example. So, I live in a luxury high-rise building, and we have a door man, many door men, and we have staff in the building. Every holiday season we have the opportunity to give money to staff. Now, did you notice that I said opportunity? Because I totally could have said, “Well, every holiday season we have to shell out money because everyone else does it.” I can decide to give or not.

Now, I do give, but what you actually do doesn't matter. It's what we tell ourselves and how we are feeling about it. Because what we tell ourselves creates the experience and the feelings that fuel the experience. So, I can definitely tell myself, “Ugh, it is that time of year. I have to spend all this money. Oh my god, I didn't plan for it. This is so annoying,” the whole time.

Or I can tell myself, oh, here is my opportunity to show my appreciation. I want to do this and then do it. Now, notice in both situations I am giving the money. But my experience is totally different. The way I think about this is that I always want to feel like I have agency over my actions. That I have agency over my life.

Now, agency is defined as our capacity to act independently and to make our own free choices. And agency, having choices like that is just something I hear over and over again from all of you, my clients, about what we truly want in life.

I am just here to remind you that we always have agency over our choices. We always, always do. But it doesn't feel like that a lot, doesn't it? And the reason why it doesn't feel like it is because the story we decide to tell ourselves about what we are doing.

And so, my invitation to you is to tell the version of what you do, where you have agency. It feels so much better than thinking that you don't have agency.

So, going into this holiday season, here are some more questions for you. Do you want to buy gifts for people? Do you want to give out holiday cards? If so, great. Just make sure you tell yourself that you want to, and you might as well enjoy it if you are doing it, right? I personally don't love giving gifts or giving out cards.

I pretty much only do it for my immediate family. And so, you get to decide. I can already hear some of you thinking, yeah, but then, they're going to say things, or they're going to have opinions. So, in case you didn't know, people are always having opinions about you. And they are not always great. It's just how life goes.

You know, my coach, Brooke Castillo, once told me. Something that is just giving me so much freedom is, “To allow or let people be wrong about you”, let people be mad at you. You can handle it. Well, I really hope you enjoyed this miniseries on All Things Spending. Be sure to listen to all the episodes, in case you're just getting started with The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast.

We started at episode 80 and there's four episodes, in this miniseries. If you would like more help with this, it is a big topic, then definitely go to WealthyMomMD.com/money and get yourself inside of money for women physicians. Where I will coach you every week on a live call and inside our private Facebook group.

I will talk to you guys next week.

Hey, if you enjoyed this episode and don't want to miss out on new episodes, please hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app. See you next week.

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The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | Budgeting 2.0

82: Budgeting 2.0

Apple Podcasts Spotify Stitcher

The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | Budgeting 2.0In this installment of our mini-series all about spending, we're discussing budgeting – or spending plans, as I prefer to call them. Creating a spending plan is one thing, but executing it is another thing altogether. But don't worry because I'm showing you how to do both in this episode.

I know budgeting never feels luxurious, but it's an incredibly important step when you're in the building phase of wealth.

This is actually a replay of episode 26 of the podcast, all about how I create my own spending plans and how I teach them inside my program. And since this episode came out over a year ago, I'm sharing what I've learned since about why we feel resistance to doing the uncomfortable things that make our lives easier in the long run.

I'm running a live workshop on Sunday, November 7th called How to Stop Overspending Without Feeling Deprived. We're expanding upon what I've been discussing over the past few episodes, and there will be a Q&A. So if you want to stop overspending, click here to save your spot!

If you're ready to take control of your money and practice medicine on your terms, you need to check out Money for Women Physicians. Click here to learn more!

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why we feel so much resistance to the idea of creating a spending plan.
  • My philosophy when it comes to paying yourself first.
  • Why managing your cash flow properly is critical when it comes to building wealth.
  • How not being clear on exactly where your cash is going is only adding to your anxiety around money.
  • 4 simple steps for analyzing your cash flow and implementing a spending plan that aligns with your long-term money goals.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:


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Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it, and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level your money and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Welcome to episode 82. So if you are just getting started with this podcast, I want to remind you that we are in a miniseries on all things spending, just in time for the holidays. So we start at episode 80, so be sure to listen to 80 and 81.

Now, before we dive into today's, today I wanted to invite all of you to a live workshop I am doing on Sunday November 7th, it's How to Stop Overspending Without Feeling Deprived. So we are going to take what I've been talking about and I'm going to present it in a live format and there will be time for Q&A, so I would love to see you there live.

To save your spot you want to go to wealthymommd.com/overspending. And we'll also link it in the show notes. And so you definitely want to sign up if you've been enjoying this miniseries on spending and if you want to lean more and start practicing how to stop overspending.

Okay, so today we are actually going to go into spending plans and why most people fail doing so. When I say doing so, I mean not just creating it, but actually executing it. And so I'm actually going to play for you episode 26 where I talked about how I think about spending plans and how I teach it inside my program, Money For Women Physicians.

We have a whole module devoted to spending. And I hope by now you're starting to see that it's important to understand how you spend, why you spend, and what you spend. This is especially important when you are in the building phase of wealth, meaning that you are buying and growing assets, because you need to know how much money you can put towards that.

And so before we play you episode 26 there's just a few things I want to say about spending plans because now that I've been teaching this program for a few years I'm just noticing themes that are coming up. And I think it really comes down to not wanting to do the thing that makes our life easier.

And so I saw this quote by James Wetmore, and he's an online entrepreneur, I guess he's a business coach, he's not my business coach but I follow him on Instagram. But he had a quote, I'm not sure if it's really him or not but it said these two things, and he was talking about one of the paradoxes of life that doing what is easier makes your life harder. Doing what is harder makes your life easier.

And so when it comes to spending, I think this is such- This just resonated with me so much, when it comes to creating a spending plan, executing it, actually dealing with your spending, it's easier not to do it and it makes life harder. And doing it, “the hard thing” makes your life easier.

And so I kind of want you guys to keep that in mind when listening to this episode because it's much easier to spend money on things you don't need or whatever, than it is to stick to your spending plan. It's easier to not make a spending plan than it is to make one.

So my recommendation is to listen to this replay, just listen to it straight through, and then you're definitely going to want to listen to it a second time and take notes. I'm basically giving you the four step process I teach inside my paid program. Or you can also download the transcript.

In case you didn't know, every episode except for maybe the first few that we've done since we've started this podcast comes with a transcript that you can download as a PDF. And so you may want to go and print that out and take out a highlighter and a pen and take notes. So here we go.

How's everyone doing? I'm recording this episode in mid-September and I just got the news today that I'm going to have to get braces. Okay, I'm not getting the metal stuff. I'm going to get Invisalign. And I won't start for another month. So, if you start hearing some lisping or some weird sounds, you'll know why.

Anyway, today, we're going to talk about cash flow, or spending, or the dreaded B-word, for budget. How many of you cringe when you hear the word budget? I do. When I hear the word budget, I think of deprivation. It's like counting calories on a diet or not being able to eat carbs when I really want to.

So, I teach budgeting inside my paid program, Money for Women Physicians. And almost a whole module is devoted to it, with several lessons within it. I can't spill all the beans on one podcast episode, but I want to talk about my budgeting philosophy, or my philosophy when it comes to cash flow.

I know most of you really don't want to deal with this. And maybe you're about to hit the pause button. Or you'd rather learn how to invest or make more money. But hopefully, by the end of this episode, you'll be convinced that managing your cash flow is critical to building wealth.

I think a lot of stress and anxiety about money is due to not knowing what's going on with your cash. And besides wanting to know where your money is going, the reason why it's so important to get straight on this is because you need to know how much you can put towards building assets or buying assets, right?

I think a lot of us think of budgeting like this. We should create one, and then we have to stick to it. It sounds like a money diet. You know, I see a lot of women in Facebook groups doing no-spend months, especially after November or in the new year.

And it's basically saying, “Hey, let's go on a diet for a month,” but then not actually get to the heart of the matter as to why you're actually overspending. Just like if you want to lose weight, you kind of want to deal with why you're overeating. It's kind of the same thing, actually.

And so, I like to say that the first step is just to collect the data and realize that it's just numbers. You need to know and understand what the numbers are to begin addressing things like debt, overspending, et cetera. Kind of like weight loss. You've got to get on the scale.

You've got to get the “How much do you weight? Do you have a goal weight? What is that? How many pounds in between?” And honestly, creating a budget – now, I personally like to call this your spending plan. So, creating your spending plan is going to involve getting down and dirty with your numbers.

So, I have a four-step process when it comes to looking at your cash flow. And so, step one is discover; gather the data, which we just talked about. Step two is explore; investigate your spending. Step three is optimize; refine your spending. And step four is implement; create and implement a spending plan you love. Yes, it's possible to have a spending plan you love.

So, I briefly talked about step one, where you're basically gathering data. And this part is pretty simple. You can't make any decisions about how to spend your money without knowing what you have or don't have, right?

Now, some of you might be thinking, how does someone not know what these numbers are? I've met more than a few physicians who actually don't know how much money they take home every month. Some people don't even know exactly how much they make per year.

I know, I think it's really strange. But a lot of people like that are out there, and maybe you're one of them. First of all, no shame, no embarrassment. You just have to pay attention to it. It's no big deal. But this is really the first step. What's the input? What are the outputs? It's that simple.

Step two, explore or investigate your spending. So, in this step, I usually have my students look back at their last three months of spending. You know, there's going to be certain things that are sort of repetitive, like your monthly mortgage payment or rent payment, that are the same every month, or about the same. And then there are categories that have a lot more wiggle room and kind of shrink and grow and every month is different.

So, I recommend looking at the last three months. And this is just to identify trends. This is not a time for you to judge yourself or how you spent your money in the past, okay.

Now, inside my program, I actually have a whole lesson dedicated to the psychology of overspending. Not all of us are overspending, but some of us overspend from time to time in certain situations or certain categories of things. Maybe it's bags or shoes for you. And we go into the psychology of overspending.

And I have an episode where I talked about overspending and I give you a sneak peek as to how I teach my students how to stop overspending. But, in a nutshell, I teach them how to lessen the desire to overspend. Because it's so simple to stop overspending if you don't want to spend money on something.

It sounds so simple and it also sounds like, “Well, how does that actually happen?” You know, one thing I want to say is a lot of us think our wants, meaning, “I really like that purse…” I don't know why I'm talking about purses. I'm not really a purse person. But we think that's part of our identity, what we like and what we don't like.

But you can actually train yourself, if you want to, to not want something as badly as you used to. And the analogy I love to give for this, because this freaks people out when I say it like this, is this – and this is something we can all relate to.

Think of someone you used to have the biggest crush on. Remember him? When was the last time you thought about him? Probably not since you were crazy about him, or her, right? It's kind of like that. You used to be crazy about someone and ow you're not. It's kind of like that. Anyway, it's totally possible when it comes to overspending. It's the same concept.

I also want to say that I have a lot of under-spenders in my program, because they're underspending from a place of scarcity. And then I have everyone in between. I consider myself an over-spender.

Okay, step three is optimize or refine your spending. This is where we take the stuff from step one and step two and we start to make some decisions about how and what we'll spend in the future. This is where you make a first draft at your ideal spending plan.

Notice, I said the word, “Ideal.” Meaning not always reality, but we have an ideal spending plan. This is also when we address things like debt, what's your debt pay-off plan? This is where we address creating or funding an emergency fund if you don't have one yet, things like that. And this is also where we talk about how much money per month are you going to devote to buying assets? Basically, paying yourself first.

So, let's talk more about this paying yourself concept. Now, I know this probably isn't news to you. And it wasn't news to me. But it wasn't until actually pretty recently where I truly understood what that concept was. So, I wanted to make sure that you understand as well.

And so, the pay yourself thing makes total sense. Everyone says, “Pay yourself first.” But how many of us do that? I think most of us approach our monthly spending like this. Money comes in from a paycheck, whatever, other sources of income. We pay all the bills. And then we kind of see what's left to spend money on for ourselves and for creating wealth.

So, I think of paying yourself first as making creating wealth your number one priority. Now, it doesn't have to be your number one priority, obviously. But if you're serious about creating wealth and making medicine optional, making practicing medicine on your terms, then you really need to put wealth as a top priority. And I think this makes total sense, right?

But how many of us are paying ourselves first, paying our future wealth first before paying everyone else? No, I think many of us are paying everyone else, paying all the bills, and then we see what's left over after we go out for a vacation or whatever we like to spend money on, fun spending. Then we see what's left, if there is anything left, to invest.

And you need to kind of look at it the other way around. Now, depending where you are in life and depending what you, sort of, created so far – what I mean by that is you might have an expensive mortgage. You might have some other expensive things, or just things that you're paying for. And so, you might not be able to whittle this down overnight. But can start taking some steps today to start prioritizing your cash flow towards wealth.

Now, you might want to listen to a prior episode I did with Dr. Latifat, where we talked about automating, or automation. And this is something that could go so well with making yourself, your wealth a priority. So, I know a lot of people, for example, and I think she talked about it specifically, you know, having monthly automatic payments or transfers to your taxable brokerage account. Out of sight, out of mind.

A lot of us have automatic payments for our employer's 401K where it's taken out of our paycheck, which means we don't have to be worried about spending that money because it automatically goes to that account. That's kind of what I'm talking about. But I hope I'm beating a dead horse here, obviously. But really, you need to prioritize paying yourself first so you can start creating wealth.

And, before we go onto step four, I also want people to identify what they call their joy spending; the areas that we love to spend money on that really gives us joy. These aren't necessarily expensive things, but I think it's important because I think when we think of budgets or spending plans, we often focus on the things we have to pay for, right? Instead of thinking about, “Well, going on three trips a year really makes me happy…”

Kind of like when you're planning your schedule for the week. How many of us are prioritizing us, our self-care? And so, that is the same concept when it comes to your spending. And so, these are COVID times, so obviously my family and I, we're not really traveling. So, that sort of spending area has decreased almost to zero, frankly.

We did take a few local road trips recently. But obviously, we're not flying anywhere or things like that. And so, the area that I love to spend money on is actually food. We're not going out so much. But I actually like to cook a lot. I like to try cooking new things. And I like to buy good quality food.

We like to shop at Whole Foods for example, including Costco. And I've been buying a lot of flour. I've been doing a lot of baking. Not super-expensive. I've been buying a few baking tools from Amazon. Again, not super-expensive. But spending in these areas really makes me happy. And so, I'm happy to include that. So, those are just some examples. But we all have different areas in our life where we love spending money on that gives us a lot of joy.

Okay, step four is implement. And this is where you kind of put everything together and then you actually implement the spending plan. Now, remember, I said this is an ideal spending plan. Meaning it's not going to be perfect every month.

And also, once you start going through the first iteration, you're going to make changes. You're going to make tweaks. And so, this is where I see a lot of people veer off track. They create this, quote unquote perfect budget, it doesn't go as planned. And then they give up and say, “See, it doesn't work. I can't do this.”

But you're putting too much pressure on yourself. It's going to take time to figure out what works, what doesn't work, et cetera. And so, I really want you to think consciously about creating a spending plan that is in line with your money goals. And then, you want to spend some time reviewing it, maybe just monthly, where you review and adjust. Remember, we don't beat ourselves up when we go off plan.

Now, I get asked all the time, “Which program should I use?” So, you may know by now, if you've been following me for a while, that my favorite budgeting program that I personally use and recommend is called YNAB. It stands for You Need a Budget. Kind of a funny but super-clever name.

Now, this program was created, you know, I don't know how long ago. But I started using it in my last year of residency. And back then, it was a desktop-only program and you had to enter transactions manually.

Now, back in residency, I wasn't making a whole lot of transactions, so I actually kind of enjoyed inputting my transactions. But it's since gone web, meaning that it is fully online and you can synchronize it with your bank accounts and credit cards.

Now, a lot of people tell me that it's complicated to set up, et cetera. And you know, it's hard for me to comment on that because, like I said, I've been using it for a very long time. However, the new version, which is the current version, the web version, you know, it is a little tricky the first time. They have tons of awesome tutorials that you can also look at.

But I've since found a YNAB coach that we've connected. And he's got amazing YouTube videos. So, I'm going to link him in the show notes. His name is Nick True. And I actually thought he was so awesome, I actually invited him to create a custom YNAB tutorial inside my paid program, Money for Women Physicians.

Why do I love YNAB so much? Okay, so, here's the thing. YNAB is the only budgeting program, as far as I know, where you actually create a spending plan ahead of time. And it's the only program where it tells you what you can actually afford right now, versus on credit, versus, “Oh yeah, when that next paycheck comes.

Because most other programs – people talk about Mint – they're tracking programs. They just track how you spent your money, meaning they're looking back at how you spent your money. With YNAB, you literally are looking forward with your money.

And I promise you, once you spend the time to set it up or you can hire Nick, who does one on one YNAB coaching, it's so easy to maintain. And so, anybody who's been frustrated with the setup, I just recommend, hey, take another stab. Maybe spend some time with Nick. He's not super-expensive. Once again, I'll link him in the show notes. And give it another spin.

I love it. I actually took a break for a few months because I got a little – I'm not sure if arrogant is the word, but I was like, “I don't need to budget. I'm fine.” And I don't know, I just really lost touch with how or what my money was doing. And I also noticed that I wasn't really hitting the goals that I wanted financially.

And for me, YNAB just is easy for me to use. It's easy to maintain now that it's already set up correctly. And actually, just recently, with Nick's help, I actually redid my spending plan in terms of the different categories I use in terms of, you know, how I'm tracking and how I'm planning my money.

I actually use YNAB inside of my business as well. So, I have a bookkeeper/CFO which stands for chief financial officer. So, a fractional, you know, I don't have a fulltime CFO or bookkeeper. But we use YNAB for my business bookkeeping. Because, like I said, you can just mine so much amazing data. You really can get a pulse on the data.

Now, I've previously used Bench. And I don't have anything against it, but I just felt out of touch with my money. I didn't really understand where my money was going. I didn't quite understand, how much was I spending in this category of my business? And now that we've brought it all back inside of YNAB, I just feel like I have such a better understanding of my business finances.

Now, the beauty of YNAB is you can create multiple budgets. So, I've got my personal finances in there. My business is also in there, the same YNAB account. And we also use it for our real estate bookkeeping as well.

So, I do want to say that YNAB is not a free program like Mint is. To be honest, I don't remember how much it costs. It's like five or seven bucks a month. I do not have an affiliate relationship with them at this time. But I just tell everyone, go and get it.

Go and take a spin. It's usually free for the first 34 days. And look at Nick True's YouTube videos to help set it up. He actually has one that's like an hour long on his main YNAB coaching page. And that, I think, is probably enough for 99% of the people listening to this podcast. And if you want some extra help to make sure you really have it set up properly, go ahead and hire Nick.

So, that's all I wanted to cover today with spending or cash flow. So, I just want to quickly go over those four steps I mentioned. Number one, discover where you gather your date. Step two, explore, investigate your spending. Step three, optimize or refine your spending. And step four, create and implement the spending plan you love.

And the program of choice is YNAB, or You Need a Budget. And if you're interested in learning more about it or Nick True's program, go ahead and look at the show notes. And just a reminder that YNAB tutorials are also part of my paid program, Money for Women Physicians. I'll see you next week, everyone.

All right, well I hope you got so much out of today's episode, it was a meaty one. Remember, like I said, be sure to listen to it again and take notes. I gave you the exact four step process I take my students who are in Money For Women Physicians.

And be sure to sign up for my workshop, How to Stop Overspending Without Feeling Deprived. And the link to sign up is wealthymommd.com/overspending. We go live on Sunday November 7th, I can't wait to see you there.

Hey, if you're ready to create wealth I want to invite you to join my program Money For Women Physicians. You'll join a community of like-minded women physicians who are committed to creating wealth. Just head over to wealthymommd.com/money to learn more.

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The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | How to Stop Emotional Overspending

81: How to Stop Emotional Overspending

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The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | How to Stop Emotional OverspendingHave you ever spent money on something because you thought it would make you feel better? I'm sure you have. It's called emotional spending, it's part of human nature, and doing it from time to time isn't a long-term issue. But how do you know when you're overspending from a place of emotion, and what can you do to put a stop to it?

Last week, I gave you an introduction to the topic of spending and showed you why your brain loves spending money so much. But this week, I'm teaching you one skill that will change the way you spend forever and stop you from indulging in emotional overspending.

Tune in this week to discover what emotional overspending is and how to see where it's showing up in your life. I'm sharing why this is something so many physicians and professionals struggle with, and I'm giving you step-by-step tips for seeing your thoughts as they're happening, so you can stop emotional overspending before it becomes a real problem.

If you're ready to take control of your money and practice medicine on your terms, you need to check out Money for Women Physicians. Click here to learn more!

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • What emotional overspending is and how to know when you're overspending from a place of emotion.
  • Why we overspend from both negative and positive emotions.
  • How to question yourself so you can see the long-term impact of your emotional spending.
  • Why the subject of emotional overspending is particularly tricky to notice for high-earners like physicians.
  • The discomfort that will appear for you as you practice the skill of stopping emotional overspending.
  • How to slow down and stop emotional overspending.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:


Read the transcript Expand

Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it, and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level your money and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Hey everyone, welcome to Episode 81. So this is part of a four part miniseries I am doing on spending because we are getting near the holiday season. Also known as spending a lot more money than the rest of the year. So I wanted this to be the focus over the next few episodes.

So in the last episode, I talked about how our perfectionistic thinking and the fear of feeling deprived can get in the way of tackling our spending. And then I ended the episode by sharing how our brains are wired to crave and want dopamine hits. And that for many of us spending gives us that dopamine hit immediately. Whereas buying and growing assets does not give us that immediate hit. So yeah, our brains are basically addicts to dopamine.

So today I said I was going to teach you a skill that will help you stop overspending. Now, specifically, I should say this is going to help you stop emotional overspending.

Now, I actually talked about how to stop overspending, that's Episode 17. That was a while ago, and so I'm sort of redoing that episode today. But I do think it'd be useful for you to listen to that episode as well. So I'll link that in the show notes.

So first, I want to define what I mean by emotional overspending, or just emotional spending. It's when you spend money because you think it will make you feel better. It's when you spend money to avoid feeling what you're currently feeling, hence the term emotional spending.

Now, this is kind of the equivalent of emotional eating, right? And so I've said it before, but I'll say it again, so many parallels between money and weight loss. And so it generally looks like this, emotional spending. You're feeling bad about something, but you could also be feeling great about something. Let's use the feeling bad about something.

So maybe you've had a bad day at work, the patients were all complicated, you got yelled at. And then you're home, you're trying to decompress, and you start scrolling online and you see this amazing, beautiful purse. Then you start imagining yourself with this purse. What outfits it will go with, and oh, you have this event coming up and that purse would be perfect with it.

Suddenly, you're feeling well, great, because you're thinking about what this purse can do for you. And in that moment, you truly believe this purse will make you happy. Yeah, it's pricey, but you've had a hard day and you tell yourself, “I deserve it.” So you click and you buy it.

Okay, so first, I realize not all of you are purse people, so insert whatever gets your juices going. Whatever you tend to spend money on when you are emotional spending. Maybe it's makeup, maybe it's a kitchen tool. Okay, these are obviously examples of what I tend to spend on, but really insert whatever you tend to spend on. You'll probably find that there's a pattern.

So I want to point out a few things about this scenario I just gave you on emotional spending. Number one, remember, it's tied to an emotion and usually a strong one. And it could be a good or a bad emotion. So I just gave the scenario of you having a really bad day because of work et cetera. But it also could be the opposite, it could be because you accomplish, something you're feeling really emotionally excited about something.

And then I want you to notice that we are using this external thing, this purchase, to feel better inside or to change how we feel. And so if you've been following me for a while, you know that external things cannot make us feel a certain way. External things cannot suddenly jump in your body and make you feel something. How we feel is determined by what we think.

And we're using this spending, this experience of spending, the actual purchase as a way to feel differently, usually to feel better. Now, the problem with this scenario is that doing this, this emotional spending, it trains our brain to want to think that we need outside things to feel differently, to feel better inside. When feeling better is always an inside job.

Now, I just want to pause for a second, because maybe I confused you about what I mean about using emotional spending to feel better or to change how we feel. Because I think it makes sense that if you're feeling bad, that maybe buying something will make you feel better temporarily.

But the opposite is also true. You might be feeling really great and using spending to avoid feeling great. It doesn't make sense, but a lot of us do that. And I want you to take a minute to see if you do this too. Because most of us aren't great at feeling our feelings, whether they're great feelings or negative feelings. And so emotional spending is a way for many of us to evade our feelings.

Now, I want to state something obvious, doing this one time or even a few times in itself likely won't really cause any problems. It's probably not going to break the bank or really change the overall trajectory of your finances. But doing this repeatedly can.

And really the question I want you to ask yourself is this, do I like the outcome of me doing this? The outcome could be you have so much stuff, literally like cluttering your house that maybe you don't even use after one or two times. Or maybe it's that you buy things and then you regret it repeatedly. Then you spend time beating yourself up regretting it.

So it makes sense that if this is something that you do repeatedly, and you add it all up, and that money could have been invested instead or go towards something else that you actually really want long term and would make a big difference for you to change this behavior.

Now, I'm talking about this, because this is something I see a lot in my clients. And because we are high earning women physicians, it seems okay. We tell ourselves things like, “Well, it'll be fine, I can afford it. I make a lot of money, it'll be okay.” And it is okay, like you're not going into debt, but maybe you are.

But if you're not seeing any real progress in your net worth, your savings keep going down or depleted because of this, and if you find yourself wondering every year why you can't seem to save for a down payment to buy a rental property or whatever investment vehicle you want to work on.

So if this is you, first, I just want to say you are not alone. This is so normal. And if you're feeling bad about this, I just want to say you're not alone and it's okay.

And now I want to explain what's actually happening inside your brain when this is happening. Like you literally can't help it, okay? So let's sort of like slow down the scenario I just gave you. What happens is that when you see something that you want to buy, notice I say want.

You have thoughts that create desire, the feeling of desire. And the thoughts are something like, “I want this, I really want this,” or some version of that. And your brain wants to complete this desire loop. Meaning the only way to complete it is to buy it. Which means that the only way to not buy it is to not close the loop.

Now, this probably sounds super obvious and simple, right? And it's not exactly easy to actually implement it. Meaning it's not exactly easy to not close that desire loop. And here's why, it doesn't feel good not to close the desire loop. It's so much easier to just buy it and close the loop and feel complete about it. So, of course, I have some tips on how to do this, and what you can expect as you practice this skill.

So the first thing to do, step one, is when you find yourself in a, I call this like a desire frenzy, but what's happening is you're having a bit of a dopamine frenzy in your brain. So what I mean by that is if your brain has associated buying things with getting lots of dopamine, the dopamine starts squirting even before you start spending the money.

As soon as your brain thinks, “Oh, we might be in a position to spend money,” like browsing and shopping online, it starts getting into a dopamine frenzy, literally. And so the first thing you want to do, now that you know this, is to slow down, stop yourself, take some deep breaths. Take three deep, long breaths or count to 10. Just something to kind of pause and interrupt that frenzy, literally. Because that's actually what's happening inside your brain.

And then, number two, when you have slowed down, and you'll know you've slowed down when you can pause for a second and sort of like gain awareness of what's happening. And so the purpose of this slowdown is to help you become aware of how you're feeling. And just notice how you're feeling. Meaning notice that you really want to buy whatever you're trying to buy.

And remember, the only way to not close the loop is to not buy it. So that's what you have to do, you actually have to not buy it and not close the loop. And the way to do that, well, there are many ways, but the suggested way is to actually just allow that desire to go unanswered.

So let me explain what I mean because I know this is a concept that when I explain it to my clients, we do a deep dive into this inside of my program Money For Women Physicians, so I want to sort of explain what it means and what it doesn't mean.

So allowing the desire to go and answered, here's what it does not mean, it does not mean turning off your computer or putting down your phone, whatever you're using to shop, and do something else instead. I'm sure some of you have tried that. It's not that that doesn't work in the moment, of course if you do that you're not going to buy the thing. But it doesn't actually retrain your brain to want to buy less, this is basically avoiding.

So allowing is actually giving yourself the time and space to feel what it's like to not close the loop. And here's a hint, it's going to feel weird. And I'm going to tell you how it feels for me, although it's probably going to feel different for you.

For me, it feels really restless. I feel like I want to do something, I want to do something, basically buy the thing, or even do something else, right? I feel like I have this energy and I need to do something with it. It feels really uncomfortable and it feels really annoying. And I'm saying this to you as a reminder that all feelings are temporary, it passes. It dissipates if you let it.

Now, the reason why it's so important that you do this, like all the way through, like actually feel it and allow the feeling to dissipate. When I say the feeling the feeling of desire, is because if you don't let the desire percolate through your body so to speak, then your brain hasn't learned not to spend emotionally.

Now, some of you might be thinking, this sounds a lot like the Pavlov dogs, experiments. I can't even pronounce his name, but I think you're all probably familiar with that. And so this is basically what this process is, it's on learning that desire loop. It's unlearning the dopamine frenzy that your brain has been trained to do.

And so let me give you some tips because many of you might be unfamiliar by what it actually means to let yourself feel something all the way through. It's not a skill anyone teaches you, right? And so here are some things that you can do.

So when you have paused and you're like, “Okay, I know, Bonnie said that I need to just sit here and sort of feel weird, but what does that mean?” So here are some questions that might help you. I want you to ask yourself, “What am I feeling right now?”

And you might actually want to say this out loud. Maybe you'll say, “Okay, right now I'm feeling annoyed because I'm not buying this.” And here's a great follow up question, “How do I know I'm feeling annoyed?” And so then you describe it to yourself. So maybe it's like, “Oh, my chest feels a little tingly.”

And then I want you to take some deep breaths and keep describing it to yourself, and let those sensations do their thing. Remember, feelings are sensations. They're literally physical sensations in your body and they don't always feel great, and that's okay. They're always temporary.

And so I think my biggest tip is to keep breathing. And, of course, you're always breathing, but be conscious of your breathing because being conscious of your breathing helps you sort of focus and stay present, to stay with that feeling or those sensations.

And once that feeling dissipates, usually people will tell me, or personally I will say that the feeling tends to move and dissipate, and then you're done. Yay! And you're going to have to do this again and again. And it gets easier, but not necessarily right away. Meaning you may have to do this 10 times, maybe even more.

And so I have a suggestion for those of you who are willing and want to take this on. Because like I said, you're going to have to do this more than once and it might have to be several times. And if this sounds a little painful, or if it sounds like, “Ugh.” I get it, I totally get it. But this is the way to unlearn emotional spending.

So here's a tip, because it's not necessarily going to be the same experience each time. For example, the first time you do this, let's say it was like you did it, and you're like, “Wow, that wasn't so bad.” And the next time it's a lot harder, and maybe you actually buy the thing. And it can seem like you're backpedaling or that you failed.

And this is where a lot of people would be like, “Just eff it, I'm just going to buy it, and who cares?” And you kind of just throw in the towel. And so I want to say that that is normal.

You should expect to not be great at this and to fail, possibly multiple times. Now, I know that's not great news. And so here's my tip to help you get through that so that your brain sees that you're making progress. It's the concept of what we call an urge jar or a desire jar.

And so the concept goes like this, you want to buy yourself or you probably have this already in your home, a clear container of some sort. So it could be just a glass like literally, or maybe a clear vase, or some container that's clear. And then you want to get something that you can put inside of it.

And so usually it's marbles. If you don't have marbles lying around, I certainly don't, you could use small pieces of pasta, but you want to use something that has some bulk. And so I know many of you probably have spare coins lying around, I don't think coins are a great thing because they're flat, you want something that's like 3D.

So you can make this more fun, I think, if you go and purchase some really pretty marbles or something that you like looking at, maybe you have beads. So just something sort of 3D.

And here is how you use it, every time you successfully allow yourself to not close that desire loop, you put a marble in the jar. And that is a representation of you did it, you succeeded. So let's say you do three or four times and you do great. And then the fourth time you don't and you buy the thing.

And then it's easy for us to feel really bad about it. But you have this visual reminder of those four marbles in the jar, showing you that you have made progress. Just because you “failed” one time does not mean- You don't remove a marble. Number one, don't do that.

These marbles are just evidence showing you that you have been doing the work. And that part of doing this work is actually to mess up and not succeed every time. But seeing those marbles will show your brain that you're making progress. And that's so important.

And so remember what I said in the last episode about how our perfectionist thinking can get in the way of tackling spending? This is how it can get in the way by thinking that if I mess up, then throw out the towel, let's forget about this. And maybe I'll tackle spending next year whenever Bonnie does another podcast episode or does a challenge or something. And so I don't want that to happen.

Now, I recommend you re-listen to this episode and take notes on the steps I gave you, and we also have a transcript that you can literally print out and highlight and take notes, because this is something that I know will make a huge difference for you, but only if you do it.

And if you would like support on this then you definitely should join Money For Women Physicians. This is something we do in module two, it's some of the best work you will do and learn, not just for spending but it will help you in so many other areas of your life where you feel like you might not have control over things, like eating or other things you tend to do.

And so you want to go to wealthymommd.com/money, the program is always open. I'd love to help you, I'd love to coach you. We do weekly coaching there because like I said, this is a process. This is going to take time and it's so worth doing for so many reasons.

And the first thing is to know that you are in control of your emotions. The second thing is, once you've mastered this, you will have so much more money to use for other things. And those other things, I think, are to buy assets, to use for vacations, you know, experiences that you really want that maybe you feel like you keep falling short.

So it's going to be different for all of you but I really want you to think about this. If you mastered this skill, what would change for you? What difference would that make? And you could add it up and come up with a dollar amount every month that it would do. But I think that's kind of a short term view, but over time what would that help you create?

Would that help you start really making a difference in your investments? Would that mean that you could send your kid to the private school you want to send them to? So many possibilities. So I really want you to think about why mastering this skill will matter for you.

Okay, so just to give you a preview of next week, we're going to talk about spending plans. I'll see you then.

Hey, if you enjoyed this episode and don't want to miss out on new episodes, please hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app. See you next week.

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The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | How Do You Think About Your Spending?

80: How Do You Think About Your Spending?

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We are heading into the holidays, which is always an expensive time of year. So, over the next few episodes, I'm talking about the overall topic of spending in ways that you probably haven't heard or considered before.

There are so many common thoughts I've observe in my clients around spending and budgeting. And I know, nobody gets excited about budgeting. But the way I choose to think about spending money is something that's really helped me in my wealth-building journey, and it's not all about denying yourself the things you want.

Tune in this week for an introduction to the topic of spending. I'm sharing the things that get in the way of so many people even looking at their spending habits, let alone making any changes, and how you can get over those fears, so you can see how really thinking about your money will serve you in the long term.

If you're ready to take control of your money and practice medicine on your terms, you need to check out Money for Women Physicians. Click here to learn more!

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • The ways see people thinking about spending money that are preventing them from building wealth.
  • How perfectionistic thinking stops so many people from focusing on their spending.
  • What I still “overspend” on from time to time, and why that's okay.
  • The chemical reaction that leads to a purchase feeling more satisfying than saving your money.
  • Where you have the opportunity to clean up your thoughts around spending money, so you can always have money for the things you love doing.

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The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | Defining Wealth for Women: A Preview

79: Defining Wealth for Women: A Preview

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The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | Defining Wealth for Women: A PreviewWe officially have a publication date for my upcoming book: Defining Wealth for Women: Peace, Purpose, and Plenty of Cash! It will be coming out on January 11th, 2022 and I am so excited! It's been a fascinating and fun process, and this week, I'm so happy to bring all of you listeners a little preview of the introduction.

Along with this episode, I'm also giving you the opportunity to download the written version of the intro and chapter one, which you can find by clicking here. I'm so proud of this book and I can't wait for you guys to be able to read it in full. But this preview will have to do in the meantime.

Tune in this week as I share the intro for my new book: Defining Wealth for Women: Peace, Purpose, and Plenty of Cash. In it, I share my reasons for wanting to be rich, how I made the first steps on this journey and the ingrained societal reasons why this is a path so many women have been prevented from taking, as well as what you can expect when you read the rest of the book.

If you're ready to take control of your money and practice medicine on your terms, you need to check out Money for Women Physicians. Click here to learn more!

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • What wanting to be rich means to me.
  • Why I felt like I had settled, even after becoming a doctor and getting paid well for it.
  • How I pushed myself to strive for more, despite the fear of moving outside of my comfort zone.
  • What I've learned about asking uncomfortable questions, even if you can't answer them right now.
  • The societal limits that have historically been placed on women, stopping them from achieving financial freedom.
  • How I stepped off the approved path and broke down internal limits I didn't even know I had at the time.
  • Why I decided to write this book, and what you will learn from the rest of the book.

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Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it, and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level your money and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Wanting to be rich was always part of a larger story about possibility for me. I wanted something bigger, a bigger life, a bigger vision, and yes, a bigger income. Along with that itchy sense that there was more available out there, I used to also have a strong sense of having settled. Even after I finished medical school and was making good money at a good job, I didn't really believe I could live my life the way I wanted to, on my own terms without sacrifice or waiting until I retired to start enjoying myself.

In the spring of 2018 I was living in Philadelphia and working as a dermatologist in a private practice. It was a life I had gone into medical school and a lot of debt to achieve.  I wasn't loving it but I wasn't sure anyone really loved their life, besides what I had was certainly good enough.

I wasn't yet bringing in more than what the practice was paying me, so there was a deficit I needed to make up, but my contribution was steadily increasing. If I stayed where I was through the end of the year, I'd be making enough to pay them back and have my salary where I wanted it to be.

Despite it being only seven more months, I was restless. I didn't want to spend another three quarters of a year just trying to get where I wanted to be. I had always followed the prescribed path and thinking about taking a different route was scary.

But I started to wonder, what if I didn't have to stay here to pay them back? What if I could pay them back some other way? It wasn't an entirely comfortable question. The funny thing about uncomfortable questions though is that they're powerful, even if you don't have answers for them. It was as if the question I started asking myself went out into the universe and started asking around on my behalf.

And on some level, it also felt like a went to work trying to find an answer for me. Or maybe I just started paying a different kind of attention. Either way, I was browsing a locum tenens directory, a listing of short term medical assignments, and stumbled across a summer post in Seattle working two weeks, on two weeks off for three months of the city's best weather.

Suddenly, there was a way to do something different and still pay off my debts. I jumped. I moved to Seattle, worked the job for three months, and went from there to a similar position in Hawaii. Living December to February in Hawaii is so much better than it is in Philly that it broke down internal limits I didn't know I had.

I had stepped off the approved path and ended up on Lanikai Beach. That gave me the audacity to start verbalizing more of what I wanted my life to be. I wanted it to be bigger. I wanted a stronger sense of purpose, a deeper internal peace, and much more money. I got bolder, I got ambitious, not just for myself, but for other successful type A professional women living with that itch for more, feeling like they've settled, gotten stuck, or fallen behind.

In the same way that rich doesn't mean just having money, professional doesn't necessarily mean being rich. Still, many educated professional women live paycheck to paycheck, burdened with crushing debt and even heavier shame. If you feel overwhelmed by how complicated it seems to manage your finances or if you find you're constantly stressed about money, you're not alone.

How we got here. Many smart successful women scrambled to make more and spend less wondering why they don't have a better grip on it all. Other people seem to get it but where does their confidence come from?

Did you maybe miss a memo? Were you absent that day? Maybe money wasn't something your family talked about. Maybe you're embarrassed by your debt or spending. Maybe you're dealing with uncertainty, lightly dusted in shame. Whatever it may be, I can help.

I began my financial coaching career focusing on female physicians, no slouches in the intelligence or self-discipline department. And I promise, if working in the medical field was all it took to feel capable and in control of your career finances, I would have gone back to medicine myself. If that were all it took, you probably wouldn't be reading this book.

In most parts of the world for most of history women have been legally barred from owning property, the primary source of wealth in pre-industrial societies. From the Middle Ages until the mid-1800s a married woman had no legal status at all. She was not an independent entity and had no individual financial rights.

In 1839 Mississippi became the first state in the US to allow women to own property in their own names. By 1845 when women were first allowed to file their own patents, giving them the rights to their intellectual property, much of the rest of the country had caught up with Mississippi and property rights. The final two stragglers, Utah and South Carolina, didn't grant women separate economy until 1895.

Until 1963, it was legal to pay women less for the same work. After 1974, a woman no longer had to make a man cosign to take out a loan. It's been fewer than 50 years since the law of the land said women weren't responsible enough to borrow money independently. Is it any wonder many of us still struggle to trust ourselves?

Beyond the legal inequalities all women have faced for thousands of years, and the additional burdens borne by women of color, there are different social and cultural norms for men and women that are maybe even more powerful and damaging because they're less obvious.

From childhood boys get the message that they can and should create wealth, while girls are socialized to rein in spending and focus on saving money. This only gets more pronounced as we get older. Take a quick survey of the different money and finance articles on the internet targeting men or women. Men get earning and investment topics. Women get savings and fiscal restraint.

Women are still getting the message that they just can't be trusted with money. Men spend, women splurge. Men make a purchase, women go shopping. Men can take risks and be smart with money, women need to exercise self-control and be more sensible. Data shows men and women overspend equally, we're equally likely to carry consumer debt, make purchases on impulse, and buy things we don't need.

But what women spend money on is deemed less worthy. A man who spends several thousand dollars on a watch will consider a pair of shoes that cost half as much a frivolous purchase. Many women have internalized this. We feel inadequate around money, we second guess ourselves, we pathologize our spending and carry around a lot of shame. This is the reason we need a book on wealth.

We have thousands of years of history to undo, and the damage is ongoing. No matter what the Equal Pay Act promised women are still paid less than men for the same work. We still get much more punishing messages about what it's okay to spend money on, what qualifies as overspending, and who's allowed to do it.

A woman's wealth revolution. If you're feeling inadequate, overwhelmed and stressed about money please know that there's nothing wrong with you and you're not alone. Too many women are afraid they're never going to get to live the life they want due to massive student loan debt, or the need to keep up with the Joneses.

They're tired of being frugal. They don't know where to start learning the basics and keep trying to work harder and spend less, all the while feeling guilty for not having already figured it out or for wanting more in the first place. We need a women's wealth revolution.

As women free themselves of our unfair history and unequal messaging, and as more of us become rich, we rewrite the female financial narrative and change the rules. We can and will replace the systems that keep women small. Taboos, misconceptions, and limiting beliefs conspire to keep too many women working for their money rather than having their money work for them.

In Defining Wealth for Women I'll share knowledge and practices that help women realize there really are no limits on what they can earn and do. Each chapter takes on one of the common myths or misconceptions about money that are holding women back. We'll look at how the way our brains are wired gets in our way. And I'll teach you how to think differently about yourself and your finances.

We'll uncover and reframe hidden mistaken ideas and replace them with better information, history and brain science explanations, and recommendations. Each chapter begins with a self-assessment quiz or thought experiment and contains a “This is your brain” section, in which I explain why some things are so hard to do, and some way too easy.

Finally, each chapter ends with an opportunity to turn your insights into action. Here you'll find journaling prompts and other activities designed to help you engage more deeply with the material. I've collected all these chapter ending exercises into a PDF workbook you can download for free at definingwealthforwomen.com.

By reading and engaging in this way, you'll learn powerful cognitive tools to rewire your brain so you can create wealth. But being rich isn't just about money. Sure, financial abundance is part of the story, but having real wealth means having a healthy bank balance, body and mind, peace, purpose, and plenty of cash. We'll look at how reframing your beliefs and changing your mindset contribute to more of all three.

I haven't always known the things I'll be teaching you. I was a board certified dermatologist with a solid career ahead of me when I started contrasting December, January, and February in Philadelphia, with what passes for winter in Hawaii. It showed me how much your unquestioned beliefs can limit the quality of your life.

When I realized that the work of identifying artificial limits, misplaced guilt, and mistaken ideas was the missing piece in money education, particularly for women, it changed everything. I felt a call to play a part in a women's wealth revolution. I left medicine and became a financial educator and coach.

As I worked with clients and watched their aha moments and successes, it became clear to me that although women came to me because they had money problems, it was never really just about the money. Their financial troubles were a gateway to the changes in their thinking and beliefs that they needed to make to start living extraordinary and truly wealthy lives.

I saw what may be the biggest secret paradox of wealth, having plenty of money lets you stop worrying and thinking about money and frees you up to work on what brings peace and purpose to your life. This is my purpose. I started living it in 2019, coaching clients and creating Money For Women Physicians, an online coaching and financial literacy program.

Its success has led me to move it into book form for non-doctors and other women who might not be financially able to participate in individual coaching. Although I'll make a strong argument for the fiscal wisdom of such an investment in chapter five.

Defining Wealth for Women isn't as explicitly programmatic as my online program and workshops tailored to female physicians. Still, it will offer any professional women both important reframing and tactical recommendations. It will help you understand and take apart the myths and misconceptions around money that are holding you back. The first may be exactly the one that brought you to this book in the first place, the belief that money is complicated.

So that was the introduction. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope it's made you curious about the rest of the book. And like I said before, if you go to definingwealthforwomen.com right now, you'll be able to actually get the introduction I just read you along with the first chapter. Or you can just click the link on the show notes.

Once again, the book is coming out January 11, 2022. I can't wait to get it into your hands. And when you do download that introduction and chapter one, it will put you on my email list and you will be the first to know when it's available for purchase.  I will talk to you guys next week.

Hey, if you're ready to create wealth I want you to join my program, Money for Women Physicians. You'll join a community of like-minded women physicians who are committed to creating wealth. Just head over to wealthymommd.com/money to learn more.

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The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | 3 Steps to Believing Something New

78: 3 Steps to Believing Something New

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The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | 3 Steps to Believing Something NewA few weeks ago, I promised you all I would share my biggest and most profound takeaways from Cabo, Mexico, where I met with my business coach. I was originally trying to think of the top three things I learned. But there was one thing that stood out the most, and it's an area where I see so many clients struggling.

When it comes to creating new beliefs, we need to be very clear on what we want our new beliefs to be. This is a process that I've been working on for a very long time, and in this episode, I'm sharing how I decide intentionally on the new thoughts and beliefs I want to create.

Tune in this week to discover the three steps to creating new thoughts. I'm showing you how to see where your thoughts currently are when it comes to your money, and the process I'm following for creating new beliefs and showing your brain why they're true.

If you're ready to take control of your money and practice medicine on your terms, you need to check out Money for Women Physicians. Click here to learn more!

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why you are totally allowed to believe anything you want to believe about money.
  • Where I see people struggling to see evidence for why what they want to believe is already true.
  • The thoughts and beliefs about money that I'm currently trying to live into.
  • How to use the 3 steps I'm sharing to create new thoughts that you believe in 100%.

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Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it, and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level your money and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Welcome to episode 78. So I promised you all that I would talk about my biggest takeaways from Cabo, Mexico where I met with my business coach, who I meet with four times a year. And at first, I was thinking, “Okay, I'm going to plan or think about the top three things I learned,” but it really came down to one thing.

And this is something I see a lot of my clients and I see you all struggling with. And so I think I sort of figured it out. Now, I don't mean I figured it out like this is the only way. But I figured it out in a way that makes sense to my brain and I'm going to offer it to you.

And so first this assumes that you know what to believe first, meaning you know what the new thought, the new belief that you want to believe. And so if you're not there yet, that's okay, but that's not what this episode is about. But I want to give you real quick how I come up with what I want to think on purpose.

So I think of it as three ways. Number one is I first become aware of what I'm currently believing about money. I'm always creating new money goals for myself personally and for my business. And so the best way to know what do you actually believe about money is you actually look at what you currently have.

Like where you live, what kind of place you live in, what your current annual income is. Because that is what you currently believe about your ability to make money. And that's so good to know, we call this awareness.

And then from there if you want something more, if you have a new goal, then you have to think something differently. I'm kind of simplifying it, but that's basically how you get to the new thing that you want to believe.

The second way to do this is to work backwards. So one of the things I teach my clients is the self-coaching model where thoughts create feelings, create actions, create results. And so we start backwards, we start at the R line, which is the result line.

And it goes like this basically, the R line is basically you goal, the thing that you want that you don't have yet. And so you can put anything you want in the R line. In other words you can want anything that you want.

And when I first heard this, I thought that was crazy and like, “What? Is that really true? I'm allowed to want whatever I want? I'm allowed to dream and go for whatever I dream?” And maybe this is obvious to you but it wasn't obvious to me.

The third way to find new things to think is to honestly, borrow from someone else. When I say borrow, nobody owns thoughts anyway, so there's no thought police per se. But sometimes you'll hear something, maybe you heard something I said or one of your friends said, or something you read on Facebook or whatever and you're like, “Wow, that is an amazing belief that I want to believe.”

So those are usually the three ways that I come up with new beliefs. Okay, so let's just assume you have the new thing you want to believe about yourself, about money, whatever. So that's step one, you have to choose the belief you want to think on purpose.

Step two is you then have to find evidence that this new belief is already true. Now stay with me because I know some of you are saying, “Well if I already believed I wouldn't have to do this.” But I like to think that whatever goal that we want, whenever we hear something that resonates with us and then we're like, “Oh, that's so true to me,” or “I really want that,” there's a part of you that already believes that it's possible.

And so what I'm asking in this step two is for you to look for any little seedling of evidence that it is true for you. Now, this might be really hard at first because at first your brain might be like, “We have no evidence that this is true.” So let me give you an example of a thought for me.

So one of the thoughts that I'm leaning into is that I am seven figure business owner, a seven figure coach. Basically I've made $1 million. And so I guess what I'm really saying is I am a seven figure coach, meaning I make that in a year.

And so here's the thing with new beliefs, when you introduce them into your awareness your brain will probably immediately look for all the reasons why it's not true, all the ways that you don't actually believe in it. And this is normal because if you already believed it, you wouldn't be doing this, right?

So some questions that might help you with how to find evidence that it's already true are questions like how is this already true? What do I already know? Has anyone else done this before? These questions are all kind of the same question just from different angles.

And they're not exactly easy to answer if you have a similar brain to mine, or a normal human brain I should say, where our brain just automatically wants to go to how it doesn't work, how it's not going to work, how it's wrong, how we're wrong. Basically it's always kind of going to the immediate negative and looking for ways it's not going to work. So this is normal, this is what I'm brain does immediately as well.

And so I think step two is actually the hardest part in some ways, especially if you haven't done this before. And so it's kind of like going to the gym and having a plan to do your reps, like, “I'm going to do 10 reps of this weight, I'm going to take a 10 second break, I'm going to do another set and then another set.” At least I've been taught you do three sets, I could be wrong.

And sometimes it's really hard to do it the first time you do it or the second time you do it. It's always easier, I think, when you have someone there with you. And the reason why this is hard is because you're asking your brain to do something that's going to require it to do some work.

And remember, our brains are inherently lazy, they don't want to do anything new. And this is new. You're asking kind of your brain to think a little harder. And at first your brain might say, “I don't know. We don't know. This isn't true, there's no way it's true.” And then I want you to ask the same question again.

And I do this with my clients a lot because I'll ask them a similar question like, “Give me your reason.” And they'll give me one, and I'll say, “Give me another one.” And then I'll say, “Give me another one.” And it's not natural for any of us, but if you do the work of asking your brain questions, even when it keeps saying, “I don't know,” it's going to answer eventually. It's going to spit out a little tiny seedling of belief.

Another analogy I heard was you're just finding that little ember, like if you're starting a fire, a campfire. Actually, this is a side note, I went to a resort not too long ago with Matt and this was a resort where they had lots of included activities like yoga and stuff. But they also had some activities like how to start a fire actually.

And so I don't camp so this is not something I would know how to do. So this is how to start a fire without a lighter, it sounds obvious. So they showed us different ways to do it. And they say once you get that little ember, you're creating a spark and then you see this little, small, orange thing glow, that's what the second step is about.

It's like creating that little glow even if it's barely perceptible. But that's all you need. And then it's your job to fan it. And that's what step three is, fanning it. Which I'll go into in a second. But I'm just sort of hitting this point because I think step two can be the hardest.

And so let me give you some examples from the belief for me of I am a seven figure coach or I am a million dollar business. And at first, I was like, “Well, it's not true so I'm not allowed to believe it.” And so I had to keep asking my brain, “Okay, how is this true?” And not in a force myself to believe something that isn't true but showing my brain that it's true in some way and then I just have to do some more work to believe it even more.

And so what I actually discovered was when I added up all of my business income since I started my business it actually added up to one million dollars. And so basically, I actually proved that it was true, I just haven't made one million dollars in a 12 month period. But I have made a million dollars in my business.

And even if I didn't actually make a million dollars in my business the other ways that I'd show my brain that it is true is that money is coming in, I am making money in my business, meaning I've made more than a dollar. And the way that you make a million dollars in your business is a dollar at a time, right. And so that's what I mean by finding the little glow of how that belief is true.

And then step three is then you got to fan and cultivate that new baby belief. And this really translates to something really mundane and boring. It's basically you've got to lift the weights. If you want a six pack you've got to do sit ups everyday five times a week, whatever it is, day after day, week after week. You can't just work out once and have the six pack. And the same thing is with new beliefs.

And I think we think that it should be easy to believe new things or that it should be quick, and the truth is sometimes it is really easy and quick to believe something new. Sometimes just even the awareness that you weren't believing it is enough.

But for money I have found that this is not the case, that it usually takes time. And you're probably wondering well, how much time? Honestly it really depends on if you're doing the work. And this is what I mean by if you're doing the work. Are you reading that belief? Are you writing it down every day? If not, how often are you actually practicing that thought?

And then you might think, okay, how do I actually practice this thought? And there's so many ways, there is no right way. But writing it out, saying it out loud, cycling through step two again. I think step two and three go hand in hand together. Although it's really all three steps because I know that many of you have created some new fancy sounding beliefs, what I mean by that is beliefs that you really love and you're super excited about. And then in like three days you forgot about it because you didn't practice it.

And so I think of this at an iterative process, it's not just one, two, three you're done and then you believe the new thing. It's basically a cycle, maybe you put it as your iPhone wallpaper so that you always see it. But that's what doing the reps of believing new things looks like. It's not sexy, it's just you practicing the thoughts literally on a regular basis.

And sometimes these take a long time, meaning it could take weeks, it could even take months. And if you're thinking, “Wow, that's a really long time.” Is it? Because what's the flip side? You never believe it. It's not like it's going to come down from heaven and jolt your brain and then lock itself in the brain. I think sometimes we think that's how it works, but it really doesn't. We have to do the work to believe the new thing.

So let me go through those three steps once again. So step one is first you have to know what you're going to believe. Step two is to find evidence for the belief, that it's already true, that it's possible. Finding evidence that it's true versus finding evidence that it's not true because that's what our brains will normally do. And then step three is to grow that belief by practicing it.

And so this really comes down to think more, not think harder. Just think more. Do the reps. Decide what kind of reps you're going to do and how often you're going to do it. I know many of you are super busy, you work full time, you might have a family and lots of other obligations, and so it doesn't have to be every day. You can pick 10 minutes three times a week, at least to start.

And then as you notice that it's working you going to probably want to spend more time on this. And so if you've listened to the whole episode and you don't yet have a new belief you want to choose to think and practice, I really want to encourage tot do that and maybe listen to this episode again really thinking about those three steps I just went over. And figuring out how you're going to practice the thought.

What is it going to look like? Put it in your calendar. Maybe attach it to some habit that you already do. Maybe you already have a regular schedule where you work out, or go to the gym, or do yoga, or whatever and so maybe you could just spend an extra five or ten minutes before or after that thing to practice these new thoughts.

And let me know how it works out for you. Feel free to email us at podcast@wealthymommd.com and I'll talk to you guys next week.

Hey, if you enjoyed this episode and don't want to miss out on new episodes, please hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app. See you next week.

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The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | Clearing Out Your Old Thoughts for Good

77: Clearing Out Your Old Thoughts for Good

Apple Podcasts Spotify Stitcher

The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | Clearing Out Your Old Thoughts for GoodOnce my clients understand that their thoughts create their feelings, drive their actions, and create their results, one thing they seem to struggle with is what to do when old thoughts that they thought they'd worked on keep popping back up.

There's some wishful thinking that, after learning the power of this thought work, that you'll only think amazing thoughts. And I believed this myself at one stage too. However, that's just not the reality. So, what can we do to make sure it's not a problem when those old and unhelpful thoughts resurface?

You are not your thoughts. So, in this week's episode, I'm showing you how to step into the role of being the watcher of your thoughts. This is the secret to so many things that we do inside my programs, and I'm bringing this concept to the podcast to help you get started cleaning up self-doubt, being risk-averse, and so many other things that stop us from creating wealth.

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why no matter how much work you do on a thought, it will reappear from time to time.
  • What it means to be the watcher of your thoughts.
  • How accepting reoccurring fear-based thoughts held me back for so long and what I made them mean.
  • How to be the watcher of your own fear-based thoughts and give equal airtime to more positive thoughts.

Listen to the Full Episode:

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Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it, and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level your money and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Welcome to episode 77. So one of the things a lot of my clients struggle with once they understand that their thoughts create their feelings, which create actions and their result is what to do when old thoughts pop up.

And I think there's this sort of misunderstanding or maybe wishful thinking, and I had the same wishful thinking too, that once you understand that thoughts create feelings, that suddenly only amazing thoughts will come to them. Meaning once you start creating new thoughts that the old thoughts will just kind of go away and that we're going to reach some kind of brain nirvana.

And that doesn't happen. So, sorry to break the news to you. I used to think so too and I was like, “What?” when I found out that that's not what happens. Because as long as you have a human brain it's going to offer up thoughts and some aren't useful.

And so I thought I'd do an episode on how to think about this so you don't make it a problem when old, unuseful thoughts pop up, because they will. And so I can kind of still it into one sentence, is that it's what we think about these thoughts the determines how we feel, not the actual thoughts themselves. Not the actual presence of these thoughts. Kind of meta, right?

And so this requires us to understand that there's us, you, and there are your thoughts. Now, many of us think we are our thoughts. I want you to see yourself as the watcher of your thoughts, you are not your thoughts.

Now, this concept is so important when it comes to understanding and managing your risk tolerance for investing. And so this is why we spend so much time on this inside of Money For Women physicians. Because so many of you might feel afraid or have self-doubt come up for you whenever you start looking into investing in the stock market or whatever you're looking to invest in.

What if the only thing that has happened is that you believed these fear-based thoughts? I remember when I first started investing, or looked into rather, investing in real estate, immediately my brain said things like, “This seems complicated. You might lose money. This might not work out.” Lots of thoughts like that and I believed them.

And so it took me some time to actually invest in real estate because of that. And not only that, I made the presence of these fear-based thoughts mean that this was like a sign that I shouldn't actually do it. How many of you do that too? And I want to offer that there's another way to look at these fear-based thoughts.

So first I want to remind you that our brain, our human brain is specifically designed to keep us alive. And because of that, anything new is pretty much automatically labeled at possibly dangerous and a threat to our survival. I know, logically it sounds super silly, but that's just what it does.

And you may have heard me talk about the motivational triad, but one of the three things is that it wants things to be easy. It wants to be efficient because in order to maximize our chances for survival we want to make sure we have enough energy to, I don't know, outrun a lion or something if something like that actually happens to us. And so it's always trying to conserve energy, AKA it's pretty lazy.

And so one of the ways it tries to convince you that you shouldn't learn anything new that's going to take up a lot of energy is to basically offer up fear-based thoughts. And so what do you do when they come up? Because they will.

And I think some of us think that well, once I make a certain amount of money, once I have a certain amount of money, whatever that amount is for your, maybe it's one million or five million, then you're never going to have negative thoughts about money.

But that's not the case because circumstances, the amount of money you have does not determine how you feel, it's what you think about the money. And a number isn't going to magically make your thoughts better about money.

And you might think that's not true, but let's say you're an attending right now and you have thoughts that you don't have enough money or that it's not enough. But once you have a certain amount it will be fine. But just notice how your thinking probably hasn't changed much from being a medical student, from being a resident, to now being an attending.

I think many of us have this false belief that once we became attendings that all of our money problems would kind of disappear. But it didn't, did it? And so the one skill you need to learn in terms of how to deal with this, well there's really two, the first one is to just notice that it's a thought. And that you can choose to believe it or not.

I know, it doesn't seem like you have a choice, right? Once you're aware that it is a thought and something you can choose or not, then you can decide if you want to keep it or not. And many of you probably don't want to keep these fear-based thoughts about money and so you have to learn the art of redirecting your brain.

What I mean by that is you redirect your brain to different thoughts. Because here's the thing, when you have fear-based thoughts about money, you've probably been thinking about them or thinking them for decades. And so it's going to take some time and practice to not only create new thoughts, but to actually believe the new thoughts.

And so this art of redirecting our brains to different thoughts, I think of it as like these are weightlifting sets or reps. Like if you're weightlifting, I wish it was the case that you can just want a six pack and have it, but you got to do the work, you got to do the reps. And the same is true for our thoughts.

And so many of my clients create these new thoughts that they love, that they believe and then a day or two later or maybe a week or two later their old thoughts start creeping back in and they think there's a big problem, as if it stopped working. And no, all that's happened is that your brain offered up an old thought.

And think about it, it's very easy for your brain to offer up that old thought because it's been thinking it for so long it's very efficient. And so you just have to put in the time, the reps to redirect your brain to the new thought.

Another way that I can explain this concept of redirecting your brain is giving yourself or giving your brain equal airtime. So many of us spend so much time giving airtime to all the sort or negative thoughts, all the ways things can go wrong. But we don't take the time to give equal airtime to how it could be right, and how it could go so well, and what possibilities could be possible.

And I also want to remind you that it's kind of normal for our brains to focus on the negative. It's kind of what it's designed to do. Remember, it's constantly scanning for what could be wrong or what could be missing because it wants to make sure we stay alive.

And for us physicians, we're kind of experts at this, right?  Because when we're seeing patients, we always have to be thinking about not just a differential, but make sure we're not missing the thing that could kill the patient or the worse thing it could be, right?

And so I actually think it might be even harder for us in some ways because in our jobs we're trained to actually do this all the time. And obviously that's a skill that works very well for us as physicians, but it's a skill that's quite detrimental for actual life, and especially money.

And so I would just suggest if this is a completely new concept for you, just take the time to give some equal airtime to different types of thoughts. Like instead of focusing on what could go wrong or what's not possible for you, what could be possible for you? How could this go well? Could it go well? Is that possible? If it is, let's spend some time thinking about how it could go well.

I already hear some of you saying, “Yeah, but…” And most of the times the yeah, but goes something like this, “Yeah, but if I think about how it could go well, the I might be disappointed.” But here's the thing, you're already disappointed right now. Do you want to keep being disappointed? Do you want to at least explore the possibility of having what you want?

And lastly, I just want to remind everyone that it is 100% normal to not want to do this. Even though logically you might want to do this. And because remember, our brains want to be efficient, it doesn't want to learn anything new, and this takes effort.

Kind of like this morning when I looked at my calendar and saw it was my day to do some weightlifting, specifically upper body. Immediately my brain is like, “Ugh, we don't want to do that. Let's just scroll on Facebook and hang out there or scroll on Instagram.”

So it's 100% normal for your brain to not want to do the work of redirecting to think about what's possible because it's going to take energy and effort to do so. And it's 100% worth the effort of doing the work.

Remember, as long as you have a human brain, it's going to offer up unuseful thoughts. And this is one of the many reasons that I have a coach that I meet once a week. And I literally refer to it as my weekly brain clean out.

Because even though I'm a coach and I know how to coach myself, I still have a human brain and human brains will always offer up thoughts that may or may not be useful. And I will sometimes believe those unuseful thoughts.

And this is one of the reasons why we offer a weekly coaching call inside of Money For Women Physicians, so that you can come and get your brain cleaned out on a weekly basis when it comes to money. Because remember we have decades and decades of unuseful money beliefs hanging out in our brains and it's going to take some time to clear those out and replace them with some more useful ones.

And as you do that, the you start taking action from a more positive place. Actions like investing in real estate or having the courage to ask for more money at your job or doing something else if medicine is not what you want to do anymore.

Because it is easier to just keep doing what you're doing now, of course it is. But if you want a different result, different outcome of where you want your like to go, your money to go, of course it's worth the work to get there.

Okay my friends, I will talk to you next week.

Hey, if you enjoyed this episode and don't want to miss out on new episodes, please hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app. See you next week.

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The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | Losing Weight and Making Money with Dr. Amruti Choudhry

76: Losing Weight and Making Money with Dr. Amruti Choudhry

Apple Podcasts Spotify Stitcher

The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast with Dr. Bonnie Koo | Losing Weight and Making Money with Dr. Amruti ChoudhryToday, I have a special guest. And while this is a podcast all about money, my guest in this episode is actually a weight loss coach. You might think that sounds a little strange, but I've found that I meet so many weight loss coaches who have gone through the same training that I have, and the same principles and processes apply to self-improvement in both of these areas. Even inside my coaching practice, after I've been working with clients for a while, the subject of weight loss often comes up. 

And so, I thought it would be fun to have weight loss coach Dr. Amruti Choudhry come on the show this week to discuss the similarities and commonalities between losing weight and making money. She's a brilliant coach and a charming guest, and I hope you'll see how you can apply the skills you've been learning from this podcast to your weight loss goals if that's something you're working towards.

Amruti is a physician turned full-time coach who specializes in coaching South Asian professionals on weight loss. We're discussing the scarcity-based thoughts and fear of failure that come up for our clients when losing weight and building wealth, and Amruti is sharing how she helps her clients maintain their weight once they've lost it, much like I help my clients manage their wealth.

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why all the skills I've been teaching you about building wealth also apply to weight loss.
  • Where the fear of failure holds so many physicians back from even trying to lose weight.
  • How Amruti teaches her clients to use failure as an opportunity to win in the future.
  • Why you don't necessarily have to sacrifice spontaneity when you make a weight loss plan or a financial plan.
  • The arrival fallacy and how this scarcity mindset applies in weight loss and in building wealth.
  • Why you can't rely on external validation if you want to lose weight of maintain wealth in the long term.
  • How Amruti encourages people who want to lose weight to seek discomfort in the short term.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:


Read the transcript Expand

Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it, and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level your money and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Hey everyone, welcome. So I've been kind of messing up the number of the episodes. So I can't remember this is 76 or 77. But obviously, when you listen to this, it'll be labeled correctly. And so today, I have a special guest and so I wanted to talk about why I have a weight loss coach on a podcast about money.

And so this is why, the more I've been doing money coaching, and because I'm in the coaching world I meet a lot of weight loss coaches. Now, I'm talking about coaches that have been trained by the Life Coach School, because you do learn how to coach on weight loss, and general life coaching, and everything really.

And so what I have noticed is that the same principles, the same concepts, the process to make money is actually very similar to what you need to do to lose weight. And so I do have a very small one on one coaching practice and I actually end up coaching some of my clients on weight loss because, well, I know how to do it because I am trained on that. But because the skill set is really the same.

And so I thought it'd be really fun to have her come on, to kind of talk about the similarities and the analogies between losing weight and making money. Because if you've been listening to this podcast for a while, or maybe you're even inside my program, Money For Women Physicians, all the skills I'm teaching you can apply directly to losing weight, if that's something you want to do.

And so I brought on Dr. Amruti Choudhry and she will introduce herself. But one of the reasons why I chose her, besides the fact that she's absolutely lovely, is she has a wonderful British accent because she lives in the UK. And since this is a podcast, I'm like, “It would be so fun to have someone with an awesome accent on the show.”

Plus, she's absolutely brilliant. I'm super excited for her to be here. I hope you will learn a lot and start applying some of the skills that you've been learning on the podcast to how you can lose weight, if that's something that you want to do.

All right, here we go.

Bonnie: Welcome to the show, Dr. Amruti Choudhry.

Dr. Choudhry: Thank you so much, Bonnie. So it's such a pleasure to be here.

Bonnie: Yeah. So for my listeners who don't know you, can you just briefly introduce yourself?

Dr. Choudhry: Yeah. So I'm Dr. Amruti Choudhry, I am a certified life and weight loss coach in the UK, and a retired physician because I have become a full time coach. And I coach South Asian women, professionals on weight loss.

Bonnie: Yeah. So for those of you listening, you might be like, “Okay, why is there a weight loss coach on the show?” And so the reason why I wanted Dr. Choudhry on the show is this, if you follow me and you've been listening along, then I have great news for you. Because all the skills that I've been teaching you apply to losing weight. So it's really two for one.

And so I wanted to bring her on specifically to kind of pick out some of the concepts that we both coach on that end up being very similar in terms of the skill sets needed to either lose weight or make money. And I would say from now on when you listen to my podcast, if you are someone who's trying to lose weight, ask yourself how does this apply to losing weight? Because it's kind of the same. It's great.

Plus, Dr. Choudhry has a lovely accent so it's kind of fun to listen to her voice.

Dr. Choudhry: I love that. Thank you so much, Bonnie.

Bonnie: Yeah, so I thought the first thing we could talk about is processing emotions. Now, it's something that we talk about a lot, meaning you have to allow your emotions to come up, and feel them, and process them. I know in weight loss we talk about allowing urges.

And so do you want to just spend maybe a minute explaining what that means exactly. Because I don't think I specifically talk about allowing urges to my audience.

Dr. Choudhry: Yeah, so this is one of the topics I talk about a lot in my weight loss coaching. So basically, when people want to overeat it's normally because they're trying to buffer against a negative emotion. So what that means is they're trying to kind of push away a negative emotion and they use food to numb that out.

And what often happens is when you're feeling an urge, which is an intense over desire to eat, or do something off your protocol, or anything like that. That's what often takes them away from following the plan that they've made ahead of time.

So we talk quite a lot on feeling our urges and how to kind of be able to process them, even when they feel like you're going to die. They feel like they're so strong. And they feel like you're not able to do so.

So one of the things that I teach them is feeling your emotions and feeling your urges are exactly the same thing. It's about kind of tuning into your body, actually feeling it directly in your body, describing it, kind of thinking where they're feeling it in the body and just tuning into their body. As opposed to looking for something external to make themselves feel better.

Bonnie: Yeah, and that's definitely a skill that many of my clients – You don't coach just women physicians, right?

Dr. Choudhry: No, I coach any South Asian professional.

Bonnie: Yeah. So basically type A professional woman, right? And so, we I think are kind of taught not to feel our feelings. And something I heard from Glennon Doyle, the author of Untamed, it's such a simple sentence but it really struck me. It said, “Feelings are feeling,” it's like, okay, duh, that makes sense, right?

Dr. Choudhry: Yeah.

Bonnie: And so a lot of my clients will use food as a buffer. You know, they're in a bad mood and then they'll eat something thinking they'll feel better, or they'll go shopping, that's the flip side.

Dr. Choudhry: Yes.

Bonnie: I'm sure some of your clients go shopping, too.

Dr. Choudhry: Exactly. So yeah, the buffer could be food or over shopping. So they're normally hand in hand. And I coach a lot of women physicians, as well and it's exactly the same, basically.

So what I tend to find is that when they do one, or when they start losing weight, they may then go to another buffer. So before they learn how to fully feel their feelings, they kind of may be following their food protocol, but then they go to overspending. I mean, that happened with me and my own journey, so I can kind of feel your pain.

Bonnie: Yeah. No, that makes sense, right? You learn how to process emotions with one specific thing like eating or spending money. But then once you've mastered that it usually ends up moving along. Because I think we're always going to want to avoid feeling or feelings.

For me, it's definitely social media is my biggest vice when I'm buffering personally.

Dr. Choudhry: Yeah. And I think it's also because society doesn't teach us about feeling our emotions. it's often frowned upon. It's often kind of like, “Oh, that's quite woo. That's quite soft and mushy.” And especially as women physicians, that may not be scientific enough for us.

But when we actually get into actually tuning into our bodies and feeling it, the actual freedom that you get is phenomenal.

Bonnie: Yeah, no, totally agree. Also, I think there's this sense that if you have enough willpower or mental strength, you won't need to feel your feelings, right?

Dr. Choudhry: Yeah.

Bonnie: I think that's kind of perpetuated in medicine.

Dr. Choudhry: Agreed, yeah.

Bonnie: Yeah. Okay, yeah, so this just reminded me because I think so many of us are just afraid of feeling our feelings, certain feelings, we go to such great lengths to avoid them. And then the consequences can just be so huge.

And so what I see in my clients is they're so afraid – And this is kind of a segue into the next topic. They're so afraid of making a mistake and the consequence being losing money, they don't even try because risk is so scary to them. The fear of failing, I think, is just so high in our clients because we're type A, we got straight A's and failure wasn't an option. And especially as a doctor, failure means you could hurt a patient unintentionally.

And so do you see this in your clients? I guess the analogy would be gaining weight if they make a mistake.

Dr. Choudhry: Yes, this happens all the time. So when I'm actually coaching them, from the beginning we talk about how we're going to fail our way to success. And when they hear that initially they're horrified, like, “What does that mean? I don't want to fail.”

But actually we talk about failing forward. So like, how are we going to fail and either look at that as a win or as a learning opportunity? So what can we learn from that fail that's actually going to drive us closer to our goal, as opposed to further away from it?

Bonnie: Yeah, our society's relationship with failure is not a great model to learn from. Because basically if you think about even just our school system, I don't know how the grades are in the UK, but here an A is the highest grade and then F literally stands for – I think it stands for failure, I
don't know, I just assume that's what it means. But it's like getting an F is horrible, right? But you don't learn anything when you're always getting A's.

Dr. Choudhry: Exactly that. And so what we teach is kind of like how can we learn our way there? Because with weight loss, and I'm sure it's the same with making money, it's kind of like a lot of trial and error.

So it's not like there's a perfect route for every client. It's different for every client and so you have to fail in order to know what doesn't work for you so it can drive you to actually find what does work and what will continue to work for you.

Bonnie: Yeah, I love what you just said there. It is a lot of trial and error finding the way that works for the individual. Obviously, you and I have steps and processes that we take our clients through, but each individual journey can look so different.

Okay, so here's a good one. So another analogy is weighing yourself on the scale, you see a number. And then for money it would be either the balance in your accounts or your net worth. I guess net worth is probably a better measure. So how do you talk about that with your clients?

Dr. Choudhry: Yeah, so it normally starts off with a lot of my clients fear the scale. And we talk about how the scale is completely neutral. So it's the same kind of analogy as a bank account, say if it's negative or whatever the bank account is. And a lot of my clients think that the scale is causing them to feel a certain way, especially if the scale has gone up or anything like that.

But what we look at is how what we're thinking about the scale is actually creating our feelings. So what I take them through is, how do they actually want to think even before they get on the scales? Like what do they want to kind of believe about themselves without even looking at it?

So this kind of takes me to the belief aspect of what do they believe about themselves, even when the scale is going up or going down? With you it's probably their bank account kind of going up or down, right?

Bonnie: Yeah, I love what you just said because basically it's like we're allowed to believe whatever we want about ourselves, no matter what the external measure might be. And I think a lot of women think we're only allowed to believe certain things about ourselves if certain external measurements also line up.

And I think with weight loss especially, or just weight and body size, society just values thin women so much that I think a lot of women just feel like, “Well, I'm not allowed to feel beautiful, or think I'm beautiful, or think I'm amazing if the scale doesn't match up with that,” right?

Dr. Choudhry: Exactly. And what we actually work on is kind of body image and actually self-love first. And when you start loving your body, if you do want to lose weight, that's when the weight starts coming off.

Because when you're kind of beating yourself up into weight loss, or the same thing with you beating yourself up into making a certain amount of money, then it's never going to be sustainable. Because how you get there is how you stay there.

So if you're kind of beating yourself up for weight loss, when you get to your goal weight, you're going to keep continuing to beat yourself up. And that's just going to lead you to burnout or self-sabotage, and then put the weight back on.

Bonnie: Oh totally. And this is basically the arrival fallacy concept, right? Like I'm sure some of your clients are like, “Oh, I'll be happy, I'll feel so great about myself when I'm this weight.” And the same thing with money, a lot of people feel like, “Oh, all of my money stress and fears – Or I'll feel secure once I have this much in the bank.”

And then I just gently remind them, yeah, but you used to be a medical student where you made no money for the most part. And then you became a resident where in the US we get paid around 40 to $50,000 a year. And then you became an attending where your income like quadrupled for the most part. And they're like, “Oh.”

So I think each time there's a step up, we think we're going to feel better. But it just like, magnifies. And in fact, I will tell them if we don't clean this up right now, because the common thought for my clients is like, “I don't have enough” or “I feel insecure about money,” it actually gets worse the more money you have.

And I found this true for myself and so I really had to get to work to clean up myself. Because I said, “Because if you don't clean it up and you end up having a million dollars, if that's your goal, you're going to be afraid to lose the money once you get there. It'll just like flip the fear that you have.” Do you see this in your clients?

Dr. Choudhry: Oh, exactly the same. So it reminds me of kind of scarcity, right? So scarcity thinking with regards to money or with food. So
what shows up for my clients is that – So firstly, when they first start off it's like the scarcity of, “Oh, I'm not going to have enough or it won't be enough to sustain me. I won't be able to stick to this. I'll miss out.” Things like that.

And then when they actually start getting to goal weight it's kind of like, “Will I be able to stay here? I won't be able to stay here. I won't be able to sustain this.”

Bonnie: Maintaining.

Dr. Choudhry: Yeah, those kinds of scarcity thoughts that pop up
that we have to really work through.

Bonnie: That's so interesting, just thinking about my journey with weight. I'm pretty good at losing weight, that's not like a big deal. Although lately it's been harder. I'm sort of blaming my age, but I'm sure that's not really true. I mean, maybe it's partially true, but not the entire story.

But when I get to my goal weight, I think it's such unfamiliar territory to me and so I always end up gaining it back slowly over time. Or kind of like, “Well, I can do whatever I want now because I'm here,” but that's not really true. I found that out many times.

Dr. Choudhry: Me too. Yeah, same here.

Bonnie: Yeah, that's a different – I don't know, do you think it's a different skill set to kind of maintain where you are?

Dr. Choudhry: Yeah, I think it's kind of like what happens is you don't get the external validation that you get when you're losing weight. So when you're losing weight, everyone's saying to you, “Oh, wow, you've lost weight. You're doing so well.” You can actually see the numbers moving on the scale, which you can choose to think it's working or whatever you choose to think about that.

And when you maintaining your weight, you don't get that external validation anymore. And so you have to learn how to self-validate so that you can still maintain it as opposed to relying on the external validation.

Bonnie: Oh, that's such a good point. I don't think I've thought of it like that. So I think for money it would be a lot of us aren't used to just having money, right? Like just having it. Because I think so many of us think of money as we get it and we just, “Okay, what do we do with it?” Meaning like how do we spend the money versus just really being, I don't want to say happy, but just feeling really sufficient with having the money and not needing to do something with it.

Dr. Choudhry: Yeah, and a lot of my clients, they're just not used to being at goal weight. They just don't know what to do with themselves because the decades of their life they've been either gaining weight or losing weight, gaining weight or losing weight.

So now they have that freeness in their mind, they're like, “Wait, what do I do with all of this mind space and energy?” And all of that that they now have. So they often go and build businesses or take up hobbies or do something completely new, because they've got so much free space in their mind now?

Bonnie: Yeah, no, totally. Okay, so let's talk about the analogy – So one of the things I talk about a lot is spending plans, which is my preferred term, versus budget. And I will actually say a budget sounds like a money diet, and nobody likes diets.

So I think this is such a great analogy between money and eating plans. So, we both trained at the Life Coach School and so I'm familiar with the basic weight loss tools that they use. Although I'm sure yours are a little different.

And so one of the concepts I teach is to create a spending plan, and all that means is that we're making decisions about how we're going to use our money in advance. Where we use our thinking brain, our prefrontal cortex if you will, to make logical decisions about spending. Because in the moment, if you haven't made a decision, your toddler brain will often take over.

Kind of like they say that's why you should never go grocery shopping when you're hungry. It's so funny, because I'll make a list. I don't go shopping these days, I just get everything delivered. But when I used to go grocery shopping, even when I was hungry, I'd be like, “Well if I make a list, I'll stick to the list.” But yeah, there's something about when you're hungry you just start buying stuff that you don't need.

Dr. Choudhry: Yeah, it's so true. Yeah, totally. I now just order because I know I would probably do the same.

Bonnie: Yeah, so like how do you teach your clients about – You call it an eating protocol, right?

Dr. Choudhry: Mm-hmm.

Bonnie: So tell us about that.

Dr. Choudhry: Yeah, so it's basically the same kind of concepts as the spending plan. So it's basically using your prefrontal cortex, or the thinking part of your brain, to make decisions ahead of time for you so that you don't then rely on your primitive brain, the more animal part of the brain.

Because whenever we're relying on the animal part of the brain, it always wants us to do one of three things, seek pleasure, avoid pain, or stay how we are. And whenever we're doing that, because the primitive brain likes to kind of have routine and it likes to take the path of least resistance, it will always choose the cupcake over the avocado salad that you've got planned on your protocol.

And so if you're not planning, then you're always going to be using that primitive part of your brain. Which is why I encourage my clients to create a protocol so that they're using the higher part of their brain, so that that part of their brain is looking at their greater goals. And so they're more likely to sustain that and actually follow through when they're planning with their prefrontal cortex.

Bonnie: Yeah. And so for those of you listening you might be thinking, “Okay, that sounds great. But then what happens when you're like, in the moment?” And this is where that first thing we talked about in the beginning of podcast, allowing emotions, allowing urges, that's the skill that you have to develop to basically follow through on the plan, right?

Dr. Choudhry: Yeah.

Bonnie: And it's a whole process. Do you say process?

Dr. Choudhry: I say, process, yeah.

Bonnie: I lived in the UK for like three months and I remember loving just like all the different ways people pronounce things.

So yeah, there's a process and what we said earlier about you're going to have to fail and make mistakes because that's just part of how you get to the other side. And I think what came to me is, you're not going to know how to do it correctly, because if you did, we would have already lost the weight or already made the money.

And so I think society just makes us fear failure so much a lot of us don't want to do it. And so we “fail” ahead of time. It's like, why bother? Because we don't want to fail and so we just stay failed, so to speak, right?

Dr. Choudhry: Exactly that. I like to think of it as a skill that you learn. So it's basically like driving a car. So when you're driving a car, initially it's like, “Ah, oh my gosh, I don't know how to drive. I don't know what goes where and it feels really clunky.” And then you go in the second time and then it's a little bit easier. Then you do it like five or six times and it's getting easier. And then a few months later you're just driving the car and it's kind of second nature.

So it's the same thing with feeling urges and feeling emotions. It does feel clunky and scary at first. But then when you do it more and more, your primitive brain doesn't then offer you as many urges when it realizes that you're not giving into them as much. And so your desire actually decreases drastically when you are going towards the urge rather than running away from it.

Bonnie: So it sounds like what you're saying is you need to put in the work.

Dr. Choudhry: Yeah, it feels hard initially but remember if there's discomfort either way. There's either the discomfort of staying the same and kind of not growing, or there's the discomfort of growth and actually feeling the short term discomfort to get the long term comfort.

So most of my clients say, “Yeah, I'd rather feel the short term discomfort to get the long term comfort.” So, yeah, all about the delayed gratification, right?

Bonnie: Yeah. So for our spending plans usually we're talking about one month increments. Or I actually have them think about what they spend annually because certain things are like monthly, but then certain things aren't.

Just for example, for a lot of my insurance premiums I actually pay once a year because it's usually a little cheaper versus paying every month, they add extra fees. But you still want to put it in your spending plan what it is monthly to make sure it adds up annually.

So I'm assuming for eating protocols you don't plan a month ahead of time, because that's kind of crazy, right? So what do you recommend?

Dr. Choudhry: So I recommend planning 24 hours in advance because that involves using that higher part of our brain to do so. I also do event plans, and plans for special occasions, plans for holidays, plans for kind of eating out because these are the situations where a lot of my clients worry.

They think, “Well I can eat on protocol when I'm actually at home or at work. But actually, when it comes to socializing and meeting with other people, that's when things may change.” So that's when we create specific protocols for these occasions so that they're kind of still able to feel in control. And kind of having gone there anticipated the obstacles that may come up, come up with solutions for themselves, and then follow through with that in actual time.

Bonnie: Yeah, that's such a great point because I think the same applies for spending. Because if they're just having a regular month where they're just doing their normal daily routine, but then when they're traveling and so a lot of my clients will be like, “But I want to be able to buy things.”

And I think it's really easy to think that these protocols, these plans are meant to be restrictive. Because that's just kind of like the societal messaging we get, that it's restrictive. Dieting is restrictive and if you're working on your money, then you have to spend less. It's like very based on restriction.

And so I teach the same concept because, for example, I have certain clients where they understand the idea of creating a spending plan, but then they're like, “But I like to just spend spontaneously.” They don't want to have to plan every purchase. I'm like, “Well, great. You can plan for the spontaneity.”

It sounds kind of ironic but I'm like, “You could put like whatever that is for you, maybe a few thousand dollars where you're just like if you want to buy something on a whim you can do that, it's just included into the plan.”

And the same thing, when I travel is definitely where I tend to get in trouble with eating. But one thing I've just given myself grace about is just because I'm someone who wants to be healthy or just maintain my weight doesn't mean that I can't eat certain things or that I can't let loose for certain times. I just can't do that every day.

So when I was in Cabo a few weeks ago I don't think I really had an eating plan. I think my eating plan was to only eat when I was hungry and to stop when I was full. I just left it very bare bones. And then I had to think about alcohol, because definitely alcohol can be, you know. Not a problem for me, but it's like, yeah, after you have one or two drinks your thinking abilities kind of go down the drain, so to speak.

Dr. Choudhry: Yeah, I know what you mean.

Bonnie: Yeah, so I've had to just be really conscious about that. Like, maybe say I will have two drinks. I actually don't even remember if I followed that or not. But I didn't really make it like a big deal if I drank a little bit more than I wanted to or et cetera.

Dr. Choudhry: Yeah, so it's similar to kind of having that plan. So what I do with my clients is actually anticipate it ahead of time and be like, “Okay, they're allowed to have whatever they want.” So it's never that I'm telling them, “You have to have this.” They get to choose their plan. And it's basically then holding themselves accountable, which is what we kind of teach in the coaching.

So they can have two drinks, or they can have 10. They can put whatever on their plan, but then knowing that they're willing to stick to that plan and when they do follow that plan, they're willing to kind of accept the consequences that may come with it as well.

So when they're going to have 10 drinks, some of them, right, “Yeah, I'm going to have 10 drinks, I'm going to really go all out.” And then they write, “Okay, will I be willing to accept the consequences of being hung over the next day, or feeling sluggish, or kind of like eating everything off protocol and things like that.

So it's, yeah, accepting those consequences and kind of owning that, which is what I teach my clients.

Bonnie: Okay. So I think there's this concept that I see a lot in eating, but also with money, is that there's good and bad food. Because I think when people lose weight they're thinking, oh, I need to only eat “healthy food,” or I should go vegetarian, or whatever the diet of the day or the year is, right?

And I think for money there's just so much morality tied to what you spend your money on. I have some clients who before they joined my program, they were really afraid that I was going to tell them that they can't buy nice handbags or that they can't fly first class.

And so I think this is such an important thing for everyone to hear, is that that is not what this is about. And that is not what eating is about. So I want to hear sort of your take and I'll tell you mine.

Dr. Choudhry: Yeah, so my take is initially they come in thinking but they can't eat that. But what we teach them is kind of like there's no good foods or bad foods. It's just foods that are going to actually serve their bodies or foods that aren't really going to serve their bodies, and it's going to be different for everyone.

And so when they kind of are able to look at that and see that they're making that choice to eat that, then it's not like, “Oh, I can't have it anymore.” It's just, “I'm choosing not to have that.” And then that takes that deprivation out of it so it's not like, “Oh, I had a bad food.” It's just that it's taking that emotion out of it and just seeing it as the facts.

So, I ate a doughnut. And so if you think of it like, “Oh, I've eaten a doughnut,” and then go into the kind of all or nothing thinking like, “That means I'm going to eat off protocol all day,” then that's obviously going to make it harder to lose weight.

But when you look at it as, “Yeah, I had a doughnut. I enjoyed the doughnut. I'm just going to go back on protocol,” then it kind of just takes all of that emotion out of it. And it makes it easier for them to look at it for what it is rather than the kind of story that we create in our brains.

Bonnie: Yeah, and all the self-judgment and shame we pile on top of that, right?

Dr. Choudhry: Yeah.

Bonnie: Yeah. And so I remember one client specifically, she was someone who loved to give. That was just one of the things that gave her so much joy, to donate to charity. And she thought I was going to tell her to stop doing that so she could save more money. And I said, “What if you learned how to make so much more money, you could give even more?”

Because I think so many of us, when we think of money, we think of cutting expenses. And I think that's the same for losing weight, is like they have to eat less food and they're going to just have to deal with it and be unhappy. And so that is one way to create more money to do other things.

But on the flip side, and I don't think there's an analogy for weight loss. But on the flip side I'm like, “So many people never consider what if they just learned how to make more money? So they could actually spend on the things they want to spend on.”

Dr. Choudhry: The analogy that I can think of is over exercising. So everyone thinks that they need to over exercise to lose weight. But actually, sometimes over exercising is detrimental to losing weight. And so the less you exercise, in terms of strenuous exercise, it can actually be better for you. So that's the analogy that I can think of not. I'm sure if it fully relates, but I think it kind of does.

Bonnie: Yeah, when I was younger, I definitely was of the mindset that in order to lose weight you have to not just eat differently, but also exercise a lot. And I remember even I still have the app on my phone, although I just use it to track my weight. But My Fitness Pal, for example, I remember I would enter the food and calculate the calories. Who wants to count calories? I'm just so glad I don't do that anymore, but I used to.

And then I remember entering the exercise and then making sure everything added up. Meaning if I ate a little bit more, then I had to make sure I exercised to negate the calories. And that's what so many people do. Do they still do that?

Dr. Choudhry: Yeah, so a lot of people do that. So we have to get out of that kind of diet mentality, the calories in calories out mentality, because it just doesn't work like that with our bodies. And so it's kind of like a lot of just reprogramming of the brain because for so many decades of our lives we've been thinking that way, right?

Bonnie: Yeah. All right, well, this was such an interesting conversation. And so why don't you tell us sort of like your top tip, and you can give more than one if you want, for those women who do want to lose weight.

Dr. Choudhry: Okay. So I'd say the top tip is probably not what you're going to want to hear. It is learning how to feel your emotions and feel your urges.

And I know we've talked about this previously, but if you can learn how to eat only when you're hungry, and only when you're physically hungry rather than when you're emotionally hungry and kind of trying to push away a negative emotion or a positive emotion, that's when you will get down to your goal weight. Because you'll be actually fueling your body with what it actually needs, rather than what it actually wants. Because you tend to lose weight when you eat what you eat, not when you eat what you kind of always want to eat, right?

Bonnie: Yeah, it sounds so simple.

Dr. Choudhry: It sounds simple and it is simple. But it's the following through that is where it takes practice. And it's like a muscle. And when you exercise that muscle, it aches initially. But then when you keep exercising, it grows and it does the exercise easily. So the more you do it, the easier it becomes. And I know that it sounds cliche, but it's true. Really, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Bonnie: Yeah, and I think that's why it's so helpful to have a coach to coach you during that process so that you're not doing it alone. Just having like a guide and mentor to kind of help you and understand how to evaluate things so that you're not beating yourself up. Because that's like the worst, right? Because all of us are going to come up to obstacles and then how we treat ourselves is going to make all the difference.

Dr. Choudhry: Exactly, and normally what happens in weight loss and probably in money as well, it's we feel a lot of shame when we've eaten off protocol. And shame is one of those emotions that kind of wants to hide, right? So you want to kind of not tell anyone about it, hide, kind of cover it up, things like that.

And so when you actually go towards the shame and actually kind of like see that actually the shame is not as bad as I think it is in my brain, then a coach can help you see that. Because if you aren't kind of getting coached, sometimes you would want to follow that shame and kind of hide. But a coach will actually be able to guide you towards it and feel it.

Bonnie: Yeah, so good. All right everyone. So basically, we just told you all the secrets to making money and losing weight.

Dr. Choudhry: Yeah, and it's the same, guys, as you can hear.

Bonnie: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for being here. I think my listeners learned a lot. And how can we learn more about you?

Dr. Choudhry: Thank you so much for having me. So you can learn more about me by going to my website, www.amruticoaching.com. And I'm currently enrolling for a group coaching program. So if you're interested, you can either message me on Instagram, which is @amruti.coaching or message me on Facebook. I am Amruti Choudhry on Facebook. Or you can email me and you can find the details on my website.

Bonnie: Yeah, we'll be sure to link all that information in the show notes so people can just kind of click and find you easily. All right, thanks so much for being here.

Dr. Choudhry: Thank you so much, Bonnie. Bye.

Hey, if you're ready to create wealth, I want to invite you to join my program, Money For Women Physicians. You'll join a community of like-minded women physicians who are committed to creating wealth. Just head over to wealthymommd.com/money to learn more.

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