Badass Body and Money Goals with performance coach and author Jen Cohen

Jennifer Cohen Instagram White Border.png

Performance coach Jen Cohen is a master at ab crunches— crunching numbers. She shares the story of how she talked her way into a job at Olive Garden before she was even old enough to work- and then reveals her secrets to eating healthier on a tight budget. 

In Jen's money story you will learn:

-How Jen convinced a restaurant manager to let her work at age 12

-Why she started working that young

-Side hustles Jen's mom used to work that are still around today

In Jen’s money lesson you will learn:

-The one rule Jen lives by that saves her money

-How to figure out where to cut costs

In Jen's everyday money tip you will learn:

-How to eat healthy on a budget

-The expensive food that's healthier (and cheaper) if it comes in a can

In My Take you will learn:

-Don't be a food snob, fresh doesn't always mean better

-Be persuasive and find a way around obstacles

Bobbi and Jen also talk about:

-How to save money and cut calories on your morning coffee from Starbucks

EPISODE LINKS


Check out Jen's book Badass Body Goals on
Amazon and Habit Nest

Follow Jen!

Instagram: @TheRealJenCohen

Twitter: @TheRealJenCohen

 
Performance coach Jen Cohen is a master at ab crunches— crunching numbers. She shares the story of how she talked her way into a job at Olive Garden before she was even old enough to work- and then reveals her secrets to eating healthier on a tight budget. #EatHealthy #EatHealthyOnABudget #Author

Performance coach Jen Cohen is a master at ab crunches— crunching numbers. She shares the story of how she talked her way into a job at Olive Garden before she was even old enough to work- and then reveals her secrets to eating healthier on a tight budget. #EatHealthy #EatHealthyOnABudget #Author

 

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

Transcription

Jen Cohen:
They wouldn't allow me at 12 because you're too young, but I negotiated my way with this guy and just begged him enough where he gave me a job as a greeter.

Bobbi Rebell:
You're listening to Financial Grownup with me, certified financial planner Bobbi Rebell, author of How to Be a Financial Grownup, but 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:
That was our guest, performance coach and author Jen Cohen talking about her first job at the Olive Garden. Not sure that food would fit into her lifestyle today, although knowing Jen, she probably would find a way to make even Olive Garden food healthy. This woman is a force. A lot of her drive came from a very sensitive and, frankly, very tough time in her life that she was brave enough to share with us.

Bobbi Rebell:
Hello, my friends. Special welcome to our newest listeners. We keep it short here because you're busy, but feel free to binge, stack a few episodes together maybe during your commute, and please, if you can help us grow the show by sharing with your friends and being sure that you are actually subscribed ideally in Apple Podcasts, iTunes, or any other place that you enjoy podcasts, and of course, have your settings set to auto-download. We really need and really appreciate your support.

Bobbi Rebell:
All right, let's get to the badass woman yourself, Jen Cohen, entrepreneur, fitness, and health expert, author of three books, the latest being Badass Body Goals: The Booty-Building and Waist-Trimming Journal. Her other books, by the way, include No Gym Required, and Strong is the New Skinny. You guys are going to love Jen's money story, but be sure to stay until the very end of this episode because Jen's everyday money tip is a big surprise. I had no idea about what she reveals about a food that I thought was not good at all to eat and, in fact, is basically the best thing, and I had no idea. I was always avoiding this because I thought that it was not nutritious. How wrong I was. All right, here is Jen Cohen.

Bobbi Rebell:
Hey, Jen Cohen. You're a Financial Grownup. Welcome to the podcast.

Jen Cohen:
Thank you for having me. This is exciting.

Bobbi Rebell:
Well, I am excited because I have in my hand your new book, which is, first of all, beautiful book. It is pink. It is a gorgeously produced book called Badass Body Goals: The Booty-Building and Waist-Trimming Journal, a no-nonsense workout guide, and it even comes with a resistance band. It's retro in that it's very tangible and there's illustrations, but there's also a whole multimedia component to it.

Jen Cohen:
Exactly. Thank you by the way. I think people are surprised when they see it because it really is much more of a substantial product than just some flimsy book. It's really a journal. It gives you the ability to track and journal everything you're doing, so it gives you that accountability, which everybody needs to get real results over a long time period. Because it has that multimedia piece to it, a lot of times, you have either a book or you have an app, but to have that combination is super unique and really effective, I find.

Bobbi Rebell:
You also have a fascinating background that you're going to share a little glimpse of with us with your money story, and it has to do with your early childhood and your first experiences learning about money and being exposed to financial distressed when your parents got divorced. I do want to say I appreciate you sharing this story because these kind of stories, they may you vulnerable, and they're not always easy to share, and so I just want to thank you in advance because this story might be a little bit tough to share, but I think that it's worth it, and I appreciate it. I will hand it over to you, Jen.

Jen Cohen:
Thanks, Bobbi. When you asked that question, it makes you think and go back into your brain a little bit to think why someone is the way they are, subconsciously. I think it really goes back to when I was really small, four, five years old when my mom and dad did get divorced, and I guess money was quite tight. I do remember my mom, to make extra money, my mom is a psychiatric nurse, and she had a full-time job, but she had now two kids also, and it wasn't enough, so she would have these odd jobs.

Jen Cohen:
I don't remember all the details, but I do remember her working to sell stuff. She sold Mary Kay cosmetics on the side. She would also cut out pieces of the carpet in our apartment where she was selling them, and I think that vision or that imagery really stuck in my brain in a negative way. It told me right at that moment, "I don't want to be poor, or I always want to make my own money and feel financially stable and secure, not to rely on somebody else for my financial security."

Jen Cohen:
From that moment, I guess even as a small, small child, I went through life thinking of ways of having side hustles or working and doing things. When I was 12 years old, I remember bargaining and hustling with the manager of the Olive Garden down my street about working for him.

Bobbi Rebell:
Wait, you were 12 years old, and you were working at Olive Garden?

Jen Cohen:
I was. I was a greeter. They wouldn't allow me at 12 because you're too young to get ... I wasn't allowed in the actual restaurant because it was illegal, but I negotiated my way with this guy and just begged him and just hawked him enough where he gave me a job as a greeter. I was able to open up the front door for customers when they walk in. When they first get there, the first person you see was me, and I'm like, "Hello, welcome to Olive Garden." That was really my first real legit job when I was in nine, no, seventh, eighth grade, something really ... I was young, where I remember people in my neighborhood be like coming to the restaurant and be like, "What are you doing here?" It was very odd.

Bobbi Rebell:
But it sounds like you were actually really proud to be earning money, even at that young age. You weren't embarrassed about it. You were excited.

Jen Cohen:
Oh, God. No. I loved it. I always loved having my own money. I always loved having that option, never having to ask my mom or whoever. If I wanted something, I would have it, but here's a caveat. I would never spend my money, so all of this was for me to have savings. It wasn't for me to actually buy stuff. I've never been a very materialistic person. It's really about having in my head knowing that I had that backup, having that security blanket. I would literally save everything.

Jen Cohen:
Then through high school, through college, I always had multiple jobs just so I had it where very comfortable later on, but it was never about that. I've been very rich, and I've been poor, or in the middle, but it's never been that story that's driven me. It's really about that I think one experience when I was a little girl that just has always been subconsciously in my brain where I'm driven to make and create financial security just to have it.

Bobbi Rebell:
What is your takeaway for our listeners?

Jen Cohen:
The takeaway is, A, number one, always spend below your means, not above, just so you have that ability, and find and figure out ways to save money. There's so many ways now. You can eat cheaply. You can figure out ways. You can work out for free. You can eat for less than $7 a day. There's a lot of ways to be crafty and resourceful if you want to be.

Bobbi Rebell:
All right, you had mentioned about saving money with food, and that brings us to your everyday money tip because you have some brilliant tips that, to me, are counterintuitive, but then once you explain them are actually so obvious and so easy to do to both save money and also eat healthy.

Jen Cohen:
People can actually be much healthier on a very restricted budget. First of all, eating canned salmon. Canned salmon is automatically wild.

Bobbi Rebell:
I didn't know that.

Jen Cohen:
Yeah.

Bobbi Rebell:
And wild salmon is better. That's not just a myth to charge you more at the store.

Jen Cohen:
Absolutely not. Farmed salmon has a lot of toxins and maybe a lot of mercury. It could have a lot of different things in it. That's why people say limit your fish intake to maybe once a week, twice at max.

Bobbi Rebell:
Right, and that wild salmon is really expensive near me.

Jen Cohen:
It's expensive everywhere, but if you buy canned salmon, just make sure you look on the can. If it says wild Alaskan, that can of salmon would be maybe $2.50 to $3 at most, and that's higher quality than salmon that you would buy that would normally cost about $14 a pound anywhere else, maybe $17 a pound, depending on where you live. That is the perfect portion. That in itself is a meal.

Bobbi Rebell:
How do you usually eat it? Do you put it on a salad? What do you do with it usually?

Jen Cohen:
You could do anything. You could put it on a salad. You could actually ... When I'm starving and I need something to satiate me, I could just take the can of salmon, mash it a little bit of Vegenaise or mayonnaise whatever you'd like, or just put it in a bowl or whatever, eat out of the can as a snack. When I was on a budget I would eat that all the time, and I still eat that.

Jen Cohen:
The other thing is frozen vegetables. Frozen vegetables are a higher quality-sourced produce than what you find at the store because by the time it's at the store, it's been sitting on trucks, it's already half rotten. When you buy frozen vegetables, they flash-freeze them when it's at its peak, so the quality is better.

Bobbi Rebell:
So frozen vegetables, but not canned vegetables? What's the difference there?

Jen Cohen:
Listen. Canned corn, there's nothing wrong with canned corn. I mean, the reality is this: I don't like canned vegetables as much because I think when you do that in the cans, they have to add sodium. I try to stay away from that, but when it's the frozen vegetables, it's typically just the vegetable in itself flash-freeze in a bag so there's no added anything. It's just the vegetables. Canned vegetables typically have to have a preservative to keep it because it's not frozen, and also added salt. That's why I choose to have the frozen vegetables.

Bobbi Rebell:
I love that all.

Jen Cohen:
And frozen fruit, by the way, too.

Bobbi Rebell:
Yes, and I do that in smoothies a lot, actually. I did that even today in a smoothie. I want to talk more about you and all of your different resources. This is actually your third book.

Jen Cohen:
It is. It's my third book. My first one's called No Gym Required, second one's Strong is the New Skinny, and like I said, this Badass Body Goals is my third one.

Bobbi Rebell:
Tell us more about where people can find more about you and also your social media. By the way, just a little tangent here. Your social media is so on point. The most recent one I looked at you have this Starbucks thing. Everyone, Starbucks is really promoting all of these holiday drinks, which sound delicious, but a lot of them are basically junk food in disguise and so expensive, by the way, expensive in calories and money.

Jen Cohen:
Oh, yeah, a coffee can cost about $6-7. It really is a dessert in a cup, basically. Let's be honest.

Bobbi Rebell:
A really high calorie dessert in a cup too.

Jen Cohen:
It is. It's a very high calorie dessert in a cup. I'm a big believer in not drinking your calories, so I try to tell people, be realistic with what you're having when you're having it laden with sugar and syrups and high fat, whatever, and also, it's expensive. Another good tip is make it at home. Use a milk that you like or like an almond milk, whatever else. You'll save 80% on the calories and 80% on the finances.

Bobbi Rebell:
Even if you're going to go out, if you're being social and you need to meet somebody at a coffee shop, what I was referencing on your recent Instagram post, you really lay everything out so specifically. You have one on coffee. You have one on pizza. You illustrate the calories and the cost and how much how time it takes to burn off that choice. It's like if you're going to go to, let's say, a Starbucks, you could choose basically dessert in a cup or you could just get a plain coffee. There's no calories to burn off, effectively, versus I think you said like five miles on the treadmill or something like that-

Jen Cohen:
Right.

Bobbi Rebell:
... to burn off this dessert drink, whatever it was that was, I think it was a pumpkin spice latte, which I know people love, but maybe just, if you're going to have it, have the absolute smallest size. By the way, guys, I've said this before, they sell shorts. Tall is not the smallest size at Starbucks. There's something called a short if you truly have to have it.

Bobbi Rebell:
I cut you off before. Give me your social handles and where else people need to find you.

Jen Cohen:
Perfect. The easiest place probably to find my books is either Amazon under Badass Body Goals or my name Jennifer Cohen, or another good way to do it is go to habitnest.com, habit's spelled H-A-B-I-T N-E-S-T dot com, habitnest.com. My handles on Instagram is "therealjencohen."

Bobbi Rebell:
Wonderful. Thank you, Jen.

Jen Cohen:
Thank you.

Bobbi Rebell:
All right, my friends, I'm going to make this quick because I feel like I need to go work out or Jen is going to be after me. Just kidding. Financial grownup tip number one: Don't be a food snob. Jen talked about eating frozen veggies and canned fish and how, quote, "fresh" isn't always better even if it's organic. Oh, my goodness. Could you imagine? Organic not being the absolute best? You need to pay attention. You can really get burned paying up for all that so-called fresh food because when you take away all those chemicals, which you should, we don't want the chemicals on our food, of course, but sometimes, the shelf life is just really short.

Bobbi Rebell:
Recently, I splurged on these organic grapes at Whole Foods, and they went bad so fast. I had paid $8 for a bunch because I really wanted the grapes and I wanted to feel like I was eating healthy, and they barely lasted. That is also, by the way, a reason not to go shopping with your kids because I was with my son, and he also felt we should get the grapes, even though they were really expensive, and it's really hard to say no to a kid with they ask for food that's actually not junk food. Even if it's not the absolute healthiest fruit, it's not junk food, and that hard not to encourage, so try to leave your kids at home when you shop, although that's not always realistic.

Bobbi Rebell:
Anyway, financial grownup tip number two: The power of persuasion is very real. Good for Jen. Jen really shouldn't have been working at the Olive Garden at age 12 because it was not actually fully legal, but she got her way because she was creative and she found a way to get to yes with a reluctant manager and find a way to work there without technically working there and not technically breaking the law. That was a great lesson for all of us, Jen. Be persuasive and find a way around obstacles.

Bobbi Rebell:
What is your best money tip? DM on the social so I can share it. "Bobbirebell1" on Instagram, "bobbirebell" on Twitter, or just email us at the show at hello@financialgrownup.com. We are also going to be taking your money questions on some upcoming shows, so please, DM or email them to us as well.

Bobbi Rebell:
With that, a big thank you to our amazing guest Jen Cohen, author of Badass Body Goals. Great book for yourself, and a perfect gift for the holidays. Just looking at the book will make you smile and get out there and work out and feel better and be healthier. We know when you're healthier, you're usually wealthier, so it's all good. Thank you, Jen, for helping us all get one step closer to being financial grownups.

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