Episode Transcript:

Welcome to the Meadowsweet Money podcast! I’m Mimi Cirbusova, a Certified Financial Education Instructor and shame-free money mentor. I’m here to help you on your journey up the Money Mountain, because the less stress you have around your finances means more energy you have to share your gifts with the world. And the world needs your gifts. 

Thank you for being here. Thank you for tuning in and sharing time out of your busy schedule to learn a little and get a little bit more familiar with your finances.

I also have a pretty big announcement in today’s podcast, so make sure you listen closely to the In Case You Missed It segment. This is something I have been working on since…April I think? So I am very excited to share this with you. 

But before I share all of that, let’s dive into the main topic of today’s episode. We are asking ourselves the question, what is enough?

In our last episode, I shared about finding balance in your finances. And I really honed in on the fact that balance is not a static thing. You cannot get into balance and stay there because as human beings living on this planet, we must stay in a constant state of motion and movement. Even when we are in deep sleep, we aren’t perfectly still – our heart is pumping, blood moving through our veins, our brains are sending electrical currents, and our lungs are filling and expelling air. 

I say all this because I want to dive a little deeper into a topic that I think is profoundly important when it comes to finding balance. Not just in our finances, although that is what we will be focusing on today, but in our lives in general. And that is the idea of “enough”.

In my work, I often come across folks that grew up with a lot of financial scarcity – both real and perceived. Many of my clients have, at some point in their lives, experienced poverty or grew up low income. Many of you out there know what it’s like to have the power shut off because the bill didn’t get paid. Or you know what its like to open an empty fridge on a regular basis. Those experiences of not having enough are real. And they stick with you. 

The reason I bring this up is because I often hear content creators, particularly in the spiritual or wellness communities, try to push this idea of abundance mindset. The concept that there is limitless potential and you can always get more of whatever you want or need. 

And let me just be clear here: this episode isn’t to bash abundance mindsets or those that promote them. But rather to offer an alternative. Because many times I hear from my clients that grew up with scarcity – again, whether that be real or perceived – that abundance is either inconceivable or frightening. 

In today’s episode, I really want to explore the idea of “enoughness”. That Goldilocks not-too-much, not-too-little, balance of our needs and wants without waste or excess. And our “enough” point will look different from person to person, and that’s okay. Your “enough” point can change from one season of life to the next. Again, this is about finding a balance – which means sometimes making small adjustments as needed.

There’s a great quote by Vicki Robin from her book, “Your Money or Your Life” that puts quite perfectly what enoughness can be. She says, “When you have enough, you have everything you need. There’s nothing extra to weigh you down, distract or distress you. Enough is a fearless place. A trusting place. An honest and observant place.” 

I want to take this opportunity to offer some questions to help you explore the idea of “enough”, particularly as it relates to your finances, but you may want to apply this to other areas of life as well. Something I should note here though. You cannot measure your “enough” point using someone else’s yardstick. Let me put that another way. Your measurement of enough has to come from inside yourself because you will never have enough if you are measuring by what others think, believe, or what they possess. 

Ok, let’s ponder some of these questions, shall we?

First, what does “enough” look like for you? Maybe enough means your fridge is stocked only with the foods you know you will eat and enjoy. Maybe enough means you can put money into a sinking fund every single month to take a big trip once a year and not feel stretched too thin in your day-to-day finances. Enough might mean having a home that is safe and comfortable but not so big that you’re overwhelmed at maintaining it. Again, what does enough look like for you?

Our next question: How will you know that you have enough? Maybe an indicator is that you’re putting money into your retirement account so that you can comfortably take out 4% each year and never run out of money. That measurement by the way is the 4% rule, and we will talk about that in a future episode, but in the meantime, Google is available to you. For me, one tiny indicator of enough is that I can afford to buy the higher quality meats at the grocery store when its on my shopping list and not have to worry about it. So take a moment to consider: How will you know that you have enough?

Our third question, “For the areas of my life that feel out of balance, what tiny adjustments am I willing to make to get closer to my enough point?” When I first pondered this question, I realized that I had a ton of makeup and skincare products that I didn’t actually want or need. So I challenged myself to do a project pan challenge. The goal of a Project Pan is to use up what you have before buying more. If this is something you’re interested in doing, I’ll leave a link in the show notes all about how to do it. But maybe you are realizing that you need to ask for a raise at work. Or perhaps to get closer to your “enough point” you need to open an emergency fund so that you can weather hard times a little easier. Again, this is about making adjustments that feel right to you. And you have to be willing to take action on them, no matter how big or small. Thinking and dreaming about it won’t get you any closer to finding that balance. So again, “for the areas of my life that feel out of balance, what tiny adjustments am I willing to make to get closer to my enough point?”

Alright, last question: What resources can you access to help move closer to your “enough point”? This might mean you need to talk to your HR person at work to make sure you’re getting the full employer match on your retirement benefits. Or maybe you need to review your health insurance plan to see if they cover therapy or counseling services. It could mean signing up for your local library’s email list to find out what free events and classes they are offering. Maybe it means asking a friend to borrow a dress for a wedding you have coming up next year so you don’t have to spend money on a new one. There are so many resources out there, and I think when you are focused on finding your enough point, it creates a motivation to access those resources. So again, what resources can you access to move closer to your enough point?

Another reason I really like focusing on enoughness is that is so good for our wallets and our mental health, but it’s also great for the planet. Whether we like it or not, we do live on a planet with finite resources. Earth Overshoot Day is a great example of this. We can measure humanity’s demand for ecological resources in excess of what the Earth can regenerate in each year. By the way, Earth Overshoot Day  in 2022 fell on July 28th. If you want to learn more about Earth Overshoot Day, I’ve left a link for you in the show notes.

And sure, each of us individually cannot ever consume to the level of the 100 biggest corporate polluters. But I think adopting the mentality of enoughness brings about a new paradigm, a new way of thinking, that helps us advocate for the kind of policies we want to see. One of my favorite creators in the sustainability space is Shelbi (I’ll put a link to her YouTube channel in the show notes too). A quote she uses all the time is “You cannot do all the good that the world needs, but the world needs all the good that you can do.” And I think that’s the key to finding balance and finding enoughness. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. And advocate for the rest.

Alright friends, let’s head into the next segment of the podcast, which I call In Case You Missed It. Because I don’t want you to miss out on anything!

Now for one of my favorite parts of the podcast. As I said in the intro, I have a pretty big announcement today. If you get my monthly email newsletter, you probably already know. My email newsletter subscribers are the first to get announcements about what is happening.

Next month, I am hosting a FREE online intro workshop all about Climbing the Money Mountain. If you are tired of feeling lost and confused about money, and you are ready to take action on your personal finances but want an easy-to-follow guide on what steps to take, this is the intro workshop for you.

During this live workshop, I’ll be covering the five foundational levels of the Money Mountain, help you understand the common money mindsets that can hinder your progress, how to use your real numbers to achieve your goals, and give you the three most important skills for building wealth for anyone that is just starting on their journey. 

This workshop will be hosted on Zoom on Sunday, October 22nd at 4:00 p.m. eastern (that’s 1:00 p.m. pacific). 

You might be asking, “okay, Mimi, what’s the catch?” Here’s the deal, I am offering this workshop for free and it is packed with information. You’re going to walk away with so much, including a downloadable workbook. And in exchange for offering this for free, I’m going to take 5 minutes – that’s it, 5 minutes…to tell you about another opportunity to learn from me. That’s it. No pressure. No gimmicks. I deeply care about you getting this valuable information because I want you to gain confidence and master the foundational components to becoming financially confident.

So if you want to sign up, be sure to save your spot quickly. Attendees will have access to a replay link for two weeks, but you’re gonna want to attend live, because there will be a Q&A session so you can get clarification on anything we discuss in the workshop.

Again, be sure to check out the link in the show notes. There are limitations from a technology standpoint, so I can only offer a certain number of spaces. So don’t wait to sign up if you really want to participate. I won’t be offering this workshop again until next year, so if you’re finally ready to get serious about your finances, this is the time to sign up for my free intro workshop, “Climbing the Money Mountain”.

Speaking of foundations, let’s get back to basics and talk about emergency funds.

As a financial educator, I know that everyone is different and has their own unique goals and circumstances. But there are really only two things that I strongly recommend everyone have as part of their financial landscape if possible: first is an emergency fund, and second is retirement investments. We’re going to focus today on that first one – emergency funds – for two big reasons. One, most of us are woefully unprepared financially to deal with unexpected emergency expenses without having to tap into some form of debt. In fact, the U.S. Federal Reserve estimates that only 64% of American adults could cover an emergency expense of $400 in cash.

The second reason we’re talking about emergency funds today is that, it doesn’t matter who you are or how much money you make or have, emergencies can and do happen. Unfortunately, those of us in marginalized communities often face greater barriers to accessing resources in an emergency. And I am not going to ignore the fact that there are huge systemic issues that make it so hard for us to be able to deal with financial emergencies. I mean, the CEO of GoFundMe came out in 2019, before the COVID pandemic, to say that one third of all donations goes toward healthcare costs. That’s a problem that is far bigger than what we solve here on a little podcast episode, but I don’t want to overlook it.

And I don’t want you to despair here if saving for an emergency is hard. Because let’s say you can only save $500 in a year, that’s about $42 a month. And you run into an emergency that’s $700. Well, you then greatly reduce the gap from $700 down to $200. And I get it – even $200 to cover in an emergency for some of us is unfathomable. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. But I’m telling you right now, that even if that $500 can wiggle you closer to being in a state of inconvenience, rather than complete and utter disaster, well that’s really the point with emergency funds. They turn bad situations into more of an inconvenience.

Ok, so how much do you need? Well, a lot of this is gonna depend on a few factors. The general rule of thumb is to have 3-6 months of expenses. But, don’t freak out – it doesn’t mean 3-6 months of what you’re spending right now. Think of it this way, if you were laid up in bed for three months, what would you actually need to cover? Probably your rent or mortgage, groceries, any of that super important stuff. If you could not work and could not get any income for that time period, what stuff could you eliminate? For me, I could cut out my hobbies, eating out with friends, and if I really, really had to, my Disney annual pass (although that one would probably break my heart). 

I also want to note here that the total amount you need can feel daunting, but don’t freak out. You don’t have to save your emergency fund all at once. Start with a small amount, say 1 month of expenses, or 2 weeks if that’s all that feels manageable to you. It’s okay to sort of stair-step your emergency savings goals. Work on a portion of it, then take a break and save for another small goal you have. And come back to it again in a few months. 

You could also decide to make your starting goal something like, your health insurance deductible or car insurance deductible. Take into consideration what the most likely emergency situation might be for you. For myself and my husband, a health emergency or a very large car repair would be our most likely scenario.

For those of you that are pet owners, you need to get honest with yourself too about the costs of emergency care for your furry family member. If no expense is too great for you to care for your four-legged friend, you’re gonna want to bump up your emergency savings goal.

Ok, so where should you put your emergency fund? Any savings account will work but a High Yield Savings account is an awesome place to start. I like these for a few reasons. First, a High Yield Savings Account gives you more money for keeping your cash stashed there (as opposed to a regular savings account). Plus, keeping your emergency savings separate from your checking account reduces the temptation to pull money out of your emergency fund for non-emergency expenses. When it takes 3-5 business days to transfer, you’re less likely to dip into it. In the event of an emergency, if you have access to a credit card, you could put the emergency on a credit card and then IMMEDIATELY initiate the transfer to that credit card from your emergency fund. This is of course if your credit card is not maxed out. I’m going to talk about some debt payoff strategies in a future episode, so stay tuned.

There’s all sorts of High yield savings accounts out there, and y’all know I don’t back any specific companies, so do your research, ask friends who they use, and always make sure whoever you’re using is FDIC insured. And if you don’t like who you’re using, switch it up! You don’t owe any bank an explanation or justification if you want to move your money somewhere else.

Alright, so here’s my final thought on this. Friend, I want you to be prepared and protected. I know emergency funds are not sexy, and they’re certainly not fun to save for. But in those moments, I promise you will be so happy to have that money. The first time I had to dip into my emergency fund to cover an unexpected expense, I was not happy. Lemme tell ya. But I was so relieved to know that the money was available to me when I needed it.

If you have more questions regarding emergency funds, please send me a message on Instagram. I would be happy to talk about this more. 

Alright my friends. Thank you for listening. Until next time, remember: you’re doing great and I’m so proud of you.