Wealth Podcast Post

Financial Wellness with Manisha Thakor

George Grombacher July 13, 2023

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Financial Wellness with Manisha Thakor

LifeBlood: We talked about finding financial wellness, escaping the cult of never enough, the importance of focusing on financial health as well as emotional wealth, and how to learn from mistakes, with Manisha Thakor, CFP, CFA, MBA Founder of Money Zen, speaker and author.      

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You can learn more about Manisha at MoneyZen.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Manisha Thakor

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:00
Hey what’s up this is George gee that time is right welcome today’s guest on a powerful ammunition to core militia Are you ready to do this?

Manisha Thakor 0:08
I am GEORGE All right let’s

george grombacher 0:11
go. Militia is a C F A C F p and an MBA. She is the founder of the financial wellness consultancy money Zen. She’s an author, speaker and consultant her newest book is money Zen escape the cult of never enough and reclaim your life. MANISH excited to have you on tell us a bit about your personal life’s more about your work. And what motivated you to put pen to paper for the new book.

Manisha Thakor 0:35
Sure. So I am 53 Divorce childless, it’s not as bleak as it sounds. I’m also the super proud Auntie to the some of the three cutest little people on the earth. And one of the things that I found being in my 50s is that it’s been nice to have the flexibility to be able to help out with my parents who are in their early 80s. As so many of us in midlife, I think are finding out. Dealing with eldercare at the same time as raising children is an incredibly difficult situation to be in. So I feel very grateful to be able to handle both of those. And as a 50th birthday present to myself, I bought a lake house in rural Maine. And so I split my time between Portland, Oregon, and living about five feet from an unbelievable lake in rural Maine, where I get to paddleboard and kayak. So that’s a little bit about my personal life. And because I’m middle aged, sort of I’ve already forgotten the second question George,

george grombacher 1:57
just some more about your work.

Manisha Thakor 2:01
There may be a reason I forgot about that it could have been deliberate Freudian. So I am starting the third chapter of my career. I spent the first 15 years out of business school, I did my MBA at Harvard, which tends to be kind of a feeder into the investment. World at least back then it was kind of a feeder into the investment banking, investment, anything sort of world. And I moved ultimately into the investment management world and I was a buyside equity analyst, and then Portfolio Manager for corporations, endowments, foundations, and then through a Securitas suit, circuitous turn of events, ended up writing two personal finance books for young women in their 20s and 30s, with a girlfriend of mine from business school, because shockingly, they don’t teach personal finance at Harvard Business School, they teach corporate finance, but not personal finance and her super smart girlfriends, were asking us the same questions. So I thought we’ll write a book about it. And then that caught me interested in helping individuals. So I got my CFP and I moved over on to the wealth advisory side. And then I did that for the second chapter of my career. And then as I moved into my 50s, for a variety of different reasons, I switched gears again, and kind of retired from the corporate side of the world. And now I split my time between sitting on corporate nonprofit, national boards, and then writing and doing keynote speaking and consulting. I love it.

george grombacher 3:59
And the newest book, what was the motivation there?

Manisha Thakor 4:04
Who so they say, you know, sometimes you write books to teach, which is what the first two books were, they were data dumps, from my head to teach others. This book was to teach myself because I came to realize that I had basically spent almost my entire adult life living on a 24/7 hamster wheel of hustle culture and no matter how much money I earned, how many accomplishments I achieved, how much you know, accolades I received, it was just never enough. And I felt like I was never enough. There was like nothing I could do that would fill up as the Buddhists would say the hungry ghosts. and it was literally as if I had been sucked into this cult of never enough. And it was exhausting. And I did not want to spend the rest of my life on this planet chasing after this. And so I decided I wanted to go on an explorative journey to figure out a how I ended up like this. And if anybody else was having the same problem turned out the answer was, yes, lots of people, and then be how do we get ourselves out of it? And so I put together a proposal and it turned out that folks at HarperCollins are like, yep, lots of people interested in this. And so I spent the last two years researching, writing and the book comes out in August.

george grombacher 5:53
I love it. I don’t love the fact that so many of us are stuck on that hamster wheel. I do love that you think about it, or you described it as a cult. Because it because it kind of is right. Yeah. When you think about cults, you think about whatever, there’s, there’s tons of them from the outside looking in. They’re like, how could anybody ever get into a cult? That’s crazy? But we’re all sort of stuck there?

Manisha Thakor 6:20
Yeah. Well, you know, we live in a society that tends to tell us that the answer for almost any ailment is more. You know, you’re you’re not feeling successful enough, work harder. You’re not feeling good enough about yourself, physically. Go to the gym and work harder, diet more, try and you know, buy more clothes. You know, you are feeling good about your social life, make more friends have more hobbies, I mean, it doesn’t matter what it is in your life, the answer seems to be more. And when it comes to work, it can be particularly dangerous, because work is an area where by the very nature of it, it it’s, it’s never ending. And basically, what’s happened to so many of us is we now attached your identities to work. And many of us I mean, for me, this was the real turning point was when I realized I had come to identify my self worth with my net worth, I literally viewed myself as a number as my income as my my net worth, not as any of the other characteristics of myself as a human, which is horrifying.

george grombacher 7:59
That is horrifying. But, and, and but should we just not do that at all? Or are there healthier ways to measuring sticks?

Manisha Thakor 8:14
Yeah, so, you know, what I came to realize is that there are a range of factors that cause so many of us to fall into this way of thinking. And the first interestingly enough, is so many high performance individuals across any industry, not just finance, but there are a lot of us in finance, are driven by what site colleges will often call small t traumas are things that happen to us before age 25 When our brains were not yet fully formed, that haunt us still oftentimes well into our 40s sometimes even longer and just drive us to show people and you know, in my case, I am mixed race. I’m half Indian, and I grew up in a small town in Indiana, and I was chubby and I had coke bottle glasses and I had a skin condition called psoriasis. And I was like, so not the cool girl and I got picked on so much so that in sixth grade, like the kids in the in the lunch room would spread their trays apart was like mean girl, so there’s nowhere for me to sit down and I used to literally leave school at lunch and my parents work and I would say I didn’t have a latchkey because my mom was a teacher so she’d get home by the time I was there and I sat under the picnic table every day. No, no I’m for a year, because I couldn’t take the bullying. And that’s what drove me for I mean, for years well into adulthood. But then there are other factors, right, because you then culturally, we get rewarded for work. And as the more the more I got promoted, you know, she’s the youngest one to lead this, she’s the youngest one to get promoted to that, get accolades. And then, you know, as I got bigger and bigger raises, I could start buying stuff, and old society like to reward you for, you know, look, she’s wearing those shoes with a red bottoms, do you know how much those costs and then, you know, society rewards you and then So these, these different factors that come together, and and I found that there were a variety for personal small t, trauma, cultural, societal, and even evolutionary biological factors, where when our fight or flight kicks in, which kind of circles back to society telling us, you know, for survival, you need more, you need more, which in you know, hunter gatherer days, when you literally needed more food, whenever it came around, you needed more, as much of it as you could to survive? Because you didn’t know what was coming? Well, now we live in a land of plenty, so we don’t constantly need more. But our Neo, you know, our amygdala doesn’t know that. So when you stir all that up together, that’s how we get in the cult of never enough. And so then the question, and the answer becomes, how do we get out? Right? And so that’s really, where I came to find peace. And where I want to spend this third chapter of my life and helping people find peace is by spreading the message of how we get out and reclaim our lives.

george grombacher 12:02
Well, I am somebody who loves a framework or a process, could you share a little bit?

Manisha Thakor 12:10
Absolutely. So what we want to do is swap the equation self worth equals net worth, or whatever kind of toxic relationship you have in your mind with money, work success accomplishments, and instead use a framework that I call financial health, plus emotional wealth. And with financial health, the idea is achieving competence, achieving, finding your enough, and this is different for each person. And this is where financial advisors and the the the wealth management industry can be incredibly powerful. And the shift towards financial life planning towards the inclusion of financial therapists in the process, I’m loving seeing this, because this helps people identify what is the point at which you have found your enough. And that number is often very different than what many people think it is. Because many of us have a lot of things in our life that I call leaky money spots, things that we have, that aren’t bringing us a lot of joy. And when we can get rid of those money leaks are enough is often a lot smaller than we think it is. And therefore we can let go of these activities that are draining us. And then we can invest that time into our emotional wealth. And what I’ve, what I find fascinating to just kind of sum this up is many of us have heard of the study that says any income you earn over $75,000 A year doesn’t make you happy, and most of us are like, okay, that is stupid to study that number. That doesn’t make any sense. Well, it turns out that study is wrong. But it’s not wrong. Because the number is too low. It’s wrong. Because any increase over that number does not make you happy, unless you have a baseline of emotional well being. If you just keep earning more money, and you soar past financial health, but you got no emotional wealth is not gonna make you happier. And so that’s why this formula of Financial Health Plus emotional wealth is the answer to escaping that cult of never enough and finding this place of money’s in. And so that’s the piece that I missed when I was trapped in the 24/7 hamster wheel of hustle culture. And how I escaped, then how I hope to help other people escape in this third chapter of my life.

george grombacher 15:06
That makes a ton of sense, I really appreciate that. So we need to know what our enough is. And that’s not, that’s not easily found, it’s by no means impossible, but it requires work. And I’m sure that you walk through how to arrive at that number in the book. And the same thing is true of emotional wealth. Because if I’m just pursuing happiness, and it’s going to keep ratcheting up and up and up, which is the whole point, so I need to be able to figure out what my baseline is of this emotional wealth.

Manisha Thakor 15:44
Well, and what’s so interesting, George is oftentimes emotional wealth comes from, it’s rooted, so often in less, and often in achieving less. And when I say achieving less, most people have especially ambitious Type A’s that get caught in the cult of never enough have a really visceral negative reaction to that. But generally, emotional wealth is rooted in less less obligations, less packed, have a calendar, less money going out, because you’re having, there’s so many different ways in which we are packing our lives, folks that are costing us extra money to help keep going because we are so stressed, miserable and unhappy, or just time starved. And so well, we don’t have time today to walk through the various steps to identify what is the level, you know, what is the number for Financial Health, which again, I cannot emphasize enough that the financial services industry with its new emphasis in many places on financial life planning, is really doing the work the cutting edge, work on that. And identifying what brings emotional wealth? I find that emotional wealth most often comes the way it did for me, was peeling away things and identifying simplicity and small joys, and ending up with financial independence. As a result of discovering my emotional wealth came from things rooted in simplicity and small joys and certainly indulgences. I now have a cabinet main. It’s not like I’m living like a monk. But it’s yeah, I’d say my life is now characterized by simplicity, small joys and financial independence, as opposed to misery, exhaustion, and overwhelm.

george grombacher 18:05
Seems like a good trade off. Now, these, this wisdom, this ability to, to, to actually do the things a lot of the time, it’s, it’s through personal experience, it’s through making mistakes, you’re obviously hoping that you’ll help people to figure this out without having to make the same mistakes.

Manisha Thakor 18:37
I wrote this book primarily for individuals in their 40s and 50s, who have face planted multiple times like me. So when I said, divorce the no kids. All of that involves a fair amount of face planting. And so the book is remarkably candid, remarkably candid. If I still worked for in the corporate environment, I would not have been as raw. There are stories I share in there that I would never have been able to share. If I didn’t work for myself now. I also interview a wide range of women. I did so using pseudonyms at all of their requests so that they too can be incredibly candid. And so it is a book that shares mistakes. So it is not about how to avoid the mistakes it is about how to learn from them, how to pick yourself up from them. And then for people in their 20s and 30s it My hope is that it will be a cautionary tale when you start seeing some of those things creep into your own life that perhaps you know They remember some of the stories in the book. And the book is half story, half research. And the reason I wanted it to be half story is that’s how we learn, we remember story. But I also wanted it to be deeply rooted in research. Because story without research sometimes can feel

as it’s as if it’s lacking an intellectual foundation and a framework. So throughout the book, there are a wide range of interdisciplinary, top notch experts who share their academic research, and cutting edge public published studies. And so it’s full of story, facts and figures.

george grombacher 21:03
I love it, I want to strike the right balance between being just just to your point, just a lovely story, and also way to clinical or academic where it’s just about just about the numbers. So I appreciate that. And I’m grateful that you are in a place that you were able to share those face plants and those the raw, messy details and stories that you’ve gone through. Because I think that that’s really how we identify. And now if you held yourself out to be this person who’s perfect and never made any mistakes and everything’s gone just great, then you probably wouldn’t resonate and probably wouldn’t be as effective as as as it is. So thank you.

Manisha Thakor 21:46
Yeah. Oh, no, like there are plenty of mistakes in there.

george grombacher 21:53
I love it. And Vanessa, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? Where can they get their copy of money Zen escape the cult of never enough and reclaim your life.

Manisha Thakor 22:05
So money Zen is available in all the usual suspects places online prior to August 8, if you’re listening to the podcast then it is available for pre order and I cannot thank you enough if you preorder it that’s always super helpful and you get some fun free bonuses if you do that. And you can go to money Zen book.com to get those preorder bonuses. And after August 8 You can find me and all my social links and everything that I’m up to at money zen.com

george grombacher 22:40
Excellent. Well, if you enjoyed switches I did show I’m gonna show your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas. That could be your copy of money Zen escape the cult of never enough and reclaim your life. Wherever you buy your books. You can also go to money Zen book.com and preorder your copy and take advantage of the extras that ministry was talking about and then find, learn, find and learn all things Manisha at money. zen.com Thanks, Minister.

Manisha Thakor 23:11
Thanks, George.

george grombacher 23:12
And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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