A hearty welcome to “Grandma’s Wealth Wisdom” with your neighborly hosts, Brandon and Amanda Neely. This is the only podcast that helps you take charge of your cash flow and leverage your assets, simply and sustainably, the way Grandma used to.
Amanda: Okay, welcome to the Grandma's Wealth Wisdom. So glad you're here for today's conversation with Thanks, Julia, and Julia herself for the good, bad and ugly of momhood in the second half of 2020. We are two moms coming to you to talk about how we're embracing the opportunities and challenges of today. So, thank you for being here. Whether you're a fan of Julia or you're a fan of Grandma, welcome. We hope that you get a lot out of today's conversation. [00:55.8]
We're going to start with some fun intros and then give you kind of an overview of what's going to happen today, so the fun intros and then I'm going to ask a Julia lots of questions that are specific to her expertise within project management, and then we're going to turn the tables and she's going to ask me some questions that are within my expertise related to money management, and as moms, our perspective on all of those things—so, that’s the topic for today, “The Good, Bad and Ugly of Momhood in the Second Half of 2020.”
Now, for some of those fun questions, I'll ask you, Julia, who are you social-distancing with right now?
Julia: First of all, thank you for having me here. I'm so excited.
Amanda: Yeah, thank you for being here.
Julia: Yeah, so I am based in Chicago. I live in Irving Park and I'm home with my husband, Mark, and my two children, Archie and Lou. Archie is my oldest; he's five. Lou is almost going to be two. And we also have a wonderful Chihuahua terrier who is 13 and he has no teeth—and I am grateful to be social-distancing with all of those wonderful people and some. [02:05.0]
Amanda: Great. For me, I'm social-distancing also with my husband and our son, who just turned two in the midst of all of this, and we also have my mom who's 71. She stays with us as well, which has a lot of good things that come along with having the Grandma around as well.
So, how has 2020 been for you so far, and in particular, what's been your least favorite thing?
Julia: Yeah, that kind of threw a wrench in every personal and professional goal. It definitely was heartbreaking to have my son's school year abruptly end and have him not be able to say goodbye to the people he loved in this particular school before he moves on to the next one. Yeah, I mean, that has probably been the hardest part of 2020. I hope that's not the most obvious answer, but that’s also a hard way to end. [03:09.1]
Amanda: For me also, pandemic, and in particular, we moved. We switched cities from Chicago to Cincinnati just as everything was hitting, and to not be able to go and make new connections within our new community as easily has been really difficult, because we were so excited about volunteering and being involved, and networking and doing all kinds of things that we haven't been able to do at all, besides seeing family, which has been really great that we wouldn't have been able to do if we were still in Chicago. How about your favorite thing so far?
Julia: To be honest, navigating the pandemic. It has been really interesting to creatively problem-solve all of the headaches that have started to come from it, because it's weird. I think that this crosses over as to why I do the job that I do, but I really actually get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing a solution work out, and so it's been kind of fun. [04:08.7]
Most recently, I organized—I don't know, my husband's birthday. I'll use that—my husband's birthday. I was able to find a service that just will deliver musicians to your front yard, will deliver balloons and organize it on your railing, will pick up the cake, the card. They'll do a catered dinner and an appetizer. All of these cool things to just kind of come to your house, taking out all of that. Pre-pandemic, you would have to have done all of that yourself, you know what I mean? Getting to all those places, coordinating with all those people. Anyway, it's kind of fun to see how people have creatively kept themselves in business and how we can support them.
Amanda: Yeah, I second that totally. I'm a problem-solver, too. I think that's maybe why we connected so well, because that's probably both what we do all day long every day, solve problems. [05:03.6]
In particular, for me, though, having this new home that I’ve just moved into, it's been a great thing to get to know my home and to spend significant time here, and just feel really blessed to have a home over my head and one that I can actually function with work inside and have a nice family time and all of that. That's been probably my favorite thing about 2020 so far that I have this home. Even though I haven't been able to network and meet a bunch of people that live around me, we have met a bunch of neighbors directly on our street at social distancing or whatever, but, yeah, so that's my home.
Amanda: Okay, so I'm really excited to ask you a bunch of serious questions. For people that haven't met Julia yet, let me give you the official bio and then we'll jump into those questions. [05:56.1]
Julia is a household project manager, who serves working families that feel overwhelmed by day-to-day life. Pre-COVID, they were so busy trying to get everything done that they worried they were missing out on what's really important in their lives. Now they're playing every role and are overwhelmed in an entirely different way. Thanks, Julia supports families so they can become more efficient with daily tasks. She loves helping them finally relax so they can finally be present for the people they love most.
I love that description of what you do and that idea that the goal, the end goal, is to be present with the people we love most. I just love that picture, so great job on that bio.
Julia: Thank you.
Amanda: How did Thanks, Julia come to be? Give us the story. Give us the timeline. What brought you to where you are today?
Julia: I mentioned it briefly at the top, but I have a small business that's about nine years old and it's called Rover-Time. It's a dog-walking and Pennsylvania business in Chicago. It definitely taught me a ton about entrepreneurship and just scaling a business growing over time. [07:07.1]
While I was running Rover-Time I had my first child that's Archie. After he was born, I had super-severe postpartum depression and anxiety. Just to give you a picture of where that was at, that was about five years ago, and for the first two years of his life, I would say that I was in a really, really dark place that ranged from the fetal position to suicide, and it was really an interesting journey to walk through with my family.
I kind of decided I was never going to have more children after that. I was too afraid. I was terrified that it would come back. And then life happened and I discovered in 2018 at the top of the year that I was pregnant again, and I had severe anxiety that was created by that and I was so worried. I was so worried about coming back to that place that I once was. [08:05.8]
So, I decided to be or take a more empowered approach to surviving my fourth and sometimes people call it your fifth trimester, so I just started planning. I just started planning and I started creating systems, and I started organizing. I started delegating. I started finding people to support me. I started communicating differently with everyone in my life, and I found that it helped me at least emotionally and mentally prepare for Lou's arrival.
When he was born in November 2018, what I started to see was the impact of all of that hard work. I started to see that I was doing okay, but even on the days that were rough, the days that I didn't want to get out of bed or I didn't feel I could function as well, or even simply the days that I was healing from my Caesarean, the house was okay. Life was okay. [09:07.1]
I didn't have that weight, that anxiety that fueled me to get out of bed the first time around before I was ready. I felt like the world kept going and it was okay, and it was going in the way that I needed it to go so that I felt safe, secure and comfortable.
Then, suddenly, my postpartum months, they started to stretch out and it was weird by Lou’s sixth, seventh month of life. I was feeling really back to myself and I was feeling okay, and when I reflected on that, I began to wonder if this work that I did, if it could help somebody else.
Then I started to think more about how much I loved project planning and how I've had about 20 years’ experience doing that, and I started to think about how I’d run a business, a successful one, and I’d created systems that I essentially crossed over to my own home. I began to wonder if I could do that for other people in their homes. [10:06.0]
And so, there is the creation of Thanks, Julia. I built a business and I launched it on Lou's first birthday, so November 8, and we're now in the seventh, eighth, ninth month I guess of it or whatever, and it has definitely been interesting trying to grow a business amidst a pandemic, but that's how it all started.
Amanda: Yeah, I heard that it was kind of a totally different way of nesting, right? That you weren't just preparing for the baby. You were preparing for your fourth and fifth trimester as well, and emotionally and mentally preparing, as well as preparing the house and all the things. That's a really awesome way to think about what nesting could be, rather than just cleaning and cooking, right? [10:52.6]
Then the other thing I heard was that you've really taken something that was helpful for you and applied, and seeing how you can help other people that way. Also, what was helpful for you within your business, applying that to the personal side, which is often the reverse of what we do, where we take the personal finance things and apply them, help people apply them to their businesses as well. So, it’s kind of fun how the personal and the business can often intersect that way.
Julia: Yeah, great. Thank you.
Amanda: You just launched a business in November, and then we get to 2020. We all know kind of what has unfolded there. We're halfway through 2020. We're approaching the one-year mark within your business. When you think about this latter half of 2020, what concerns you about the rest of this year, and how are your customers and clients involved in that? And what's kind of on the horizon for y’all?
Julia: I think there's some very common themes right now that are, I don't know, either going to be seen in my client phone calls and my different consults, and the ways, the different ways people are responding to posts, and then also just across different social media accounts that I love and adore. [12:07.5]
One of the first things that I know that most people are concerned about and worried about is school beginning fall 2020, the school year into ’21. I think a lot of people are terrified that they're going to have to be in that same position that they were in at the end of last school year of juggling full-time jobs with distance learning that they'll be afraid to have childcare, because depending on where you are with the reopening in your city and how well they're doing with their cases, the number of cases, that kind of thing I think is really top of mind right now for a lot of people.
I think that with a lot of what has happened so far, where we're at so far with this pandemic, many of us, personally Chicago is and Phase IV, but I would say our lifestyle is more Phase II. We haven't really opened up or done very much outside of our home, and that really builds up. [13:04.8]
All of that time at home with your family, with your children, it builds, and I think one of the other things that people are talking a lot about right now is mom rage. I think mom rage is just that bubbling up of something that has triggered you, and what we're trying to talk out and think about is how to rein in your anger, to control your emotions during these times where your kids just for some reason will just get you, and it's related to how overwhelmed we are right now. In a lot of ways, too, I think it's really understandable why this is so heavy right now.
I think the other thing that we're thinking about a lot is that conversation around our employers. I mean, I'm very lucky to be self-employed. My husband works for a pretty big company. I think their expectations around our productivity is I feel a sort of reflection of how tired they are of COVID, and I think that a lot of employers or managers are a lot less sensitive and understanding to what working parents are experiencing right now at home while they work and parent full time.
Yeah, I would say that those are the top three things that are definitely weighing on us right now.
Amanda: Yeah, and those are all serious considerations and things that we should be thinking about, we should be bringing to the table. I'm also self-employed like you, so my hope is that people have bosses that also have kids and get it, right? This is when it would be really awesome if we had more mom bosses out there that knew what it was like and stuff.
Regardless, we can't go and change all those things overnight. What do you see as some of the opportunities to focus? If we are going to focus on the positive things, what are those positive things that we can look at and make sure that we're moving forward with, despite COVID and all of its realities? [15:10.1]
Julia: I am very excited about the opportunity for partners to become stronger partners.
Amanda: Yes. Yes.
Julia: That’s it, yeah. I think that that's a really beautiful change that will be impacting the rest of our lives together. I think that this opportunity to finally collaborate and work more or have a more collaborative approach to all of the household management and parenting to-dos are going to be so wonderful.
I think we're going to see, and we have seen for a really long time, but we're going to see the way that men raised children. We're going to see that change and it's going to be wonderful. So, we're going to see men become more vulnerable and I think that's going to be a wonderful thing, too, as a result of, I don't know, just being more present. I think that that's actually just the goal. Yeah, I think that's going to be a great opportunity. [16:05.5]
I think that we will also, hopefully, one day see some changes within the workplace as a result of this experience, too, but time will tell. It's frustrating, like I mentioned, that last challenge. It's frustrating that that's a challenge. I wanted to expect better in that area, you know?
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Amanda: I'm going to throw you a question kind of out of left field. [17:02.7]
Amanda: With more people who are working from home, do you see any unique opportunities within the home for how we structure that to be at a better place for working from home, studying from home, living family life more within the home, stuff like that?
Julia: And let me just make sure—do I see more opportunity?
Amanda: Maybe it ties into the next question with the services people are looking for. Is that something that people are thinking about? If we're going to be at home, if there's going to be maybe even the future of work and it’s more work from home or days there, what does that look like? Since you help people within home project management type stuff, what are some of the common things that are coming up, if that makes sense?
Julia: Definitely, at the top of the pandemic, I think we're really, really worried about almost compulsive working. They didn't quite understand how to create boundaries. [18:04.5]
When that conversation started, I did begin to wonder, Is creating boundaries really that important? I know that that's sort of a strange counterpoint, but I think that one of the feelings that I've had when I've worked with clients that they're just like, I've lost my work personality because I'm home all the time. I don't have a work personality anymore.
I think that one of the things, I get it, but we tie our careers so much to our identity, but one of the really great things that have come from being self-employed and always having worked at home for almost 12 years is that these two things have always intersected and have always blended into each other. When I have really fought it, it hasn't made it easier, but what I have done is to have added a little bit of intentionality behind creating, building out different aspects of my life. [19:01.8]
When I've talked to people who are really at a loss or they're feeling the loss of their work identity because they're at home all the time, I've reminded them to fill it with new hobbies and new interests, and build out a part of your life because you're no longer commuting to the office that you can be really excited about. It's hard to imagine creating those things at this time that we're in, but I think that filling that void that people are feeling is a great opportunity for us to all grow as new people.
Amanda: And we could easily fill it with something like Netflix or with sequestering ourselves in our room for eight hours a day to work to have it more as one person, one life and thinking about how to work within that. I love that idea. Yeah, I'm going to chew on that for a while.
Amanda: What kind of services have you started offering or have refreshed, or have seen a lot of interest in during this pandemic? [20:02.3]
Julia: Just recently, I was sharing this in Instagram stories yesterday that I have started receiving new client projects where it's very specific. It's almost like acting as the courtroom note-taker or note the nonobjective opinion, or like the moderator of a conversation, where I am getting together with some different families who are anxious about fall, and what they basically want to do is create a nice, reliable, solid plan that they can feel they can count on when they find out what happens with school.
I think that we all know that life will never go back to what it was before. I think that we all know, too, that school is going to look so different for children this year, but for many of us, we don't quite know if we're going to be at school even five days a week. That component creates a ton of anxiety for families. [21:07.8]
I think that having somebody to sit down and just sort of say, Okay, here are 15 different solutions that I've collected that I know are dependent on what your family can do like, Here are the different ideas that we have, and let's talk about your family's comfort. Let's talk about your family's budget. Let's talk about your expectations at work. Let's talk about what you need to get out of the day and what support systems you're lacking right now. How are we going to create a plan where, if you get the notice, as we did it back in March when [for] our kids we basically got like, Don't come back to school on Monday and here's how to homeschool your kid? If that's what's going to happen again, I think that people love the idea that they're not going to be thrown into total chaos. [21:57.7]
That's what I've started working on with parents, just sitting there and realizing that this is going to be totally different for every family, and that's part of the reason why this is so hard, but, yeah, sitting there and deciding, Who do we need to kind of enlist and talk about? And what considerations do we have to have in mind as we talk this all out?
How much is this going to cost? That’s another part of it, too, because while it's not an expensive year because we're not going anywhere and we're wearing pajamas. I mean, our grocery budgets might be a little bit higher, but we're not traveling as much. So, there is a way and I'm excited that we'll talk money a little bit later, but there's a way for people to maybe make this work if they have to have added childcare and if they're able.
Amanda: Great. Thanks for everything you've been sharing. I know people are going to be interested in wanting to get in touch with you, see and learn more about what you do. What's the best way for people to get in touch with you?
Julia: They can get in touch on my website and that's ThanksJulia.com, and just contact me and fill out the form on that page. [23:08.4]
Then, also, if you’ve followed me on Instagram, you could find me @HeyThanksJulia, and on that page, there's a bunch of links to all of the different things that are coming up, as well as a bunch of good advice.
Amanda: Thank you.
Julia: Yeah, you're welcome.
Amanda: Okay, so now it's time to turn the tables. I know a lot of people might be watching this that don't really know who I am, and I know I haven't talked a lot about specifically to moms and how moms deal with things, so we thought this could be a fun way to have that money side of things, too. I'll turn it over and let you go from here.
Julia: Here we go. Tell me more about what brought you into the financial sector.
Amanda: Yeah, very similar to you actually. It was tied into both family and personal experience. I started working with a certified financial planner just as his client back in 2013. Actually, July 23, 2013, was when I said, “I'm working with you. You have to work with me,” to him. [24:13.4]
There's a whole backstory to that, but then once we found out that we were expecting, that was when we decided we needed to explore different options for our business. At the time, there were a few different factors that just made us realize that this was not the business that we would prefer to raise our child being a part of, and then after it was confirmed, we were able to sell that business and transition to something different. I actually said to my husband, “You’d better go find a job because no one is going to hire me right now.” I was in my second trimester and we just thought that was real like, We don't have a business idea for what we're going to do next. [24:55.0]
That's when we found out that that CFP, his name was Mark, that we were working with in 2013, he was looking for people to work with him. We thought he has really transformed our lives, our business. We're in a totally different place now than we would be had we not met him. How about we share that impact with others and learn what he does and do the same thing?
At first, he was a little hesitant because we were a little too entrepreneurial, and when you work in the financial sector, there's a very specific box you’ve got to stay in and all these rules we have to follow. That's part of why we actually created our own brand with Grandma's Wealth Wisdom, created it ourselves, and then he just taught us and it continues to mentor us to make sure that we are learning from his experience and able to help people the best that we can.
Julia: I love that story. What about how momhood was impacted and how it impacted your entrepreneurial journey? [25:53.8]
Amanda: I mean, literally, it took me from one industry to another industry, so that might be obvious, but probably the not so obvious part is that, I don't know, at first, when I heard this whole idea of when you're pregnant and first becoming a mom that your brain just changes, it actually shrinks a little bit, at first, I was like, No, that's just a wives tale. But when I actually started researching and figuring out that this was true, I realized the changes that were happening were actually super positive for how I could live my life and actually become more focused.
When you think about it, when you're with your child, at least from my experience, they're the focus, as long as they're behaving all day, just watch my son play and have fun, and get lost in that moment. What I've found is that the more I can do that with my business and make it this entrepreneurial thing, something that feels like I'm playing with this idea and developing ways to help people better with it and getting lost in those moments within business, that's been a fun, new way to think about, What does it look to be an entrepreneur and what is the entrepreneurial journey all about? And I don't think I would have come across that had I not become a mom. [27:16.7]
Julia: So beautiful. Isn’t it wonderful? I mean, I just admitted that momhood was not easy at the beginning, so it's so great. I always love hearing the other side of the positive experience. It’s just wonderful.
Amanda: Yeah. I totally have had some negative things, too. Even though he's two, I'm still in the camp that I don't know that I want to have a second one, and if we do have a child, he or she will be adopted, and there's still a lot of baggage there, but that's been the entrepreneurial lesson I've learned.
Julia: Yeah, and what about different current opportunities and challenges that you've noticed for moms lately?
Amanda: A lot of moms are seeing a difference with their finances right now, whether they are losing income because of reduced hours or losing a job entirely. [28:12.7]
There are also some moms that are business owners that have been struggling through “What does it look like to do business at this time?” Right? And that can be a difficult thing to be thinking through, as well as all those questions of how do we operate as a family and what does that mean for our money during this time?
And maybe it's not a loss of income. Maybe it's a loss of the value of my 401(k) or the value of my IRA, or whatever mutual funds or stocks that I might own, and what does that mean for my future and for my children's future, too, especially if those funds are in some kind of college savings plan or something?
So, there’s a lot of economic uncertainty on micro levels, as well as on those macro levels that add to all of that fear and uncertainty about schooling and work, and the pressures there. [29:06.2]
All of that emotion can build up a lot. For some people that's meant, I'm just going to bury my head in the sand or put my fingers in my ears and say, I'm not making any financial decisions right now. For other people, it has led them to make financial decisions maybe too quickly like, I'm just going to do X, Y, or Z and not think through it as much.
It's kind of the multiple dangers that could be actually an opportunity to finally take things seriously, and with having partners around more, it can actually be an opportunity to have more conversations about money, or you know they can't run away and that there are some opportunities right now for different shifts people could be making with their money that could have lots of great benefits over the long-term. [30:00.0]
Julia: Yeah, that's awesome. Moms like us, what do you think they should be asking about money?
Amanda: My number one question always is “What do I want my money to be doing for me?” and asking, What are my priorities with my money in terms of how I want to spend? But, also, the money that I'm going to set aside for the future, what do I want it to be doing for me? Is its main priority for my retirement? Is its main priority for my kid's college? Is its main priority for that next car we are going to need to buy? What do I need that money to be doing for me?
Then, taking those two things in mind, the spending, What's my priorities for spending with the money that I'm going to spend? Then, my saving, what's the priority for that money? Then, also, how much of my money should be going to those two places and what's that unique balance? And that's unique for each person, right, and for each family, and for each business. Businesses obviously save for big expenses, too, at least the smart ones. [31:09.4]
If we just ask those questions and then keep asking those questions, and more and more align what we do with our money, with what we say we want our money to be doing for us, that's a lifelong journey. That's a fun journey. It's also a really interesting way to think about it as a couple. Not “Should we buy this or should we not?” but “What do we want our money to be doing for us?” That can have some really interesting conversations that come up when you ask it that way.
Julia: Yeah. All the conversations coming out of COVID I think really are going to make a huge impact. [31:51.0]
Amanda: Great. People watching, listening, if you have a question about momhood, about the pandemic, about how to live life as a family during this time, please use the comments to ask those things that will be things we can come back to in the future, as well as reach out to us individually or both of us to ask your questions, engage in conversation. Again, Julia is at ThanksJulia.com and I'm at GrandmasWealthWisdom.com.
Thanks for being here, and thanks for taking your family and your money really seriously, and we'll look forward to talking to you again soon.
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