I grew up very privileged; my dad is a surgeon, and even though as a kid I never asked how much money he made, I knew it was a lot. Doctors, lawyers; we all know the salary assumptions that come with those jobs. Throughout my life, I always had a roof over my head, food to eat, and most anything I wanted. I am so grateful for that and do not take it lightly.
I also knew from a young age that money was powerful and that it could give people choice, agency, and independence. I saw money allow people to do what they wanted. I started working at 16 so I could pay for gas to go hang out with my friends, and buy coffee before school (sorry mom). My parents even helped me open a checking account at a local bank, and they did teach me some stuff about managing my money! Actually, more than a few people taught me some stuff about money, but I didn’t understand at the time why that information was important. I didn’t understand why it was important that I have a savings account and a checking account. I remember doing this stock market simulator game in high school and not understanding that the stock market was very real and a MAJOR way to build wealth. My father had made me an authorized user on a credit card, giving me great credit de facto, but I had no idea he had done that or understood what that meant and the impact I had until I was in my mid-twenties.
I had this safety net of my parents. And even when I went to college, I was working but had no budget. My parents were helping me pay for school. I had a credit card and was constantly asking my dad for money to help pay it off. This didn’t change when I went to grad school, or when I moved to New York.
Oh yeah- have I mentioned I’m an actor yet?
When I moved to New York City, I was living the typical actor lifestyle: waiting tables, teaching yoga, and running all over the city at all hours for auditions.
And amidst that lifestyle, I had a secret. I was full of shame about money, full of self-judgment; I felt like a failure. Why was I twenty-six and dependent on my parents' financial support? I felt like a loser. Like everyone else could do this part of adulting and I couldn’t figure it out. I was embarrassed to admit that to people, so I didn’t. I just worked my ass off without any idea of how to budget or save or manage my money and continued to fall into this cycle with my parents. I finally got to a point where I didn’t want to feel tied to them in that way anymore. I didn’t feel like an adult; I felt like they had this power over my life that I wanted to have. I reached a point where I needed to prove to myself that I could figure this shit out. Because I thought that everyone else had it figured out, I really did.
I remember being in awe of my friend who I saw as being so good with money. And she is, she is good with money, and one of the only people I ever broached the subject with.
So I talked to this friend and asked her for advice. I started applying for different kinds of jobs. I told my dad my plan and we spoke about financial boundaries. I got the new job!! I was on fire. It was March 2020.
I think we all know what happened next.
My yoga and acting industries shut down. I lost my shiny new job. All of my streams of income were steeply reduced or stopped completely. People started dying. I couldn’t go outside.
And I panicked.
That was the peak feeling of failure for me. I had never felt such scarcity around money. I went on unemployment. Receiving pandemic assistance funds was great; however, I finally realized how little I was actually making from teaching yoga. Spending money felt amazing and horrible at the same time. I felt unsafe, scared, and alone.
I remember there was a day in July 2020 when my boyfriend went to get some food from my kitchen. And I love this man, we now live together- what’s mine is his. But I remember having this thought of like, “if he finishes that, I don’t know if I can afford to buy another jar” and just, immediate shame. “Holy shit,” I thought, “Did I just have that thought?”
I needed help. Money was the number one stressor in my life at that point, it was constantly on my mind. I needed help but had no idea where to find it.
That’s when I came across an Instagram post from an old yoga connection. She was posting about a course to help people not feel stressed and ashamed about their finances. It was all about healing your relationship with money. And I thought: I need to do that course.
It was Beyond The Green’s signature course, Heal Your Relationship With Money and Become Financially Free. Those 9 weeks changed my life.
AJ, founder & CEO of Beyond the Green was the support that I needed to get my finances in order and face my reality. Once I showed up and started doing the work, I immediately saw a shift in my life. I started making more money and created new income streams for myself during a fiscally tumultuous time. I had a goal of finding a lucrative, part-time, remote job that could be flexible with acting and my other income streams and I freaking found that job. And that job gave me an incredible new skill set that makes me really good at one of my other current jobs: financial coaching.
My money story starts with my beliefs. Beliefs about how I could make money, beliefs my family had about money, scarcity in my industry, and beliefs about myself and my worth. I truly believe I was at one of my lowest points during the pandemic. I was facing hard truths about myself and knew that I could either stay where I was, or I could face the fear and hard stuff and be who I wanted to be: a woman who could support herself, who could give herself security, autonomy, and choice in her life. No more playing victim. I wanted to own my mistakes and step into my power. That commitment to myself and getting my finances in order has given me security, income streams that work well for my life, and has been the number one needle-mover in healing my relationship with my parents. The deepening of that relationship has been the most incredible gift healing my relationship with money has ever given me.
I share my story because I know how alone I felt at my lowest point. I know how shameful and isolating it can feel to be constantly worried about money. And you are not alone.
You are so not alone.
It was so important for me to have someone in my corner, cheering me on through my wins and supporting me through the really hard moments. That’s what I aim to do for my clients and it’s a huge reason for becoming a financial coach myself. I help my clients build a new financial structure for their life and take actionable steps toward their goals. I am their support system and accountability partner through it all. If you’re interested in coaching, email email@example.com or check out beyondthegreencoaching.com.