Talk Wealth to Me

#025: Femme Frugality: Breaking the Poverty Cycle

November 01, 2019 Felipe Arevalo, Chase Peckham, Katie Utterback, Brynne Conroy Season 1 Episode 25
Talk Wealth to Me
#025: Femme Frugality: Breaking the Poverty Cycle
Show Notes Transcript

While it’s true that numbers and math don’t care about your gender, numbers and math are hardly the driving force behind personal finances. Instead, outside cultural influences often affect our financial situations more than we’d like to admit.

In this episode, Chase and Katie sit down with Brynne Conroy for a discussion on the poverty cycle, the cultural influences that affect an individual's earning potential, as well as their ability to save, and the importance of breaking stigmas around social programs.

About Brynne
Brynne Conroy is the owner, creator and content director of the Femme Frugality blog. In October 2018, Conroy published The Feminist Financial Handbook, which quickly went on to become a  #1 Amazon new release.

In The Feminist Financial Handbook, Conroy takes a deep dive into how discrimination and oppression affect an individual or family's personal finance and the steps people can take to overcome the hurdles in front of them.

About the Show
Comments, questions or suggestions for the show? Email us at [email protected]

To learn more about DebtWave Credit Counseling, visit our website or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

To learn more about the San Diego Financial Literacy Center, visit our website or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Support the show (https://www.sdflc.org/help-sdflc/donate/)
Intro:

Welcome to Talk Wealth to Me, a safe space podcast where we chat about anything and everything related to personal finance.

Felipe Arevalo:

The information contained in this podcast is for educational and entertainment purposes only. It does not constitute as accounting, legal, tax or other professional advice.

Chase Peckham:

Hello and welcome to another edition of Talk Wealth to Me. Today we have a really, really great guest that Katie and I got to sit down with a , and her story is one , uh , that is not unlike what a lot of women go through , um , at a young age. Um, as single parents, um trying to make a life for themselves. But she made a career out of her experiences and is giving back , uh, to people in a great way and making a living doing it. You're gonna want to stick around for today's interview , uh , because Brynne Conroy is, she's quite something.

Brynne Conroy:

Hey, how are you Katie?

Katie Utterback:

I'm doing well. I'm so happy to have you on the show today.

Brynne Conroy:

Oh, thank you for having me.

Chase Peckham:

So kind of, I guess let's just get throw it in there. Is , is how, first of all, how did fem for Galtee come about? Um, what is, what is the story? How did you get there?

Brynne Conroy:

Yeah , so it started almost a decade ago now. It was eight years, I think. Um, and I started writing when I didn't have any money. I was living well below the poverty line. Um, and I didn't really know of a way to get out. Um, I found out I was expecting, so I figured out a way to get out. Um, I knew that the way that I was living was not going to be sustainable. Um , my income was extremely stunted because I did not have an education. I had my high school degree and that was it. Um, so I went back to school and I found out I found ways that I could get my education , um, pursue higher paying work and make life better for the whole family . So, and then I started writing about it. So that's how the blog started.

Chase Peckham:

And was, was writing always something that you would like doing or did you find that when you were in school?

Brynne Conroy:

I had always liked writing. Um, at first when I started the blog, a lot of the stuff that I was doing was like quick ways to save cash so it wasn't, or to make money really quickly. Um, and so those tips were kind of bite sized and very short. It wasn't until later , um, I guess in my blogging or writing journey in the personal finance space that I started delving in a little bit deeper into issues. So

Katie Utterback:

I actually want to take you a step back to , can you talk to us a little bit about your upbringing and did you know about personal finance? Was this something that, you know, your family talked with you openly about or just what kind of was your relationship with money growing up?

Brynne Conroy:

Yeah . Yeah. Um, it was surprisingly surprisingly good. Um, I don't know that I ever knew the inner workings of my parent's personal finances, but they were very deliberate and teaching us how to save money. Um, how the value of making a dollar and hard work , um, and also the value of an education. Although it didn't work out traditionally, it was something that , um , they really stressed the importance of , um, as that investment in yourself. Um, and so they taught me about debt and credit cards and student loans as well. So I was very fortunate.

Katie Utterback:

Okay. So, and I was reading too, and I don't remember if you wrote this or somebody who was writing this about you, but you were raised in a , um , conservative household. So can you kind of talk about, I guess what that means and then , um, I guess when you kind of talked about living in poverty, what was the juxtaposition between the two? What was it like, I guess in your house, in that conservative household versus living in poverty? What were the things that you, I guess, notice the most that things that were most dramatically missing from your life or were now added to your life?

Brynne Conroy:

Yeah, definitely. So one thing that I've noticed along my journey in particular is that , um, I had a lot of assumptions before I started that conservative necessarily when along with wealthy. And while that is true , uh, after living in poverty and surrounded by people that I love. Um, in that community there, there is some , there is some of what you'd expect, but there's a lot of conservatism with people as well, whether they're managing their own personal finances or, I mean if we're talking about the wider thing about politics, there's a surprising mix. Just because you're poor doesn't mean that you're automatically voting for social welfare program, I'm sure. But yeah, I grew up in an extremely conservative household. Um, a lot of that was based on being very religious. Um, and also, I mean, I did grow up in an area , um , that was very white suburban in the nineties. Where did you go? I mean, there was that whole experience too.

Katie Utterback:

And where did you grow up?

Brynne Conroy:

Um , Pittsburgh. Mostly Pittsburgh. Oh , suburbs.

Katie Utterback:

The suburbs. Yeah.

Chase Peckham:

So that kind of take us through that story. So I mean, I would imagine, yeah, the conservative doesn't necessarily mean , um, that you're , that you believe in everything that is conservative and liberal doesn't mean that you automatically believe in everything as liberal. And those two can be very hot button topics , um , that can really get one side of the other, probably both going. Um , but you're , you're , you hit it , the nail on the head that being conservative doesn't automatically mean that you're making money. Um, it just might, it's it's beliefs in a system. Um, what, how did you go from that household to , um, kind of getting to where , uh, when leaving high school and into, before you got your , um , your degree or your education?

Brynne Conroy:

Yes. So I um, left home a little bit early. Um, I provided for myself from a young age. I did go to school for a semester and I very quickly found out how big that gap between the financial aid I was receiving and the tuition bill was. Um, so that was a real quick wake up call. I had decided I didn't want to take out student loans. Um, so I, I mean on one hand I was lucky I was set to graduate at the height of the recession. Um, if I had gotten that degree, I don't know that I would be super psyched about all the debt. I would currently be carrying, but it did stunt my income. It did stunt my earning ability for a while there. Um, and that's kind of where that rough period happened .

Katie Utterback:

Is that the rough period that you experienced? Is that kind of what inspired you to write the feminist financial workbook?

Brynne Conroy:

Yeah, I guess so. I'm like you, you mentioned before I was kind of a dramatic shift between the way I grew up and then the way I lived my life and late adolescence and early adulthood. Um , and it was really eye opening and it challenged a lot of my own personal beliefs about the world, about myself , um , about what was important in life.

Katie Utterback:

And can you give us an example of like what one of those changes were in your worldview?

Brynne Conroy:

Oh, that's a great question. So I guess growing up, I, I probably had the preconception and I don't, I don't want to put this on my parents or anyone cultural impression I grew up with, I guess. Um, and I might've inverted on my own, but I had this impression that if you were on welfare, you just weren't working hard enough, or if you were facing one of these hard periods, it must be 100% your fault. And the reason you're not making more money is because again, you're just not trying hard enough. Um, and I saw that that was, couldn't be further from the truth. Some of the hardest working people I knew were making some of the smallest incomes . So

Chase Peckham:

yeah, that definitely they don't correlate. I mean I think that that's ignorance if people believe that that's the way it is, I take it , um, that you , you and , and you're , you're , you're still close with your family.

Brynne Conroy:

Yeah. Yeah. Um , yeah.

Chase Peckham:

Okay. And cause I'm guessing the paradigm shift in what we were seeing and you're living in a conservative household and you kind of coming out , um, out of high school and , and going out on your own and leaving early, it kind of lends it to believe that there was a falling out of some kind and you were kind of taking it out on you on your own, that could give you a completely different world view because well now you're, you're in the insecurity of, of doing this on your own. Um, and , and, and the world can be a tough place. So kinda give us an idea , um, what led to where you are going and because obviously in your writings and everything, you're very, you've got a very, very strong belief in what you're writing about and the things that you did. And you were very successful at that. So that had to come from somewhere.

Brynne Conroy:

You're not too far off in your retelling. Um, there, there was , um, there were circumstances that made it better for me to , to move out , um , a little bit younger than most people. Um, and because of that, I didn't have the safety net to fall back on that. A lot of people my age did. Um, even after I had graduated high school, even when I was in college , um, those same assurances were not there. Um, so definitely a huge part of it came out of necessity. Um, and I don't necessarily know that every last frugal thing that I did when I first started writing was healthy. Um, it was more of I have to scramble and get this done and make things better. Otherwise they never will be. Um, so I don't, I don't , um, do as many of the little things as I used to, like mystery shopping or I used to do a bunch of medical studies, noninvasive ones. Um, and

Chase Peckham:

you were in survival mode.

Brynne Conroy:

Yeah, exactly.

Chase Peckham:

I mean , you were doing whatever you could to bring in some kind of income to get where you needed to be.

Brynne Conroy:

Exactly.

Chase Peckham:

Yeah. So I mean, I that you should be commended because that's honestly, that's survival instincts and you're doing what you can. All the things that you write comes from these experiences and the things that you do. W what made you decide, like , like give us an example of some of the things that you did along the way. Did you write them down and then you could remember you did to tell your story because you wanted to help other people that you were that are in like circumstances.

Brynne Conroy:

Yeah. Yeah. That was exactly it. Like as I was picking up more tips, I started telling my friends about it, but like a lot of them kind of got sick of it cause I had , I got really boring. I started getting into tax code. It was a whole thing. Um , but yeah, I started putting it on the internet because I knew that if I needed it and that I didn't know these programs existed, there must be somebody else out there who was in the same circumstance. So that was definitely a huge part of it.

Chase Peckham:

So where is it that you, I mean, I guess going from, if you can , and if this is difficult, I apologize. I think I'm just trying to paint a picture for the listeners is you went from some situation that was very difficult in trying to pick up the pieces and build a life for you and your family. And then at what point did you get to it ? Then you got an education, I'm guessing that helped your earning potential. Where and how many of these things do you, how many of these things do you continually do that were, that you did when you were in survival mode and where have you kind of branched off and created your own path?

Brynne Conroy:

Definitely. So, one of my children has a disability and one thing I might still be in survival mode. I might not have had the courage to set that tool down. Um, had it not been for that situation because what it's forced me to do is limit my hours. The beautiful thing about working your own hours is that you can set them, but you have to, you also have to limit yourself, you know, because work can be endless if you want it to be. And so it's very much helped me kind of slow down. Um, and again, just operate from more of a healthy place with the money.

Katie Utterback:

And Brynne, when you were in that survival mode, other than trying to do everything in your power to make ends meet, did you turn to nonprofits or others sort of, I guess safety net programs to try and help you, I guess get by? Or did you, you did. Okay.

Brynne Conroy:

Yeah, I'm definitely, I mean I was, this was before the ACA was passed so my state didn't have Medicaid, but because I was pregnant I was able to be on Medicaid throughout my pregnancies. Um, and I was also able to get food stamps for a little while there when my kids were super young and WIC benefits. Um, there were nonprofit efforts on through programs, through United Way to do taxes for free through the system. Um, but most, most of our nonprofits I feel like are fairly well integrated into our welfare programs in the area where I live. So

Katie Utterback:

how was that, I guess going from the mindset of people who are on welfare programs are lazy or they need another job to somebody who's benefiting from these programs existing. What was that like? Um, especially since people who are in support of those programs themselves don't want to necessarily be on that program.

Brynne Conroy:

Right. So that's a superb question. Um, especially when I was on the program, my state had an asset test for food stamps. And what that means is you can only have so much in savings before you are disqualified, which seems like a great idea until , um , realized that some of the assets like the second car might allow a second income to come into the household. Um, or the fact that the people who need that emergency fund the most now you're disallowing them from having it. So a lot of people find themselves in this circular pattern , um , when you're trying to get off the system. And it's, in my opinion, it's partially because the threshold is set so low because we take care of so few people. Um, we're expecting people to go off on their own and now they've suddenly lost access to all of these benefits and their income is only marginally higher. And so it sets people up to fail. Um, a lot of asset tests have been removed in the past like five to seven years, but they still exist in some States for some programs. And it's your problem.

Chase Peckham:

Yeah. It doesn't really allow you, it doesn't give you any incentive to get off. Right. Because if you're making close to the same, that's very difficult to do.

Brynne Conroy:

Yeah. And I mean, like for me it wasn't even incentive. Um, like I didn't, I always tried to make more money , um, for , for me it was just the frustration of ending up back on some of those programs a couple times where like, I thought I had achieved some sort of independence, but I hadn't , like the first time that I applied it was really hard. Um, it was really humbling and I, I , uh, I , um, I always try to remind people of that. Like if they're going through a hard time, that those programs really can help you get off. And while it's difficult to get off , um, if you, you gotta just keep trying and have faith that you'll get there someday, you know, keep working hard, keep doing the things you're supposed to be doing and hopefully, you know, you've got some good odds.

Katie Utterback:

How long did it take for you to get to a place where you felt secure enough to get off some of those programs or are you still benefiting from some of those programs?

Brynne Conroy:

Yeah, so I do, I have a disabled child , um , and they qualify for Medicaid in my state, so we do have that on because I'm on an ACA plan. That's, that's the insurance. Um , the state has her under , um, my kid, my other kid also benefits from the chip program. Um, but that's prorated because of my income. Um, and if I had benefits through an employer, that wouldn't be my situation. They'd just be on my plan.

Katie Utterback:

And how, I guess, do you respond to people who maybe still have the attitude or the worldview that you once shared? Which is that these programs are maybe for the more lazy in our society instead of the people that need help the most. Do you have a kind of, I guess, memorized response or anything?

Brynne Conroy:

Yeah. Um, I guess I would argue that as productivity has gone up in this country , um, and like workplace employee productivity has gone up, our wages have not, we have divested in housing projects. We have divested in a lot of these programs that serve people. Um, and I think that people underestimate how difficult it , it really can be to get by. When we talk about money, we talk a lot about ways to be successful with it. But very rarely do we talk about the obstacles people face. So we think that if we just work harder , um, there will be no obstacle between you and getting stuff done in reaching your goals when really that's what the less resources you have, the more difficult that becomes. So I really think that if we want to solve a lot of the woes that we have , um, we need to kind of all collectively swallow our pride and just invest in the programs that will help.

Chase Peckham:

What is Femme Frugality?

Brynne Conroy:

It's a women's personal finance site. And so we cover a lot of just basic money stuff because everybody needs to know basic money stuff. But we also look at , um , the intersections that people face in their lives. So , um, what does your money look like if you're low income? What are the financial challenges that you have in one thing, like with, while we're income and higher income quote on quote money goals? Um, a lot of times people talk about it as if it's a ladder skill. Um, and I prefer not to think of it that way. Um, just because the skills you need when you're operating in a low income space are so vastly different than the skill set you're allowed to start thinking about when you have more resources. But if you put that same high-income person in a lower income home, they probably wouldn't know how to function within the welfare system, so they would probably have trouble getting food and eating. Um, so it's really just a different set of skills. So looking at that, not just across income levels but also , um , across gender , um, across genders expression , um , across race. Um, and I have a bunch of wonderful women who helped me out with that speak some perspectives that I can't

Katie Utterback:

I was reading through some of those stories and it's quite amazing the level of authenticity and honesty that these women were willing to provide to the world. Um, yeah. I guess how important was that to you to have to find people who are willing to share the good, the bad and the ugly with I guess, the world?

Brynne Conroy:

Yeah, definitely. Um, it was an honor. They are obviously so much braver than me. The book doesn't delve too much into my own personal life. Um, but it does look at kind of these bigger issues. And then for each big issue of , or area of oppression, I was privileged enough to interview at least one woman but in some chapters we have two or three stories going on. Um, where are they? They share so openly and so honestly and so generously , um, their stories of how they're either struggling right now or how they used to struggle and why and how they got out. Um, so that was very, very instrumental. And like I said, a lot of those are stories that I just don't have the lived experience to tell. So I felt very privileged that they were willing to, to share like that.

Katie Utterback:

Sure. And you know, even though you know the, the word feminism is over your website, like all over the place, your website and your information is also designed to educate men as well. Correct?

Brynne Conroy:

Definitely. Definitely. Really, really early on in my blog, despite it being called Femme frugality, I actually had more male visitors than female. Um , and I think it was just because it was financial advice is financial advice. Um, but yeah, my, my audience is definitely predominantly female now. But I always love whenever men come to read and learn. Sometimes they don't come to learn, but we end up having a discussion and they walk away having learned something anyways. Um, so yeah, it's, everybody is welcome. And that's a big thing is that especially with intersectional feminism, just because it says feminism doesn't mean that it doesn't apply to men. Like you can experience oppression if you're poor or if you are a black man or you are disabled or any of these things. Um, it's really for anyone who faces any form of oppression, which is , which is most of us at some point in our lives.

Chase Peckham:

So how that , that that's, I guess that's a great question and I, Katie was kind of alluding to it in that direction. Is the use of the word feminism can be very , um, again, a hot button word? Um, how do you mean the word feminism or in feminist in the, in, in the title of your book and then in the way you use it all over your site?

Brynne Conroy:

Yeah, absolutely. So that basically is what I mean. I am fairly passionate about , um , the things that I talk about and that I stick up for. Um, but I want to stick up for everybody experiencing it, experiencing hardships or financial trials or looking for innovative ways to save money. Like I want to give platform to all of those voices and all of those issues as I become aware of them. I'm not really sure if that answers your question, but

Katie Utterback:

yeah, no I think it's interesting just I'm , I'm newer to the, to the world of finance, but I, I didn't know that it was even up for debate that there was a pay gap between men and women. Um, yeah. So I'm sure that that's gotta provide you with a lot of interesting content for your readers and that there are some bloggers out there saying that the , the salary pay gap doesn't exist. And then here you are trying to educate people. I mean, other than the pay gap, what other kinds of issues are you trying to really bring to light? Do you have like two or three top issues?

Brynne Conroy:

Definitely. So on top of the wage gap, there's also an investing gap. Um , and my book probably isn't the best one to pick up if you're looking to delve really deep into that. We do cover some basics for people who haven't read before, but if you've read books on personal finance before you might want something that takes on the topic for an entire tome. But , um, yeah, so investing is a huge one. Um , talking to our daughters about financial literacy , um, not just in the saving and couponing, but also in investing. Um, another thing that I like to look at is finances and disability. Um , particularly because I've had to deal with it so much with my own child. I know that there's a lot of questions out there that remain unanswered. So I really try to go out there and find those answers , um, so that they can benefit other parents. Um, for example, I'm lucky to live in a state where I can access Medicaid for my kid regardless of my income. But that's not true in every state. So in some States, if you're making above the federal poverty line, your child can't get health insurance through the state. So if you don't get it from your employer, you're in big trouble when you have a disabled kid. Um , so I publish a , um, a PDF on that every year and that tends to be a pretty popular piece of content and subject.

Katie Utterback:

I bet. Cause it doesn't, I mean, maybe just it's my own ignorance, but it doesn't sound like there's a lot of people talking about outside cultural influences that affect your finances.

Brynne Conroy:

Yeah, absolutely. And I try to write about them as I come across them. It's funny, really early on, I remember reading this quote by some famous author who I don't remember and I won't attribute falsely [inaudible] so I'll just say, I don't remember. Um, but it said something along the lines that like, in order to write , you need to live. Um, and that, that lived experiences really the well from which you draw all of your inspiration for your writing. And that really resonated with me and struck home. So I try , um, to write about things that affected me personally because I know if they mattered to me , um, there's somebody else out there that they're affecting too . Um, and I also, when I am made aware of situations that don't necessarily affect me, I try to , um, turn around and highlight the people who came in that space because I sure appreciate it when people do it for me.

Chase Peckham:

I can only imagine. I mean, you know, the San Diego financial literacy center and DebtWave, what we do is we work with people all the time. U m, but yet being financial experts, quote unquote experts, u m, is still very difficult in that we don't, we don't live and walk in the shoes of the people that we're helping all the time. And we, it takes a lot for us to learn, you know, what they're going through to help them make the decisions. Because really, right. As you, as you kind of alluded to early on in this, in this interview you talked about, you know, the things that you had to do and finances is really about decision making, right? We talk about that all the time i s, is, is you have to make decisions based on the realities of your life. And so coming from somebody like yourself who experienced so much, you being able to give that to the world has g otta be phenomenal for people that are kind of going through those same steps that you went through. So what you're g etting, w hat y ou're writing, u m, and what the content that you're getting out there is invaluable to those because as much as somebody might have a degree and they might have their series seven, that doesn't mean that they can necessarily help people make the right decisions if they don't know what they're going through.

Brynne Conroy:

Yeah, definitely. And thank you. Those are very kind words. I , um , I definitely, I definitely try to serve people where I can, and like I said, I haven't lived through everything, so I can't speak to everyone, but , um, for, especially for the things that I come across in my own life that are kind of outside of the norm of what we would read about in personal finance , um, I do really appreciate when others write about it. Um, and I try to do the same,

Chase Peckham:

well, I tell you what, we talk about technology and AI, but if it weren't for this medium, if it weren't for the podcasts of the world, if it weren't for blogs and websites and those things, there would be no place for voices like yours to be heard , uh , and for people to learn. So from that end, I think that it's phenomenal , um, in what you're doing because I do believe in , and I'm gonna bring this up that I think timing wise for us talking to you, that the thing, when Ellen was sitting in the football , uh, at the football game with former president Bush and the backlash that she got, and then the message that she sent that, look, we all might have differing opinions, but that's what makes our society so great is being able to listen to each other and learn from each other's experiences is, is huge. Whether it be finances or it be politics or whatever , you know, whatever it is. I know I come from a completely different background than you do. Um, I have never even come close to living , um, in the stresses that you had. And yet I learned and I'm inspired by just hearing what you went through and , and I think and , and the fact that you've come out on the other side and you're teaching other people about it , um, I, I can't tell you how I came into this interview thinking one thing and I've come out of it thinking the very opposite. Cause you can hear the passions that you have. Um, and , and you should be commended and keep up the hard work.

Brynne Conroy:

Ah , thank you. Thank you. And I just want to stress that I'm very much still always learning too . Um, one thing that I especially learned after I got out and through personal finance blogs actually was about investing. Um, it was something I didn't have discretionary income for before. Um, and it kind of terrified me. So I learned a lot about it through other personal finance blogs and great writers , um, and journalists and yes. So always be learning and always be sharing what you can to help others.

Chase Peckham:

Amen.

Katie Utterback:

Yeah, I couldn't have said that better myself. Brynne, for people who are interested in learning more about you or buying your book, where can they go?

Brynne Conroy:

Absolutely. So you can learn more about me at femmefrugality.com. Um, I also recently launched an initiative called personal finance by women.com. Um, and if you want to find my book, you can find it on Amazon. That's super easy. And also Barnes and noble has a hard cover right now, but it's super cheap. Um , so if you're trying to save some money, I'd check them out.

Katie Utterback:

That's exciting. A hard hardcover .

Chase Peckham:

Do they make those still?

Katie Utterback:

They sure do. Did you hear that?

Chase Peckham:

I was surprised by that. I thought everything was on a Kindle now.

Katie Utterback:

Yeah, I know. That's why I'm so excited.

Chase Peckham:

It's better for our eyes to read those hardcover real pages.

Brynne Conroy:

There's something about them in your hands.

Chase Peckham:

Yes. That is a fact . Right ? That is, that is a fact. Well, Brynne, thank you very, very much for joining us. I was inspired by your story. Um, and uh, I, I hope you continue doing what you do.

Brynne Conroy:

Aw , thank you so much. I so appreciate you guys having me today

Chase Peckham:

and now a lilttle follow up with myself. Phil and Katie.

Katie Utterback:

definitely. And I grew up in a middle class family. I'm originally from Minneapolis. Um, so a little bit more liberal than conservative, like Pennsylvania maybe would be. Um, so I never really thought of social programs as being a bad thing but I also never viewed myself as somebody who needed them. So I actually moved to Washington D C and I was a reporter out there. I lost my job the same weekend that my apartment flooded, viciously flooded and there was, I think they said one to three feet of standing water, like at various points. So there was so much water that there was a , a doctor's office below my apartment and the ceiling caved in, which is how they , they found out that there was a backup cause somebody on a higher floor had put something down the garbage disposal that was not supposed to go down there at all. So I lost a lot of clothes. I lost like a lot of stuff, so I had to like repair my wardrobe. Like all of this stuff. I couldn't live in that apartment either. They were concerned about the mold . They were concerned about, you know, all of this damage. Okay. Yeah, the doctor's office. Long story short, I actually found myself applying for unemployment, which that in itself was mentally a challenge because I was like, no, this is for people who need it. Suddenly I needed it. Right. Um, so I, the first week I was like, okay , I don't really understand how this works. All I understand is that I need to look for at least two jobs, prove that I applied, interviewed, whatever for these two jobs. I'll get my money, I can make it another week. Well , what happened was I was trying to do better than just applying for two jobs. So I actually ended up getting zero from the unemployment office because I made the exact amount in freelance writing. So writing random $10 articles here, $5 articles there. I made the same amount that I would get from unemployment, but it took me more than 40 hours. Like I was working like 80 hour weeks trying to just get like $300 so I can live, you know. Oh that's not so flash forward. Um, it's kind of hard to get a job in if you're in communications, journalism, writing, it's a little bit more challenging of a field. Sometimes it's quite competitive. Um, long story short, my unemployment amount ran out cause you only get a certain amount based on what you've paid in. Right . So because I didn't grow up in Washington D C that money ran out really quick. So then I found myself like, what am I supposed to do? The unemployment office is calling me and saying, you're out of money. What am I supposed to do? So I asked them that, what am I supposed to do? He told me to find a job.

Chase Peckham:

That's nice.

Felipe Arevalo:

Hopefully they tried to put it nicely.

Katie Utterback:

Yeah, that's pretty much verbatim what they told me.

Chase Peckham:

Talking about a punch in the gut.

Katie Utterback:

Right. So, and at that point I was already working, like I was just working admin jobs, temp jobs, whatever I could get, you know, just to try to make ends meet. So because of that experience, I applaud people like Brynne who wants to go out and educate people on how easy it is to fall into that poverty cycle trap. Yeah.

Chase Peckham:

It can hit you when you least expect it. I mean, it's kind of those, we , it just, it happens to everybody. It's happened. Believe it or not to me. I mean, and , and I've, I had to collect unemployment once I've and I for not quite three or four months. And by that time I had paid into it and the state of California for a very long time, so mine was not going to run out anytime soon. Uh, but I, I had left the Padres and I went to work for a startup , um, which was, I knew it was a chance and , uh, eventually the startup was no more. And so all of us in there were I think eight of nine of us that were all in the same boat. And we are all looking for work. And , uh, it was a humbling time cause I'd never been through that. I had never lost a job before, never even thought about having to apply for it . To this day, it's still kind of make, I look back at it and go, man, I learned a lot from that situation. And I was very lucky that at the time my wife was working full time, she was doing really well, wasn't gonna lose her job. And , um, at least at this time we thought she wasn't gonna lose her job. And I couldn't happen possibly to both of us right in that period of time. But that I actually look back on that fondly because it was right when my son was born, which was kind of weird that you would think, Oh my God, I got to pay for the kid. But you know, kids are expensive. We were okay cause we were living in a condo at the time. We didn't have a mortgage yet. Um, we weren't living above our means by any means. So even though it was tighter, we could do it. Um, and then that little bit of money that I got from unemployment did help. It paid. It paid the bills that needed to be paid. Uh , and then, and it gave me ample time to find the right, the right position or what was going to be my next step. So it's there. I mean, Oh yeah. And I got over that very quickly by the way, cause it was something that I did feel guilty for for a while . Like, why am I using this? I should , this isn't made for me, this, you know, somebody like me doesn't use. Yeah. You know, I would do,

Katie Utterback:

I forgot about this until you were just talking about this. So I moved to California while I was on unemployment in DC cause I realized like this is just not the town for me. I am much more of a beach person. I need to move. And um, interestingly I ended up having to pay a lot of money back to the district of Columbia because they don't actually take taxes out of your unemployment, but then you get penalized for collecting it. California, on the other hand was like, Oh my gosh, you've been through so much, let's just move on. We hope you're in a better place. Such a different, you know, experience. But I actually kind of fell back into debt because I had to pay so much money to DC because of the unemployment that I can see how this vicious cycle,

Felipe Arevalo:

it can get into a cycle. And chase mentioned, you know, at the time he was, you know, it can't possibly happen to your wife as well, but there are places and towns where the same person might work in a similar, you know, parts of the country. They might all work for one big giant manufacturer that not only they work for, but maybe their friends and their neighbors. And then for there's massive layoffs and then now the whole town is having a hard time. You may not be able to reach to your support system for help because your support system might be in the same spot as you are.

Chase Peckham:

Yeah, I mean the , the auto industry, auto industry, that's the first thing that came to mind actually for some reason as you were talking about that , uh , the movie all the right moves with , uh , Tom cruise when he was a football player in a little town in Pennsylvania and the whole town worked in the mines. Pennsylvania might , you know, mining industry and all that stuff. I mean, literally entire towns are laid off. So it , I don't know why that came to mind, but it did. I think when I was talking about it that I did realize that, you know, no, I've been paying into these and you know, it's there for a reason and it really is a , it's not going to be a stop. It's not forever, but it is something that can help you at least buy some time to try to find new work and , and work your way out, whatever it might be. I was just lucky at the time , um , where, you know, somebody like Brynne who, something very unfortunate happened with her family. She moves out. She's a single mom, she's young, she's didn't go to college. So she, you know, her earning potential was much lower. So for her, you know, she was scratching and climbing like crazy, which a lot of people find themselves in that situation. Like yourself, you're scratching and climbing to survive.

Katie Utterback:

Yeah, I was single too so it was just me. Wow . Yeah. There's research from the University of California Davis. They have a center for poverty research. They're poverty happens around major life events, marriage, divorce and income changes and loss are the three biggest life changes. I had no idea. Marriage and divorce, well actually I could see divorce the marriage one I'm struggling to see how that one relates into poverty but.

Felipe Arevalo:

maybe because it's such a monumental shift in your everyday if your expenses you were kind of on your own, now you're relying on someone else to co -make those decisions in there may be some practice time required.

Katie Utterback:

That's definitely fair.

Chase Peckham:

I would, I'm guessing that marriage kind of leads to the divorce part of that equation cause I can't imagine getting married is gonna, I, I could be wrong, but I can't imagine that two people come together, creates,

Katie Utterback:

unless you have like a Romeo and Juliet situation, you get cut off from the family. You get cut out of the will.

Chase Peckham:

That's very possible. Yeah. Yeah.

Katie Utterback:

Lose your trust.

Chase Peckham:

Romeo and Juliet, look at you. That was good. Oh , I want a good analogy. That was, I would never, my mind would go down down there, but that was very good. Very, very good analogy. I, I can see why . I mean, just the last number of interviews that we've done with divorce, I'm looking for the right word and I can't find it, but it has gotta be, it's such a paradigm shift in what you're used to living in every single day. And now where there were maybe two incomes or you know, you're under one house now there's two houses or two different places to live. Now you're one way or the other. Parents are sharing revenue or sharing their payments to for their children and support. Um, sometimes you're paying your spouse, so you've got all these incurred payments now that you never had before. I mean, I mean, do you want to talk about emotion? Unfortunately, I've got, and I'm sure we all have been hit by this. We've got friends that have gone through it or going through it and it is so difficult to kind of set yourself apart, compartmentalize what's going on. Just pure sadness. You feel emotion, raw emotion you feel just from, because you're the person you thought you were spending the rest of your life with, that you loved for whatever reason that's not working out in panning out the way you'd seen it in your mind. And then all of it to if you have children and then the realities of what you're going to end up.

Katie Utterback:

But I did find , um , a cool stat from the UC Davis center for poverty research. So a lot of research around poverty, I guess started in the 50s. In 1959 it was the first time that they ever measured the rate of poverty in the U S it was at 22.4%. So 22.4% of Americans in 1959 were considered to be living in poverty. This does not include homeless people, by the way. Now since they've implemented these social programs, part of the quote war on poverty, the highest rate that Americans have been found to be living in poverty has been 15% so usually apparently arranges the highest is 11 to 15% down from 22.4% so these social programs are making a difference.

Chase Peckham:

Yeah, I would imagine they're bridging gaps. And you know, I think a lot of times people kind of get on the train of people take advantage of these programs and they live on them for long periods of time. But I would say probably , uh, you find that most people are not,

Katie Utterback:

that seems to be the exception.

Chase Peckham:

it does, doesn't it? I mean that's , that's just pure perception and I have no data to back that up, but that seems to be the perception that they are. But just working in , in the world that we work in, in the nonprofit world , um, you see so many phenomenal stories and so many great stories of people being able to be , get that handout, get that chance to just get me through this period of time and they go on and do great things and become a major contributor to society , uh, to our economic world. And, and , uh , a part of the equation in that, that's what the goal is. That's what you're wanting. That's what these programs are there for .

Felipe Arevalo:

And I was reading a, a little excerpt of her book and in it they were, she was giving an example of an individual who was claiming a , using some of those resources. And she gave the example that just because she was living under poverty didn't mean that she wasn't still working a little and still contributing even as she was receiving benefits from a different program . So it's not that they're necessarily not contributing themselves and it's, you guys mentioned it's how much with unemployment, how much you've contributed previously. So you're, you know , taking in the benefits that you've already contributed to .

Chase Peckham:

What's on the horizon, Katie , you're going on your honeymoon here pretty soon.

Katie Utterback:

You guys my countdown . I think the last time we checked in, it was like 17 days, now it's 3. Three days

Chase Peckham:

That's amazing. So that means you're leaving Friday,

Katie Utterback:

Saturday. So it's so early in the morning that on Friday I will be on a T minus 24 hour countdown. That's how annoying I'm going.

Chase Peckham:

Well, that's fantastic. Um , we probably won't talk to you until you get back, so yeah. Have a phenomenal trip.

Katie Utterback:

Thanks guys.

Felipe Arevalo:

I told her to call in while she's out there .

Chase Peckham:

Dude, I would say no way .

Katie Utterback:

I love the show. Love you guys, but I need a week.

Chase Peckham:

Ok with that being said Aloha.

Katie Utterback:

Aloha