71. Ask Tori: My Emotions are Ruining my Finances

February 16, 2023

The following article may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. This doesn't cost you anything, and shopping or using our affiliate partners is a way to support our mission. I will never work with a brand or showcase a product that I don't personally use or believe in.

The following article may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. This doesn’t cost you anything, and shopping or using our affiliate partners is a way to support our mission. I will never work with a brand or showcase a product that I don’t personally use or believe in.

“Dear Tori: My Emotions are Ruining My Finances…”

Have you ever applied for a job and backed out when the interview came around?

Had a hard time getting over the guilt you have around spending –– even on the little joys in life like a weekly coffee or something you might even need?

Today, host Tori Dunlap is answering listener voicemails all centered around how our emotions and internalized shame affects the way we handle our finances. 

What you’ll learn:

  • What to do when you start to feel imposter syndrome creap in

  • How to still make room for joyful purchases even when your budget is small

  • How to talk to your friends and family about finances


Feeling Overwhelmed? Start here!

Our HYSA Recommendation

Order Financial Feminist Book

Become an investor and join our Investing Community, Treasury, with Investing 101

Behind the Scenes and Extended Clips on Youtube

Leave Financial Feminist a Voicemail

Financial Feminist on Instagram

Her First $100K on Instagram

Take our FREE Money Personality Quiz

Join the Mailing List


[00:00:00] Tori Dunlap: Hello, Financial Feminist. Welcome back. I am actually taking. Some time off of work right now as this episode is airing. So I hope Future Me is drinking some Pia Coladas on a Cabo Beach and enjoying her life. Myself and the entire H f K team, we’ve just been slammed with, uh, the end of the year and a lot of book promotion.

[00:00:33] It’s been thrilling, but it’s been. Very exhausting and I ran myself pretty ragged and so I am taking all of February off and I am thankful to our team. Um, we are taking a team wide week off in February as well to rest up and to make sure that we’re providing you the best content possible. So we’re really trying to practice what we preach here and trying to prioritize rest for this year.

[00:00:53] Speaking of some rest, I don’t know why I did that transition. That doesn’t make any sense. oh boy. Some quick housekeeping before we get started. If you’re new to the show, welcome. If you’ve not yet rated, reviewed, subscribed, we would really appreciate it. Financial Feminist is one of our favorite projects because, one, it’s fun to do, but two, it is completely free for you all and your reviews and subscriptions help us not only continue to do the show, but also continue to get great guest.

[00:01:19] And sponsors to be able to support the shell. All right. Speaking of, uh, rest and emotional wellness, we are doing a Ask Tori today, and it’s all based around the idea of our emotions about money. So we’re talking about getting over a perfectionist mindset today to overcoming self-sabotage, to creating new beliefs about money.

[00:01:39] I have a mix of some emails and some voicemails. I’ll be answer. And I’ll also just like shameless plug, but this is part of the reason why I wrote a book. We spend the entire first chapter of the book talking about the emotions of money. It’s the longest chapter. It is the most, I would argue, the most important chapter before you proceed to the rest of your financial life.

[00:01:58] Because the truth is, is I can’t teach you how to budget. I can’t teach you how to create a debt payoff plan that’s sustainable. I can’t teach you how to invest until you start to understand your emotional hangups and your financial trauma around money. That’s a great place to start and this question is from one of our H F K Super fans, mercy, and I think it’s one that’s all too common.

[00:02:19] Hey, Tori. So recently I started implementing just spending a lot more mindfully, and my question is, how do I find joy in what I spend? when I don’t have a lot of discretionary income. Okay. So I feel like this is a super common issue, uh, which is I don’t have a lot of money , and I would like to use the little amount of money I do have to bring me the most joy.

[00:02:48] And that’s the first thing, right? Is it’s like we, we talk about often here spending according to your values and really like living financially according to your values. And one of the things I joke about is like Marie coning your. Right as if like your money and your purchases don’t spark joy, we’re not doing them.

[00:03:06] So I would take, again, we talk about this all the time as well, a shame-free approach to looking at your purchases and do a little audit as if you’re an anthropologist and sit down and be like, oh yeah, okay. Spent money here. And I loved that purchase or. Interesting. I spend money when I’m stressed on things that I don’t really need or want.

[00:03:25] It’s an impulse purchase, and I’d like to stop doing that. Right. And you notice, even from my tone, it’s very neutral. It’s not like, God, I’m a piece of shit for doing that. It’s just like, oh, it is what it is and I’d like to change it. . So I would say if you haven’t done so already, do an audit first of your purchases and just figure out, okay, is my money bringing me the most like return on happiness investment possible?

[00:03:47] Right? And the second thing, Joe Franco was one of our first guests on season two. And she is a great friend of mine, but also is just so smart and wise when it comes to many aspects of self-reflection. And one of the things she talked about in our episode is like this idea of like finding travel or joy in your everyday life.

[00:04:09] And I’ve actually seen a lot of talks about this of like finding a vacation every day, right? And so if you can use your small amount of money, To find a vacation, whatever that looks like for you every day, or to find joy every day, then I would argue that’s a bigger win than somebody who has a ton of money, but is spending it very willy-nilly on things they don’t really love.

[00:04:34] So, , if you have that small amount of discretionary money and you’re wondering what to do with it, one, again, we want it to bring you the most joy and

[00:04:41] happiness

[00:04:41] Tori Dunlap: possible, but B, even if it’s just a little tiny bit of joy or satisfaction or ease in your day, I think that that is a worthwhile purchase. And we’ve again mentioned so many times before, but your money is yours.

[00:04:57] It is not somebody else’s. Do not spend your hard-earned money on. Things that would bring somebody else joy, but that you feel like you’re supposed to do. Right? Spend money according to your values and what actually makes you happy. I would also say too that, uh, give yourself, of course, a lot of grace and understanding, and there’s times of course, where more money would bring you more happiness, so we’re doing what we can with what we have, right?

[00:05:23] I’ll give an example too before we move on to the next question. When I was, you know, in my first year out of college and I was making decent money, but I didn’t have, you know, a bunch of money to spend on a bunch of different things, it actually made me. More focused and grateful for the times that I did spend money or could spend money.

[00:05:45] You know, it’s like this concept of treating yourself right? Like if treat yourself becomes a habit, it’s no longer a treat, right? It’s just like happening all of the time. And actually there’s something beautiful to be said about you being able to cherry pick your experiences with the funds you do have available.

[00:06:06] I tell this story in the book, but like I remember the, the sheer joy it brought me to spend $4 on like a chocolate croissant in Pike Place Market while walking around after work, and I don’t know why, but it was, again, so simple and a relatively small amount of money, but it was like the experience of like, I am independent.

[00:06:24] I am spending my money. , it’s my money that I earned and I just had get to have this like little joyful experience, right? And I was in my city. I didn’t travel anywhere. I didn’t spend a lavish amount of money, right? It was just like I get to be at peace with myself with this beautiful day, with this really, really yummy, buttery croissant.

[00:06:43] And I just really had this beautiful experience of enjoying my life and enjoying the progress I was making. So hopefully that helps. All right. Our second question is from someone who’s trying to balance. Saving and spending, but feeling guilty about both. . Hi,

[00:06:59] Voicemail: I am Grace. I am a graduate student. In Chicago, Illinois, and I am one of those Lucky Guard students who gets a stipend.

[00:07:09] So I get paid about $35,000 a year, which is great for a graduate student, but horrible for any other metric. And I live in a big city and it’s really tough. My rent is about $1,200 a month and I’m finding it really hard to set aside money and save, let alone just like get by month to month. Um, I find that I have.

[00:07:32] Spending that like seems superfluous to me. So like I’ll get a coffee or I’ll go to Home Goods and get storage bins for my house. But you know, if you ask anyone else, they’re like, oh yeah, whatever. So my question is how do I prioritize? Do I need to feel bad about not saving during this time because it feels impossible to me?

[00:07:54] And then what are some steps I can take to make the most of the very limited. Funds I have.

[00:08:03] Tori Dunlap: Thank you so much for your help. Okay. All too common problem. I, I imagine that anybody listening is like raising their hand right now and it’s one of the common questions we get asked, and it’s a very delicate balance because you know, you need to save money, you know, you need to be financially responsible, but if you don’t have a lot of money and then you’re also.

[00:08:24] Feeling guilty constantly about anything you spend money on that doesn’t further your financial goals, you’re kind of in a pickle. So I want to give you the permission slip that really you need to give yourself that these small luxuries. are not the reason that you’re not able to save and are not things to feel guilty about.

[00:08:45] You are a person with needs and also with wants and spending money on those things is a hundred percent okay. I think, uh, a lot of traditional personal finance advice is again, scrimp, deprive yourself. If you’re not saving money, you’re doing something wrong and the truth. Even the fact that you get a stipend in grad school, amazing.

[00:09:05] But it’s so teeny weeny , especially living in a big city like Chicago. So understand that you are probably just doing your best right now. Now, I would also, if saving money is important to you and you know that it’s important to you and you want to save a, in order to progress in your life and in your financial goals, see if there are things that you can tweak about your budget.

[00:09:27] Maybe it’s okay. Instead of spending that $5, I’m gonna. $5 into my savings instead. Right. But again, I, I’m not the person who’s gonna sit here and be like, you need to stop buying incredibly lovely things at Home Goods, because I’m a home goods fiend. And like, that’s just not, that’s just not sustainable and it’s not fun.

[00:09:47] And I need you to release like all of the guilt that you’re feeling, um, as much as you can. And that’s just you going up to the register and purchasing something at home. And when your little voice in your head goes, do you actually need that thing? What are you doing? You’re wasting money. Why aren’t you saving that money?

[00:10:04] It’s just, again, kindly with grace talking to that voice like you’re an anthropologist. You’re like, why am I feeling this way? Oh, it’s because I feel guilty about spending money. Why do I feel guilty about spending money? Why do I feel this way? And I think that that will help you ground your decisions, but also contextualize that a lot of this.

[00:10:23] Is not actually productive. Totally common trauma response when it comes to money and, and saving money. But know that it’s completely normal and okay to be spending money on things that you don’t absolutely need in order to progress in your life. And if there is some flexibility in your budget because savings important to you, try to find it.

[00:10:44] You also, again, don’t need my permission, but have my permission to just be a full-time student, right. That’s what you’re doing is you’re going to grad school, you’re getting your degree so that hopefully you are making more money and you’re able to save a bigger chunk when you do graduate. So sending all of the love in the world to you know that you are a hundred percent not alone.

[00:11:02] This is something that I hear about all of the time, and you can find a balance between spending and saving. You can also let yourself off the hook.

[00:11:17] All right, let’s take our next question. Hi Tori.

[00:11:20] Voicemail: I am learning so much from you in the last few weeks since I found your podcast. I can’t wait for your book to come. Um, I have changed all of my savings accounts to high yield savings accounts. I’ve gotten a credit card that is gonna give me points. I have learned so much from you, and I applied for a new job where, I’m not entirely qualified, but I figured I would apply anyway and just see what happened.

[00:11:49] And I got an online assessment, which I passed. I did a phone screen, which I passed. I was moved on to the next round where I would be making literally twice the money that I’m making now. And I chickened out. I withdrew my application and. A couple weeks later, I really wish that I hadn’t, and I really feel like it was just imposter syndrome.

[00:12:10] Like I, they’re gonna find out that I don’t know how to do this job and I’m gonna make a fool of myself, and I’m going to, they’re gonna let me go. I, I don’t really know what to do about that. I would like to keep applying and I would like to find something, um, that’s gonna challenge me a little bit more than what I’m doing now.

[00:12:28] How do I get past the imposter syndrome? How do I talk myself? Staying with those applications and, and doing those interviews, uh, I interview very well and I just don’t know what happened. Uh, do you have any advice for moving forward with, uh, a j
ob like this where I feel

[00:12:47] Tori Dunlap: like I’m just not qualified? So this.

[00:12:50] This experience of imposter syndrome, of feeling like, oh my God, somebody’s gonna figure out I’m a fraud, or maybe I’m not deserving of this thing all too common. I’m gonna get on my soapbox for a second and then I’ll actually give you advice. . Here’s the thing, and I talk about this so much on the podcast, in the book, we have been conditioned as women as a member of any marginalized group to play.

[00:13:19] And when we start playing. We not only get pushback from other people and from society, we also start getting pushback from ourselves because you’re doing something potentially a little uncomfortable, right? Society’s demand is conformity. And if you are going outside of society’s demand, if you are starting to play bigger, if you’re starting to want more from your life, want more from your career, want more from your relationships, suddenly.

[00:13:49] That’s a really scary thing, and it’s not because you’re bad as an individual. It’s not because you’re not deserving of the thing, but it’s because society has conditioned you to play small and has conditioned you to accept the kind of treatment that is frankly shitty treatment, but has been perpetuated for literally eons.

[00:14:10] So know that this is a hundred percent a society thing and that your response. Not only completely normal, but a response to the demand on women and other marginalized groups to shrink ourselves in terms of imposter syndrome. I wanna tell you a little story about the last day I have ever had imposter syndrome.

[00:14:30] And yes, I have like the timestamp, it was 2019. , her first under K was still a side hustle at this time, but like we were, we were gaining some momentum and I was asked to speak on a panel for a woman’s group in Seattle. I show up for this panel, it’s like at Saturday and Saturday morning at like 10:00 AM and I show up in my classic like jeans and Adidas and a leather jacket.

[00:14:55] I am the youngest person on this panel by at least a decade. Everyone else is like a venture capitalist at a fancy firm or a big wig, financial advisor. And of course they’re all in like pencil skirts and blazers and like suit and ties. And I show up and I immediately am like, I am not supposed to be here.

[00:15:19] This is, I’m not supposed to be here. I’m too young, I’m too inexperienced. Um, I’m showing up authentically me, but that’s not good enough. in my leather jacket, like, that’s not gonna work. And I remember sitting on this panel and just having this, like, I know I’m, I, I like, believe in my own abilities, but like, what will people think of me?

[00:15:39] And am I not enough to be sitting here? And then something really interesting happened, which is the panel got started and I looked out over, you know, the sea of women who were there and they were almost all in like their twenties and thirties around my age. And I realized as I started talking that their heads were nodding or they were, you know, whispering to their, their friend next to them about something.

[00:16:05] And you could tell they were excited. And I started to realize, not only was what I was saying valuable cuz I knew that, but the way I was saying it, my approach to it was more accessible because although I still very much respect everybody I was on the panel with that day, they could not connect with those.

[00:16:28] People in that room in the same way that I could because something like personal finance that is already intimidating and already inaccessible, feels even more intimidating and even more inaccessible. When people who have been financial advisors for two decades use words like asset allocation or stock shorting or rebalancing your portfolio.

[00:16:50] and what happened is we did a 45 minute panel and then we had breakout sessions after. And my breakout session by far was the, the most popular there was the most people there. and it was all women in their twenties and thirties because I think that they saw me as like a best friend or a sister who was explaining money to them.

[00:17:09] And yes, I didn’t have as much experience on paper. I wasn’t as, uh, you know, quote unquote professional, but I realized that what I had to say mattered. The way I presented it mattered. And sometimes people just need to feel a little less alone. And that was the last time I had imposter syndrome because the truth was if I walked into a room thinking I don’t, I don’t think I should be here.

[00:17:35] The truth was, is that I was a hundred percent there for a reason. And it might not be because again, I have the, the longest resume. It might be because people connect with me in a way that matters or I present things in a way that matters. . If you are walking into this job situation, and again, I say this with all of the love and grace in the world, you’re sabotaging yourself.

[00:17:58] One society is demanding you do that in order to keep you plain small, in order to keep you underpaid and overworked and not rising to your full potential. And the second thing is that the way to overcome imposter syndrome is to realize that you are. You are worthy of opportunities. You are worthy of, uh, an incredible career that is fulfilling.

[00:18:22] You’re worthy of a fantastic, healthy, uh, relationship with people in your life. You are worthy of love and opportunity and all of the good things, and you are in that room for a reason. You are offered that position for a reason. You made your way through the interview and wowed them enough for them to give you that position for a.

[00:18:44] again, there’s no reason to beat yourself up. There’s no reason to, to be ashamed. This is again, I mean, take a shot every time I say this, this episode, a completely normal response. Totally normal. And it’s not just, you know, uh, you grappling with individual imposter syndrome, but also dealing with society’s expectations of.

[00:19:06] So know that I see you. I have the most empathy in the world for you and as much as you can. I need you to never shrink yourself to make other people feel better or shrink yourself because you feel like it’s what you’re quote supposed to do or should do because you are in that room for a reason. You are highly capable, highly worthy, and highly badass.

[00:19:35] All right. Let’s take our last question for this episode. Hi y’all. I love the

[00:19:39] Voicemail: pod. Um, and I have a tricky situation that I’m hoping that y’all could input on. I’m a high school dropout from a low income family, but I’ve always been very motivated to pave away for myself. And after a decade of working multiple jobs, starting earlier in the workforce than most of my friends, due to leaving school to support my family and myself, I’ve landed my first executive role within a financial company.

[00:20:00] The other day I was at dinner with a friend of mine who comes from a very high income family with a master’s in finance who works as an entry level accountant without a lot of job experience, but really, really amazing schooling under her belt. I tried to have a transparent discussion with her about negotiating salary s
ince I had a review coming up, and she asked me to stop talking with her about it because she felt it was unfair that my job had paid me more.

[00:20:22] I totally froze. I didn’t know what to say or do. I felt terribly because I don’t wanna make her feel bad, but I’ve also worked very hard for my position. It makes sense that our pay rates are different as we have completely different backgrounds. I ended up apologizing and dropping the conversation. She apologized and explained that her family has ingrained in her to never discuss money, but I feel like she’s underpaid and I thought the discussion would be good for the both of us to have.

[00:20:45] How can we as women respond to this type of situation more effectively? I don’t wanna offend my friends, but I also feel it’s valuable to discuss finance as women

[00:20:54] Tori Dunlap: who, okay, so first. Talking about money is taboo narrative. We’ve discussed it on the podcast. I have a whole section in the book about it.

[00:21:03] This is a narrative meant to keep us underpaid and overworked, right? It’s meant to keep us again, plain small. Because if you don’t talk about money, you don’t know that Chad who got hired two years after you is making 20% more. And if you don’t talk about money, uh, you feel shame about your debt, not realizing that a bunch of other people might feel the same way and you feel alone and siloed.

[00:21:22] So talking about money is super necessary. Here’s the kicker though. Anytime you talk about something vulnerable, That other person has to also be willing to be vulnerable with you, and sometimes they’re not at the same point in their journey as you Sim, who is a friend of mine who hosts, uh, the Girls That Invest podcast.

[00:21:44] I interviewed her for the book, and in the last chapter we talk about. Actually, she, in a very similar situation, tried to reach out to a friend to talk about money, and her friend set the boundary where she’s like, I don’t wanna do that. And sim was like, all right, okay, then we can’t. And it sounds like your friend came around and beautifully realized, oh, this is my own hangup because I’ve been told that this is bad.

[00:22:06] So the the blanket answer is, you can’t make somebody do something they’re not willing to do. We also know how important it is for women to talk about money. It’s like that delicate balance. , how do you push somebody to be better and how do you advocate for them while also knowing that it might make them uncomfortable?

[00:22:26] This depends person to person, relationship to relationship, right? Christine and I tell each other all of the things all of the time in a very like, Empathetic way. And it’s because we want each other to be better and we want our relationship to be better. And there’s been plenty of times where she said something that I’m like, Hmm, I feel called out and I have to sit in that and then realize that she might be correct.

[00:22:51] And if you have that kind of relationship, amazing. But if it is more casual then you know you might get some re. . It’s hard to know. . It’s like me talking to some family members sometimes about like, let’s talk about white , white supremacy and patriarchy and racism, and it’s like, I need you to know that this is important, but you might not know it’s important.

[00:23:15] You might not be at the same point in the journey. I think not just with this. Situation or this question, but of course many in general, this is a lifelong learning process, right? This is progress over perfection. This is overcoming a lot of, uh, trauma and a lot of narratives and a lot of society’s expectations, and it’s gonna be messy for a while and.

[00:23:38] The interesting part about specifically talking about money is you are doing two things. One, you are discussing something that is the ultimate taboo. We know from data that we are more likely to talk about sex, politics, religion, anything else, death. We’re more likely to talk about death before we’ll talk about money.

[00:24:01] We’re more likely to get naked with somebody than we will to talk about money with them. So you’re already battling that. You’re battling society stigma. But two, and the most like big important thing is that you have to be radically vulnerable. . And that in and of itself takes people decades to learn and get good at.

[00:24:25] And it’s only if they’re willing to learn it and also if they’re willing to, uh, put themselves out there and create a safe space of trust for someone else to be vulnerable with them. So it’s kind of like this double whammy, right? Like you have to not only overcome society’s stigma, you, you have to show your underbelly, right?

[00:24:44] And be very vulnerable. , I think it’s a beautiful thing and it’s not gonna be perfect and you’re doing your best. And it sounds like the most important thing is that you and this person have the kind of relationship where one of you can say, Hey, that did make me uncomfortable, and here’s why. That means the vulnerability is already there.

[00:25:08] It’s just the talking about money that’s gonna come next. So allow this person to continue to grow and maybe the response to them is, I’m always here if you wanna talk about it. And if you have, you know, any questions. And I’m also happy to share what I’m dealing with when it comes to money and also explaining to them why right.

[00:25:26] I am looking out for you and I wanna make sure that we women stick together, right? And I wanna make sure that you are getting compensated fairly. And that’s why I’m having this conversation, vulnerability on both sides, and a deep understanding that so much of this is rooted in, again, not only systemic oppression, but just society stigma about what we are or are not allowed to talk about.

[00:25:46] So cheering you on, cheering everybody on out there who is trying to navigate these difficult conversations and know that we have plenty of episodes both in the back catalog as well as episodes that are coming up about how do they have these conversations, whether that’s with a friend, your coworker, your partner, your parents, your family.

[00:26:03] We’ve got all of that and more for you. I love taking your questions. It makes me very happy to hear directly from you and to hopefully give some lovely perspective and value for you all. If you enjoy the show, feel free to subscribe. You can also submit your own questions. You can either email us or you can also, um, send in a voicemail.

[00:26:21] I love to hear it in your own voice and also know who it’s coming from. We appreciate you being here. As always, financial feminists. We hope this was helpful and helps you unpack some of the emotions around money. We can’t wait to hear from. And we’ll catch you soon. Thank you for listening to Financial Feminist a her first hundred K podcast.

[00:26:37] Financial Feminist is hosted by me, Tori Dunlap, produced by Kristen Fields Marketing and Administration by Karina Patel, Cherise Wade, Alina Heller, Paulina Isaac, Sophia Cohen, Valerie Esco, Jack Coing. Kil Duaz, Elizabeth McCumber, Beth Bowen, and Amanda La. Few Researched by Arielle Johnson, audio Engineering by Austin Fields.

[00:26:59] Promotional g
raphics by Mary Stratton, photography by Sarah Wolfe. And theme music by Jonah Cohen. Sound a huge thanks to the entire her first a hundred K team and community for supporting the show. For more information about Financial Feminist, her first hundred K are guests and episode show notes.

[00:27:13] Visit Financial Feminist podcast.com or follow us on Instagram at Financial Feminist podcast.

Tori Dunlap

Tori Dunlap is an internationally-recognized money and career expert. After saving $100,000 at age 25, Tori quit her corporate job in marketing and founded Her First $100K to fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money. She has helped over one million women negotiate salary, pay off debt, build savings, and invest.

Tori’s work has been featured on Good Morning America, the New York Times, BBC, TIME, PEOPLE, CNN, New York Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, BuzzFeed, and more.

With a dedicated following of almost 250,000 on Instagram and more than 1.6 million on TikTok —and multiple instances of her story going viral—Tori’s unique take on financial advice has made her the go-to voice for ambitious millennial women. CNBC called Tori “the voice of financial confidence for women.”

An honors graduate of the University of Portland, Tori currently lives in Seattle, where she enjoys eating fried chicken, going to barre classes, and attempting to naturally work John Mulaney bits into conversation.

Facebook Group