What do you get when you cross a yoga teacher with a financial adviser?
No, that’s not the opening line to a joke.
Lea Schodel is both of those things, and as a result, is the driving force behind a more mindful approach to money. Lea and I came across each other on the interwebs and were like “Yasss, you totally get it!”… “It” being the way money and emotions and wealth and being a woman all intersect.
Lea’s approach to the topic has seen her sprout a social enterprise, The Mindful Wealth Movement, focused on helping women connect their hearts and minds with their money. And then make better decisions about it.
One of the things she provides – for free – is a 30 Day Mindful Wealth Challenge, where you receive a daily email with a little task. Some of them are very practical, like renaming a bank account to fit with a goal – “Adventure Bucket” or “Freedom Fund” for example. Others are more reflective, such as, “Make a list of all the things that wealth means to you”.
What I enjoy is that each day has an affirmation linked to the challenge, like “I am creating a wealthy life”. It’s a simple but powerful process to reassess your relationship to money.
Lea recently wrapped up a crowdfunding campaign, raising money to provide mindful wealth and financial literacy workshops to disadvantaged women. And she still found time to share some of her thoughts with you, the Fierce Girl community, in answer to my questions. So please read on for some tips from this inspirational woman.
What prompted you to marry mindfulness with wealth?
As a financial planner, I completely understand the need for the technical knowledge and skills (left-brain) required to manage money well. But to me, this is only half of the skillset required to have a healthy relationship with money. As a yoga teacher and wellbeing coach, I also recognise that our mindset – our thoughts and feelings (right brain) – affect our ability to manage money well.
I often say, “in order to manage money well, we need to manage ourselves well”.
Our thoughts and feelings will either support or sabotage the actions we take with our money – and often we’re not even aware of it.
A lot of what we do with our money is sub-consciously driven: done out of habit or influenced by our emotions. We all have a complex money story and a whole range of beliefs and attitudes towards money. This can either support us or limit us when it comes to earning, keeping and growing our wealth.
After studying mindfulness, I saw it as an ideal philosophy and practice to apply to not only our finances, but our lives and relationships too. Mindfulness is all about creating attention and becoming present and fully aware of our current situation.
Why did you decide to build it into a social enterprise?
I have this motto in business: Be guided by purpose and be driven by passion. I believe you can work in a space where you generate profit but also generate impact.
Money has such an impact on all areas of our lives. Having a good relationship with money and knowing how to manage your finances is fundamental to wellbeing as well as the ability to live healthy, balanced and stress free lives.
In my experience in Financial Services over the last 16 years, I’ve come to realise that many women (and men) are missing even the most fundamental personal finance concepts and it’s not really their fault – basic financial management wasn’t taught in schools or even households for most people growing up.
I’m on a mission – to help women create a conscious and purposeful relationship with wealth, help them take control of their finances and allow them live happier, healthier and wealthier lives.
I also feel that if as a society we are more conscious and purposeful with money, then it will address social issues such as depression, suicide, homelessness, domestic violence and poverty.
It will also help close the gender pay gap and retirement shortfalls that many women face. I’d also like to see more women become conscious consumers, practice gratitude and maybe even embrace the minimalist movement.
The final reason I created a social enterprise is because I wanted to make financial literacy and education inclusive to all women, not just those who can afford to pay for financial advice.
It doesn’t matter how much or how little money women have, we all need to know how to manage it properly if we want to use it in a way that supports our dreams, goals and wellbeing.
What stories do you see women often sabotaging their finances with?
Money is so fraught with emotion. Fear, guilt, shame or embarrassment often prevent women from seeking help or even taking the next step to gain control of their money situation.
I see a lot of women who hand over the responsibility to someone else to manage their money, and those who secretly wish and hope someone else will save them – or sweep in and fix their finances for them!
I have a lot of women tell me that they find money boring, or that they’re too creative, or just don’t care about money. It’s almost as though they feel that it’s not really a feminine thing to be money savvy or an investor.
I see lots of women mixing up their self-worth with their net worth – thinking that they can spend their way to higher self esteem, or trying to value themselves and their success based on the clothes they wear and the things they own.
Finally, I see many women completely disconnected from their future selves, too busy living in the now to consider the impact that their money decisions today may be limiting their opportunities for tomorrow.
If you want to start practicing mindful wealth, where do you start?
Mindful wealth is all about creating connection with and bringing awareness to your wealth, accepting your current money situation and then taking intentional action to create wealth.
The simplest way to begin is by starting to notice how money is flowing in and out of your life. Whether it is quick to earn and easy to spend, whether you are hanging onto it too tightly, whether you are oblivious to how much you earn, spend, own and owe.
From this place of awareness, you can begin to notice how your emotions and habits may be driving your relationship with money.
Any time you spend or receive money, check in to see how you are feeling, or take a moment to explore the “why” behind your actions with money.
This helps us to create more connection to our money habits (which are often driven from our sub-conscious).
There is a saying that the way to “buy happiness” is not to buy things, but to spend the money you do have, on the things that you value most in life. If you know what you truly value, then you can begin to use the money you do have to bring more of that into your life.
See if you can define what wealth means to you personally. Have a go at thinking about what is present in your life already, or that you’d like to have more of in order to feel happy and abundant.
Whilst money may certainly be one of these things, see if you can list all of the other things that you need or like to have in life and that bring you the most satisfaction and happiness.
This can be an interesting exercise, as often we have this idea that to be wealthy, we need to have lots of money. Then, in the pursuit of more money, we can sometimes lose sight of the things that make us feel truly wealthy.
What if you’re partnered, and your partner isn’t on board? How do you manage that?
I so often see “opposite” money personalities in partnerships, whether romantic or business. Given money is a leading cause of relationship breakdown and divorce, we can certainly do ourselves and our relationships a favour if we can get on the same page as our partners.
In any partnership, it’s important to recognise that we all have a unique money personality, experiences, values and habits. If we can create awareness around what these are for our partner, and they can understand what they are for us, then we can understand what drives our behaviours.
I use a great tool with my clients, which helps couples to discuss their dominant habits and attitudes with money. Then they can begin to work out a plan to support each other’s strengths and challenges when it comes to managing money.
If you’re not on the same page as your partner when it comes to your finances, the first place to start is with communication.
If you can’t communicate with each other without arguing, then it could pay to see a financial counsellor or money coach to begin the conversation in a neutral environment.
I’m a big fan of transparency between partners, but I also insist that partners maintain some financial independence.
Joint accounts are great to manage joint and household expenses and debt, but I think it’s also necessary to have individual accounts for personal spending money, so that each partner can spend freely on the things that they value most.
So, these are just some of Lea’s wise words. There is a lot to process there! And because I know you guys like practical tips, I have crunched it down for you into 3 Top Tips for Mindful Wealth.
photo credit: MrJamesBaker http://bestreviewsbase.com/