Episode Transcript:

Welcome back to the Meadowsweet Money podcast! I’m Mimi Cirbusova, your money mentor and Certified Financial Education Instructor.

I can’t believe that this is the final episode of 2023. But don’t worry – I will be back in January with even more amazing discussions and shame-free financial education.

Because that’s what this podcast is all about. While, yes, we talk about money here, the goal is ultimately to help you live in more alignment with matters to you the most. Money is just a powerful tool to help you get there.

Today’s episode is extra special because today is my birthday! Well, it’s my birthday if you’re listening on the day this airs. 

This magical time where I can proudly say I’ve made it one more rotation around our Sun, is the time where I make my plans for the next year. I’m not a big New Years person, and I don’t make resolutions, so instead I set my goals and intentions for the next year around my birthday. 

In thinking about all that, I started to reflect on how important dreaming and visioning is in the process of becoming financially confident. The things that we daydream about, the stuff that we say (either old loud or just in our hearts), “gosh, wouldn’t it be nice if…?” That stuff matters. Because our dreams can tell us so much more about ourselves and the potential we hold than we might realize. And I want to share some ways you can bring more of your dreams into reality.

So that’s what we’re going to talk about today. And I know I say this every episode, but I particularly mean it today, for this final episode of the season. Thank you for listening.

The idea for today’s episode came to me while scrolling through Reddit. It was one of those late night, should be sleeping but instead, mindlessly scrolling with one eye closed, in bed kind of moments. I know – it’s really not good. Anyway, I saw a post from a subreddit that I followed a while back but hadn’t seen anything from in a while. The post headline posed the question, “Does wealth ruin you?”

This question is not new to me. I hear some version of it from many of my clients, and I see it all the time around the internet. But what’s interesting is that this question was asked in the subreddit called “If I won the lottery”, which allows people to share what they would do if they suddenly came into large amounts of financial wealth. People in this subreddit often share pictures of secluded mansions that they dream of buying, list the many countries they’d backpack through after they quit their jobs, and the charities they’d pour themselves into helping the moment that they became millionaires. So that question, “Does wealth ruin you?” felt…odd for this particular subreddit.

Now, I’m not going to tell you what my response was to that question until the very end of this segment, but I want to talk about the act of dreaming big, and why the barriers to our dreams aren’t always just for lack of funds.

To kick this conversation off, I want to talk about one of my dreams that I accomplished about 30 years earlier than I thought I would. For as long as I can remember, my parents brought us along to vote. I remember standing in line at our local library so my parents could cast their ballot; the same library branch my brother and I rode our bikes to on the weekends and all throughout the summer. I remember when they still had the big physical binders with the names printed of every registered voter in the district. And I remember thinking, when I am old and I am retired, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to be one of those people that helps you vote.

But I didn’t have to wait until retirement. About 5 months into becoming self employed, I realized that everything I needed to become a poll worker for our local elections office was at my disposal. I had the time. I had the scheduling flexibility. I signed up that afternoon, and was asked to complete training before the next election. And I’ve proudly served in both a primary and general election, working early voting, mail-in-voting, and on election day. 

But that dream wasn’t really about working as a poll worker. Not really. The dream I had was about the values I carry. Even as a tiny girl, barely able to see over the counter while my parents checked in to vote, I saw those poll workers as the kind of people I wanted to be. Someone that helped others do the most basic, yet critical, civic act you can do as a citizen. 

So I took it even further, and I started participating in Postcards to Voters. I have talked about this on my Instagram stories before, and I think on my TikTok as well. Volunteering to write postcards isn’t free. I personally pay for the stamps and postcards, and I give up my time to sit and write the pre-approved messages and addresses on each one. But I am happy to make this activity part of my budget because it means I am expressing a deeply held personal value.

To me, our dreams can powerfully tell us about our values. About the things that matter most.

Maybe you dream of someday quitting your job and opening a cat cafe. Or maybe you wish you had the funds to make a big anonymous donation every year to your favorite nonprofit. Maybe you dream of finally getting the dental work you’ve needed forever, or splurging on the super bougie skincare. Whatever your dreams, there’s hidden messages within them.

When I look at my dreams, the stuff I would do if I suddenly had so much wealth that I didn’t have to keep putting money away for retirement and saving for sinking funds for all the bigger stuff I prioritize in my savings…well, I see some really interesting patterns.

I have this list of the things I daydream about. The stuff that I’d put in a post on the “If I won the lottery subreddit”. There’s so much that revolves around spending quality time with my family and friends, but especially my husband. There’s a lot of dreams that emphasize taking care of my health, and setting family up for their long-term wellbeing. And I see a lot of dreams that are about being generous.

And seeing these patterns, recognizing the values that are interwoven through each specific item, causes me to wonder: “What would it look like to have this in my current reality?”

While I may not be able to treat myself to a big shopping spree on Etsy to clear out my favorites list, I can right now, decide to support artisans over big box stores. I can make sure my budget prioritizes taking care of my health. Maybe I can’t make a giant donation to organizations I love, but I can make small ones. And believe me, the nonprofits I support would much rather I send $25 a year now, than hoping maybe someday I can do a whole lot more.

The point I’m trying to make here is that your dreams do matter. They matter so much. Because even if you never achieve your dreams exactly the way you envisioned them, there’s so much you can learn from what you dream about.

You might even find that some of your dreams hold truths that you’ve had a hard time accepting or even believing. I hear from folks a lot that they don’t even have time or energy to dream. Their jobs have them so burned out that they only dream of rest. 

It reminds me of the story of the boy and the bicycle. There was this kid running along the side of the road as fast he could, and he was pushing his bike alongside him. He was panting and sweating, knowing he woke up late for school. He only had enough time to throw on some clothes, grab his bag and his bike, and run out the door. A car sees the boy, kicking up dirt as he sprints with his bike and backpack in tow. The car slows down, just enough to keep pace with the boy. Shouting out the window, the driver says, “what are you doing?!” The boy shouts back through panting breaths, “I’m going to be late for school!” The driver says, “but if you stopped and got on that bicycle, you could go so much faster!” The boy, his eyes fixed on the road ahead, shouts back, “but I’m scared that it’ll take time to stop running and get on the bike, I’ll miss the first bell!”

See friend, I know what it’s like to be that person, running as fast as I could, expending so much energy just to get where I thought I needed to be. Working myself to the bone, no time to really look around and see what was even available to me.

Sitting down and getting clear on my real numbers, that was my version of stopping to get on the bike. Asking the questions about what really mattered to me, figuring out the money mindsets that were impeding me from making conscious financial decisions, that also was part of stopping to get on the bike. As was getting clear about my goals and the circumstances of my life.

But here’s the thing – once I did that – stopped running and chasing, and expending all of my energy living in fear…fear of my money and the stories I had told myself about my money…once I let that go, suddenly I moved a whole lot faster! I wasn’t so gosh darn tired all the time. I had a new freedom.

And it was that freedom that got me to pay off five figures of debt. It was that freedom that helped me see that, yeah, I could fulfill my dream of being an entrepreneur. Which, most of my life I denied even admitting was even a dream I had. And despite still being in the growing phase of my business, where every penny matters a lot, and income is up-and-down, and up-and-down, the skills I have learned on this journey also means that I have the highest net worth of my life.

So I want to end this segment with this simple idea: take some time to hear what your dreams are really telling you. What about your dreams makes them special? What values are they communicating, and how might you adapt your dream to be a part of your life right now? 

Alright, I can hear you asking, “but Mimi, what was your response to the subreddit post? Does wealth ruin you?”

My answer is very simple: more money simply makes you more of who you already are.

If you’re a jerk, which I’m going to assume is not the case if you’re listening to my podcast, but if you’re a jerk, then more money will allow you to be a jerk on a bigger scale.

But I am guessing that if you’re listening to this right now, you’re a kind, generous, and caring person. I’m guessing that no matter how much money you have in your bank account or your wallet, whether you have a little or a lot, you’re going to always be the spectacular, wonderful, magnificent you that you already are. 

Are you ready for some in case you missed it? I sure am.

Oh my gracious friends – only a few more weeks to join the waitlist for my Patreon! That’s right, in January, I will be launching a Patreon so that you can get even more amazing shame-free personal finance education and content from me. 

Patrons will get access to exclusive events and workshops, discounts, access to our private Discord community, and so many other amazing goodies so you can climb the Money Mountain with confidence. By becoming a patron in 2024, you will be directly supporting the creation of this podcast.

When the Patreon opens, you will see three levels of support, starting at $3 a month. My goal was to make this as affordable as possible, because I know times are tough for so many. 

Every level of the Patreon has cool perks, including access to the digital Meadowsweet Money Magazine, a special monthly Real Numbers planner to help you stay on track with your money, and a shout-out on the podcast when you join.

But if you join at the $5 or $10 levels, you also get access to the Accountability Club – which has private Discord channels and a monthly virtual meetup where we will support each other in our financial goals. If you need that accountability and that community cheering you on, I definitely encourage you to check out the Wealth Wanderers and Money Mountaineers levels.

Again, the Patreon will open in January, but you will want to join the free wait list so you get in first.

Head on over to the link in the show notes or go to patreon.com/MeadowsweetMoney to sign up.

With all that said, let’s get to our final segment…back to basics.

Last episode I talked about the different ways to pay off debt, so I wanted to take the time to talk about savings. And specifically, how to save for all those big expenses without losing your mind.

Enter one of the most amazing tools in your toolbox: the Sinking Fund.

This is a special savings account that you contribute to, gradually over time, and plan on using for a specific future expense.

This can be for mundane annual expenses, such as insurance premiums, HOA fees, or holiday gifts, or planned expenses, like a vacation, or even as a way to say yes to unplanned purchases that really bring a smile to your face.

For instance, prior to COVID, I had a sinking fund called my “Fashionista Fund”. If I saw a beautiful piece of jewelry, or a gorgeous pair of shoes, or a dress I just could not live without, well, as long as there was enough in my Fashionista Fund to cover it…I had permission to buy it. If not, then it wasn’t meant to be, or I would get it later when that account had enough.  

The beauty of a sinking fund is that they help you handle the big, predictable expenses without taking on debt.

Now, I want to emphasize here…this is different and separate from your emergency fund, which I talked about in Episode 6.

So how exactly do you start a sinking fund? There’s really four basic steps.

First, you gotta know what you’re saving for, and second, how long you’re going to save. Third, you divide the total amount you need by the number of months or paychecks you have to save, and finally, you transfer that amount from your checking into your savings account.

Let’s say you need to save for a friend’s wedding in 10 months and you’re going to need $1,500 for the gift, something to wear to the wedding, and your portion of the bachelorette festivities. Okay, so that is going to come out to $150 a month (or $75 a paycheck if you get paid every other week) and you’ll put that aside. 

Now, in the case of something similar to my Fashionista Fund, where I didn’t have a specific amount that I was trying to save…well, in that case, you can decide how much you typically spend in that category and how often. For me, putting aside $25 a paycheck was usually pretty sufficient for my purposes. 

Something I will also mention here – if your bank or credit union allows it, I encourage you to change the name of your savings account to the name for your sinking fund. It is far less tempting to pull money out of an account named “Trip to Ireland” than one that is a random jumble of numbers. And if you need to, consider having your sinking fund in a separate bank completely.

If you have a sinking fund, or decide to start one, I’d love to hear about what you’re saving for. Hit me up on Instagram or TikTok.

Anyhow, that’s our last back to basics lesson for this year. I want to wrap up this episode by sharing my deep gratitude for you, dear listener. Thank you for leaving reviews wherever you listen to this podcast, sending kind messages on Instagram, and overall, just supporting the work I do here. There is no greater honor than to walk alongside you on your journey on the Money Mountain. 

Until next time, you’re doing great and I am so proud of you. See you in January.