On this week’s episode of the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast, we speak with Shell Tain, founder of $ensible Coaching. Shell is a money coach, certified by the International Coach Federation, whose mission is to help her clients, entrepreneurs, and small business owners untangle their money knots. 

“My dad decided very early that I should have a good relationship with money. He started me very young, and he made it fun, he made it interesting. I had to keep a ledger of what I spent, and the columns were income and outgo. And the brilliant thing he did at that point was he didn’t care what it was. I could buy candy, he didn’t care. He just wanted the numbers to work,” says Shell.

We chat about how Shell’s early relationship with money led her to a career, first in accounting, and then in coaching business owners and entrepreneurs and helping them understand the childhood money stories they’ve carried into their businesses. In addition, we discuss…

  • Money as a reflection of what is going on in your life—now and in the past
  • Breaking the taboo of talking about money
  • What financial freedom really means
  • Money knots—what they are and how to untangle them for a happier, more successful life
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:

  • Shell’s Site


Davina Frederick: Hello and welcome to the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast. Our mission is to provide thought-provoking, powerful and practical information to help you in creating your own sustainable wealth-generating law firm without overwork or overwhelm so you can live your best life. I’m your host, Davina Frederick, and I’m here today with Shell Tain, founder of Sensible Coaching. 

Shell is a money coach pioneer and her mission is to help her clients, entrepreneurs and small business owners untangle their money knots. So today’s episode is gonna be all about money. And I’m so happy to have Shell here. Welcome, Shell. We’re happy to have you on the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast. 

Shell Tain: I’m delighted to be here. Yay. 

Davina: Great. So you are a money pioneer. You’ve been doing money coach pioneer, you’ve been doing this for a long time. Why don’t you give us a little insight into your journey to this type of work? Tell us how you got here.

How Shell Developed Her Unique Relationship With Money

Shell: I will, and I’m going to start way back, but trust me, I’m not going to give you all the details in between. But the important piece really, is that I was an only child and my dad decided very early that I should have a good relationship with money. Actually one better than the one he had with it, which is interesting. But when he started me very young, and he made it fun, he made it interesting. 

There was, you know, I had to keep a ledger of my, what I spent, and the columns were income and outgo. And the brilliant thing he did at that point was, he didn’t care what it was. I could buy candy, he didn’t care. He just wanted the numbers to work. If my mother would have been in charge, there would have been a lot more rules around what I could buy or what I couldn’t. So and there were lots of instances of this. So I ended up in the 80s, being the woman on the board with like, 12 guys in several different companies. 

And so really learned about money from all sorts of aspects of, I’ve run a radio station, I’ve managed a shopping center, I’ve been an interior designer, and I have been an accountant for years and years. And I now consider myself a recovering accountant. Because what I really discovered was that the issues around money are emotional issues that really need to be addressed around how we think and feel about money and react to money. And it’s much less about the month number crunching for most of it. People don’t want to do the number crunching. 

Davina: Right, right. So how did you come to work with small business owners and entrepreneurs as a coach? What made you decide to follow that path?

Shell: It was funny because I decided to be a coach because that looked really interesting. Just a coach in general. And I’ve been now doing this about 20 years. Yay. And initially, in my life, it seems like everything ends up being somehow about money, even, like papers I wrote back in school ended up being about money. And as I started doing my coaching and I started doing some presentations and some things, they ended up being about money. And initially, I was sort of like, okay, we’ll talk about the money stuff, and then we’ll get back to the coaching. And then finally, I figured out, wait a minute, money is the thing that people need the coaching on. 

Certainly, it’s not the only thing because what’s underneath that money stuff is our personal stuff about our sense of value and worth and worthiness and how do we understand what we mean in the world etc. And money’s just, here’s the big thing I want to say, money is not causative, it’s reflected. It doesn’t actually make stuff happen. It’s a symbol that we have constructed for the effort that we put in to make things happen. So it reflects, it says, here’s what you did.

Davina: So give me an example of that.

Shell: Well remember the fun mystery things where they go through the people’s trash can or they go through their whatever to look for things. Well, if you look at money, it’s going to tell you what’s going on. It’s going to tell you if you look at your own what you’ve been spending, it’s going to tell you that this day, you were depressed because there’s, you bought four gallons of ice cream. 

It’s reflective and it shows what we chose to do to make it and then what we choose to do with it. And one of the problems is that money is the most taboo topic on the planet, period. Nobody talks about it. We may talk about the big overarching stock market things and stuff like that, but the day to day money stuff, people don’t talk about it. I can talk forever about it if you let me.

Davina: I do have some questions here and what you’re saying, I want to make sure that we pause and examine some of the things that you’re saying. So, you were talking about it reflecting what’s going on in your life. So it could be reflecting what is happening in a relationship. It could be happening, it could be reflecting how you feel about yourself. It could be reflecting how you feel about your business and your self worth. 

I mean, there’s a whole lot of things right? That it reflects. That’s a, I think that’s going to be a challenging concept for a lot of people to wrap their mind around because so many people are just accustomed to, I don’t know, like thinking that their money is out to get, money doesn’t come easily to them or it comes in and goes back out. Or, you know, if I don’t have money I, you know, I can’t afford the kind of life that I want, right?

Easing Tension Surrounding the Topic of Money

Shell: And all of those are perspectives that actually, I mean, this is a big philosophical piece that we’re playing with here but it’s important, because all of those are perspectives that have to do with the way you learned about money. So let me talk about that a little bit. Because we learn about money. Actually, we start learning about it when we’re even pre-verbal because we see what’s, let’s just sort of look at the standard parenting of mom and dad, right? And we see mom and dad and when they talk about this stuff called money, it’s not pretty. It’s clunky, it’s quirky, it’s ugly, it’s scary. 

Davina: There may be tension around it, right. 

Shell: There’s tension around it. And of course, as a child, you don’t know what that is. And then as you get more language, etc, you still don’t know what’s going on. But what you do have is a, we have as humans, a very inbred determination to be loyal to the parent. So mom can’t be wrong, dad can’t be wrong. So it must be money’s fault. Money is this thing that comes in. And I’ve had many clients that have said to me money ruins families.

Davina: Yeah, yeah. I mean, well, a lot, so many expressions in our lexicon. Money is the root of all evil. I mean, it doesn’t get more, and some people will correct you say, No, no, it’s the, it says, The love of money in the Bible is the root of all evil. You know, we have these stories that we tell ourselves about money. And what’s interesting is that you and I are, of course, coming from a place we’re talking about, maybe scarcity or whatever, but you can still have that same tension around money in families with a lot of money.

Shell: Oh, yeah. It has nothing to do with how much money you have. The perspective of whether there’s never enough or there’s plenty, I like to look at those two perspectives, they have nothing to do with how much you have or don’t have. It has to do with your mindset about possibility. And part of the thing is that if we look at money actually as if it was a person, then what money would be would be the nerdiest person you’ve ever met. 

Money’s just, if you were to say to money, how am I doing? Wanting to know how am I doing, like wanting to have an opinion that you’re doing well, or you’re not doing so good, money won’t answer that. Money will say you have $4,312.18. Money has no opinion. And part of the big breakthrough is recognizing that you end up projecting stuff onto money and then messing up your life in ways around money that just isn’t real, isn’t true. Because it’s, money doesn’t care. It just reflects. 

Davina: Right. So what is your answer to people because, you know, as a coach, of course, I’ve heard this and I’m sure you’ve heard this many times. But the reality is, I only have 4000, you know, $832 in my bank account or at the moment credit cards are maxed or, you know, those kinds of things around money that’s their, when they say that’s, but the reality is. What do you say to somebody like that?

Shell: So, we get back to, we kind of circle back to who my clients are and why? Because my clients are all people who are in some way self-employed, or have a small business that they run or whatever. They are not, actually, there’s two groups that are really challenging to help with their money perspective. One is teachers, because the bad teacher gets the same money as the good teacher because of tenure. And the other is farmers, ranchers, etc because it’s about God and the weather. It’s, you know

Davina: I grew up from a farm family. So from, my grandparents were farmers. So I get that, yeah.

Shell: It’s God and the weather, there’s nothing else you can do about it, you just have to get through the hard times, right? So the thing is that the reason I attract those people who have small businesses is they start to recognize that there is something wrong perhaps in their business with the way that they are treating money and the way they are asking money for money, and they recognize that it’s something they’re doing. 

And that gives us the opening to change what they’re doing to change the perspective. So it’s like the thing, what you get mostly is you get the thing of somebody will quote whatever their fee is, and then they’ll start backing up and saying, if it’s Sunday, or if you have a dog or whatever, you know, they start changing it and obfuscating around it.

Davina: Right. So why don’t you think people, and, you know, a lot of our audience are women law firm owners, so I’m going to say a lot of times I know in my experience of working with women, there’s this sort of fear around asking enough for their services, having an exchange that makes them feel good about the exchange, and not resentful. What do you think that, one of the things she says, you know, like offering discounts before you have, before somebody asked for them. Why do you think we do that kind of thing?

Shell: It’s a very, very, very, very old holdover. I think, you know, from the days of women should be seen and not heard kind of stuff. If you don’t want to be branded as being not nice or having any negativity around it. I mean, it’s interesting. One of the things I love to say, especially when there’s a lot of women in the room, and we have a lot of women in the room as they’re listening to us, remember back when you were first dating somebody, and they take you to dinner, and you would ask the gentleman what he was going to have. I didn’t care what he was going to have. I wanted to know how much money he was going to spend so I wasn’t overdoing it.

Davina: Right. It’s interesting that you have that perspective. You and I have probably had that experience. But, you know, in today’s dating world, I don’t really know if it’s like that.

Shell: It’s very different now. But, you know, the thing that has been funny is when I have said that in a group of mixed men and women, the men were all stunned. They had no idea this was going on.

Davina: Yeah, they’re like that’s a code I didn’t even know existed.

Shell: Yeah. And it wasn’t something anybody taught me. Because, again, nobody talks about money.  to

Davina: Right. When you talk about nobody talking about money, I think about how many, that’s one of the reasons why I do the work I do because I think that people make a lot of bad money decisions because nobody, you know, still they haven’t learned like, how to have a relationship with money, right? And I’m sure it’s fine you do you do and but, you know, a lot of the ways that I was working, and I started working in the 80s. 

And I remember working in this job I had while I was going through college, and I, the manager gave me a raise. Well, one of the other employees asked me how much money I was making. And I didn’t want to tell him because I had been always taught, you know, we’re not supposed to discuss money or whatever, but he kind of kept talking to me, and he sort of persuaded me to, you know, tell him how much money I was making. 

Well, he went back to the manager and he was very upset about it. I’ve been here longer than she has, why is she making this money, blah, blah, blah. So the manager came and he told me, he says, Now I’m going to have to give him your raise, right? So there’s a lot of sort of punishment around discussing money. There’s, and then, you know, like, in my family, I grew up in the deep south and we don’t, it’s unseemly to talk about money. You don’t ask how much money somebody makes. You don’t

Shell: Actually, the phrase is that it simply isn’t done. 

Davina: Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. And, you know, even my parents now, they’re in their 80s and my dad does not want to, you know, we’re at the point of estate planning discussions and I’m an estate planning lawyer, and my dad, you know, we’re not discussing it. No. So I mean, like, I just tell them, you need to go hire an estate planning lawyer and here’s why. And then we just don’t talk about it. 

They handle their business and I handle mine because we just don’t talk about money. So, you know, of course me being who I am, I come out completely the opposite. I’m like, people, we need to be talking about money. Because I’ve been an entrepreneur a long time, you know? And I know we have to address it right? And if you’re a business owner, you know, you mentioned before about the importance and how there’s an opening with business owners because they know something’s not right. And they know it’s something that they’re doing or they’re not doing. 

And I know one of the most basic questions I ask people when I start working with them as I start asking them about their numbers, and the majority of women business owners that I work with, they can’t tell me the most basic numbers. Like, what your revenue, what was your gross revenue last year, you know? Just top line, well, how much money did you bring in, right? You know, I don’t know. My, I’ll have to ask my bookkeeper. I’ll have to go look it up. Well, I haven’t done my books. Or, what is that all about?

Shell: That’s all about Okay, so let’s go back to the thing of we learned about it by watching our parents, and we learned that it’s taboo, and we learned that we shouldn’t talk about it. So, for most people, we end up with a five year old running our money. If you think about the behaviors that people have, now, sometimes people treat their business money and their personal money differently. 

And usually they treat the business money better than the personal money. The personal money is still run by the five year old. It kind of depends on how you end up in that business. But if it’s a family business, you’re likely to run it the way that you run your regular money. Which, if you think about the sort of behaviors that people will do about money of like, I’m just gonna ignore it. Like what you just talked about is, I haven’t even looked at the books. Like, you wouldn’t want an accountant that said, Oh, I just ignored it.

Davina: I call it white knight syndrome. I think that that’s somebody waiting for somebody to come along and rescue them.

Shell: Well, and that’s another thing that a five year old does. A five year old will get angry and say, Oh, I’m just gonna go do something else, you know? Or a five year old will go spend the money, you know, knowing it’s not there just to sort of ease some tension in the moment. It’s not, our grown up parts are not paying attention to money because we’ve never actually had them work on it. 

And it sounds funny, but I can get to this place with somebody where I kind of have them talk to their five year old part. And we all need a little five year old part. I mean, maybe they’re six, maybe they’re eight, maybe they’re four. You know, that’s the part that you want to go to the beach with or make cotton candy. It’s not the part you want running your money.

Davina: Right, running your business period. I mean, you know, 

Shell: Running your business period. And it’s not, nobody did this on purpose. It just happened because it was such a taboo topic and as you went to school, nobody really talked about money. No, we do not educate our children in any way about how to actually do the fundamentals of handling money. That’s why I ended up in this unique place because I got that.

Davina: Right. So let’s be clear about not talking about money because I do, because I know some people are gonna listen to this and go well, you know, we talked about money in my family, but it’s not just about talking about it, it’s about, because there are going to be conversations around money in some families. Somebody’s going to say, I need some money in this account so I can go to the store and buy groceries. And somebody’s going to say, you know, I pay all bills and your dad doesn’t even know what goes out every month. And

Shell: That the hidden language. That’s not the real conversations.

Davina: Right. So that’s, so we’re talking about, people are going to be talking about money, but it’s, they may not be educating with intention and purpose like these fears that you have.

Shell: How could they? Because they weren’t educated. And their parents were, you know, and it’s, I mean, I remember one woman that talked about her family had this thing where they would say we’re on budget. Now that was a code word that over time she figured out which meant we have no money.

Davina: Right. So budget then is a very negative word to a person that hears that their whole life. I mean, it could go one of two ways. 

Shell: You know, when I do big talks, how many people ever put together a budget? Everybody raises their hand. How many ever looked at it after that? All the hands go down.

Davina: Budgets aren’t fun. They aren’t fun to a five year old.

Shell: Well, there’s, it’s not even that. They’re, after the fact, they’re not, I actually created a little tool that I use with people instead, because they’re not in the moment. You go out and you either you pass or fail. There’s no middle in it. And budgets are, you know, and there’s only, I mean, the way to do a budget from my accounting side is with what they call the SWAG method, which is scientific wild ass guess. There’s no way to predict things. I worked for Japanese companies at one point. 

They were irritated because I was under budget. I should be right on budget. And I said the only way to do that is to do the budget after the period is closed because you can’t predict. But and so money in each culture, there’s other stuff about money, but certainly in our Western culture, there is a lot of tying of money to worthiness in a weird way. There’s lots of words we use, like if you are broke, are you broken?  If I am wealthy, then I must be well. I mean, it’s interesting to see how all these little words come and play with us.

Davina: Oh, Yeah, that’s fascinating.

Shell: And we make this stuff up. And it’s really about getting clearer about what you want to have happen and letting money be reflective of what you want.

Davina: What do you think when somebody doesn’t want to deal with their money, doesn’t know what their money, you know, what their numbers are in their business, or maybe they know but they really don’t know. Maybe they’re making money and they don’t know what to do with money, and how to get money to make more money or whatever it is. What do you think the impact of that is on their business and their lives?

As Much as We Act Like it Does, Money Has No Opinion

Shell: Well, in some ways, it’s probably, I’m gonna say something really bizarre here, but it’s probably proof that there really is a God that more people that don’t pay any attention to their money can still be successful sometimes. And sometimes they just create incredible messes and they haven’t, and they actually have because it’s a five year old running it, they have no idea how they created the mess because they weren’t looking. 

They weren’t looking. Again, money’s gonna say you have $500.43. It’s not gonna say you’re in trouble. It’s gonna just, I think it’s the cool part of money because money actually doesn’t have an opinion. It doesn’t have a judgment. We have made up for centuries that it has an opinion and a judgment. And rich people aren’t as nice as poor people. 

And what we know is that some poor people are not nice and some rich people are nice and it has nothing to do with the money. People coming from scarcity can be very wealthy and have oodles of money and people coming from generosity can be very poor. It has nothing to do with the money. It has to do with what you do with it and how you feel about yourself and money and the world. So it’s your deal, it’s not money’s deal.

Davina: So if that is the case, then we, one of the big issues you’ll hear people talk about is they’ll talk about how I feel this way because I don’t have enough money. Like I’m always worried about money. I would like to not, I’d like to feel, you know, one of the number one things people ask for when they start working with me is financial freedom. I want to feel financially secure, or financially free. And they start asking questions about exactly what that means to them. But what does that have to do, like, at what point, how much money do you have to have to stop worrying about money, you know?

Shell: Well, that’s different for every person. And it’s not really about the money, it’s about the perspective in your head. And it’s the thing, I call it the difference between enoughness and plenty because people that think in terms of enough, I mean, let me play a little game with you. What’s a food you really love to eat? 

Davina: Oh gosh, what’s a food, let’s say pizza cuz that’s a popular one, pizza.

Shell: Pizza. Okay, so how much is enough pizza? Just whatever came to your head.

Davina: Oh, before I start feeling too stuffed. When I just feel full.

Shell: How much though? How many slices?

Davina: Oh, that was probably for me that’d be probably a slice, maybe two.

Shell: Okay, and how much would plenty of pizza be? This is not necessarily you, but just plenty of pizza.

Davina: Plenty of pizza for me is going to be that amount. It’s going to be a couple of slices of pizza. That’s going to be plenty for me.

Shell: Okay, so that tells me you’re stuck in enough land because you can’t see plenty. So let’s look at something smaller, like maybe M&Ms or something.

Davina:  Well, go back and explain that sentence again. Say that again. That tells me I’m stuck where?

Shell: Enough land because you’re not seeing the plenty. So if, how much is enough flowers?

Davina: Okay, is there such a thing as enough flowers?

Shell: Okay, I need you to make this easier for me here. So something simple.

Davina: I don’t, I want to go back to the pizza example because I want to understand that because for me, like, I mean, I guess I’m thinking, you know, it’s food.

Shell: For you it’s pizza. But it’s like if we’re imagining plenty of pizza.

Davina: Plenty of pizza. Plenty for what? For me or for a party or roomful of people, or a family? So I guess the question is who’s the pizza for?

Shell: Okay. The pizza is, okay, if we were going to have a party and you just wanted enough pizza so that like everybody had one slice.

Davina: Yeah, I’d have to know how many people were coming to the party.

Shell: Okay, now if you’re going to have plenty of pizza, you would have more pizza than you would have if you’re just having enough to make sure everybody gets one slice.

Davina: Right, right. I’d make sure, I would want enough to make sure that everybody feels satisfied and goes home happy.

Shell: And the thing is that as you imagine that, you’re seeing like a room full of people, maybe. You know, a kitchen full of people.

Davina: I’m seeing a long buffet table with lots of pizza and different kinds of pizza.

Shell: Mm-hmm. Okay, great. And so see now, if we’re going to the enough land, we kind of stopped at a certain point. And what happens when we get too close to whatever we think is enough around money or anything else, enough magically moves for their eye. But if we’re thinking in terms of plenty, and this is an odd thing for people to think about, but when you think in terms of plenty, you see an abundance. It doesn’t mean you’re going to go and waste a bunch of money to get plenty of it, it means that you have a bigger perspective,

Davina: It doesn’t mean you’re going to gorge on pizza and like be rolling around in pain.

Shell: You see the possibilities and so if you’re starting a business and you decide, well, I just want enough clients. Now that’s going to hamper you because all the weird little things that you do like how you set up a filing system is going to be for enough. But if you set up the business as having plenty, you’re going to do it differently and think about it differently.

Davina: Right, right. Well, you don’t limit yourself to what I can do versus what a whole roomful of people can do. Or

Shell: So when I’m looking to get enough, I’m limiting myself. And when I’m looking for plenty, I keep moving. 

Davina: So that’s why you see so many people who get to that, let’s say lower six figure mark and then they struggle to get to the higher six figure or to the seven figure or to the, because they’re saying, I’ve got enough. And what I call that is, you’re too comfortable. Like you, when you get enough, it’s like eating that couple slices of pizza, you feel satisfied. And so anything more seems like gluttony, you know, one of the, sins, right?

Shell: Well, but that’s a percent that you’re making up again. And often, one of the things that is really interesting is that particularly with women, we often will make sure we don’t make more than we perceived our parents made. I say perceived because we probably didn’t really know.

Davina: Well, even even things like you know, even if you make more than your parents, you still look at it the time they were in versus the time you’re in and like the equivalency of your lifestyle. Like you can, if you exceed the lifestyle that your parents have, then, you know, then you may be, you may have those ideas in your head like, well, they’re gonna think I’m too good for them. 

Shell: I remember once with a now ex husband, we were looking for a house and we found this house in this neighborhood and we put an offer on it. And I had this thought in my head that said, in this neighborhood, I’d have to put on makeup to get the mail. I was one step over where my edge was. Now, I had the thought in my head and I processed the thought in my head, but most people when they have the thought in their head, then they don’t buy a house in that neighborhood because they don’t feel like they fit. 

Davina: Right, right if you’re gonna be uncomfortable there, and maybe people that they know and love won’t feel comfortable at their house.

Shell: Yeah, and we make, you know, I mean, I hated it when they did those television shows where they’d come in and redo the person’s house, and not just redo it sort of like 10% better, but make it a McMansion. And then they leave them there. And the neighbors are all pissed off because the property values have gone up. They can’t sustain the house, they can’t pay the property tax. I mean, it was just a mess.

Davina: Yeah. That never occurred to me. I’m always just like, oh, look how pretty.

Shell: Yeah, you know, but well, remember, this is the money person so my brain goes there. And I thought this is, you know, you didn’t even have some sort of training for the people that had to deal with this. And it looked lovely and it probably was, and, you know, there’s reasons to why people that win the lottery or whatever, in x years, they’re back where they were. It’s because they didn’t, they don’t know how to be there. it goes against everything.

Davina: Well, so much of it’s about love. I mean, it boils down to belove and belonging, right? Because you don’t belong, if you have more money maybe than what your parents have or had when they were your age or whatever, or you’re making more money than your friends, or, you know, there becomes this kind of unconscious thing that starts to happen where, you know, people start saying that if I do that, I’m not going to be, I’m not going to belong anymore with these people that I love. And so there’s a fear of losing love or being judged that we’re not even consciously aware is happening, right?

Shell: Yeah. I had one client that over took care of everybody. I mean, she bought season tickets for college stadium games and stuff that were hugely expensive and just gave them, and she did not believe that anybody would want to be with her if she wasn’t somehow lavishing extravagance on them.

Davina: Right, right. I remember when I was younger, I was probably in my 20s, maybe 30s, early 30s and having, I’ve always been a very thoughtful gift giver. And I don’t think about the money when I’m picking the gifts for the person, right? Like, I want something that is, so if even if it’s too much, I want to find the thing that I think is going to be, that they’re gonna have that connection with me. 

So, and for years, I, of course, at that age, it was weddings and showers and all those kinds of things. And so I was, plus friends and holidays, and I was giving gifts all the time. And I realized like, This is crazy. I’m spending way too much money on other people. That was what you were saying earlier about being generous and being broke. And I completely cut out gift giving for a while. 

And I’m very selective now about what I, you know, when I get gifts and who I give gifts to and things like that, because I realized that that was a behavior of wanting that love, you know, wanting that feeling where they felt special. And I had made them feel special, right? So I totally understand that. 

Shell: Yeah. And it is, you know, just to irritatingly push a point, it is you trying to figure out when is it enough. You know, when is it enough? When is the gift enough that they’ll really love me? I mean, you know, I’m not trying to pick on you. I’m just,

Davina: I know. I’ve had issues. I don’t know. We all have issues with money, you know?

Shell: I mean, you know, I’m busting the thing of I have issues with money and yet I’ve been friends with money for years and I teach people about this. But I can’t, you can’t actually help people with something you haven’t struggled with.

Davina: Well, I think I’m also one of those things that you have a, we have a lifelong relationship with money because we live in a society that where are, you can’t be just done with money, right? You know, and everything. Well, everything, let’s say most, you know, like most of the things that provide our comfort or whatever in the world cost money, right? You gotta have, you want insurance, you gotta have money for it. You want a retirement account, you gotta have money for it. You gotta have, you know, all of those kinds of things, right?

Shell: Money is reflecting again, that stuff, right? Because it’s just money is a symbol. It’s one of the things that makes it more difficult because it’s not real. I mean, we hardly it’s, you know, it’s pieces of paper with dead white guys on it. And these days, there’s not even the pieces of paper or the money. 

I had one lady that had this shopping thing, because when she was little she, her mother would take her to the store And she’d see that her mother would buy things. And then her mother would get money back because she gets some change in some bills. So this little girl decided that shopping is the coolest thing ever because not only do you get things, but you get money back also.

Davina: I like it.

Shell: Yeah. I mean, there’s all sorts of fascinating things people make up about this.

Davina: That’s all of those, I think, so those people are people who grow up and they love the discounts and the coupons and the rebates because then they feel like I saved money. I saved money by buying this thing and spending money actually saved you money, right?

Shell: Except the fact that if I hadn’t bought it at all, I would have saved even more money. 

Davina: Exactly, exactly. 

Shell: Whatever it is. And we all have all these different, it’s why is the phrase is the untangler of money knots.

Davina: Yeah, I wanted to talk to you about money knots because I know that’s something we haven’t actually covered that term yet and I know that’s something that you use when you talk about money. So explain to us what a money knot is. And what you do to help with that. 

Picking Apart Your Money Knots

Shell: The thing is that whatever somebody, the thing I love about the, I help people untangle their money knots is that I have no idea what their money knot is, but they do. And when I say that, then they say, Oh, can you help me do this? Because there’s some money not in there for everybody. You know, some of them I can’t, this lady, I did a talk, and this lady came up to me after the talk and said, I want you to fix my husband.

Davina: I think that’s common. I think that’s common. A lot of people have that.

Shell: Yeah, yeah. And I said something like, you know, once I get done with world peace, I’ll be happy to try that. You know, because, you know, it’s, there’s some things that are possible or I need to do. I can do couples work around money because couples have issues around money. Who knew, right? So the trick is to get to the place of you take away the idea that money has a judgment and start looking at it instead, as something that reflects what you’re up to, it can be very helpful for you to figure out. Certainly there are some practical things to do around money that make it easier to do that. 

But it’s the emotional stuff that has to get cleared up for you to do it because frankly, keeping a checkbook, keeping a budget, doing a cash flow, those are not rocket science. We don’t even have to do the math anymore. The spreadsheet or Quicken or whatever does that. So why is it so difficult? This is part of why I ended up in this career is back when I was an accountant, a CFO in a company, I had one of the product managers come to my office one day and close the door and said, Shell, I need your help. And I said, Sure, what can I do? And he said, I can’t balance my checkbook. 

And I thought, this is a guy that manages a multimillion dollar product line, and he can’t balance his checkbook. What is going on there? And it was indicative of my brain. If I had been a typical accountant, I would have just told him how to balance his checkbook. And I said, so what do you think is happening with that? Why do you think you get stuck there? What is that? You know, because I get curious. I’m curious. I want to know, what is that? Where did that come from? It’s very interesting stuff.

Davina: So it’s, when you, I want people to really get the vision of the money knot because I’ve seen one of your videos and that really brings home the visuals. So when you talk about money knot, what we’re talking about is not like a rope that’s tied in a knot. We’re talking about somebody that comes and they plop down this wadded up, massive tangle of Christmas lights in front of you. 

And then they go, Okay, we got a stream this out so we can get it around the tree and it’s probably going to take us, you know, a while to do that, right? So then you’re helping to tease out those and untie that. And it’s much more, it’s not a quick fix kind of thing. It’s not something like okay, we’re just gonna shake this and it’s gonna come out. It’s something where there’s work really challenging your, our thoughts around money, right? And our beliefs around money.

Shell: There is actually humor in there because of course, there is always humor here. But the point is that yes, it’s, I say to people money coaching is not triage, it’s rehab. You know, the triage part, if you’re up against it and just, you know, hanging on by fingernail, you know, part of the thing is, is that emotional field has to get calmed down before we can actually do the work of figuring out how to change your perspective. 

Because it’s, and it’s interesting because sometimes one of the things I tell new clients is you’ll find that maybe we’ll have a couple of sessions and we won’t actually talk about money. And you’re going to say to me, oh, wait a minute, we’re doing money coaching, why are we not talking about money? And I will say what have we been talking about? And they will say, Oh, how I hold my worth or my value in the world or how I came from what. Yeah, duh. Same thing, because money reflects that.

Davina: You also use some self-hypnosis in your coaching. Is that correct?

Mindset is Literally Everything

Shell: Yeah, well, I have a self-hypnosis thing that I had somebody do long ago that I have for sale on my website because part of it is this is deep stuff. Now, that self-hypnosis tape is not, it’s mostly as most self-hypnosis are about calming yourself. And then it’s about giving it the idea that you can do this. It can be fine. It’s not a big, bad, ugly thing. It doesn’t have anything specific and you will do these five steps.

Davina: Yeah, addressing these particular issues. It’s more about the mindset around resolving the problem, right?

Shell: And the mindset around having money, feeling like there’s a part of you that can handle money more effectively and that you just need to give it some space. And, you know, because frankly, all of the fretting and worrying is just adding on and adding on and adding on.

Davina: What are the benefits of sorting out, I mean, spending this time and working on this sort of self-development? You know, really digging into how you think and how you feel and bringing things to the forefront, what are some of the benefits of doing that in your, for your business and for your life?

Shell: Well, I’m thinking of the most recent reflection I got back is there was a young woman that I worked with about five years ago who was a veterinarian that does mostly horses. And she sent me an email about a month and a half ago that said, I just wanted to thank you because of our work together, even in this time of the pandemic, I’m not worried about money. That was a great thing. 

Davina: Right. And it had nothing to do with whether or not she was making a certain amount of money. It was it’s about, and she may be making plenty of money. 

Shell: I don’t know what she’s making but I know that she’s, you know, she’s happy and she’s doing other things and right and money is supporting her in what she wants. So, you know, money may support some people in actually downsizing and doing less and other people in having more. It’s, again, it’s what do you want? What life do you want?

Davina: Well, and what are you willing to allow, you know?

Shell: Yeah, what are you willing to, and what are you willing to do to shift, you know? I think, I really, I’m gonna say something about coaching in general, I’m really positive about the idea that we now have coaches because it’s only been literally about 100 years that we even had the idea of psychology, that you could somehow change the way things are in your head. And now, coaching is a much more friendly perspective. 

Like you don’t have to be crazy to have coaching. You know, and so we’re not going to just put you away because you have these thoughts. And it’s allowing us to change some of the things that had gone on for generation and generation and generation that never got talked about because you didn’t want to, you know, you didn’t want to be labeled as having a problem.

Davina: Right. Well, it’s the safer place that, you know, then it may be to try to have a conversation with a friend or a family member, certainly. Maybe because then you’ve got people with their own agendas and their own stories that they tell themselves and, you know, all of those, an agenda in their relationship with you. 

Even between spouses, I mean, I know, you know, with my husband and I, we both have different, we both have different money stories from our childhood. And money is one of the most challenging conversations we have in our marriage. We’re both entrepreneurs. So that’s a challenge right there, right? So we’re both always, you know, developing businesses. 

Shell: Yeah, because part of the problem there is that you each have different money perspectives and you haven’t necessarily figured out the way to have, let’s think of it as little money lands, right? So there’s your money land and his money land and we haven’t figured out how to bridge to our money land where things are a little different than on either side. 

Davina: Well, I do think there are some people who do that better than others, you know, certainly. 

Shell: Oh sure, but in general, when we get into a relationship, we pick somebody that’s different than us because otherwise we’re bored, right? So we pick an opposite. And we want that opposite for the balance to get, give us more of what they’ve got that we wish we had. But then we find it irritating that they don’t think exactly like us.

Davina: Yeah, yeah. Well, I know with us, we both are spenders, and we’re risk takers, and, you know, all those kinds of things. But, you know, both of us kind of look to the other and go, Hey, while I’m doing this, you should be doing that because you want to spend on different things. So we want the other person to be saver, and we want to be the spender. So, you know, there are all kinds of, you know, things. So even if you’re a saver with a spender, it’s a challenge. If you’re a spender and a spender, it’s a challenge. If you’re a saver and a saver, then you’re better. I don’t know. 

Shell: It’s a challenge because we’re all different individuals.

Davina: Right, right. It’s just one of those facets to that relationship when you’re having. And then you think about we don’t have children, but I know many of my clients, you know, when I learn about their money stories and we’re working on those money stories and we’re working on their business, you know, you see how they are with their children. And what, you know, what are you teaching them? And I think it’s very rare in your situation where you have a parent who said, I’m going to be very intentional about teaching you about money. I don’t think that’s common.

Shell: It’s not common. And sometimes, unfortunately, it ends up in a mess. I had a guy that had this opinion that he could never save money because he had this story about when he was a kid, his parents came and took away his piggy bank and they broke it open and they took all the money and they never saw it again. And, you know, and so he had decided I can’t save money. And I asked him, his mother was alive. 

And so we got the real story and they took him to the bank. And they, and in those days, you would get this little blue book and they would, right? And they took him to the bank and they gave the little guy the little blue book. Now, they didn’t apparently talk about any of this stuff. And he was like, Whoa, what’s this? This is this stupid book. I don’t read. I don’t know what this means. And I had money. I had the actual physical stuff. And now I got this stupid book and I can’t, you know? And here he is a grown up and still operating under that perspective. 

Davina: Traumatized. Traumatized by that, yeah. 

Shell: And the parents were trying to do the right thing. They just didn’t understand, you know, they weren’t willing to go far enough.

Davina: It wasn’t age appropriate. Right.

Shell: Yeah. to have it be age appropriate. It was age appropriate for me to have the column said income and outgo, you know? It was, what the other thing my dad did that I just loved, it took me years to realize this was going on, he would borrow money from me on a Friday night to take my mother out. And then he would pay me back on Monday with interest. And the part I’d never figured out is my dad had cash on him all the time. He didn’t need to do that. He was doing that on purpose to give me the experience of lending the money and getting some back with interest.

Davina: Yeah, yeah. My dad did do that as well. He did, he would borrow money and then pay it back with interest. So we, you know, sort of understood that concept. But it didn’t advance much beyond that because, you know, it was money. Money wasn’t something that was, you know, discussed. 

And also, you know, my own parents’ financial education, they’ve done very well for themselves, but they grew up in, my dad, especially, grew up in abject poverty. I mean, the kind of poverty where you’ve got one pair of pants, you know, for school and church and one for home kind of thing. And so what is wealth to him, what is plenty to him, you know, is different, right?

Shell: Absolutely. And what would be a breakthrough would be different too. I mean, I had a client that was a doctor and she had come from very, very poor circumstances and she’s a doctor, right? She’s making good money. But she had never, ever bought a car on time because when you’re poor, you spend it. 

You don’t save it because somebody’s going to take it away if you save it. And you don’t trust any, and we got to the point where she bought a car on time. You know, I mean, she bought a car that she paid for over several years and then recognized Oh, my God, I could do that. And she was a doctor, which means, you know, I mean, she was not, she was making reasonable money, for sure.

Davina: Right. Well, and there’s, that’s a whole nother can of worms that we’ll have to continue for another day because I know that with attorneys, there is a public perception about attorneys having money. And the minute you graduate from law school, people think, Oh, well, you have money. And I remember,

Shell: No, you have a big bill to pay for law school.

Davina: Exactly. I remember one of my uncles saying to me at the first little family reunion after I graduated law school, and I drove up in an older car and he says, The next time you come here, I expect to see, you know, a fancy car, right? Because that’s, they’re associated with you become an attorney, and immediately, you make a lot of money. 

And I know that a lot of women law firm owners, it’s one of the things we discuss a lot is this perception that attorneys are made of money, and a lot of people coming in wanting you to do things for them, maybe they’re family members, maybe they’re friends, maybe they’re just strangers on the street, feel like you owe them a discount or you owe them a, you know, free services or you owe them because you have money and you’re being, you know, greedy or stingy if you don’t do things for them for free, right? So there’s so much more we could talk about and but we do need to end.

Shell: So, the fun part for me though, is untangling these things.

Davina: Yeah, absolutely. Well, it’s been wonderful. So tell us how we can find out more about you if we want to talk with you ourselves about our own money issues. How can we find out more about you and what you do?

Shell: Well, there is a handy dandy website and it is at Shell Tain, SHELLTAIN.com. Or if you go to sensiblecoaching.com you end up in the same place. And there’s all sorts of lovely blogs and information and funny stories and stuff on there. I’m happy to do a sample session with any of your listeners that want to call, have a call.  I love doing them. I love this career more than, I’ve had it longer than anything else I’ve done because it’s just never boring.

Davina: I imagine it’s very satisfying. It’s very satisfying.

Shell: Very satisfying and just not boring, you know?

Davina: Yes, like, unlike an unnamed accounting sort of career might be.

Shell: Yes. Well, you know, counting things is the same. You know what, it doesn’t matter what widget you’re counting, it’s still accounting. 

Davina: Thanks so much for being here, Shell. I really appreciate it.

Shell: You’re very welcome.