BiggerPockets Money Podcast 140: How to Get Financial Freedom So You Can Do What You’re Meant to Do with Belinda Rosenblum

BiggerPockets Money Podcast 140: How to Get Financial Freedom So You Can Do What You’re Meant to Do with Belinda Rosenblum

68 min read
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Belinda Rosenblum is a CPA, a certified coach and her clients include Harvard Business School, Harvard University and the SEC. She’s worked for Arthur Andersen and L3 Enterprises. She’s got money all figured out, right?

Well, she does now…

On today’s episode, Belinda shares her biggest money mistake – ignoring a giant pile of mail as she cared for her recovering father.

Once she cleared that up, she focused on her own finances, growing her net worth to more than $1 million by the time she was 33. She quickly realized that her trajectory was NOT taking her where she wanted to go. So she pivoted.

She took a new job with a huge bump in pay and rode out their boom and subsequent layoffs, taking a package to leave and using that opportunity to travel to India, a life-changing experience.

When she came back, she realized she didn’t need all the things, didn’t need the stress that came with the big corporate job, and struck out on her own, filling a need she saw in her own friends – financial education.

Belinda parlayed her financial knowledge into a multi 6-figures company, pivoting again last year to helping businesses strategically and consistently generate income.

This episode is for anyone who has made a money mistake, anyone who has gotten past one, or anyone looking to start their own business to truly live the life they want.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Mindy:
Welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast show number 140, where we interview Belinda Rosenblum from Own Your Money and hear her story of financial independence, financial mistakes, and how she’s turned all of that into a six plus figure career.

Belinda:
So a lot of really learning how to own your money and to become unapologetic around money in your business is taking the emotion out of it. So it’s coming to terms with the emotion, right? Recognizing that mindset piece for yourself, but then recognizing that that doesn’t have to rule the show.

Mindy:
Hello, hello, hello, my name is Mindy Jensen and with me as always is my business savvy cohost Scott Trench.

Scott:
Mindy, I just love how these adjectives are incorporated into every one of our introductions here.

Mindy:
Scott and I are here to make financial independence less scary, less, just for somebody else and show you that by following the proven steps, you can put yourself on the road to early financial freedom and get money out of the way so you can lead your best life.

Scott:
That’s right. Whether you want to retire early and travel the world, go on to make big time investments in assets like real estate, or become a self-made millionaire in your 30s and start your own business, we’ll help you build a position capable of launching yourself towards those dreams.

Mindy:
Scott, today’s guest is Belinda Rosenblum. She is a self-starter, a CPA, a coach with a very impressive client list. You will recognize all of the names on the list. She’s worked for the SEC and Arthur Anderson before striking out on her own, taking the money lessons she learned from her corporate career and applying them first to personal finance education and then pivoting again to help small businesses figure out how to consistently earn money.
Belinda Rosenblum from Own Your Money, welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast. I’m super excited to have you on the show today, you are a CPA, a certified coach, some of your clients include Harvard Business School, Harvard University, Bentley University. I’m sorry, you’re not more qualified to talk about money over here.

Belinda:
I’ll see what I can do. It’s only been no, I don’t know, 25 years, but I’ll see what I can do to improve that for you Mindy and Scott.

Mindy:
25 years. Well, tell us where your journey with money begins.

Belinda:
Sure, absolutely. So I think from an early age, we could tell that I was going to be good at money. I was the type that would enjoy counting money. I would dump out my piggy bank and not to spend it, but to count it. Or, my sister wanted to use my bicycle. I was like, “That’ll be a quarter please.” I think there were just funny things where I had an affinity for money early on, accounting, applied statistics, these were some of my favorite courses in high school. I even had a side job working for my neighbor’s business when a lot of people were cutting lawns or only babysitting, I was sending out monthly invoices and bookkeeping for an alarm company and I started to even get turned on then I was like, “This recurring revenue thing is really good. When I grow up, I want to be sending out invoices and collecting money every month too.”
In college, I was a strong accounting student and all of that. And I was on the swim team and I wanted a side job. So I worked for a catering company and a lot of people are the catering assistant and, “Would you like pigs in a blanket?” And that kind of thing. But to me that was kind of boring. So then by the second event that I was in, I started to see the bigger picture and became more of the traffic cop. So I’m visually landing planes or serving drinks over here and it just made it a lot more fun.
So, from an early age, I was like, “Okay, I think that there’s something to this, I’m enjoying earning money.” But when I had just graduated college and I was 21, I was just a few months out. I had just passed the CPA exam actually, or just taken the exam, I hadn’t found out I passed yet. And my father then had a stroke and I just graduated. So I was like, hot to trot and it was like, boom. Things just like my world stopped at that point. My parents been divorced in early age, my sister just started college, so I was the one that really stepped up and needed to help take care of them, not to start this off on a sad note, but that was my reality, right?
And so I became family CFO way younger than I would have wanted at 21. And the thing was that because I had this accounting degree, I think that it just seemed like it made sense, right? Like, “Oh, she’ll just take over for it.” But I was vastly under-prepared. College prepares you for corporate accounting, it doesn’t necessarily prepare you for the mountains of bills that you’re going to have to deal with when your dad’s in the hospital, along with all the emotional, everything that goes with that.
And so over the next few years, I bandaided things together and I had been on the road four or five days a week. And I’d put that on hold for a little while, while I was caring for him. And then I was like, “Okay, let me pick back up my career, it feels like it’s a safe time to do that.” It didn’t [inaudible 00:05:08] that now I have all of this extra financial baggage that I had to take care of. And it was like, “Whoa, what’s going to give?” Well, what gave was me opening up the mail. So again, this is not the financial strategy that I recommend for everybody, but I wouldn’t be on the road.

Scott:
Sounds like a millennial problem.

Belinda:
Yeah. Maybe.

Scott:
I have the same issue. Yeah.

Belinda:
I was in my 20s, I guess that fits, right? And I would be on the road Monday to Friday, get home and I would have this huge stack of mail waiting for me. Well, I got to the point where I would find any spare basket, table, drawer that I could put it on because I was like, “Oh my God, I just can’t deal.” I have to go see my dad. He was asking for me all week and I have wanted to see my friends and exercise maybe and do all those things.
And so then you can start to see the pattern that was forming, right? It was this disastrous, rinse and repeat. I would go back on the road Monday, I’d come back Friday and I would just have more mail. Well, pretty soon, so now I’m like 28, and my sister very innocuously asked me one day, “How’s everything going? I can tell you’re really working hard in your business and are you handling everything at home? I know that it’s a lot.” And she’s a freshmen now, back then I think she was in med school. But she was like, “I know I can’t really help, but how are you handling everything?” And it was in that moment that I had this, okay, I can’t stop lying to myself. This moment of like, what am I going to do?
And I was like, “You know what Melissa, let me get back from this trip, let me get back to you on the answer to that in terms of how things are really going.” And my dad was affected by the stroke. He wasn’t going to be any use in handling all of his finances. So I come home from my trip on Friday night and I do one of the scariest things and if anybody listening here has piles of bills and mail, you can guess where this is going. I pulled, Mindy is on the edge of her seat here. I pulled all of the bills and mail from all of the baskets, all of the drawers, all the counters, all the tables, whatever. And I put them all on my dining room table.
Now, all of a sudden, I feel like I’m being stared down by not one, not two but three huge stacks of bills and mail that were literally as tall as I was sitting at the table. So what happened next, it wasn’t that I was like, “Oh yeah, let me go tackle that.” I started to have a panic attack because that’s what you do when you’re stared down by three stacks of bills and mail. You’re like, “Holy crap, how did I get myself into this?” And so then I started to stand up and pace around, and my sister was right, it was a lot. I had eight bank accounts and four credit cards and two properties. I mean, you could have added a partridge in a pear tree, but it was a lot.
So then the self-talk starts. You know how sometimes it’s like our own mind is our worst enemy. So then the self-talk starts and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, how could I have gotten myself into this?” I was a star player at work, but what happens if they find out about keeping my… I’m in accounting, right? I’m at a big CPA firm. And I was like, “What are they going to do if they find out about this?” And then my heart started to beat really fast. And I was like, “Could my dad get kicked out of the nursing home if one of these bills is his bill for the nursing home? Or could he show up at a doctor and the doctor not help him because I haven’t paid the bill?” All of this spiral started to go.
And then at some point I was like, “Okay, I just have to stop.” And I just sat down and I took a deep breath and I actually called this, my come to Jesus moment, which is kind of funny because I’m Jewish. But it was this moment where I was like, “Okay, I have a choice here.” Either I can be the person that succeeds with numbers like I have been in other parts of my life, right? And I can be the person that can learn what I needed to learn, or I can just keep letting these bills pile up and then Lord knows what’s going to happen.
And so that was this moment that, now my company is called Own Your Money. And I think that, that was really the first moment where I was like, “I can either own my money or my money is going to own me.” Because that’s really what it felt like. And so then I asked for help. I literally phoned a friend and I called her up and I remember she was like, “Are you okay?” And I was like, “Yeah, it’s been a rough night.” And I just asked her to come over and help me because I had gotten to the point where it was so much that I couldn’t even sit down and tackle it. Sometimes when you just have a lot of people that are like, “Oh, divide it up and just start opening.” It was overwhelming to me and it was like, it had flipped this switch that early on, I was like, “Oh, I’m great at earning money, I love money.” To be like, “Oh my God, I can’t even deal.” I couldn’t write a check, I couldn’t do all that stuff.
And so then she was willing to come over that weekend and she would open the mail and she would show it to me. And if for any people here, I don’t know if you guys have ever been through this, that have had let mail pile up for yourself, you have to sort it so that you sort it by vendor because otherwise you don’t know if you’ve paid that bill before. So I would have three or four bills from each person. [crosstalk 00:10:05].

Scott:
Like here’s the sixth reminder that your payments due. Did I already pay that?

Belinda:
Exactly. Oh, this one’s red, I think this is the one that I have to handle first, right? So that’s what we do with main piles and then we’d look at it. We decided we had to pay. And then she came over both days that weekend because at some point I was like, “I can’t do anymore.” And then she came over to the next weekend and then we went from two days to just one day and it actually took me six months to sort through all of that because mail keeps coming just for the record. I know there’s all this craziness with the USPS but it does, it just keeps coming. Even when you decide I’m going to get through all of this backlog.
And I think the other thing is that I decided that I didn’t just want to bandaid it again because that’s what I had been doing ever since my dad had the stroke, it was just like, oh. Like kind of catch this catch can. And so I wanted to create a different money management system and I actually wanted to change my own mind about how I was going to look at the responsibility that I now had for my family. And so it took six months, but I remember I was sitting at dinner with my dad and my sister one day and I could look them in the eye again because I hadn’t realized the emotional impact, that that shame was really having on me from not looking at it and from being in all of that avoidance.
And so in six months I had worked out my money management, I worked on my mindset and I just had so much more relief and hope that I could do this. The good news is that although I had become quite the avoider, I was also quite the saver. So sometimes we’ll talk about like, “Were you maxing out your 401(k)?” Yeah. I was doing all those things because I was like, well, at least I’ll have the money and when I emotionally can pay it, it’ll be there, right? And part of it was that in some ways we had it, but for anyone who has parents who have gotten ill, you have a lot of more rules, social security needs a separate bank account and it was like, all of these things needed to be handled in a certain way and it just had gotten too overwhelming.
So good news though, that was 28. Then five years later by 33 I had actually become a self-made millionaire. And I honestly think that I wouldn’t have been there yet if I hadn’t have had that moment where I was like, “I can do this and no one is going to come in and save me.” I was single at the time and I think I was hoping that I was going to marry the prince charming and he was just going to handle the money. But at that point, I had just broken up with my 10 year boyfriend. I was like, “No, he’s not saving me. It’s on me.” And no offense to men who can handle the money, that’s awesome. But if you stop and look at it, women are actually really good at this, but it’s just that we don’t take it on as much ourselves or we think, “Oh, they’ll handle it.”
So things really started to change at 28 and then at 33. And then fortunately, that happened in time because then by 35 I had an early midlife crisis. So it’s like sometimes it happens at 45 or 50. I’m an overachiever as well as a financial geek about all this stuff. So I was 35 and I’m like, “What the heck am I going to do with my life?” And I had gotten in a job that I felt like I was checking my personality at the door and I know for many of your fire people who are like, “I don’t want to work in corporate in the same way that I did before.” That’s how I was feeling. It was like, I didn’t have to work theoretically because I purchased a property around that year of 28, maybe like six to 12 months before that epiphany moment. And I was getting rental income from that. So if I wanted to really scrape back, I didn’t have to work, but I knew that I wanted to work and I had an impact to make in the world. And so at 35 it all started to change.

Scott:
Well, can we just quickly at least get the general gist of how you personally got to become the self-made millionaire? What was your relationship with money personally? It sounds like you were maxing the 401(k), those types of things, but could you give us a quick overview of that?

Belinda:
Sure. I was maxing the 401(k). I lived at home for the first few years. So actually let’s back up. So when I was in high school, I was working. I had that alarm company job, I was a lifeguard, a pool director, I was a good saver back then. So that all started to help and I would invest that not significantly, but index funds and just let that grow. So that started early. And then when I was in college, I was also working. And I had, I know sometimes this is an element of the conversation, but I was able to not have student loans from college, which I know is also a big deal in this equation.
So I had, let’s see, how do I tell this fast? But my father was a college professor, so I could either go to his college or like a sister college where he was. So I made the decision to go to a sister college and it was Boston College, it was a great school, but part of that decision was how do I not burden myself with a hundred to $200,000 of loans from school? And so I was able to save without the corresponding debt that so many people end up having, right? And that’s why you really want to be proactive early on to make that decision and to really see, can I? That was part of my working in college was how do I go through this without coming out of it with a lot of credit card debt or other things like that? How do I at least work enough so that I can pay for the things I want to do while I’m at college?
So then I got an internship between junior and senior year, and then I went to work shortly thereafter in September, right out of college. And so my dad, he really wanted us to become independent and so pre-stroke, he was like, “You’re going to live here and you’re going to pay rent.” So that I could get used to paying rent. So now when I left there and then once he ended up having the stroke, then I was like, “Okay, well I’m managing the household and lots of other things, you’re my second job, we’re going to count that as the rent.” So I was just able to save a lot early on, right? That was part of it. And then I bought property in Boston. I bought a two family home. So, I had mentioned that I saved, so I had saved enough for it solid down payment. And then I bought a two family so that-

Scott:
You say two family, is that duplex? You mean like a [crosstalk 00:16:11].

Belinda:
Yeah. It was three floors. My unit was the first two floors and then I rented out the third floor.

Scott:
Got it. House hacked. Love it.

Belinda:
Yeah, totally. So way back. So this was in 2000, that’s what I was doing. Yeah. And then I was like, “Okay, well this is actually a three bedroom, I’m single, let me rent out a bedroom.” So then I had a friend rent out a bedroom. So a lot of these things were, I didn’t have to do it, but I was traveling a lot anyway. And I was like, “Let’s maximize the resources that I have.” And I think sometimes we don’t stop to look around and say, “What resources do I have that I could be maximizing in some way?”
And so for me, it was a bedroom in the apartment and not only was I renting out upstairs, but I also rented out one of the rooms in our apartment or my apartment. So then all of those things, I just kept tucking away. You know what I mean? I just kept saving. And then the value of the real estate started to go up during that five years as well. So those were the key components was my investments and I believed in investing, not just in the 401(k), I was maxing that out, but also creating an investment account with what I was saving that wasn’t necessarily retirement money.

Scott:
At the highest level. What would you say was your general savings rate during that period?

Belinda:
Very significant. So for the first few years when I was taking care of my dad, that was my personal life. So I didn’t spend a lot and if I did, I love adventure and I love travel. So every year I would take a big trip, but I would do hostels and I would backpack around places like China and Africa and Russia and crazy things like that and had a great time. So I didn’t feel like I was withholding from myself because I think that that’s also really important that when you’re a saver, you want to make sure that you’re not in this scarcity like, “Oh, I can’t spend.” It was just that I was choosing to spend on the things that I really valued and particularly the experiences that I really wanted.
And so, I don’t know it’d probably be like, for the first couple of years, maybe 70%. I mean, it was a lot, I wasn’t paying rent, I was living at home, I paid off a car. And then when I moved into the city because I wanted that experience in New York, but I got a rent controlled apartment, right? And so a lot of it is not just what can you do, but it’s what do you want to do? Right? And how does it really fuel the future? So it was significant, but then I tailored it back down probably to more like 20, 30% maybe.

Scott:
Okay, awesome. All right, so you get to this point and that makes perfect sense. It reminds me a lot of really what Craig Curelop is doing. If you’ve come across him or heard of his story, he’s the book on house hacking for bigger pockets here. Anyway, so he has a very similar, I think, approach and mindset to money that you demonstrated during that period. So you’ve moved to 33, 35, you’re a financial independent millionaire, self-made millionaire is that, right?

Belinda:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I didn’t think of it as this big deal because it comes and goes, no one’s there with the fanfare. Like, “Oh look, your net worth has now crossed a million dollars.” No, that doesn’t really happen in real life. Just so everybody knows, you’re just sitting there looking at your spreadsheet and you’re like, “Oh, look what I did.” And I think that that’s part of it and I would save from my job, right? But then it was also that I would have the net positive cashflow from the house and I would also save that. So I think that was also part of my quote savings rate at the time. But, yes. Okay. So we’re here at 33, 35, yeah?

Scott:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Belinda:
Do you have a question or do you want me to pick up the story from here?

Scott:
Yeah. Pick up the story, what changes? It sounds like that there’s a milestone or next component to your career that starts at this point.

Belinda:
Yeah, so it started part two, right? So part one was all about, it was in a corporate job and it’s so interesting because we think that we’re going to have such financial stability, right? When we’re in corporate. I was in two jobs while I was in corporate. One was with Arthur Anderson, which at the time was the premier accounting firm until Enron happened and then we all got laid off universally, right? So it wasn’t a personal thing, but was able to get a new role then as a corporate controller, actually, it was just called controller at the time. Between us, I didn’t like controller on a business card, which is pretty terrible if you’re ever dating by the way to hand a man a card that says controller, I don’t recommend it. So I elevated myself to corporate controller. And so then I did that.

Scott:
Comptroller, right? Isn’t it…

Belinda:
No one understands what that is. I didn’t even understand what that was. So I called myself a corporate controller instead and somehow it took off the edge and again, all along the way it was about owning my own value, right? So even when I left Arthur Anderson and I went to go work for it was L3 Communications at the time we made x-ray screening machines post 9/11. So it was a very big time to be starting there. And I had negotiated myself from 90 grand to 130 grand or something plus signing bonuses because I was like, “Hey, I’m not a victim to the situation, I can make the most of it.” So I had three, four different offers, I pinged them against each other and I was like, “Oh, this one has a signing bonus and this one has stock options.” And I just rolled them all up into the one that I wanted to go to.
And I think that that’s something for people to realize, especially early on, is that your income compounds on each other, right? So it’s like, if I hadn’t negotiated that at the time, it’s a lot harder to negotiate anything once you’re in a job than when you’re starting a job, right? So I negotiated that. I worked there for three and a half years and then post 9/11, we ramped up significantly but then a few years later, once we had staffed up all of the airports all around the world, then we started to restructure down. I took a nice package at that in 2006, it was. And then I backpacked around India because at that point I had still had that love of adventure. Then I went to India and I basically lived eat, pray, love. You guys remember that? Before it was a book and a movie.
And so I went backtracked around India, I went to Israel for a couple of weeks, I volunteered in Costa Rica for this underprivileged teen program there. By the way, I didn’t speak any Spanish. So I crashed course myself in Spanish for three weeks. And then I was sitting there in the outdoor classroom with the kids. And that was that early midlife crisis where I was like, “What do I want to do with my life?” I had already started looking for a job anyway, I could see the writing on the wall and it just got really miserable. So-

Scott:
I have something to jump in here with. So what year-ish do you think you achieve that millionaire status that were-

Belinda:
When I was 33, so 2004-ish.

Scott:
Okay. And so the next couple of years it sounds like your career is going even better and you’re just really padding that net worth pretty thoroughly. And that’s the point at which you have this moment it sounds like, where you begin to just think about what you want to do next. And before we hear about that, how much do you think that your financial position, that millionaire status plus plenty, I guess, influenced your ability to begin thinking like that or have that revelation? So that’s the-

Belinda:
That’s a really good question. I think that it did actually free me up. So I took off about a year and a half at that timeframe. And at first the overachiever in me thought, “Oh, I should just go right back and get a job.” Because that’s what we do. And then I took this step back and I was like, well, why have I been saving all this money, if not to give myself choices and options and decide what is it that I wanted to do. So it’s a great question to really have that ability to take a step back and say, “Well, do I want to volunteer? What do I want to be the next step?” It didn’t feel like I had to go in a certain direction. That was the prescribed way to go for a CPA, with a six figure job and that kind of a thing, right?
So I think it did give me a lot more options and a lot more spaciousness, right? Because I literally three weeks to the day from getting laid off, I was on the plane to India, which is not the easiest thing to arrange them because you have to get visas and shots and all this other stuff. But I had this urgency that I put on myself, right? I’m like, “Oh my God, I want to go and then I’m going to take this trip and then I’m going to come back and then I’m going to get a job.” So it wasn’t more than three months.
And then when I was away and I don’t know if you’ve ever been to India or anyone listening has ever been India, it’s life changing. You just really see how people live and what you really need and what you don’t need. I came home, I gave away a third of my stuff. I remember my accountant saw all of my donation receipts. And they’re like, “What have you been doing in this year?” Are you turning to a hippie or something? And I’m like, “No, I would see how much…”

Mindy:
Sorry.

Belinda:
This was my very, my male older, he was a dad figure to me and he’s like, “What’s going on?” And I was like, “I know it’s crazy but I don’t need all of this.” And I wasn’t a huge spender. So my dad was much more of a hoarder, like a retail therapy kind of guy. And after he had had the stroke and I lived through getting rid of all of that. And so for some of us who accumulate stuff, he was the type that if he had a bad day, he’d stop off on his way home and buy a tie. And we had hundreds of ties we had to get rid of. 436 ties, I’m not joking here, right?
And so when you have somebody in your family, when you have to live through the emotion of getting rid of so much stuff, it takes away a lot of the fun of buying stuff, because you’re like, “It’s just going to accumulate and I’m just going to have to deal with it.” And so then when I came back from India and I was seeing how simply some people lived, I actually wrote a book shortly thereafter called Self-Worth to Net Worth. And I told a bunch of stories in there. Like, one tour guide he invited us back to his “House” which was the size of a bathroom in the United States. He had bunk beds basically, where you can imagine a bathtub. He lived with somebody else in this tiny, tiny space, but he was one of the most joyful people I’ve ever met in my whole life.
So I just came home and I gave away a lot stuff. And I was like, “You know what? What do I want this next phase of my life to be? And how can I use what I’ve worked so hard to accumulate to help support me during this time?”

Scott:
I have a quick followup question on all of that.

Belinda:
Sure.

Scott:
That money situation with the surplus that you created for yourself and the optionality to allow you to think like this, how could someone who’s listening and who says, “I’m doing some of the same things and I think I’m going to be in a similarly strong position relatively early in life. How do I accelerate that moment by a few years?” Do you have any ways to answer that question?

Belinda:
Sure. You reach this place of financial freedom, right? When your passive income or the money coming in, right? Exceeds the money that you need to spend. Well, if you want to accelerate it, you reduce the amount of spending, right? Or you offset the expenses. So that’s when I was like, “Okay, we’re going to have a roommate.” I even considered getting a second roommate or starting to get creative in that timeframe because I was like, “Well, if I just spend less, my money will go further.” Right?
And I was still on unemployment and I mean I shut it off when I was going on all these trips. But essentially I had unemployment running for a little while, I got in a severance package and I think that it’s really looking at how do I tame in my spending in a way that feels good and appropriate for myself, right? I wasn’t eating ramen noodles every night. But at the same time, when Christmas came, when the holidays came that year, I didn’t go out and spend maybe I normally would’ve spent, right? I just got creative instead. And maybe some people call this hokey. It was a great money saving a thousand bucks.

Scott:
Hippie, is the word.

Belinda:
Hippie, right? There you go. There’s your word. But that I took the pictures from all of these travels that I had just gone on. I took some of the best pictures a little back in the day when we used cameras. It’s so funny to be having this conversation. It wasn’t that long ago guys. But what was it? Like 14 years ago? But we actually used real cameras, not just our phone. So I took some really good pictures. And so I made note cards, right? And so I designed 10 different note cards and I would do packages of note cards for people. And then that way it felt like they got to experience some of what I got to see when I was traveling and I wasn’t spending hundreds or a thousand dollars on gifts. I was getting creative instead and I was doing more thoughtful experiences together.
And so, another key thing is that you let go of the, I need to keep up with the Joneses, I need to keep up with somebody else and really look at your own things that really matter to you and really look at how can I make my money go further and how can I maybe leverage my resources in a way that I haven’t done before.

Scott:
Love it, thank you.

Belinda:
And the shared economy really plays into that. I think when people will do Uber to better use their car, for instance, right? Or rent out a room with an Airbnb or something like that. So, yeah.

Scott:
All right. So next question. What did you decide to do after you had your, I keep using this, the hippie moment, whatever. What was the next thing there for you [inaudible 00:30:04].

Belinda:
Okay. Let’s see. I don’t think I’ve ever done this on a podcast. It’s kind of fun. Okay. So then now I did Costa Rica, I ended up actually buying real estate in Costa Rica while I was there. I told you, I love real estate. And so I bought a mountain in Costa Rica, and then I bought a little spot on the beach and got that thing going there. And then I came back and I actually almost went into nonprofits because I have a real, I want to say generous side, I’m very heart-centered. And so I was like, “How can I help the world with my accounting background?”
So then I almost totally did a flip and started to look into nonprofits. And then what I started to get to, it was actually just the same corporate job. It just was paying less and it was in a different environment with a few more struggles. And I was like, “Okay, I don’t think this is really going to achieve what I want.” And I was networking with everybody. If you guys can ever remember the book, Mindy you have kids. I don’t know, Scott you have kids? I don’t remember. Not yet.

Scott:
Nope, no kids.

Belinda:
But the book called Are You My Mother? That’s how I felt.

Scott:
Oh, yeah.

Belinda:
Everybody that I would go and meet with, I feel like, “Are you my mother? Could I do what you do?” And I was just curious, I was just open to whatever it was going to be. Because at this point now we’re about nine months in and I let go of going back and getting a job right away because I was like, “I don’t need to do that.” I’ve set myself up so that I can make it work with the rental income, with the other room I was renting, with a bit of unemployment that was left. And then actually I did get a job to supplement it because I didn’t want to put myself into debt and feel like I was squashing all the hard work that I had just been doing. So I actually got a job at the SEC as a forensic accountant, which sounds a lot more glamorous, it sounds like CSI, CPA or something, but it wasn’t all that exciting. It was like piles of papers of work papers that I had to sort through and find the fraud, which was kind of cool. But not-

Mindy:
You already had that experience, not the fraud part, but the sorting through the big piles.

Belinda:
Sorting through papers. See, it came in handy because I didn’t have a panic attack when they put it in front of me.

Mindy:
Because it’s not yours.

Belinda:
Because it wasn’t.

Mindy:
It’s not your problem.

Belinda:
Well, I wasn’t responsible for it in the same kind of way. So, I did get a job along the way to give myself a little bit more time to figure it out. And I made sure that that job let me do this networking, this informational interviewing that I was doing. And then I started to meet with some financial advisors and they were like, “Oh, maybe you can do what we do.” Right? “You’re a woman and you’re very personable and you get math and numbers and you like meeting people.” But then I was like, “Okay, let me think about this.” So then I started to go and talk to my friends and my family and my network and I was like, “Hey, what if I became a financial advisor?” And it had about the same effect as an auditor when I used to tell people I was an auditor. It landed with that thud, right? Except that they would almost grip their purses and be like, “Oh God.”

Scott:
Do you need life insurance? Do you open with something like that?

Belinda:
I think that’s what they thought was going to come out of my mouth next, right? So they were like, “No, no, we’re good. Thank you.” You know? And I was like, “Okay, hold on. I haven’t taken this job yet I just want to understand what are your challenges with money?” And when I started to talk to them more, I found myself connecting more with the emotional challenges that they were having, right? With why weren’t they able to save and what was going on? I think in a former life, I must’ve been a therapist or something because I’m such a good listener and I’m like a confessional for people.
So then that’s what I found much more interesting. So not like a doctor, like an advisor that gives a prescription and asset allocation and sends you on your way, I wanted to be more of the financial nurse or even the financial therapist that would help you figure out what’s really going on with you and money and why is it that you’re really struggling as much as you are with saving, given the income that you’re making.
So I turned down the financial advising jobs and then shortly thereafter I was sitting in a workshop, one of these three days, get your millionaire mind on kind of thing and everyone’s standing up and hooting and hollering. And I’m like, “This is interesting.” And it’s so odd because at one point I looked back at my notes from my attending this first event and I wrote down the strangest things. I wrote down how they did exercises, the times they took breaks, it was almost like a part of me thought that maybe I could lead a workshop, not quite as hippie or hokey as that one maybe was, but that maybe there was going to be something to this. And I remember I had told my friend, I turned down the financial advising jobs, but it’s almost like a financial coach that I could see myself being.
And so then it’s Sunday of this event and they’re handing out these half an hour sessions with a success coach. And it was in that moment, I was like, “Boom, that’s it. I can be a financial coach. There’s something to this.” And so I started taking my business cards, which when you’re in transition, your business card just has your name and your email and your phone. And I started writing on it, personal financial trainer, a trainer for you and your money or a personal financial coach. And I was like, one hour free, call me. I was literally scribbling like mad while they’re handing out these cards at this workshop. And I was like, this is what I can do. I can help people. Because I was always that big sister or that friend that you come to when you’re having trouble with money or you’re trying to sort it out.
So I was like, “Maybe I can even get paid for this, that would be amazing.” And that was the moment when in May 2007. So it was like a year and four months later after I got laid off and I was like, “This is what I think I’m going to do. Could I make it work?” And I’m a total student. Then I was invited to do a branding workshop and it was in that workshop. It was 12 of us. And we had to come up with our mission. If we were to do our own company, what would it be? I remember standing up and I declared this at the time and I had no idea what was going to come from this now or 13 years later. And it was to inspire ownership and action for financial success to open doors and create a truly rich life for you and for me and for the world. And that was where it all began. And then a few months later, Own Your Money was born at 2:00 a.m. when I called GoDaddy and came up with the name.
That was really where I was like, “I don’t need corporate, F that job.” I really wanted to go and forge my own path. Keep in mind, this was 2007 and so my friends and family were very nervous and very skeptical about this working but I can tell you that when everything started crashing in 2008, I became very popular. So I was then on the five o’clock news for NBC locally because I at least could help people handle the financial stress and make a plan for what they needed to do with their money.

Mindy:
That was going to be the thing that I said was, “Hey, I remember 2007, I remember 2008 that came right after 2007. How did this work out?” I mean, I know, spoiler, it worked out great. I know it worked out great, but so people then came to you wanting help with their finances. That’s interesting because I would think that if I’m having financial trouble, I wouldn’t go and spend money trying to figure out my finances. I guess, how do you reconcile that?

Belinda:
Oh, that was absolutely a challenge. It still is, right?

Mindy:
Because you’re talking about asking for money and this emotional thing and the first thing when you said that, I thought, there’s a lot of women in particular, but entrepreneurs in general have a hard time asking for the money that they are due. I sent you an invoice and you didn’t pay it, I can send you another invoice and you don’t pay it again. How do I get the money that you owe me? So…

Belinda:
Yeah. Absolutely is the answer, right? But it’s a great question. There’s two elements of that. So the first one is, how do you work people through paying something or investing in a course or a membership or whatever, right? To fix the problem when they already feel broke. And I actually figured out that I didn’t have to market to broke people because I started out doing that. I was like, “Oh, people don’t have money. Let me go help them get money.” But they didn’t even feel like they had enough money to invest with me. So then I figured out, well, there are all these people that are actually making good money. So on the surface they could be saving something, right? But they’re not and so why is that? So then when I can start to have them see how much money they were really leaving on the table and the impact that that was having to them right now and for the next 10, 20, 30 years, if they didn’t do something about it right now, then they started to open their ears and listen more.
Then second piece though that you touched on and that first piece applies, whether you’re in a corporate job, a professional, stay at home and handling the finances, that’s still a hurdle that I have to talk people through is to really see the ROI on making an investment like this. But what would happen is that I started immediately just coaching anybody and everybody that wanted my advice so that I could get some good stories and be like, “Oh, look, I helped this person save an extra $800 a month. I helped this person save an extra 500 a month, I helped this person save a thousand dollars a month.” Because that’s the amazingness, right? If you can figure out what’s leaking in somebody’s budget, right? In where they’re spending. Sometimes you guys talk about unconscious spending, right? There’s a lot of unconscious spending.
So I had created a worksheet that essentially would highlight the unconscious spending for people and they’re like, “Ooh, that’s what’s going on.” And so then once they could start to see, oh, well maybe you can help me find 500 to a thousand dollars because that’s pretty much what we would end up doing on a regular basis. And I think I actually still have that worksheet. I’ll get you guys the link for that to include. Then they were like, “Oh, I can see how it pays for itself.”
Now the other piece though that you touched on is a whole nother ball wax or whatever, right? Around, why do we as entrepreneurs have such a challenge in asking for money particularly money that’s due to us, right? Because in the example that you just gave Mindy, you as the entrepreneur, you did the work and you provided an invoice and they’re the ones that are choosing not to pay. And so a lot of really learning how to own your money and to become unapologetic around money in your business is taking the emotion out of it. So it’s coming to terms with the emotion, right? Recognizing that mindset piece for yourself, but then recognizing that, that doesn’t have to rule the show.
And I think that when it does, you take things so personally, and you don’t make that followup call, you start to self-sabotage yourself, you don’t call for the invoice that’s due and instead I just really say, hey, you did the work, right? So you just call it very matter of factly, or better strategy, take money upfront. Have their credit card, set up a payment structure and be like, “Okay, I’ll run X dollars at the beginning, I’ll run Y dollars when I deliver it. And you just have to get to that point where you don’t have to tie somebody else’s delay on your own value because they’re very distinct.
You have no idea what’s going on for that other person in their personal life, in their business that’s having them ignore your invoice. It could just be that they’re away, they’re not paying attention, maybe they’re avoiding money like I used to do when I was 28. I have a lot of compassion right now. I’m such a nonjudgmental person about people’s money stuff because I have had some pretty tough stories, some tough shame and guilt that I’ve lived with. And to get to that point where you consciously choose the people that you work with and that you set up payment structures that will work for you, right? And that you don’t have to feel bad for the work that you did, but that you actually set up a good structure to make sure that you’re getting paid for the value of your services.
I don’t say paid what you’re worth, because I feel like you’re worth so much more than the $200, $500, a thousand dollars someone’s paying you or more, $10,000 even they’re paying you, but that it’s your charging for the value of the services that you’re delivering, period. You don’t get to take that personally.

Scott:
When you started this business in 2007, 2008, were you still living in the house hack, the apartment where you’re renting out the rooms. Okay. So you’re keeping your expenses very low, you had this sizeable position. What was it like? How would you describe the process of your business gaining traction over that year? How many years, or how many months did it take? Would you say to get that going?

Belinda:
Sure. I incorporated in August. I had a lot of trouble finding a name because when you find a name, you compete with everybody around the world. So I was like, “Oh, this company in Australia has the name I really wanted.” I had pages and pages of notes. One day just incorporated with my name, which at the time, I’ll spell this out for you so you get it right here. It was Belinda Fuchs, F-U-C-H-S. I do not suggest ever starting a company with that name because it’s very challenging for lots of obvious reasons, right?

Scott:
Oh, man.

Belinda:
Oh, man. Right? And I was like, “I’m not going to let anything get in my way.” So I started it and-

Scott:
Invoicing was an issue. Sorry.

Belinda:
Exactly, right? I mean, Scott, I’ve been teased since fourth grade, so it bounces off now. And fortunately I got married, so now it’s Belinda Rosenblum, right? But then a month later I came up with this idea of Own Your Money, literally at 2:00 in the morning I called GoDaddy and I was like, “I want this domain.” And I back ordered it and then it took three or four days and I checked and I was like, “Gosh, I really want it, I really want it. Oh, no. It was sold, crap.” And so I go and I check and then it was sold to me. So they hadn’t ever notified me, but I did actually get the domain that I really wanted.
And so then in December I launched my first workshop and I had all of these grand intentions. So if you have some newer entrepreneurs that are like, “Oh, I’m just going to be a success right from the beginning. It’s not going to take me three years to make money, I’m going to do a two day workshop.” Well, I decided to do a two day workshop right out of the gate and this was before coaching and now business coaching is all the rage. It wasn’t really happening back in 2007. And I remember renting a space at the John Hancock center in Boston for 120 people. I had big plans for my first workshop. Well, about every three weeks I would have to go back to this place and shrink the size of the room that I would get, because it would be like three weeks closer to the date and I would have two people registered, four people registered, right?
So it took a little while to get off the ground. That first two day workshop had 12 people in it. Yay! But they were 12 people who learned a lot I can tell you. But the other thing is that I was willing to make offers to them and sometimes it’s not the size of your audience per se, it’s really the value that you’re delivering. So I poured so much into them. They learned a lot there. And then I was like, okay. So I made an offer of private coaching with me. And then I made an offer of a lower cost ongoing membership with me. So those I’d say nine of the 12 people, the other three were my best friend and her husband, almost everybody bought something. I don’t think they felt bad. I think they were actually really excited to get their money together.
So that’s really what started to fuel things, but it was a little rough going in 2008. I think we made 60 grand. And then so we did start to make money amidst the economy crashing. And then 2009 we were now making 155 grand, but this is a really important point for entrepreneurs, especially starting up. I focused on revenue. Everyone was like, “Just go make money, just go make sales.” And so I had hired a bunch of team and I had a VA and now you can have a website for so much cheaper and you can make updates to the website yourself.
Back then again, dating myself a little bit. But back in 2007, I don’t even think there was a WordPress. It was like in PHP and I had to have somebody go in and make updates. And I was doing a lot of my own workshops and a lot of speaking and a lot of things that I wanted my website updated. I was doing a lot of press. Every week I would have another in Yahoo Finance this week and Saturday evening quotes. So I was like, oh all that stuff has to be on my website just to help me with credibility, but it cost me a ton of money. So I grossed $155,000 in my second full year of business. I profited any guesses?

Mindy:
$10.

Scott:
$7. Oh.

Belinda:
$3,000.

Mindy:
Whoa!

Belinda:
That’s a ton of work to do coming from a six figure job to net three, right? And I wasn’t mixing personal finance. I absolutely figured out in year one, separate business and personal finance, I had a business bank account that was all business expenses. And I mean, maybe I put through my phone bill, pretty much that was all business. So I was like, something has to change. I can’t just follow these business gurus that are like, “Just focus on making more money.” Right? And then I was like, “Okay, wait a second, time out here.” I know what it’s like to manage my personal finances from the conversation around hacking and taking care of that. I need to put that attention to my business finances now too and my business expenses.
So then I was like, okay, time out, what can I change? Or how do I change my business model? So I significantly reduced my assistant because my assistant was making a lot more than I was, and that wasn’t going to have that for a second year in a row. So I significantly reduced my expenses, I batched a lot more things, I streamlined a lot more things and I hired another coach to work under me in my business. So that then all of a sudden I can make money on her time, not just expecting myself to make money on my own time with clients. And so that was great. So then the next year we grossed $255,000 and we profited 96, right? So almost a hundred thousand dollars more of profit, with that a hundred thousand dollars more of income because I totally reshaped the business model to make it work much more successfully. Does that help for the first three years of business?

Scott:
That’s awesome. So it sounds like you went from controller to a certain extent and salesperson to CFO that year and reinventing the business model and building those things out. So that’s fascinating around that and the revenue versus expenses and income and those types of things in the early years. So what happens in the years following that going from three to 96, do you continue to grow from there on out generally?

Belinda:
Generally, yes. Part of it too, is really making sure that the business you’re creating is aligning with the life that you want. Because I think that, especially in the first few years when I was single, I was willing to do all the things. I would be on the news at 5:40 in the morning because they asked. So I was like, “Okay.” And they don’t necessarily give you a lot of warning. The day it was on the five o’clock news, they called me at two o’clock that afternoon. And they’re like, “We’ll be over.” I was like, “Okay.” And so I was doing all the things and then I think there came a point where I was like, “Okay, wait a second. We’re doing well enough in the business. I really want to make sure that I’m having the life that I want.” Right? Because then it wasn’t just about the business.
And then I got married in March of 2011, which was a big deal. It was on my bucket list, so to speak that I really wanted to make happen. And then I really want a family. And so now fast forward now I’m 39 and my biological clock was ticking. Scott you can’t necessarily appreciate this part, but you have to go with me here and, Mindy is laughing at me. And I was like-

Mindy:
I appreciate that part.

Belinda:
You’re going to appreciate that part. And I was like, okay, so now the business is rolling. Right? But I think I had this fear of my business was so centric on me, I was doing a lot of speaking, I was traveling the country doing speaking, I actually had a TV show in the Boston area, I had a radio show and it was intense. And then there’s a part of me that was like, “Okay, wait a second. Can I really keep this up and have the family that I want?”
And I had that moment back when I had left my job, that I was like, “What am I accumulating all this money for if not to live the life I want?” That was the moment I had now to say, “Okay, wait, time out. If I have to, I have to rework this job because we’re actually having trouble getting pregnant and I was like, “Okay, I think that I’m just too stressed out.” I think that I can’t envision how I could do the business the way the business was going and to be able to maintain a family and a baby and all the things.
And big picture, the family was more important to me no matter how much I cared about the work I was doing and the business I had created, and now we were in multi-six figures. And so then I took a step back in 2012, hired a business coach finally. And I was like, “Okay, I need a business that will sustain me through a family and allow me to work less.” And so I started creating products and programs in 2012, right? So that it wasn’t so much like time for dollars as a coaching programs and speaking and stuff. So I laid out, these are the three programs that I want to have that I want to sell. And so in February I launched a five week program, then I delivered in March. Then I launched another one in April and I published the book in June, then I had my gallbladder out in August, but you don’t really care about that. Then in September you have health and life happening in between. Then September I created another, the third of those five week programs that I wanted.
Now, keep in mind. I didn’t have a lot of people in these programs, but that didn’t matter. What I was committed to was creating a product that I could sell and start to leverage my time more, right? So that’s why I did all this.

Mindy:
You do the thing once and you record it or you write it down or whatever, and then you sell that thing multiple times?

Belinda:
Totally.

Mindy:
Okay.

Belinda:
Full disclosure here, I believed way back before it was popular like it is now and the monetize before you make it. I had a page where you could buy, I had an outline on the page, that was all I had when these people signed up. So for everyone that’s like, “Oh, I don’t have all the course mapped out and I don’t have everything prerecorded.” Don’t worry about it. What’s most important is that you have a transformation that you want to create for people and that’s what I had. I had a decision. I was like, “Okay. So I did one on making money easy, making money flow and it wasn’t making money grow, but I almost call that.

Mindy:
Now this gives me anxiety to have the deadline where everybody is waiting for your thing and then now you have to go and get it, I would want to do it before then. So how long did it take you?

Belinda:
Well, you could, but the other one was making money joyful actually, because I decided that people needed to find more fun in their money, right? They needed to let go of that avoidance. And so that’s what I created. Yeah.

Scott:
Here’s why that approach is so smart by the way, for people listening, right? So you put up a page and you don’t even have the product or the five week course built at all, right?

Belinda:
Correct.

Scott:
So one of two things is probably going to happen, right? One is, nobody’s going to buy it at all, right?

Belinda:
And then I don’t need to create it.

Scott:
Which means you don’t have to actually spend the time building the product. The second is that a lot of people are going to buy it and you’d be like, “Oh crap. I have lots of people buying this.” Now, you know that, yes, now I’m going to work a hundred hours a week for the next five weeks to actually deliver this product bit by bit to them all and make it really good and actually deliver on the value prop I promised, right? And work with that. And look, if you don’t, you refund some of the users, but you know that the next time you market your product, you’re going to have a lot of interest because value prop works, right?
So it’s just a much lower risk way of scaling or launching a business then in making that investment upfront and then seeing if it will work at the end. It’s just a dramatically better risk profile. So that’s something that we like to encourage here. We like to say, hey, we’ll, take some users and ask, “Would you like this product?” Great. Then we build the product.

Belinda:
Right. And even say-

Scott:
And that gets everybody. Yeah.

Belinda:
Right. You can even soft ball it out there. Like, “Hey, I’m thinking about creating this. Is this something you’d be interested in?” Right? And so I did a big survey to figure out what did people really want and what did they think their challenge was? And what came up across the board was that they felt like they needed some help making more money. And they all had a different theme. And I only had 20 people in each one. It’s not like they had hundreds of people, but honestly it didn’t matter. And this was back in the day where there was no Zoom, there was no video even, we just did it on teleseminars if you can remember that, right? So it was just beyond a phone line or just audio.
And at the time I thought that I was going to re-record everything, because I was like, “Okay, this is just for me to outline it.” I work well under deadline. Many people probably do, right? You get this stuff done when you know you’re going to be showing up for a class for 20 people. So I had the outline and I would just flush it out every week and I would teach it live on this audio. And then I thought that once I was done, I was going to make it more formal, right? I was going to make it prettier and maybe record videos and whatever but the reality was that I had 20 people first one, 20 people second one and then I had 65 by the third one. Because now I figured out the marketing element, I figured out what did people really want and I figured out affiliate marketing. So I figured out, how do I have other people start to promote what I’m doing? Okay?
So then that last one launched in September. I had a lot of momentum from that a hundred people and then I launched a six month group program on the backend in November. So I would start to create some recurring income for myself. I’m a big fan of how do you create consistent income in your business? And then in December, no joke here, at Tony Robbins Date With Destiny, I find out that I’m pregnant. I take a pregnancy test and lo and behold, my destiny is, I’m going to be a mom. And that was December of that year of 2012. So 2013 I had my first baby. So then, I was like, “Oh, I don’t have time to go pretty these programs up, I’m just going to package them up and sell them.” So that’s what I started doing.
So then ’13 I had a baby, ’14 I got pregnant again, ’15, I had a baby. And for that three years my primary income was doing affiliate collaborations, selling these programs because the big thing for me was just having a product that I know worked, right? That created good stories. So I had people who went through them. That’s the other reason why I love doing this beta or pilot or monetize before you make it, is that you get real people that have done the program that can give you stories of their results. So then you can feel more confident about it. And then more people buying can feel more confident about it too. And if you don’t get enough stories that you do it again.
And I’ll often encourage my students to sell it at half price the first time with the understanding that they’re going to be giving you feedback along the way, that they’re really going to do their best to show up live so that it’s the best experience and to take action. I mean, that really makes a difference. And then I did personal finance for basically the first 12 years of my business was selling these programs, was done having kids by 2015. Then I launched a membership in 2016 and then really worked that membership for a while. And I was like, people want to make money. Great. I can help you there.
But then 2019, and I don’t know if anyone has ever had this challenge. I got a little bored with telling people the same thing I’ve been telling them for 12 years and there comes a point where it’s like, “Okay, make more money.” And they’re like, “Well, I’m in a job. What do you want me to do?” Okay. I guess you can get a promotion, you can get a raise, you can leave your job. I was running out of options, but with my entrepreneur clients, boom, there was so much that I could do. I think that for entrepreneurs, even if you’re doing a side hustle, you have an unlimited amount of money that you can make, you get to decide how much money you make. Yes. You have to ask for it. As we talked about it, it doesn’t magically get deposited in your account anymore, but you just have a lot more possibilities.
So in January 2019, I was sitting in a more of a business coaching workshop and people were talking all about their challenges with their business money and making consistent money. And that was the moment that I had the epiphany there, that I was like, it was physically paining me to sit in that room and hear their struggles and their fears and how they were holding themselves back. So then in January 2019, I decided to keep the personal finance arm, but really pivot and grow the business finance arm. And so that’s really more of what we’ve now taken to over the last few years.

Scott:
Awesome.

Belinda:
[crosstalk 00:59:11]. I guess, year and a half. It feels like years. So now it’s about growing a strategic profitable business. So people can work less, profit more and really take home real money consistently because I think that a lot of entrepreneurs are in a lot of feast and famine and they never learn how to make consistent money and how to pay themselves consistently. So that’s what we do now.

Scott:
There’s something powerful to me about the concept of, hey, I have a good job, I get control of my money, I spend relatively frugally, I increase my savings rate, I build a stable financial position over time to that million error range that lean fi, the cool kids call it now. And then you’ve got entrepreneurship as that next step there to go after. And the answer is, how do I increase my income at a job? Well, once you get to certain points, that’s kind of it, right? You know you’re stepping stones and how that’s going to look. And so it inevitably has to be entrepreneurship if you really want to scale that income.
My question and it parallels an earlier question I asked before is, I think with entrepreneurship different people are comfortable taking that leap in different positions. You are comfortable with that after being a millionaire plus up, right? Some people are comfortable with doing that with basically nothing, we’re going at it even with bad debt or different situations. How do your clients think about taking the leap away from a job and into entrepreneurship and how does their personal financial position impact their comfort level with making that leap?

Belinda:
So before I have people make that leap, I want them, this is why we haven’t ditched the personal finance arm because we all have bank accounts, right? We all still need to be responsible and own our money around our personal finances too. And so the first step is actually looking at personal finances to figure out, okay, what do you need to be earning every month? Right? And how do you either start to sock away a cushion? Or how do you maybe start to tailor down the income from your job while you’re ramping up your business? I’m not necessarily the burn all the ships, I don’t know whatever the phrase is, I’m forgetting right now. But it’s like that when you’re heading out, it doesn’t mean that you have to abandon everything that’s worked before, right? It’s like, hey, if you’re in a job, start to figure out what could I do? Put it out there.
Hey, if I were to do this, would you buy it? Right? And to start to think of it as a side hustle, and then you start to think about, “Okay, how could I make this side hustle more permanent for myself and really think about what would I need to earn? So I help people to reverse engineer the revenue that they need to be making in their business based on what they want to be able to take home personally, right? Profit and revenue, they don’t have to be happy accidents. You can actually be more strategic about the money that you want to be making so that you can pay yourself on a regular basis.
So I think that part of that is understanding your own personal finances, understanding the elements that you could do without if you wanted to for some short period of time, while you’re growing your business, right? So that then you can say, “Okay, well, right now I live on $3,500 a month. But if I decide to do this business, I think I could do with 3000. I’ll just not eat out as much. Or, I won’t buy coffee, I’ll just be home. So I’ll make coffee for myself.” And you just start to look at it and say, “What do I want to take home?”
And then you literally just divide that by one minus 0.7, right? If you have a 30% tax rate or 0.25 depending on how much you’re making this for round numbers. So let’s say you want to take home $3,000. You divide it by 0.75. And you’re like, “Okay, I need my business to net, so profit, $4,000 minimum.” Then you keep going and you say, “Okay, well, I’m going to have some business expenses, got to add those on, I probably need a coach because Lord knows it’s a lot harder than it looks. There’s just stuff you have to learn. And there’s no shame in learning. I think sometimes we think, “Oh gosh, I have to buy a course. Can I do it myself?” You could do it yourself. I am a fan of shortening your learning curve and just getting help to do it. With the personal finance side, with the business side, absolutely.
We’ve made money a lot faster because I figured out, “Okay, if I hire a coach, I’ll get there a lot faster, I’ll charge more.” Sometimes it’s about having people who believe in you before you can believe in you, right? And to reflect back, “Hey, wait a second, you’re really good at this. Go charge more for this.” And by week two, almost everybody raises their rates because it’s called own your value, right? And it’s like, wait a second, why are you charging what you’re charging? Look at the transformation you’re creating.
So then once you figure out, okay, I want to have maybe $2,000 for my business expenses. And it’s like, “Okay. So how do I make $6,000?” If that’s going to be my minimum goal and you just start to reverse engineer, how can I make that? Could I do one thing at $6,000, could I do two things at $3,000 every month, could I do six things at $1,000? And just to take away the mystery of it and just say, “It’s math.” What do I want to sell? Right? What could I sell? If someone’s paying me $3,000, what are all the things that I could do for them? Could I talk to them every week? I think of it in different levels, there’s DIY, where the person is doing it and you’re just teaching them how to do it. There’s do it with them and then there’s do it for them, right?
So there’s so many different opportunities of how people can make money, actually have a freebie we just created called five simple ways to create consistent income. Because I think that that element is a mistake that a lot of people make, they start the business because they’re passionate about it and they don’t actually think through how could I make money? I’m not talking about a 42 page business plan, I’m talking about a very straightforward, how am I going to make money in this business question.

Mindy:
It sounds like that business finance is a lot like personal finance. And I love that you recommend starting while you still have a job. I think that a lot of people are like, “I hate my job so much, I’m going to quit and start my own company.” And yes, you might hate your job. We’ve all been in there and I hate my job so much I want to quit instantly. But when you take that away, there’s your safety net that’s helping you stay afloat while you start your business. Because I know that I have been corrected several times, 95% of all small businesses fail in the first two years. It’s a lot though. Several people have corrected me, that’s not the actual quote, but there’s a lot of small businesses that fail in the first year. Some of it is honestly just a really stupid idea that nobody’s ever going to buy. And I hate to say that but-

Belinda:
Right, there’s that.

Mindy:
…that’s not wrong. But others are just, you started wrong, you didn’t start it correctly. So make mistakes while you still have money coming in as opposed to all your eggs are in one basket and then you drop the basket.

Belinda:
Right. I totally agree with that. And the other thing that people don’t realize is that you bring a lot of desperation to the offers that you’re making when you absolutely need those dollars to eat, right? So, I mentioned along the way that I got that job at the SEC, I probably could have started to pull down my savings, but I wanted to actually fund the thing I was going to go and do, right? And fund my personal expenses, so I didn’t have to put so much pressure on the business to make money right away. And I think that that’s really important.
And yeah, a few stats that I think are interesting to your point. So 60% of businesses are breakeven, or lose money, only 40% are actually profitable. So all of those are unintentional nonprofits. And it’s up to you to figure out how can I actually make money? Because if you look at why businesses fail, 82% of businesses fail because of cashflow problems, right? It’s because they’re not understanding the money side of their business. So they’re not really understanding how can I make this business sustainable.
So I totally agree that it makes sense to really take a step back and look at how can I make the money in this business and how can I maybe transition so that I’m still making some job money, but I’m starting to ramp up? And I’ve actually heard a stat even like, if you can make 30% of what you need when you’re only working part time, if you go and you work full-time, you should be able to ramp up. But I absolutely think that you should have a cushion going into doing that of three to six months of your expenses. I know we talk about that. Most people don’t do it, but if you’re going to go start your own business, I absolutely would like to see you have some cushion there.

Mindy:
Yes. I could not agree more.

Belinda:
Amen.

Mindy:
Okay. This has been super, super helpful. If you’re thinking about starting a business, this is going to really help people get on the path to that entrepreneurship. I think that you’ve given our listeners a lot of things to talk about. Is there anything else you want to add before we move on to our financial scan?

Belinda:
Thank you all for having me on first off. But I feel like there’s this element of, I don’t want people to wait, right? I don’t want you to wait to start the business and like, “Oh, when I have more saved, when I this, when I that, there’s no good time necessarily. If you have an idea and you’re passionate about it, start to put it out there, right? And start to see, what could I do to make this work in a way that people could start to pay me, in a way that I could start to make money from it. And when I talk about those five ways, it’s things like, how can you restructure how you’re making money? How can you re-market to your network? How do you repackage? How do you resell? How do you repurpose? And really look at your expertise as a valuable and as something that people would pay for.
And I think that sometimes because we enjoy it or because we’re good at it, we discount the value that it’s providing. And I don’t want our listeners today to be doing that. I want you to really get that, hey if people can get a transformation from what you know, don’t be selfish and do them a disservice by holding it back. Instead, I really want to see you put it out there.

Mindy:
That’s brilliant because, yeah, I’m thinking to my own self, “Oh, I already know this. Why would I charge somebody to learn this too?” Well, because they don’t know it. Okay. That’s wonderful.

Belinda:
And you can teach it to them a lot faster than they can… People don’t have to work with us. They can try and figure it out on their own, but it may take them three to five to seven years to do it, or it can take six weeks. It’s that kind of a thing. And so I think that it’s like, don’t trip over pennies on your way to dollars. If you don’t know something, have a growth mindset, be curious about it and go learn it. Instead of feeling bad or ashamed that you don’t know. Just say, “I don’t know it yet.” And go find somebody else who’s already done it that can teach it to you.

Mindy:
Yeah. You don’t need to graduate from the school of hard knocks.

Belinda:
No. Many people do. This is a whole different podcast probably, but so many people have the belief of it has to be hard, right? Making money is hard. And it’s a tricky one. I grew up with that too. I watched my dad have four jobs and it’s not something though that you have to carry through. You can actually find a way to make it easier to make money for yourself.

Mindy:
That’s fantastic. Okay. Well then let’s move on to our financial scan. We have added a new segment to the show recently called the financial scan. We want to know what you are investing in, where are you planting your money so that it grows for retirement. There’s no one right answer, but we all know that it will take forever to become a millionaire based solely on your W-2 job. So to improve our chances of success, we invest in stocks and bonds and real estate and other opportunities. Where are you planting your money Belinda?

Belinda:
So this is interesting. I looked at my net worth statement and I did percentages. I don’t really do percentages all that much. And I mean, I do with my advisor, but it was interesting to do this analysis. So there’s two ways I looked at it and just have people take a step back at their own stuff. I looked at it from the net worth statement, right? So you look at total assets, less liabilities and when I looked at the total assets piece, we have a significant portion of real estate, not so shocking, right? Because we have the two family house, we have our primary residence, we have the mountains and the beach in Costa Rica, and so it was like 72% of our assets are in real estate. In terms of asset value, which is significant.
And the thing though is that with the remaining cash that we have, it’s then I am more aggressive with that cash in terms of putting it into stocks, because I view real estate as more stable. You’re going to imagine that, right? So if I were to do a normal allocation in terms of stocks, bonds, that kind of thing, then I’m not giving credence to the fact that we do have so much of our overall portfolio in real estate, right?

Scott:
When you say your assets are in real estate, are those reasonably highly leveraged? So your equity within that real estate would be a smaller concentration of your overall net worth?

Belinda:
Not as much as you might think I guess, because I purchased the property in 2000, right? So we’ll have it paid off in six years or something.

Scott:
So that is a really heavy concentration in real estate.

Belinda:
It is a heavy concentration for sure.

Scott:
We’ve got a website for you.

Belinda:
Yeah. It doesn’t mean I want it, but what do you do if you have one property that’s worth over a million dollars Scott? You don’t have to sell the property. I’m not going to sell a room in the property. I got to keep the property, and I’m going to keep making rental income off the property, right? So what do you do though, is that you just look at the rest of what you have to work with, right? And so then when I looked at the rest in terms of our stocks, we have like 25% in stocks a month, but 85% of that is in stocks. And we didn’t change, we kept that pretty aggressive and we’re just riding out what’s happening now.
It’s ironic because I talked to my advisor and I do a lot around the emotions around money and the tactical finance, I don’t do investing. I turned down those financial advising jobs because I didn’t really want to do that. And so we worked together and I had a feeling that this recession was coming. I actually created an event called Recession Proof Your Business that released two weeks before the start of the recession. It was kind of crazy, but I generally believe, you ride it, you don’t try and time it. And I heard that with [inaudible 01:14:09] just recently too, that she made some changes.
I can sleep at night because we’ve created enough other assets that if things waver a little bit, I’m just going to ride it through. I also don’t look at it as, I don’t see myself retiring at 65 and pulling out all of that money. We’ll have rental income, we’ll have other things that will help to fund our life without needing to tap that right away anyway.

Scott:
Well, I just want to also point out that for you as an entrepreneur you have a large unvalued asset in your business, which is comprised of various streams of income that are fairly diversified, I imagine, including books and those types of things, right? So those are all items that allow your asset allocation to be relatively aggressive with that high concentration in stocks and real estate, I would imagine. Is that fair?

Belinda:
Right. I think part of it is that I have total faith in my ability to make money, right? And I just did a total pivot. We stopped promoting what we had been promoting and then I started promoting a whole new set of stuff and then we just had to go make a hundred thousand dollars promoting the new set of stuff.

Scott:
And one more question here and I’ll speculate for a second. We’ve interviewed a number of folks that have positions in the ballpark of what you’re talking about, where you’ve got, hey, some real estate, a business, those types of things. Generally, I found that folks in positions like yours tend to keep a large amount of cash on hand relative to their annual spending. How much cash relative to your annual spending, would you say you have on hand? Years, months?

Belinda:
Yeah. Months. It’s funny because as you grow your business, you start out and you’re like, “Gosh, if I have $500 sitting in my business bank account, I’m going to be so happy.” Right? And then it’s a thousand dollars and then it’s 5,000. And then a hired a team and then all of a sudden, I need $10,000 just to pay our business expenses every month. And so I have an amount that I’ll leave in my business account and then we have how much we set aside in our personal accounts so that if something were to happen and I stopped working in the business, we could still pay all of our personal expenses. And then we also just keep home equity lines around. We’re not borrowing against them, but I always feel like instead of tapping my credit cards, if something were to happen, I could always tap that. Because we are so house rich, we’re not cash poor, but we’re certainly house rich. So I feel like if I ever needed to, I also have that. I do have room on the cards too, but I mean, I could always tap that if I needed to.
So I think we do keep a little bit more cash on hand. I didn’t go run to do all those loans because I was like, “We’re going to be okay.” And I think the part of it is paying attention. It’s really recognizing that you won’t be successful until you know your numbers. Because think, are there any really super successful people in business or in personal finance who don’t know their numbers? It’s hard to find, right? And the vast majority do. And you do not have to make spreadsheets your love language like they are for me, but there are ways to own your money and to be able to pay attention to it that can work for you, even for the avoiders like me.

Scott:
Thank you for that. Should we move on to the famous four, I know we’re coming up on time here.

Belinda:
Go for it.

Mindy:
Okay. The first question in the famous is what is your favorite finance book?

Belinda:
It’s The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist?

Mindy:
My friend, Stephanie just gave me that book.

Belinda:
Oh my God, it was one of the books I read-

Mindy:
Last weekend, she just gave me that book.

Belinda:
…when I was getting into this and it was one of those moments when I actually interviewed her for my TV show, because it was like, it all came full circle. I was like, “Oh wow. This was one of the books that made such a difference for me.” To really start to see the lies that we tell ourselves around money and the abundance that’s really there for us.

Mindy:
Okay. Two people now. I have to read this book.

Belinda:
Go read and DM me, tell me what you think.

Mindy:
I will.

Scott:
What was your biggest money mistake?

Belinda:
It was the avoiding it and letting it all pile up. I mean, I’ve bared it all on this podcast, but there was a while where I had so much shame in teaching personal finance and having that in my background. And then there came a time when I was like, wait a second, that actually has helped contribute to the level of compassion that I have for people, because I know that it can pile up, right? I know that people can really view that as such a badge of shame, but I instead took it as a badge of honor basically to say, “Hey, if I could get through that, I can pretty much get through anything that’s going to come my way.”

Mindy:
Exactly.

Belinda:
And if could do it again, I probably wouldn’t do it again.

Mindy:
Open your mail.

Belinda:
Exactly. Create a system.

Mindy:
Besides open your mail, what is your best piece of advice for people who are just starting out?

Belinda:
It’s just start to save it’s that, there’s never a good time idea, right? That I mentioned earlier, it’s like, do the max, you can, even if it feels like a little bit of a squeeze and be sure to track, because this is another mistake that I think people make is that they save or they max out their 401(k), but then they’re hitting a credit card to live and they’re not really paying enough attention so that the whole picture works together because they don’t want you to live off a credit card to be able to save. It’s not worth that. But just start to save. I think it’s because I started to save early and often. And then as I got raises, I just started to save more until I was maxed out that I think it has made such a difference. And the PS to that is as you start to save, certainly consider real estate. Even if you have to start small. Yay! That it was because I bought a property back in 2000 when I did at 28, but I think has made such a difference for me now 20 years later.

Scott:
Awesome. All right. The most difficult question of the famous four, what is your favorite joke to tell at parties?

Belinda:
Well, I asked my kids about this one because they really like telling jokes. And I have a five year old. So five year old Rebecca tells this joke, she goes, knock, knock.

Scott:
Who’s there.

Belinda:
Boo.

Scott:
Boo who?

Belinda:
No, why are you crying?

Scott:
That’s the next tier joke there. I love that.

Belinda:
She’s five, right? And then the seven year old goes slightly more. He’s like, “Why did someone throw the clock out the window?”

Mindy:
Why?

Scott:
I don’t know why.

Belinda:
He wanted to see time fly.

Scott:
Oh, that’s amazing. Well, thank you.

Belinda:
The runner up was why did the boys stare at the juice container?

Scott:
Why? Oh, you got this one Mindy?

Mindy:
Because it said concentrate.

Belinda:
Yeah.

Mindy:
I have a 10 year old.

Belinda:
So this is [inaudible 01:20:59] when you ask little kids jokes, but I don’t go to parties all that much. So I rely on my hanging out with my little ones to tell jokes, but yes, there you go.

Mindy:
Those are perfect. That’s what we’re looking for.

Scott:
All right. Wonderful.

Mindy:
Belinda, where could people find out more about you?

Belinda:
So I am at Own Your Money everywhere. I’m playing more on Instagram, I’m enjoying that at Own Your Money or at Facebook. And we have this great new download that people can get. The five simple ways to create consistent revenue that’s ownyourmoney.com/revenue. And I will find that tracking sheet too. I think it’s ownyourmoney.com/track to highlight their unconscious spending because I feel like we did talk some about personal finances and I want to give people a chance to be able to take control of their own personal finances as well. So I will find you that too.

Mindy:
Awesome.

Belinda:
So please DM me and tag me and do all the things so that I know that you heard this podcast.

Mindy:
Awesome. Yeah, we will include links to all of those in our show notes, which can be found at biggerpockets.com/moneyshow140. Belinda, this was super awesome and I learned a lot. I’m so glad you had time for us today. Thank you.

Belinda:
Absolutely. Thank you so much for being on.

Scott:
Yes, thank you very much.

Mindy:
Okay. And we will talk to you soon. Scott. I loved Belinda’s story. What did you think?

Scott:
I thought it was great. I think it’s like this classic, not classic, but I think it’s just like this great example of I think back to the game Cashflow by Robert Kiyosaki, it’s an expensive game, it’s 60 bucks or whatever. But it’s a good lesson and it teaches us some things. It’s this concept that you get out of the rat race and then you get into the fast track, right? Once you get out of the rat race and after you get to the fast track, you visit Africa, you have lunch with the mayor, you buy the apartment complex, those types of things.
And I think Belinda’s personal finance story shows some of that literal, Mindy is looking at me with this weird look right now, but bear with me for another second here. I think it shows like, hey, there’s a literal reality that that reflects in a certain sense where she was good and savvy with money in her 20s and early 30s and reached that millionaire status at 33, 35, right? Became an entrepreneur and had all of these life experiences that became options for her that were very realistic because money was a secondary concern when she crossed that threshold of having done just enough, but more than enough early in life.
And so that’s the thing that should motivate you if you’re listening to this and you’re in your 20s or 30s or whatever stage of life. In the sense that you can go out and have a completely different experience in the career field and with philanthropy, all of those options are on the table once you cross that threshold. And I think it’s just a really exciting example of one person’s story about looking through all of those options, doing several of them, trying them and then settling on the one that she did with her career. So how did I do there, Mindy?

Mindy:
I thought that was great. I thought that’s a great overview of what we talked about with Belinda today. It’s just, she has a fascinating story. And the part that I really liked best is the mistake that great big, oh, I didn’t want to deal with it, so I just didn’t pay attention to it. It shows that even people who know what they’re doing, she’s a CPA, she is an accountant, she does this for a living, managing the funds and paying the bills and all of that stuff.
So just because you know what you’re supposed to do, doesn’t mean you’re actually going to do it until you get to the point where you’re like, “I got to do it, I have to do the things.” And it brings a more human side to the people who are sharing their stories. Hey, I know what I’m supposed to do and I still made a mistake, but I also fixed it and moved on. So it shows that everybody makes mistakes, you’re not alone and that it doesn’t have to define you and end your financial life right there.

Scott:
Yeah, I think it’s fantastic. I love the different takeaways we just had for the show, they’re completely different, right? Hey, you can make tons of mistakes and still succeed. And I’m like, look at the horizon that she created for herself early in life and how she proceeded. They’re both right takeaways I think so…

Mindy:
Yes, we’re just very different people Scott.

Scott:
There you go.

Mindy:
I have to say that-

Scott:
And her jokes were fantastic.

Mindy:
Her jokes were-

Scott:
Or her kid’s jokes were just fantastic.

Mindy:
Her kid’s jokes were fantastic.

Scott:
Hands down. Best clock joke I’ve ever heard.

Mindy:
Oh God, I see what you did there. I do have to say that while I was listening to her talk about how she didn’t open the mail and didn’t open the mail. I’m thinking to myself. I bet there’s a lot of people who can identify with that. Not me, I am still a little kid when the mail comes, I know it’s junk and I have to open it. I open it up. I’m like, “Yeah, that’s junk.” But I can’t just let it sit there. How could you let it sit there?

Scott:
Oh, I can let it sit there.

Mindy:
What if it’s a thing? Plus somebody sent me mail, I want to see what it is.

Scott:
It’s always a thing and it’s always a pain in the rear.

Mindy:
It’s always junk.

Scott:
Yeah.

Mindy:
Okay. Let’s share a win from our Facebook group. Richard posted a little while ago. I want to report a win as one of the fi late bloomers. I just broke $200,000 in net worth at age 45. And then he said, “No where else can I humble brag about this. It took nine years to get from negative 17 to 100K and then just three years to add the second 100K, the momentum builds.” There are 334 when I’d screenshot this people saying hooray for you. Yay! And 47 comments. And Richard, I just want to say, congratulations. This is huge and good job.

Scott:
Yeah. It sounds like there might be a story there for us to share at some point.

Mindy:
Ooh! That sounds like there will be a story there. I’ll reach out to Richard and see if he wants to come share his story. Okay. And if you would like to join our Facebook group, you can find it at facebook.com/groups/bpmoney. And it’s just a safe place for you to come and talk about money, money struggles, money wins, questions that you might have, struggles that you’re having in your daily life. Maybe with kids, maybe with, whatever facet of your life that you need help with. We would love to help you. It’s just a bunch of finance nerds, geeking out about money. Scott, should we get out of here?

Scott:
Let’s do it.

Mindy:
Do you have any more accounting puns?

Scott:
No, I think we are all out of accounting puns. Me and you figures, right?

Mindy:
From episode 140 of The BiggerPockets Money Podcast, he is Scott Trench, I am Mindy Jensen and we are out of here.

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Belinda Rosenblum is a CPA, a certified coach and her clients include Harvard Business School, Harvard University and the SEC. She’s worked for Arthur Andersen and L3 Enterprises. She’s got […]