How to Understand Your Habits, Beliefs & Emotional Relationship to Money

Published by Everyone's Talkin' Money podcast
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Money is such a central part of all of our lives, and it's like we don't know where to put it. We don't know how to talk about it. We don't know how to become comfortable around it. There's the secretive sort of aspect of it's not polite talk about money, which is understandable because you're not going to get into a conversation with someone and dive right into how much money have been making and how long have you been making it. By the way, what are your parents, how much are they making? All that that's kind of crazy. But it's all about one word. When it comes down to the end of the day, it's all just one thing, and that is confidence.

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Welcome to everyone's talking Money podcast.

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I'm your host.

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Shannah Game. There's no judgment, no dumb questions, just.

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Smart conversations about you and your money.

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So come on in and grab a seat. Everyone is welcome here.

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Hey, Money Talkers, welcome back to the show.

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If you've been listening for a while.

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Now, you know how just exuberantly passionate I am about helping you understand that money success is not just about the how to. If you've been in the how to run around for a while now and you aren't making any progress, this episode is directly dedicated to you. As our guest, Pam Kruger says, money success is not just numbers. 99% of success is behavior, and 1% is anything having to do with finance or math.

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That's really good news because we can.

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Actually do something about the behavioral part. Pam is also passionate about teaching you the importance of money. EQ. She's the founder and CEO of Wealth Ramp, which is an advisor matching program that connects consumers like yourself with vetted and qualified fee only financial advisors. She's also the creator and cohost of the awardwinning Money Track Investor Education television series seen nationally on PBS and Friends Talk Money podcast. Pam's advice is that once you realize that confidence is a way to build a plan that will work for you, you can build from there in a way that actually works. So everything just starts clicking. In this episode, Pam shares her method for understanding how you can build money confidence starting today, so that money can flow through your life in a way that actually moves you forward. Yes. Okay, go ahead. Put this episode on repeat because it's worth a second, third, and fourth. Listen, let's get talking.

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Well, Pam, I am so excited to have you on the show. One of the reasons I was so thrilled to talk with you is because I'm just so fascinated by these questions that you sent over, and I'm imagining that everyone listening is things like what drives my spending? Why am I feeling unhappy about my money situation? How much debt am I carrying? Why am I not able to stick with an investment strategy? What are the factors that make me doubt myself with money I mean, these are just common questions that we have. And I feel like when we talk about money, we tend to focus on the how to. But as you say, we really need to understand this thing called our money EQ first, that this is an important piece of I guess if we're talking about success, how we have success. So tell us about this idea of money EQ.

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What is this thing? Well, this is something that thank you. I love being here. Thanks. This is something that when you think about we always talk about your IQ and we know there's the EQ, which is the emotional side that's just as important. How you approach life, how you approach everything you do, how you feel about it, et cetera. Well, when it comes to money, money is such a central part of all of our lives and it's like we don't know where to put it. We don't know how to talk about it, we don't know how to become comfortable around it. There's the secretive sort of aspect of it's not polite talk about money, which is understandable because you're not going to get into a conversation with someone and dive right into how much money have you making and how long have you been making it. By the way, what are your parents, how much have they made? All that, I mean, that's kind of crazy. But it's all about one word. When it comes down to the end of the day, it's all just one thing, and that is confidence. And so I think that you have to understand, we all have to understand that it's not just numbers. 99% of being successful with our money is behavior and only 1% is really considered what I would consider to be anything to do with finance or math. You start from that starting point and then you realize that everything can kind of build around that and you need to be able to feel confident in the end. That's how you can develop a plan. That's how you can believe in a plan because it's your plan and you have confidence in it. And there's a lot that goes into that. But that's the basis of it. It's confidence.

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So puzzling question then. If it is 99% of our success, why in the world is it not something that we talk about or understand more often?

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Well, I think it's just been cultural. It's just the way we've been raised generation after generation after generation. And every family has their own way of dealing with their own money. And every generation think about it, kind of comes into it. And they either have their negative, maybe perceptions around money, maybe having too much or having too little scarcity, whatever it might be fears, or maybe if it's a healthy environment even in the best of cases. Look how many people graduate kids they graduate from high school, never have had a personal finance class in their entire life, right? Not one. So as they've gone through this whole high school experience and learned different things, they've left out the life skills called dealing with money. So everybody comes from a different family. Everybody kind of comes into this with very little knowledge and understanding, let alone feeling at all like you've explored. How do you feel about money? What is your attitude about money? What is your aspiration for your own lifestyle and money flowing in? Do you need a job? And how you handle it as you're growing up, when you're a kid? And how this all just gets completely avoided? And so is it any mystery that by the time we hit thirty s and forty s, we're saying, I'm not really sure how to go about this, or I don't have a really good attitude about paying off my debt. I feel really ashamed of myself for having this. And it's just all a big topic culturally as a culture. We just don't deal with it.

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You brought up childhood. I read a statistic. I don't remember who had the statistic, but it was something to the fact that by age seven, our money personality is set. And that always sort of blew me away because I don't remember a lot before age seven. And so to think that it would have that much of an imprint on my behaviors now is just crazy. I mean, tell me a little bit more about childhood and the role that plays in our success.

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So if we think about when you were a kid and you were growing up, one of the memories that comes back to me really vividly of maybe being seven, probably eight, playing Monopoly. And that, I think, was one of my first, earliest awarenesses of how I felt about money. Playing a board game that's competitive, understanding the rules, understanding that there's only so much money and you're going to win by getting a big pile of it at the end, even being that young and remembering the excitement that I felt about launching a lemonade stand in the summer, doing something, selling Girl Scout cookies, whatever it might have been to raise money. I mean, you think about those early, early memories. Now think about your parents and think about the influences that you were getting at that age. Now imagine that you're that child, and imagine that you have a parent. Let's say it's a very dominant, strong voice. Let's say it's your mom who's really always worried about running out of money. And that's a narrative that you hear over and over play out all the time. Let's say that she's the one that pays the bills and she just feels like she's under pressure all the time. And what that does when you're a kid, if you don't have any other way to kind of counter balance it, you start to develop anxiety really, really early around the mysteries of how much money do we have, are we going to run out of money? The last time I was at the grocery store and I asked my mom if we could get a particular box of popsicles or whatever it is or ice cream, she said, no, look how expensive it is. Oh my gosh, does that mean we're poor and you're just a little tiny kid and you just don't have any idea of what's going on? You know that money is important. You know, you want your allowance, that you can earn it. You want your dollars and your $5 and $20, whatever it is. And you start to just get this whole sense that you have some kind of connection to money right there, right then. And you're either going to be the person who is coming from the family where there's a really healthy attitude about money and there's plenty, there's an abundance. Don't worry, we're not going to run out. Even if you are going to run out, but you don't have that sense of urgency. And these are some of the things that leave a huge imprint. How can they not emotionally, on how you feel about money and your self worth around money? Because then you start to develop these other sorts of feelings like, I feel guilty or I feel like, am I really worthy of making this much? And women especially can fall into that trap of going. And I remember negotiating for the very first time in a role where I was recruited into a position at a company. And because I was recruited, it gave me the gut to actually negotiate for the first time. But other than that, I was just sort of at the whim of the employer who said, well, this is what we're offering as a salary range. So you're EQ around your own money and being tuned into it and understanding yourself can help you get over your weaknesses, because that might have been there and then where I said, you know what, I've got to face the facts a little bit of an issue. Somehow I don't feel worthy of making the bigger salary that I think is the competitive amount of money I should be making, that the guy over here is making. What's wrong with me? And that's when I started discovering that there is just this huge it just takes a huge weight off your shoulders once you understand there may be an issue. And if there is, it's better to just understand it and start to work with it and don't try to always hide it or run away from it.

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It's interesting you bring that up because in my household, my dad worked in the financial industry. And so we would talk about money, but not talk about money. So it was like this weird. I always grew up in a house where I knew we had enough money. We lived in a nice house. It wasn't something I had to worry about I had that privilege as a kid. However, we always shopped on the sale racks. So whenever we went somewhere, it was like, okay, we're going to go straight.

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To the sale racks.

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And I would scratch my head and say, well, isn't there some times where we maybe just spend, like, the actual full amount on something? So then what I realized as I got in college and through my 20s was I had this phobia of spending full price on something, and I couldn't understand, where did this come from? So I think when we start to unpack this for ourselves, it's like all these AHA moments start coming. I'm curious, was money something that you talked about in your household when you were growing up, or was it something that was still kind of like this? We don't talk about that subject.

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So for me, the two talk tracks were really huge, and maybe that's what made me think about money. Maybe that's what made me have to step back and say, what's my problem? Because on my mom's side, I was getting that worry, worry, worry anxiety, and it freaked me out on my dad's side, sort of like you where your dad was in the financial industry. My dad worked for a company that he was always involved with. I always remember him reading The Wall Street Journal and talking to me about money in a completely different way, more in an investing way, and this is how this works. And by the time I was in high school, I actually was having conversations with my dad on a regular basis about the stock market, and he loved to talk about economics and things like that. So I had these two weird, completely disjointed talk tracks going on. Now, everybody has different influences that are happening. I think that the point is that at some point you realize that what you want to do is you want to develop your own EQ. You want to develop your own sense of confidence around how you feel about earning money, about spending money, about investing money, and about managing money. And we never take the time to do that. We always do it after the fact, after things have happened where we've learned by trial and error or we kind of have an awareness, and maybe some people never get the awareness, and they just kind of go through it and just they just always putting the emphasis on, this is the amount of money I need to make. I'm making that amount of money. I'm paying my bills. That's the end of it. And that's fine if it works. But I think that at a deeper level, money is so central to our existence. Air, water, breathing money. We need it. So I think getting good with it and getting confident about it. And some people would say, well, confidence for me means handing decisions over to my partner or my spouse, or maybe I do have a financial planner. I really want as little to do with it as possible because I don't like it. I'm not into numbers, and I'm not into money. But other times, it might be that you discover that you do enjoy understanding and learning more. So you kind of have to tap into your sense of what's going to make you feel confident and not feel guilty or not feel stupid, not feel intimidated by all the information that's out there that's coming at you about investing and saving and what you're supposed to be doing. So I think it's a good conversation to have with you and people you love about how important is living a certain lifestyle? Is that lifestyle going to require that I make $200,000 a year? And will we need a retirement that starts at a million dollars? Do we need to buy a million dollar house? You know, what makes you happy and what do you live on, and how does money flow through your life? And are you confident about that at whatever level it might be? Just getting good with it and getting confidence around it.

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So you brought up a lot of questions. I'm curious if there are any, I don't know, exercises or activities or any structure around how we can start to create more of, I guess, an understanding of our money. EQ since this is an area we don't play in very often, how do we create, like, the environment to even start asking these questions?

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I think there's definitely some structure to put around it. Once you decide that you do want to become more confident, you really kind of want to get to know yourself and really look and stare at behaviors that might hold you back or behaviors that you can be saying, hey, this really works for me, and I am comfortable and confident. I need to do more of this. First of all, maybe number one is just recognize how you may be thinking and acknowledge as you're going through the week or through the month, as it occurs to you organically, just kind of acknowledge that money sometimes may be getting in your way. It might be upsetting to you, there might be some friction, and then start to stop and say, okay, that's a perfect example of where this is tripping me up. Right. I'm feeling like the student loan debt or the credit card debt that I have or the car payment that I decided to take on that's too much for me is every time I get on the topic of it or I go to pay that bill electronically, even though it's automatic, I'm looking at my statement, whatever. I'm feeling a certain way, and I think it just kind of starts there. Just recognize how you may be thinking and how it might be actually not helping you. So the second step for me is you fortify yourself, because the goal is once you recognize the self talk that seems to be a little bit negative. Or maybe it's keeping you up at night. It's just making you feel weird and uncomfortable around your partner. Whatever it is, it's making you feel awkward. Just tell yourself that you have choices. You have choices. You can take control of the monster. Let's say that it's dead because that is so often just such a big, looming sort of a monster that's in the background there. You can decide that you're going to take over and you're going to take control by doing a step by step. You're going to make progress step by step. There's different time tested ways that you can pay down your credit cards in a really powerful way that even has a name to it because of this behavior, because of this EQ. It's called the Snowball Method. It's not financial. It's all based on helping us get better habits around our behavior and how we feel. And the snowball effect to paying down the debt that you feel bad about is decide that you're going to make your biggest payment to those debts that you have the lowest balance. Why? Because if you keep doing that, you're going to see your debt start to melt away just like a snowball melting that's power. And that's what we're looking for.

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I love the snowball method. It's a method that I use because I think it just tricks my brain into saying, hey, look, progress is happening.

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Let's keep with it.

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And it just makes me feel like something is actually happening.

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And then you're actually making the connection very successfully between the real world and how you are with money and how you feel about the progress that you're making. When those two things start to come together, it's very powerful because then you say, wow, I have more control than I thought I did. Because part of my whole illusion and my irrational concern and fear was that I was feeling insecure because I feel like A, I don't know enough and B I have no control. But you do. You do have control. So after you get through that snowball method, once you've nailed those really smaller bills, then you can start making your biggest payments to the debts that carry the highest interest charges and you can start to see that change and that progress. This exercise is not only going to help you pay down your debt, it's not all about that. It's about you. It's about how you can gain confidence and you can start to feel like you're breathing and you have a much deeper sense of satisfaction from there. And then you're on your way to starting to figure out who you are with money and how you can become confident and comfortable about the level of interest you have in it. Because if you're not interested in finance and the stock market and bitcoin so what? There's no judgment around that. Just be comfortable and confident about what you're doing with your money and that you understand if you're in a relationship, how that marries and gels with the relationship. And then I think the third way, there's a couple of steps here. The third step is that there are some simple mind tricks that are more than money tips. You can allow yourself to start to see yourself grow a bigger savings and emergency cushion, even if you feel like you already have enough. Let's say that you have three months to six months of bills paid that are sitting in a checking account, not really earning any interest. It's just kind of sitting there. It's not in your 401. You're paying your debt separately. You've got this sort of just this cushion. You can start to feel like you can add to that cushion at any point in time. And the bigger you make that cushion. Even if you're not earning interest on it. It's giving you. Again. A sense of control that. Hey. If I got laid off or if I decided to leave this position that I don't really like right now. I've got nine months worth of living expenses saved up and I'm not going to spend it all. But jeez. I've got six months there that I know for a fact I can make better decisions than the rest of my life around the rest of my life. Because I'm not freaked out that if something happens. I don't have a savings account. And maybe you don't have that savings account today. Maybe you're aspiring to have that savings account get started again. It's like snowball in the other direction. Start with a low weenie weenie snowball and roll it, roll it, roll it. And pretty soon you'll notice that you have a nice looking cushion and that cushion is all about making you feel more comfortable.

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So you talked about feelings and how feelings play into things. And obviously right now we're in a time where rates are rising. We've got inflation, we've got a lot of pressure for people's, just everyday money and spending. So I'm wondering if we're having these feelings of maybe anxiety, stress, whatever, we go to the gas station, we put the gas in our car and we're like, what it cost us?

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I just did it.

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How do we balance those feelings with some strategies around our money? How do we marry those two together so we don't let the anxiety get completely out of control and completely overwhelm decision making?

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Well, there are tools. There are ways to do it. And the reason that I know it is because I did it myself. I had to do this myself. I went through it. So essentially it's not like you have to go through a twelve step program. But again, you know what? You're not going to go to the gas station and flip out or go to Whole Foods. And every time I go to Whole Foods now, it's like $100 every time I walk out of the store, no matter how big or small the bag is. That could easily have freaked me out ten years ago or 20 years ago, but it doesn't now because I've really gotten straight with calm down. You know where you are with your money. You know where you are with your savings. You know where you are with paying down your debt. You know where you are that you can control. Now you're in control of the things you can control, including knowledge about investing, interest in investing, all these things that seem to be so impossible to even get your arms around. Just even understanding the basics gives you confidence. And at that point when you're kind of tapped into what you're doing that you have control of, then you can accept it. Sounds really like cheesy, but it's true, right? You can accept what you can't control. You can't control. We can't control shape. We can't control inflation. We can't control the fact that we might not be able to make an offer on this house that we really wanted because the interest rates and mortgage rates just went up. That's not worth getting really anxious over. Why? Because you can't control it. All you can control is what's within your control. That calms you down. That's when you go to the gas station and you say, I know. Hopefully this is temporary. 8% Inflation holy cow. $70 to fill up my gas tank. Hopefully it's temporary, but it might not be because inflation just means that you're not getting anything extra, anything new. You're just paying 8% more on everything that you need to live that you've already been paying for. So it sucks, it's bad, but you're not going to feel like it has anything to do with you either, oh, I should be doing this or I should be doing that, because you've already gotten good with what you're doing. You've got your plan to control your debt and spend it down sorry, to pay it down. You've already got your plan to maybe stock up on your emergency fund. You've already got a plan to learn more about investing in the basics or take advantage more of your 401 at work or Roth IRA. So once you've controlled the things that you can control, you calm down about the things you can't control.

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I like that a lot. We've been using this word confidence, a lot in our conversation. You're an investor, advocate, and educator, and really your mission is to help people build confidence. And I'm wondering, how did that passion that you have, how did that lead you to create wealth?

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Ramp well, I had a television series that was on PBS, a weekly series that was on 255 PBS stations nationally and on the program, so many of our viewers would come to me and say, pam, I really don't want to do this myself. I really don't want to learn how to manage my own money and invest my own money. I really want to know what I know. But collaborate with an advisor. Please help me find a financial planner or an advisor. So, so many people just kept asking me, and because I've been in this industry since I was 24 and it's not an industry I like, I really don't like it. The financial services and financial advice industry has given itself a pretty bad black eye, and it deserves it. It's not been consumer friendly. And I felt like if I'm going to create something, I'm going to create something that will help people connect with financial planners and advisers whose goal who are rigorously vetted, of course, fee only. Fiduciary and at the end of the day, I want people who come to who want to meet an advisor, I want them to wind up with a sense of peace of mind and confidence. I mean, it's unbelievable. I actually was able to put something together and launch something that is based on my passion and my real mission. And at the end of the day, my whole mission is to help people feel more confident about their own ability to be good with where they are with money, not try to get everybody up to the same speed, everybody's different, but just try to help people feel comfortable with where they are. And that means sometimes people want help and they say, Pam, I want a financial advisor, I want a planner, I don't want to do it by myself. Fine, that's good but if you're going to meet an advisor through me, the goal of that collaboration is going to be confidence, peace of mind because when it's done correctly, that adviser can be a game changer in your life. Really truly a game changer because you'll acquire knowledge, you'll have the help you need because you know you need it. So again it kind of circles back to do you want help? Do you need help? Do you want to take this on by yourself in terms of knowing about investing? And you can always change your mind throughout your life that you want help or you don't want help but I find that there are people who dive right into it and they love it and there are people who say I'm not comfortable managing my own money and I don't want to make those big decisions by myself so I want help. No matter how you get there you've got to feel confident about your whole way of spending. Saving and managing money and the level of money in your life just to be able to be at peace with it and to know that if you're not at peace with it right now because I might feel like I'm not making enough money. I don't have enough money. Then formulate a plan based on what you know you can do that will step by step get you there and that again gives you that sort of confidence and that comfort level and that control feeling about things you can control.

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So I'm listening to this episode right now maybe I'm in my car, I'm on the bar, wherever I'm at and I want to know some advice that you can really leave me with to help me create better habits, beliefs or this relationship with my money. What can I start working on today?

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For someone who's looking at probably the biggest obstacle. Which is getting rid of guilt and getting rid of feelings of misery around not having enough money and scarcity. I would highly recommend a tool that's a digital tool and I'll bet you've talked about it a zillion times if you need a budget I might as well work for them. They might as well be paying me because I'm promoting it constantly but I hear over and over again from people this was a game changer for me because what it is is it's a way to approach getting good with budgeting and really understanding that your money is working for you. You're working for money but your money is working for you and it really helps you to kind of sort the laundry and figure out the best way to do things and you learn as you go and it starts to help you create those habits and that's what we're looking for here we want to create brand new habits that are going to feed into our confidence because we can see we're making progress. Just like with the snowball method and approach to paying down debt, these little steps are huge. So I love you need a budget for a tool that I would look to immediately for help with budgeting at any level. Even if you feel like you already had a budget, if you feel like you're just miserable, money is causing you a lot of anxiety for whatever reason, it can really help you.

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Well, Pam, thank you for helping us all feel a little bit more confident today. I'm so thrilled at your message. I think it's so important and I would love for you to tell everyone listening where they could go to connect with you or if they want more information about wealth.

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Ramp. Absolutely. My email address is like ramp up your Wealthramp. And I never tell people that they need a financial planner or an advisor. I wait for people to say I want help and then they come to me. So people who know that they are ready for a financial planner or an adviser, I have a very curated network that advisers I have rigorously vetted who are fee only, which means they don't get paid commissions, they don't sell anything. These advisors are real true advisors. So that's where people can find me Pam it took me a very.

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Long time to realize the confidence, my money story beliefs and all the other behavioral stuff that no one talks about are the missing links. These are the things that Pam was talking about with you in this episode. Understanding this all, it doesn't automatically mean you're going to have money success, but it will move you forward from stuck to go in ways that you just never knew possible. You're just going to need to trust me on this one and go forward with a little faith. Pam shared some amazing gems to help you build some confidence right now and I think with her wisdom, maybe you can start working on the behavioral piece. And like I said before, you know it, I guarantee you're going to start to see some change. If you enjoyed this episode, do me two favors. One, share it with every that you know. Tell them why they should be listening to this episode and to go to the podcast player you're listening to this episode in right now and leave us an honest review. I'll see you back here in a few days to keep talking money.