Life After Medicine

The Key To Becoming Financially Healthy and Taking Control of Your Future with Colleen Patel

August 31, 2023 Chelsea Turgeon Season 1 Episode 117
Life After Medicine
The Key To Becoming Financially Healthy and Taking Control of Your Future with Colleen Patel
Show Notes Transcript

Do you ever feel like your finances are controlling you? “The money” is one of the most common reasons that we stay in careers we don’t enjoy. This is especially true for healthcare professionals, who have high student loan burdens. But you don’t have to stay stuck in financial fear and scarcity.

In this episode, financial expert and pharmacist, Colleen Patel, discusses how to start building financial health so you can take control of your money.

You’ll learn:

  • How to start moving from financial avoidance into financial awareness, especially when it all feels too intimidating.
  • How to start building up a “future self fund” so you can take a career sabbatical without financial pressure.
  • How to align your spending habits with your values.

If you are sick of feeling chained by the golden handcuffs and want to take control of your financial health, this is the episode for you.

Guest Links:
www.colleenpatel.com -  FREE guide to maximize spending, increase savings, and destroy debt.
Linkedin - Colleen Patel (Mulhair)
Instagram - colleenrxfinancial
Facebook Group - Colleen's *Prescription for Financial Health*

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Welcome to the Life After Medicine podcast, where we help you create a fulfilling and non-traditional career as a healthcare worker. I'm your host, Chelsea Turin. In 2019, I left the hustle and grind of my OB G Y N residency and set out to create a fulfilling career on my own terms. Now I'm a bestselling author, career and burnout coach and world traveler. Through this podcast, I'll show you how to enjoy your work, make an impact, and support yourself financially without all the stress and burnout you are currently experiencing. Let's get to the show.

Chelsea Turegeon:

Hello, my loves. Welcome back to another episode of Life After Medicine. Thank you so much for pressing play Today I have here with me a very special guest, Colleen Patel. She is a pharmacist and financial coach, and she has spent the last 20 years focused on managing household finances for her family. And after two decades of studying personal finances and executing a plan to eliminate six figures worth of student loan debt, While raising her three children, Colleen realized there were many others who needed guidance to handle similar circumstances. She specifically focuses on encouraging women to feel more confident with their money. Thank you so much for joining us

Collen Patel:

today. Thanks so much for having me, Chelsea. I appreciate it. So Colleen,

Chelsea Turegeon:

tell us a little bit about your career journey and just how you transitioned from working as a pharmacist to now being a financial coach.

Collen Patel:

Yes. Just hearing you say two decades, it still takes my breath away, but I have an 18 year old son, so I should understand that there has been two decades of family life. But yes, I am trained as a pharmacist. I graduated in Pittsburgh back in 2001, and I immediately jumped into pharmacy. I, I. Very typical Type A, like a lot of pharmacists checking off the boxes, go to high school, go to college, get your career, jump in next, have a family, that kind of thing. But when my husband and I got married, I realized we have this giant mountain of student loan debt, and I think a lot of us in healthcare can identify with that. I came from a generation where you didn't talk about money. You, no one talked about money. I got through pharmacy school and. I knew there was money going places to make that happen, but I didn't realize exactly what that meant until afterwards and when we combined our finances and were, I. Over six figures with these two healthcare degrees. I knew we really needed to take a look at that and make some changes. We were so excited to be starting our life, a new house, planning a family and those kind of things. And to have that mountain of debt hanging over us. I just decided I really wanted to not ignore it and just make sure I had a plan for it so that we could tackle life in the way we wanted to, but also be realistic with what we had taken on to get our degrees and start our careers.

Chelsea Turegeon:

Yeah. Thank you so much for sharing that, because I do think the avoidance that you talked about is so normal, especially among medical students and anyone in the medical field taking on. High amounts of student loan to get their degree. It's just this sort of you don't even think about it because honestly there's already so much else to stress about. So thinking about that on top of it feels like it's too much. And I think there's also a sense of we don't know how to handle it. There's so many things we do know, but money is not something we feel as comfortable with. So then there's just avoidance is a tactic that we use.

Collen Patel:

For sure. And I think all it's very, common amongst healthcare workers, you spend a lot of time, a lot of energy to get the degree, a lot of work to get the degree finishing your residencies and that kind of thing. And when you finally get a job, I. It's, you're ready to, spend some money on yourself, take care of yourself. And all of that, I think is understandable, normal. But you have to make sure you keep the reality portion in so you don't get carried away and forget about the pieces, maybe you need to take care of. So that's how I got started on my journey and. I mentioned I had that, type a mentality, check the box. And then I had a child and I realized like every three months something changes with this child and then every six months. And what you may need from your career, from your family life, from your partnership, if you're in partnership really changes. And it was really. A tough road for me to adapt to. The only constant in life is change. So with that came changing finances, changing how we were managing finances, changing who was gonna be our primary income earner, who was gonna be home when we had a sick kid. A lot of the daycare options felt great when the kids were healthy and things were going well and felt very. Flustered when they weren't. And for me particularly, I knew if I don't show up at the pharmacy, it doesn't open. And so that weight really, I changed a lot of my pathway, I think. And I now, here two decades later, I probably feel differently, go back and maybe do things a little bit differently'cause things are much clearer in the rear view mirror. But what I did realize, so my career shifted as. I had children, so I had my first child. I tried to go part-time, then when I had my second child, I realized, okay, this job that I was commuting into the city of Pittsburgh for, I was leaving at five 30 in the morning so that I could get there faster and not sit in traffic. I. Really wasn't working out with the family life I had planned. So I pivoted into a more specialty role with a specialty pharmacy. That was great again for a certain stage. By the time I had my third kid, my kids got older, now they're in sports and activities and our needs for what we needed for our children changed. So I feel like my career continually pivoted along that pathway. My intention was when my youngest went to kindergarten was to go back to work. I thought that was the plan. I was gonna manage this. But once they were. In school, I felt like we had a good basis, most of the care covered. And my intention was to go back and right about that time my mom got sick and so my mom had myasthenia gravis, which I'm sure you and many of your listeners may be somewhat familiar with, very kind of complicated course and. I don't know when you know it, and then trying to help with the caregiving portion was a lot different. So my parents ended up moving my neighborhood and the next few years really became much more about caregiving than I had intended or thought they would like as life does. It changed and so I pivoted again and I really see that kind of sandwich generation. I am very much, I can identify very much with the caregiving for your parents while still caregiving for children and leaving a bit of a gap for you to care for yourself, right? There's only so much time in the day. That's where my pivot began, because I was spending a lot of time in the hospital sitting, sitting in a waiting room, sitting at a nursing home, sitting during rehab or trying to, but I needed something for my brain, right? So I started looking for some, I. A new way to pivot something I could do from home that had the freedom location freedom and kind of time freedom that I could work at when I had, there were stretches and weeks where I had plenty of time to work. And then there were just these crisis situations where it felt like I needed to be home to manage that. So that's where my pivot took place. And I think my first thing, I think one of the first things I ever did personal development wise was a Tony Robbins, live event. Where you plot out, what are you good at, what have you done well at where you know who needs the help you can give and what do you like to do? And always, for me, it's always come back to helping others. I really enjoy helping people, talking to people. I actually really enjoyed retail pharmacy'cause I like. Talking with people. And what I thought I've learned to master over those years was managing money for our household. And I could still see, I feel like there's a significant gap for women, particularly when it comes to that, if it's women in their career advocating for better pay, if it's managing at home. And just understanding. Sometimes it's almost wearing too many hats, managing the household and doing all these things and one more thing I don't wanna manage, or it can be stressful and difficult. So a lot of people move into that avoidance. So seeing that gap is what helped me pivot into financial coaching. I've done a lot of training. On that, on the backend, and now have recently started taking on clients and releasing a program that I created. So that has been my pivot from pharmacy to financial coaching. But as a pharmacist, I just see how your financial health, it affects your physical health, it affects your mental health. So I'm trying to be a voice for it because money's still really hard to talk about. Even though I'm doing it, it's still sometimes really hard to talk about. But I'm trying to encourage more women to. Have a brave space to talk about money, to ask questions about things they don't understand, and to build their financial confidence for themselves, for their families. I

Chelsea Turegeon:

love that. Colleen, thank you so much for just so openly sharing your story and about, all the different ways that you pivoted within your career to adapt for all the other parts of your life that were important to you. And I think that's a big aspect that many of my listeners and many of the people I work with struggle with in healthcare careers in particular. Some of them, it's just not the right fit entirely, but some of them similar to you, it's Just the rigidity of the schedule and the way that, you can't just reschedule or pharmacy from home or take time off whenever you need to. And so there's just a lack of flexibility and it sounds like that was one of the biggest factors that you really needed in order to make a career, work around the lifestyle instead of feeling like you have to fit your life into your career. For sure. Yeah. And so when it comes to finances, what is what, like on your personal money journey, what do you think were some of the things that helped you the most get out of that avoidance and into that more confidence

Collen Patel:

and empowerment? I did start by just learning, wanting to learn more, listening, educating just taking that interest in, being a lifelong learner and, okay, here's something I don't know a lot about. What could I learn more about? I've come up with a concept of financial health which for me, I feel like is a state of your money where it feels organized, it feels simple, it feels calm. You get to enjoy spending money on things you love, but you're also being strategic with your debts. You've got a plan if you have those debts and a continuous plan for the next step that will keep you financially healthy because it, it is a journey. And I always say money's not the most important thing, but. It is something we have to deal with every day. It affects our households, it affects our relationships, and really it affects our choices, which is one of the main reasons I really encourage women. I think if you do develop this financial confidence and you have the financial health, you have more choices for whatever comes your way in your journey. Yeah,

Chelsea Turegeon:

I think that's huge and it's that's why money is important. It's not because it's about the money, but it's because money is a tool for allowing you to make the choices that are really important to you.'cause I think what I. I hate seeing the most is when people feel stuck in a career due to financial factors. And they feel like it's like their actual health is, going down the drain and their mental health and their physical health, and they're really in a state of burnout, but they really feel like they can't leave because of financial reasons. And so I think, like you said, having that financial health, it's not really even about money, it's just about the opportunities that it provides you.

Collen Patel:

And I think that's, the pharmacists in general are at a bit of a crisis point. I think Covid really pushed retail pharmacy to an unhealthy space and a lot of, you see a lot of people in my, circle of pharmacy talking about the golden handcuffs and how, you've become a accustomed to a good salary and a good living, and, but at what point is it taking your mental health or is it taking your physical health? And I've seen a lot of examples of that. Is one of the things that inspires me to keep working in this and talking to people about the situation.

Chelsea Turegeon:

Yes. Oh my gosh. The golden handcuffs is something I hear all the time, and I work on it from a mindset perspective because there's a lot of mindset pieces of that. But then I think just also having the financial empowerment and financial knowledge and the numbers in place for you. So what I wanted to talk about with you first, and we can see where else this takes us, but. We talked about this before, it's like the idea of saving up for a career sabbatical. Because one of the things that, like I said that really just makes me feel so like sad for people is when they feel like they can't afford to take time off of work to recover from burnout, to maybe reassess their lives to, to figure out what's next. And they're just really trapped in this vicious cycle of working all the time. And then their work is so draining, they don't have capacity. To really do anything outside of work to change. And so they're just like stuck in this cycle and you just see it perpetuating and perpetuating. And so I wanted to just talk about practical ways that we could help people set themselves up to, to afford to be able to take some time off if they decide they want to. So are you, do you use the term career sabbatical? Is that something that you've talked about before?

Collen Patel:

Not particularly. I think I've heard you mentioned it and we've talked about it, but it makes sense to me. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. So I'm

Chelsea Turegeon:

gonna just define it for people. Okay. And so that we're talking about the same thing, and it's not necessarily that there's one definition, but my thought of it is that you're taking a leave of some sort from your care generally, like an unpaid leave. Maybe your job is protected, maybe you're, going between jobs and gonna get a new job. But the idea is that you can take. Like 3, 6, 12 months off of having that steady income from a job and still be okay financially. And so that, that's what I wanna talk about today and just to see I. How we can help people start saving up for maybe even one month. Maybe we can start with one month, but just some level of, career sabbatical that is unpaid, but they have the means, like they have the savings and the ability to go ahead in

Collen Patel:

and do that. So I talk about this right from the get go. A lot of times when I'm talking to people who are at that young, like the cusp of young adulthood, maybe they don't have their first job yet, but thinking about what it's gonna be like when they get their first job. And absolutely, you should set aside some of that money to just have fun, do the things you love. But also make sure you're taking care of your future self. So I like to think of future you like there's future you in retirement. We all know retirement's gonna come at some point. So if you have, vehicles or matching, that's great to take advantage of so that you can prepare your future retirement self, but also your future self. That's between that first job and your retirement because, You're going to change what's important to you. What you love. This journey of life is gonna take you in different ways. And if you can set aside some money for your future self, something like this would be a perfect example. If you're paying yourself first, I love that concept of paying yourself first. I think it really helps prevent the lifestyle creep that can happen, After you graduate, and depending on what you get involved in, but that's why I just feel the awareness, financial awareness is so key. Are you buying things because you love them? Are you spending money on things you love because you love or because you think that's what you're supposed to do? And I would much rather see people setting aside money for their future self, for my future self that might wanna take a month off for my future self that might wanna take a year off to look for a new career. For my future self that might wanna a runway to a new path entirely. And I think that's pretty common. I don't know, in medical, in the medical field, I didn't really see a whole lot of entrepreneurship and I didn't have any exposure to entrepreneurship until I, more or less stumbled into this. And then you see what kind of learning curve. But I love the idea of having a runway for something different and building a runway for yourself. And it just takes really the awareness and intentionality I think, to. Know that you might want something in the future that's different than what you want today, or for people that are listening to your podcast because they know they want something different. Okay. You want something different. Let's like dig into this a little deeper and if money feels like the thing that's holding you back from making a move, let's really get our eyes on it. Let's. Take it seriously instead of avoiding it thinking I could never do this because I've got student loans. Or I could if we really take a look at it and dig in deep, a lot of times you can find the ways to set aside that money to make your runway for your sabbatical.

Chelsea Turegeon:

Yes. I love that. I, oh my gosh, I love all of this. And okay, so one of the things as you were talking about it was like, the idea of saving for retirement and, getting that set up, but then having this other fund that's like separate from that and like you said,'cause there's a lot of time between. Starting your first job in retirement. And so then it's okay, what can we also be saving for between now and then? Because one thing I do see is people get so caught up in the idea of saving for retirement that it's like they're on this hamster wheel and there's no time to have any sort of dip in income, have any sort of drop. Like they're worried that they'll get behind in that process if they stop.

Collen Patel:

And it reminds me of recently you were talking about the It's kinda a sunk cost fallacy or what it was about, not wanting to move on because of what you've done. And I do think, the abundance mindset of that, what could be out there for you if you get in a better, especially if it's a mental health, if it's a physical burnout how much more worthy that is in the num, like a number in your bank account. But I also feel one of the things I've liked to debunk, because even I started out this way Get rid of the debt at all costs. Live on rice and beans until you've paid off this debt. And that is great if you have like credit card debt that's from overspending, like if you're just overspending and that's the cause of your credit card debt. That's something. I think that's a great, okay. I. Freeze your credit cards and ice, don't use them and spend off your credit card debt. I think you can make that work, but that doesn't necessarily work for multiple six figures of student loan debt. And so I think there's some of that like shame and judgment that comes along with I. Can I pivot before I've taken care of my student loans? And so I think having a plan, I've always encouraged everyone to have a plan, to really do your research. There's a lot, especially right now with the changes in the student loans and it's hard to keep up with, but the payments restarting for people who haven't paid in many years. Researching all the possible options because sometimes there are more options. It feels overwhelming, so it's Ugh, I know I gotta deal with it. Let's just put it on the back burner. But I think inspiring yourself for a more abundant future and something that fits your life better, as a great reason to sit down and take a look at all of those different options so you can pick one and make a plan for yourself. Yeah. I love

Chelsea Turegeon:

that. And I love that you mentioned all the emotional pieces too, because I think that is a big part that keeps us in avoidance. And that's a lot of the personal work I've done, like the healing around just like shame and guilt and judgment around spending.'cause I grew up and I had a D H D and so I would just. Spend all the time and like my whole family would just joke at me first for always spending and your money burns a hole in your pocket and that sort of thing. So I had this deep shame around spending and money and all of that. And so it's like I had to really work through a lot of that emotional stuff until I felt like I could look at my bank account because otherwise it was like all this stuff from growing up that was really like in like getting in the way of me being able to make just more objective financial

Collen Patel:

decisions. And I, most people, so I have a Facebook group and most people come to my Facebook group with their concern being budgeting. I need a budget, I need to budget better, I need a budget. And we spend a lot of time inside the group talking about how money is emotional. Money is emotional, it's behavioral. It affects your relationships or your relationships affect your money. I have people, some people are managing money on their own and then, They can be, empowered with their decisions.'cause they're making their own decisions, but they don't have anyone to bounce questions off of or to rely on if they, so there's positives and negatives there. And then when you're in a relationship with your money or a partnership, then now you gotta come to a lot more compromise and you've gotta take these different styles of growing up and try and mesh them together. And most of that ends up being emotional and more behavioral than. Any number on the Excel spreadsheet or in the Mint app or anything. Yeah,

Chelsea Turegeon:

no, I love that you said that and that it's yeah, people come with this idea that we need to budget, but then what is underneath that is all the emotions.'cause I had a friend who is a finance coach and we were working together at one point to Exchanging services, and this was like early on in my Nommed journey when I was like in entrepreneurship and just trying to figure out with an un, what is it called? Like a, an income that's not the same every month. Yeah, a fluctuating income. With that, it's like, how do I make smart financial decisions still? And I remember her saying the word budget and all of a sudden I had this trigger reaction of like I wanted to cry. Like the idea of a budget made me feel so deprived that I wanted to cry. And it like really brought me back to childhood.'cause my dad became this like huge Dave Ramsey fan and had all these envelopes and like cash and it was this whole budget thing. And I felt like I, couldn't buy all the same things as my friends. And it's just like all this childhood stuff. And so it was really like, Clearing the emotions around it, that allowed me to start feeling more in control of my money. Yeah,

Collen Patel:

and I, for sure I usually am like the budget, the B word. I call it the B word.'cause I feel like it is very restrictive and it does bring a lot of emotional reactions from people. So I really prefer to use your spending plan. Like, how do you want to spend your money? How does it spend for you? And a big thing for us was we did have this giant mountain of student loan debt, but we wanted to travel. So I identify with. You and that I have complete wanderlust. We wanted to travel and have experiences with our kids and our kids were only little for so long, right? We only have'em for a certain time period. So if we put that at the back burner after we pay off all the debt, we were missing so many years. So we went with a spending plan that prioritized that absolutely travel's gonna be the most important thing for our family because that was what was important to our family. Travel doesn't have to be what's important to everyone, but whatever it is that lights you up, that brings you joy, that not only in the moment, but later on, you reflect back and it feels good. And if you can spend your money on those things that you love first, then it really motivates you to make good financial decisions in other areas. It's much easier to say, no, I, we'd say, we wanna travel, we're gonna go to the beach, we wanna go to the national parks. We took our son at an opportunity as a soccer team to go to Europe. And so we took the whole family of five and went and did a, this European vacation because we prioritized that and then we had to make some other hard financial decisions on the other side. But it was fine'cause we were encouraged, we were doing all the things we love first, so then we could cut back on some of the stuff that really wasn't that important to us, even if maybe, others thought it was important or the world thought it was important. It really helped us focus by having a spending plan to spend on what we love first.

Chelsea Turegeon:

Yeah, I love that. And it really makes me think of the work I do with my clients in career stuff as well, just because it's like, it's all about aligning it with your values, right? If you're spending money based on the things you value and also like when you're, when your career is based on the things you value, then it's like it just is less and less important around like what other people are doing. And then there's not that feeling of like restriction or deprivation. Maybe there's like a tiny bit of sure, oh, I wish I could do all of it, but you still have this overlying or underlying sense of. Yeah, you don't feel like so restricted from the process. So when it comes to creating a spending plan, and I, yeah.'cause I get a little digressing from the topic, but I think all of this is really helpful and people are gonna, people are gonna wanna hear conversations about money, which I wanna do more of on the podcast too. So for saving, for making a runway, a career sabbatical, can we first even go into like, how much do people need to get set aside? And like, how do they figure that out?'cause I find that a lot of my clients don't even really know. What their monthly expenses are. That, so like how do you even, and I'm sure like you have things that go into more detail, but just, as an overview, what, how would you go about. Creating a

Collen Patel:

number for yourself. Yeah. I have a couple different ways I go about explaining this because it, personal finance is so personal and it really depends where people are starting from and what their personality is. Some people want to do the cash envelopes and manage every single dollar. Some people that comes naturally from for, and they get great results with that. Other people are never going to be able to manage every dollar like that, and it's just gonna get overwhelming. And then they're gonna go back to avoidance because, Managing 12 or 15 envelopes in a month is too much. So depending on how they feel about that, like I love to go through the wants and needs. Let's clarify what are the necessities, where are the needs for the month? What are actually like, I. And that to me is just more of an awareness piece. When you can remove any shame, remove any judgment look at it, in our house, I joke, and you can get again down to the nitty gritty, like cable in our house is currently a need. Like we need cable for entertainment. My husband likes really to watch, the sports, the Steelers and pirates and all that kind of stuff for being in Pittsburgh. And then you're in Pittsburgh. But that's

Chelsea Turegeon:

a. If you're in Pittsburgh, the Steelers is a

Collen Patel:

need. We could get into that and if we really needed to cut that out because we wanted, we had a bigger purpose down the road, clearly we could put that as a want. But I feel like being able to look at those things and determine, how much. There really just needs to be more of an awareness piece. And I talk about building like a really strong, like I always call it growing your money tree because when I was growing up, my parents, I felt like that's just what I, the refrain I grew up with. What you think there's a money tree out there, you know what you think money grows on trees. I feel like that was just like the refrain of my childhood. And I like to say like the money tree is really building a strong foundation. Having foundational, plan for your retirement emergency funds so you don't, when you're. Car blows a tire, it doesn't set you back. Making sure you're using credit cards properly and not just taking on debt and spending more than your means, like those strong foundations of your. Tree. And I feel like the roots are all of these financial principles, like kinda learning about interest rates or learning how credit cards work if you don't understand or what your options are for your student loans. And then you get up to the big branches of, you need transportation, you need shelter, you need, clothing and food. And then all the extra stuff can be the little leaves of fun and all your entertainment, all your joy, all your extra like clothing and shopping and entertainment travel. But if you need to cut those things back, if you have a financial storm, where it co, things just happen in life and if you can come back and still have the strong foundation, it's much easier to regrow that all again. So I try to, but the awareness is the piece of that. Like just really being able to look and being say, yeah, we spend money on this cable because we want to, we spend money on traveling to our kids' sports. Because that's an opportunity we wanna give them. But we know if something came along that our income wasn't working for us, our careers weren't working for us, we needed to pivot. Here's the things we could easily cut back if we needed to. And then you get into bigger, if you're living in a high cost of living area, if your home has really. You realize a greater percentage of your income is going to your, physical home or cars. Maybe you need, you want to make a big move and change those kind of things, but you have to know the numbers and really, I. Build your awareness to see where those opportunities are because there's almost always some kind of opportunities. You can try to increase income if you need to, or you can really just take a look at where the spending's going. And I find, especially in 2023, it just moves so fast. The money moves really fast. The auto subscriptions for everything just gets sucked out and you don't even have like eyeballs on it anymore like you used to. Paying with Venmo and PayPal and Zelle and there being so many ways for money to change hands, it's really easy for it to get lost on where the money is actually going.

Chelsea Turegeon:

Yeah, it's so true. It really is it's something you have to keep your eyes on. And I love the idea of just starting with financial awareness and really just getting into a sense of what are my needs, what are my wants? And then deciding like what the priorities are so that from there you, where the flexibility is in your savings plan to start building up that runway.

Collen Patel:

And like you mentioned, a lot of it is the awareness of. Your money mindset from childhood, your money beliefs you grew up with. I fully grew up with a belief of it's hard to make money, you have to work hard, to put food on the table. And I see how, I didn't know any different, I didn't know there were other, abundance mindsets to have beyond that. So picking up those kind of things and seeing what you can learn along the way to help your situation. Yeah,

Chelsea Turegeon:

no, it's, that's like really changed my life. I've done a lot of my own like personal study around just like the mindset of money and abundance and just personal. I guess everyone's like personal, like the psychology of money. And the way that really ties in and I've just found that so fascinating and helpful. And so what do you think are some maybe easy categories or easy places for people to look at that maybe they're spending more than they realize in these places or like just places that are maybe easier to start. To cut back from the one. I know it's like probably different for everyone, but Yeah. Yeah. Are there some that are like, okay, check this, and then usually there's room in some of these categories

Collen Patel:

especially for families, I'll say is food. Usually food is the number one place. People aren't realizing how much they're spending. I spend a lot of time with busy moms, obviously. Three kids. Mine are all active in sports, so I'm either on the baseball sidelines or the soccer sidelines or at the stadium. And many of us have just run there from somewhere else. So we either getting takeout or we're getting DoorDash to home before we leave, or Uber Eats. And you can realize if you sit down and figure that out, usually there's a lot. A lot of money going in the direction of food. It is a necessity. It's, it's a necessity that we eat, so it can be easily skimmed over. But I've done this with a lot of my young clients. The clients who've grown up with DoorDash and Uber Eats and don't know any better. When you really look at that, you're paying 50% more. To have it delivered. And it may just because you're used to it, it's right down the road. You could just drive down and pick it up for half the price. Just building awareness on some of those things. The entertainment, I think the subscriptions really anymore. You sign up, there's small amounts and you may like. For me, I'm a, I'm big into photography, so I'll purchase a photography class or I'll, sign up for something and then I get busy and I'm not even doing that hobby at this time, but I'm still paying for those things and I think that can be pretty common. And speaking of being busy, I think there's a lot of money. Spent, to alleviate the busy, trying to make it easier. And sometimes what could make it easier is a change in work. I was following something the other day about what is your true income? Okay you make some money, there's your take home pay. But then if you're putting out money in wardrobe or commuting eating out. Every lunch when you're at work and then needing to order in dinners because you're not home to cook. All of those kind of things can really be compared on the true cost of, your true income. And then is it going in the direction you know you want it to go? Or could a pivot, a pivot in your career that. It doesn't have, that has maybe different income but could have different outputs, as something to consider as well.

Chelsea Turegeon:

Yeah, I love that. And I think that's a big part of what we don't really talk about is if you're unhappy in your career, How does that impact your spending? Because I know I have someone on here, I think she was a pharmacist as well, and she was like so stressed out and so burnt out that she was online shopping and racked up like$5,000 of credit card debt doing that. And it's so how does the unhappiness. Just like that sense of emptiness and that oh, there's gotta be more than this. And like all of those feelings that can create, not for everyone, but for some people that can create spending habits that are not helping anything. Not that it's wrong for sure doing it, but it's like when you start to add it all up, it's like when you don't actually need to keep spending at that level to maintain your lifestyle because maybe the lifestyle itself isn't even working for you.

Collen Patel:

And I do believe I. I think taking care of your financial health is really an act of self-care. It helps you take care of yourself better. I think there's a lot of, the stress and anxiety that kind of hangs in the background. If you're unsure, if you're in that avoidance or you're afraid of what is there, I think more people find relief by shining a light on the money, looking at it and deciding, yes, I want, I enjoy buying clothes. I want to buy myself a good wardrobe. I'm gonna spend this much money. First, like really taking into account what makes you feel good as opposed to, I don't feel good. So I'm trying to find anything that will make me feel good and then maybe overspending and then feeling bad about, like I feel like that cycle can easily be broke. Maybe not easily, but it can be broken with the awareness and taking in Yeah. Your mindset and, doing this hard work. Like a lot of the hard work you talk about. Here of really diving into what do you really want? And there's a difference, your, from your family of origin, what they wanted from you. I've heard you talk about that. I understand that it can change how how your career, it can change how you spend. Very similar with even, your friends and the community you live in and how others are spending can really influence how you're spending and take some time sometimes to step back and say, am I really following what I want? Am I following a path? From my heart or am I getting swept up in what's happening around me? And I do think lifestyle creep is one of those things, we all have lifestyle creep and sometimes it's okay and sometimes you realize it's running away from you. So those are the kind of things I encourage people to take a look at. But particularly because when you do, you can have more self-care for yourself. You can look for more things that light you up. I see, especially because I deal with women, a lot of women who. Don't wanna spend any money on themselves. They don't wanna spend money on self-care. And for me, I'm putting, when I create my spending plan, I've got a spending plan that has preventative health in it, and that counts for mental therapy, physical therapy, massage, rest, those things. To me it's not oh, I'm spending money at the gym. My gym's costing me money. It's, these are acts for preventative health because if you do have money, but you don't have your health, it's not gonna, do you any good. And I feel health is wealth when it really comes down to it. We all need to be physically and mentally healthy. So

Chelsea Turegeon:

yeah, it's so important. And I, yeah, I love that you talk about finance in, in the realm of health too, financial health because it's like when finances are feeling chaotic and when you're not sure, but you know on some level and like all of that just creates a lot more stress and anxiety and I think, yeah, it just seems like awareness is the first step, which is great. And what do you like? Actually physically, what does awareness mean? Is it like printing out? I think like I've done it before where it's like I printed out all my bank statements for the past three months and then highlighted things that I liked spending and like I literally was like annotating each thing. Do you have any exercises or thoughts for Bringing awareness and like what that

Collen Patel:

can look like. Yeah. That is one of the exercises that I have people do. If they're up for it, some people are up for it, some are not. But that helps you really eliminate the unnecessary, like the spending. You don't know that's happening. And I think it's really easy for people to be like, what? I didn't know I was still paying for that membership, or I didn't, so I think that's always a great step. And then usually in that you start to see other things, which I like to rate'em as A, B, C, a. Yeah, I know I'm spending this, I'm perfectly happy with it. It's fine. B eh, Maybe if I needed to make a change, I could change this. If I like to talk about An emergency plan not that you have to enact your emergency situation, for people who might have impending, their jobs are less stable and they have to prepare for job loss. Like what's your emergency plan if you did have to cut your income you don't have to enact it, but knowing what are the things you would cut? What are those B level things that you could get rid of? If you need it to, and then the C's are things you're like, yeah, I don't need this in my life. I don't need to be wasting my money here. Let's cut that out.$27 and 40 cents is$10,000 a year, right? So do you need$10,000 to take a month off? Do you need$10,000 to plan an epic vacation that you want to have memories of to, carry you forever?$27 and 40 cents. And I really think that's Uber Eats bill right there. With how easy it is to spend money these days. I love my Starbucks just like everyone else, but at six 50 a pop, I'd rather save some of that money for travel for sure.

Chelsea Turegeon:

Yeah. I love that. And I think it's you get to make your choices, but just making them from a place of intentionality, I think that's what's more important than not feeling like you have a choice or not feeling like you have to restrict. But just. Just having this awareness and then with that awareness, then really choosing and really knowing what it is that

Collen Patel:

you're doing and finding some support for sure. I think finding communities that believe more, somewhat similarly to what you believe on spending on what you love can be helpful. Because even in medicine, there's a bit of an expectation of what car you're parking in the hospital, parking garage or what. How you're spending your money, even how people expect you to gift. Like I see as the pharmacists wages compared to student loans really aren't that wonderful. And if you don't know about the student loans, then it might seem like, oh, this person's making a wonderful salary, but trying to live your truth as opposed to the assumptions that are made in the outside world about healthcare

Chelsea Turegeon:

specifically. Yeah. And I feel like, yeah, there's just lots of expectations I think, on how to spend your money in all the ways of I've had clients who are like I have to send my kids to these private schools and we have to have the double Dr. House if we're both, physicians are both working in healthcare. And so I think yeah, that can feed into a lot of the mentality and a lot of the lifestyle creep is like other people's expectations. And so then I think it's just about coming back to short you could choose to spend money on that. Is that making you happy to spend money on that?

Collen Patel:

And the, I'm not sure how much you've talked about here, about the fire movement, the financial independence retire early.

Chelsea Turegeon:

Not a lot.'cause I always think of it as like the rice and beans lifestyle that you described

Collen Patel:

and there's a very like significant portion that is that way. But more for me, the ideas that come from the fire movement. The more middle of the road is what I would say is not necessarily about retiring, at 40 or 45. It's about finding the pathway that you love, and if you take these certain financial steps, it does not have to be the rice and beans, total restriction, which is why I about it a little differently. I just want you to spend money on what you love and be strategic with your debts, but follow some good financial principles for your house because it can give you those options to pivot in your career. And the simple Path to Wealth by j l Collins, it's one of the kind of books that's in the fire movement that everyone talks about. And in there is where he talks about FU money. And I just love the term, I resonate with it like. Save the money for yourself. So when you get to a situation that you can no longer tolerate, or you're not being treated in the way you deserved, you're not being compensated in the way you deserve that, you have enough FU money to say, I'm gonna pivot. I don't need this, right? I'm gonna choose what's best for me. And I identify with that portion of the fire movement more than anything about retiring.

Chelsea Turegeon:

I love that so much because I think that ties back to like it's the ultimate self-care at that point. Yes, a hundred percent.'cause then you are no longer in a place where you are like a victim to someone else's whims because you need the money for like your actual needs. You, you can walk away and I think that is a huge amount of self-care.

Collen Patel:

Yeah. Recently our family was, we were faced with a situation job and income and someone there's nothing you can do. You have three kids going to college, you. You're stuck. That's what we were told. You are stuck. You can't make a change. And we were like, Nope, we're not stuck. Like we have a plan. We have a plan to not be stuck and have to be forced to keep careers or jobs that aren't fitting our life. So to me, that's why I feel like the work I've done to focus on our finances and have a spending plan and a financial plan for our family allows, choices and freedom like that to really take care of ourselves and say, Nope, what this is demanding is not what we want for our family life, and we're gonna

Chelsea Turegeon:

make a pivot. Gosh, that must be so empowering to be like, you know what, we're not stuck. Yes. We've got plan for sure. And so that, yeah, that's what I want for everyone here too.'cause there's just so many people who message me and they're like, oh yeah, I'm stuck because of the money or like the financial repercussions of leaving and all of that. And it's we are letting this currency. Dictate our livelihoods. And I get that it is so important, but it's like, why don't we take our power back? And so I just love this whole conversation.'cause I feel like it really is showing people how they can start to take their power back around money.

Collen Patel:

Yes. Because money, it really should just be a tool. It should be a tool to live our best life. And that's just one piece of, what's important to our lives.

Chelsea Turegeon:

I love that. Colleen, thank you so much for coming on here. Where can people find you and connect with you? If they want more information about, financial empowerment and confidence and all of that, I.

Collen Patel:

Sure, yeah. The, I primarily currently am running a Facebook group. It's called Colleen's Prescription for Financial Health. A little nod in my pharmacy career there. That's where I just encourage it to be a brave space for women to come talk about money, learn about money, ask their questions. I do a lot of free training in there and a lot of money challenges occur in that group. And then Colleen patel.com always has my latest information on how you can get in touch with me or find out more about improving your financial health. I. I

Chelsea Turegeon:

love that. So we'll go ahead and put all those links in the description below. So if you guys are listening to this on the podcast, you will find that in the descriptor so that you can join the Facebook group and get access to any of the wonderful free gifts and downloads that she provides as well. So thank you so much for coming on here today.

Collen Patel:

Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.