A Q&A With Financial Behaviorist Jacquette Timmons

Jacquette Timmons works as a financial behaviorist committed to helping people manage choices around money. She is the author of “Financial Intimacy: How to Create a Healthy Relationship with Your Money and Your Mate” and hosts of one of my favorite money podcasts, “More Than Money.” Jacquette is a much-loved speaker, and her work has been featured on SiriusXM, Good Morning America, Oprah.com, CNN, HLN, FOX, Black Enterprise, NPR, Reuters.com, Wall Street Journal and Family Circle. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. You can find her at jacquettetimmons.com and listen to the entire one-hour interview at carriebvanwinkle.com.

Carrie: I’m curious to hear about how you chose to write your book, “Financial Intimacy: How to Create a Healthy Relationship with Your Money and Your Mate.”

Jacquette: I wanted to look at how our world has changed in the last 40 years politically, economically, socially, and in terms of how we show up in relationships when it pertains to money.

I would expand on that now to say that beyond making sure you own more assets than liabilities, there is also social wealth, time wealth, and physical, emotional, or spiritual wealth. Within all those different wealth domains or dimensions, it’s important to make sure you’re not just building financial wealth, but you’re creating the capacity to also maintain it. Carrie: You talk about “beyond the numbers.” Tell me what you mean by that.

Jacquette: Again, it’s really about getting people to understand that if financial success were simply a mathematical problem or formula you could solve, then none of us would ever have questions or frustrations or challenges that we truly couldn’t figure out on our own. If we couldn’t compute in our head, we have access to a calculator. Anything that you needed to figure out, you’d be able to figure out. If that’s the case, then why is it we have the questions we have, the frustrations, the challenges? Why is it that some people have a hard time earning money or earning the amount of money they really need?

Why is it that sometimes people have a hard time saving, or they do save and then they have to deplete it? Why is it that some people are really successful when it comes to investing and other people lose $20? Why is it that some people are really thoughtful and intentional when it comes to spending and others are just driven entirely by being compulsive? There’s a reason for those variances and I never ever, ever want anyone to feel bad about wherever they are on that spectrum, but I think it is important to understand why you are there and are you OK with it? If you’re not OK with it, recognize that even if you want to earn more, that’s not going to be the answer either.

In my opinion, whatever you do with a dollar is exactly what you will do when you have $100,000 or $1 million. You’re not going to, as I like to say, auto-magically become someone different simply because you have more zeros and a few more commas.

Going “beyond numbers” is really an attempt to get people to take a 360 degree look at their money and understanding that their experience with money and their success with it is largely driven by a whole bunch of choices that happen before the money gets into their wallet, or as an available balance that’s on their credit line, or that is an amount that’s noted on their investment statements.

I have a framework we walk through that helps to tap into emotions, values, beliefs, and to see how they apply their skill sets to other areas of their lives—primarily their professional lives, which can be brought into how they also approach their money.

Carrie: That’s so interesting—all the layers of the money conversation and what’s underneath the surface. With your experience as a financial behaviorist, what are some of the challenges you’ve seen women experience as they go through financial transitions?

Jacquette: I think it all depends upon the trigger for the transition. Let me start with a more positive transition. I was working with one client whose testimony was that when they started working with me, their net worth was negative and after they implemented all of the things that we talked about, within a year and a half they had a six-figure net worth. However, she reached out to me and said, “I don’t know what to do. I did everything you told me to do. Now this is the result. What do I do next?” That windfall can be successful in that you set out for a particular goal and you achieve that goal, but what you didn’t account for was the new layer of responsibility and roles that come with that success. It might require new financial habits or a shift in your emotional standing or spiritual standing. You may or may not consider it a windfall, but it is a transitional moment and requires being prepared for it. That’s a more positive example.

If the windfall comes due to a death or due to a divorce, the emotions connected to that are very deep. If it’s divorce, there might be a lot of anger that’s not yet dissipated. If it is death, a lot of hurt may be connected to it. There’s the grief, and you want to make sure you do the right thing because you wouldn’t have the money if that loved one were still alive and they hadn’t chosen to leave it to you. These situations trigger deeper emotions. In one instance, it might be more connected to anger and in another instance it might be connected to the added pressure of making sure to do the right thing because of how you got it.

Carrie: I would love to hear your thoughts about women, money, and power.

Jacquette: A couple of things: One is defining power. I don’t think that there’s just one definition—you need to take stock of how you define power. Once you’ve defined that, then how do you practice or implement that power? One example of power could be if you have a very strong belief and you don’t subscribe to a particular vendor’s way of operating or some of their policies around how they treat employees. Exercising your power would be to not shop at that place. That’s an example of power. Another example of power would be to make sure that you are spending your dollars in the places that you say are more resonant with you.

Another example of power would be, are you standing up for yourself? When you’re negotiating, are you negotiating with your best interest in mind? If you work as an employee, are you asking for a raise? Are you lobbying for that bonus? If you have a business, are you making sure that when you set your prices those prices are not just designed to pull people in, but they’re designed to take care of you, as well? That’s an idea of power. Power could also be in our relationship. Are you speaking up if your partner does something that doesn’t sit well with you when it comes to money? Are you having those kinds of conversations?

As uncomfortable as it is, are you talking with your parents about money because you may need to be responsible for some of their finances, even while they are alive? What about when they pass? Is everything in order? I didn’t come from a private banking background, but I am so grateful that my mother was insistent upon having an estate plan done. I was devastated when she died, but at least I didn’t have to be put in the awkward situation of having to deal with financial decisions. That’s an example of power.

I also think it’s important to recognize that how you define power can actually shift over time. How you define it when you’re in your 20s and perhaps single is very different than how you might define it when you’re in your thirties and maybe married and/or with a child versus how you might when you’re in your 50s.

Carrie: Thank you so much, Jacquette. I appreciate all your time, your thoughtfulness, and for sharing your experience.

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Carrie Van Winkle

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