Women's Retirement Radio

Christine Luken, Founder of the Financial Dignity Movement - Learn to Master Your Money - Episode 33

September 27, 2021 Russ Thornton Season 2 Episode 17
Women's Retirement Radio
Christine Luken, Founder of the Financial Dignity Movement - Learn to Master Your Money - Episode 33
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Women's Retirement Radio, I'm joined by Christine Luken.

As the Founder of the Financial Dignity® Movement, Christine has coached hundreds of high earning professionals to pay off staggering amounts of debt and massively increase their net worth. Christine’s book Money is Emotional: Prevent Your Heart from Hijacking Your Wallet has landed her almost 100 podcast and TV interviews, establishing her as the authority on money, mindset, and emotions.  

When she’s not coaching clients from her home office in Cincinnati, you can find this Certified Divorce Specialist & member of the Financial Therapy Association curled up with a good book, a fluffy cat, and a strong cup of coffee.

For more on Christine and her Financial Dignity Coaching, please check out these resources:

Get in touch and let me know what you think or if you have any questions.

And thank you for listening.

Visit my website to learn more.

Disclosures

Russ Thornton:
Hey everyone, it's Russ. Welcome to another episode of Women's Retirement Radio. Today I'm excited to be joined by Christine Luken. Christine is a financial coach, she has developed some courses, programs, written a book, has a lot of great resources on her website, many of which I'm sure we'll talk about and I'll certainly include links in the show notes for this episode, but let's dive in.

Russ Thornton:
Christine, welcome.

Christine Luken:
Hey, thanks for having me.

Russ Thornton:
Glad you could join us. Why don't we get started by just having you tell us a little bit about yourself personally.

Christine Luken:
Yeah. My name is Christine Luken. I'm known as the Financial Lifeguard. I have been a financial coach for close to 13 years now and I think the most important thing that people need to know about me is I didn't get into doing this work because I've always done things perfectly with my finances. And in fact, it's quite the opposite. I broke off an engagement in my mid-20s, at age 26 and I hit financial rock bottom despite having an accounting degree. That was a very shameful and embarrassing experience for me because I left this relationship with a lot of debt. I left the relationship owing payday lenders money, being behind on my car payment. I jokingly say if it's possible for a credit score to be negative, mine probably was.

Christine Luken:
A good part of the reason why I had gotten myself into this situation was because the guy that I was engaged to had horrible money habits. He was in and out of jobs and even in and out of jail. I thought if I just loved him enough that he would change and he did, he got worse. I ended up having to completely start over in my late 20s and it was embarrassing. It was an embarrassing situation for me to be in especially because I should have known better. I had an accounting degree. I was actually working for a multi-million dollar company as their staff accountant and yet here I was bouncing my own checks at home.

Russ Thornton:
First of all, thanks for your willingness to share that. There's a lot in there that I'd love for us to touch on in our conversation today, the shame and the embarrassment that you felt and I know you and I were talking before we started recording about how you and I have both seen that with other folks, especially women. But I also appreciate the fact that you don't speak from a position of perfection or having done it all right. Clearly, no one's perfect, but that you're willing to admit and accept your mistakes or wrong turns in the past and it sounds like you've used them to find a better path for yourself.

Christine Luken:
Yes.

Russ Thornton:
First of all, thanks for sharing that. I appreciate that. I know our listeners will too. Could you maybe take just a second, Christine, and maybe give our listeners a little bit of a flavor or explanation, what's the difference between a financial coach, what you do, and maybe a more traditional financial advisor, which is what I do?

Christine Luken:
Yes. What we do is very complimentary. The easiest way for me to explain it in one sentence is, a financial coach helps you become financially healthy. A financial advisor helps you to become financially wealthy. So as a financial coach, I am working with my clients on their daily money management habits. We are looking at spending habits, making sure that we're tracking our spending, that we're being intentional with it. We are looking at making sure that our debt is manageable and we're making a plan to get things paid down because we don't want to be carrying any more debt than we need to because we don't want it to be stressing us out either emotionally or financially. And then we also work on various saving goals. We want to have, most people call it an emergency fund. I like to call it a freedom fund because that actually sounds much more enjoyable, but we do need to have this cushion that will protect us from those things that invariable happen so that we don't have to put those emergencies on a credit card.

Christine Luken:
And then I really dig deep into habits and mindset and helping people to understand where they picked up these patterns for interacting with their money because sometimes we just do what our parents did, we just do what's been taught us, or maybe our partner does things a particular way and we just took that on without really questioning it and then we may have some of these habits that aren't really serving us anymore.

Russ Thornton:
It's so interesting in my conversation with other guests on the podcast how emotion, psychology, money habits or what I've also heard referred to as money scripts come up a lot and I think that just underlines the fact that at the end of the day, money is a very emotion-filled topic. It touches virtually all aspects of our lives and getting your habits, your behavior, your thoughts, your mindset around money can make a huge difference. Maybe a bigger difference than virtually anything else that you can do. I think it's super important and I'm glad you shared that.

Russ Thornton:
It sounds like you do a lot and it sounds like while complimentary, there's also maybe some degree of overlap between the work you do and the work I do as far as just helping people as far as like setting up, to use your terminology, a freedom fund and preventing the need to go back into consumer debt and things like that. What else can you tell us about the work that you do, Christine?

Christine Luken:
I really love working with women who are going through divorce because that is a very emotional time and there's actually a term called divorce brain because divorce puts so much stress on people, both men and women, that it can actually impair our decision making. When we are in this state of stress for a prolonged period of time, there's a lot of uncertainty and chaos and even in the very best situations where people are agreeable about the divorce, there's still a lot of turmoil and there's still a lot of emotion and it is prime time for money mistakes because we can be making these decisions when we're not in the best place emotionally. And many of these decisions can have a long lasting impact on our personal finances. And I think it is so helpful for people who are going through divorce to have the guidance of someone, whether it is a financial coach or it is a financial planner who understands the emotional side of money to help guide them through some of these financial decisions that need to be made during that transition.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, it's interesting. I've often joked that I'm not a psychologist, but I play one in my head sometimes.

Christine Luken:
Yes.

Russ Thornton:
It's interesting, one of my amateur theories is that I think during divorce, I think you could argue that the family, whether it's a woman and her husband or partner, there may be children involved, I would argue that you could almost think of that like a family unit or a tribe and when that tribe's being broken up or you're leaving the tribe, whether by choice or by circumstances through a divorce, for example, I think it could literally trigger some of our ancient survival instincts like tap into our lizard brain. I've heard the term divorce brain before, but I think that I've seen glimpses of that in conversations with some of my clients that have been introduced to me either during or after a divorce and just hearing the tone of voice and things that some of these women have shared with me, it's like they almost feel like they are fighting for their lives. And in some respects, they are. But it's super interesting to take a step back and consider the role that psychology and mindset plays in money in general as we already addressed, but specifically when it comes to a divorce.

Russ Thornton:
And I know you have done a lot of thinking and do a lot of work around money shame and embarrassment and how that almost create this vicious cycle, especially in the context of a divorce. Do you want to maybe share a little bit about that?

Christine Luken:
Yeah, yeah. Because here's what I see when I talk about the money shame cycle, essentially what happens is someone does something with money, they make a mistake with money and then they feel ashamed about that mistake and that shame makes them want to hide. And when you hide, you don't get the help that you need to fix the mistake or prevent future mistakes and so that cycle continues. Really, the critical point is right after you make a mistake because we all make financial mistakes. I still make financial mistakes. Like you said, none of us is perfect and there will be times when I spend emotionally and I spend more money than I thought. It's not the way it used to be before I hit rock bottom, because I've got systems in place to make sure that those things don't happen very often, but we can still make mistakes, we're human.

Christine Luken:
When we make that mistake, I think sometimes people confuse the emotions of guilt and shame. Guilt tells us we've done something wrong and we can use that guilt to basically fix our mistake. So if I do something wrong and I emotionally spend and I feel guilty about it, I can say, you know what, that was a dumb thing to do, Christine. But here's what I'm going to do in the future to fix it or maybe I need some more education on this particular issue because maybe it was a mistake I made out of ignorance. But I can use that guilt to remind me that something is wrong here and something needs to be fixed. Now, when that guilt gets transferred into shame, we basically instead of saying, I did a bad thing, we now say, I did a bad thing and therefore I'm a bad person because I did this. There's a subtle, but it's a very distinct difference of, okay, I've made this mistake, I need to fix it versus I made this mistake, I'm a horrible person and then we turn inward instead of getting the help that we need.

Christine Luken:
It is hard to reach out to someone to get help and I think I am seeing, I am very encouraged that I am seeing trends change in the financial services industry. I am seeing a lot more of what I call heart-centered financial professionals like you, Russ. But there are still individuals out there in the financial services industry who take that patriarchal view and like to mansplain things to their female clients. And when someone has that experience, then it makes them not want to trust any financial profession. If they've had a bad experience, then it makes them feel like it's not safe for me to talk about these things.

Christine Luken:
My goal is to open up this conversation and to be very transparent about the mistakes that I have made and to share tools and tips for women and men on how we can take better control of our finances and to educate ourselves. And so there's kind of two pieces here, which you and I talked about before we hopped on here is there's the competence piece of learning and applying that knowledge, but then there's also the confidence piece of I can do this and women need both of those. We need to go and get that education and that skill building of managing money and that actually does lead to the confidence. But it is a skill and I think many times we are impatient with ourselves and we think that we should know how to do this and if we don't, then we start to feel that shame. Right?

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. Christine, what would you say, I know you mentioned earlier that you really have a passion for working with women during the divorce process, clearly that's deep and fertile territory for a lot of opportunities to help, but there's also a lot of opportunities for people to maybe get caught in that money shame spiral or cycle. Could you maybe paint a little picture for us of how else you work with and help women that are going through the divorce process?

Christine Luken:
There's some typical emotional money mistakes that I see women making when they go through divorce and they usually fall into one of three categories. The first one is using money as a weapon and usually this happens when they feel like they have been wronged by their partner. Maybe their husband cheated on them, maybe they spent a bunch of money or ran up a bunch of debt and so there's this very strong need for revenge against the other person. And when we use money as a weapon, what we forget is that that is a two-edged sword and even though we may think that we're taking a stab at our ex-partner, we're actually cutting ourselves as well.

Christine Luken:
And I'll give you a good example of this. I have a good friend who is a financial planner and he had this client, her husband had cheated on her. She was getting half of his 401k assets and she told him, "I want to take $50,000 and cash it out." He talked to her until he was blue in the face trying to talk her out of this and she would not be talked out of it and so he had to cash it out and give her the money. She spent this $50,000 on a red BMW convertible because her thinking was, every single time I drop the kids off at his house or pick them up, I am throwing it in his face that I have spent this money on this car that I deserve. But the problem is, as you well know, when you figure in the interest and the penalties that she had to pay for that car, it was really more like $75,000, once you figure in the tax bill and then all of the lost growth on that money compounded over 10, 15, 20 years was probably hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Christine Luken:
I tell my clients, if you're feeling really angry, let's not put money in the middle of this. Let's find a productive outlet for your anger. I'll tell them, go take a kick boxing workout class. Sign up for eight weeks of kick boxing. You'll get in great shape and you will get that frustration out. Physical activity is wonderful for that. And probably what I would have advised this woman do is say, you know what, once you get the divorce settlement, maybe we can take a couple of thousand dollars and you can go take a beach vacation or you can go buy a designer purse, but maybe one tenth of that amount instead of $50,000.

Christine Luken:
The other one that I see people making is the exact opposite, which is giving away the store. I was guilty of this in my relationship because I just wanted out. There was a lot of chaos, there was a lot of fighting, I was a people pleaser. I did not like to fight. And that's essentially how my ex got me to cave in for him to get his way is he would provoke arguments with me because he knew he would wear me down and I would give into whatever he wanted. And so when I decided that's it, I'm leaving, we had jointly run up debt in my name. His car was in my name because he had a suspended license because of two DUIs. I should have taken that car and sold it to help pay off that debt, but I didn't. I just signed the car over to him and said, "I don't care whose name this goes in, but this has to get out of my name and out of my insurance." I left him most of the furniture. I didn't make him pay back any of the credit card debt because I was just done and I just wanted to leave.

Christine Luken:
But the problem is, especially when you are in a divorce situation, it's really hard to amend things like spousal support agreements, settlement agreements, child support agreements after the fact. And sometimes women have a hard time advocating for themselves. I see women all the time where they would lift up a truck with one hand for their child, if their child was in danger, but it's almost like they don't protect themselves. They will protect everybody else, but they won't stand up for themselves. And so sometimes I will tell them to appeal to a higher cause and say, "Look, every dollar that you don't fight for, is a dollar that you don't have to help take care of your kids." And even if they don't have kids, most women I know are very generous and they have charitable causes that they want to support and represent. And I'll say, "Look, if you don't want to fight for yourself," I said, "every dollar that you don't get that is rightfully yours, that's less money for you to be able to support these causes that are important to you."

Russ Thornton:
It's interesting to me that so many women just naturally fall into that caregiver role, whether that's children, minor children or sometimes adult children, whether that's aging parents. And the analogy I like to use is that they often forget to put the oxygen mask on themselves first.

Christine Luken:
Yes.

Russ Thornton:
And it's frustrating from where I sit, but again, it's a mindset and it's a psychology thing, so it's something where they can just say, "Oh, I won't do that anymore.", but it first takes some acknowledgement and some coaching from someone like you to help them see the bigger picture and the pros and cons of that mindset or not applying more self-care and prioritizing their own needs over those of others who are just like the story you gave about your relationship, just wanting to be done and basically wash your hands of it and move on.

Christine Luken:
Right. Absolutely. It's interesting you say that because one of the things that I do with my clients, and you probably do something similar, if you're going to help create a plan for someone to accomplish their financial goals, you need to know two things. You need to know where are they right now, and that's like looking at all their numbers, but you also need to know what is the goal. What does your preferred financial future look like? If you woke up tomorrow and felt awesome about your money, what does that look like? What are the things you want? What are the experiences you want? What's the lifestyle that you want? I do that with all of my clients during our first session. I call it the dream session because I need to know what success looks like for you in order to help you build this plan for your personal finances.

Christine Luken:
I was talking to a divorcing woman, six kids. I think her youngest was maybe like a junior in high school so they were starting to cycle out of the household and the divorce was like not her idea. She found out her husband was cheating on her and it was a lot of turmoil. I was asking her, "What are the things that you want for the future?" She was like, "I'd love to take a family vacation with my kids." A lot of the things that she said were relative to her kids and I looked at her and I said, "What do you want for you? Not for anybody else. I said, "What's something that you want just for you and your own pleasure?" She started crying and she said, "No one's ever asked me that before."

Russ Thornton:
Wow.

Christine Luken:
And I was just like, "Let me pass you the tissues, sister." I think we were both crying over that one. I was like, yes. And it took her awhile. It really took her like two or three months before she said, "This. This is what I want for myself."

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. What a great story. And good for you for having what I would maybe refer to as a breakthrough with her. That's fantastic. Let me go and add I couldn't agree more, I think that in any coaching or advise relationship, you need to first inventory where someone is and a close second is figuring out where they want to go, what does success look like, what are their goals, what do they really want, not what they think is expected of them or not what they think other people want of them, but what do they personally want deep down inside. And something else that I'm starting to introduce in my conversations is also, in addition to looking at where they are at and where they want to go, looking at where they've come from. Not enough therapeutic perspective, not that we're looking backwards to try to fix something, but say, "Hey, tell me about what are your money memories? What was money like in your house growing up? Was there always enough? Was there never enough? What were your family's attitudes about debt or credit cards or saving or spending?"

Russ Thornton:
Because to your earlier comments, I think that we often carry the childhood lessons, even though we weren't maybe explicitly taught. These things that we learn about money, we carry them into adulthood for better or worse.

Christine Luken:
Yes, absolutely.

Russ Thornton:
I love all that, but I'm starting to introduce some conversations around people's money history just so I can hopefully get a better understanding and hopefully give them a better understanding of themselves. So I think that's pretty interesting ground to cover as well.

Christine Luken:
It is, absolutely, because we need to cultivate awareness around that because ... I find it very interesting, and you and I could probably do two or three of these sessions really diving into the psychology of money and things of that nature, but one thing that I learned in the past several years, even after I wrote my book, Money is Emotional, is that children's brains are very different from adult brains, especially with children between the ages of two and seven. You might have even said if you have kids or nieces or nephews, when they are in that age range, that they are like a sponge. They are just constantly absorbing information and their brain waves are different during that age stage because they have so many things to learn in a very short period of time.

Christine Luken:
They have to learn language, they have to learn how to survive and thrive in the family unit. They have to learn how to interact out in society and children don't have the judging part of the brain that can reject something and say, "I'm not going to believe this." So if your parents tell you something, you absorb that and it gets stored down in your unconscious mind as the truth. That's why you can tell a four year old that's there's a leprechaun or the Easter bunny hiding in the bushes and they believe you. But the bad thing is, if parents say things like money is the root of all evil or you have to work really hard to make money or there's enough to go around, the same thing is true. We absorb that down into our unconscious mind as the truth and it becomes part of what I call your money blueprint.

Christine Luken:
So as adults if we are operating off of this money blueprint that's down in our unconscious mind, that most of us aren't even aware that we have one, and so starting to bring awareness to that of how did your parents talk about money, how did they handle money, what's your earliest memory of money can give you clues as to why you interact with your money today the way that you do.

Christine Luken:
Quick story. I had a client who came to me and she said, "I know I should be saving money, but", she said, "when I even think about going to the bank to open a savings account, I get anxiety." I was like, that's the opposite of most people feel anxious if they don't have any savings. I asked her, I said, "Tell me about some of how your parents handled money, early experiences, et cetera. And during that first session, nothing in particular really came up, but when she came back a couple of weeks later she said, "I think I know what's going on here." And she said, "When I was five", she said, "I had a piggy bank and anytime I got any money for birthdays or chores, whatever, I would put it in the piggy bank."

Christine Luken:
Her brother was like eight or nine years older than her and he stole the money out of her piggy bank. And she said, she's like, "It was dumb. It was like $10.00." She said, "I went to my mom, my mom eventually figured out what happened. She made my brother give me back the money." But she's like, "I feel that same anxiety when I tell you this." I said, "Well, that's because when you were five," I said, "first of all, $10 is like $10 million to a five year old."

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, no kidding.

Christine Luken:
But I said, "What did you do when your mom gave you that money back?" And she said, "Well, I spent it." And I said, "Did you ever put any money back in that piggy bank?" And she said, "No, because it wasn't safe to put it there." And I said, "So see what you learned there as a five year old that it's not safe to save money." And so we did some mindset work around that and we created some new mantras about, it's safe for me to save money. And just uncovering that memory and examining it from an adult perspective took the power away from it and within the next two days, she went to the bank, she opened her savings account and has since been putting money into it ever since. But it's just like she didn't even know what that was, that was holding her back and it was that incidence of having money stolen from her as a little kid.

Russ Thornton:
But clearly it was holding her back so I think there's a lot of power and empowerment that comes from just identifying, naming, figuring out what it is or what they are, what these beliefs or lessons or unconscious thoughts, mindsets that we carry with us sometimes, like you said, since early childhood that can prove to be obstacles to us making progress financially.

Christine Luken:
Yeah.

Russ Thornton:
And I think we would both agree, if you're not in a healthy financial position, that spills into all other areas, or it can spill into all other areas of life, too. It can lead to stress, anxiety. Those can have physical health-

Christine Luken:
Absolutely.

Russ Thornton:
-impairment. These kind of foundational beliefs can really have a far-reaching effect for better or worse, so I think there's a lot of good in being thoughtful and being a little more self-aware and naming these things and putting yourself in a position to move past it. So thanks for sharing that story. What a great example of these money scripts or these money blueprints as you suggest to call them. That's fantastic.

Russ Thornton:
First of all, I agree to your earlier comment. I think you and I could easily talk for hours upon end about this stuff and not think twice about it. We'll maybe have to have a part two or part three down the road.

Christine Luken:
Absolutely.

Russ Thornton:
I look forward to doing that. You've covered a ton. You do a lot of coaching mindset work, helping people with some systems and habits and setting up good behaviors around money, whether that's in isolation or in the context of something like a divorce. What would you say, Christine, is the biggest challenge that help people address or solve through your work, through your writing, through your coaching?

Christine Luken:
It's really helping them to improve their relationship with money and a lot of people don't think about it this way, but money is like the third person in your relationship. You're interacting with money every single day. And honestly, whether you're in a relationship or not, you're still in a relationship with money. You are spending money, you're earning money, you're saving money, you're investing money. You're managing money pretty much every single day. It's rarely a day goes by that you are not having some sort of interaction with your money. And most people have never thought about that this is a relationship and to examine, is it a good relationship? Am I doing the things that I need to be doing to cultivate a positive and peaceful relationship with my money? It is that two parts.

Christine Luken:
It is the mindset, how do I think about money, how do I talk about money. But it is also, what are those daily actions that I'm doing? Am I respecting my money? Am I spending quality time with my money? What do I need to learn to take my relationship with money to the next level and get it to the point to where I really feel good about it? And so I think it's really shifting the way that people look at their finances rather than the traditional old paradigm of you have to have a strict budget and you have to follow all these rules and these formulas. And certainly, yes, there are basic financial principles that every personal finance expert is going to agree on. Yes, we should save money. We spend less than we make. We shouldn't have excessive debt. But money is very personal, that's why we call personal finances, right.

Christine Luken:
The ultimate goal of our money is to support our happiness. And so many people really haven't thought about what is it that I want money to provide for me and for my family and it's rare that people have actually cast that vision and said, this is what success will look like for me and exactly how much money do I need in order to accomplish this. Most people just say I need more money if I want to improve my life. How much more money? What are you going to use it for? I think it's more of having this holistic, healthy relationship with money versus I just need more, more, more of it because that's not healthy either.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. I agree. I think there is a real lack of discussion in financial services and personal finance circles around how much is enough. I think if you've got some idiosyncrasies or some behavioral or mindset issues around money, whether they are conscious or not, I think oftentimes more money is just going to magnify those issues.

Christine Luken:
Absolutely.

Russ Thornton:
And I think the earlier you can get both your brain and your arms around them and get on a path to, like you said, building a better, more healthy relationship with money, the better, because a, you'll likely get a better handle on how much is truly enough, and b, more money, whether that's earning, saving, investing, is less likely to exacerbate or magnify some of these maybe not so healthy mindsets, behaviors, habits. I think that's super important.

Christine Luken:
Yeah.

Russ Thornton:
This is Women's Retirement Radio. Everything we talk about and work on comes back to helping women in their 50s and 60s, plan for and have a successful transition into retirement. But clearly, retirement means different things to different people so Christine, when you think of the word retirement, what comes to mind for you personally?

Christine Luken:
For me, I love the work that I do and I'm not sure that I will ever completely retire from doing this in some way, shape, or form. But I think, to me, retirement is not having to do anything you don't want to do. If you have enough money to live the life that you want to live, whether that involves some work or not, just being in that position to where if you don't want to work, if you want to take a day off, then honestly, that's really the goal. Then, like you said, for everybody, that looks different.

Christine Luken:
When my husband retires from GE, he wants to be done. But for me, it's like I'll probably still be writing. I'll probably still be helping people in some way, shape, or form with their personal finances, but I think retirement is really about having the choice of how much you want to work, if you want to work, and still have that comfortable, secure lifestyle, whatever that means to you.

Russ Thornton:
It's interesting that you used that word, choice, which comes up a lot when I ask those questions. Words like choice, freedom, independence, options or optionality and I agree, I think it's just having more freedom to choose how you spend your time, where you spend your time, who you spend your time with and whether that's continuing to work in some capacity or not, I think it's just interesting to see the evolving thoughts around retirement because clearly today it's very different than it was just 25 or 30 years ago when everybody had a pension, you retire and you hoped you lived another 15 or 20 years. People are living, potentially, spending as many years in retirement as they did in their career. Something to think about.

Russ Thornton:
Specific to women, what do you think's the biggest challenge women face when they are planning for retirement, Christine?

Christine Luken:
I think it's really a matter of understanding what their options are and really finding someone that they work well with to help them plan retirement. And I encourage all women, whether they are married or not, to take an active role in their personal finances. It can be real easy to just advocate that to your spouse, especially if they are a numbers person. I coach a lot of women who are divorcing financial professionals. They are divorcing a financial planner, they are divorcing a CPA and they really don't have any idea of what's going on. And I'm sure you've heard the statistic that 80% of women at some point in their life will be 100% responsible for managing their finances so it is important to get involved and understand what's going on with the personal finances early and often. To be having those conversations and understand what you have and have that relationship with the financial professionals in your life, whether it is your tax person, your investment person, your banker, et cetera to keep that education going.

Russ Thornton:
I agree, hearing you say that, I'm reminded of something you said earlier, which really resonated with me, which is the ideas of both competence and confidence and I think the earlier and more often that women are involved in their finances, whether they are on their own or in a relationship, I think the more involved they are, that's going to breed more familiarity and more familiarity is going to breed more comfort, which leads to both competence and confidence, which I think I would agree, I think everyone, but women especially need both. I think if you've got one and not the other, that can also potentially lead to problems and so I couldn't agree more.

Russ Thornton:
Clearly the work you're doing, Christine, with coaching and writing and some of your programs and courses that you have available on your website, your book, I know you love working with and serving women. I know you have a particular passion for helping women that are dealing with divorce, but thinking about women in retirement, how would you say your work most impacts women and/or their families as they are looking towards retirement?

Christine Luken:
I would say it's really them having the confidence of knowing that they are going to be okay. A lot of women who come to me for coaching, especially the single women, it's like they are not sure if they are going to be okay, they are not sure if they are overspending. They don't know when it's okay to loosen up and be able to enjoy some of their money and many of them are living in this state of constant anxiety. And I think just that process of feeling in control of their personal finances and knowing how much it's okay for them to spend every month because they are still going to meet their retirement goals, it just allows them to relax in a place deep down in their soul, where it's like money is not constantly stressing me out. And for many people, that's a huge shift. That's a huge shift of having that peace of mind.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. And it goes back to, in my mind, it goes back to something you mentioned just a moment ago which is the idea of retirement being about choice and freedom and I think that if money is this constant source of anxiety or stress, I think that's going to limit people's sense of freedom or independence or choice so I think those two can very likely go hand in hand. I think that's super important.

Russ Thornton:
As we start to wrap up, something I always like to ask our guests is, if and when you do have an hour or two to yourself, because I know you're busy, how do you most enjoy spending your time when you've got a little time to yourself?

Christine Luken:
It's summer right now as we're recording this so I like to golf, I'm not very good, but I love hitting the golf course with my dad. He'll be 76 next month and I really cherish that time of hanging out with him and learning from him to be a better golfer and just being out in nature and not taking myself too seriously because I usually don't keep score.

Russ Thornton:
Speaking from experience, that's probably a good thing when it comes, at least speaking from my golf exploits in the past, is I found it to be an exercise in frustration, but it was a good excuse to get outside and spend a few hours walking around and chasing a little ball, often in the woods for myself. I don't think I asked you this earlier, tell us again where you're based, Christine.

Christine Luken:
I am actually in the Cincinnati area, but I do coach women all over the US and even in Canada so now that we're in this mobile Zoom world, there are no borders so I enjoy working with couples and women everywhere so it's a lot of fun.

Russ Thornton:
Great, great. We've covered a ton. I think we both agree we could probably continue the conversation. We'll have to do that another time. But if there were one thing that our listeners could take away from our conversation today, if there was one thought or idea or one action item, what would you want that one thing to be?

Christine Luken:
I think it would be to recognize that you do have a relationship with money and commit to improving that relationship with money by spending time managing your money wisely, learning, and really starting to take both those practical steps and to be thinking about the mindset of how am I speaking about money, how am I thinking about money because this is a lifelong relationship that you have with your money and why not let it be a good one.

Russ Thornton:
Great question and maybe a good place to wrap up our conversation. And clearly, one of the ways that you can work on your relationship with money is reaching out to Christine. Christine, what's the best way for people to learn more, reach out, get in touch if they are interested in doing so?

Christine Luken:
Absolutely. They can go to my website, which is my name, it's ChristineLuken.com. If they are interested in learning more about the emotional side of money, they can download the first three chapters of my book, Money is Emotional at MoneyisEmotional.com. I jokingly say it's like the least boring personal finance book you'll ever read because it's half tabloid of my life as I crashed and burned financially. But then it's also half financial how-to, how to harness the power of your emotions instead of fighting against them so that you can improve both your relationship and your results with your money.

Russ Thornton:
That's fantastic. We'll be sure to include links to your website, to your book website in the show notes in addition to other ways people can find you online or on social media and that sort of thing.

Russ Thornton:
Christine, this has been fun. I really, really enjoyed our conversation. I'm sure our listeners will enjoy it too, so thanks for joining us today.

Christine Luken:
Thanks so much for having me.

Russ Thornton:
And hey everyone, thanks again for your time and for listening. This is Russ, this has been another episode of Women's Retirement Radio and I look forward to catching up with you on our next episode.