Transcription of the Interview: Money & Herpes, the Surprising Similarities with Amanda Neely
Alexandra: Hey, you guys, I'm a Alexandra Harbushka, founder of lifewithherpes. I'm really excited to do share it with Amanda Neely. This is gonna be a completely different type of interview, conversation. Let me tell you a little bit about Amanda Neely.
She is a financial professional who has used her childhood upbringing or experience with her parents, her own experience in life to create wisdom around finance and our finances. For you guys, if you're like what, this is a herpes topic, we're talking about money, here, I'm gonna get there and explain how this actually is extremely parallel and how one goes into the other, but I'm really excited to have Amanda and I was on her live stream, we've kinda gone back and forth to the last couple of weeks, and I'm just... I really want you guys to meet Amanda.
Amanda, welcome to our show. Welcome to our interview. Thanks for being here.
Amanda: Yeah, thanks for having me. Alexandra, it's nice to be here.
Alexandra: It's gonna be fun. So one of the things that you guys may or may not know that prior to this life of herpes, I had podcast called Sex, Money and food, and the reason why I chose sex money and food, and this is where we get to the money part. I personally believe when you boil life down, it falls into those three categories, they're all related, and if one category is off, the other two trickle, if you may have two categories off and one stellar, but the other ones are struggling and so it really is a parallel, it's a direct result of our beliefs, of our emotional believe and things that are holding us back, so... Let's talk about it, Amanda. Let's talk about money, let's talk about your limited beliefs that you said you had as a child, I really am excited to hear the story about your childhood.
Yeah, so when I was born, my parents were on public assistance, and my dad was actually in his late 50s, my mom was in her mid-30s, so quite an age gap there, and he couldn't find a job, and so my mom went back to college in her late 30s to try to provide for the family. And I've no clue, of course, when I was little, I just was living life, but looking back on it, like how empowering that is that she took charge of the future of the family and how we had provided for ourselves and she did that. And she actually spent a bunch of her career, she ended up working for that college that she went to, and she spent a lot of her career talking with other women who are coming back to school later in life and really supporting them, but that kind of mentality that you can do anything, and that kind of empowerment she totally fostered in me. If I wanted to be President in the United States, I could do it. But at the same time, the way that our family lived was on very little...
When I was doing the fast for college, I realized just how little my parents had and how much they made, their income was less than the tuition, and board at the school that I was gonna go to. In a rural Ohio, and I was going to just school in a big city, but still very little. And looking back, I realize the only time they talked about money was when they fought about it, and there was one point in middle school when they were fighting so much that I was just like: Okay, mom dad's mad at you for getting into credit card debt, I'm gonna sit down with you, I'm gonna help you get out of credit card debt, let's pay this off, figure out how to do it together, and that way you two won't fight as much anymore, and that became a big turning point for them, they fought less about it, but they also still didn't talk about it, and my dad would just manage all the money and my mom would spend what she could, with what he allowed her to and just wasn't a thing.
But I thought, I have this all figured out. Right. Going into college years.
Alexandra: Yeah, we all did.
Amanda: So I got a job between high school and college and then saved almost all of what I had left with very little spending 'cause I was still living with my parents... But by the time Christmas vacation rolled around that first quarter of college, all that money was gone, that I'd saved the whole summer, and that took me right back to exactly where my parents lived the whole time, paycheck to paycheck, trying to figure out when a bill comes to how I'm gonna pay it, how I'm gonna buy my books. And that really lasted for a long time throughout my 20s, and we would try to pay off student debt after I graduated and never really making progress. Typical American story. And partly it was because... 'cause I got married three weeks after graduation from college and... And it was kind of the reverse in my relationship, my husband just gave me control of the finances and... We never talked about it. We just said: We're not gonna spend very much. Yeah, that's it.
Alexandra: This sounds extremely the exact... So, so I'm gonna get a little bit off. I'm not off-track, this is exactly what happens with couples and sex, and couples with STDS or just Sexual Health, and I say sex, I just mean sexual health. And what you're saying is you like, I knew what to do. I went to college, I saved, I knew exactly what to do, and then I got there and then it was either not what I expected or things cost more or I just... Life got ahead of me and it was very similar to me. I taught sex ed. I knew. The idea of a teenager... 'cause I was a teenager when I talk sex-ed in high school, very similar to what you're saying, a teenager's mindset that you get into the real world, you're like: Oh, but there's this and there's that, and I didn't... I didn't know. I was just a kid, basically. I thought I knew, and these are big, big things that can completely transform the projectory of your life and go completely different ways, finances and STD completely can do this or that. And I've recently learned a really good way to think about this, a lot of what we're taught in sex education class and by the big financial gurus is what to do...
They just say, You should do this, you should do that, do x, y or z, do these steps, whatever. But we're not taught how... We're not taught the mindset that we need to have... Yeah, we're not given the chance to role play, what do you do in a specific situation, we're all of those things, it's like we have to figure out how to translate the what into the how for our personal situation. And I don't know anybody that's doing that kind of work... We try to do, right?
Alexandra: Yeah, exactly. And very similar how you're saying, Okay, your parents, and then you and your husband when you first got married, there was really no talk about money, it's like it's just here, and there's always one that's in charge, and it doesn't necessarily matter who's in charge, but there's one in charge and the other one just kinda does, and it's very similar to sexual health, a lot of times, one person's in charge of the birth control and the other person doesn't really... You just don't talk about it. Or having that conversation with your partner about... Again, getting tested, there's no shame and it's being responsible, I think there's a lot of shame associated with that - is same thing, talking about money, there's a lot of shame associated, we shouldn't own, we don't wanna act like we're on a budget, or we wanna keep up with the Joneses or whatever. And those things, it's not shameful, these are the realities of life. Whether you're married, whether you're single, whatever it is, these are conversations that need to happen for ourselves. And for your partner.
How to get on a right path towards your financial freedom as well as getting the shock of your herpes diagnosis behind
Amanda: Yeah, yeah, and if there's one thing that I've found works best in these kinds of conversations is starting with dreaming, starting with the positive, looking for what are the goals, what are the bucket list items, what would we want our money to do for us if we were Queens and Kings of money for the day, and I can imagine having a similar sex conversation too, right. What would our thing be... 'cause that feels a lot more liberating, a lot more freeing than trying to focus on how are we gonna pay off this debt, or how are we gonna cut back in this area or that area... Right.
Alexandra: Or it's like, Oh, we can't have sex. 'cause we have her or one of us have herpes or I can't... Yeah, and that's not the case at all. Or people will say to me like, Oh, I can't have a normal sex life anymore, and I'm like: But what's normal? It's what we see in Hollywood, is what we think of a king and queen living like... Is that really normal? Like HHollywood's made up and we honestly have no idea how the royals live, right. They're obviously on a budget of some sort, it's very different. What's normal? Yeah.
Amanda: And if I'm gonna be frank, I'd say Screw normal. Normal actually kind of sucks, like the average American struggling by, living paycheck to paycheck, trying to keep up with the Joneses... The struggle is real. All the time. I don't wanna be like that. I don't wanna be normal, I wanna live my best life, figure out what that looks like for me, and then that carve my own path to make it work.
Alexandra: I like that. I like that. We don't know what normal is. And these both are extremely taboo topic now, back to sex, money in food, people talk about food, they'll talk about their diet, that's actually a very vocal... And we as a society capitalized on that, I was just at the grocery store this morning. And it was like the 10 tips to get in your body or eat these foods to detox after the holidays, so we capitalized on that, there's nothing of: Here's how to get your financial dreams on track starting January 1, The was no, Here's how to have a healthy... When I say sex, if I don't mean I'm not talking some wild thingie by the chandeliers: That's cool, if that's your thing, I mean, having that intimate conversation with a partner that is safe and you both feel comfortable, that's something that we just don't even have. And that's why a lot of STDS happened. That's why a lot of people go into that...
Amanda: Yeah, 100%. Yeah, yeah, and it goes back to the how... Right. People tell you what to do even... So my mom, she lives with us, I helped take care of her, she gets... These are mailers in the mail. And they're always about money, because when you're retired, you're living on a small budget, you have a fixed income, you're worried about cashing out like that, and it's so hilarious when I look at it, they're regurgitating the same advice over and over again, telling people what to do... And it's like, but you don't know the people you're writing too... There's such a diversity of retires - who's gonna help them take this 'What' and figure out how it applies to them, what they should ignore? What is the gold advice that's coming... And a lot of what we're taught with how to even talk to people or what we should say is like blanket information, and it takes some role-playing and practice to figure out: How do I say this for me? How do I start this conversation? What is my way of starting something... And it comes back to, we have to always be applying for our specific situation, what works for us, and thinking those things through before you jump in and just do what everyone else is doing, or what we've been told to do.
Alexandra: Yeah. Again, told to do, it's like we're told in high school or whatever, save your money, get a job, save your money, pay your taxes, don't get into credit card debt, and then same thing with sexual health, it's like: Don't get pregnant, or, don't get a girl pregnant. And that's it, but there's no conversations around any that we're told how to solve it or told not nasal that we're told the problem, but no conversation around, Okay, this is actually how it really looks... This is real life. Yeah. Something popped in my mind, we were talking, but now I forgot it. I'll come back something about the college and money and... Well, I got into debt at 25... Definitely into 25. We talked to on your show, I got my first paycheck where I went to college, I was under the... Went to... I went to problems, I have a bachelor's degree, that was that I was... At your degree, I'm gonna have an office. I'm gonna have a window. I'm not gonna have a cube, I'm gonna have a window type thing, right, and then my paycheck will be... There will be a comma at least. There was no coma for months, many paychecks that did not get a comment when you're like: But I went to college.
Amanda: And my student loan debt has a comma... Right, right.
Alexandra: Right. Everything else has a coma! I would compare things to look at my pay check and I would go... I also have this idea that now that I have graduated, I have a job, I can go shopping, 'cause I worked, I worked, I was able to... Which was 16 in California, I had a work permit and I always had a job, and I was able to go buy things, but then once you realized that money that was set aside, my job was just to fill my fun life, I bought food with friends, drinks when I was 21 or 20 with a fake ID, clothes, did that.It didn't provide the meat potatoes, I didn't have to pull out for car insurance, I didn't have... All the things that when you get your first paycheck. I remember the career fair, they're like, You'll get 3000 a month. I was like, Whoa, that much! It's so big, and then I realize that 3000, there's no taxes. So again, this is such a big awakening, so How do we solve those conversations for the finances, and how do we follow it for just sexual health, teaching people, and when I say sexual health, I mean reproductive health, I mean birth control, I mean being able to talk to a partner and being like: This is what I feel comfortable with, and this is what I don't feel comfortable with, and I'm sure you talked to a lot of people too, that they may get into a financial situation where I didn't know how to ask for help. Right, it... It didn't feel good to me is. I just did what I thought I was supposed to do.
Amanda: Yeah, so I'm gonna say something that a lot of people are probably gonna disagree with because it's not your typical average financial professional, what they tell you to do, typical financial professionals are gonna say: Invest in the stock market, you gotta get compound interest working in your favor. As soon as possible. Just figure out how to make it happen. I'm gonna take a very different approach. Okay, so I want you to spend some time just in reflection, meditation, journaling, thinking through how you feel, what you want, getting really clear, even if you're not 100% clear, getting a lot more clearer, feeling good about: Okay, here's what I want my money to do for me, here's what reproductive health looks like for me, and having that kind of internal within yourself and yes, if you're more of a conversational type person conversate about it, if you like to journal, write it down if you need to, just sit there in silence, However that looks like for you. If you pray about it. Whatever. And then I like to do for money, kind of a Marie Kondo method, you know how she goes into people's homes and have them pick up their items and see how they feel about it.
I like to say, Pull out your latest bank statement or your latest credit card statement or both, and just take each item, go with whatever that first transaction for the month was and just hold it in your heart. Hold it in your mind, see how you think and feel about it, record a couple of thoughts there, see if it sparks joy for you, and just notice it and then go on to the next line, however long it takes. And then when you go back, you can say, Well, how can I have more of the things that bring me joy, and how can I shift the things that don't really bring me joy into something that would... How can I eliminate them or shift them, whatever that looks and... Sure, people might say: Well, my electric bill, that doesn't give me joy, but you have to think about not just what it is, but what it does for you providing air conditioning or lighting and stuff like that.
Alexandra: I got a bonus, I was like, Oh, bonus. And I'm like, I have to buy tires, and I'm like, I don't wanna be tires of bonus, I wanna buy shoes, not tires, but you have to buy tires.
Amanda: Joy is different than happiness, right. The chocolate in my cover brings me some happiness, but does it really bring me joy, as it bringing you true life...
Alexandra: I don't know when I got some chocolate right here.
Amanda: Coffee is that for me. I have to. Okay, and then as you start to do that, you might think, Well, you know, if I really look at my 401K, if I really look at this brokerage account, which were told not to do, but I say do the same practice with those things. And if you really feel this is not bringing me joy, this is not what I want my money to do for me, start looking for options, start thinking, who could help me get this into more safety, 'cause I don't feel comfortable this risk or who could help me figure out exactly what these funds are doing and not just manage it for me, but help me choose and really finding that all along the way to fill in those gaps, Which part we wanna improve, which part we wanna make an adjustment with, and then find who's gonna help us make that adjustment.
Alexandra: Like that, and basically, we can take everything you just said and combine that with sex, we can combine that with dating, we can combine that with... Sexual health with that whole realm of... Yeah, I like that. Joy and Happiness. I hear so many people saying, Well like, Yeah, well, this guy, he accepted it and he's okay, and I'm like: Okay, just because someone is accepting it, kinda like you're saying, is the chocolate in your cupboard happiness or is it really something that you want... And they're like: I don't know. That's pretty important to me.
But I get your point, are there things that are really important to you, or does it really fulfill you and lift you up and fill you up, and that's the same thing with dating and having these conversations, and I think another good thing that's very parallel, when you are in debt, and you're like, I cannot... I don't know how I'm gonna pay the electric bill this month, that type of... I call it the Eeyore phase. I don't know if I mentioned it to you on your show, I think I did it. For those of you that have not heard what Eeyore phase is, it's when you... As we know, or he just walks around with a rain cloud in there, just humming along, that type of phase, and then that phase is when you can't pay an electric bill and you don't know how you're gonna put gas in your car when you have so much credit card debt that you go to buy something that's like $2 in your credit card is declined, those feelings of absolute terror, are the exact same feelings as... Oh my gosh, I just got an STD that I will have the rest of my life. How did this happen? How do they get here? What do I do? And it's the deer in the headlight phase. And then you go into this Eeyore of: How do I get out of it? Because you can get out! Like finances, you can actually get rid of that, you can get rid of that. There are some STDS you cannot... Right, but there are ways to live through it and be like: It's not even an issue in my life, and it's the same formula I think, to get out of Eeyore, I think. Nothing wrong with Eeyore. Because he's a cute little character.
Amanda: At least for me, there's always areas in my life they're a little bit Eeuore... Or there's times where I'll feel like I just need to sit in my eEYORE form a little bit. Right, and that's totally cool too. The thing I like about coming back to the goals, to the hopes, to the dreams, even if they feel very unrealistic, is that at least for me, that's kind of like a rope that I can hang on to and kind of pulls me up out of that almost despair type things, or the hopelessness, and start to kind of look around and realize, I could figure this out, there is probably a way, and I need to remember that other people have hopes and dreams too, and there's been people in the past, or there's been people that I can listen to on podcasts that have done amazing things. If they can do it, so can I.
Alexandra: So can I... Exactly. We can get ourselves out of it, there are ways to do it. I LIKE WHAT YOU IN said too, which was, I think could be good for all of us going forward. My friend and I, we made a 2022 plan, just vision planning. It was more like just girlfriends talking and what are we gonna do this year that's super cool? Now, that doesn't get down a nitty-gritty with the Google spreadsheet numbers. And one of the things that we did that I think can be really helpful for what we're talking about here, was take an evaluation of where you are, where you are with your relationship with money? Not, where is my money? Where my relationship is? One, or is it a 10? Where's my relationship? And go through, if you're single, it's gonna be very different than if you're married, it's gonna be different if you're a parent, not parent, but... Where are you spiritually? Where are you... And that can be different for a lot of people, right? In my case, your relationship with herpes, where are you with that, is it not an issue or is it still an issue in your life right now? Life is a rollercoaster and that's okay, you don't want it to be steady and you want the ups and downs because it allows you to learn, it allows you to grow out of your comfort zone, it allows you to appreciate when you are in the lows and appreciate the highs and of course, nobody wants to go low, but it's still part of life.
The STILL method
I wanna introduce you to what we're calling 'the still method'. It basically encapsulates what we're talking about, and we apply it to money, but it could totally be applied to anywhere else.
So the S is for set your sites, that's the hopes, dreams, goals, remember your vision. Your Whys. Where you go in?
Then the T is track, your in and out, what's been happening lately, what's come in, what's gone out? How are my feelings doing, that kind of thing.
Then the I is inspect your progress compared to a month ago, how am I doing... Am I moving in the right direction? Am I mowing in the direction I wanted to... Right. And kind of evaluating that. So not just looking at what's gone in and what's gone out, but actually taking some moments to reflect on it and inspect it.
And then the first L is for... Look for the one person adjustment, look for the tiny shift you can make. It's not a goal to change everything overnight, but you can make a 1% little change that can improve your future and then start living deliberately, try it out, see how that one person adjustment works. How I made you feel?
That's the final L, live deliberately, and then you come back two weeks, a month later, however often you wanna do it, and you just do the same thing over and over again, set your sites and inspect your progress, look for the 1% adjustment and then live deliberately.
Alexandra: I love that. I'm gonna... Absolutely, I'm gonna talk about that in our next support group call, 'cause we were in the Eeyore, and again, you have people in their financial Eeyore phase, and you're like, I will get you there. Today may be hard, and you may not see a change this month, but I promise you, if we do these things... I can imagine your mom going... I'm in my late 30s, I don't have a college degree, we're in debt and I'm a mom, how do I start earning an income that will make a shift in my life and that... I'm sure it was very hard. Very hard.
Amanda: Yeah, and it started with a 1% thing of filling out an application or maybe even driving to go get the application... 'cause you know the... Yeah, one of the dangers of the still method is getting so into the S, the set your sites that you forget to do the action to make it happen. And so that's why you have to get all the way to the two Ls at the end, 'cause it doesn't matter how much you want or dream or set goals if you don't take the actions to get there, that could still happen, but from my experience, a lot less likely.
Alexandra: Absolutely, one of the things that I think will really fit for your community as well, that I teach people, and I actually learned it from finances, so it's interesting, I was in the finance finance world, the mortgage world, and then I myself with a debt and got through all... For example, when we're in debt, it's like, Oh my gosh, how am I go pay my bills? How am I gonna pay it? How am I gonna pay it? And you sit down at your laptop or you go to work or whatever you're supposed to do and think: I can't put gas my car, I can't buy diapers, I can't... And that's obviously, you're freaking out, your livelihood right here, how do you provide? It's a survival. And the very same thing happens when you're diagnosed with herpes is: Oh my gosh, now what... How am I gonna do? My dreams were this, I wanted this and now I have this, I have to get that, and what am I gonna do? And should I have people say should I end my life, which happens in financial issues as well, and it's like: Absolutely not, there is a way out.
But what I like to recommend is take a time, and in the beginning, it might be every single day, like a time, is it 100 AM is at 2 PM and is at 10 PM. Whenever that time is... Is it an hour or five minutes. But whatever that time is, let's just say 20 minutes, so from 10 to 10-20 every single day, that's when you can worry about money, that's when you can worry about your herpes diagnosis, and you can sit and do all the Google research, you can sit and plan out, whatever, all of these things you can actually worry... And when the 10-20 hit 10-21, you're done. So when those thoughts pop up of, I can't pay my mortgage, oh my gosh, what happens? What does the bankruptcy look like? You write that down, and then you go, I can worry about that. 10 to 10-20 tomorrow. That's it. And eventually, and that meant you may need more time in the beginning, but you get in maybe an hour a day or whatever, but eventually that time will lessen and your brain will go, it's not time for me to worry... It's time for me to actually work. I'm working, I'm at work right now to make money. I'm gonna work on my job application or I'm gonna improve my resume right now. If I'm worrying about a bankruptcy, I'm not working on my resume, that doesn't help my problem, same thing with herpes. So I think that goes really hand in hand, that's the one thing you can do... 'cause the worries there, there's always worry, that's just how we're built. Right. Or notice, how do I get out of it? How do I get out of that? Again, the the rain cloud's over me.
Amanda: That's some good advice. Thanks for sharing that.
Alexandra: Yeah, your years as well. I'm definitely gonna use it 'cause how do we create a process and that's what we need, that's just the way our brains are built. How do I get step one, step two, and nothing that we have talked about here is something out of the blue, different, it's just approaching it differently and different messages come to it and we understand messages differently at different times.
Amanda: Yeah. The biggest thing that I think is different about some of the things we were talking about compared to with what you hear other places, is that we're not saying exactly how much your emergency fund should be or the exact way to pay off your debt, right. Or how much you should spend on shoes, that's different for everybody, and it should be different for everybody, we're unique individuals, we don't need cookie-cutter solutions, there are time-tested pieces of financial wisdom that we can learn and figure out, How does this apply to me today, our business is called Grandma's wealth wisdom. We're trying to tap into those things that have lasted generations, there is something to be said for some of those things, but Grandma didn't have a very different emergency fund than we do now, but the importance of an emergency fund... That's what I'm talking about, and it's probably the same with something like, herpes, there's science, there's medicine, that's part that we researched. And we learn those things. But then we say: Okay, now, how does this work for me?
Alexandra: Yeah, what's gonna work for me in my life, and what am I gonna do? And I think at the end of the day, both of us do not want people that are in financial struggles or that are struggling with an STD or STI to give up... That's not it. I want us to enjoy life and be full of joy, pleasure, excitement, happiness. And you can do everything that you wanna do, you have to make it happen. And here we have it. Yeah, we can help you, but you have to do it up.
Amanda: And we have to think, what do we want life to be like? In our 70s, 80s and 90s, and work backwards from there.
Alexandra: There's a huge STI surge for people in their 70s. Just letting you all now, so people are still enjoying it, so getting it on in her 70s and 80s... That's good to know.
Yeah, well, thank you, Amanda that was so much fun... I will definitely have your information link, we'll have Grandma's wisdom or wealth wisdom, we'll have that for you guys. You guys can check it out, you have your 'still method checklist' that I was kinda checking it out, so I think as we talked about it today, but I will have that linked for you guys as well, what is a last minute thought and then where can people locate you?
Yeah, if you go to stillmethod.com, you can get that still method checklist, and what you'll find when you get that checklist is the questions to as. I'm the big believer that it's more important to find the right questions and let the answers then come as you ask that question and ask it over and over again, so get those questions, allow them to empower you to find the answers that are true for you. I think those questions have a lot of power in them, and then kind of let that guide your life, look for the right questions, rather than always just trying to find the right answer.
Alexandra: That was... I got chills on my right side for that one... I like that, fnd the right question. Good one. Thanks, thanks, Amanda.
Alright, you guys, thanks for joining in, I will see all in the next episode, and of course, let me know what you guys wanna hear, we are here for you, and go check Amanda Nelly. Yhanks so much, you guys.