How to Dig Your Heels in Like a Financial Grownup with author Joan Kuhl

Joan Kuhl Instagram

As a child, Joan Kuhl watched her single mom face severe financial discrimination. She shares the story of how this could have prevented the family from buying a home, and how it inspired her to become an advocate and mentor for women in the workplace. Plus money tips and  a preview of her new book “Dig Your Heels In”.

In Joan's money story you will learn:

  • The important role her single mother played in her life

  • The reason she felt like her mother was great role model

  • Why her mother was charged more money for mortgage as a single parent

  • The reason her mother believed it was important to know how to negotiate

“There are so many men that are coming to the table saying I believe my colleagues should be treated fairly and I want to be part of this new world where everyone has equal opportunity to go to a workplace that is fair.

In Joan’s money lesson you will learn:

  • Know what you deserve

"We’re never going to really achieve this inclusive culture in the workplace if we don’t dig our heels in and go after the things that we deserve"

In Joan's everyday money tip you will learn:

  • How Joan's $200 cash rule can really help you to put your spending into perspective

"They were bragging to me telling me what their starting salary was. I used that to then tell people what I thought I deserved.“

In My Take you will learn:

  • You can’t just say “I quit” and make it happen. There’s a lot of great things that can happen in a corporate job. So tread carefully before you jump. Also read her book.

  • Keep your ears open and gather intel. Joan was able to negotiate a better deal because her male friends were bragging. Tune in to what others are saying.

Episode Links:

Joan's book Dig Your Heels In can also be bought here on Amazon



Check out Joan's website -

www.JoanKuhl.com


Follow Joan!


Transcription

Joan Kuhl:
I remember when we finally were able to move out of my grandparents house and she could afford to buy a condo outside of Philadelphia, and they increased her mortgage rate by two and a half percentage points because they considered her, as a single mother, as high risk.

Bobbi Rebell:
You're listening to Financial Grownup with me, certified financial planner Bobbi Rebell, author of “How to be a Financial Grownup,” and 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 today. 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, Financial Grownup friends. You may want to go back and replay that opening quote, it really happened, and yes, it is unbelievable. Welcome all, and to our new listeners, so glad you found us. Take a minute please, make sure you're subscribed, and say hi on the socials to let me know that you're here, RobbiRebell1 on Instagram, Bobbi on Twitter. Let's get to our guest, John Kuhl. K-U-H-L, Kuhl. She is the founder of "Why Millennials Matter" and the author of "Misunderstood Millennial Talent." Her latest book, which we're going to be talking about, is “Dig Your Heels In,” and when you hear in our interview about the incredible experiences her mom had, that's who she was talking about at the opening of the show, you're going to truly appreciate what a great role model Joan had in her mom and what a great role model Joan is. Here is Joan Kuhl.

Bobbi Rebell:
Hey, Joan Kuhl, you're a financial grownup, welcome to the podcast.

Joan Kuhl:
Thank you, Bobbi. I'm excited to be with you.

Bobbi Rebell:
I'm excited, because I got a sneak peek at your new book "Dig Your Heels In." You are both a speaker, you're a consultant, you founded "Why Millennial's Matter and also "Courage to Stay," and as I've mentioned, now you've got "Dig Your Heels In", which is really about how to navigate, I don't know, we try to keep the E off the show, so I'm just going to say the corporate BS and build the company that you deserve, which is a book long overdue. I wish, we were talking [inaudible 00:02:19] like I wish I had this book when I had my corporate jobs, Joan.

Joan Kuhl:
I know. Well, I'm here now, and so this is to empower the women that are working right now and make sure we pave the way for the next generation.

Bobbi Rebell:
Absolutely. Speaking of next generation, you learned so much from your mom.

Joan Kuhl:
Yeah. So observing a mom that was really trying to build a better life for us, I remember when we finally were able to move out of my grandparents house and she could afford to buy a condo outside of Philadelphia, and they increased her mortgage rate by two and a half percentage points because they considered her, as a single mother, as high risk. So ridiculous.

Bobbi Rebell:
Wait, wait, wait, they charged her more money because she had one income as a single mother, therefore she should pay more?

Joan Kuhl:
Yup. They lobbed on extra points onto her interest, her mortgage rate just because they considered her high risk, and like it was little things like that that I observed. It wasn't until I was older and we had those conversations when I was going after my first job offer and she was really in my corner saying "Negotiate, read everything in details," because I think that's when we started to understand some of the discrimination against women.

Bobbi Rebell:
Many people don't realize, we take this for granted that as a woman you could own a home, but this was really revolutionary, and I guess that's why they were able to pay, make her pay more. I mean, you talk about the pink tax.

Joan Kuhl:
Yeah, it's funny, this, a lot of this connects into why I wrote "Dig Your Heels In," even just thinking about the decisions that women make and sometimes feel forced to make because they're in a male dominated situation or a situation ripe with bias, so yeah, of course ... My mother was actually a teacher, and then she became a secre- she had multiple jobs, she was a secretary and she was trying to get an advanced degree, and then she was logging miles to get her pilots license, ultimately to get her in the door to become an air traffic controller, because she was kind of studying these fields that she thought she had the skills to transition into that would give her a higher income, and ultimately triple her income from being an inner city school teacher. So it's just things like that that really inspired me "Okay, well women should be able to go after what we want, but we should also not be pushed out of fields that we love or companies that we work so hard to get in the door of because we're not being paid equally."

Bobbi Rebell:
Right, and so there's the double irony. So she wasn't able to be paid equally to men, and yet she was being forced to pay more at the time than them. When she had this situation with for example the mortgage, at that time did she have any recourse? Was she able to negotiate at all or was it "If you want a mortgage, this is what it is?"

Joan Kuhl:
"This is what it is." It's funny, and now like I've seen over probably since my early teens, my mom will negotiate anything, even at an Anne Taylor in the mall, with her phone bills, and I think it was because of those experiences where she felt so scared, right? She's got like, even though I saw her as brave and courageous, you have a fear when you're a single parent of like, she just finally got the money to get us into a better home, you know, why would she risk not getting the loan approved just because they were discriminating against her in terms of the rate?

Bobbi Rebell:
That's incredible. So what is the lesson for our listeners from this story? Obviously, first of all always negotiate, but what do you think your lesson would be and what would your mom's lesson be?

Joan Kuhl:
Well, I think it is absolutely know what we deserve, and so I think it is not, sometimes when we are in a situation where we do think somebody might have more knowledge than us, so that's a situation where you're going for a home loan or something, and you think "Oh, well this person has the expertise, they have the credibility, and if they're pushing back on something I'm asking for maybe there's a legitimate reason," I wouldn't let it stop there. I think that's why there's so many amazing organizations right now of women talking to each other. One of the biggest things I've learned from my mom is we have to talk about money. One story I'll quickly share with you, I felt competent negotiation my salary and asking for a higher salary than most people when I graduated from college because of the net my friends that were guys that graduated the year before and were getting recruited by all these big consulting firms, they were bragging to me telling me what their starting salary was, but I used that to then tell people what I thought I deserved.

Bobbi Rebell:
That's amazing. What kind of reaction did you get when you asked for those higher numbers?

Joan Kuhl:
I will never forget sitting in front of this woman, and it was actually a hotel management company, and I told her and she literally laughed at me. She was so condescending, like she could not believe I had the gall [inaudible 00:06:39]-

Bobbi Rebell:
A woman?

Joan Kuhl:
A woman.

Bobbi Rebell:
Interesting.

Joan Kuhl:
Yeah, and it happens, right? And I said to her, and I just started spouting off, I'm like "This company, this company, Deloitte, Accenture, Price Waterhouse Coopers, all these companies, and this is the kind of benefits they offer, and I've, I'm in the final rounds of interviews with them too, so I also know I'm the number one candidate for this job." And this is where I always laugh when they say millennials are entitled. I think that anyone that's young that kind of has the [foreign language 00:07:02] to say "This is what I know is the market value, and I'm going to ..." And I already knew that I work my butt off wherever I went, and so I always felt that gave me the confidence to say "Hey, this is what I believe I'm worth," and also "Hi, look how much it costs to go to school these days."

Bobbi Rebell:
It's interesting, the men will discuss money as a way of bragging, but very often women don't discuss it at all.

Joan Kuhl:
Yeah, exactly. I even just remember when we were at graduation and my mom was so proud, and my godmother came with her too to my, and I was the speaker at my graduation, huge university, University of Pittsburgh for the College of Business, and a couple of my girlfriends that we were all, had been presidents of clubs and had multiple job offers, our parents were like so excited talking to each other, and we were so embarrassed that they were talking about that we had these jobs, or the amount of money, or what the salaries were, whereas we knew that all the guys around us were like high fiving, they were telling their older brothers, ever- it was just, it's this strange thing that we feel like we have to shrink ourselves versus just talk about something that allows us to really feel on a level playing field.

Bobbi Rebell:
And that's I think where men can actually be our partners and our assets, because we are their daughters, their wives, their friends, their girlfriends, their sisters, their nieces and so on, and they want to support us, so I think it's great that you really got support and information from your male friends and classmates to get that better offer, and that's why it's really an issue for everyone, and I think it's important that it be addressed that men can be our best advocates and our best assets in this as well.

Joan Kuhl:
Yeah, I've [inaudible 00:08:47] a lot of men and allies programs, and healthcare companies and sports companies, and there are so many men that are coming to the table saying "I want, I believe my colleagues should be treated fairly and I want to be a part of this new world where everyone has equal opportunity to go to a workplace that's fair and access, equally accessible to advancement, anything that we want."

Bobbi Rebell:
Well said. Let's move on to your everyday money tip Joan, because this is something we can all relate to, but we don't always do, and we should. Go for it.

Joan Kuhl:
So I have this 200 dollar cash rule that kind of by happenstance became a trick that I use, and I think it was because A, I used to realize I never had cash on me all the time, and living in New York City it's a must have, but it also allows me to see where unexpected things come up. So now as a mother, I have a five and a one-year-old, you've got birthday parties, or there's sometimes where, I always try to save and take public transportation, buses and subways, pride myself on that, but I look at the 200 dollar rule, I take it out on the first of the month, like I took it out this morning, and guess what, unfortunately today I got my hair done this morning, so I'm halfway done with that, with-

Bobbi Rebell:
[crosstalk 00:09:51].

Joan Kuhl:
[crosstalk 00:09:51] dollars cash. Yeah, but that's the thing, I always say "Okay, this is my barometer of like how well I'm planning for my expenses." It's not like budgeting, but things come up like the birthday gifts or, you know, my daughter needs something extra for an after school activity, or I am like "You know what? I want to go out tonight and I didn't plan for it." So that's kind of my rule, is just looking at where the cash goes.

Bobbi Rebell:
I think that's really important, because it also gives you an indication if that's how fast your actual cash is going, which can feel more painful, think how much is going that's sort of just automated in your life, that's being sucked out of your bank accounts for all of this bills, which we should automate of course, but we don't really feel it the same way. At least with the cash you're feeling it.

Bobbi Rebell:
Let's talk about your book "Dig Your Heels In." So important. I feel like this is sort of the next wave. We had "Lean In," and that made sense to a lot of people at that time, but now you've really hit on something that is so important. "Dig Your Heels In," really, it's a metaphor, but it's not, it's literal too to a large degree. I love a quote from the book that you say, "By leaving your company are you running away from something or running towards something? Are you jumping ship because you just 'can't deal any longer,' or is the new opportunity something that really excites you and fulfills your career ambition?" Because sometimes, there's a lot of running away Joan, there really is.

Joan Kuhl:
Yeah. And I always say digging your heels in is a personal decision, and so I am in no way, shape or form telling everyone to grin and bear it if your situation's toxic, but the majority of the time the women that I have met over the years, I've interviewed hundreds of women around the world for global research projects, you get backed into a corner, and I think sometimes the sexy thing in popular culture right now is to get a bigger title, or a bigger promotion, or more money if you jump and ghost ship, or that the only way to advance is to be a girl boss and start your own thing, but the truth is you have so much equity in where you are right now and so much opportunity to really transform that company, and taking stock, taking a deep breath, really thinking about those ah-ha moments, what is really frustrating you there and how can you turn that into fuel and really disrupt the status quo? We're never going to, I think really achieve this inclusive culture and workplace if we don't dig our heels in and go after the things that we deserve.

Bobbi Rebell:
And you also point out in the book that we think that we're the only ones feeling a certain way, but you interviewed the very highest achieving female executives who look, their lives look perfect on the outside, and as you got to know them and as they opened up to you these top executives were barely surviving rather than thriving as you perceived them to be.

Joan Kuhl:
Yeah, that threw me completely for a loop. I was so naive in my mindset thinking they were living this glamorous career, personal and professional lives, and to really hear their battle scars of what they had gone through and they endured taught me a lot about sometime that dynamic between women at work in different generations, but also that we still have so much work to do. I interviewed Reece Witherspoon a couple months ago who also told me that she has bouts with imposter syndrome. I mean, it's Reece Witherspoon. So one of side of this is the self limiting mindset that we can figure out how to overcome, and some of that is pushed on us because of bias in the system and around us, but the other side of it is the system's broken, and I think that's why we need to identify some tactical ways to change it, and that's why I want "Dig Your Heels In to be a real playbook that shows examples of women doing just that.

Bobbi Rebell:
I love that because you have a lot of these broad strokes, you have a lot of really important statistics in this book, but you also interview women and give very specific stories that are relatable to all of us, and we see ourselves in that and there's a lot of value in that, so I really hope everyone will pick up "Dig Your Heels In." So Joan, just to wrap up tell us where people can get the book and hear more about you and be in touch with you, your socials, all that good stuff?

Joan Kuhl:
Awesome. So I have a brand new website, JoanKuhl.com J-O-A-N K-U-H-L. "Dig Your Heels In," we have a fantastic website that's DigYourHeelsIn.com and the book is sold everywhere books are sold, so Amazon, Barns and Noble, Books-A-Million, Target, Walmart, you name it. If you order it and you go and enter your information on my website you will get a ton of free resources that I developed as things that are master classes on work and life hacks and some great jumpstart your career guides. And on social, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook I'm @JoanKuhl as well.

Bobbi Rebell:
Awesome. Thank you, Joan.

Joan Kuhl:
Thanks, Bobbi. I love talking to you.

Bobbi Rebell:
All right my friends, here's my take. Financial grown up tip number one, I want to address something that Joan alluded to, but we didn't really get to explore fully, and that is that we are having a cultural moment where we really glorify the idea of the entrepreneur, of being the boss babe and so on. We hear so many stories about being a boss, and changes in cultural norms and in technology do allow a lot more entrepreneurship, but don't be fooled. There is no paycheck coming every two weeks, at least not for a long time for most entrepreneurs, and of course there's that healthcare thing, and you can't just say "I quit" and just instantly have a business. There are a lot of things that go on in order to have a successful business, and it rarely is an overnight success. There are usually years of hard work behind the scenes that you don't hear about when you read these articles of what seems like overnight successes. So it's important that you acknowledge and understand that as Joan talks about, there are a lot of great things that can happen in a corporate job as well. You can be an intrapreneur, which means you sort of build little businesses within a company, but with the company's support, which includes of course that ongoing paycheck and that financial security of a job. So tread carefully before you jump, and also of course read Joan's book.

Bobbi Rebell:
Financial grown up tip number two, keep your ears open and gather intel. Joan was able to negotiate a better deal because her male friends were bragging. Tune in to what others of both sexes are saying. That can be in person and it can also be maybe in chat rooms online, it can be being part of a mastermind group or even on social media platforms, for example Facebook Groups and so on. It's a cliché for a reason, information is power.

Bobbi Rebell:
I hope you all enjoyed spending time with us today, now I need your help. Please make sure you are subscribed, and if you have friends or colleagues that you think will enjoy these interviews and these podcast episodes with, for example amazing role models like Joan, please encourage them to subscribe as well, and of course ratings and reviews are gold to us, we appreciate every single one. Big thanks to "Dig Your Heels In" author Joan Kuhl for helping us all get 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.