“The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much and forgetting that you are special too”
- Ernest Hemingway
Calling all women looking to up their financial literacy!
As a determined woman ready to positively impact the world, Jeannie Dougherty continues to help people from all walks of life. She is a coveted counselor, certified money coach, mental fitness coach, speaker, and the founder of a virtual Caregiver Conference that addresses both sides of the equation the caregiver and their families.
Both of Jeannie’s parents passed away from Alzheimer’s. She spent 11 years of her adult life as a caregiver, dealing with financial and healthcare decisions with her family and their providers. Her parents’ financial journeys were different, as was the way that their diseases manifested. She understands how money trauma can manifest virtually overnight and how tough it is to shake off later.
Jeannie is passionate about her area of expertise. She works with businesses, individuals, and couples to help them find better ways to reach their goals.
In this conversation, Jeannie joins Eric Blake to share her insights on the impact of money-related problems on mental health. Jeannie emphasizes the need for emotional and behavioral coaching in addition to traditional financial planning. The episode also highlights the challenges financial advisors face in addressing the emotional needs of clients and the importance of effective communication. Jeannie introduces her 90-day boot camp concept and a virtual caregiver conference that focuses on the interconnected aspects of caregiving.
Wendy McConnell - Welcome to the Simply Retirement podcast with your host, Eric Blake. I'm Wendy McConnell. I think this is the second Hemingway quote I've heard from you? Big fan.
Eric Blake - I just think this quote applies well to our topic today. Part of my objective with these quotes is finding things that speak to the audience based on what we’ll be talking about. It's not always the case, but I think this quote is very applicable to today’s conversation.
Wendy McConnell – The message is to not lose yourself. Is that what I should have gotten from it?
Eric Blake - Yeah. We're talking a lot about caregiving today, and about supporting caregivers more than anything. It's the idea that we get tied up in taking care of family or other things and too often we forget to take care of ourselves.
We’re joined by a special guest, Jeannie Doherty. Jeannie is a money and mental fitness guide for those who want to make a career change this year. She's also the founder of a virtual caregiving conference that tries to help caregivers and their families. I'm going to participate in it in the very near future. Jeannie Doherty, thank you for joining us today on the Simply Retirement podcast.
Jeannie Dougherty - Thank you so much for having me.
Eric Blake - Absolutely. I would love to begin with your origin story. How did you get into what you're doing now?
Jeannie Dougherty - Over ten years ago I began working as a mental health and substance abuse counselor. I found out very quickly that every person I saw, whether they had depression, anxiety, health issues, or family issues, they all had money issues. Every single one of them. It was more about the money mechanics, about budgeting. There were also tons of issues about family communication. How to avoid costly divorces. What to do in a messy will and estate plan kind of snafu. Financial exploitation. I could go on and on and on about what I saw and heard when it came to people trying to figure out how to make money, save money, invest money, and not lose their minds, and hopefully, nobody robs them in the process.
I had no idea. Part of being a counselor is doing research. You look at articles or best practices. Any information that could support you in helping the client. I found myself doing financial research, and what I learned is that it doesn’t matter how much money you have, you can still have many problems when it comes to who you partner with, whether business or personal. Your money partnerships are big things, and how you handle your money will impact your life.
If you're already anxious or depressed or have a diagnosis or past trauma, it will definitely impact your money-handling skills as well as your financial decisions. That's something that we don't talk about enough in the therapy field, and I don't hear a lot of financial planners or accountants talk about it. I had to learn on my own how to support people.
Eric Blake - I think that's one of the challenges that financial advisors face, is that sometimes it's difficult to get into those feeling questions. But if you don't, you're really overlooking a big aspect of the planning process. A lot of our clients are women who are going to be retiring very soon, and I sometimes sharing what their resources are going to be. How much they’re going to be able to live on can be a challenge from a mental and emotional aspect. There's definitely value in a coach understanding what is most important to their client.
Jeannie Dougherty - Exactly. I find that a lot of my clients are in what I would call unequal financial relationships. They're married and their husband or partner or spouse is making all of the financial decisions, and the financial advisor asks, ‘Did you check with Mary or Sue?’ and they're like, ‘Oh, they're fine, they're fine, they're on board.’ Then we get into this money manipulation problem where husbands are doing things.
I had a case fairly recently where a husband put a bunch of stuff in his wife's name and didn't tell her. Then when they were in the process of divorcing, they had to hire a forensic accountant to figure out where the money went. He wasn't going to tell her about these other assets that she was suddenly going to be responsible for. She was going to go into bankruptcy.
Eric Blake - Unfortunately, that's a common story. The husbands like the financial stuff, they like the investing, and the wives don't necessarily want to be involved in it, even though they really do need to take an active role. That speaks to a phrase that you shared with me in preparing for this conversation — winning money. This is a great place to bring that up. What is winning money or power, and how do you get it?
Jeannie Dougherty - What I really coach people on is retraining their money brain. Our money brain is on the left and the right side of our actual brain, both sides compensate for it. But what we learn about money is on the left. It’s the data, the logic, and the numbers, but it's also about fear and control and manipulation. The winning money power is on the right side, which is about creativity and empathy. It's about navigating where you are today and where you want to go in the future, because a lot of people can't hold a thought for more than five seconds.
So it helps with that, and with taking actions like needing to call an accountant. I can't tell you how many people I've met who are making drastic financial decisions, and I ask, ‘Did you talk to your financial planner or advisor or accountant to figure out your tax liability?’ And they say, ‘Oh, am I supposed to do that?’ I've even had really dicey questions in counseling, somebody will say they’re going to do something, and I'll say, ‘Do you think that's legal? You might want to ask before you make this decision. There could be some real risk to you if you take this money and don't tell this person or don't have enough documentation. You may have to deal with the courts later.’
Eric Blake - As financial advisors, that’s where we’re kind of the quarterbacks. We need to know what's important to our clients, and as they're trying to make these decisions, they don't feel comfortable bringing those issues up. They're either afraid that the financial advisor is going to tell them no, and that's often going to be the case. I tell a lot of our clients, ‘You don't pay me to tell you what you want to hear. You pay me to tell you what you need to hear.’
Are there two or three questions you’d recommend that financial counselors ask to help uncover those situations or to initiate some of those difficult conversations with our clients?
Jeannie Dougherty - I would really want to know what's bringing them in, number one, which I think most financial advisors do ask. Usually, they have the money, or they just got out of a sticky situation and finally got to put their money to the side and are going to go make a decision. I'd want to know, from an emotional standpoint, are they on an upswing? They may say, ‘Yes, look at the money I have, and I want to go here,’ which is great. Or maybe they say, ‘I saved $75,000 after a horrific divorce. I need to grow this to at least a million. Please show me the best ways.’
So, ask where they’re starting emotionally. If they’re not so great, it will impact their self-esteem and their ability to take a risk and even to communicate what's going on. I've sent clients to fantastic financial planners and advisors who are really good people, but the clients won't talk to them when they're down. They're quietly pulling money out, and they can't handle their day-to-day expenses. Their spending habits aren’t matching their budget.
Eric Blake – So what should financial advisors be doing proactively? What is your process for staying in communication so those gaps don't happen and things don't slip through the cracks?
Jeannie Dougherty - One of my favorite questions to ask is who they talk to if they’re having money issues? Most people will say they've been burned pretty badly, by their parents or siblings or their spouse.
They don't want to talk about it, but that’s when I tell them that this is when they need to talk to somebody with some money expertise. Like you just said, Eric, you don’t pay me to tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. People want to know if there’s a creative workaround that brings that right side of the brain, that winning money power. Is there a creative way? Sometimes it's a 90-day plan so they can go do whatever it is that they want to do with their money.
Eric Blake - I know you do a lot of work with that 90-day concept. Can you tell us a little more about it? How does it work? How do you help clients make the transition from the bad money brain to the good money brain?
Jeannie Dougherty - I really wanted to create something more intense and focused. Rather than, ‘It's going to be a year working on your money,’ the change happens faster, in 90 days if they are committed to it. Every person I’ve talked to, particularly post-pandemic, if it wasn't a money issue, has the same question. ‘I have this job, I make X amount of dollars, I’m paying my bills, but I’m still miserable.’ It had nothing to do with money. I created this boot camp to help them answer this very simple question: If money wasn't an obstacle, what would you be doing?
People say things like, “Oh, I'd open a business.’ And I say, ‘Okay, well, you can start taking business classes’ Maybe they have a great idea and could start a side hustle to see whether they succeed, or maybe they’re going to get a raise and could use the money from the raise and invest it or put it in a money market account to achieve whatever it is that they want to do. People don't think creatively. This is where I say, ‘This is how I can help you.’ This is what I’ve learned about marketing and the brain and what people hear. Every time I called myself a money coach, they thought I was talking about stock markets or crypto or how to invest. I don't do that. I am an emotional behavior coach. I went to a money coaching school to talk to them about what’s going on with their feelings and thoughts and patterns so they can go do the things they want to do with their money. If they’re married, I help them communicate more effectively with their spouse so it's not power plays or silence or quietly taking the money and running. I help them have better communication because most of us grew up with parents who didn’t talk about their money, and certainly never talked about money mistakes. They didn't say until the last second that they were going to lose the house or Dad was out of work or Mom is really sick right now, or we just don't have the money. You have no idea as a kid. You see that you still have snacks in the house and the power is turned on, but a lot of people come from homes where the power being on during the winter months was an every-other-month thing. They just didn't always have the money, so they had to go live with other family members or they froze. There are a lot of things that could have happened. Having open and transparent conversations about money and thoughts and feelings is something we have to learn.
Eric Blake - When you think about what you do as a money expert, would you work together with the financial planner? Would they come to you first and you get their house in order and then connect them with a financial planner or financial advisor? What's the priority, and what would your typical time frame be?
Jeannie Dougherty - Well, it can be in either direction. My experience is that people want to feel money confident before they talk to a financial planner so then they can have an in-depth technical conversation without hedging their bets. They want that self-paced kind of process.
But other times money is very relational. That's something we forget. When we can join with somebody else, we can usually fix our money problems and create more money. That's the difference between my style and other money coaches out there.
Eric Blake - I want to make sure we get to the event you have coming up. Tell the audience what it's all about. Who's it for? How can they get the most out of it?
Jeannie Dougherty - I’ve created something I've wanted to do since both my parents passed away from Alzheimer's. I wanted to connect and sort of thread the needle of these three things that I see that are often disconnected and in competition, which are the financial piece, the health of both the caregiver and their family member, and the actual caregiving.
Caregiving is a job. People think you just come in on a Sunday to clean the house, feed them, and walk out the door. That's a maid. You pay that person. I wanted to really hone in on this during my virtual caregiver conference. Most caregivers are either at work or at home trying to take care of themselves or their family members. We have an aging population, so that means more of our parents, perhaps spouses are going to need more care. People save like crazy for retirement, and then they don't think about an actual financial care plan, how it’s going to work. You need more than just your financial power of attorney. You need a medical power of attorney. You need to gather documents. And you need to understand that as a caregiver, you might be spending an average of over $7,400 out of pocket each year, taking care of your loved one.
Where is that money coming from? This is why you want a financial planner, somebody like you, Eric, to help people walk through circumstances like, ‘My mom's really sick right now. She's getting out of the hospital. I think she's going to come home. I've taken a couple of weeks off of work.’ Are you going to have to be there full-time because your mom doesn't have the money? You have to move them into your house. Are you going to pay for the caregiver? What is this going to entail? And that's what I mean by that whole health piece. All the focus goes on to the aging loved one, which is a good thing, but then we don't take care of ourselves. I’ve met more caregivers who have had medical crises of their own, that have to be addressed immediately because they can no longer take care of this person. One of the worst cases I've ever seen was a woman who was younger than her husband and was taking full care of him. He had full-blown Alzheimer's. They lived in a trailer, and they were happy. They were okay with it because all the neighbors knew him, and it was easy for her to clean. But then she died, and their family lived several states away. The neighbors were calling them, saying, ‘You have to come and take care of your dad right now, the police are there, how quickly can you get on a plane?’ They had to start from ground zero. The father was a diabetic, so the neighbor said, ‘I know how to give my horse a shot. I think I can give your dad a diabetic injection,’ because there was no medical care anywhere.
He didn't quite qualify for going to an emergency room. No urgent care was going to do it because they're going to ask why this person doesn’t have care. Thankfully, a neighbor was able to sit with him for about six hours, then when he fell asleep, they closed the door behind them and left him alone, and then the family showed up at noon the next day. This man should not have been left alone, but what else could they do? The neighbors had to go to bed or go to work. I've seen that happen more than once. If they’d had a financial care plan it would have looked a little different.
Eric Blake - We're going to include the link in the show notes, but what are the dates of the event, and a few of the topics you think are going to be most valuable to the audience?
Jeannie Dougherty - There's going to be so much good stuff. It's November 8th and 9th. November 8th is going to be live one-on-one conversations where people are going to be able to get information for free. If you have questions, which everyone does, then on November 9th, from 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time to 3:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, if you have questions on Social Security and taxes, if you have health questions or should I remodel my house or have my mom sell her home, we're going to have realtors and home remodeling folks and people who run what I call gap interference, health care or caregiving who can help develop a financial care plan. I’ll have insurance experts there as well.
I'm also going to have people there to talk about the aging brain, because the thing I learned is that even though both of my parents passed away from Alzheimer's, the disease can manifest differently and affect different parts of the brain, and that affected their level of care and their care management, as well as what we had to do to take care of ourselves.
Eric Blake - I'm excited to get to participate. I'll be talking about Social Security, which I'm so fascinated by. Social Security is, to me, one of the most undervalued and underrated aspects of retirement planning, especially when we're talking about women who have spent a good portion of their lives as a caregiver. When we're talking about spousal benefits or ex-spousal benefits, all those different variables.
This has been a great conversation. I really appreciate your insights and look forward to participating in the event. How can people get in touch with you and learn more about you?
Jeannie Dougherty - They can contact me directly at JeannieDougherty.com. I'm always available, and I'm on all the social media platforms. People can follow me on LinkedIn or can get hold of me on Facebook or Instagram too.
Eric Blake - She has great content, by the way. I follow her on all three platforms.
Jeannie Dougherty -Thank you. You have fantastic content too.
Eric Blake - We do our best. Thank you so much again. For those who would like to find out more about our firm at Blake Wealth Management, you can visit our website to learn more about our team and access a lot of our free resources, including our newsletter, our YouTube page, and our blog. If you’re a woman who’s less than five years from retirement and you have questions about how to optimize Social Security, minimize your lifetime tax liability, or how to invest smarter, just click that Start Here button on the website to learn more about our process for helping you make an educated and informed decision about whether we’re the right firm to help you navigate your retirement journey.
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