Do you have a huge financial goal you’re chasing, but you’re not sure how to fit it in with everything you have going on right now?
Learn how you can be happy with your money and your life!
Finding a Healthy Balance with Your Money and Your Life
One of the biggest challenges when working on family and financial goals is finding that balance.
It can be easy to go from one extreme to another without even realizing it.
Before we started knocking out our debts, I wouldn’t say I gave much attention to finances.
However, there’s another extreme where you’re completely focused on your financial goals. It can get to the point where you say, ‘We’re going to do this when we pay this debt off, or have this much invested, or XYZ‘, you get the idea.
This approach can rob you of joy of the journey and can add undue stress to your family.
Taking care of your family and financial goals can be enjoyable. It can also be more holistic, improving different areas of your life, including social, mental health, and more.
That’s why I’m thrilled Jason Vitug is on the show today. He’s the author of You Only Live Once, and his new one one, Happy Money Happy Life.
In this episode we’ll:
- look at finances through a holistic lens
- share how you can make sure that you're enjoying the journey
- how to take care of yourself and your family
We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started!
Resources to Find More Balance with Your Health and Wealth
If you’re ready to jump into the year and knock out some of your health and wealth goals, here are a few of my favorite.
- Best Budget and Money Apps: Empower, Tiller, Mint
- Grab Your Copy: Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money
- Jason's Books: Happy Money Happy Life and You Only Live Once
- Connect with Jason: Twitter and Instagram
- Start with Your Why
- Noom Weight: Unlike other programs, Zoom’s psychological focus uses small goals to help users create lasting habits and lose weight for good. You'll get fitness tips, recipes, a coach, and more to stay motivated.
- What’s the #1 habit Peter would suggest every person add to their daily regimen?
If you’d like to chat more your money system, please join us in our private and free Facebook group – Thriving Families.
We’re families looking to support and help one another out.
Hope to see you there!
Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!
Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! Come check out Coastal today if you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better.
As a credit union, Coastal serves its members first and foremost including an annual loyalty bonus.
We've been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!
Happy Money = Happy Life?
Jason Vitug, the author of “Happy Money, Happy Life,” emphasizes the importance of financial wellness, which goes beyond just achieving financial goals and milestones.
Financial wellness is about living a purposeful life that aligns with your values and desires. He believes that financial wellness is not just about wealth, but also about mental, emotional, and social wellbeing.
While money is a tool to build a life you love, it should not be the sole focus of your life.
The pandemic has highlighted the need for a conversation about financial wellness, and Jason hopes to start this conversation by sharing his story and the stories of others to help people understand that money is just one component of a happy life.
Here's a transcript of our conversation, edited for clarity and brevity. You can also watch our interview on YouTube!
The Intersection of Money, Health, and Happiness
Elle Martinez: I do think there needs to be more conversations about that intersection of money, your health, all facets of that, your life and how it fits in.
On one hand, I feel like in the personal finance space, there's a little bit of an extreme, and I get it. Like many of us have started with debt, and so we have that intense focus at first, right?
But then you get into the cycle and you're almost just chasing the numbers. At a certain point it's like, well, what are you chasing? Are you chasing your FI number? Are you chasing, I need to have this amount in my bank account. Why?
What I've always appreciated and respected with what you've done, Jason, is you've highlighted. ‘That's good. Get your finances in good spot, but always remember your why.'
Even in this book you talk about financial wellness, but then also I love this a purposeful life.
Like what is your money doing for you? I say on the podcast, money is a tool and use it like such. It's not the goal, it's a tool to build a life that you love.
Let's just start off with that term, financial wellness. What does financial wellness?
Understanding Financial Wellness
Jason Vitug: I love that because when I started talking about financial wellness over a decade ago, people looked at me like I had 10 heads. They're like, financial wellness, like how does that even, like, how are those two words together?
I knew back then that it was much more than financial numbers, that it's much more than these milestones associated with money that ultimately, we set these financial goals, these milestones.
because we wanna live a specific life and we tend to take away or take out that conversation of like, what type of life do you actually want to live? And that has a lot to do with cultural, societal marketing pressures on kind of setting these goals.
Just like when you talked about all these people, with tremendous amount of debt.
I was in a tremendous amount of debt and I figured my way out of it and realizing achieving debt freedom isn't the answer to kind of like what is missing in my life.
Certainly that was a distraction from what I wanted to accomplish, but once you achieve your financial milestones, it's so essential for us to understand underlying why, and so when I go out there and I talk to people about financial wellness.
It is about your health. It's about your wealth, it's about the overall quality of the life that you are living so you can be the richest person in the world.
Some of the richest people in the world are suffering mentally and emotionally. They're suffering socially and, and all these other aspects of their wellbeing.
That is the message that I have spoken about for over a decade. And I continue to talk about, but now I'm adding layers because more and more.
They do wanna talk about money. Yeah. But they also wanna talk about how money relates to other aspects of their life. And I think this is like primetime, especially what we've all gone through in the last couple of years. With the pandemic and the shutdowns and, and how that's affecting so many aspects of our lives.
I really wanted to kind of hone in on this conversation and say, Hey, listen. There's a foundation that we can start with and let me share my story.
Let me share the stories of other people so you understand that you're not alone and that money is just one component of this happiness piece that you're searching for.
Once we can fully have this amazing conversation about your finances, we can then dive deeper into these other things.
Enjoying Your Financial Journey
Elle Martinez: Yeah. Oh, there's so many good points there. I think for me, like in in my community, a lot of us are parents with young kids, and so something that resonated with me and with others and that I appreciate about you is getting your finances a good spot, but enjoying the journey.
You talk about milestones and reaching it, and I cheer on any family that they're paying off, the unnecessary debt or working towards financial independence.
But sometimes I feel like in the personal finance space, the way we talk about it, it's almost like an on off switch. Like, oh, my problems will go away. Or if you have this, you'll have the life you want.
What you've been doing is saying, Hey, as you're getting these pieces in place, options open up, opportunities to say yes to things that you really wanna do, and also you have a little more freedom to say no.
Just thinking with the pandemic, unfortunately, if a family was not in a good financial space, many of them had to make choices like their physical health and, and risking, while going to work. Or taking care of their family.
I love how you go with the nuances and as you say, the layers. Cause I think finances are – I know it sounds cliché – it really is personal.
What is important to you in that season of life? What is your priority right now? And having those conversations with yourself, with your family, that way you can kind of hone in on what is the best next step for you.
I'm really thrilled about how you're approaching this book.
Change is a Part of Life
Jason Vitug: Absolutely. Because that's a key thing, is that our lives changes and it changes because of the decisions that we make and the choices that we make, but also with external factors we have no control over.
I think it was a wake up call for the majority of people in this world in terms of there are things that we can control and things that are out of our control, but people who had their finances in order were able or better suited to weather the pandemic.
Now, that doesn't mean they had it all together because I have spoken to so many people and I've written their stories in happy money, happy life, those who were financially well, who weren't mentally or emotionally prepared wow.
Or who became socially isolated, how that affected their happiness and their wellbeing, and ultimately affected their finance.
So they came in going, ‘I'm in a good financial situation and eventually finding themselves in a financial mess because mm-hmm. , other aspects of their wellbeing wasn't taken care of.'
Then there were others who were suffering financially, but they had a strong social network, a deep connection with their family deep connections with their friends, and they were able to weather it quite better in other aspects of their wellbeing.
So for me, getting the book out and getting this message that finances is really just one component of our wellbeing. And then there are other aspects.
It's the eight dimensions of wellness. So when we talk about your wellbeing, it's not just finances, it's mental, emotional, physical, environmental, spiritual, occupational and social wellbeing.
In the book actually wrote about these wellness dimensions and how money weaves itself. Yeah. Through, through all of it and how we can utilize money to improve different aspects of our wellness.
And so like the whole premise is that money can buy happiness when we spend on wellness.
One thing I want people to understand, Wellness is what you do today. It's not what you're thinking of what you will do five years from now, 10 days from now. It actually is, how are you taking care of yourself today?
So when you're talking about my first book, yolo, which is, you know, that whole premise that you can have a good life today while planning for a better tomorrow.
This is part of that conversation to say, well, yes, we need to take care of ourselves today. Wellness is really about an active pursuit and so we can't say,' okay, I'll take care of my mental health later on once I get my money together. I'll take care of my relationships with my parents later when I get my money together.'
Because, you know, anything can happen. And so part of that is saying, okay, well, not to overwhelm. But if we can focus and understand and quantify all the aspects of what makes you, you, you can then utilize your time, your resources, your finances in a way that will positively affect your experiences, your joy, your happiness.
Building Flexibility Into Your Finances
Elle Martinez: absolutely. And I love that because like you mentioned, we all go through like different seasons and cycles and one thing I Appreci is when you have a certain area in a good spot, you can kind of take your foot off the pedal and give attention to this.
For example, we'll use finances, like when you have your financial system mostly automated, right? So you can take care of the bills, your investments, your savings, whatever. That gives you time.
Okay. I need to have time to focus with, for example, like our kids when we had to do the remote learning, that was an adjustment. But it was good knowing, I took care of this so now this season let me take care of this.
It is a bit of shifting and changing but tho those are good things cuz you grow from them, you learn from them. A lot of times is as you're improving this, you take something from this that will help you in this other area. But I love those dimensions that you brought up with your heart, your relationships, social for you.
You've seen people who've done tours and believe you wrote like it took five years researching this and looking into this. Yeah. What were some of the bigger mistakes you noticed or patterns and habits people were having that was sabotaging their progress?
Whether it's finances or just overall their wellness?
Focus on Your Why, Not Just The Goal
Jason Vitug: Yeah, so one of the key things, I think we, we talked about it earlier on, which is just focusing solely on financial numbers.
Mm-hmm. . So people have this idea that once we reach a financial goal or that milestone, it solves everything. And it does not.
I've talked about couples who believed that once they achieved their financial independence number, that they were golden, like everything was gonna work out.
So I shared a story of a fi couple. They're quite popular and I won't name their names cuz they did talk to me in anonymity but one of the key things was they talked about achieving this fi fine number, sacrificing all the joys to reach it sooner rather than later.
And then coming out in the last couple of years that they were getting a divorce and realizing that their focus on achieving financial numbers. Took them away from actually developing their relationships, getting to know one another through the process.
And so both of them said, if I can take this back, because they both care about each other. Mm-hmm. .
It was just realizing that if we can take the time back that we wouldn't be as aggressive in trying to achieve this fine number. We would've spent time to go out, explore. We would've gone out on more romantic dates so they can get to know each other through the process.
They realize that they had all these financial dates. And I think a lot of money people talk about you need to have a financial date with your partner and have these discussions. I think that is essential. But all your dates shouldn't just have to be about numbers. yes. We should not be about numbers.
I think that is the general kind of consensus within the personal finance space. Like everything has to be filter solely by finances.
When you get your finances in a way, and I'm not talking about achieving financial independence, I'm talking about when you get to your finances where you feel comfortable, you feel a bit secure.
We need to get to a point where we need to start addressing all these other aspects of it. It's like the romantic aspect of a relationship, not just the financial aspect. And so that's one of the stories that I shared because it was really important.
I think we highlight these financial milestones and we see it in social media, and we see it in traditional mainstream media.
And you'll say, oh yeah, someone who's 28 achieved financial independence and then when you go and you have these one-on-ones, and I mentioned to you that, and you mentioned that I've traveled all across the country.
I get these private conversations with people and they know I'm the guy who talks about happiness and joy and money, and they tell me, I don't know how to be happy and I achieve the numbers, but how do I let go of it?
That's part of the programming and an obsession. And I get it, money is stressful and yeah. But there are other things that, that we can do. So with that said too, like I really bear it all in this book.
Like , you thought I shared things during my talks or my first book. This one, I really bear it all.
When we were talking about family and finances, I really wanted to share very specific story that relates to money and trying to filter everything through money.
So my mom and I, we were planning to go to the Philippines to go visit my grandmother, my Lola. Yeah. And this was before the pandemic 2019. And so we were gonna go around the holidays and my parents being in a very specific like fixed finances, they're retired and their preexisting conditions and things like that.
Well, I told my parents,' oh yeah, we can go. I can go with my mom and we'll travel the 24 hours to get to the Philippines.'
And of course during the holidays it's very expensive to travel, you know? Yeah. 10,000 miles away and I decided kind of blindly, it's like, ‘oh, we can, we can kind of push it.'
And me talking to my mom and she's like, ‘yeah, I think that's too expensive to go during the holidays. Mm-hmm. let's wait a few months. Let's wait in April. ‘
Oh. And we all know what happened in March of 2020. Wow. So 2020, everything closed. We were unable to travel.
My grandmother passed away in July, 2020. And so for me that was a reminder to stop filtering everything based on finances and the last conversation and I recall having with my mom was like, ‘oh yeah, we, we got a good deal to go in April versus going in December.'
And I can tell you right now, I would be willing to pay that thousand, $1,500 extra per ticket to be able to go hug my Lola one last time. Yeah.
That was kind of one of those things where I, I push back and I remind people, I'm like, listen, I understand we all have financial constraints.
We all have financial goals and, and finances. Mm-hmm. , whether we agree with it or not, is woven into our society in a way.
It's very hard to extract ourselves from it, but when we get to a point, we really have to assess things, not just through the financial lens.
I tell everyone, I'm like, oh, yeah, I value family above all else. But I'm gonna tell you, in that decision, I put finances over family values. Mm-hmm.
I share that and continue to hold that in my heart and my spirit to hopefully remind people that I understand that there are financial predicaments.
But if we can have a more holistic conversation when it comes to your life, let's have that.
Because there, there are, and I've learned this, there are many ways for us to, to earn back the money. Mm-hmm. Might not be easy but certainly we need to get away from filtering every decision solely based on money. Yeah.
Elle Martinez: Wow. I really appreciate you sharing that. I know that's, that's incredibly tough.
Mm-hmm. . But it's a reminder for all of us, to prioritize. I know I've struggled with that. Writing about finances over a dozen years, you're around people who talk about finances but not forgetting the important things, the people that matter in your life is absolutely crucial.
That lesson that you learned, do you think that motivated you to take this trip that you most recently, like, don't wait, don't put it off.
Jason Vitug: Yeah, it, it, it did and I think, mm-hmm. Part of that was me going on my last trip to a place, to a location on Mother Earth that I've always wanted to go.
I love history going to Greece, going to Istanbul and Israel and, and Petra and Jordan and the pyramids in Egypt.
Like all this were, were childhood dreams and for some reason I held off doing that. Don't ask me why. Like I have been to so many parts of the world and I love to travel. Don't ask. And I'm still asking myself like, why did it take me this long?
I think part of it was something I've always wanted to do as a child and being able to do it. I was like, okay, I'll, I'll, I'll get to it. I'll get to it at the perfect time. I'll get to it when I'm not working so much.
I'm not going around and doing speaking gigs, or I'm not writing a book or what have you. And I said to now is the perfect time.
And it may not be, quote unquote, the best time because it's right in the middle of launching my second book, but it was like the perfect time because I needed the mental, emotional and, and physical Focus in terms of like taking some time off so I can, I can kind of process things.
So yes, that definitely did play a role in it. I still did get a bargain on this trip. I mean, seven countries four or five weeks traveling and it didn't bust the budget. So those things are still really quite possible.
But my whole aim and goal was mm-hmm. . when, trying to find the time to do the things that matter and that's most important. And that reinvigorating me to go out there and, and share this message of holistic wellness and reminding people that, yeah, the perfect time is often the time that we just choose to start.
Elle Martinez: Yeah. I know sometimes it gets lost in a shuffle when you're talking about like financial independence or financial freedom because it's not about the money goal, it's buying back time or getting that time so you could decide how you're going to use it.
I think that's incredible. When I was looking at your pictures, first of all, you know, definitely Instagram worthy for the trip. I was like, oh my goodness. It's so gorgeous the pictures you were taking. But I sense, you know, I didn't know the story with your grandmother or anything beforehand, but I sense like it was a deeper trip that other than, Hey, look at me.
I'm here, I'm taking the picture.
there was joy with yours, pictures, there was this all. I mean, you were just like there taking it all in and it somehow like just came through the comments and the posts that you were putting there. I was definitely inspired. I was cheering on.
Jason Vitug: That's awesome! Can I tell you, when I walked up the Acropolis in Athens and being one of those like reading so much ancient Greek mythology through the years and. I couldn't stop smiling, and if you look at my photos and videos, I just, I couldn't stop smiling and I'm still smiling right now.
And a lot of that had to do with as I mentioned, is just being immersed in it for so long and wanting do it, and finally being there and taking the moment to kind of just sit and stare at the Acropolis.
And yes, it, it did get emotional for me and just thinking about what happened in the last two, three years.
Cuz I go I like to tell people that, a lot of us that have kind of public facing personas and businesses mm-hmm. We tend to focus on the positive aspects of of things, and that has just a lot to do with also keeping ourselves going through, through the daily grind.
But I like to tend to share with people that I'm very reflective. Like I do a lot of self-reflection. I do a lot of reminiscing and sharing my thoughts. Yeah. So whenever I do travel, it's not just so, Hey, look at me at this wonderful site. It's, this is the experience that I'm having and this is the thoughts that are running through my mind.
This is the joy that I'm feeling in my heart. Yeah. And part of that too, . It's kind of to emphasize also my message and my philosophy with others that mm-hmm. things don't have to be going right all the time.
Everything doesn't have to be falling into place for you to do what matters to you and sometimes doing what matters to you puts everything right back where it needs to be.
You come back reinvigorated and the problem that you thought was insurmountable, the problem or the issues you thought you couldn't get through, now you have a whole set of new perspectives and so I'm a big believer in travel.
I'm a big believer in having conversations with awesome people like yourself and, oh, thank you and kinda listening to podcasts and reading books because it provides our mind new inputs, new data, where we can then assess our current situation differently.
I say this because one of the dimensions of wellness, Is mental health, mental wellness, which I call happy mind.
What I've learned is that it is essential for us to have new experiences. It's essential for us to push the boundaries of our thoughts to constantly learn, and we can learn through podcasts, through audio books, through reading books, through conversations, through workshops and seminars.
We need to keep putting ourselves out there and one biggest things that people can do is travel, and you don't even have to travel across the world, you can go to a neighboring city or town and kind of figure out, hey, what's this town known for?
Let me gain some experiences and have some conversations with some locals and, and things like that. So part of that is going, you don't have to wait for the financial number.
You don't have to wait for the perfect time. It's just a matter of prioritizing what's important to you and finding the time and the resources to make it happen.
Elle Martinez: Absolutely. Wow. This is a great way to end the conversation, but there's so much more to talk about.
But definitely grab this book. Happy Money, happy life. The theme this season of the podcast, Jason's actually living reaching for your rich life. Yes. And it's not just the numbers with it, but actually enjoying it and having those experiences.
As you mentioned, like everyone has something different. It could be travel. I know some people love to garden, write, read, you know, there's so many different dimensions to us besides, where we work at.
Jason Vitug: I do wanna add one thing and because this is, you talk a lot with family, and so I want pe people with families I think we all have families in some capacity whether you're in a relationship, you have kids, you have your parents I live in a multi-generational household. I think many of us Yeah, do as well.
One of the key things that I've realized, is that when we prioritize experiences, when we prioritize creating memories, when we prioritize things that that add value in our lives, it actually enriches the lives of the people in our household.
So when I'm traveling, my parents are excited. My siblings, my nieces are all excited and so don't look at treating yourself. And, and kind of following your dreams as being selfish.
Think of it as in a way of being selfless to yourself in terms of, okay, like you, you get that opportunity to live your rich life. Define what that rich life is. Because once you live that rich life, it actually starts affecting everyone else.
I want families to take that in and say, okay, well there, there are financial goals, but understand you want to figure out how to have those experiences with your families, how you can create more memories cuz memories appreciate, stuff depreciates.
Focus on the things that appreciate over time, the things that they can carry over with them because those things last forever.
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