Three things we dive into in this episode:
Why money is an emotionally supercharged resource.
Finding balance in your finances and learning how to make your money and money mindset work for you.
Learning how to create financial systems that work for you.
Release restrictive dieting, break free from body shame, & create habits that help you live fully! Sign up for Caitie’s nutrition coaching program and community, Whole, Full, and Alive, and get a FREE 20 Minute Discovery Call!
You can also join Meera’s two-week program, Investing Unlocked, where you can learn investment basics — minus the jargon and artificial complexity!
Book a free 15-minute money consultation with Meera here!
[03:46] Who Is Meera Meyer?
Meera is a certified financial planner and the founder of Life.Money.Balance.
She aims to remove the negative connotation of money and help people feel empowered around their finances.
Meera: “Having [a] female — [a] woman of color — as a financial planning resource helps other females feel more comfortable talking about their money, helping them figure out their goals.” - Click Here To Tweet This
[09:03] Overcoming Challenges
Meera felt out of place in college and her first job.
She was surrounded by people — mostly males — who were in the finance field “just to make a lot of money.”
Meera shares getting 'connectedness' in a StrengthsFinder analysis and feeling like she did not belong in her job.
Eventually, she decided to use her ‘difference’ to her advantage.
She saw an opportunity to help people looking for financial advice because not everyone resonates with a traditional advisor.
[15:38] Meera’s Top Financial Advices
Nobody can predict the future of their investment.
There is no simple formula to figure out whether your investments are going to be successful or not.
Finances do not have to be complicated.
You can be financially successful by simply creating and sticking to systems.
[18:31] Creating Financial Systems
Setting up financial systems requires upfront work.
Take out as much thinking as possible. Automate your bills.
Schedule periodic checks on your investments.
Consider your cash flow in creating your budget plan.
Be aware of the stories and anxieties you have about money.
[20:16] Building a Money Mindset
Setting a financial structure begins with your money mindset.
Money mindset is affected by your stories around money growing up — how your parents respond to financial situations and what you often hear about money as a child.
The media's portrayal of money also affects how people perceive money. People often hold back from earning more or raising rates to avoid looking money-hungry.
Learn more about Meera’s money mindset programs here.
[23:41] Money as Emotionally Supercharged
Money, just like food, is emotionally supercharged.
Know your values and be sure your spending and purchases align with them.
Exploring your money story can also be powerful.
Once you know your values and story, you can easily see if you are in alignment and take action.
[26:34] Knowing Your Money Story
Meera shares she used to be excessively frugal until she realized this prevented her from enjoying her life.
Let go of the negative stories around money and be intentionally confident that you are spending in service of yourself.
Caitie: “I think that when you are in alignment, when you know what you want, and when you know what helps further you along the path you want to take, it's a lot easier to spend money in that way than if you're unsure.” - Click Here To Tweet This
Understand that money is emotional; cultivating a sense of financial wellness will come from understanding yourself deeply.
[30:06] Money and Eating Habits
Your money habits are very much like your eating habits.
Knowing the formula and executing it are different things.
Money, like diet, is not one size fits all. There are so many factors at play.
[35:23] Finding Your Balance
It is possible to acknowledge the reality of finance and honor your personal values.
Be grounded, authentic, and comfortable.
Understand that money is a resource.
Check on your money story.
For example, debt is not bad. It is using a resource and paying it back with interest.
[40:49] A Money Mindset Without Shame
Do not make people feel shame or judgment for their decisions.
Meera: “You were doing the best that you could based on what you knew, based on the resources and tools that you had. And now we're here and how all we need to think about is how we can move forward. How can we make different decisions in the future? What happened in the past?” - Click Here To Tweet This
The best thing to do when you make an out-of-alignment decision is to learn how you can move forward.
You will burn out if shame is your fuel. Shame is not a sustainable motivator.
Make your motivation values-oriented and authentic.
[43:02] Meera’s Morning and Evening Routines
Eating breakfast and getting herself ready are Meera’s morning non-negotiables.
Meera shares that she also does not look at her phone until an hour after waking up to avoid distraction.
She also follows a bedtime routine that involves body movement, brushing her teeth, flossing, and washing her face.
Meera believes her routines remind her she's worth care and attention.
[46:19] Processing Prompt and Actionable Tools
Ask yourself, “What stories am I telling myself about money?”
Do not look at your phone until an hour after waking up. Take time to stretch and unwind at the end of the day.
List down your values to create a physical reminder.
Honor your values when making decisions — be it financial or something else entirely.
Meera Meyer, CFP, is a registered investment advisor and president of Life.Money.Balance. She has been in the financing field for 12 years and has built expertise in budgeting and cash flow management, retirement savings, insurance, investments, estate planning, educational planning, and charitable giving.
She aims to empower women to reduce debt, create wealth, and take control of their finances.
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Meera Meyer: People when they think about working with a financial planner or getting their financial life in order or even budgeting, it's like this is going to be work that I'm going to have to do and maintain, and that is not required in order to be financially successful. You can be financially successful simply by just creating systems and letting them run on the background of your life.
Like, my goal for all of my clients is not for them to be people who are constantly checking their budget and know where every penny is going and making sure everything's optimized. My goal is for my clients to not have to worry about money at all.
Caitie Corradino: Welcome to Whole, Full and Alive, a podcast exploring the art and science of falling in love with your life, with your story and with who you truly are underneath your titles, your resume, your relationship status, and your bank account. I'm Caitie Corradino, a registered dietician nutritionist, certified fitness and yoga instructor, eating disorder recovery coach, Reiki healer, and founder of Full Soul Nutrition, but underneath my titles and resume, a big fan of kitchen dance breaks, early mornings, all things chocolate truffles, world traveling and serendipity.
I'm here to share no bullshit stories and actionable tools to help you feel unshakably worthy. You have everything you need within you to feel whole, full and alive right here, right now. Let's get into it. Hey, welcome to episode five of Whole, Full and Alive. I am so excited to introduce you to today's guest. Her name is Meera Meyer. She is a certified financial planner and the founder of Life.Money.Balance. We are going to talk about money today.
I am keeping this intro short and sweet because I want to dive right into our conversation. But let me just say that this is something that I was really itching to talk about as early on as possible when I thought about what I want to talk about on this podcast because I feel like we don't obviously talk about money enough. It is a really important part of holistic health and wellness. We have to acknowledge our relationship with money.
We have to acknowledge the reality of financial wellness. We have to acknowledge that money is a resource that we use to move through the world, the way it works. I really, really am excited about Meera's perspective on financial planning and financial wellness. It is super well rounded. It is practical and also spiritual and about personal values, and I think you are really going to enjoy this episode with her especially if thinking about finances is something that you've maybe avoided or felt sticky around in the past.
I think you will really enjoy some of the nuggets that Meera is going to share today especially if finances are something that you've been feeling sticky about in the past. She will share some really tangible ways to start thinking about your finances in a more intuitive, stress-free values-oriented way, so let's get into it. Meera, thank you so much for being here today.
Meera: Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited right now.
Caitie: I am so excited to be talking about money, because we don't talk about it enough, and I feel like we can't possibly talk about health and well-being and living a fulfilling life that feels good if we don't talk about money. It is a reality. It is a resource. It is a thing that we need to feel regulated, to feel whole, full and alive. I absolutely love the approach that you take to financial wellness.
It's such a nice balance of practicality, and also, I don't want to say like spirituality necessarily, because I feel like sometimes people think oh, it's like the law of attraction and like all this stuff, but it's what you talk about is somewhat spiritual and also, just like, practically spiritual. I don't know how to explain it.
Meera: Oh my gosh, I love that.
Caitie: Yeah, so I'm really excited for people to hear from you. Can you please tell us before we dive into all of that, who you are? Tell us what you do, about your company, and also, tell us who you are. What are a few words you use to describe yourself, your personality, your energy, what you value, all that?
Meera: Yes, of course. So, I am Meera Meyer, a certified financial planner. I have been working in the financial planning field since 2012. I started my own business in 2017 and my own investment management firm in 2020, and it's been really amazing. I love that aspect of my life. I think for so much of my life, I wanted to work in nonprofit, and I wanted to help people and I ended up in this financial career. I just love it so much.
I just love helping people. I feel like that's like a good description of who I am. Ever since I was a kid, I was one of those people who always like, at the store, I would like rearrange all the displays, so they were perfectly straight again if somebody messed them up. I just really like seeing things in order to helping people get things done. That's what I always imagined for myself, and I never really saw a career for myself in finance.
I studied economics, but in my head, finance was like one of those things that doesn't really do much for people. It kind of got, like some negative connotations to it. When I started my career, I realized that there are people out there that need help with their finances, and I could still help people with their money. When I started my firm, I realized I can help people with their money in a way that actually helps them feel empowered.
I could be a resource for them when maybe other people in the financial planning field don't necessarily align with who they see themselves as. So, having a female somebody who is a woman of color as a financial planning resource helps other females feel more comfortable talking about their money, helping them figure out their goals. So, I am a very positive person. If you don't know that about me, I would describe myself as very positive.
I am the type of person who never really gets stressed out when we're traveling, like we've missed flights, whatever. I'm always like, Oh, it's fine, like, we'll figure it out. Everything's gonna work out the way it's supposed to. Maybe it sometimes drives the people I’m with crazy, because I have this, like, overly optimistic attitude. But, it's funny, because that's really tempered with in financial planning.
You kind of plan for worst case scenarios, and so, I was even thinking about this yesterday, like, yeah, I have this super positive, optimistic attitude all the time. But, I also always make sure that I have a contingency plan for when things go wrong. I think that actually helps me be more positive, because I know that I'm planning for the worst, so everything's gonna be fine. Then, I'm also a mom. I have two kids.
My son is six years old, and my daughter is three. So of course, that's like a huge piece of my identity. I grew up with a mom who was a mom full time, 100% of the time. To me, I, of course, have the identity of being a mom, but that's not all I am. So, I really appreciate that I'm able to run my business, and have this side of me, that's this entrepreneur, this business owner, and I'm also able to be a mom and be there for my kids at the same time.
It just seems so magical to me, because I feel like in the past, women didn't have that opportunity. It's kind of an either or situation. So, I feel really lucky that that's what I get to do. I'm married, so I'm a partner and spouse to somebody else, and we support each other. My husband used to be an entrepreneur, and so we have lots of entrepreneurial conversations with each other. Yeah, I feel like that's who I am. That's me in a nutshell.
Caitie: Oh, my gosh, there's so much goodness in what you just said. There's so many things I want to respond to. So first of all, I love that your financial planning business because you are the face of it, which, as you mentioned, is so empowering for people to see. First of all, not only just like the face of the financial planning business rather than just these, like Times New Roman font financial planning logo, and then they have to like go into this stuffy office and like have their numbers crunched into a spreadsheet.
You're like this fun, energetic personality and face saying, hey, let me help you with your financial planning. So, you take that and you make it just more fun and injects this new energy into it, and you also are a woman and you also are a person of color. You also are a mom and I am obsessed. I love it, and like I just want to pull over and acknowledge that piece of the puzzle first.
Also loving that you could see from a young age that there were a lot of things about your personality that made you fit for this career. What is the challenge that you've overcome over the course of your life that kind of led you to where you are today in this place where you are clearly a very aligned to the live person?
Meera: Yeah, I love this question so much because when I started out, so I actually tried to get a minor in finance when I was in college, and I failed, did not get my finance minor. I remember showing up to those classes and feeling like I was just in the wrong place. I did not belong. It was a bunch of people, bunch of males, mostly I'll say, a bunch of white males, and they were in it because they wanted to make a lot of money, and that was it.
I just couldn't wrap my head around that. I didn't feel like I was part of the conversations that they were having, and that continued on to when I started working in financial planning firms. Granted when I started, I started working in financial planning in San Francisco in 2012, and the firm I work for was started by a female. She made sure that her employees were very diverse, and so, it wasn't like I was the only female there.
But, I also didn't see myself in any of the other people there. I am naturally just kind of like a chill laid back kind of goofy person. Like, I tend not to be super serious about things, and I would see everybody in the firm women, men, whatever, like very serious people who were pantsuits and who were very disciplined I will say. Like, I incorporate routines and rituals into my day, but like, forcing myself to do things that don't feel in alignment, that's not something that I do.
So, I always kind of had this impostor syndrome, like I'm not supposed to be here. This is not the type of career for me. I remember I started at a firm in Boulder, and we did the StrengthsFinder analysis. I don't know if you've ever done the Gallup Strengths Finder, and everyone did theirs. Everyone had these traits of like, leadership and discipline and all of these things that very, were financial planner-y?
Mine were like connectedness, and I don't remember the exact strengths, but I remember, like, we had to post them outside of our office. People would make comments like, your strengths are kind of more in line with like a yoga instructor than a financial advisor. I was like, maybe I'm in the wrong place. Maybe I'm not supposed to be here, because everybody else around me is this certain way, and I'm not that way.
Fast forward, I had my son, and he was about a year old. I realized, like, I'm not spending any time with him. I'm at work all the time. I get home, he's with the nanny. His first steps are with the nanny. I need to change. So, I took a different position with a firm that was promising to pay me double for half the amount of time and immediately was like, let go from them. It was just like such a shock to my nervous system. This was the career path that I was on.
This is what I wanted to be doing. A friend was like, you should just do this on your own. Like, you can totally do it. Why not? I was like, No, I can't like I don't even belong in this field. Like, there's no way to do this on my own. I'm an imposter here. She was like, no, you're fine, just do it. That was kind of like, oh, my gosh, maybe I can't do this.
Maybe I can utilize those strengths that seemed so out of place and seem so like wrong to my advantage, because there's gotta be other people out there who are looking for financial advice, and they don't resonate with a traditional financial advisor who, like you said, is like sending them a letterhead and pushing out a spreadsheet. That's kind of when this switch flipped on in my head, like, hey, I know what I'm talking about.
I've been doing this for a really long time. I have my certified financial planner certification, like I've done all this work for it. I can be a resource for people who feel like the traditional way of doing things is not the right way for them to do it. So, I think that was like getting through that impostor syndrome and getting through that feeling of not belonging, like the number of times I've been asked if I was an intern.
Like, all of those things that happen when you're a petite, young looking woman that make you feel like you're in the wrong place. Like, all of those were just more of a catalyst for me to be like, you know what, I am different, and I can be different, and it can be successful.
Caitie: Thank you so much for sharing all that. First of all, I want to come back to what you were talking about before to you that you kind of touched on again, which is that you are this very happy go lucky, fun, just like loose kind of person, and one of the reasons you're able to maintain that sort of personality is because you have plans for what to do when things go wrong. You are allowing yourself to feel free, because you've created that structure.
It's like they're stuck in that rigidity, and they're sort of staying there. That's what I love about you is that you have that structure, and then, you're like flowing within that. I also can relate to what you're saying about feeling like you're different from everyone else in your field. I mean, I'm a dietitian and I'm sitting here talking to you about financial wellness on a podcast. Like, I just don't feel like I fit in with the other clinical dietitians for my whole career throughout college.
Also, coming back to what you said about college, what did you end up studying? What did that path look like for you?
Meera: So, I majored in economics.
Meera: I excelled in economics thankfully. I actually started grad school for economics as well, and then I minored in Spanish.
Caitie: Amazing. So, you have a background in economics. You started to minor in finance, became a financial planner post college, ended up losing the job that you were working part time after you had your son, and then started your business and realized you could do this on your own. So, now we're back on track. Can you share one thing that you wish everybody knew about finance and financial planning?
What is one thing that is kind of the backbone of the way you've been conducting financial planning with people since you started your business?
Meera: Yes, okay. I love this question. So two things popped into my head. One thing is that if we're strictly talking about investing, nobody can predict the future. I feel like there's so much information spewing around out there. This investment is a sure thing. If you're investing in this, you're an idiot. All of these different messages we receive, but nobody can predict the future.
Nobody has any idea what is going to happen with the stock market, with cryptocurrency, whatever. We're all just playing it by ear. I always thought there was a secret. I spent so much time reading investment books like reading blogs, studying markets. I think part of overcoming feeling like an imposter was me like trying to go above and beyond and really understand things more than everybody else, so that I would feel comfortable working with my clients.
Through that exploration and all that work that I did, I realized that there's not like, some simple formula that you can use to figure out whether or not your investments are going to be successful. Nobody really knows the future, and so there are like certain basic tenants of investment philosophy that you can follow to make sure your investment succeed in the long term.
But if somebody tells you that an investment is a sure thing or that their neighbor, cousin or brother or whatever, doubled their money in this specific way, just know that that may or may not happen to you, because we can't predict what's going to happen. The other thing is that it doesn't have to be complicated. It doesn't have to be very detailed. I think a lot of people when they think about working with a financial planner, or getting their financial life in order, or even budgeting, it's like this is going to be work that I'm going to have to do and maintain.
I'm gonna have to look at my budget every week, all of these different steps that I'm gonna have to take. That is not required in order to be financially successful. You can be financially successful simply by just creating systems and letting them run on the background of your life. Like, my goal for all of my clients is not for them to be people who are constantly checking their budget and know where every penny is going and making sure everything's optimized.
My goal is for my clients to not have to worry about money at all, right? I don't want that to be the central focus of their lives. So, what kinds of systems can we create? How can we alleviate whatever financial stress is occurring for you so that your money is doing what it's supposed to be doing, and you don't have to worry about it?
Caitie: So what are some of those systems that you feel are important for people to create? Yeah, what systems can you put in place so that people can have Meera’s approach to life? These systems in place and these things that are in place to catch you so that you can flow and have fun and be free within that container.
Meera: Absolutely. So, I mean, putting this stuff into place does require some upfront work, so you do have to kind of use that part of your brain that gets things done to be able to do it. But I think, first of all, like some of the basic stuff, like making sure that all of your bills are set up to auto pay. If you're worried about putting your bills on auto pay, because you're not sure you have enough in your checking account, and it's worth, like putting together a detailed budget.
For all of my clients, the first thing we do is look at their cash flow and figure out like, hey, is enough cash coming in to cover everything that's going out? If not, how can we solve this discrepancy? So automating as much as possible, I think is just such it just removes to dos from your brain. You know that things are happening the way they're supposed to, having like quarterly checks or even semi annual checks to look at your investments and see how they're running.
Not something you want to be looking at every day or every week, but just put it on your calendar as a periodic thing to go and look and then you know that that's coming up and it's not something you have to think about if the market is doing this. You're taking a step back and saying, hey, I'm in this for the long term. I'm not worried about these day to day fluctuation, because I know that I'm going to have my money invested for more than 10 years.
That's another thing, if you're investing money, make sure that you're okay with that money being invested for at least 10 years, because less than 10 years, the market does have a lot of fluctuations, and that can cause you stress. I think another big piece of feeling okay with your money is doing a lot of money mindset work. A lot of times we feel stressed out about our money, and there might not be anything that's actually stressful.
It's just all of these stories, these money stories that we've grown up with that we've come accustomed to feeling popping up. So, I have a money mindset program called Financially Flourish, and we dive into like, what is the first thing that you learned about money growing up? How did your parents respond to different financial situations, because that has such a huge effect on the way that you respond to financial situations.
If a bill came in, and immediately you saw your mom's mood shift, and she was stressed or whatever, then that becomes ingrained in your brain. So when you get a bill come in, you might think the natural response is to be stressed or to be upset about it. When in reality, it's just like, oh, I used a utility, and now I have to pay for it. There's nothing stressful about that. But because of the way that we've been raised, that could be something that comes up.
Even things like the media, a lot of times we hold ourselves back from like earning more income or raising our rates, because we don't want to be seen as like, somebody who's like money hungry, or rich people are bad. These are the stories that we hear from the media all the time that impacts the way that we look at our money in the way that we look at our finances.
So, part of setting up that structure is first of all, like checking in with your mindset and saying, hey, am I getting stressed out because of things that are real? Or are these money stories that exist that I can work on and work on changing? Then, how can I integrate more automation into my actual finances?
So instead of saying, oh, I wish I was saving more for retirement, you can set up an automatic $100 transfer into a retirement account each month, and then you know that it's happening. You've outsourced that outside of your brain, and you don't have to think about it anymore.
Caitie: Yeah, so it's like, taking out as much of the thinking as possible is really important. So, setting up everything to auto pay, savings automatically taken out of your account every month, taking your brain space away from that kind of stuff. If you're afraid that you're not going to have enough money for things to transfer automatically into savings or for bills to automatically pay, figuring out why.
So, going through and seeing okay, what can I set up to auto pay, and if I feel like I can't set it up as auto pay, why, what's going on there. Then with investments, you said making sure you're comfortable with money being invested for at least 10 years. Otherwise, the markets gonna go up and down over the 10 years, and that's going to cause more stress. You don't want to create more stress for yourself by watching your investments every single day.
I like that you said that's something you don't want to be checking every day, because I know quite a lot of people, males in particular, who check their investments every single day, and it makes them really obsessed with the market. It makes them really obsessed with money. I imagine that that's so terrible for your money mindset, which is the third thing you said, making sure that you're aware of all the stories.
You're telling yourself about money and the anxieties you have about money. It reminds me of the way that I help clients heal their relationship with food, too, because there's so much about our relationship with food and the way we think about food that causes stress and changes the way we feed ourselves and our physical health. It's like, how is the way you think about money affecting your financial health?
Meera: Absolutely, there's so much correlation there. I mean, I'm always using examples with food because I feel like they're both things, money and food, that are kind of emotionally charged. We get dopamine hits, and we act in ways that maybe aren't in alignment with the way that we want to be acting because we have all of this baggage that comes with us when we're thinking about money and thinking about food. So, I think that that analogy is perfect.
Caitie: Yeah, it's like we can't pretend that food isn't emotional. We can't pretend that food isn't part of our life, part of our culture, a part of our history, part of our family history, especially, and same with money. We can't pretend that it's not an emotional thing. We can't pretend we don't get a dopamine hit when we get $100. We can't pretend that it isn't part of our family history as well.
So, I guess, keeping that in mind, what are some ways in which you've seen people change their money mindset and look into that history a little bit more and stop ignoring that history and emotional and cultural piece of money and be able to make changes because of that exploration?
Meera: Yeah, I mean, first, like the biggest thing, of course, is even recognizing that it's there, because a lot of the time we'll spend money without even really thinking about why we're doing it. So, one of the big things that we do in my programs is to make a list of what your values are, what you actually care about, and then, look at your spending and say is what I'm spending on in alignment with these things that I'm saying that I value.
If I value cooking nutritious meals for my family, and I'm on DoorDash every night, there's a little bit of misalignment there. Maybe that's why you feel guilty. There's nothing wrong with ordering DoorDash every night, but if it's making you feel guilty every time you do it, that's not a positive feeling in your body, and so trying to figure out where that misalignment might occur.
I also think that the exploration of your money story can be so powerful, because like, I'll give a personal example for me, I broke my flip flops. I've used this example before. I broke my flip flops a few summers ago, and I was like, I need new sandals. I need to make sure that they are perfect, and that they fit all the specifications. I started looking for new sandals. I literally went two summers without having any sandals because I couldn't commit to the pair of sandals that I wanted to get, and then finally, I bought my sandals.
My husband jokes around whenever something breaks, he's like, oh, are you going to spend two years to get another one. I realized that I grew up where my mom, she does not like to spend money at all. That's like, the worst thing you can do is spend money. I spent so much time as a child with her. We go from store to store looking at sales, and we grew up in a very financially stable and secure household, so this wasn't a product of like, necessity.
It was just she grew up in India. She was raised in India. There was very attitude of like, we don't waste anything. We don't waste money, and so she did not like to spend money. I realized that like I was holding on to some of that baggage. Like, I needed a pair of sandals. I could afford to buy a pair of sandals, but I wasn't doing it because I had this big block around spending money on myself.
So once we acknowledge, like, once we recognize that those are the things that are causing us to live in a certain way, it's so much easier to change our habits, because we can say yeah, okay, I know that story. I know that's why I'm doing that. That's not the story that I want to be living right now, so I'm gonna go ahead and change that story and do something differently.
Caitie: What is the story that you want to be or are living right now about money? How have you shifted that story in your brain?
Meera: I used to be very frugal budget-y. Like, I am only going to spend this much money, and if I spend more than that, that's bad. I realized that that was preventing me from actually enjoying my life and enjoying the things that I want to do. So now, it's like, okay, I'm not going to go out and buy things that I don't need. Every purchase I make, I do think about it. I think about it, like is this in alignment with what I want? Is this how I want to live?
Is this the type of person that I want to be? Even something as simple as like the sprouting mermaid drink, it's like a $3 cannon. I don't know what it is. It's an adaptogenic, immunity tonic. So for some people that might be frivolous, or I can't believe you're wasting your money on that. But for me, it's something that I enjoy. It's something that brings me pleasure. It's not like me dropping thousands of dollars in something that I don't need.
Really thinking intentionally about when and how I'm spending my money and making sure that I'm doing it in service to myself, so that I don't have guilt or shame or feel bad or have any of these negative emotions around the way that I use my money. I feel confident that I'm making the right decisions for myself.
I think that when you are in alignment and when you know what you want, and when you know what helps further you along the path you want to take, it's a lot easier to spend money in that way than if you're unsure, than if you feel like you shouldn't be spending any money at all, and these guilt stories come up. I think that really understanding your desires and understanding the type of person you want to be helps.
Caitie: Yeah, because if you haven't gotten clarity around your personal values, if you're constantly questioning, what do I value? What do I desire? What do I really want in life? How are you going to decide which little things are worth investing in and which things are worth not spending on which things are not adding anything to your life or to what you value? So yeah, I mean, it's so interesting that it does come back to just like knowing yourself really well, which I think is something we don't really think about when it comes to money.
I think people, again, they try to look at money in this really unemotional way. It's like oh, well, this is my salary. It's these numbers. I have this much money in my savings. I have this much money in my checking, but it is emotional. It is something that is totally emotional, and being able to cultivate a sense of financial wellness is going to come from understanding yourself deeply because then you are able to budget intuitively, maybe.
Caitie: Intuitive budgeting.
Meera: Yes, and it's so holistic. I mean, like I said earlier, I equate it to eating a lot, because it's like, if we know the exact perfect diet that we're supposed to eat, why don't we just do that all the time? It's because there's so many other factors at play, and the same goes with money. We know what like, okay, we have this paycheck, we should be spending exactly this much, and these things. Why don't do it?
It's because of all these layers of emotion and these other factors that impact you. So, that's why when I do help people with their money is much more holistic. It's not just like, here are the numbers. This is what you should be spending. It's like, okay, why are we having trouble in this area? Where is this incongruency? How can we really align who we are with how we want our money to look, instead of just saying, hey, you're making this much money, so put 20% here and put 10% here and only spend this much on food, and you'll be fine, and that's it?
Well, if that was it, then I could have done that on my own, right? People can look at a formula, but it's another thing to actually execute, and that's where you have to look at things holistically and look at the whole person and figure out okay, how do we get through these other layers?
Caitie: Yeah, that's exactly like nutrition. I mean, so many people ask me constantly, why are you not just throwing a meal plan at me? Why are you not just telling me how many calories to eat? Why are you not just telling me what my portion size of pasta should be? The answer is because it food is not one size fits all, and money is not one size fits all. I've gone to a financial planner that looked at my salary, and was like, okay, yeah, so now you're gonna put 20% here for taxes.
You'd have a 20% here for savings. You're gonna put this much here, and then, this is the amount you could spend on groceries exactly. She was like $200, a week on groceries. Don't go over $200. It wasn't helpful, because that didn't take my personal values, which are like traveling and exploration and adventure and community like into account. So, it's important to me to be able to go to a coffee shop and spend $5 on a coffee because I've made some of my best friends at coffee shops.
I love sitting there. It's important to me to travel, and so I actually do need to be slightly illogical with my budget at times, because I love to travel. That ultimately helps me make more money because I'm honoring what I value in that sense, even if it doesn't make sense on paper. It's just like how you would never throw a diet plan at somebody because your body, your relationship with food, your life is so unique.
Your metabolism is unique, and we're not just gonna plug and chug even though there are dieticians who still do that and still think that works for some reason, just like there's financial planners who still do that and still think that works for some reason. It's really interesting to me to see how similar that is.
Meera: I know. Yeah, it's so true. I feel like it's almost even more so for entrepreneurs, like majority of my clients, almost all my clients are entrepreneurs. Those formulas don't work for entrepreneurs, because entrepreneurial work is different. It's not like you get this fixed salary, and you can like create this fixed lifestyle. Like, being an entrepreneur requires creativity. It requires inspiration.
It requires us to go and do things so that we can come back and do our work even better. So, there's no formula in the world. If there was a formula for like how to be a successful entrepreneur, then everybody would be a successful entrepreneur, and the same as with money, right? You can't boil it down to just do X, Y and Z. It's so much more than that.
Caitie: Yeah, as we're kind of moving towards the end here, I do want to share that that is the thing that drew me to you. So, I met you at a virtual wellness summit earlier this year, and you were giving a talk about, I think it was like budgeting or something was in the title. I, at the time, had just moved out of my apartment in New York City and was getting ready to do this, like five months of nomadic thing and knew that part of it didn't really make sense financially.
But, I felt like it was something that I really needed to do. You, during the lecture, were like, you have to be willing to take financial risks, especially as an entrepreneur. It doesn't make sense for me as a financial planner to not create some space for you to take some risks, like we have to evaluate calculated risks, like something like that. That appealed to me so much because I had been working with a financial planner at the time that was like, don't take risks, like aim low.
Put your money here, you need this safety net. You need that safety net and I stopped. I literally stopped working with her on the day that I met you, right before I met you. This is how you know when the universe works. I just don't work with her because I knew she was gonna yell at me for like living this nomadic lifestyle. Like, I don't feel like explaining this to her. It's not gonna make sense.
So, I'm just not gonna work with her, and I'll figure out my finances when I come home, but then I met you, which was an amazing blessing. So now, I'm able to work with you, and you're going to help me figure out a way of living that's more intuitive budgeting. Your intake form wasn't just about the numbers. Your intake form asked me questions like, what are your top five values? What's important to you? What lights you up? I was like, this is amazing. I'm in the right place.
Meera: Yes, yes. I love that so much. I love that because I can't help my clients if I don't understand their humanness, right? What you want, what you want to achieve in life, what excites you like that's going to impact what we do with your money more than anything else.
Caitie: I guess with that then I do want to ask you, how did you develop your intake form? How do you find a nice balance between breaking the taboo of talking about money and talking about the numbers and addressing that, it's like a very real thing that we do have to be able to talk about? I think people tend to fall into this bucket where they're either like, just like with food, right? It's all or nothing.
It's like they're either so obsessed with money and finances and budgeting, or they just like don't give a shit, and they're just flying around, like doing whatever, not paying attention to their budgeting at all. How do you find that balance of helping people acknowledge the reality of finance, and the fact that we need to focus on money to live in the society we live in, and also be more intuitive and honor their personal values?
Meera: Yeah, so I think the biggest thing for me in talking about money is just being really grounded and authentic, and matter of fact. I did a course. One of my dear friends, Brianna Brown, did this course. I think it was called The Art of Orgasm. People care about sex and talking about sex. The way that she spoke about it was just so matter of fact, and it was just like, this is what it is. It was just so refreshing, because you're like you're right.
This is what it is. It is just something that exists, and it's the same way with money, right? We can build it up and cook it and make it feel bigger or more than what it is. But at the end of the day, it's a tool. It's a resource that we use to be able to live our lives the way that we want to live them. So, I think grounding it down, and just like, making it what it is allows me to speak really comfortably and openly about it without thinking too much, because ultimately, it's just like, yeah, we all need money.
We all need to use money. We all spend money. There's all of these layers that have been built into society where like, oh, we don't talk about money. Like, we don't want to say if we have debt and debt is bad and is wrong, and all of these different things, but at the end of the day, it's debt is just me using money, and paying interest on it, like being able to use it, before I have it. That's what it is.
I don't have to feel bad or guilty or shame around that. I just was able to use that resource in that way, and now I'm paying it back, end of story. So, I think that really like grounding down and being matter of fact, and just exposing it for what it is, which is just a resource that we use. Then as far as my intake form goes, I think what you saw was maybe the third iteration, but I knew that I didn't want to have an intake form that was purely just data, because I want to get to know the people that I work with.
That's a huge part of me being able to be successful. If I don't know you, if I don't know what you value, if I can't have conversations with you around like what you see your vision for yourself in this world, then I can't speak to how we should spend your money or allocate your money. So, I love that you appreciated that because sometimes it's hard to put together an intake form that people actually are willing to give you information.
When I read through yours, I was like I know you. I feel like I get you. I get what you're trying to do in this world, what excites you and the type of person that you want to be. Therefore, when we go through our plan and we look at your money, we keep that reminder in the back of our heads. It's kind of like your why is the most important thing, and so we keep that why in the back of our heads, and then when we're making financial decisions, it's like, I can make this decision just blindly or I can remind myself, hey, remember, remember that version of yourself that you're trying to be you, remember your why.
That's why I'm gonna make this decision in this way. I know that maybe a base or part of me wants to just like go out and spend a ton of money on something that's out of alignment. But if I can constantly be reminding myself with my why, like, oh yeah, Meera and I talked about this. This is the type of person that I want to be, therefore I'm not going to just blow my money on these things that are out of alignment and I have been successful in my job.
Caitie: Yeah, so it's you can bring in those more values-oriented pieces of feedback to your clients, as you're telling them, hey, maybe you shouldn't have spent $500 on this thing, because remember what you value is this other thing. So maybe, we can take that $500 and put it towards this other thing that actually is going to help you achieve what you value versus just looking at it numerically and being like that put you in $500 of debt.
It's like, no, actually, it didn't bring you towards your goals. It's taking it into less of a pass-fail system and more in a, what do I value, and how do I get to a place of just feeling a little bit more aligned more regularly?
Meera: Exactly, and I think that one of the big things is also not making people feel shame or judgment for those decisions. We all make decisions based on what we know best, based on us doing the best that we can. So when somebody does do that, it's not like a moment of, hey, you shouldn't have done that. That's not part of the plan. It's like, okay, what type of state were you in when you made that decision?
Oh, my gosh, you were super stressed. You just broke up with your boyfriend. There's all of these things that we have to remind ourselves that we're humans, and that we're not going to live these perfect lives. There's all these emotions that run through us at all times. When we make decisions that are out of alignment, it's not a process of beating ourselves up. It's a process of being like, hey, I see why I made that decision.
How can I modify my behavior? How can I find resources and tools for me to cope instead of spending out of alignment? I think that a lot of times, especially with money, we're shamed so much for doing things a certain way, or not doing things or not having enough say, like those articles. You should have X amount saved by the time you're 30. That stuff is not helpful. It doesn't make anybody feel empowered, or inspired or want to change.
It just makes us feel bad about ourselves. So really, it's like, you know what, you're in the situation, it's fine. You were doing the best that you could based on what you knew, based on the resources and tools that you had. Now, we're here and all we need to think about is how we can move forward. How can we make different decisions in the future? What happened in the past, you did that from a place of this is what I know to be the best thing for me at this moment right now.
Caitie: Yeah, I always say if shame is your fuel, you'll burn out because shame is not a sustainable motivator. You can try to motivate yourself through shaming yourself for a little bit. Maybe it'll work at first, and then you're going to burn out because eventually you do need to be making your motivation something that comes from a values-oriented, authentically human, compassionate place.
Meera: Exactly, exactly. I love that shame is your fuel, you'll burn out, so good.
Caitie: So with that, I do want to know: how do you take care of yourself because I'm obsessed with morning and evening routines and rituals. I'm also obsessed with sharing that you don't stick to these things every single day. No one does, but when you can, I want to know what energizes you in the morning. How do you start your day before you start seeing clients and talking about their money? What grounds you in the evening? How do you disconnect and unwind?
Meera: Awesome. So, I will say I am not a morning person. Mornings for me are not like oh, fun, workout. But non-negotiables for me in the morning are getting myself ready before I take care of my kids. That was a challenge for me when I first had my kids, like I wouldn't do that. I would take care of them first, and it was kind of not a very great way to start my day. So, getting myself ready first, and then, I always, always, always have to eat something in the morning.
Like if I don't eat breakfast, it's just setting myself up for failure. Those are my two non-negotiables in the morning. I also don't look at my phone until an hour after I woken up. I know like it's super tempting sometimes to like open up your phone first thing but I just noticed in myself that it just sets my brain on this like distracted mode. So, I won't look at my phone at all.
Sometimes I'll have to check my email because my son's school they tend to send out emails about the day first thing in the morning. So, it'd be like right before I leave to take him to school, I'll check the email real quick to make sure there weren't any emails in there. But other than that, I tried to stay away from my phone for at least an hour. Then evening in the past year, I have really started to have like a bedtime routine that is so grounding and now, it's completely non-negotiable for me like I have to do it.
I mean, some type of body movement, whether it's like some light yoga, or I have these physical therapy exercises. It's supposed to do with my shoulder, like some type of really light movement, and then I always brush my teeth. I floss my teeth. I wash my face. That might not sound like a lot, but for most of my life, I was just rolling into bed, or rolling into bed and like watching something on my phone.
So having that routine has completely changed the way that I think about myself, the way that I present myself. I feel like it's been a total game changer for me. So even if it's like 1am and my husband and I get back from like a date night or party or whatever, I still make sure. I cannot go to bed without doing those things, and it just reminds me that I'm worth taking care of. I'm worth this attention, because if I don't give that to myself, how can I give that to other people?
Caitie: Oh, that's so good. I mean, I love what you said about how you want to take care of yourself before you take care of your kids in the morning. I'm sure a lot of moms listening can relate to that temptation to just immediately take care of someone else upon waking up, or anyone in like a helping profession or anything as well can relate to that.
Then yeah, even when you come home late at night, giving yourself that little stretch before you get into bed that like personal self care and hygiene, that moment of pour into yourself, no matter how late you get home, I think that's so valuable, too, that really does a lot for your brain for your sense of self worth, like you're saying.
I love to, when I'm wrapping up this podcast, give everyone a processing prompt that they can talk about in a journal or think or write about in a journal or they could talk about with a friend or with their therapist or just think about and then also an actionable tool that they can take away and kind of experiment with. From everything your you've shared today, I think the processing prompt is definitely what stories am I telling myself about money? For sure.
But then, the actionable tools, surprisingly, I don't feel like they're as related to money as people might think. I feel like the actual tools we're taking away from you, Meera, are like, don't look at your phone for an hour before you wait, like don't look at your phone first hour of day, and actually take time to stretch and unwind at the end of the night. Honor what you value when you're making decisions, whether they're financial or whatever.
Do you feel like that is a processing prompt you want to leave people with and an actionable experiment you want to leave people with or is there anything else coming up?
Meera: I love that. I love that so much. Yeah, honor what you value. I mean, even if it's just like writing down what your values are, so that you have that list there as a reminder for you. I think a lot of people tend to forget about that. So absolutely, I love that so much.
Caitie: Well, is there anything else you want to share with everyone who is listening? Is there anything that you're offering? Is there any place we can find you and connect with you? As we're wrapping up here, what do you want to share?
Meera: Yes, absolutely. You can find me most likely on Instagram @lifemoneybalance, and anyone's always welcome to send me a DM there or email me email@example.com. I'm taking on a few one on one clients right now. I'm offering a group program probably in the next month or so about money mindsets. I actually just sent a message to my VA.
I'm putting together a workshop for building an operating budget for your business, so it'll be a one day workshop for people to have that kind of roadmap for their business, create some of that structure for themselves, and they don't have to spend time stressing about it. So if anyone's interested in that, that's going to be, I think, September 13 is when we're going to do that. So, those are what's on the horizon.
I don't know when this is gonna be published either, so that might missed the boat there. But @lifemoneybalance is my Instagram and then, firstname.lastname@example.org is my email.
Caitie: This is going to be published on Labor Day, so that'll be exactly 10 days before your workshop, which is perfect.
Meera: Oh, perfect. Oh, awesome.
Caitie: Meera, thank you so much for being here. I'm so so excited that we got connected this year. You are just like a little angel that entered my life and now, we're both gonna live in Colorado starting this weekend.
Meera: I know. I'm so excited for that. I'm so excited to see you next week. I'm just thrilled to be here. Thank you so much for having me.
Caitie: Perhaps, we'll have you back. If some questions are inspired by this episode, I really would love to have you back.
Meera: I'd love that. That sounds perfect.