Episode 090: Easy Ways to Improve Your Financial Wellness with Bre Bauer
What role does finances play in making healthcare decisions? How much of a factor is it in your overall stress load? What’s your mindset around money?
Finances are at the center of our health and wellness yet one that we may be difficult to address and easily avoided.
Joining me to have a frank discussion on financial wellness is Bre Bauer. Bre is a self-proclaimed “Budget Nerd”, who spent years in a cycle of accumulating consumer debt and then working her tail off to pay it off.
It wasn’t until she changed her awareness and behaviors around her money mindset and spending habits that she was truly able to become and remain debt-free.
In this episode, we discuss:
Mistakes and misconceptions around money and finances
What budgeting means and what it doesn’t mean
The importance of building awareness around your spending habits
How to budget with a variable income
How to build a healthy money mindset
And a whole lot more!
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Naomi Nakamura: Welcome back to the Live FAB Life Podcast. I am your host Naomi Nakamura and today's episode is on a topic that we have never discussed here on the show before.
It's on financial wellness because when you think about health and wellness, what we don't often talk about or even think about are finances, but finances are such a huge part of this whole conversation.
From the cost of healthcare and having to decide and pick and choose what course of treatments we can afford to the quality of food that we feed ourselves and even the different types of self-care practices that we take advantage of because money is a factor in all of it.
In fact, how many of us even stress out about money, right? Finances and money are such a huge part of the stress that so many of us suffer with on a daily basis and it's a part of the health and wellness space that really I believe needs to be talked about more.
So joining me today to have a discussion on this is my friend Bre Bauer and Bre is a self-proclaimed budget nerd and she spent years in a cycle of accumulating consumer debt and then working her tail off to pay it all off. And it wasn't until she changed her awareness and her behaviors around her money mindset and her spending habits that she was then truly able to become. And then also most importantly, remain debt free.
Now in addition to her work as the operations manager for the Real Ingredient Performance Food, Phat Fudge and side hustling as a consultant for Beautycounter (and she happens to be on my team), Bre also works with other people, with her clients through her own business called Breezy Budgets, helping them to create awareness around their spending habits and then how to devise their own plans on how they can achieve financial freedom for themselves.
So through all of these activities, she carries out her life model of life on purpose, which creates a shift, a mindset shift from living on autopilot to finding movement and real food nutrition that excites you and feels good and spending and saving intentionally.
This is kind of a long discussion, but I really enjoyed it and I think there's a lot of things that we can all learn from it. From what mistakes and misconceptions we have around finances to, what are some things and some tips that for those of us who feel overwhelmed and we don't know where to start about taking control of our finances, what can we do there? So a lot of information here. I hope you enjoy it. And with that let's get to the show.
Hi Bre, welcome to the show.
Bre Bauer: Thank you. I'm so excited to be here.
Naomi Nakamura: This is the first time I am doing an episode on this topic and today we're going to be talking about financial wellness. And it's something that has been on my mind for a long time because we talk about a lot of health and wellness things on this podcast and a lot of times people automatically think about diet and food and exercise and then we get into the more lifestyle. How much sleep are you getting, how are you managing your stress? And I think finances is such a huge part of the stress that we cover or we hold onto in our life that as we practice functionally and we try to peel back the layers about what are the sources of the things that are causing us stress. I mean I'm raising my hand that financial wellness is a significant part of that.
And for many of us we just aren't raised to know what are the basic life skills when it comes to this. I know that when I finished college and I was in my first job and you're doing your HR paperwork and they're asking you about your 401(k) and where you want to invest your money and your health plans. And I'm like, "I have no idea because I did not learn any of this in college. I didn't learn it in high school. Where would I learn this stuff?" So I think coming out of college I made a lot of very poor financial decisions that have stayed with me for a long time and I know I'm not the only one. So I'm really excited to dive into this topic today.
Bre Bauer: Well this is my favorite thing to talk to anybody about, people who will listen and people who will not listen to me. We can talk about this forever.
Naomi Nakamura: Well why don't you introduce yourself and then tell us how did you come to have such an interest in this?
Bre Bauer: So I'm Bre Bauer. I do multiple things because I just kind of always has because I'm an Enneagram Three. Yeah I do all the things all the time.
My day job is operations manager for Phat Fudge. So I know that's a real ingredient performance food that you enjoy. And then I'm also a Beautycounter consultant on your team. And then I just kind of more recently in the last several months started taking on financial wellness clients.
So for me, the way that I kind of came to be so passionate about this was through my own journey. I think it's similar to people in health and wellness. It's like they kind of found their way to whole food nutrition or movement. Some kind of movement practice and they just want to tell the whole world about it because they experienced so much joy and so much peace. And for me, I got my first checking account when I was 15, got my first job when I was 15, started the rat race way too early.
I was working part-time jobs throughout the last half of high school and then got my first car payment when I was like 19 and then just kind of kept accumulating responsibility, financial responsibility and not really understanding the impact of that and how it impacted every single choice that I made from the jobs that I took and the places I lived. I wanted to move to southern California when I was 18 years old, but I just had too many responsibilities and I was obviously in a relationship. So of course you're going to marry that person when you're like 18 years old. So I didn't move down to southern California until I was 33 and that's when I finally just said, "Grew it." But in between 18 and 33 I paid off tens of thousands of dollars and just consumer credit card debt multiple times, paid off my student loans and owned a couple of houses in there.
So there's a lot of stuff where I just never really quite figured out how to manage my money properly and kept ending up back in those cycles. I think I paid off probably $11,000 in credit card debt when I was like 24 because my brother and I had a house together and he bought me out. So I used some of that money to pay that off. But then I ended up really when I was like 26 looking at, "Okay, I'm paying money on my credit card every month, but it doesn't seem to be getting paid down. It seems to actually be getting worse. What's actually going out versus coming in?" And when I sat down and tracked all of that, I was spending $400 more a month than I was making and that accumulates very quickly. So it was quite an eye opening experience and I decided at that point to move home and my parents were kind enough to rent a room for me for $250 and I just through, I mean I was in management, I was 26 I was in human resources management.
I was making probably like $65,000 a year, which is a good salary in Sacramento. And I was living paycheck to paycheck and I was broke and I was in debt and I just was tired of it. And I probably took me like eight months to pay down what I had with my parents. And then I ended up buying a house that was right at the maximum of what I could afford. Clearly had not learned my lesson yet of how this keeps happening. I didn't have any room for savings, I didn't have any room for a job change or a demotion or anything like that.
And so when expenses came up that were emergencies or when my husband at the time changed jobs and was making half of his income, it was all back on the credit card. So it was just this, this up and down cycle of like okay, "I'm finally ready to start really chipping away at this and fixing this and changing the behaviors for good." And so kind of going through all of that, I eventually became entirely debt free three and a half years ago. And just going through that myself and knowing that the way I struggled and the way I made choices and the things I was felt stuck in, I just want to share that story with everyone and help them understand and give them a blueprint of how to make this work for them so they can experience that same piece and that same freedom.
Naomi Nakamura: I have nodded my head the entire time you're speaking. Well first of all. I got my first job at 15 years old too. My Dad said, "You're working." And he went and got me a job cleaning classes after high school then he took me down to the local credit union and I opened my first checking account and the biggest thrill about the whole thing was picking out which checks I was going to have and then practicing my signature. And I like you, I've gone through the cycles of having debt and then paying everything off and that feeling of elation, of being debt free to then having debt again.
And there's different reasons for having debt. But yeah, I've gone through all of that and a lot of times when we're stuck in situations and you talk about choices, financial wellness really impacts our entire wellness because as a 21-Day Sugar Detox coach and helping people with that, a lot of the things I hear as well, "I can't afford to eat healthy. I can't afford these things."
And when I work with my clients, it's when you start to look at, well, what are you actually spending your grocery budget on? You can have trade-offs. Look at what you're spending and what can you try it off to replace those things with healthier options, direct tie back, back to your health. All of these things is just, I mean, financial wellness is just such a huge part of that.
Bre Bauer: I mean, it really does affect every single thing. I mean, not only, like I was saying, does it affect you feeling like you have to make certain choices, especially if you have a family that you're responsible for and like, "I can't do this. I can't follow my passion because I have to stay in this nine to five job and make money and have benefits and do all those things because I have this family to take care of."
Naomi Nakamura: Right. And how does that impact just your overall joy in life?
Bre Bauer: Exactly, exactly. So you're dragging yourself to this job that you hate. It's like draining you every day and not-
Naomi Nakamura: Then you heard the trade-offs about where some people might need to go see a chiropractor or an acupuncturist and they can't afford those things. This whole topic is just so paramount to everything.
Bre Bauer: Agreed.
Naomi Nakamura: So when it comes to financial wellness, I know that when you're not in the best situation, the tendency that many of us have is avoidance, right? We don't want to look at our bank statements, we don't want to look at our credit card statements. We just avoid. Those are just some of the things that I know I've gone through in my life. So can you share with us what are the most common, I guess, mistakes or misconceptions that many people just find themselves doing?
Bre Bauer: Well, it's interesting that you made that comment about avoidance because one of the accounts that I follow is talking about trauma surrounding money and the psychological impact of that and how people are conditioned in regards to money. And you learn these patterns in this conditioning over your childhood. If money was a scarcity in your home or if you saw your parents just kind of throwing it around like it was no big deal. It's like you just either you learn to be, have this fear and the scarcity mindset surrounding money or you learn to have this abundance that maybe is not earned or that you're not entitled to. And so these behaviors are all things that we kind of pick up and have to reprogram just like everything else.
But I think the number one thing that, I think the biggest mistake is that we don't talk about it. Nobody talks about their financial situation and I don't need to know how much you make. I don't need to know what your burdens are. But how are you managing your money? How are you budgeting your money? What's your plan for your money? Those kinds of things I think. And especially from parents to children and how early you start talking to your kids about money. I had chores when I was younger, I got an allowance and I think I did learn the value of money, but there was also a lot of conversation in my home that was like, "We don't have any money. We don't have money to do this." So it's like, okay then don't-
Naomi Nakamura: "Money doesn't grow on trees."
Bre Bauer: Right. And it's just like, "Oh, we don't have money to buy you clothes. So we have to hide these clothes that we just bought from your dad and keep them in the car until he goes." It's that kind of stuff where it's like you just don't think about that impact that that has on you and the problem is a lot of parents don't have the tools to talk to their kids about money. So it just doesn't happen. But I think not talking about it at all because there's a lot of shame surrounding it. And there's a specialty, a lot of shame if you're not good with money and if you're mismanaging your money to ask for help is so hard because you have to admit that you had all this poor behavior. And so hard to ask for help. So it's this like stigma around it. So I think that's kind of the biggest mistake is not really talking about it and not asking for help. I think a lot of people like a misconception is that budgeting means you're poor.
People associate budgeting with being poor. Having a budget actually means you're very smart because you have a plan for your money. All of budget is writing down like this is where I want my money to go every month. And then sitting down and seeing where it actually went and how do I need to adjust here? And what can I do to maybe like decrease some of these expenses? And then not having, which we'll get into a little bit later, but not having any boundaries around your money and not being able to say it's not in the budget. It doesn't mean I'm struggling. That means I have bigger plans for my money that don't entail a $20 salad. So I think that's another thing that people kind of tend to mislabel when it comes-
Naomi Nakamura: I'm laughing because I had a $24 salad last night for dinner. But it was a work dinner so it was like, I didn't pay for it but I'm laughing. I actually had a $24 salad last night.
Bre Bauer: Yeah. I mean I will eat your $24 salad if I'm not paying for it 100% of the time.
Naomi Nakamura: A lot of people think they don't have time to budget and a lot of the clients that I work with, when you're doing something yourself you don't really realize how much time and effort it takes and then when you kind of are helping someone else through it, then you're like wow this is actually a pretty time consuming. And how did I do this on my own? But it does take a little bit of time and I always kind of refer to it as short-term pain for long-term gain when you're getting your budget set up initially because it does require looking at some vending trends and deciding on that plan and deciding on your priorities. But people saying like, "I don't have time to budget." It's like saying, "I don't have time to work out or I don't have time to... Or I don't have money to eat healthy."
It's not a priority. It's that whole meme of tracing is not a priority and see how that feels because that really is what it is. The initial setup is time consuming, but once you have the template, I spend maybe 30 minutes every month kind of initially setting the numbers for my budget and asking myself what does this month look like for me? What do I have coming up? What do I need to a lot for that I didn't have last month? That's huge that you reevaluate it every month because-
Bre Bauer: I mean you have to.
Naomi Nakamura: ... I have a list of my expenses, fixed expenses every month and when I go through pay my bills I have everything possibly that that happens every month that I account for. But then it's the little extras that always gets you that you're like, "Oh, I forgot about that." And I think right. I don't take that exercise of reevaluating every month.
Bre Bauer: Yeah. Not for me. I've actually been budgeting very religiously for the last a little over a year and just this month was the first time I used like a calendar because usually I'll just kind of go through and, "Okay I have this stuff going on. I should have enough money in my entertainment budget to cover that." Whatever. But this is the first time where I actually just sat down and was like, "Okay, I'm going here, I'm doing this. How much gas am I actually going to be using? Is one tank of gas this month going to be enough?" Because I live on the west side of La and I don't drive very much but I'm going to be going to Sacramento so I'm going to need gas there, gas back, gas to drive to and from San Francisco.
So you got it's like those kinds of things where it's like those aren't expenses I have every month. So that's not money I would normally be thinking about. But it's like okay I can't put that money towards my vacation savings this month because I need it for this trip or I'm not going to be using as many groceries because I'm probably going to be eating out a little bit more so I can kind of shift some money around there. So it really is just about looking at it and planning ahead and just kind of taking all of those little things into account that really add up and kind of throw off your entire budget.
Another thing that people have this misconception of is that they can't budget with a variable income. So a lot of coaches, a lot of fitness professionals, real estate agents, people that are commissioned based and then maybe they have one check that's smaller and one check that's bigger because it's not consistent income of, "Well I never know how much I'm getting paid, so I don't know, I can't budget like that."
And honestly that's even more of a reason to budget. I just had a consultation with a client on Sunday, kind of going over all that and she's like, "Yeah, I get a smaller check and I'm everything's tight. And then I get a big check and I'm making it rain and buying all this stuff and thinking I have so much money. And then I get the smaller check again and I'm like, crap, I don't have any money." So it's like-
Naomi Nakamura: I'm laughing because with my Beautycounter check every month, that's how it is. It's like I kind of have a range that is typically in, but it's never the same every month. And that's something that's different for me because I've always had a salary paycheck. And to be able to manage that, I'm still trying to figure that out.
Bre Bauer: Yeah. So the idea with that is that you would budget as your money comes in, if you're looking at a month as a whole, if that was your only income, you would budget in that lowest range, set all of your things in that lowest range and then as extra additional money comes in. So when you get your first check you would fund what Dave Ramsey calls the four walls, which is your food, shelter, basic clothing and transportation. And then once that's taken care of you look at, in my budget I set out what due dates my bills have. So it's like what bills are going to come due before I get paid again. And you make sure all that's taken care of. And then when your next chunk comes, you fill in all the rest of those holes. And then if you have money left, then you move into next month.
That's how you kind of age your money. And have your money. That's how you get out of living paycheck to paycheck, especially on that variable income. So if you sell a house as a real estate agent and you get a fat check and then you don't sell another house for two or three months, that check should last you as long as possible. You shouldn't be like, "Oh, I'm going to go on a trip now because I have all this money." You should be budgeting out your expenses for the next as long as you can and you can still have...
And that's like the other thing is people think that when you're budgeting like you can't have any fun or you can't go out and live your life and do your things. No, you just put more money in your fun container for doing fun things like, you're dining out budget and those kinds of things and if you need more than you give yourself more if you have it. And if you don't, then you cut back a little bit. It's like, it doesn't mean that just because you're budgeting, that you're giving every dollar a job that those jobs can't still be fun also. So-
Naomi Nakamura: So almost like meal planning every week, right?
Bre Bauer: Yeah.
Naomi Nakamura: When I meal plan, I sit down and I look at my schedule, I'm like, "Oh, I'm going out to dinner on Tuesday night and I'm going out to dinner on Friday night." So those are meals that I don't need to account for. Right. And maybe this you do on like a monthly basis.
Bre Bauer: And that's if you're looking back at your spending, you can say like, "When I'm meal planning and doing these things, I can assume X amount of dollars a month for groceries." And honestly, I'm adjusting all the time. So this is, it sounds really crazy because I'm a single person, but I also am very... Food is very important to me. Good quality food. And I live in LA, so it's like buying groceries for a single person. I gave myself a budget of $400 a month. And a lot of people that don't prioritize food and say it's too expensive to eat. Well that's what that means. It's a priority for me. So I give myself more money. But I was going over every month I was going over that. So I'm like, "Okay, obviously I spend more than $400 a month on groceries. Why am I in denial?" And I just upped it to $500 and I've been under every month. So it's like now I have this wind of like, "Oh I'm actually like not going over my budget every month."
Naomi Nakamura: That is so funny cause that's the one thing I always ask my friends I'm like, "So how much do you spend on groceries?" I know how much I spend for a single person and it's a lot more than what my friends with families most spend.
Bre Bauer: I always have to preface that when I talk to people about it. Because I know it's insane. I'm not thinking that that's not crazy. I understand that I spend a lot of money on food, but I still cut as many corners as they can as far as like doing ButcherBox and Thrive Market and getting the deals that I can on things instead of paying full price for them but.
Naomi Nakamura: Well you have a trade-offs too where you work from home and I work from home so I really, I might fill up my gas tank once a month.
Bre Bauer: Right. Yeah. Same. I just filled mine up for the month. I've spent $55 so it's like I'm good. I'm driving to Sacramento so obviously I'm going to have to fill up a few more times. But normally that gets me right up until the very last day of the month. I literally drive like five miles a day.
Naomi Nakamura: Some days I don't drive it all.
Bre Bauer: Exactly. Some days I don't see the outside world. And then I'll let you know. And then like the kind of lasts misconception I think that people have is that, "Oh, I already track everything I spend. I keep track of my spending. I look back at the end of the month and see like what I spent for the month." And it's like that's great because that just means that you're like ready for the next step, which is budgeting. But that's very reactive and I mean it's good for looking at trends. You need to look at those trends to move forward and plan for the next month, but you want to be proactive and working through things as they happen. Not surprised by things or looking back at the end and then saying, "How did I blow this So out of proportion, how did I miss the mark so bad?"
Naomi Nakamura: I know these are great misconceptions that I certainly can relate to all of them, but I know you're about to share with us some tips on how to get started, which is what I'm really anxious to hear. But there's something that you've said earlier that I really want to just make a comment on. And you talked about having that we learn these our mindsets and our opinions and our habits about money from our childhood. And a couple of years ago, this was a huge revelation for me. I was in the beta program for the Balance Bites Master Class and if any of you are curious about real food nutrition and all of that, you should definitely check it out. But the second module of that program was all about how we come to form our beliefs. And I think they've done a podcast episode on it last year.
And obviously this was in the context of how did we come to form our beliefs around food and health and nutrition. But for me it really translated to money as well because when I'm thinking about how did I come to form my beliefs about all of these things, I realized that I grew up on a very small island in Hawaii that we didn't have any franchise businesses so we didn't have any McDonald's. The only franchise business we had was a Chevron. There weren't any shopping centers, shopping malls. So whenever it was time for us to go school shopping, we had to fly to another island, spend two, three days doing all of our school shopping for the year for clothes, for school supplies. Our big thing was going to McDonald's and getting happy meals. I mean we went more than once a year, but when that school shopping trip was over, it was like we don't get those things anymore.
And so I had this whole scarcity mindset about, I only have it for the short amount of time and then it's gone. And then when I went to college, I didn't have a car and so I had to either rely on public transportation or on roommates and friends to go grocery shopping because I lived in an apartment. I wasn't on campus where there's a cafeteria and then, so usually it wasn't a problem. But there were times where it was kind of tough to figure those things out. And I am not a public transportation person. Sorry, I'm not, I mean, I grew up on a small island, we didn't have public transportation and I would literally go to the grocery store and I feel like I have to hoard these things because I was so afraid of running out.
And I realized that that mindset and those habits translated into how I also manage my money and my spending habits too. And so when you were talking about that, it really does translate back and it really encouraged people to think about how did you come to form your beliefs about food, about all these other things, but also about your money and your mindset around money and your beliefs about money and spending and what things you hold if value and what things you don't?
Bre Bauer: Yeah, for sure. And that's kind of, we'll get into a how that relates to this and when we go through these tips as well.
Naomi Nakamura: Okay. So if you are someone like I was, and you just, you feel so overwhelmed and you're like, "I want to fix my financial situation, but I just don't know where to start." What are your best tips to help us get started?
Bre Bauer: So the first thing that I always recommend and so that I have my clients do, you have to build awareness around your spending. So I was saying earlier, when I finally sat down and looked at what's coming in versus what's going out, I was $400 a month beyond my needs.
Naomi Nakamura: That is scary to sit down and look at.
Bre Bauer: Okay. So talking about mindset and conditioning and emotions around money, this step is the first thing I have people do. And the look on their face is always the same when I tell them that they have to do it, it always invokes the same emotion and invokes shame and invokes fear. I had one client that cried and just said, "Please don't judge me." And I'm like, I'm welling, I'm just thinking about it because it makes me so sad because this looks like we feel like we did something wrong and it's like you just didn't know better.
And it's kinda of like once you know better than do better. And so once you know this, once you see this on paper, you can't unknow it. You can't unsee it. And so it's a very-
Naomi Nakamura: And so there's no better motivation in seeing [inaudible 00:26:50], unlike, "I got to do something about this."
Bre Bauer: Yes. I mean, and there's no like hiding the fact that like I spent $1,200 on food last month between going out and drinking and eating and groceries. People have those realizations and it's the quickest bleed to stop. It's the quickest way to stop like bleeding money by just realizing where you are hemorrhaging and plugging the hole. And so I have people take your credit card company, your bank accounts, they all usually provide like a CSV or Excel download so you can download that onto your computer and you can just start categorizing everything of like, is this food, is this transportation, is this housing, is this personal care?
And kind of goes through those and then you can just sum them up and see like where this is happening, like where the money's going. And then you can also say like, "Oh, I only make $4,500 a month and I spent 1000." So-
Naomi Nakamura: I know last summer I was like, "Oh, I spent this much on Pressed Juicery." Oh my God, that was kind of embarrassing.
Bre Bauer: I know when I started Beautycounter I was like, okay, I'm making extra money. But I'm basically spending all of that money on Beautycounter. So it's just like for now. But, yeah.
Naomi Nakamura: In the beginning.
Bre Bauer: Yeah in the beginning I think that's what happens. But I asked for three months because it gives you a good average instead of just because of those anomalies like the travel and the those kind of things that don't happen every single month. So you want to kind of get an average.
So that first three months is key. And just looking at that, and this is the thing that people do not want to face and this is just like with exercise, when people don't want to do it, they hire a coach to train them. Just like with nutrition and wellness. I mean, this is why people like me are having these businesses because it's just accountability and it's like, "I will hold your hand, I will be kind, I will be gentle and we will get you through this because this is the hard part." The rest of it is fun. The rest of it to me it's like a game. How can I say, borrow money. How can I fill this bucket faster? How can I pay this debt down faster? But this is the hard part. So if you're just getting started, definitely building your awareness around your spending because you can't manage what you don't measure.
And then the second part of that, which I already alluded to, is stopping the bleeding. So finding a tool that works for you. I use, You Need a Budget.
Naomi Nakamura: I was going to ask you that because I use Excel. I've tried, I think it's called Mint or Minted.
Bre Bauer: Yeah. Mint tends to be more reactive.
Naomi Nakamura: Yeah, and it just didn't work for me.
Bre Bauer: It didn't work for me either.
Naomi Nakamura: And so I actually just use an Excel spreadsheet right now, but I'm interested in what are your favorite apps?
Bre Bauer: I'll send you a link girl.
Naomi Nakamura: Okay.
Bre Bauer: Yeah. So I call it... For sure it's YNAB you need a budget. So I use YNAB. There's also Dave Ramsey has Every Dollar. I haven't personally used it but I think it's free. YNAB is a free 34 day trial so you can really get in and kind of get to know the system and see if it's going to work for you. And then it's for an entire year it's like $84, which is seven bucks a month. So you just put that in your budget for next year. YNAB is the only thing that has worked for me, because I was doing Excel before. I was one of those people that tracked my spending. So I would take my credit card download because I pay my credit card off every month.
So I would just take my credit card download and I would categorize all my charges and see where everything was going and be like, "Oh, well I planned to put this much towards food and things, but like this is how much I actually spent. Okay, I'll try to adjust going forward." But YNAB really gives you the ability, because there's a phone app. And there's the computer software, well it's an online software, but that allows you to really adjust as you go and move money from bucket-to-bucket.
So it's like if I'm out of grocery money but I need groceries, I can pull it from my entertainment budget or I can pull it from my personal care if I have money in there. So it's like really easy to just move money around if you need to. So you're not overspending, but you're just basically moving money from bucket to bucket.
Naomi Nakamura: So if you have a trip planned this month, you can account for that.
Bre Bauer: Yeah. And so I've been doing this, like I said for a year and I'm not perfect. I still, I forgot about my car registration because I haven't had a car for three years and I got one in October and then my registration was due in May and I didn't even think about it. And all of a sudden I had to pay 130 bucks or something.
And I'm like, "Oh that sucks. I guess that's going to come out of my vacation budget." But I will set up a sinking fund for next year. So a sinking fund is where you just put a little bit aside each month. So it's not a big expense when it comes around. So yeah, so I use YNAB, which I'm a very big fan of and like I said, they have that 334 day trial. Some people are really good with cash envelope when they're first getting started. They just really need that accountability to that visibility of seeing exactly what they have. And so having that cash in hand is good for them. There's a lot of great resources, I think Debt Free in Sunny California and then The Budget Mom. Those are both really good websites that have really good principles for savings trackers and cash envelopes and those kinds of things if you're all into that.
It's like within this personal finance realm, there's all these different kind of groups of people that subscribe to Dave Ramsey or subscribe to cash principles and subscribe to YNAB and those kinds of things. So it's just all about-
Naomi Nakamura: I just want to point out that it can be very overwhelming for someone.
Bre Bauer: It's very overwhelming.
Naomi Nakamura: Which is exactly why it's beneficial to work with somebody who can lead you through it. Someone like you to not feel overwhelming and let yourself be guided through it.
Bre Bauer: Right. And the idea for me working with me is that it's not something you're doing forever. If I'm doing my job right, we're getting you set up in the first couple of sessions and then it's just like check-ins kind of down the road to see if you're on track. And it also depends on everyone's situation. Some people have a lot of debt that they're trying to get out of and we're working on the consolidating debts and getting things a little bit more manageable for them to start doing those debt snowballs and paying them off. But it really is helpful to have someone who's been there. I did it kind of on my own initially, but starting to use the budgeting tool, I had friends that introduced me to that and kind of helped me get that set up and that how I came to be so passionate about it over the last year because I'm just like, this is actually so manageable and so easy. I just want everyone to experience this because it's just great.
But yeah, so zero based budgeting is really the idea, and zero based budgeting just means that you're giving every single dollar a job. So say you have $10,000 in your bank account, which like people are like, "what, who has $10,000 in a bank account?" But say you did, but 5,000 of that was for savings and 2000 of that was for something else. And then your bills are here. It's basically saying you're not just looking at that going, "Oh I know I have this much money in savings or I know I have this much money allotted for this." It's like very clearly every single dollar has a job. And I even used to just have one lump bucket for savings until I realized I don't know what I'm saving for. I have all this money in savings, but every time I go to spend it I still feel weird. I shouldn't be spending it because I don't know what it's actually for.
So then I'm like, "Oh, I'm going to go on this trip and oh I would need to get a new bed." It's like all these things where I'm like let me split this out so I know specifically what I'm saving for. And then I have money set aside in an emergency fund and that kind of thing. So zero based budgeting is just giving every dollar a job. And so if you sit down after you've kind of tracked all of your spending and then you go to give every dollar a job, if you realize you have too many jobs and not enough dollars, then where can you cut? Can you lower your grocery bills? Can you, like I said, that's dining out groceries. Those are the easiest places to cut. Can you get your utilities and your bills lowered?
Can you get your cable bill lowered? Can you get your internet? Your cell phone bill? Those kinds of things. Things people just don't really think of. There's like, "Oh this is the price they gave me, so this is what I'm doing."
Naomi Nakamura: I was actually just looking at something earlier, a couple of days ago and I'm like, wait, I'm getting billed $2.99 cents a month for printer ink for my printer. But I don't think I've ever received that. So-
Bre Bauer: You've never placed an order to get it?
Naomi Nakamura: Well, it's a subscription service, which is my point like I have a lot of subscription services that I'm like, "Wait, do I still need this? Am I actually using it?" And when you take a look at it, that stuff adds up.
Bre Bauer: It really does. It really does. And there's actually like companies now that, I forget what it's called, I just heard about it the other day that they will actually, you set up with them all your information and give them authorization to call these places on your behalf so you don't have to sit on the phone with the cable company and they'll negotiate.
Naomi Nakamura: That is an awesome service.
Bre Bauer: I know, but I think they take 30% of whatever you save or something. So if you save like, I think this girl said she saved like $1000 over the over a year. So she had to give them 300 bucks. But it's like they saved her and she's still saving $700. That she-
Naomi Nakamura: And it comes down to her time and her energy that she saved to it. So if she prioritizes those things, then it was worth it for her.
Bre Bauer: Right. For sure. Yeah. So it's like stuff like that. One of the big people always joke about like I go into Target for one thing and I can't leave without spending $200, don't go to Target. When I didn't have a car and I still do this because I just got in the habit of it.
I set everything on subscribe and save. So if they send me an email that it's going to be shipped before it ships so I can cancel it if I don't actually need it. But if I do, then it just shows up at my door and I'm not in a store wandering around passing things I don't need to buy and putting them in my cart. And that's just-
Naomi Nakamura: That's actually why I do online grocery shopping.
Bre Bauer: Right. You mentioned that before.
Naomi Nakamura: I do a little Whole Foods about once a week to get a couple of things that I can't buy online. I go for one thing and I walk out $100 later and I'm like, this is why I do online grocery shopping. So I just get what I need and I'm not distracted to get things that I wasn't planning for.
Bre Bauer: The conversations I have with myself in the grocery store, there's that meme that's like, I wish I was who I thought I was when I was in the produce aisle of the grocery store. It was like, but you have all these grand ideas like, "Oh, I can make this and I can take this and do these things and I'm going to cut this up and do it." And you're just like, and then it just rots in your fridge and you never eat it.
Naomi Nakamura: Or you're like, "Oh, kitchen bars. Oh, I better stock up on these." Again, seriously a mindset.
Bre Bauer: Right. Well, oh, that's what I was going to say when you mentioned that, because I have a story. My brother to this day still gives me crap about this. I had a bed growing up that had drawers under it, three storage drawers and I would always, I loved going to the grocery store with my mom because I kind of had free reign to get all the good snacks and then no one knew about them because I was the one that got them and then I brought them home and put them away.
So sometimes I would take them and hide because if my brother and my stepdad got to them before I would not get any. So I would hide them under my bed. And I think my brother found my staff which it was like chips, candy, cereal, all the good stuff. And he was just like, "What is this?" So he's still gives me crap about like hoarding food. In any family dinner situation or buffet style situation I'm always like, "I'm not going to get any food." I have this feeling to day and I have to be like, or I'd load my plate up extra because I'm like there's not going to be any if I want more. So it's just so crazy how these things stay with us and they're so deeply rooted.
Naomi Nakamura: They are.
Bre Bauer: So, yeah. So there's just some tips to stop the bleeding and then just being really honest when it comes to necessities versus luxuries, cable is not a necessity. I know that you really want to watch every sports game, but when you have to prioritize what's important to you, you figure out what really is important to you. It helps you hone in. We have so much access to everything and when we're like everything's important, nothing's important, right? So I think that kind of helps to be honest with yourself, but what do I really need? Or what do I really want versus what extraneous, and then I kind of mentioned balance transfers or negotiating lower interest rates. People just don't think this is something that they can do. They don't understand that that's well within their like scope to call and say, "Hey I've been a good credit card user of yours. I pay my bill on time, I spend money. Can I get a lower interest rate, what can you do for me?"
Or if you have multiple cards and you can balance transfer a higher interest rate card to a lower interest rate card, that's going to save you a ton of money and interest and help you kind of start that debt snowball and pay down that debt a lot faster. And then side hustles, obviously Beautycounter. So just finding other ways to make money because a lot of people just think, "Oh I work a full time job. I can't get another side job." It's like you can get a job delivering pizzas two days a week. I did seasonal tax prep with H&R Block for two years. That was only I did it in the evenings. I went to my full time job and in HR management until 5:00 PM and then I worked from 6:00 until like 10:00 or 11:00. Yeah, I was tired and yeah, it wasn't necessarily the something I wanted to be doing, but did it help me in my goal to pay down my debt faster and acquire more money? Yes. And so it's again that short term pain for a long term gain.
Naomi Nakamura: And I have to say something about side hustles and this is something that it's a really important part of my life because I live in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been here for 21 years and it is the most expensive place to live in the country. It is ridiculous what we pay to live here. And everyone tells me that I'm crazy to keep living here and they do. And I have had serious, serious thoughts and came very close to moving away. But when we talk about what makes us happy, I would be so unhappy living somewhere else. Could I do it? Probably, but I would always want to be back here. And that's what it comes down to, what do you prioritize? Right? So I can have more money living in a place where I'm not happy or I can figure out how to stay where I live and make it work.
Bre Bauer: Right.
Naomi Nakamura: Yes, side hustling is a little bit more effort, but let's be honest, I work in a nine to five job that I really enjoy. I deeply appreciate, I love who has feelings of wanting to make a difference and making social impact, kind of doesn't happen in a nine to five job. But I can find that fulfillment in something like a side hustle, which then helps me manage my expenses but then also be a better employee in my full time job because all that's lacking there, I'm finding fulfillment in my side hustle. And so I just when you mentioned side hustle, I just, I'm like, I have to share my thoughts in that.
Bre Bauer: Yeah. And I think people just see a lot of like, "I can't." They're just very tunnel vision. They've been raised in maybe that environment where it's like you go to school, you get a job and you're in that job or something like that job until you retire and then you can go out and use your retirement money to live your life and whatever.
They don't see that there are all these other opportunities to make a difference or make money or change their situation. When I was in debt and had a house and had all of these responsibilities, I was in a job that I didn't enjoy, that I did not like it at all, but I didn't have the option to pursue my passion at that time. And Diane talks about this a lot, if that's not what you want to be doing, you don't have to leave tomorrow, but start making a plan of how you're going to do that and what that looks like. And for me, I made almost twice as much money in previous jobs than I do now. I have more expendable income than I ever have and I have more fulfillment and more work life balance and more joy.
I continued once, I didn't have those financial responsibilities to take jobs that made less money but brought more fulfillment. And I wouldn't have had those opportunities or that ability if I still had those chains around me of debt and financial responsibility.
Naomi Nakamura: And I think we're in an age right now, I heard somebody call it the gig economy, you can be a Lyft or Uber driver. You can be a DoorDash delivery person. There's all these opportunities that can work around your schedule. And I feel like with these opportunities and with the Internet where we can create opportunities for ourselves and no one should be unhappy in the work that they're doing.
Bre Bauer: There are people that do copyright editing.
Naomi Nakamura: Yes.
Bre Bauer: Just like freelance copyright editors and just make money, you just go through and like read people's stuff and edit it. If you can read and you have proper grammar and maybe you enjoy writing or you have a blogging background or anything like that. I mean there's so many options out there and people just don't even realize to make a little bit of extra money you can do. They have all these online, like you can take surveys, you can be part of focus groups and you get paid for that stuff.
Naomi Nakamura: I have done that before.
Bre Bauer: Yeah. And it's like, I mean, I'm not sure your brain filling up the bank with it, but it's like little by little every little bit helps especially if you're trying to pay down debt and build your savings.
Naomi Nakamura: I used to be somebody who was like just had the Sunday night dread. Every night I was like, "Oh, Monday's coming." And I feel like we have so much opportunity now where no one should feel that way and it makes me sad when I see people posting that they still feel that way on social media.
Bre Bauer: Yeah. Or they look at people like us and like, "Oh, well I can't do that, she only does that because blah, blah, blah. I don't have those same opportunities." It's like, yes you do. You actually have whatever opportunities you want.
Naomi Nakamura: Yes. So that was a little sidebar on a soapbox there. But-
Bre Bauer: Yeah, that's a little bit.
Naomi Nakamura: ... I think it was worth mentioning.
Bre Bauer: Yes. So the next thing you want to do is prioritize your money. And so figuring out what's important to you. I've alluded to this previously as well. So finding your why for financial freedom is that you want to retire early, you want to pay off your debt so you can start saving for a home. You want to send your kids to college, you want to be more philanthropic, you want traveling.
Naomi Nakamura: You want to travel.
Bre Bauer: Yeah. You want to travel. You want to buy expensive food all the time. Those kinds of things. You want to quit your job or you-
Naomi Nakamura: I want to get a message every month.
Bre Bauer: Exactly. What is your reason for financial freedom? To me, not knowing anybody anything is just the best feeling in the world. I can do literally whatever I want because I don't have to worry about who's coming out for me for what money I owe them.
So just finding your why and if you are in a relationship, finding what is important to both of you separately and together and getting on that same page because what that does and what clear priorities do for you is give you a compass that keeps you on course with every single spending decision that you make. So without a compass and without these priorities, the lower priorities, the things that aren't important are going to steal from the higher priority. So going out to lunch and going shopping and doing those things are going to take from your bigger goal of buying a house, retiring early, going on vacation. Every single spending decision you make, is this helping me or hurting me? I heard someone use this about food because people talk about foods being bad or good.
And food is not bad or good, it's just effective or ineffective towards your goals. And so that's every single spending decision is either effective or ineffective towards your goals. Don't put shame on it because it just brings you all back to this shame spiral that we started with in the first place.
Naomi Nakamura: I know, I had someone I used to go to a lot of baseball games. My cousin and I back in the day we would spend a lot of money going to baseball games and people would make comments like, "Oh, that must be nice." And I'm like, "Hey, this is important to us. We have fun, it's a fulfillment. We work hard for our money. We can afford it. Stop the judgment. You spend your money, we spend ours."
Bre Bauer: Exactly. Yeah. And everybody's like, just wants to point fingers and shame each other and like feel better about what they're doing. So they have to make you feel worse about what you're doing. And it's just like, "Eyes on your own plate, eyes on your own wallet. I'll do me and you do you and we can all be happy."
And that goes with boundaries, setting boundaries that's kind of the next thing that I always recommend is setting boundaries around your money. Learning how to say no, learning how to say no and that no is a complete answer all by itself. You don't have to justify. And I've been very codependent in my past Like the need to justify without saying no without guilt, those kinds of things.
It's like just like no is no. And the people who understand and support what you're trying to do will be okay with that. And the ones who aren't, oh well, I remember when I got married at the time we had decided that we wanted to do a smaller wedding and a bigger honeymoon to go see our friends get married in Germany. And that meant saying no to a lot of people that were expecting to be invited to our wedding. It's like we could have easily had 150, 200 person wedding. We started with 50 and ended up with 75 and that was still bigger than I wanted to, but it was awkward saying no to people for a very monumental day of your life. And it's like things that like people your parents are like, "Oh, well are you inviting our friends so-and-so?"
It's like, "Are you going to pay for them to be there?" No. Okay, well then no, they're not going to be there. Sorry. We're paying you for these ourselves. So it's like, it's your money. No one else is going to protect it for you. So just be confident in protecting that money and saying no around your decisions. And that means saying no to yourself. Going back to your compass and your priorities and your why and getting rid of that FOMO, that fear of missing out and that instant gratification. Dave Ramsey said something about children do what feels good, but as an adult you don't just do what feels good. This instant gratification like, "Oh I want this new TV." Do you have money for that new TV, do you need this new TV? There's this like video game system or whatever it is.
It's like don't be a child when it comes to your money. And then just being grateful for what you have. It's like I started following a lot of these minimalist accounts, which I don't know if I'll ever be a true minimalist, but I live fairly minimally and it's like gratitude. It really is like the antidote to discontentment because if you're just happy for everything that you have, discontent keeps you broke and it keeps you buying things to fill that void and Keeping up with the Joneses. But if you're just grateful for what you have and realizing that the less you have in stuff, the more experiences that you're able to have. I think also helps in saying no and knowing your why and that kind of stuff.
And then the last part of this is just being kind like what I was saying as far as like leaving the judgment out of it. Beginning this process strictly out of observation. Don't judge yourself, don't shame yourself. It's just not productive and it will cause more of that anxiety and more of that avoidance than if you just give yourself grace and compassion and I'm learning these lessons. I didn't know better, but I know now and I'm going to do better going forward and I'm going to slip up and I'm going to fail, then I'm going to get back. It's like those kinds of things. It's like anything else. It's not a linear progression. It's kind of an allover squiggly line when you're looking from start to finish what you're doing and you just need to be kind to yourself along the way.
Naomi Nakamura: These are skills that we need to learn. And like I said in the beginning, like I didn't learn these skills in high school. I don't know if you did. I didn't learn them in college. And so unless we go out there and seek a way to learn these skills, whether through our own research or working through somebody like you, then you wouldn't have these skills. So if you didn't have them, then how could you expect yourself to be good at it?
Bre Bauer: Exactly.
Naomi Nakamura: Well, this was all very enlightening and I have taken so much away from it, I think I'm going to go and do my own little assessment. What are we? We're at the beginning of June, so maybe I'll start it in July do my own assessment. April, May, June. And I would challenge listeners to do the same thing and come back and report back to you and to me and see what happens.
Bre Bauer: Definitely. Yeah. So that would be so great. My favorite thing is my clients now are sending me text messages. Like, "I just paid off a credit card. I have this much in savings. I'm starting to think of it as like a game. What can I save here to pay more money on my debt?" And so that gets me fired up. I'm just like, this is so great.
Naomi Nakamura: Well I love how you have the attitude of think of it like a game. Because then you make it fun because then you take away the shame and the anxiety and the angst about it and you're like, "Hey, this is actually something I'm learning. I'm getting better at." Oh and if you're a competitive person with yourself.
Bre Bauer: Right.
Naomi Nakamura: This is actually fun. How can people connect with you and learn more about you and even how to work with you.
Bre Bauer: So I have a website, Breezy Bauer, B-R-E-E-Z-Y-B-A-U-E-R.com where you can kind of find out more about me and my different services. And then also Instagram.
Naomi Nakamura: And I highly recommend to follow because you... I like watching your stories and I'm like this person paid off $3,000, this person paid off whatever. And I'm like, this is a conversation we need to have.
Bre Bauer: Yeah, for sure. I don't know, I try to just be real and honest and share my struggles. Just yesterday shared a story about saying no and friends inviting me out for dinner this weekend and I had a little too much fun last week and has sent a little too much money and I have to save that money for my trip to Sacramento. So I'm not entirely missing out, I'm still doing all of these other fun things, but I just like can't go spend $20 on a salad.
Naomi Nakamura: And that's the thing where I've had this conversation with friends too. Like, "Hey, how about instead of like we meet for this meal, why won't we go meet on a Saturday morning and go for a long walk somewhere?"
Bre Bauer: Yes, yeah, that's what I've been doing too. More free activities, more walking, more quality time conversation.
Naomi Nakamura: Well thank you so much for coming on. This is such great information and I will link to your website and your Instagram and everything else you mentioned over in the show notes.
Bre Bauer: Awesome. Thank you so much.
Naomi Nakamura: If you enjoyed this episode, it would mean the world to me if you would subscribe to this podcast, write a review or even share it with someone who you know would enjoy it too. In the meantime, you can find the show notes for this episode and all other episodes over on my website at www.livefablife.com.
There you can submit a question to be answered right here on the show. Sign up for weekly updates, insider access, and get behind the scenes scoops and learn how we can work together too. Most importantly, thank you so much for being here and I can't wait to connect with you again on the next episode of this show. See you next week.
Naomi Nakamura is a Functional Nutrition Health Coach. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, programs, coaching services and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop!
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