Live Encore: Fine-Tune Your Financial Savvy | Justin Bridges | Skillshare

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Live Encore: Fine-Tune Your Financial Savvy

teacher avatar Justin Bridges, Fashion Photographer, Former Finance Pro

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Getting Started


    • 3.

      After the Leap


    • 4.



    • 5.

      Spending Exercise


    • 6.



    • 7.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Take control of your finances, and have fun doing it!

Fashion photographer Justin Bridges wasn’t always capturing striking images for clients like Giorgio Armani, Saks Fifth Avenue, and GQ. He started his career as a finance professional at Goldman Sachs, and carries his passion for personal finance into everything he does. In this Skillshare Live, recorded using Zoom and featuring participation from the Skillshare community, Justin will pass his expertise on to you, and teach you how to take charge of your financial life. 

The first thing Justin will show you is how to identify—and avoid—some of the common financial pitfalls that can get in the way of a successful freelance career. Then he’ll walk you through a few exercises designed to help you understand why you spend. He’ll touch on the concept of Spending Serotonin, and the way the pandemic might have affected your spending habits. Lastly, he’ll make time for student questions, answering a number of the burning financial queries that may be keeping you up at night. This is a class you and your wallet can’t afford to miss!

Meet Your Teacher

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Justin Bridges

Fashion Photographer, Former Finance Pro


Justin Bridges is a fashion and portrait photographer based in New York City. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Justin began his pursuit of photography as a college student studying finance and economics.

Although he opted for an early career as a finance professional at Goldman Sachs, he realized the need to align his career with his love of photography. Today, he balances his photography career with a passion for personal finance.

Justin's approach is to capture the untraveled moment and apply a feeling of art and thoughtfulness to each photograph.

Clients and publications include:

Media: GQ, Details, Esquire, High Snobiety & Selectism, Complex Media, Hypebeast Magazine Fashion: Giorgio Armani, Public School NY, The Arrivals, Raleigh, En Noir, Ovadia & So... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: Today I hope you walk away understanding that finance, career creativity, they're all connected and we have to take a holistic approach when we're thinking about solving the challenges in each one of those areas. Hi, my name is Justin Bridges and I'm a fashion and lifestyle photographer, among many other things, living in New York City. Today we are going to be talking about freelance pitfalls such as quitting a job without having an emergency fund, and also learning how to budget for this new reality. We're also going to discuss overspending during COVID, which is a problem for everybody. We even talk about starting your first business. The reason I chose to speak about finance, especially in this live format, is because I want to make it easier for you to digest. The reality is I really love making it easier for people that came after me to have a smoother pass on their way to financial independence. I think what better way to do that than answer your questions live. Though I talk a lot about freelance and financial pitfalls. We also had a very interactive class. You'll see a bit of Q&A back and forth between me and the students as well. All right. Let's get to it. 2. Getting Started: My name is O'Briana and I'm a producer on the classes and content team, and I use she, her pronouns. Without further ado, let's get started. Justin, thank you for being here today. I know you could also teach photography class, but what fun would that be when we can talk about finance? Right I know. Will you tell us just a little bit about who you are and what you do to kick things off? Sure, absolutely. My name is Justin Bridges. My pronouns are he and him. I am a lot of different things. I'm a fashion photographer which I've done for the past, eight eight years. I've been a fashion and lifestyle photographer here based in New York. I recently announced that I'm the co-founder and creative director for a company called El Camino Travel. We are a premium subscription service for women travelers. What else do we do? I run a photo studio in Long Island City in New York. One of my favorite things to do, which is why we're here today is help people with their finance, help them with the personal finance journey. I know finance can be really, really hard. One of the approaches that I've always taken with teaching photography, which I'm trying to apply in finance is breaking it down, no crazy jargon, just helping people wrap their heads in their arms around this stuff because it shouldn't be that hard. It really has become very hard for a lot of people, so I'm here to just help with that thing too. Amazing. Can you do my taxes for me on this call or is that not what this is? Taxes are something that everybody hates. I hate them and I do not do them myself either. Fabulous. Well, great. That will be another class. We should plan for that. Yes. Before we dive in, can you just give us a little overview of what we're doing today? I know we'll be talking about some pitfalls and then doing an exercise. What are we covering today and why was this what you wanted to talk about? Yes. I talk to a lot of people whether they're students, interns, photography, hobbyists, people that have corporate jobs that want to move to the freelance world. I just talk to so many people that have such an interest in starting their own small business, or side hustle, or something of that nature, or just going full freelance independent. One of the biggest questions I have is, how do I think about making that transition? How do I make sure that I do it smart and efficiently? We're going to talk a little bit about freelance pitfalls, some of the things that you should be thinking about before you make the transition. How to be smarter about how you think about your money and shoring up your finances before you make that transition. We're going to talk a little bit about budgeting. We're going to talk about emergency funds, all really fun things. Then we're going to talk about some things that I think a lot of people have struggled with in terms of using spending as a coping mechanism, especially through COVID. I'm going to maybe even talk about some of the things I've spent money on. So being very vulnerable here because I always think that teaching finance, I can always give people the tools like, here's how you save money, here's where you should put it, but I think the real thing about finance is understanding the picture holistically and being able to think through finance through a wellness lens. We're going to talk very tactile but we're also going to think about it in a behavioral sense as well. Awesome. How should students follow along? I know a lot of it will just be wisdom and answering questions, but then there will be a bit of an exercise. I mean, obviously no pressure to share, but should people hop in the chat, grab a notebook? Absolutely. I say definitely grab the notebook or you can use the notepad on your phone. We're going to ask, I think it's one or two questions that'll be worth writing down. As well, we'll also share a link to the modern money habits class, which there is a Excel spreadsheet that you'll be able to use when you start to think through budgeting. You don't want to do that now, but that will be some homework for yourself later on. But definitely grab a notebook, write some notes. If you want to share some of the answers to the questions that we're talking about, especially when we start talking about spending, that will be cool to see you in the chat. Then also participate by asking questions. I'm here to try to fit in as many questions as I can as well. Awesome. Cool. Thank you, Justin. Sal the cat has a lot of questions. He's going to wake up when we get to the Q&A, and he's going to hop in there. I love that. My cat is asleep as well, so this is great. It's afternoon nap time, we would be too. Exactly. Cool. We'll start with the pitfalls, and then from there, we'll just build our way up. The biggest pitfalls of moving to a freelance lifestyle which you've done or maybe navigating that transition or figuring out what the right balance is. I guess hop in there, let us know your background with this transition too, and how you got the confidence and also the tools to make the leap. Let me start by being extremely candid. When I made my transition, and I'll talk a little bit about that. When I made my transition, I was not ready. I was not ready whatsoever. Confidence is something that I lacked plenty of, and so this is me basically talking about this in a way that if I could go back and do it again, this is probably how I would think through it. My background, I moved to New York to work on Wall Street. I worked for an investment bank called Goldman Sachs. I was a trader for two years, and during that time I started turning back towards my hobby of photography. Sorry, there's some police sirens in the background. But I started turning towards photography as a way to make myself feel better from the stress and the anxiety, and this was during the financial crisis of 2008-2010, so I was just in the thick of things. I fell in love with photography, started wanting to make that more of a career than just a side passion. I actually ended up leaving Goldman, going into different careers such as corporate fashion. Just basically trying to find a path to photography without going from making decent money to making zero money. Even though I went through all of those things, by the time I got to the time to make the decision and say, hey, I'm going to just do photography, I still don't have any money. You would think I was working in an investment bank, I was making smart decisions with my money, but I was not. I wasn't even in it that long anyway, but I wasn't making smart decisions about my money. I went into debt when I left Goldman because I wanted to buy a camera and I wanted to keep the lifestyle that I had when I was working in investment banking. I made a lot of decisions and by the time I was ready to make this pivot to freelance, I didn't really have any runway. I didn't have any real savings in which to give myself the confidence and the time to be able to figure out my way through photography, finding clients and all that kind of thing. You might have a question you want to post before we transition from what my pivot was, so I don't want to overrun. No, go for it. Yes. One of the things that I think about, and we'll talk about the budget first. I might reorder the things. One of the biggest things that I've learned is having an emergency fund. Having a real cash pile of savings, it's monumental, it's foundational. It often scares people because if I tell you, it's going to be smart to save 3-6 months of your income or your monthly expenses, and have that in savings, oftentimes for many people, especially if you're somebody that lives in LA or New York, but often in other places, other cities, it's a lot of money. Rent could be $1000. Your Hulu, HBO, Netflix, you just name the things, your gym membership or subscription or whatever, all those things pile up and you start having expenses that are $2,000 or $3,000 a month and that's before having kids or anything else. If I said you have to take that $3,000 or $4,000 and multiply it by three or six, even me hearing that it's like, whoa, that's a lot of money. It's not to be scary, but if you're thinking about wanting to do something that you care about, if you want to go from working at IBM to actually taking photos or being a graphic designer or an illustrator or you just name the job, I don't mean to keep them all creative, we all have lots of things we're interested in. But if you're thinking about making that transition and you don't have any good foundation of finding the right clients and making that money to bridge the gap between zero and $60,000 a year or whatever your salary is now, if you don't have any cash savings, you don't really give yourself a lot of room to make mistakes, to fail, to not be under stress and pressure the entire time. Stress and pressure are really important. They give you the motivation. They are catalysts for really working harder than you probably ever worked in your life. But at the same time, when you have no money saved up, they also force you to make decisions that you probably wouldn't make. As an example, as a photographer if I had no savings and I was going directly into work, somebody would tell me, hey, we want you to do all this work, but all we have to pay you is, say, $250 or work for exposure or something like that. You're more likely to say yes to that opportunity, even though it's not worth your time, it doesn't value you the way that you should be valued, we are more likely to do that because what else do I have? I don't have anything to turn back on. I don't have money saved up, so I can say no. This is a mindset that starts building. I'm preaching it a little bit in terms of being able to transition to a job, but on the other side of things, having that cash pile, saving up money and being smart about your monetary decisions also gives you the ability to build financial independence. What we all, I think, want to be able to say in our lifetimes is no to things. It's easy to say yes, I'll do that, I'll do this or whatever, I'll go on that trip. But it's really hard to say to somebody who's offering you, say, a job that's undervalued, it's really hard to say no to them if you need the money. What this mindset does is put you in a stronger position to be able to say, hey, is this worth my time? Are they valuing me correctly? If they're not, walk away and move on to the next client. Anyway, that's my spiel on emergency fund. It's an important, essential thing, not only for financial stability, but it's also important so you can make the decisions you want to make in your work life. What's your five-sentence version of how to save that emergency fund? Absolutely. I mean, there are two levers we're always going to be pulling on, and this is what we're talking now with the budget. There's income and expenses. You can reduce your expenses as best you can and I know a lot of that is a lifestyle decision. For some people, you just don't make enough and I understand that, so don't beat yourself up, but reducing expenses is really one of the easier sides of the coin. The second side is income. If you can figure out ways like we're talking here about side hustles or side jobs, whatever, or it's just working really hard at the job that you have and asking for salary increases or whatever that maybe, or getting more hours on the job, those are the two best ways to create instant savings or instant ability to save. So that's number 1. Number 2, I would say, is just forcing yourself to create something. Start with something very easy like, can I take $10 from my day? Whether that's saving it at lunch or not go to the Starbucks or whatever. Can I start with $10 a day to siphon it off into account, not look at it? Then see where you're at the end of the month because if you can do that every single day for 30 days and you get to 300, that's really going to inspire you to say, that was easy. What if I just decide I'm going to save X amount? It's really about creating the behavior that allows you to not think, I can't do this, and just lowering the friction. Start with really small stuff and then just incrementally turn the dial up. I think that's really the easiest way. The income and expense thing, expense being number 1. Let's call it daily savings routine, number 2. Then tackling the income issue being number 3. Those are those are my three ways of getting into that mindset. 3. After the Leap: Once you make that leap, budgeting your lifestyle based on maybe the income that you're leaving, so it's post making that jump. What are you Absolutely, yeah, because this was one of my biggest pitfalls. I was making certain amount of salary when I left my Wall Street job. Then by the time I got to [inaudible] was much lower. But either way, I still have this lifestyle mentality that didn't allow me to unplug how much I was spending versus how much I was living. Let's just take an average salary. I think the average income in New York is 50,000. I know some people think that's hard to believe, but people are living on low incomes here, or average incomes here, not low. Let's say you make $50,000, you're ready to leave, your 95 and go onto something like taking photos or I don't know why I always say photos. I want to come up with a better job that applies the more people you want to [inaudible]. Being a freelance financial advisor. Freelance financial advisor, something like that. You have a $50,000 job and immediately, let's say you have your emergency fund in place. Then immediately you jump into this new career where you have to be responsible for making all the income. So, how do you budget for that? Well, it's easy to think. I'll budget for 50,000 because that's where I'm living, so that's where I plan on getting my income up to. But the reality is you have to be thinking about your budget in terms of where you're at now. A lot of that is going to be estimations. I always like to say, take the expenses that you have and then add a percentage to that to give you a little bit of extra room to say, think about having a little bit of a lifestyle, maybe going out for dinner with friends, every other week, or once a week or something. Something that is a non negotiable for you and add that on top of the expenses that you can't get rid of and start with a very scrappy mentality. One of the things I've always stolen from this guy, Dave Ramsey, who was an incredibly huge radio personality and podcasts personality. He helps people get out of debt. But what he says to people when they ask this question, how do I think about going from the full-time job to the freelance career or whatever it may be or small business is. He always says get the boat closer to the dock before you jump off. Because if the boat is all the way over here and the docks all the way over here, you're likely going to land in the water and have your head underwater. That's not what you want to do. What you want to do is go from, say you have a career, you're making money, you're making this $50,000 a year. What you want to do before you take the leap is one, get the emergency fund in place, and number 2 start finding clients in this new frontier. If you can start finding these clients in the new frontier, even if you just working on the weekends or you're taking a day out of the week or whatever you're doing. If you can start building up those clients and getting that income, that side up to 30, 40, 50 percent of your income. Now, then when you make the transition, you can start budgeting off that half of income that you're making and then slowly build up your budget based on the new work that's coming in, that's not your existing clients. I mean, to me that is the best combination. Budgeting for less obviously, but also preparing yourself before you leave with clients and emergency fund. Putting those things together, really start smoothing out the path and it gives yourself a little bit better runway as you dive headfirst into the pool. Yeah, Totally. We have a question from Heidi. Many times it's hard to know how to gauge finances in your new freelance life, like what's coming in, but then also what those expenses will be just because it's a whole new life. Is there a way to prepare ahead of time, or would you say, is that balance of just trying to maybe introduce 10 percent of your time is going to freelance. Yeah, hard in terms of the finance stuff. That's a really great question. It's a really hard question. I always try not to be too mathematical about it, but just as an analogy, I always try to think of the algebra stuff that we had to do in middle school and high school. You have two variables and a number you're trying to reach. Say you're trying to hit $50,000 worth of income. Well, you have x, which is your income and y, which is your expenses. Well, you know the y, the y being expenses, you know how much your life costs right now, you know what you can take out of your expenses right now. You can really troubleshoot around the expenses. What is the bare minimum that I need to live off? How can I make my lifestyle scrappy and not incorporate all the things that I was spending on because I just have the free income to do it. Then start with that as your base expenses. For the income it's really about making projections but making them conservatively. You know, you could hope to make the same amount that you made while you were having a full-time job. But just be honest with yourself, and just assume that it's going to be 20, 30, 40 percent less, and it might not be 30 or 40 percent less for the entire year. It might just be the first six months or the first three months, but start really conservative and have a benchmark for what is the very least I can live off of. Make sure you're trying to hit those targets and then you can start flexing it up based on okay, I'm starting to see lots of clients come in, lots of inquiries come in. Maybe I can flex up a little bit. I try to think about this from another perspective. Like, I know a lot of people ask me, okay, I get it. I know what I'm spending on expenses now, but if I started new business, there might be other things that I need to buy or need to invest in, in order to make the small business work. One of the things you can think about is a, spending some of that money now. If you have to say for instance, if you use some of Adobe Creative Suite buy it while you're employed. You budget it into your budget now. Do you want to think about it for another year because you can buy a yearly membership, but that in some ways you can use some of your income now especially after you've got the emergency fund saved up and bind to those long term expenses that are needed for your necessities for your business buy them now, so you don't really have to think about them in your budget until a year into your business. A second way of thinking about it is there's a lot of things that we consider to be investments or things that we need for a business. We'll talk about this, I think a little bit later. But there are certain things we tell ourselves. We give ourselves a narrative. I need this enabled to be able to do x, y, z from my business. But it's almost always not entirely true. There are so many free things you can use in terms of creating assets or things for clients. There are just so many ways to troubleshoot around needing to buy. Like as a photographer, I only need really one lens. I use it probably 80 percent of the time and the rest I can rent, and a client will basically pay for that rental. I don't need to own an entire slew of camera equipment in order to deliver really great photography for a client. We often give ourselves as urgency that is incredibly not needed at all. Do yourself a favor and decide what's a real priority versus what can come on later down the line. 4. Savings: I think one of the other things we talked about is as you are planning this out and this goes back to how much will I need to live if I make the leap to freelance retirement savings and taxes? Not typical kind of words, but important to think about. I'm sure. Yeah, totally. I see a couple of questions about investing. Yeah. I'll just answer your question real quick because it's the easiest one. I think that all consumer debts should be paid. Consumer debts are credit card, personal loans, things like that, those should be paid before you invest. There's a caveat here of which we start getting into people's personal situations. The caveat being, if you're say 40 and older, then we have a different take, but I know you're young because I know you personally. So yes, your consumer debt should be paid before making investments. When you think about retirement investing, there are some criteria. When we put this in context of freelance or small business, this applies to most people, we should try to, and this is just a benchmark. Everybody's retirement, future, what they want out of retirement changes this number, but it's just like a basement number or a benchmark number. Fifteen percent is what we typically tell people, is where they should sort for their retirement savings, so 15 percent of their income, or you could think of this as net income too, but let's just call it income. Fifteen percent of your entire income should go to your retirement savings. When you're thinking about this from a freelance and well incorporate taxes, the first thing that I will think and this is part of the budgeting. The way that I look at it is every time I get paid a check from my freelance work, I go on a project, it pays x amount. I already deduct and your number will vary based on your income, but we know what the tax brackets on average are, the 15, the 18, all those brackets. You just want to ballpark what tax bracket do I think I'm going to be in my highest tax bracket. Without over explaining how marginal tax brackets work, you just want to take your highest tax bracket and make that a ballpark, not giving away my income, I'm just going to make up one and just say like, okay, let's pretend you're in the 20, the highest tax bracket you hit is around 20 percent. You want to save 20 percent of every check that comes in after expense to make it easier. If they're paying you a creative fee of 1,500 bucks, then take 20 percent of that, put that in a separate savings account, and leave it alone because you're going to thank yourself because at the end of the year when the tax man comes, you'll have this pile of cash, it's just ready to say, here, I'm going to pay you. The other thing you have to think about too is the reason it's so important to segregate that money is because once you become a freelancer or an independent contractor, or even a small business LLC or whatever, you're going to have to pay quarterly taxes. It's not that you have to wait till the end of the year, it's every single quarter the tax man is going to say, "What's my cut?" You want to be able to think through, I made this money, segregate this. The rest is for my business to keep it going, my living expenses, all that stuff. Just figure out what that percentage is for you. I think a safe number for most people that were on this chat is going to be between 15 and 20 percent for tax savings. Again, I'm not a tax professional, this is just a ballpark number. But you start with that, then as you see your income rising, start raising that number as well. The big buckets that I think are 15, 20, 30. For most people, that'll cover most of you because you're going to be able to make deductions and all that stuff. But think about it that way and the same thing for savings. Once I've deducted my money for taxes before I give all the money to my living and my lifestyle, how do I take a piece out for retirement? I say a good number to start with this 15 percent, but what you'll learn in hopefully a future class that I'll teach on Skillshare or some other resource that I'll put out later, it really does depend on what kind of retirement that you want to have. If you want to have a retirement where you're traveling the rest of your life, you're going to have to save more money, but 15 percent is a good place to start and it's not overwhelming. I would think about it that way. Cool, yeah, that's super helpful. You can also just google your income and figure out at least like the ballpark of what your tax bracket would be for the previous year. Yes, exactly. I recommend, maybe it's not the first year that you're a freelance, but as you start really developing your business, I really do know it sucks because I have a tax team, but it's going to be really helpful to have a CPA and not just rely on something like TurboTaxes the higher your income starts to grow. I know all of you on here because you're listening to me and you're on Skillshare and you're learning all these awesome ways to generate income, you're going to have your income grow over time. It's good to have a tax professional because they're going to point out things that you're just not going to know without diving into deep corners of the Internet. They're going to help you see things you don't see. They're going to help you figure out what the right business structure that you're going to want to put around your business, whether it's an LLC or an S corp, or you could just remain a sole proprietor. They're going to really help you see the bigger tax picture. That's going to help set you up for bigger successes as you go deeper, maybe not the first year, but start thinking about it as you get more income coming in the door. Right, because the more work you put in, in laying the foundation, I think we talked about in the class like this house metaphor, it's like laying the foundation, then you don't have to hopefully revisit the foundation every year. It's like, "Oh, it's there. I know that I'm safely building on top of it." Exactly. Grace has a great question. I think that will wrap up our freelance pitfalls. This is not necessarily a pitfall, but figuring out how much money you can spend or invest in marketing to get clients or set up your freelance business, I feel like that could be hard to navigate to know whether that's one of those necessities or not. Is that an investment that's going to pay off? How do you think about that? It's funny because with the company that I work with, we think about these things all the time, and when you look at how some of the biggest startup names that you know about, Uber all the way to DoorDash, you just name a startup and they probably fall into one of these categories. But there was an investor that did a survey on all this startup friends and founders. He looked at the seven ways that they got the first 1,000 subscribers or customers or whatever. What you learn really quickly, and obviously this doesn't apply to everybody, but what you learn really quickly is you can generate those first customers and a thousand is a lot of customers, By the way, I don't have a thousand customers in my photography business to give you context. These are for like really big. Can you imagine if you did, you don't have enough time? I don't want to be any photographer. That's the same blade depending on your business, you might not want that. It doesn't work exactly, but getting to those customers, the reality is, most of the ways that these companies built those early customers was all free stuff. Uber handed out free ride. I know this is a different business model than you're probably doing, but they handed out free rides or discount codes. I'm not saying give free business. What I am saying is that there are so many other levers you can pull that aren't related to spending money. I recently started and we'll talk about this later when I talk about side projects and how you can be involved with what I do, but I started a community line as a precipice for building a community platform for people to learn about finance wellness careers. The way that I started is not paying for marketing, not spending all this money on design or anything. I've literally just gone through all the people that follow me, not all of them, but some people that follow me I've gone through, I posted on my IG stories and said, "Hey, I'm helping people, I'm giving advice for free." I launched this platform. If you want to be connected to me, sign up for this phone number. Now, it did cost me $99 a month to get this phone number, but I'm at a different part of my career. You could also just use your own phone number. You can be scrappy. I just wanted to be organized. I created this phone number, I put it out there and I've already got in like literally four days, I've got a 145 people that have signed up of which probably 30 percent of them or 40 percent have asked me questions about career, finance, wellness, and all of these really awesome topics. I'm just sitting here at the end of my night responding to people, and these are the people that are going to turn into members of my community of which they'll pay some amount, obviously affordable in order to get more support and more resources. When you're thinking about your own small business or your own skill or talent, think about it in a way of like, how can I be scrappy? Start with the mentality, how can I spend zero money? Then build from there. At a certain point, you might want to invest in marketing and things like that, but we are selling our time, our talents, our skills, and unless you're building some business, like a scalable business, I'm guessing that you're building something that's based on your skill set, but unless you're talking about a scalable business and obviously different things, but when you're talking about selling your time and your labor in yourself as the business, then think about the strength of your own network, think about using LinkedIn, think about connecting with people through social media. Just think about all the free ways that you can connect with people in an honest and authentic way and start there, instead of thinking about how can I spent on marketing as a way to buy customers. Your best customers, aren't the ones that you're going to be able to buy. They're going to be the people that see that you have a talent and skill and want to be working with you. It's just about getting them aware that you have that talent or skill, and you can do that through call and emails, you can do that through social media. There's so many other ways to do it without paying to get in front of them. 5. Spending Exercise: Let's get into the fun part. Our exercise. I know we've all been doing, well everything differently in the past year, and I think spending more on some things, less on other things. I know you planned an exercise to help us understand why we spend, so I'm grabbing my notebook. Let me grab my notes too. I was trying to think about what are the things that I've failed at in terms of spending during this time. It's not a failure. It's research for this class. Absolutely. Thinking about this and I might go off script just a little bit. But I want everybody to think about this past year and I know it's been traumatic, but think about this last year and think a little bit about how you're spending your money, because we're going to write down three things. But here's what I'm thinking. The reason I talk about wellness in terms of finance and how they are inextricably linked and not the separate entities of the world where you're doing your Headspace over here and somehow your money is a completely different thing; is that, holistically thinking we spend money on things to fill holes. Obviously everybody's own life is different, but in general, a lot of the way that we spent, a lot of consumer behavior is driven around, how do I fill this hole, this need, this thing in my life, this void in my life? Or how do I create a distraction away from these other things that are going on? When you're spending money, I know we put down serotonin, I think it's a dopamine hit. But you get a dopamine hit from being able to not only see the likes that you're seeing on Instagram when you post a photo, but the same thing happens when you swipe your credit card or go through the checkout cart on your favorite brand or a fashion brand or whatever it is that you're spending your money. I want you to take a moment and if hopefully some of you will share your things. But think about the top three things. It could be a new subscription to something, it could be clothing, could be a car, it could be anything or a new apartment because there's so many deals in maybe the major city that you live in. But think about the ways that you've directed your money and the way that you've spent your money over the past year or even the past six months. Because this thing has dragged on longer than we thought it was. But think about those top three things that you spent and write those down, and if you're courageous and vulnerable enough, please share them in the comments. I will share with you where I think I spent probably entirely way too much money, not way too much money, but where I've fallen off the rails. I was doing this exercise and I wrote down that I spent a lot of money on groceries and I barely cook. What I mean by that is, because I don't want to leave the house, it's too cold, I don't really feel like working out, I'm constantly stuck at my desk working. I've really gotten sucked into the Amazon Prime Now thing and I buy four pints of the same ice cream because I just love this keto ice cream so much and it works for my diet, so I buy four of them. I get a bunch of veggies, I cook maybe twice a week, but I spend 100 bucks, I don't know where it comes from. There's only pop sodas in the fridge. I literally just get a bunch of stuff that aren't necessarily making sure that I'm fed, it's just playing around the margins. But it makes me feel good because at least I have these things, I don't have to walk the tin box the whole food and it's amazing. I've spent entirely too much money on these things because they're not real sustenance, but they fill a hole of not wanting to be social, not wanting to be outside the house, and so that's one place. The second place I realized that I spent a lot of money was on running shoes. I got into this running habit and I've worn through the first pair of my shoes because I was going out all the time and when it was time to get back on, instead of just finding the right pair of shoes and just purchasing them. Instead, I bought my top three favorite Colorways and shoes that I wanted to experiment with. Most people, or at least I know a lot of people in my life, they buy extra items and they return them. But the way that I shop is I buy the things that I want or I'm interested in, and then I just skip the returning phase because I hate going to UPS or FedEx. So I don't spend too much, but I do spend more than I could have spent and then I just leave the boxes in the room whether I use them or not. I bought two pairs of Levi's jeans because I lost all this weight and I was like, don't know what the right size is and I bought two pairs that are not the right size. They didn't fit me at all. You just have them? I still have them because I waited too long to try to return them or go to the store and so instead, I'm going to turn them into giving away to friends. That's wasteful consumerism and it's something I don't need to do. I'm not saying I can't afford it, but it is still wasteful and I don't want to do stuff like that all the time, but it just okay, but it fills a void for me. I want the jeans, I want them to have a place in my life, I have nowhere to take these things to either. I don't go out, I'm not social right now. It's one of those things, I didn't find a number 3. I probably have way too many, Netflix, Hulu, HBO. I have all of them as subscriptions and I watch all of them, but not a lot of any of them. I have my favorite shows at each. It's almost like they made us by Hulu and all these other things to get rid of cable, and now we're paying for cable again, but just independently. You just have to remember all the passwords. Exactly. That's a form of consumerism. I see a lot of people saying food, dating, career development, and things like that. Retro Jordan is a great one. There are lot things we can spend money on that really help further our goals. I think I see career development, even materials for lettering and calligraphy could be something if you're selling it, right? Yeah. But these are ways to actually further our progress. But really what I want to tap into is, if it doesn't generate ROI, if it's not in my budget, those are the things that really make a big difference to our, going back to things we've talked about earlier. Our budget in terms of how can we create more room for savings? How can we create more room for creating this emergency fund? One of the things I used to love to do is go out with my friends and have dinner, and it'd be once a month where it'd be one of those dinners where I don't care what the price tag at the end of it, we're going to split this all. We're going to have a couple of bottles of wine and we're just going to enjoy it. We can't do that now, but if I was doing that Friday, Saturday, Sunday, every single week, that would be a real problem to my budget, but it would be filling a void say for instance, maybe not having a romantic partner needing to be more social or maybe filling a hole of, I just don't have any really health positive things I can be doing on the weekend, so instead I turn to drinking. There are ways that we fill these holes that don't really give us a real satisfaction. I'll end on this by saying that the reason I think a holistic and a wellness lens applies to our money habits is because not only is a regular consumer behavior stuff. But if we tap into what makes us happy, what really satisfies us, then we often find that the consumerism stuff is really just noise. It has nothing to do with anything and really it is, am I missing personal connection? Do I need a physical fitness routine? Do I need to do some more stuff related to career development? Or whatever. Those are the things that start really providing satisfaction, they really provide the real dopamine hits and most of them are actually free. Like working on your photography, you can do that for free. Once you have the camera, you can do the rest of that for free. Having a wellness routine like meditation or going for a walk everyday or running outside or what, all those things are free. Once you understand where your happiness comes from, where your satisfaction comes from, you can start attacking these consumer decisions in a much more holistic and relevant way and you can figure out if you're using your decisions to fill a hole or not. Absolutely. Looking at the things you listed, some people have probably non-negotiables, childcare, rent, paying that, because you got to but things like, I saw a lot of and on my list is food delivery all the time. Maybe if you just take each one, take the step back just to think about it and examine it. I'm sure it doesn't mean you have to fully cut that out, but that's because I'm bored. Right. Totally. You know what, honestly, this is not to discourage anybody, I order food too. I think the responsible thing or the way to look at this is not to necessarily say, ''I can't do that anymore or I should cut this out completely or I should reduce it by X amount.'' It's to be thinking about it, is one, are you trying to fill a void? Two, if it's not trying to fill a void, it's just something that it's like, ''Hey, I'm working at my desk 24/7, I don't know how to cook, I don't want to cook.'' Whatever. If that's really just a decision that you've made, then just make sure that you're being responsible by how you budget it in. Because that's fine, I order food all the time, but it's within the realm of my income, my budget, and all that stuff. It's just about making smarter decisions about which levers you pull in terms of your expenses. That's all. 6. Q&A: Cool. I think we have some time left for Q&A. I know we tackled some questions earlier, but feel free to hop into the chat. Questions about finance, freelance really runs the game. It's sort of the serotonin spending we've been doing during the pandemic. [inaudible]. Some of the questions I wrote down from the chat earlier, someone asked, "If I have a steady income, what percentage of 7. Final Thoughts: Thank you so much for taking this class. If you're interested in finding out more about finance, I have a Modern Money Habits course. It's available on Skillshare, as well as five more photography classes if that's your interest as well. I'm looking forward to see you in another class. Thank you, everyone. Thanks, Justin. Thank you. Take care.