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In this week's episode, money expert Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez discusses the issues with tying your identity to your career, especially amid COVID-19 and our new reality. She also discusses her husband's job loss and their loss of income, and how they're changing their plans moving forward.

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Hello everyone, and welcome back to another episode of The Financial Confessions, here in our socially distant COVID compliant news set.

Today, I have a guest who is probably familiar to you, if you've been watching and/or listening to us in the past. Because she's actually a guest who's been on TFC before.

She's also a friend of mine, friend of TFD's Gal About Town. But before I get to her, I want to give a quick hello to our beloved partners with whom we make every episode of The Financial Confessions, Intuit. And as I've been mentioning here, Intuit's products have been, no joke, incredibly, incredibly important to me over the past few months, with all of the upheaval we're dealing with.

As I mentioned, when we applied and received our PPP loan as a small business, the documents that we had to get together, reports, payroll statements, all of that kind of stuff, would have been very difficult to collect all in one place if we hadn't already been longtime users of QuickBooks, who are very, very diligent about sorting all of that stuff and making sure our information is easily accessible. But QuickBooks is incredibly good at making that stuff very intuitive. But of course, cookbooks is just one of many QuickBooks products.

They also make Mint, a free budgeting app that I've been using for seven years. They make an app called Turbo, which we'll talk about a little bit later. They make TurboTax, all kinds of great stuff.

And we'll be getting into a little bit more about their products later. But if you simply cannot wait to get started, please check them out at the link and her description for the show notes. As promised, today we have a guest who you may know, another city gal.

She walked here, as did I, because were very compliant. We're very on our stuff. Her name is Stephanie O'Connell.

She is a personal finance expert, runner, a traveler, a wearer of kicky bodycon dresses, all kinds of things. Tell us about yourself, Stephanie. Hey, I'm glad to be here.

How are you? Taking a sip of seltzer water. I am, how is anyone?

I felt like I was going to burst into tears when I said I am hesitating, like dot dot dot. Who am I? Well, how am I?

How am I? Who am I? What am I?

No, I don't know. I feel like, someone I saw on Twitter recently put it really well. They said like I feel I'm like walking across like a frozen lake that has only an inch or two thin ice.

And I just have to walk very carefully and not think about what's below me, and not get too scared, and just keep walking. Because if I like stand still for a minute and think about things too much, I fall through the ice, and I'm in like this complete chaos. I mean, that's pretty grim.

I will say-- I'm a grim gal. We're now speaking in May. And at I'd say in like mid-March, I was very much in the icy water.

I was like, I am going to get frozen inside of this. I'm not going to make it back out. And that might be a little dramatic.

Because I'm OK. Ultimately, there's a lot of uncertainty and a lot of loss, and maybe a little bit of grief. But I'm definitely on top of the ice.

So I'm glad to be there. Yeah. But I don't know.

It's just, it's, what is, how do we move forward, when there are no parameters around anything? There's so many unknowns around everything. I feel a lot more firm and on top of the ice, like I said.

But I'm just, when does it end? Is it going to be winter and freeze over? Or is it going to be summer, and we're all going to fall back through again.

Yeah. I feel the same. I think, we talked in March.

We had a Zoom sash or hang out sesh with another friend. I think that, I think that was the bleakest. I think that was when everyone was like, yeah, I mean, just another hour in this new and fresh hell.

It was really, really scary. And I think now the scariest thing for me-- and we're filming this May 7. So by the time this airs, things could be different.

But I think for me, the weirdest thing at this point in everything is the feeling that we've grown accustomed to what it feels like when things are put on pause for six to eight weeks. I think about like the PPP loans. That's two months of payroll.

I would note, two months of payroll based on 2019 numbers, which does not work to our advantage, as we've grown substantially since. But nonetheless, the solutions and the stop gaps and what we're looking at are all kind of predicated on this implicit assumption that there is a pause, and then there's some kind of resuming of normal. And when you think about the potential of, people aren't going to be going back to restaurants for a year or more, even in situations where there is massive aid and massive intervention, an enormous amount of establishments can't survive that for a huge amount of reasons.

And I was talking to, I have a friend who runs a restaurant in Paris. And obviously, the French government has been more aggressive about subsidies and benefits and help to small business owners. But she is incredibly grim.

But so, yeah, I mean, they're not a restaurant that can easily pivot to something like a delivery. And even if they could, that's just not nearly enough for them. And this restaurant is her and her husband's life work.

And they, and her, she's like I just don't know what life could possibly look like with even six months of this. If we miss our summer season, there's no getting back from that. And look at countries like all throughout southern Europe, 20% of Greece's GDP is tied to the tourism industry, 20%.

And you start to think about, OK. We could all paper over a situation for six, eight weeks, maybe even 12. But a year?

Even with the best intentions, I just don't know how many people can survive it. Absolutely. And I think about my own life.

My husband was laid off almost immediately. Yeah, tell us about what your husband does. Yeah, my husband is a stagehand on Broadway shows.

So he builds the sets. He pushes the sets out there and makes sure that everything is working correctly. He's one of the guys wearing black behind the scenes, and makes it all happen.

A former theater guy myself. Just for anyone who might not be familiar. And that was certainly one of the things.

That's like, well, if you're going to have a gathering of 500 plus people, yeah, that's Broadway. So that's the first thing to go. And it also means it's going to be the last thing to come back.

And we're lucky that you know I own a business. But my business was very much impacted. I lost over $100,000 in revenue for projects that had been scheduled and were delayed indefinitely, let's say.

So the combination of those two things was really striking, and the fact that we're not quite sure what's going to happen with our health insurance, since that comes through my husband's work, as a result of how many days he works in a given period. And now that he can't work, we can't necessarily get the health insurance. So even from a position of being privileged enough to be able to save an emergency fund, because we had a relatively high income for a while, and me still being able to generate some revenue in my business, and my husband being able to qualify for the full unemployment, I think we're still looking at paradigm shifting lifestyle changes.

We have considered leaving our apartment, which of course, we just signed a two year lease starting April. But we signed it back in January to renew our lease for two more years. And I'm like, well, if this is eight months, we can continue to pay for it and live there.

But if we're not going to have an income for a year, I don't know if it makes sense for us to live in our apartment and pay. Where would you live? Go be like 34-year-olds living at home.

What are you going to-- Yeah. I mean, and even that's a huge privilege. And I know that.

But it's like, I don't known. I don't know, or live somewhere cheaper, or I don't know. But these are the kinds of shifts that we're considering making.

And this is like, we're are the people in the best possible position. So we're in this position what does it mean if you're not in that position? Yeah, we, my husband, who had to leave the country unexpectedly and is living there indefinitely for now, his work did help him some with the transition and moving over there.

But now, rent's up to us. And now we're carrying rents on an apartment in New York and an apartment in Paris. And because of the nature of all the uncertainty, it's a furnished apartment.

It's month-to-month. So it's not a cheap one for what we would you know pay normally for a comparable unit. And obviously, we are saving substantially on things like going out or shopping, or things like that.

But that's a huge burden financially that we didn't anticipate having. And it's funny. Because when I think about, when I think about the kinds of, when I think about the kinds of decisions my parents were making with very, very little money when I was a kid, and when I think about how much, how accustomed I'd grown to a life that was easy and choices that were easy, comparatively.

I would not compare our situation to something that dire. Because again, I think we're still very, very privileged in the scheme of things. But that feeling of-- end for some people, it's not a new feeling.

But for a lot of us, there's that feeling of well, this is what it is. This is what it looks like. And you just have to adjust accordingly.

And I think hopefully, all of us can look at, whether it's our parents or other people, even that we may know hear about in the news or see on social media, you realize when you're in these moments, that so much of what we take for granted and so much of what we've built our life around can be changed instantly. And you have to take on that attitude of, well, we just have to assume the worst and hope for the best. Yeah, I mean, this is definitely a lesson in fragility and agility.

And my hope, really, is-- and this is a big hope. And I don't know if it's realistic at all is, that this really is just unmasking just the precarious nature of the economic system we all live under. And my hope is that this will serve as a catalyst for better social safety nets, better options for people if something does happen.

Because I think, unfortunately, the reality is that until this happens to people who were high income and who do have political power, they have no political will to change it. And not to go down this rabbit hole, but we can't talk about what's happening without talking about policy, and how it affects people's lives and their bottom lines. The options that are available to you going forward are so contingent upon like what is the support system.

When that extra $600 a week in unemployment runs out at the end of July, that's going to be a huge game changer. That's what's getting us through right now. And to your point, when this was an eight week shutdown, yeah, that was more than sufficient.

But if that goes away, and then we're paying out of pocket for health care, $1,500 a month plus our rent and everything else, that calculus may no longer add up, even with a six month emergency fund, if this lasts a year. Yeah, that's very true. It's interesting, too, when you see how quickly people who have nothing but bad things to say about universal programs are quick to take advantage of them when they need them.

And PPP is such an example to me. Obviously, it's a blessing. It's insufficient for a lot of us.

But it's a blessing, and it's such a good thing to have. And when we got the email that we were approved, and the money is arriving shortly, what a great day. And I've seen so many people on social media and in media generally talking about these loans, and how much their company needs them, and how important they are, who would easily turn around and spit at someone for collecting welfare or SNAP or disaster relief, for any of these things.

And I think there's such a-- one of my favorite kind of maxims about it is, we have rugged capitalism on the way up and socialism on the way down for the rich, and for corporations. When things are, when there's gains to be found in money to be made, it's like every man for himself free market. But then, look at the airlines.

It's like, years and years of cutting costs, raising prices, buying stocks back with their profits. And then the second the music stops, it's like hey, we all need $100 billion in order to keep floating. And someone on Twitter was like well, you shouldn't have been buying all that Starbucks, Delta.

And it's true. It's like we can't, we want to have, the we want to have the best of both worlds. And we only want to afford socialism, which is very much alive and well in this country, for the people who arguably need it the least.

It was easy, it was relatively easy, for us to get PPP. Because we work with accountants who we pay on retainer to help navigate everything. And yes, we do some of it ourselves.

Like we used QuickBooks, and we you know manage our paperwork on a day-to-day basis. But like we were on the phone regularly with our accountant, being like, who's given out a lot of them right now? Where should we apply?

When we were filling out the form, we had several questions that we asked our accountant in real time. And even that level of privilege, and we're still peanuts compared to some of the people getting these loans. But even that level of privilege was such a huge leg up.

And then you think about all the people who have a direct line to their banker, that they didn't-- they literally were just how much do you want on your PPP? $10 million? Done. And that's the relationship that they have.

And we were on the phone with a bank rep, because we're looking at possibly moving to a different bank. And we looking at possibly moving to a different bank in the context of PPP. And we spoke with a bank rep who told us that their business bankers don't even work with businesses until they do $3 million a year in revenue, which we do not do yet.

But I was like cool. So what about all of the other businesses, hello, who are putting seven figures through your bank every year, but not $3 million? What do they get?

Or even less, but people who are loyal clients who, for, on whom I'm sure you're realizing quite a lot of gains with the money that's just sitting in your bank, what do they get? Oh, they get a virtual assistant, like an AOL Instant Messenger buddy that you can ask questions, and get spit out like FAQ answers to. And I was just like, the extent to which it is so rigged in favor of the people who already have resources, and the extent to which they are just ready to open up their hands-- their executive compensation could easily cover what they took from PPP.

Yeah, the other bizarre phenomenon that I've been seeing is that the people with some of the most actual need are very afraid to claim the benefits that they are entitled to, for fear that it's going to take something away from someone else. I had several people be like, oh, well I can't, I can't claim unemployment. Because there's someone who makes less than me.

And they probably need it more. And I was like-- Take it while you can get it. Please, take it!

Right. It wasn't related to the PPP, in which there clearly was a limited amount of funds. But even still-- But even still, most of the people I'm talking to are not Shake Shack, OK?

But yeah, to your point, it's always the people who are critical of a system that gives handouts that was the first in line to be like, all right! Let's get that money in here, even though I don't really need it. But then on the flip side, the people I know with a lot of need are afraid to, I don't know, take from someone else, by claiming what they need.

Well, I think a lot of it is tied up in identity. You know, I think a lot of people want to think of themselves a certain way, and are very aware, and not wrongfully so, that bad people, but people nonetheless, will have perceptions of them if they talk openly about losing their job, or having to apply for government assistance, or any of these things. There's a huge, huge shame factor involved.

And I think hopefully, this massive shift will show people, you can put endless amounts of work and time and resources into your job and create a whole identity around it. And when most-- not all-- but when most employers are going to make a calculation, and they draw a line, and you fall below it like, sorry, bitch. Yeah, it's interesting what you said about identity.

Because my husband has been working his entire life. He was, as soon as you're legally allowed to work, he was scrubbing dishes in a hotel, and he was a maid in a hotel. And then as soon as he left high school, he did a work study program for a year of college, and then dropped out because he was working in the shop.

And he got job offer. And he's been building this career ever since as a stagehand. And he has really kind of had this remarkable success story of going from working at the hotel making beds, and then falling into this career that's a six figure job with union benefits, seems super secure.

And I think it took him from 19 to 34 to get there, And that was it. And now that that's gone, I think there's a huge identity piece of, it's not just about the loss of income. It's about like the loss of being a feeling like you're a productive member of society, who felt like you got, you were able to accomplish a lot of the things, and do a lot of the things through your hard work and your perseverance.

And I think we definitely know that the narrative of hard work doesn't always equal success and financial gain. But I think just watching that kind of maybe the American dream kind of crumble in front of him, which I think it has for so many people for so long for, in so many different groups. But even watching it happen to someone who-- I don't know.

I'm just going down a rabbit hole here. And I don't have a really good way of rounding that up. I don't know.

I just, what you said about identity really resonated with me. Because I'm watching my husband struggle with it. Because he's like, I-- and I think everyone has at some point.

I did all the right things. And I had this secure job. And I got like all the things I was supposed to get in place.

And just, how does it all mean nothing? And I think, unfortunately, that's been true for a lot of marginalized groups and populations for a long time. But I definitely, that to my point before, I hope that this is just a wake up call that nothing is safe if the system doesn't support you when things fall apart.

When any New Yorker hears it could be a year before Broadway comes back, it feels like a gut punch. But even for people who have had to cancel or derail major plans this year, there's just such a feeling it's like. You just feel angry at God on some level.

Yeah, and I think, we're talking about how this affects our identities and our outlook, and just the idea of rigidity, and what's certain, what's not. And I wonder what the long term consequences of all of this will be. If you spent the first 10 years of your career building something that you feel like you would then have nothing to show for, or if you plan a wedding, and then like you lose the entire deposit, and you like can't you feel like you can't plan life events.

You can't plan your career. You can't plan that you can forger rent if you sign a two year lease. What can you plan?

And how does that change your choices? And how does it change your outlook and approach to life? So I there's going to be like a long term effect that is going to inform our behavior after this, almost like almost post-traumatic stress of some kind.

Absolutely. having to give up the next few months, in terms of having any kind of control, the idea of not knowing whether I'll be able to go to a restaurant in three months, or be able to go to the beach, or see a friend, or hug my parents, that is a level of uncertainty that I think we don't even understand fully the psychological impacts of that uncertainty. I genuinely think for most people, it does inculcate a kind of low grade depression and a low grade anxiety. And if those things were already president, I think it just massively exacerbates.

And I think for me, it's funny. Because I when I knew I was going to go see my husband, I have the tickets. I had confirmation from the embassy, because it's very complicated.

The borders are closed, all that. I immediately felt an enormous shift in my mood. And of course, part of that is being able to see him.

But I think a huge and maybe more important part of it was that I had a concrete plan that had a date, around which I could build things, towards which I could work, and at which a known event would take place. And the loss of that, I think, in general, the loss of people, whether it is professional or personal or anything in between, I think, the inability to say, to have things to look forward to, or to have, or to anticipate, or to plan, or prepare-- we talk so much about savings goals, and short term savings goals, and what are you planning to save for this year, and all these things. And it's like, could any of us, do we really even have short term goals anymore?

Because in many cases, I would say short term goals, with a few exceptions, are mostly, for most of us, I think would cause anxiety, because there's such uncertainty around whether or not it will happen. But I think everyone has to kind of learn, I think the biggest thing that people have to learn to do is just have some degree of peace with not being able to plan. And I think for us that TFD, that's a real kind of paradigm shift, of-- our whole ethos has been around planning, and preparing, and assessing risk, and deciding the best possible option for you in a given situation.

And now, for a lot of people, the idea of planning is not really an option. No, definitely not. I mean, I think at first, when we experienced the financial shock, I was like, OK, what can I do?

What can I control? And I made lists. And I like reviewed all of our expenses.

And I was like canceling this, canceling this, canceling this, calling this person, renegotiating this. I tried to renegotiate our rent. That didn't work.

But I tried to do all the things. And at first, there was some kind of things I could do with things I could control. But at this point, I've kind of done everything I can do.

And so like I am really just coming to terms with now, the goal and the success, is really just surviving and sustaining. And that's such a different paradigm from being in five years, I want this. So that means I need this much money, divided by 12 times 5 is how much money I need to save every month.

And this is what I can do to get there. That doesn't exist right now. No.

And it's weird. It's like, this is bizarre, too. But it's a very painful to spend down our savings.

Oh yeah And I know just to have savings is such an enormous privilege, the fact that we have this cushion that we can go through. That's what it's for. But it's extremely scary to watch it dwindle down and we dwindle down.

And it's been really interesting. And I've asked people about this. There seems to be more comfort in relying on credit than there is on spending down savings right now.

And I wonder if that is really similar to this idea that we just can't come to terms with the fact that we don't know when this is going to end. But at least if there is, if it's a line of credit, there are parameters around it. So you know that you are going to owe this on such and such a date.

And it gives you almost like a structure, in a way that spending down your savings, you're just going towards zero. So I'm curious what, in going through this, how have you been able to support your partner in his kind of loss of identity, loss of job, income, all of that? And how have you supported yourself and given comfort to yourself throughout not quite the same extent, but a very similar hit?

I mean, that's tough. I can't say that I have answers. I can only kind of share what my experience has been.

And I think on the supporting my partner front, well, maybe I should start with myself. Because it's really hard to support someone when like you're also going through really major emotional upheaval, although sometimes caring for someone else could be a nice way to kind of find purpose. But I think at first, I was just devastated.

Similar to you, at the beginning of the year, I was kind of having a banner year. I had just taken time off with my husband. We had taken this like epic vacation.

Then I came home and signed these biggest contracts of my career. And I'm like, great. It's all working out perfectly.

And two weeks later, the world melts down. And so I am healthy. I have a lot going for me.

We're good. But I'm just I'm just, loss of identity of my own. Loss of like, where am I going?

What's our life? Can we live in our apartment anymore? So I think at first, my coping mechanism was kind of what I was articulating before, of what can I control?

Because all of these elements are outside of my control. But what can I control? And so I did that part of it.

But then once I kind of came to the end of that very short list of what I could control, I just stared into the abyss and did some really unhealthy things. Like I have been having wine every day or liquor. We are very into cocktails right now, as a coping mechanism.

Not saying I recommended. That's just what we've been doing. And I'm trying to find some structure, trying to find things right now that excite me.

Because if the metric can't be like revenue, and I'm not saying I'm not thinking about revenue. I'm still thinking about revenue. But if no one's spending money, how else can I find different metrics for things to move towards.

And so for me, I'm looking for projects that excite me, or things that help provide me some structure, whether it's running, or something else. I'm just trying to lean into those things. So I as I've started trying to think about more things that I want to write than rather than I get paid to write.

I'm thinking about things that, projects I want to pursue, rather than I will get paid to. Hopefully, of course, I need to get paid. But that's just how I'm thinking and coping right now.

And I'm in a better place. But I definitely don't have the answer. In terms of supporting my partner, I think a lot about talking with him about what, what does a lifestyle look like without work for a year, but also no income?

So it's not like we're not working for a year, so let's go travel the world. That's not the calculus. The calculus is, we can't spend any money beyond the most basic level necessities.

So that's a huge luxury to have that much time. So can we frame this within the perspective of like having this time to really think about the lifestyle we want and the things we want to do, and the projects we want to take on? So he definitely like re downloaded his Spanish language learning app.

Isn't he Mexican? Yes, but he doesn't-- I speak more Spanish than my husband does. And he's like building benches in parents' backyards.

Like helping them around their house and stuff, because he thinks he has carpentry skills. So I don't know. It's just a long winded way of saying we're trying to like reframe this as an opportunity-- not to like hustle, or be whatever like that.

Because we're grieving. We're really struggling to get through every day still, a little bit. But if we can find the things that interest us, that we maybe didn't have time to kind of discover or explore before, maybe in the hour of the day where we have a little bit more grace with ourselves, we can pursue that.

Yeah, I think that's all really good stuff. I think I definitely have found-- I just have to say I hate Zooms. I would, I'm calling people a lot now, like on the phone to call.

True. But I just-- for some reason, I think that the video chat, for me, on the personal level, for work, it's what it is. Whatever.

But I think there was a huge emphasis at the beginning of this how to have your Zoom cocktail party or your Zoom dinner party or your Zoom whatever. And I think there was this real kind of huge desire to sort of recreate what we loved about real life through this digital platform. And I think for me, there's been more kind of peace and fulfillment in not trying to recreate what I liked about things before, and leaning into what is good about this time.

And I feel like long phone calls are great. And maybe OK, sometimes they're with a video component. But like I don't need to have big-- I don't want to have a Zoom party.

Do you know what I'm saying? Like I would rather-- you know, and I think, that's just me. And maybe it's because I'm such a huge extrovert, and such a social person, that I'm like, this is like, I want the real thing.

Don't me this crappy knockoff synthetic drug. I want the real hit. But I think it's also that again, the financial slash economic element of it was similar in the approach, where it was like, we were bracing ourselves for a temporary pause.

And I think then the mental shift of like, no, no, like this is, some form of this is going to be how things are for the foreseeable future, possibly for years to come. And I obviously, there are parts of life that will resume, and things will find their way. But I definitely think, when you're trying to treat this as a temporary challenge to get through as quickly as possible, you're going to make things harder on yourself.

And I and I hope that for me, because again, having been in the quarantine alone, I think is probably a different thing mentally. But I do think that there, at the beginning, I was really trying to just keep spirits high, and keep things fun, and keep them feeling fresh. And let's spin a negative into a positive, honey!

And like now I'm like f that, f this. It feels weirdly more liberating and empowering to say like, this sucks. I hate it.

I'm terrified. Every part of this is bad. I want this to be over as soon as possible.

And it gives me anxiety every waking second. Yeah, I had that moment like very early. I think I was just devastated so soon and so fast.

So it's given me more time to kind of come to terms with it and recover. But there also was, even if it was just temporary, I think in my head, it was always temporary for four months, which was still enough of a total change. A big chunk, yeah.

What was what I thought 2020 was going to be. But then going from that to, especially for my husband's work, a year? Even just him being in the same place as me all the time, that's very hard.

That is-- Oh yeah. I'm really glad that he's here. And I'm, I say that with a lot of sympathy for what you're going through.

No, no, no. Mark and I won't be on each other's nerves to such an extent in four. Yeah.

And I was actually taken a little bit of a detour here. But as I was talking about it with one of my really good friends the other day. That I'm really struggling.

Because even though my business isn't really making a lot of revenue, I'm still trying to build. I'm still trying to create things. And it's a lot of work.

But my husband has nothing. He has no direction, no aim, no work. He doesn't know what to do with himself.

And I am completely sympathetic to it. But it's also like, I can't be there next to him all hours of the day while he's going through it. Because I need to try to salvage something over here.

And it's really hard because. In this moment, not only is he struggling, but also, even not in this moment, his love language is definitely acts of service, which take time and headspace, neither of which I have in excess. Because all of my own time and headspace is dedicated to trying to salvage something of the business.

I run. Totally. So there's also this kind of guilt thing that I've been struggling with from the relationship perspective, and the being contained in the same space perspective.

And the idea of doing that for a year is really tough. It's intense. In some ways, I'm not exaggerating.

I'm in some ways, grateful that Mark and I went through what I think we'll look back on as the worst part of the quarantine separately. Yeah. Because especially that first month, there was just, every day was terrible.

And I every day, I felt on the verge of tears all day. And some of that, I'm sure, would have been abated by having my partner with me. But I also think that we would have gotten on each other's nerves.

But I also think that we would not have been the version of ourselves that we would want to be. Because in these times, especially if you're dealing with a level of precarious or loss, or shifting in identity. You're just trying to get yourself through the day.

It's really hard to then have a lot to give to another person. And I think some people thrive on those conditions. I think some people are like babe, let's-- one of the people on the team, her and her husband every morning, they write a daily household bulletin.

It's a fake newspaper that they put on their fridge. And they're like, today's activities, today's meal plan, today's movie. Mark and I would be not speaking to each other for days on end.

And it's because, I think, one thing that a lot of people are probably learning about themselves in isolation-- because whether or not you're with a partner, or you're with family or roommates, you're fundamentally separated from the vast, vast majority of your social networks and your social lives. So I think a lot of people are really crystallizing the kind of person they are. And I think I'm the kind of person who shouldn't be around other people when I'm really upset, or when I'm having a rough time.

And I think a lot of people are currently trying to navigate, whether in a relationship or anyone they might be living with, how can I manage to-- because when you're living with someone-- and a lot of people now are living with their parents or other situations. You owe them, on some level, the best version of yourself. And how do you do that when you're not even capable of doing it, when you're not even capable of faking it?

And I feel grateful that I have had many, many nights to just sit there by myself, scrolling the internet and eating food. You know what I'm saying? And by the time we see each other again, the world is in a place where if it's not better-- and it probably won't be-- we've at least gained some tools and rituals to navigate all of it a lot more healthily, I think.

Yeah, absolutely. I find that our best days during these lockdowns are when we, kind of our best days in real life, when we both how are our respective projects and things that excite us. And we're out doing things on our own.

And then we come together at the end of the day. And we share about it, and maybe have too many cocktails. That's unhealthy part of it.

But I don't know, have a Broadway dance party, because there is no Broadway. That's adorable. Trying to kind of recreate some semblance of the things that create our identity in a world in which everything that used to make up our identity is kind of gone.

Yeah. Within the context of our apartment, or when we're with our parents, , that's when we have our best moments. It's just, that's a big lift, when you're feeling depression and anxiety, which is-- I don't know anyone who's not feeling that at some level.

Absolutely. We were just, we had another guest earlier who was saying that he, one of the things that he kind of mourns the most in this moment is no longer having things to tell his husband. Because they do everything together.

And they're in a one bedroom apartment together. And they watch all the same shows. And they hear all the same music.

And there's no longer that ritual of, you come home, and you talk about what you did that day, or what you saw that day. There's-- and yes, of course, you can sometimes have great conversations in that. But there's so much of that is disruptive to the fundamental patterns of how we form partnerships.

And I, again, I think, I know couples-- I have one couple who I truly-- they live out in Texas. They have their little garden. They're constantly posting adorable things about each other.

They're just the most pure couple. And they're thriving. The other day, the guy posted this picture of the girl.

She's holding the Martini before dinner. And he's so happy for another Friday date. I would never want to be in a house with anyone else.

I love you, babe. And they're always making these adorable food projects, and gardening and stuff. And I messaged them.

And I was, you guys are the best quarantine couple. This is your glory. And I think that's wonderful.

And I think some people are going to learn that they maybe are even too distracted during the day, and they want to be spending more time on these really, really together projects with their partner. But I think other people, and I would put myself in that category-- I already knew it about myself. But even more so now-- I need, and he needs, a lot of alone time.

And I think it's weird when people are quarantined, I would imagine, to have so much time without 99% of other people, but no alone time. Yeah. That's a very weird dynamic to be in.

And one of my girlfriends is currently quarantining with her husband at his parents' house. And she's like, I would empty my bank account for an afternoon by myself to not have to fake answer to someone. Oh my gosh, yeah.

The extra members of the family could be a lot. I also think it's really interesting, we're talking about the social network. And it's funny.

Because I have a lot of close relationships in my life. So I do have a lot of people that I have been calling, and speaking to on the phone, and having these wonderful conversations. And my husband is a little bit more introverted than I am.

And he doesn't have as many close relationships as I do. But what I'm seeing for him right now is that he still really values social interaction, being out in the world and being around people he can be very personable. But he's not connected deeply enough to anyone to just call up and have a Zoom call with.

And so in this moment, what does that gap in your social circle mean. Right. Right?

I think that's a lot of straight man. Yes. For sure.

I think a lot of straight men, I feel very glad that my husband has a few friends that he has those really deep relationships with. And they're Zooming left, right, and center, those guys. But it's pretty rare.

And most of the men I know in my life, their wife is the majority of their social life, in a really intimate way. And I think definitely, the era of the acquaintance is going to probably not be super sustainable. Because when-- I'm pretty confident that this summer, we'll be seeing people.

I don't know in what context. But even if it's a backyard barbecue, and everyone's in a surgical mask, people are going to be socializing. But given the stakes of it, and given the effort and the rigamarole, I feel you're only going to be really socializing with the people you really care about.

It's also hard. Because, and this is true for me, too. So much of my identity and my world is connected to my work, though I do have a lot of other friend groups.

But for my husband, the groups are also connected to the work. And so if there is no work, even that friend group might not necessarily have a reason to meet up. And I think that's probably true for a lot of people right now.

I think it is, too. And I think it's interesting. Because I think we'll, most of us have probably come to some conclusion with so much of our spending, our discretionary spending, coming to an immediate halt, that there are a surprising number of things that I don't miss, in terms of discretionary spending.

And I think that one silver mining could be that I think people will start to be a little bit more, for a lot of reasons, judicious about how they spend their money, and on what, and what deserves it. And there's not going to be as many-- I think we've all gone out to do a bar or a brunch or something, and dropped 40 bucks or more on an OK meal and an OK drink with some OK people. And that's not going to make the cut anymore.

It's funny, because I've been spending some time in the city in my apartment. But I've also been spending some time with my parents during this time, who don't live in the city. So there's not so much delivery out there.

And I find that our spending, even during quarantine, goes up two times. Oh yeah. When we come here.

Because I'm just like, I want all the food. I had Mediterranean. Yesterday was Mexican.

The day before was Indian. And I must have every cuisine before I have to go back home and cook every meal for myself. So in some ways, I've been winning at spending zero dollars.

But then the problem with being in my apartment is all I want to do is spend money on food. Yeah, and it's also, I think simultaneously, while a lot of us are really cutting back, kind of effortlessly, I think in some ways, it's also easier than ever to just say screw it. Yeah.

To a lot of purchases. Well, it's also, it's the indulgence, right? Right.

What's the other splurge right now? And to be fair, what is the splurge for the future? We're not going to be taking any vacations for the foreseeable future.

I definitely need some new pants. But I'm not going anywhere. So I my jeans have massive holes in them.

They're not cute holes. OK. I was going to say-- They're so tattered, my full upper thigh is coming out.

So it's just, I think, I don't know. I wonder if, how much of this is this is an accessible thing to look forward to. My, I kid you not.

I bought avocados the other day. And then the day they were ripe, the entire day, I was excited. Because the avocados were ripe, so I could make guacamole.

And I was OK. So it's going to be guacamole and margaritas at 5:00 PM. And the whole day, I'm looking forward to it.

Yes, you have an activity. Yes! Yesterday, I need to crunch wrap supremes, homemade crunch wrap supremes, and a Baja blast and stuff inspired Margarita.

All week, that was the fumes I was running on. I was like, I can't wait for Wednesday. I got my Baja blast Margarita and my homemade crunch wrap supremes.

I can do anything I want. But no matter what you're spending your money on, you are going to want the right tools to analyze it. And quite frankly, it would be an understatement to say that app for me is one called Mint, which, good news, is completely free.

Basically, Mint is an app that connects to all of your various accounts and cards, and works to help you synthesize all of the various points of your money life, understand your spending. You'll see when you're going over budget, or even get alerts when you're about to go over budget in a certain category. Breaks things into really cute little pie charts, so you can really start to get an intimate understanding of the ins and outs of your finances.

And the finances that my husband and I are currently navigating have changed pretty radically in the past few months, for a lot of reasons. So having that to me has provided a real security blanket everyday. Because it feels I have a sense of control over something, even when so much feels out of control.

And especially when so much is uncertain, I feel very reassured by having as much information as possible. So for me, Mint has been something that is really, really nice to have, and this time and more useful to me than frankly, it has been forever, and I've been using it for seven years. So I could not recommend Mint more.

And I said, it's totally free. So what do you have to lose? If you want to check out Mint, check it out at the link in our description or our show notes.

Any hot money tips in a global cataclysm? Oh my gosh. I mean, yeah.

There are things you can do. For sure. Share some of what.

What should someone who just laid off, got laid off or furloughed, what should their first move be? So I think number one is, this is what I did. I'll share my experience, because we went through this.

Looking at all of your necessary expenses, or looking at all of your expenses, period. And I mean your actual spending. So pulling out all of the statements and the bank statements, the credit card statements, all of them, from the last three months, six months, going through them line by line, and literally separating out what you need versus what you don't need, just to give yourself a sense of how much it costs to live your necessary lifestyle.

How much does it cost to put food on the table each month? How much does it cost for you to pay your housing costs each month? How much does your insurance premiums cost each month?

And then you get a number to tell you, OK, this is the benchmark for the viability of my life on a monthly basis. Is this something that I can cover with what I have in savings? If so, how many months worth?

And then also, you can go through that list and see what you can do to reduce, to negotiate, to defer if you need to, calling up the landlord. If they're not going to negotiate, like my landlord was not reducing my rent. But they are waiving their late fees.

Not that I want to pay three months rent in three months, but trying to figure out where there's flexibility, so that you have time to do step two, which is kind of identifying your resources. So do you qualify for unemployment? Tick and you qualify for PPP?

Can you qualify for any aid of any kind? This is really important to understand, is that what's available at a federal level might be, might be different. I'm sorry, what's available out a state level might be different depending on what state you're in.

Right. And the same is true on a city level. So your local government has different resources from the other local governments.

And then the local programs, the state programs, and federal programs are kind of this layered cake that you need to put together for yourself, based on your circumstances and where you're living. So don't just listen to me here in New York. Figure out what's available in my state?

What's available in my city? What's available in my town? And then also, beyond the government resources, there is a lot of private companies doing a lot of initiatives.

There are food banks. There are, it's a lot of work. But one of the things that we're realizing in this trade of less money is more time for a lot of us.

Not necessarily true if now, you're just caring for someone full time or anything else. But use whatever resource you do now, have which for a lot of people is now time as opposed to money, to try to figure out how you can leverage it to make your lifestyle work. So figuring out the expenses, figuring out the resources to bring in some income, and really sitting down and doing some calculations.

This is how much I have in my emergency fund. This is how much it costs us to live each month. How many months will that last, assuming zero income?

OK, how about assuming, assuming that we get unemployment for the next four months? OK, well if that runs out, what are the hard decisions we might need to make? And we might not make those decisions today.

But it's good for us to kind of think through what the options are now, when we still have a little bit of time to think about those choices. What's the unemployment right now here in New York? So that the Max is five, 5 something?

It's over $500. A week. And then, a week.

And then you also get an extra $600. Per month? Per week!

Per week? Yes. You get $1,100 a week?

You get $1,100 a week pre-tax, provided you qualify for the full benefit. So it's a reasonable amount of money. It is, actually, there's-- a majority of people collecting unemployment, I think I saw this headline, are making more off of unemployment than they are from their jobs.

Which, by the way, the hot take about is going to be that there's too much unemployment. The actual hot take is that way too many people are severely underpaid. That is exactly right.

That's what that is. Especially if you consider the fact that so many of these people are now also subsidizing their own health care. Oh my god.

That's an enormous burden as well. It's, I don't understand how it doesn't radicalize more people. I think not enough people have felt it.

And I don't understand a world in which you need to experience something personally to have empathy. But I know that's true for a lot of people. And my only hope is that if this isn't the catalyst for a major change, like a new new deal, I don't know what is.

I feel the same. And I feel, it's interesting. Because in, I think there's really two ways we can go culturally.

And in the best iteration I picture, in New York, with almost no cars and green space, and bikes everywhere, like very Amsterdam-esque, it used to be New Amsterdam. We should take more from their cues, and people being more conscientious. I read some crazy stats pre-COVID about how few especially men were washing their hands.

And so I picture this situation where we're leaning into the best of what communal living can be. And we're all being very conscientious. And we're all really taking care of each other.

And we have a much higher focus on hey, if one of us isn't OK, if one of us is sick, we all get sick, and it really extrapolating that out to a lot of other ways of thinking. But I also feel, and I feel this is a bit nihilistic. But also, I mean, in America, this is, there's a pattern here.

And I feel people wanting to retreat out to big oversized suburban McMansions, and get a bunch of cars, and everyone's in there SUV, and living in their own tiny little isolated fiefdom, because they feel like that superficial level of distance and isolation will protect them. And it's honey, if your supply chain is infected, if your grocery store worker is infected, if the migrant workers coming to do agricultural work are infected, it's working its way back to your suburban enclave. No one is safe.

Have you read about these bunkers in New Zealand? Oh my god. Can we just lock them in their bunkers?

Enjoy, babe. Yeah, don't let them out. You have five years to live.

Enjoy it. Enjoy those five years. We'll talk about it in five years, Elon Musk.

I think every episode of TFC from now to the end of the season is going to have a hate on Elon Musk moment, because the last one did, too. But there could not be a worse person right now. Why are you just spending 24 hours a day yelling at people about how we should all go outside and lick each other?

So deranged. Has he not done enough damage? But what do you say?

I mean, has this changed, has this whole kerfuffle changed how you feel about the business that you're building, and what you want to be doing, and what your message is, and who you are professionally? I mean, I because we have some flexibility, that we're not moving out of our apartment yet, we're not at that point in our lives. So we have enough financial stability, that we can just take this time to sit and reflect.

I've been doing a lot of reflecting. And I don't know. I really don't know what the future is.

Because I think, one is, I'm the kind of person who pivots a lot. I do follow my interests a lot, and my instincts, which are always changing. And I find my career, and a lot of careers, are cyclical.

Nothing is really more than two to three years at a time, even if it's within the same business. Your book was probably two years. And then you're-- of course, you were doing other things.

You were building the YouTube channel. But it's like, yeah, and that's the dominant focus for a while. And then it becomes something else, and you're building out your team for two years, or whatever it is.

And so for, I've been on life cycles. And I'm kind of at a point where I'm like all right. What, especially, now, given all this new input, all this new information, about total fragility of the world, what's the most constructive way for me to talk about anything, or to provide value?

Does anyone need me to sit here and be to sit here and be like, all right. OK. I don't know if I should say this.

Say it. Now you have to say it. No, more of I don't know if it's good for TFD.

I was like, is it is it constructive for me to write five ways to improve your credit score? No. Are you writing that for TFD?

No, no, but I think I have in the past. The thing is, yes, everyone needs this basic information. Yeah, I think there's still utility there.

But it's like, do I need to read it again? And is that-- and when there's so, there's just there's so much more to say, and I'm not-- I don't now. Clearly I'm lost a little bit, right?

I don't know. I want to be able to do things that are more, I think, maybe relevant and urgent. But what is even urgent right now, when we know nothing?

And so I'm just also maybe a little bit flailing. It's hard, because as a business owner, you already have no structure, except what you put on yourself. Sure and then when the world around you loses all of its structure, it's like whoa, where do I even begin to aim my compass?

And so I'm just trying to take the time to do some introspection, and think about what I can be creating, and how I can be helping more people. And who the hell knows? That's not a really satisfying answer.

But that's kind of where I'd been stuck. And I think one of the things that I've come to during this time is maybe living with uncertainty, and maybe letting other people live with a little bit more uncertainty, is what we need right now. Because it's always the people who are promising answers to everything, that's when you get demagoguery.

That's when you get this need to have certainty, and then the need to have blame. And then it's all about easy answers. And the fact is that nothing is easy.

And nothing is certain. And if we can all be a little bit more honest about that, and the messiness of it, and the greatest of it. And just me sitting here, not having a satisfying answer, if we can allow all of ourselves to maybe not have a satisfying answer, maybe we'll make better decisions about everything and be a little bit more kind with others and ourselves.

I totally agree. And I think also, I hope that this is the end of hustle culture. And when people were spouting off about how to make the most of your quarantine, I'm like truly, honestly, please shut up.

No one cares. And this is so hollow and so anathema to what the human experience of suddenly having to radically redefine so many elements of our life. Our focus right now should not be on SEO optimizing our affiliate website.

That is not what makes each day fulfilling. And I think that also, that culture-- so much in the personal finance world is about putting a focus on a number, or a net worth, or a female millionaire, or a female CEO, all these things. And I think that is also probably on its way out.

Because that feeling of-- look at the people who have amassed big fortunes. All that money, and they still can't go to a restaurant. They still can't see their favorite band live.

They still can't, if they're being respectful, hug their parents. All that money, and look at what it gets you right now. And what we're seeing is that so much of why we're in this position is a failure of treating the community with as much respect as we treat the individual.

And I think in a moment this, we all realize, we are much more a member of a community than we are an individual. And I hope that the individualist focus of personal finance will start to cede to a much more community oriented notion. And I'm still, at the end of the day, I know for personal finance Twitter standards, I'm Mao.

But I'm still a fundamentally a capitalist, in the sense that even super socially democratic European countries still operate in many respects in a capitalist market, just with enormous amounts of regulation and a very, very robust social safety net. I mean, I own a small business. I the idea that I can operate my business in a free market.

But the answer cannot be every man for himself. And I think that when we see, you can have as much as you want. But if everyone around you is getting sick, it's worth nothing.

That, I hope, is something that will stick with people. And it's always an example that I give. It's always been an example that I use in this context.

But the focus should be less on how we can all radically pare down our lifestyles to pay off a massive student debt burden in a small amount of time. It should be, how can we use all of our resources and energy to organize so that future generations are not crippled, and even our generation, is not crippled by this debt? And that's why it gets-- I've always felt so-- I know that debt free is such a big thing for people.

And it's, people love to see it, and such a big, satisfying thing to celebrate. It's so clean. It's so final.

And I, when I see people who are celebrating being debt free, I do celebrate with them to an extent personally. Because I've been in collections. I've been in debt.

I know how crushing it feels, how anxiety inducing, and how, what an accomplishment it is to get over that hill. But I always do have a feeling of, you should not have been in $300,000 of debt in the first place. That is a mistake and a failure of your community.

And I just, I hope that, I know, I'm sure there are plenty of people who, to your earlier point about your husband, were doing everything right, making all of their, the maximum payment they could every month to work down their principles, and putting money away and doing everything. And then you're done. Can't pay any of that anymore.

And if your identity and your worth and your value is tied up to how close you are to being debt free, or how close you are to a specific goal-- Like a early retirement? Early retirement, or even, in many cases, home ownership. And I think, I look around at the people who had big, big life moves planned this year-- buy a home, have a kid, do all of these things.

And for many of them, it's just someone, they had set up this whole little board game in front of them, and someone just someone just came and flipped the table. You know? And it's like, the framework of perceiving money as an individual accomplishment and a exercise of individual discipline and rigor and character is completely undercut by a reality in which everyone's house of cards can be knocked over in 10 seconds.

And all that you built until that is worthless, essentially. And again, even if you did manage to amass a great fortune, I mean, listen, I'm sure the fire people are not really living all that differently now than you were pre Rona. But I'm sure are plenty of people out there who hoarded money.

And now, what does it buy you? I think we've spoken in the past about, I to spend my money. I save.

But I very much enjoy spending money as well. Sure. And even in this moment, even in the moment where I'm facing down some potentially really hard decisions, I have no regrets about the money I've spent.

I certainly think there's a point at which overspending is problematic, for sure. And this is not me saying that we should spend every dollar we make and not save anything. I definitely think there is a value to having a money practice, a savings practice, investing, all of those things.

But I don't, I don't want us to come out of this and be so hoarding our money that maybe we become even more obsessed with the metrics, and our identity becomes even more tied to the money we have in the bank. I really think it's important that we don't lose the value of the rest of our lifestyle that maybe we're letting ourselves discover a little bit during this time, but that we don't kind of seesaw back the other way, to being like obsessed with the numbers. I totally agree.

So what are our parting thoughts, Steph? I mean, it's a lot. Words of wisdom.

Advice. Guide the flock, Steph. Shepherd the flock.

I think if anything is clear, it's that nobody knows anything, right? Right? I'm not going to this sit here and pretend I have the answers.

Because I think it's quite clear I don't. And I think maybe the message from our conversation is, we're in a place where we need to give ourselves flexibility, and grace, and kindness, and compassion, even if we don't have certainty or a plan or answers. Not saying we give up control of everything.

But things we can control, sure. Let's try to optimize. Let's try to maximize, going through the expenses, calling up the unemployment office every day till you get through.

That's stuff you can do. But there's a lot you can't do. And it's OK.

It's OK if today's if this year is not the year you make a million dollars, right? Oh yeah. And quite frankly, a lot of the people I see trying to do that look gross doing it.

Oh my god. There are like, so many people in the personal finance community are like, I'm going to make 2020 my best year. And I'm like, OK.

Chill out. Yeah. Aren't you like-- oh!

Do you have not-- are you not even a human enough to be like, I'm having a rough time! Yeah. And that's our parting message!

I think we're having a rough time. I'm having an extremely rough time! And that's OK.

It's OK to have to use your credit card. It's OK to have to spend your savings. And that's what these tools are for.

Yeah, we want to do it responsibly. But it's not the worst thing in the world to take on debt when you need it. Credit card is a tool.

A loan is a tool. This is not-- I'm not going to say. The he who shall not be named.

But this is not-- Yes. Any kind any kind of black and white device that is like-- this is just like, I have no words right now. I have no words!

Yes! I also I love that-- The Financial Diet's Voldemort, truly, he who shall not be named. Yes.

But I also, I read this article that was so good, that was you are in a, we are all in some level of grieving. Because we're all grieving experiences, normality, routines, people, stability, normalcy. There are so many elements of our life that have been ripped from us, essentially overnight, and no real concrete end in sight.

And that is devastating to mental health. And most of us are probably like, I go through most of my day feeling like, it's right there that I could cry, all the time. And it's, but that's totally normal.

And I think, when we look back at other historical events that lasted years, and we think of how difficult it must have been on a day-to-day basis during those years, you start to realize, OK. There's a strong chance that this will not be that bad. This will not be as bad as all of those other things that all of those other people got through.

And you can start to contextualize it. So I think both giving yourself enough context to walk yourself down from the catastrophizing, but also real space to be like, this is as if a medium close friend just died or something. This is as if some radical, radical rug was pulled out from under me.

For many of us, it was. But even for those of us who still have your job, or you still have a lot of stability, you can't see the people you love anymore. That's, these are all real losses.

And you have to give yourself space to grieve them. But you know, I thank you for being here, and for being so candid about the stuff you're going through. Because I know so many of our audience is going through that as well.

Well I'm glad you let me kind of try to babble my way through it. No, it's real, and it's good. It's definitely real.

Yeah. Well thanks, Steph. And for those of you who are thinking about what the future may look, you are going to want the right tools to plan your future.

And if, like me, you know and love Mint, or maybe even if you don't, one awesome next level and free app to check out is called Turbo. Turbo is a fantastic app that gives you a really bird's eye level view of your finances, things your debt to income ratio, all the information you need about your credit score, basically everything that you need to know when you're looking at making a bigger financial decision. And for a lot of us, we're kind of reassessing what these next five to 10 years might look.

And it is incredibly important to have all of that high level financial information at your fingertips. Because you want to know it before a mortgage lender looks at it, or someone who could potentially be making pretty high level decisions for your life. So reclaim some of that certainty, and reclaim the ability to at least know where you stand, so when things get more plannable, you can start planning, by checking out Turbo.

Again, it's totally free. And it's at the link in our description and our show notes. As always, guys, thank you for tuning into the Financial Confessions.

Be sure to check out Stephanie O'Connell at all of her various socials. We'll link those in the description in the show notes. And I'll see you right back here next Monday.