Burning through the big bonus with 30 Day Money Cleanse Author Ashley Feinstein Gerstley

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Ashley Feinstein Gerstley, the blogger behind The Fiscal Femme website, quit her high paying investment banking job- but spent money as if nothing had changed. The numbers quickly caught up with her, and she quickly learned to be a Financial Grownup. 

In Ashley's money story you will learn:

  • The long hours as an Investment Banker was wearing on her

  • After receiving a huge bonus she leaves for a job in finance that is less stressful

  • How having more free time isn't always so great for your bank account


In Ashley’s money lesson you will learn:

  • How the price of a daily latte was affecting her annually

  • How talking about money with friends can be helpful for your money goals

  • Creative ways to save your money

In Ashley's everyday money tip you will learn:

  • Why it's important to make mistakes and to not give up when things aren't perfect

  • Why writing down our expenses is helpful

  • Purchasing unnecessary things daily can add up when calculated annually

In My Take you will learn:

  • If you spent money you regret over the holidays, try to return stuff

  • Do a latte assessment


Episode Links -

Ashley's book The 30-Day Money Cleanse

Listen to Lauren Smith Brody's Financial Grownup Episode

David Bach's book Smart Women Finish Rich

Ramit Sethi's book I Will Teach You to Be Rich

Check out Ashley's website -

The Fiscal Femme

Follow Ashley!


Transcription

Ashley Gerstley:
I just remember looking at my bank account and seeing that my bonus was now $10,000. I think it was over the course of a couple of months that I had just, including my new salary, had just bled through this bonus that I had. I saw that that pace was really unsustainable.

Bobbi Rebell:
You're listening to Financial Grownup with me, certified financial planner Bobbi Rebell, author of How to Be a Financial Grownup. You know what? Being a grownup is really hard, especially when it comes to money. But it's okay. We're going to get there together. I'm going to bring you one money story from a financial grownup, one lesson, and then my take on how you can make it your own. We got this.

Bobbi Rebell:
Hey, friends. Welcome to 2019. We have the perfect episode to get us all on track to be better financial grownups in the new year. Our guest is Ashley Feinstein Gerstley, also known as the Fiscal Femme. She just came out with her first book, The 30-Day Money Cleanse: Take Control of Your Finances, Manage Your Spending, and De-Stress Your Money for Good. My favorite part is that she makes sure to include stress, because paying attention to your money can be stressful.

Bobbi Rebell:
If you are new, welcome, welcome, welcome, and of course, welcome back to our regulates. We keep the episodes here short, but of course feel free to binge if you have a little extra time. We have a great library of money stories and tips from high achievers like Ashley. If you have the time, enjoy a few. And don't forget to subscribe. Automate your podcasts like your automate your bills, your money. All systems are all good.

Bobbi Rebell:
To Ashley now. Ashley and I met through our mutual friend and fellow financial grownup, Lauren Smith Brody, author of The Fifth Trimester. Strongly encourage all of you to check out her episode of The Financial Grownup podcast. Like Lauren, Ashley is all about balance and making sure that if there's one thing that your money buys you, it is having a life. Workaholics, we're coming for you. Here is Ashley Feinstein Gerstley.

Bobbi Rebell:
Hey, Ashley Feinstein Gerstley. You're a financial grownup. Welcome to the podcast.

Ashley Gerstley:
Thank you.

Bobbi Rebell:
Congratulations on your new book coming out in the new year for 2019, The 30-Day Money Cleanse: Take Control of Your Finances, Manage Your Spending, and De-Stress Your Money for Good. I think we all need that in the new year.

Ashley Gerstley:
That is exactly why I wrote it. I needed it myself.

Bobbi Rebell:
It's a very welcoming book. It's got a very healthy-looking, but also it looks like it's going to taste good too, green shake. I'm very skeptical of the green juice thing. I know they're supposed to be good for you, but they usually taste really bad. This one looks like it's going to taste really good.

Ashley Gerstley:
It has a creamy green look.

Bobbi Rebell:
It has a creamy green look and a very pretty blue stirrer with a dollar sign. Good job to the graphics team.

Ashley Gerstley:
Thank you.

Bobbi Rebell:
You started out as an investment banker making very nice money. You were burning out, though. Let's just be real. This was not an easy job. But you held on for the big bonus. Tell us your money story.

Ashley Gerstley:
Yes. I studied finance in college, then went on to be an investment banker. Great experience, learned a ton, but I was burning out, working really long hours, not any time for my life or friends, family, health. I went in knowing that I would quit after my second year, go through my two-year program and move on.

Bobbi Rebell:
Well, for people that don't know how that works, how does that work?

Ashley Gerstley:
Typically, you get a bonus each year. When people leave, they leave after their bonus, because they work so hard during the year, and it's a large portion of their compensation.

Bobbi Rebell:
Like what percentage? People may not be familiar with this world.

Ashley Gerstley:
Yeah, it depends on the year and it depends on your performance and how far ... Sometimes some people in your class can get 100% of their salary as their bonus, and then others get zero or 10%. It really varies, and it's very stressful waiting to find that number, because it can make such a big difference in your life, and you've given so much and have no idea what you're going to get.

Bobbi Rebell:
All right, so you get your bonus, which was how much? And how old were you?

Ashley Gerstley:
I was 25, and it was $70,000.

Bobbi Rebell:
Which is huge. But then the taxman does come, to be fair.

Ashley Gerstley:
Yes, and it ends up being more like 35,000 when it gets to your bank account.

Bobbi Rebell:
Okay. So now you've downsized. You're going to have a job in finance that's less stressful but less money, but you finally have time for your friends and family and to do all the stuff you weren't doing because you were working.

Ashley Gerstley:
Yes. I was so excited. I moved to a corporate finance job where I had a 9:00 to 6:00 schedule. Every day I got out at 6:00, when before I would say on average it was 10:00 to midnight. The hard part was not knowing. You couldn't make plans. So it was so fun to know, oh, I can make dinner plans, I can make drink plans, I can sign up for a French class and sign up for a workout class. So I kind of went overboard and made plans every single night making up for lost time with my friends and family.

Bobbi Rebell:
What was going on with the money at this point? Because you did take a salary cut, correct?

Ashley Gerstley:
Yes, and there was definitely ... The bonus was a huge cut at the end of the year too. It's not like I could spend more than I made and make up for it. I hadn't really had to think about my finances at all, because I had so little time to spend my money that when I did spend, it didn't really matter, because I was making a great salary and didn't have time to spend it. This was new territory for me.

Bobbi Rebell:
What was the moment when you realized things were going awry and had to make a change? What was happening?

Ashley Gerstley:
What was happening? All of these plans ... I just remember looking at my bank account and seeing that my bonus was now $10,000. I think it was over the course of a couple of months that I had just, including my new salary, had just bled through this bonus that I had. I saw that that pace was really unsustainable.

Bobbi Rebell:
Then what happened?

Ashley Gerstley:
What happened? I thought about it. Okay, what are my options? I can go back to my investment banking job, because that worked for me financially.

Bobbi Rebell:
And you would earn more.

Ashley Gerstley:
Yes, I would earn more. I would get those big bonuses. I wouldn't have time to spend it. It would be no money problems there. But I didn't want to. I loved this new lifestyle. I loved walking outside when it was sunny out and doing things and volunteering and all of those great things. I decided I needed to figure it out and become a financial grownup.

Bobbi Rebell:
What did you actually do? What changed?

Ashley Gerstley:
Yes. Like any type A person, I bought a bunch of books and started just devouring articles. One of the ones that I remember making a big difference to me was Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach. Ramit Sethi, I read I Will Teach You to Be Rich, and that was really helpful when I was getting started with investing. Some of the things I did ... found so simple. Writing down what I spent, actually spending time at all looking at my money.

Ashley Gerstley:
One of the things I found was that a lot of my everyday expenses were adding up to a ton over the course of a month or a year, and they weren't even that important to me. A lot of my spending was just on automatic, it's what other people did, it was out of habit, and it wasn't even bringing me joy. For example, shopping. I felt like shopping was something that I should love to do, people seemed like like it, walking around stores, and I didn't enjoy it. Things I didn't even need became things that I had to have once I walked around the store.

Bobbi Rebell:
What is the lesson for our listeners?

Ashley Gerstley:
When I became a financial grownup, when I looked at what I was spending and aligned it with what was most important to me, I was able to save a lot more money and feel like my lifestyle was getting bigger. I was getting a $4.30 latte every day, and now I know it's a lot more money. The prices have gone up. But when I saw that that was over $1,600 annually, I realigned that, or reallocated that towards something that was more important. I decided, I want to take a trip. It was something that I thought I couldn't do at the time. But that amount of money could just move over to something that made me happier. That's one example.

Ashley Gerstley:
A big repercussion of not talking about money with our friends and family is that they can't support us in our goals. One of my best friends didn't know that this was something that I was doing, and I was trying to save money and reallocate my money with my values. They might encourage me to do things that sabotage my goals. And so brainstorming with friends, okay, maybe we're going to dinner every week, what do we value about this time? Is it the time together? Is it trying new foods? Is it going to a cool new place? And then honoring those things that are most important, and then letting go of the things that aren't about it. That might mean, you know what, we want to drink really good wine. This is me. I'd rather eat at home and not have to pay the markup, and drink nicer wine. So creative ways that look different for each of us to honor what's most important to us about an experience.

Bobbi Rebell:
Let's do your everyday money tip. I like this because this also has to do with kind of a celebration.

Ashley Gerstley:
Yes, making money fun and more of a game. One of my favorite money tips is to have money parties, because what often happens is, we don't dedicate time to our money or show our money any love. Our money to-dos or checking in on our expenses or finally rolling over that 401(k) kind of hang over our head and stress us out. If we don't create time, we're never going to have time to do it, so I recommend having a biweekly or even monthly time in the calendar to check in and do all of those financial to-dos.

Ashley Gerstley:
And make it fun. I call it a party for a reason. We want to incorporate things that will make it fun for us, whether that's having our favorite beverage, putting on music, getting cozy in PJs. Trying things out, seeing what works, and of course, if it's not fun, try something else, and then rewarding ourselves when we actually have our money party by going out with friends. If you have a money party with your friends, all go out together after. If you're having a money party with your partner, making it part of date night, and either having ... One of my clients has a nice steak after their money party, or ice cream during their money party, to make it more fun.

Bobbi Rebell:
Whatever works. That brings us to talking more about your book, because one of the many things I like about it is the inspiring quotes that you have. For example, "Too many people spend ..." This is a classic quote. Everyone quotes this, but it never gets old. "Too many people spend they earned to buy things they don't want to impress people that they don't like." It sounds like you really got away from that when you had this sort of change, going back to your money story. This really all comes together in your book.

Ashley Gerstley:
Yes. It's so ironic, right, that we would ... I think so often we're quote-unquote "treating ourselves" at the expense of what we actually want, which-

Bobbi Rebell:
Right. We're told we should love, for example, a day at the spa, but maybe we don't. Maybe we'd rather go to, I don't know, on a trip, like you said, to some adventure. Maybe we don't want to just sit on the beach during vacation. Whatever it is, we have these ideas put forth by our friends, and frankly by businesses that push us to do things we may not really actually want to do.

Ashley Gerstley:
Right. That's a whole other topic, is ... For example, in my shopping example, if we're in a store walking around, we're just giving companies the chance to sell us things that we didn't even know we needed.

Bobbi Rebell:
What are your three grownup money tips for the new year from this book that people can follow?

Ashley Gerstley:
Money tips for the new year. One of the biggest New Year's mistakes, and I think this is financial goals or otherwise, is that we give up as soon as we're not perfect. So I think understanding and getting okay with having mistakes or bumps in the road in our journey is really important, because one of the trickiest, sneakiest ways that we cheat ourselves is giving up as soon as we're not perfect. That's really where the learning is. I would say definitely set out those goals with that in mind.

Ashley Gerstley:
Another tip, write it down like I did. It sounds so simple, but magical things happen when we become aware.

Bobbi Rebell:
Yes. I just told this to a friend last night who emailed me and she said she's feeling overwhelmed by her money. She has, for example, retirement accounts in different places, but she doesn't know where. I said, "Just write everything down. Go through your papers, write down what you have, and you'll feel better just knowing it, just knowing the numbers, whatever they are."

Ashley Gerstley:
Definitely. Then another thing I think is helpful, and was helpful for me in my money journey, was just looking at numbers annually. Once you write them down, what is that cost annually? Because sometimes the little expenses seem ... And I hear it a lot. "Oh, I can't afford to go on a vacation. I really want to."

Bobbi Rebell:
Right. But your latte example is kind of on it. I mean, that make sense, because that was your vacation money.

Ashley Gerstley:
Right. And lunch is another big one. Spending $15 dollars a day on lunch adds up to thousands of dollars a year.

Bobbi Rebell:
All right. Tell us where people can learn more about you and the 30-day money cleanse.

Ashley Gerstley:
On my website, thefiscalfemme.com, F-I-S-C-A-L, F-E-M-M-E dot com, and on social media, on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, @thefiscalfemme.

Bobbi Rebell:
Awesome. Thank you, Ashley.

Ashley Gerstley:
Thank you.

Bobbi Rebell:
Hey, everyone. Loved that last bit about spending just because you're in the store. You know we've all done that. Financial grownup tip number one. If you spent money you regret over the holidays, try to return stuff. If you can't get the money back, get a store credit, and if possible, use it right away on something you do want. If you keep it, create a system so you don't lose it. Nothing is more heartbreaking than finding an expired gift card. Been there.

Bobbi Rebell:
By the way, if you do find an expired gift card, still go to the store and ask if they're going to honor it anyway. Very often they will, because first of all, it creates goodwill. It makes you feel good as a customer and like them. Also, if you do spend it, you're going to be going back into the store or back online to your website, and you're going to reestablish the habit of shopping at the store, and odds are, you're probably going to spend more than what is on that gift card.

Bobbi Rebell:
Financial grownup tip number two. Do a latte assessment. Ashley talked about lattes and lunches. We all don't want to hear it, I don't, but if we're being honest, we do it too much. For example, if you have the Starbucks app, just pull up how much you spent there in 2018 and be aware, and then make the decision that is best for you. I definitely spent too much.

Bobbi Rebell:
Thank you all for your support. We are moving into our second year, and more than ever, hearing from you really matters. Please leave a review, DM us feedback on the show, whatever works for you. I am @bobbirebell1 on Instagram, on Twitter @bobbirebell, and our email is hello@financialgrownup.com. And of course, thanks to Ashley Feinstein Gerstley for getting us all one step closer to being financial grownups.

Bobbi Rebell:
Financial Grownup with Bobbie Rebell is edited and produced by Steve Stewart and is a BRK Media production.