For one reason or another, people tend to view their financial situation from the point of view of scarcity, always with the thought that they don’t have enough for this thing or that. The abundance mindset is the direct opposite of this mentality. It sees money as a friend and focuses on acquiring it rather than being fearful of scarcity. Today’s guest, Olga Kirshenbaum, founder of Rags to Riches Consulting, asserts that when you think in terms of abundance when it comes to money, abundance will trickle to everything else in your life. Olga joins Ben Baker in this episode to talk about working with creative business owners, financial management, making money decisions, money coaching, and the abundance mindset.
Every single week, we are amazed at the number of people that email me. Email me if you like at Ben@YourBrandMarketing.com or join our merry crew of men and women. We love you everywhere that you want to be. If you go to YourLivingBrand.live show, click on the subscribe button. There are a million different ways to subscribe. If you're a Spotify, iTunes, or a SoundCloud person, subscribe to the channel that you love. If we're not there, tell me and I'll get us there. It's fun being everywhere and anywhere and letting people listen in a way that's good for them. Thank you all for being such an amazing audience. In this episode, I've got Olga Kirshenbaum. Olga and I met I don't even know how long ago on LinkedIn. We have been LinkedIn buddies for a while.
It must have been on the second start of my LinkedIn journey. I had two. We met in late 2018. That's when I was starting to pick up my second journey. My first journey was five years before that. I was in a job where I wasn't happy. I started networking, and someone asked me for a cup of coffee. I was like, “Why not? What's the conversation?” We ended up having a conversation. He’s like, “You’ve got to get out of where you're at.” He also says, “I host a BNI event every week. Why don't you come? I have one amazing recruiter. She does admin replacing. I'm sure they have a finance person in the group and she'll introduce you.” I went to the event and I met her. I sent her my resume. She put me in touch with a finance person. After that, I was working with them for a good several years. Had I not had that coffee, I'm not sure I would have had my second go at LinkedIn.
That's awesome. BNI is such an incredible organization. I was a member years ago. I've been on LinkedIn for years. I have to go back and take a look and see exactly what I joined. We had Ivan Misner on the show. For people who don't remember, Ivan is the Founder of BNI. It’s an incredible story. BNI allows people to connect. You're right. It's an amazing organization that it's a giver’s gain and it allows people to get to know people, build trust, and relationships. It's amazing the things that come out of those conversations.
I think it was the LinkedIn instead of being virtual, it was the original LinkedIn, where people were creating connections with people outside of their area of expertise, circle and meeting new people. The idea was, “We're going to refer clients to each other because we know each other. I know you do great work.” It's interesting how they're similar.
It's about trust and getting into what you do in the finance industry. Trust is everything. “I'm not certainly not going to give you my money if I don't trust you. I'm not going to let you take care of my money if I don't trust you.”
Especially when it comes to the abundance of work that I do with my clients, sometimes it’s digging into personal conversations. Things that have scarred people from their childhoods. If you don't have that trust, they're not going to come to you.Most people are not financially literate, and it is hard to teach financial literacy when you don’t understand it yourself. Click To Tweet
Before we get into that, why don't you give everybody a history about who you are, what you do, why you do it, and who you do it for? Tell me the story, Olga.
A short summary is I am a money coach and I help creatives. I empower creatives to get comfortable with money. On the way I started, I knew I wanted to be an accountant when I was in high school. I was one of those people. I was like, “I'm going to be an accounting major,” before I even knew what school I was going to. I always had a knack for solving money puzzles. My friends and family always came to me for advice. When I started the accounting degree, it was natural for me. I enjoyed it, which not many accountants can say. I went with that and I always thought, we always hear about companies doing so well. People are always living paycheck to paycheck. I wanted to see where the differences were. I realized that companies have budgets and manage their cash. Most people don't because they don't know how. I spent several years working as an accountant. I spent a couple of years in a CPA firm and the rest was corporate accounting. It wasn't fulfilling for me. I loved the work, but there is no joy.
Early in 2018, I found myself let go from a job where I was already unhappy. I decided to do some soul searching. Part of it was, I was getting into jobs that were great on paper, but something at the end was never satisfying. I wanted to find out what that thing was so I wouldn't go into another job. I end up in the same unhappy situation. I landed on money coaching, mostly because I get so much joy in following up with people and hearing what progress they've made. This goes back to when I was in high school. I graduated knowing I wanted to be an accountant.
One of my friends says, “I have this part-time job and it’s going to be full time in the summer. I want to manage the cash and not have to worry about shifts and focus on school. How do I work around that?” We talked about mindful spending on how to forecast personal spending. She called me back five years later. She's about to graduate and says, “I saved the entirety of my student loans. Do I pay it off the day after graduation or do I piecemeal it?” I said, “Are you crazy? How many of our friends would love to say, ‘No student loans and I'm starting fresh?’” I started piecing together a lot of these stories that I was taking for granted the impact that I was having on people's lives. I decided to go for it.
It goes back to my second journey on LinkedIn. I wasn't sure what I wanted that to look like but I knew that LinkedIn was a great place for testing and getting feedback. I started putting money posts out there writing money blogs. That's how I started piecing together what it was going to look like. I now work with creatives because they have the most interesting puzzles. There's always something different. I help them make friends with money in their lives and their businesses. Once they get a foundation of good money habits, we begin to go into the abundance work that I mentioned, which is more mindset work. We start with money, but the way I describe it is, money is my in. Once you begin to apply the abundance mindset to money, it begins to trickle to everything else.
I want to explore the abundance thing because I love that. I'm curious about the creatives because they're an interesting group. If there's a group that has ups and downs, and times where they're flashing and when they're dead poor, creatives are who you think of because it's not one of those types of lifestyles that lends itself to regular paychecks. For a variety of different reasons, I'm thinking of friends of mine that are in the theater business. I’m thinking of artists and sculptor friends of mine. I've watched them sell $100,000 pieces, and not sell anything for 1.5 years and everything in between. Helping that part of society, with people that are fascinating and creative, but money is not something that's in their DNA for most of them. How did you first get into that? How do you get them to see the fiscal responsibility where they're used to starve and steak?
I was working with creatives pretty much the entire time I was working corporate outside of the CPA firm. That’s seven years out of the ten years that I worked in companies. They were advertising companies, visual effects, and eBook publishing. I was already constantly surrounded by super incredibly talented people and I would see this lack in financial literacy. The reality is, once I started doing my money coaching work, I realized the actual truth is they’ll know that they need to be better at it. This is also why I started getting into the abundance work because a lot of the time, they know they need a budget. They know that they need to manage their cashflow, but don't have the tools to do that. For creatives, they're telling themselves stories that make it seem that this is how it's supposed to be. For example, starving artists. That's the story we hear all the time. A lot of kids get talked out of going to art school because their parents don't want them to be a starving artist.
They don't want to support them for the rest of their life or what they perceive that they're going to have to support them for the rest of their life.
What I started noticing another pattern with creatives is, they believe that because they love what they do, they should be getting paid either less or they should be doing it for free. They should be doing something that they dread to make that happen. When your creative business owner, what ends up happening oftentimes is they dread the money part. They don't do it and they’re in a hamster wheel all the time. They feel and explain to themselves that, “It's okay because I'm an artist. It's supposed to be hard.”
I've got a graphic designer that I've worked with for years. It's gotten to a point where I send her monthly amounts of money because getting her to invoice me is painful. I know that I owe her $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000 but I keep saying, “When are you going to invoice me?” She’s like, “I'll get around to it.” I'm like, “No. You don't understand. I have the money. My customers paid me. I need an invoice from you in order for me to invoice my client.” I’m like, “How much do I owe?” She’s like, “I don't know what's about your $200.” I'm like, “No, I need to know these things.” It's getting people. They are some of the most genuine, creative, wonderful people that I know but you're right, money is something that's like, “I can't talk about it.” “It's beyond me.” “It's embarrassing to talk about money.” How do you move people beyond that? That's a challenge, not just for creatives. A lot of people are embarrassed because they think that they need to know everything about money to talk about money. You don't. You need to be able to ask intelligent questions.
That's the key there. My approach to teaching, especially creatives, is you don't have to become an accountant overnight. My approach is I teach them with my mistakes. I may not have an example of everything that you can make a mistake with money in but I always lead with my downfalls because I'm an accountant. I know many accountants who know better on paper, but they will still make those mistakes. I can resonate with what you said and not wanting to invoice your clients. I hate doing my books.
I would have thought you would be the first person that goes, “It's the fifteenth of the month. I’ll sit down and invoices go out.”It’s okay not to know everything about finances; it’s not okay to ignore it. Click To Tweet
This is my other approach to it. I am quite a creative person for an accountant. Once I became the business owner and no longer the financial controller, the management person, that's when I started seeing how easy it is. It's simple. A month goes by so quickly and you're having fun doing what you're doing. You don't want to sit there creating invoices, but here's the thing, because I have the accounting background, I'm able to work around that. I remember my first year in business. It was less than a full year. I was like, “How many expenses could I possibly have? I'm going to catch up in a month.” I did this to myself for three months. In the last three months of the year, I had to sit there catching up for three months of transactions to be able to get my taxes done.
First of all, I should know better. What are you doing? I knew why it happened. In order for it not to happen again, I was like, “Let's put things in place. When I do invoice people, it's automated.” When I have expenses coming in, it's all automated. I have everything set up. I get that receipt in my email. I will forward it to an email that's connected to my QuickBooks file. I have the app on my phone that if it's actual receipts I'm getting I'm snapping them. I don't have to think about it. I have to set times to review. In reality, that saves me hours. That time that I was catching up on the three months of not heavy traffic for my business because it was my first six months, it took me six hours. It didn't have to.
I remember my first year going out on my own and this was years ago. I made many mistakes in setting up and maintaining my books. All that probably cost me an extra $2,000 or $3,000 in bringing in a bookkeeper at the last minute to explain to me what I did wrong, what I needed to do right, and helped me set up a process. If I'd done it a year earlier, it would have been so much simpler and easier. Twice a month, I get my receipts together and I go through them. Quite honestly, I do a lot of them. I don't do a lot of work. Because of the type of work that I do, it's a lot easier to do it on a bi-monthly basis. What you're saying is creating the systems is what makes it easy. If you can make things systematic and you don't have to think about it, it probably makes people feel more comfortable and say, “I can do this.”
What’s interesting is for you, it makes sense to do it every two weeks. There are businesses who should probably be doing it once a week and having that knowledge of how it works. Someone explaining it to you simply in the beginning. First of all, if you do it from the beginning, it's going to be so much easier to put together and make sense of it. That way, when your transactions and your business grow, which you would want to happen, it's going to make sense to you how it's growing. You can tell yourself, “I don't need to do it every week.” Some companies can do it once a month because that's how little transactions they have, but you need to have someone explain it to you in the beginning.
That’s my thinking but that's also not to say, because I've worked with people who have neglected it for five years, that it's better to have someone come in and get it all together, fix it, and you'll be able to move forward. What I can promise you, regardless of how you may think that it’s a painful experience and that's why you're not looking forward to it or you're going through it, you're going to feel so much stress lifted off your shoulders. I had a client describe it as she was walking around with her best clench. She didn't even realize it until she had these money epiphanies, essentially. That's what it is. We always underestimate the stress that it causes and we overestimate how scary it's going to be to face that situation.
We fear the unknown. I don't care what it is. As we're moving into a new stage of the economy, people are thinking, “What's next?” It's those dark rooms and corners that you can't see around. It's that type of thing that people are scared of. You're scared that you don't know what you don't know. It's the things that we don't understand that make us feel foolish and say, “I should understand money, how to handle my books, and balance a checkbook.” Everything needs to be taught in life. When we were born, we know how to communicate, but we don't know how to speak. There are certain things that are innate, but most things in life need to be taught. The more we can align ourselves with people that understand things and can teach them in a way that resonates with us, the better life is.
That’s the other reality that we're living in. We are not taught financial literacy anywhere.
We are taught poorly.
That’s true. They teach you how to write a check. For example, in the US, they're starting to pass financial literacy mandates in states that say that the students need to have minimum requirements of financial literacy taught to them. I have read some of these curriculums and frankly, they're terrifying. They don't get to a budget until the fourth module. Knowing how public school is, I'm a public-school kid, it probably takes months to get to that fourth module. By the time they got there, they taught them how to be good consumers, how to spend that money before they made it, and what a job is. I'm not sure that it's preparing students to be able to manage anything and in their financial life.
It's also the fact that people who are teaching them, I don't mean to belittle it, could be the gym teacher, shop teacher, or whoever. They're not dealing with finances for a living. It's not somebody that has that as their main job. Their job is to make the understanding of financial literacy easy to understand and make it relevant to people. That's not their job. It's an extra course that has been thrown on somebody. It’s like, “Somebody has to teach this. This is your job this month or year,” because of that, a lot of the kids are being short-changed. Instead of bringing somebody in for a month, say volunteers from the major banks, accounting firms, and financial institutions to come in and talk about these types of things within the school system. Schools would be far better served because every one of these organizations is looking for places to volunteer.
The other truth is most people are not financially literate. It's hard to teach financial literacy when you don't understand it yourself. That's why most people can remember that the only thing most people say that they learned in school was how to write a check. That's probably because most people write checks in their day-to-day life. Nowadays, the reason why people don't get taught how to balance a checkbook is because no one balances checkbooks these days.
Nobody writes checks anymore. I'm looking at my checks. I last bought 500 checks a few years ago. I might have 100 checks left. Think of the number of checks. Those are my business checks. For personal checks, maybe I write 1 or 2 a year. Those companies don't want checks. They would much prefer I give them a Visa card or I do an e-Transfer.
Using checks is such an outdated system. The US ranks the highest in how many checks get written per month, but it's also one of the number one groups for financial fraud. Most people don't know how to also write checks safely, which is huge. For example, now that it's 2020, it's a good idea to write 2020 as the full date in the year because it could also give someone an opportunity to write in 2019. Going back to, however, some say banks won't cash checks past six months, but they've done it before I've seen it.Money is your friend. The more money you have in your life, the more opportunities it can give you. Click To Tweet
When was the last time somebody asked you to give you two pieces of ID when you get a check? It used to be when you went into the grocery store and gave them a check, they asked you for two pieces of ID. They get so few checks that people wouldn't even think to ask, or wouldn't even know to ask for that.
A lot has been taken for granted when it comes to how many times do you pay with a debit card or credit card? With a debit card, you have to put in your PIN number, at least. I haven't had my ID tracked with a credit card with all sorts of amounts that I'm paying for.
Nobody checks the signature anymore. Nobody does anything anymore because it's all pin pad-based or tap systems. You’re right. As we digress a little bit, it's important. It's about getting people to understand the nuances of their finances and getting people comfortable with the understanding of it's okay not to know everything. It's not okay to ignore it.
Most people that are frustrated that I work with tend to be people who have been putting their heads in the sand for years. I've seen it happen with business owners that have had businesses for over ten years. It's ruined their lives and marriages. It takes a huge toll on you. It could be something that's even profitable, but because you've ignored it for so long, it's an avalanche. It begins tiny and it can snowball out of control quickly.
Let's move from there because we’ve handled that. People have got to sit there and have a good understanding of their finances and finding somebody that can help them with that. Let's move into that wonderful word that you came up with at the beginning of this, abundance. How do you help people move from the day-to-day understanding of how much money they're spending today, weekly or monthly to get them into that abundance mentality? It’s going to be important, moving forward to get people into a mentality of not needing to spend every penny that we make.
I have to go through the process of building a foundation with these people because few people come to me already with good habits. The good habits are about cash management and understanding where it's going. For me, that's the first piece. It's great to manage your cash and know where everything is going. Unless you move from that place of fear and into an abundance mindset, you're not going to be able to get the most that you can out of your money. For example, I worked with someone. We put the systems in place to make sure that the basics are put together and they're not difficult. When he gets paid, he knows where everything needs to funnel out and business and personal are taken care of. It’s not that much work for him.
To get into the abundance mindset, we started doing exercises. It's things like going to the coffee shop in the morning and you love a pastry, but you can't afford a pastry. Can you though? What benefits will that pastry have on your day? For example, an extra $5. This person who has their money all taken care of is still thinking, “I don't have enough.” It's a story that they're telling themselves. Once we talk about how much that pastry can add joy to their lives, as a coach, if I'm not feeling great, I can't coach my clients as best as I can. As business owners, sometimes that means if I start my day with that wonderful pastry maybe on Mondays. Let's say you start the week or you have some important meetings that day.
You’d love a pastry and go to the coffee shop as you normally do. If you get a pastry, sit there and enjoy it, it puts you in a mindset where you're feeling so much better. You had a little bit of pleasure already for the day. If you're having five sales calls that day, you're going to be in a better mood. You're already setting yourself up for more abundance in your life. Sometimes the trick is to switch that thinking. If you're thinking that $5 is a lot of money and you have everything put together usually, it's asking questions like, “If you spend this $5 for the week on a pastry, is that going to make or break your rent this month?” I don't think so.
If it is, we're having a different conversation.
For me, that's why I love the work so much. It's personal. The pastry example may not work for everyone but what I like to do is finding patterns in people and connecting it with the joys of their lives. A pastry for this person is something that they look forward to. They light up when they talk about it but for someone else, it could be not including anything about money. You can have fun for free and look for those opportunities. This goes back to what I said earlier. We start with the money piece, but the abundance work begins to bleed out to everything else. Once you have abundance in money and you begin to appreciate that, you begin to see it everywhere else in your life. I've seen clients and their kids beginning to pick up these abundance mindset habits, not even realizing why that's happening.
It's because their parents are also feeling so much better about themselves. They're not feeling that stress of money. I've had money blogs, and a lot of it has to do with my immigrant upbringing. My parents grew up in Communist Russia. There's so much money talk there about how everyone's supposed to be equal. You're not supposed to have a lot of money. The reality is, the more money you have in your life, it gives you more opportunities. It's switching those mindsets and seeing money as a friend. That's what I'm trying to do at the end. No matter if I'm working with individuals or business owners, it's to get them to see it as a friend.
For me, it's not a Danish in the morning. It's a box of Danishes and bringing it to the office or a client’s office, and seeing the joy that it brings other people. Not only does that make me feel better, it brings joy into my life, but it also spreads the joy into other people's lives. It makes their days better, more effective, and allows them to connect with each other and me on a different level and it spreads. I'm a big believer in dropping the pebbles in the water and watching those ripple effects. You’re right. It's how we think about money and how we view money, whether it's a stressor for us or something that we use to be able to achieve goals.Money is a tool to be used to live a life. Click To Tweet
It’s that thought process. I love the fact that you bring that up because too many people live their life going, “I can't afford that.” “I can't do that.” They don't do anything because they're saving up for when they're 65 years so they can retire, do things and they're dead at 68. They never did anything. It's a matter of understanding that money is a tool to be used to live a life. It's not whoever dies with the most toys win. It's how you lived and built your life with that abundance and using that money as a tool to be able to live your life effectively.
One of my biggest articles that did well was I just need enough money to..., it goes back to the stories that we're telling ourselves. If you switch the wording in that sentence and say, “How can I get the money to afford that?” It already begins to change the framework of what you're saying. It's powerful because I wish I had enough money to get it. You're already coming from a place of scarcity. You're acknowledging that you don't have it, which perpetuates the not having it but when you say how can I get enough money to buy that thing? It begins to train your brain to think, “How do we get there?” We may not be there, but it's possible.
I like to think of, “What we need to do to make that happen?” That's a great thing for the business to look at it and people say, “It's not in the budget.” “What do we need to do to make that happen?” Yes, there's a budget. There's a pile of money, but it is not absolute. It's sitting there saying that every single penny is not earmarked for a specific thing. There’s $100,000 for marketing. If I can give you a better way to spend that $100,000, maybe we can take something out of this in order to be able to afford that. It's a matter of giving people the opportunity to be able to be successful. What's the best way for people to get in touch with you?
The best place to get in touch with me is on LinkedIn or you can check out my money blog at RagsToRichesConsulting.com. I share money insights and that includes the article, I just need enough money to.
The last question I asked everybody, as you walk up the door, leave a meeting, get in your car and you drive away or bus or whatever you do, how do you want people to think about you when you're not in the room?
The word that I came up for 2020 for myself when I was doing some intention setting for the new year. It's Moxie. I have lots of tattoos. I am not your typical accountant. When people think of another accounting book or personal finance book, they think it's going to be a dreaded and a snooze fest. I'm not that type of person. That's how I like for people to think about me when I'm not in the room.
Olga, you are a ray of sunshine. I love having you on the show. Thanks for making money understandable because it's desperately needed in today's world.
Thank you, Ben for having me on.
I love to have you on.
Olga Kirshenbaum is a published author of "Shmoney Guide: Making Money Choices Doesn't Need to Be So Scary" focusing on personal finance advice. Olga is a Money Whisperer and Founder of Rags to Riches Consulting. Olga empowers individuals and creative leaders to make money choices with confidence so they can unleash life’s full potential.
“Dear Olga” column is a weekly money advice article series answering readers’ written-in questions. Readers get to ask questions they have always wondered about and are intimidated to ask about. The answers are in layman terms without making the reader feel inadequate or stupid which most find refreshing. Money Mondays articles covering all the broad money topics out there including student debt, budgeting, having conversations about money with your partner, facing financial setbacks and more. “Shmoney Guide: Making Money Choices Doesn’t Need to Be So Scary” is available on Amazon and Nook.
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