Questions for Reflection
Each episode we offer you a few prompts to think about how that day's conversation applies to you. You might pause the podcast and answer them right then and there, but if you keep a journal (Steph and Beth both do), you might find one of these PDFs useful. Choose the orientation that fits best in your journal.
Beth Demme (00:05):
Welcome to the Discovering Our Scars Podcast.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:08):
Where we have honest conversations about things that make us different. I'm Steph.
Beth Demme (00:11):
And I'm Beth.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:12):
I've been in recovery for 14 years, and I am the author of Discovering My Scars, my memoir about my mental health struggles, experiences in faith.
Beth Demme (00:18):
I'm a lawyer turned pastor who's all about self-awareness and emotional health because I know what it's like to have neither of those things.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:25):
Beth and I have been friends for years, have gone through a recovery program together, and when I wanted to start a podcast, she was the only name that came to mind as co-host.
Beth Demme (00:31):
I didn't hesitate to say yes because I've learned a lot from honest conversations with Step over the years.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:37):
We value honest conversations. We hope you do too.
Beth Demme (00:39):
That's why we do this, and why we want you to be part of what we're discussing today. On today's show, we're going to have an honest conversation titled, How "Money" Scars Do You Have?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:50):
Then we'll invite you to reflect with Questions for Reflection.
Beth Demme (00:53):
And the show will close with slice of life, and if you wonder what that is, stay tuned until the end.
Beth Demme (00:58):
So, not just how many scars do you have but really, we want to talk about money scars.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:03):
Money scars, yeah. I do think money is a really hot button topic. I feel like there's ... We've covered politics and all that old thing. We've covered religion, and now, money.
Beth Demme (01:15):
Yeah. Actually money is a point where politics and religion and converge.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:19):
Beth Demme (01:20):
It's something they have in common. Yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:21):
Beth Demme (01:22):
Money is definitely one of those polite topics, right, that we don't discuss?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:26):
Yeah. So, I think the first question probably, Beth, is how much money do you have?
Beth Demme (01:29):
Currently, I have zero dollars because I just realized I left my wallet at home, so I currently have zero dollars with me.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:34):
Do you have credit cards with you?
Beth Demme (01:35):
Yes, I have a debit card with me.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:36):
Then, you have all the money in the world. Actually, we'll get into that, the idea of credit cards.
Beth Demme (01:42):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:44):
I have credit cards. I'm not hiding on credit cards.
Beth Demme (01:47):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:47):
I'm hitting on the traditional thought of credit cards.
Beth Demme (01:50):
Well, let's talk about credit cards because I just had a weird thing happen with my credit card company.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:55):
Beth Demme (01:57):
All right, so a little bit of inside baseball here. Step is competitive about weird things. Steph is competitive about credit score. Step has an excellent credit score. So I was feeling a little bit "less than" with my credit score.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:12):
Really? Did you look it up? Did you see that it was lower than mine?
Beth Demme (02:14):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:14):
Beth Demme (02:16):
And the reason that my credit score is low is because I don't really use credit, but the-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:22):
Yeah, but you want to have a good credit score so you got to play the game.
Beth Demme (02:25):
Right. You need to have a good credit score for insurance and all sorts of purposes.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:29):
For life. You'll realize that when you become an adult. You're like you have to have a good credit score.
Beth Demme (02:33):
Yes, and then once you already have your cellphone and your house and your car, it becomes less important, except that they continue to use it to evaluate you for insurance policies and things. So, the reason that my credit score had dropped some is that we were using on a regular basis a lot of our available credit. So I pay my credit card off every month, but there were some months where more would be charged, and so more of my credit limit was used. So I called my credit card company and I was like, "Can I have a higher credit limit?" And they were like, "Um, how much higher?" And I was like, "I don't know. Double what I have now because I don't plan to use it anyway, but I want to have more cushion there for my credit report." And they were like, "Uh, let us check." Doot, doot, doot ... Get back. "Yeah, sure, we can do that." So they've changed my available credit on my credit card, and it gave me 50 additional points on my credit score.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:24):
So are you saying that you again want to see what our credit scores are and see if you went through all that effort to possibly be higher than me? I think you have to be competitive.
Beth Demme (03:33):
I'd like to at least be in the range of what your credit score is.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:37):
Do you have yours yet?
Beth Demme (03:39):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:40):
You have yours?
Beth Demme (03:41):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:41):
You want to say yours first?
Beth Demme (03:43):
Well, it's under 800. I'll say that much.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:46):
Oh, Beth. That's so sad for you. I'm not going to read it out loud. You can read it.
Beth Demme (03:51):
Yeah. And I think 850 is the highest.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:53):
Beth Demme (03:55):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:56):
Beth, that was great. Thank you so much for bringing that up. I'm glad we could revisit. I'm so sorry all your efforts were for naught. The highest credit score you believe someone could achieve is 850?
Beth Demme (04:07):
Yes. On my little report, that's what it says. That's the highest possible.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:12):
So, 844. I have a ways to go.
Beth Demme (04:16):
You really need to see what you could do about that. My point was that-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:21):
I'm so sorry. You don't have a mortgage, so my credit score is higher. I'm so sorry.
Beth Demme (04:25):
Right. So that was my point. In some ways, the credit score is ... The fact that I could influence my credit score just by calling and saying, "Hey. Can I have more credit that I'm not going to use?"
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:34):
Yes. The credit score, judging people based on a credit score I think is really damaging. Also, the reason I have such a good credit score is because when I was in high school, my mom had the forethought of saying, "Hey. Let's open you a Target card in your name and we'll use it. Every time we go to Target, we'll pay it off." My parents would pay it off, but it would be in your name so you start building credit because that's how credit works, is you can't build credit until you're using credit, which seems counterintuitive. But the reason why my mom did this was because my brother was buying a cellphone. He was about to go to the military. He's buying a cellphone, and he had to put down a $300 deposit because he had no credit. And my mom was like, "What? My son is a good boy. What do you mean he can't have this phone?" And my mom is like, "No. This is not going to happen with Step. We're going to make a change."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:24):
So, she started that. Early on, I had the credit card in my name. It was something that I don't even know if I had it in my wallet. My mom used it.
Beth Demme (05:33):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:35):
It wasn't something I really spent anything with. Then, when I needed my own card, I was able to open my own card, no problem. When I needed to buy a car, I was able to. I remember when I bought my car specifically, they were like, "Okay. We're moving on." I was like, "Oh," because they checked my credit score and they didn't say what it was. I was like, "Oh, is my credit score good?" He just rolled his eyes like, "Yes, it was good." I was like, "Oh, okay." I didn't need a cosigner. Then, when I bought my house, again, zero issue. I bought this house myself. I didn't need a cosigner or anything, and it's because I started building that credit early on.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:09):
The part of credit, never paying the minimum, always paying off your credit cards, that's a big part of it. And that's one of the things that really bothers me about just our culture in general, is we don't teach how to be financially savvy. We don't teach in school how to save your money, how to use your credit card effectively and not how credit cards work and how they get your money. Although if everyone was savvy with the credit card, they wouldn't work.
Beth Demme (06:36):
Well, that's probably true.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:37):
Beth Demme (06:38):
Yeah, I don't know. I think sometimes people, credit cards, the idea is ... Well, I will just say this was true for me. There was a time when I was just out of college. I'm trying to remember the timeline. I guess I was about to graduate from college and I got a credit card, and it did feel to me like, "Oh, I have access now to money that I didn't have access to before." I didn't rack up an incredible amount of debt. It was only a few hundred dollars, but it still felt oppressive to me to have that debt. So I think mindset when it comes to credit cards is really important.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (07:10):
Yeah, exactly. I don't want this episode to be about us preaching and us being like, "Look at our credit score," because I don't think that is helpful at all.
Beth Demme (07:18):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (07:18):
So I would like to go back. I'd like to go back to the beginning, talk about what money looked like when we were young. When you were growing up, were you an affluent family having everything you needed?
Beth Demme (07:30):
No. I grew up in a really modest family. I don't know. I think it would hurt the feelings of my family to say we were poor, but I think the reality is that we were poor, but I think that that gets received as a criticism or an insult, and I don't mean it that way so I want to be really careful with my words. So I will say that we grew up in a modest way, but money was always a stressor. I don't remember my parents fighting about anything except money, and they didn't fight very often. I remember maybe three times my entire growing up. It's not like this was a regular occurrence, but I remember that when they were having disagreements, it was often about money.
Beth Demme (08:08):
Actually, when Stephen and I got married, I'm so nervous about embarrassing people today for some reason, but the advice that he got from his family was married people really only fight about two things; money and sex. You need to have-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:24):
Beth Demme (08:25):
Well, kids will interfere with your sex life and they're expensive, so it all comes around.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:29):
Beth Demme (08:32):
All of that is just to say that money can be a big stress on relationships, and I saw that in my parents who were, my dad has passed away now, but they were each other's very best friends. There was nobody in the world they would rather spend time with than each other and their kids, and yet, money was a source of friction between them because there were times there wasn't enough.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:55):
Did you feel that? Were you aware of the stress that it was causing the family?
Beth Demme (08:59):
Yeah, I was aware that there were things that we didn't have because we didn't have the financial resources to have them.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:11):
What kind of things?
Beth Demme (09:12):
The whole time I was growing up, my parents rented a home because they didn't have access to a mortgage, and so I remember that coming up from time to time as a security issue that we were renters, we didn't own our home. Or, an appliance would break down and it would be really stressful, really scary like, "Okay. The washing machine is broken. How are we going to get the money to replace this?" Or, we need new furniture. Furniture is so expensive. So, there were things like that that would come up so that I would know.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:44):
Would you shop at thrift stores rather than regular stores?
Beth Demme (09:48):
We didn't shop at thrift stores, but we only ever shopped at discount stores and I remember ... It's funny that you say that because I had not remembered this until just now, but when I was in elementary school, we didn't have Walmart yet. It was before Walmart. Call it '83 maybe. We had a K-Mart, and we had something called TG&Y, and one time I got the cutest little purse there. It was white and had hearts and a grid. It's super cute. Anyway, I remember-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:12):
A grim on it?
Beth Demme (10:12):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:13):
Beth Demme (10:14):
It was like those graph paper and then they had-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:16):
It was the '80s.
Beth Demme (10:17):
It was the '80s. It was fabulous. I remember, anyway, that we were in a parking lot one time and we ran into the mother of a classmate. I knew that they had financial resources we didn't have. I knew that based on where they lived and, oh my, gosh, so many memories are just flooding into my head right now. I can't even get through the story because now I'm remembering that that girl teased me about my clothes. I didn't have a ton of outfits, and I had this one outfit that was my favorite and for whatever reason, in the laundry rotation or whatever, I guess it worked out that I tended to wear that same outfit on Tuesdays, and I remember her making fun of me for it. It was a blue t-shirt with white jeans. It was a bright blue t-shirt, a royal blue. She was like, "Oh my, gosh. You wear that every Tuesday. What's wrong with you?"
Beth Demme (11:01):
So we ran into that girl's mother, my mom and I, in the parking lot, and they were just making conversation. They were talking about having to run errands that day or whatever. And we were at the mall, but we were leaving to go to K-Mart, and my mom said something about, "Oh yeah, we're going to run over to Kmart and getting some potting soil." The look on this woman's face, her eyes got huge and then she caught herself and she said, "Oh, yeah. I never think about going there for that kind of thing."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:30):
Where would she get potting soil?
Beth Demme (11:32):
I know. Right?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:32):
Beth Demme (11:33):
I guess she went to the nursery or whatever to get. I don't know. It was such a random thing.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:39):
What? Oh my, gosh.
Beth Demme (11:40):
I bet you that neither of the adults remember that. I bet my mom doesn't remember it. I bet the other mom doesn't remember it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:45):
Beth Demme (11:45):
All those just to say there were things like that that happened that stuck with me that were reminders or indicators to me that we didn't have as much as other people. I know it didn't bother my dad. I don't think it bothered my mom. I think they were happy people.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (12:02):
Yeah. Did it stress you? As a child, were you stressed out that if an appliance broke, you couldn't get anew one?
Beth Demme (12:11):
Yeah. I think I just wanted everything to always be okay, and so when things weren't okay, I tended to internalize that stress. I'm the youngest by a lot of years, and my brothers and my sister, everyone loved me very well, but part of the advantage of being the youngest by so many years is that I got to watch them make their mistakes, but that meant that there were a lot of times when I just thought, "I just want everything to be okay. Just please let it be okay. Just please let it be okay." Oftentimes, money was a factor in that. So yeah, so I knew and it was a stressor for me. Now, what about you? How did you grow up?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (12:50):
What I'm going to say is based on what my mom has told me now. My mom said that we were poor, we didn't have a lot of money. My mom was a stay at home mom. My dad for the first five years of my life, we lived in a really small town called Live Oak, and I don't think his job was very lucrative. There's not a lot in Live Oak. He's a psychologist. I don't know exactly what he did when he worked. It's something doctor-related in Live Oak. They were living on one income and it wasn't very high at all. When we moved to Tallahassee, I know he was able to make more money working for the hospital, but it still wasn't doctor status where you think, "Oh, doctors. They make," whatever. Well, he's a PhD and it's a little different.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (13:39):
We didn't have a lot of money. We were very frugal with our money. I never felt it. I never realized that we didn't have a lot of money. We were middle class though. I wouldn't say we weren't ... We owned a house in Tallahassee, and it was a nice house, but we didn't buy frivolous things. We did shop at thrift stores and yard sales. My mom loves thrift stores and yard sales.
Beth Demme (14:08):
She does. She's a good hunter.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:09):
Yeah. She loves a good deal. I don't like thrift stores and all of those things, but I go because ... We would get our clothes though probably ... Actually, I have no idea where we'd get our ... I'm trying to think. Where did we get our clothes? I don't know. That was never really a big thing. We never had the latest and greatest, but I didn't really care, so it wasn't a huge deal for me, but we would never get anything full price. Everything ... I could see my friend across the street. She would get the games they show on TV in the commercials, the little dog that you could walk, like GoGo dog or something. I don't know. We had this little dog.
Beth Demme (14:46):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:46):
I was like, "That's the coolest thing." But I didn't have those things because we didn't have those things, and it was just understood that that's not how we spend our money. I learned early on the value of the dollar and not to spend it on frivolous things. We would go to Disney all the time, but we went to Disney all the time because we got in free because my aunt worked there, but when we'd go, we'd always bring food. There was no question. I don't think I ever even asked if I could get something from Disney because I knew that Disney's prices, the food was overpriced, and we don't waste our money. That was just implemented in my head that we bring in our food and you don't get treats at the movie theater because they were overpriced. Those were just things that were in my head, how to spend money wisely.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:36):
The nice thing is I really am happy about that. I'm glad I learned those principles because now, I know when I go to Disney, it's overpriced, but I'm okay with that. I'm willing. I know what I'm getting into, and I know I'm not going to just be frivolous, but I don't bring food in anymore. I do eat at the parks.
Beth Demme (15:56):
You figure that in as part of the experience.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:58):
Exactly. Yeah. You figure that out. So I feel like I have a really good, healthy relationship from my childhood because we couldn't just buy whatever. Also, we didn't have money to pay people to fix stuff at the hose, so we did it.
Beth Demme (16:12):
That's worked out well for you actually.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:14):
It did work out well. Actually, I remember we had the Hardy board replaced at the siding at our house, and that was covered under some kind of settlement, but they didn't paint it. I was like, "Mom, just hire someone to paint it." She's like, "No. It was not covered. We're painting this." So we're all out there painting this. We had the sprayer. It was so annoying. I was so annoyed, like, "Mom." I was like, "When I own my house, I'm going to hire everything out." That was my rebellious ... but still, when we needed stuff done around the house, I would do it because that's just what we did.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:43):
Then, when I bought my house, I said, "Mom, I am going to hire people to do everything at my house." You know what? I hired someone to do my flooring, and I was really disappointed. I was going to hire someone to paint it, but it didn't work out because of the timing of when I was moving in and I couldn't get them in. Ultimately, I was like, "Fine. I need to rescreen my porch." I was like, "Mom, will you help me?" She was like, "Sure. I'll help you do that because" ... Finally, she's helping me when I helped her at the house. Ultimately, now I do everything at my house, and now I have a whole business based on that. Yeah. Thanks, mom.
Beth Demme (17:19):
Yeah. That all worked out. It all came together. When my husband was growing up, they took these amazing trips. At one point, they spent, I think it might have been four weeks. It was either four weeks or six weeks, but they drove all over the United States. One of the ways that they were able to do that is that they didn't eat out. They would stop and have a picnic. I think as an adult, we can look back on that, and from talking to my mother-in-law, that was a way to save money, but she presented it all as like, "It's part of the adventure," and so he has a really positive connotation with that, not a negative connotation.
Beth Demme (17:58):
I think when we are thinking about how we talk to, maybe when we're thinking about how we talk to kids about it, I think the way we present it does matter. For you, it was never like, "Well, we can't have that." It's, "We're choosing not to do that," which is different.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:13):
Yeah. That's not a good use of our money. I was able to observe. There were things that I have taken from my past that I've changed. Early on, we would keep a car until it literally could not move anymore, and it would bother me so much because there were so many times where we'd be stuck on the side of the road. My dad had this old yellow, I think it was called a Rabbit, I don't know, but it had so many problems. It was so frustrating. I watched my dad put all this money into this car, and then finally, he put $1,000 into it for this part and it still wouldn't run. I was like, "This is actually wasteful. You're wasting money. You could have invested in a new car so long ago, not have the headache of it not being reliable." I was just like, "That's not okay. I'm going to invest in a car and I'm going to know when it's time to say 'and we're done' when all these problems start happening."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:03):
So, I have done that. My very first car was a used car when I was 16, and it was a great car but when I went to college, it literally just stopped working. It wouldn't turn on. Had it towed to a Volvo dealership, and they put $500 worth of parts in it, still didn't work, and they're like, "We can try this and try this." I said, "No. Let me just" ... We donated it to Goodwill or something.
Beth Demme (19:26):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:26):
And, I got a new car. I've seen trying to go through this and this. Ultimately, it's always going to be declining, and so I've taken that. My car I have now is the longest I've ever had a car. I've had it almost 10 years and-
Beth Demme (19:42):
But it has no miles on it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:43):
Exactly. It has 39,000 miles on it. I just noticed the other day.
Beth Demme (19:48):
It's almost 10 years old.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:49):
Almost 10 years old, yeah. I don't drive it a lot. Yeah.
Beth Demme (19:53):
Yeah. I think my car is maybe a year old, and it has almost 30,000 miles on it so I'm going to pass you probably in the next few months.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (20:02):
That's the thing. I don't need a new car, and I'm not going to get a new car. But if I started having some major issues, I would definitely replace it. Although, I love my car. I have a Mini Cooper Clubman, and it's the cutest thing. I don't know. When I do have to get rid of it, I do want to keep it, but where would you put that? I have nowhere to put it. I want to deconstruct it and do something cool with the hood of it because it looks so cool. They don't make them that way anymore, the look. They look different now.
Beth Demme (20:32):
It is a really cool looking car.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (20:34):
Beth Demme (20:34):
Yeah. There's something about buying well that I think you and I have both learned through trial and error. Well, like our sunglasses. I know that I tend to lose my sunglasses, so I have a cap for myself on how much I'll spend on sunglasses. I spend enough so that if I don't lose them, they're decent, but not so much that when I lose them, I feel heartbroken over the loss. You have had your sunglasses a really long time, haven't you?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:03):
This is a silly conversation. Yes. Going back to the quality over crap. What do we say?
Beth Demme (21:13):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:14):
I realized in high school, I was getting a new pair of sunglasses every two weeks because they would break. I'd sit on them, they'd break. I wouldn't lose them. They would just break in some capacity, then I had to go get a new pair, and it was super annoying. It was taking time out of my day, and also annoying me and causing me undue annoyance. So I was like, "Let me invest in a good pair of sunglasses." I got a pair of Ray-Bans that were polarized so they would be protecting my eyes even more than just the cheap sunglasses. They were $175, something like, expensive sunglasses.
Beth Demme (21:50):
That's a lot, yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:50):
I got them when I was 20. I still wear them today, and I'm 34, so I think it was a good investment.
Beth Demme (21:54):
That was an excellent investment. Think about how much money you've actually saved yourself over the period of time.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:01):
Well, yeah. I think that's one of the things. Sometimes people look like, "Oh I don't" ... They look at it and they're like, "Well, I'm going to buy this pair of dollar sunglasses," and they last you a couple of days, and you keep buying them. Also, by getting quality, I could probably sell my sunglasses. They're in perfect condition. I could probably sell them to somebody and make some money on them if necessary. That is a way, knowing the value of your money.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:30):
One of my hobbies is buying Lego sets and building Lego sets. I love Lego. I really like the bigger sets and they're considered hard to find and exclusive sets, and they are lucrative. I actually sold a set. I bought a set for $300, and I sold it a couple of years ago for $1,400.
Beth Demme (22:53):
That's amazing. That's a fantastic return on investment.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:56):
It's one of the top 10 Lego sets, valuable Lego sets, but that is an investment. Lego is such a ... Everyone knows the name, Lego, and they make really good quality sets, and there are some that are lucrative. Some you're not going to make money from, but the bigger sets, and I do keep the boxes from those and all my manuals and everything. I don't buy things just because they're an investment piece, but if it's something that is something I could have profit in the future and it brings me joy, it's perfect combination.
Beth Demme (23:30):
I wonder how our ... The title of this episode is Money Scars because we're the Discovering Our Scars Podcast. I think that there are ways that we have money scars maybe from growing up or maybe from when we were just getting our feet under us and our careers or whatever, so I think that we develop these scars, and on the one hand, they can keep us from saving because we don't want to deprive ourselves. Maybe if we've experienced depravation, we don't want to deprive ourselves. But then the flip side of that can also be true where we have money scars that keep us from really enjoying our earnings. Either way is not necessarily healthy, and I probably have done both of those things at different times. Right?
Beth Demme (24:20):
What do you think? How do you think money can create scars? How do you think we live that out in our lives?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (24:27):
Well, we have our own experiences with money, and then we have society's experience with money. So, I will say I don't really feel like I have ... I feel like I have a healthy relationship with money, but I don't feel like I have an everyday healthy relationship with money, and I feel like a lot of that comes from society. It comes from the "they" that tells you the American dream, make all the money, spend all the money. Bring it in, bring it out as soon as it comes.
Beth Demme (25:00):
The point of earning money is to spend money, and that when you spend money and you buy things, then other people know that you've earned the money because now you've spent it, and so you have these things, and so you're more valuable because you have more things.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:15):
Yeah. So that really, really bothers me, this concept of we need all the money. Something, five years ago, it's almost been fully five years ago, I left my job at the church and I started doing Mother Daughter Projects full-time, and it was a super scary thing. One of the things that everyone kept saying to me was like, "How are you going to make money? How do you make money doing that? How do you make money doing that?" I didn't have a perfect answer. I had some thoughts, and I knew my big way I was going to make money was through sponsorships. I didn't know how to get a sponsorship, but I knew that's what we wanted to do.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:53):
I wasn't concerned actually about making money because I felt like I was following God's plan and it was going to happen, and I didn't know exactly the ABC of it, but I knew it was going to happen. But people putting that on me like, "Society says you should be making a lot of money. How are you going to make a lot of money when you have no plan?" It was these people putting this on me.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:15):
Ultimately, some people I shared with, some people I didn't, but ultimately because I was raised with parents that actually taught me how to value money and how to save money, I actually had enough money in my savings that I could live. I could pay my mortgage off and have money for food and necessities for at least a year if I made zero dollars. At the time, I was also doing freelance video editing so I was making money. I was bringing money in, and we were bringing money in with the blog, even early on. But anyways-
Beth Demme (26:46):
Well, it is interesting though because I think people might have looked at your age but also looked at ... just not understanding the business model at all. Like you were saying, you weren't sure how it was going to work either, so you didn't fully understand the business model either. I think we all knew that you had just bought a house, and so we're thinking about ... I think as people were thinking about all of that, they probably didn't trust that you had the savings that you had.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:13):
Beth Demme (27:13):
It's really nobody's business also, by the way, but I'm just trying to think back five years ago and remember-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:21):
Were you one of those people?
Beth Demme (27:21):
No. I was totally onboard.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:24):
You're like, "Do it."
Beth Demme (27:24):
Yeah. I knew you were going to make it happen.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:26):
Who needs money?
Beth Demme (27:26):
No. I was like-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:28):
But I will say I started getting concerned when people were putting their crap on me.
Beth Demme (27:34):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:35):
That's really what it was. But for me, when I went to college, I had zero debt. It was essentially free for me to go to college because I had Prepaid and Bright Futures scholarship. But I'm curious. You went to college as well. Were you in that same situation? Did you have scholarships? Was it something that-
Beth Demme (27:51):
I did have scholarships, but money was a big factor in choosing where I would go to college. I really wanted to go to Washington, DC. I really wanted to be in politics. I think we've talked about that some.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:03):
Beth Demme (28:03):
So I was accepted at American University, and I got a very generous scholarship, a 50% scholarship, but it wasn't enough, and so I was able to come to Florida State, thank goodness. I was able to earn enough in scholarships that almost all of my ... certainly all of my tuition and books were covered and some of my living expenses were covered. I did leave undergrad with some in loans, and then I went on to law school, and then after law school, I paid them off. But I remember in law school meeting with the financial aid counselor, and I don't normally remember numbers, and I remember the numbers. I remember that we were allowed to borrow $18,500 a semester. Our tuition was $3,500 a semester. I guess the way that the calculations worked, you were allowed to borrow enough to cover living expenses or whatever.
Beth Demme (28:58):
I will say that you're not supposed to work while you're in law school, at least your first year, definitely your first semester. You have to even sign something from the American Bar Association saying that you'll just be in school. I remember meeting with the financial aid counselor and saying, "I just need," whatever it was, "I just need $1,000 to be able to pay off the rest of my tuition for the semester and get my books." She said, "You need to go ahead and borrow the full amount because this is free money. This is interest free while you are in school." [crosstalk 00:29:29] I said, "I don't want to do that." She said, "You can take this money and you could invest it, and then you would have the difference. You could keep what you earn and you could just pay back the principal when you graduate."
Beth Demme (29:41):
I just knew that I was not self-disciplined enough to do that. And also, I was married at the time so it was a joint financial decision, and I will say my husband has a really good head on his shoulders about a lot of things but especially about money, and so we came to the decision jointly that we were not going to do that. I remember feeling like she was disappointed in my decision because she just couldn't ... She was just saying, "This is free money."
Beth Demme (30:05):
Well, I have lots of friends from law school who did borrow the full amount every semester, and to be fair, they needed to. I was married. I had somebody covering my ... I guess we had a house and so covering our mortgage or whatever and paying for food, so I was in a different situation than some of my classmates.
Beth Demme (30:23):
So, if you did that every semester, $18,500 for the six semesters, you would end up with about $100,000 in debt. And if you happen to marry someone who had also done that, then you would leave law school as a couple with $200,000 in debt. So, you can't buy a house. That is a house. Right?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (30:50):
Beth Demme (30:50):
Particularly then because we're talking the 1900's y'all. Just the amount of ... It was just so easy. It was so easy to get into debt. It was built into the system.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:02):
Beth Demme (31:02):
It was programmed in that you would leave with a lot of debt.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:05):
Well, that is the system, isn't it? That's how credit cards work.
Beth Demme (31:08):
It is, yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:09):
It's for you to be in debt so that you're paying more for the stuff that ultimately, that's the whole concept. Yeah.
Beth Demme (31:19):
Yeah. Now in credit card statements, credit card companies are required to share that information with you. It has to say if you make the minimum payment, you'll end up paying this much and it will take you this long to pay it off because we realize we were in ... The system was really, I don't want to say rigged against us because I feel like that's assigning too much intent, but it was-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:40):
Well, but we never educated. That goes back to my point of we're not educating our children on how credit cards work, on how debt works, on how mortgages work. We're not educating on that, and that is a very damaging and scary thing. I don't have a kid in school, so I don't know, but I don't think that's taught. I still don't think that is taught how to manage money-
Beth Demme (32:05):
It is not.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:06):
... in a practical way. It may be in a broad sense but not something where they can actually understand it. Your daughter has a job, right?
Beth Demme (32:15):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:16):
Yeah. She probably has a bank account. [crosstalk 00:32:19]
Beth Demme (32:18):
She has her own bank account. She has her own debit card.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:20):
Yeah. Kids in high school, they could easily understand the concepts because they're living them already, and so they could understand what those concepts look like. Your daughter could start a credit card now-
Beth Demme (32:33):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:33):
... and pay that off with the money in her banking account, and she could start building that credit and learning how that process works.
Beth Demme (32:41):
Yeah, she could.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:42):
But I think that is a good thing. No matter what job you're looking for, I do think it's good to get jobs when you're younger so you can see what you do want, what you don't want, and that is motivating to go to college. Something that I wish was really encouraged more is vocations.
Beth Demme (33:01):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:02):
Vocations, there's so much money to be made in being a plumber, an electrician.
Beth Demme (33:07):
HVAC contractors. Yes.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:09):
Exactly. I know you can have your own business. I think it's never going away. Computers aren't going to be able to be your plumber. It's just not going to happen when I need someone to activate the computer that does the plumbing.
Beth Demme (33:22):
It's so true. When I was working as a law clerk, so my first job in a law firm, one of the partners, the partner I was working for, his mother got into a car accident, and he was in court or something and couldn't go, and so I ended up meeting her at the accident scene and driving her home because she needed somebody to drive her home. So I was just making conversation with her, and it came out in the conversation that not only was her son a lawyer but also, her daughter is actually a law professor. And I said, "That's so incredible that they both went on to have the same profession and that they're both lawyers." And she said, "Yeah, and the whole time what we really needed was a plumber."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:04):
Beth Demme (34:05):
I was like, "Yeah."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:08):
Beth Demme (34:08):
A lot of truth in that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:09):
Beth Demme (34:10):
Yeah. My brother is a builder. When I was growing up, he framed houses, and now he can do everything. We just had a hurricane and a tree ripped up the water main in my mom's house. He was able to go and fix it. I love that. I love that he knows how to do things, and he has a fantastic career. It isn't always about just going to college. Vocational training would be a really good thing to have.
Beth Demme (34:37):
Like you're saying too, it would be great if we were more intentional about educating people about how to use money. I know that as an adult, we have used financial planners to help us, particularly with retirement planning, but you can't plan for a retirement without getting control, being able to manage your day to day stuff. And so all of that gets wrapped up together, so I definitely would encourage people to do that. Have you worked with a financial planner?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:07):
Yeah. Early on, my parents had a financial planner that they did their retirement investments with, and I went with them as well on my own plan, but I started a Roth IRA years ago, which is a retirement plan. I also started an IRA a little bit after that. They both are similar, but one you pay tax on now, one you pay when you take it off, so it's good to have a variety. When I worked for Apple, they gave us a 401(k), and that is free money. Talk about free money.
Beth Demme (35:41):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:41):
Not free money to have now. Please, please, please, if you ever get money for a retirement plan and you leave that job, do not cash that money. That is insane.
Beth Demme (35:52):
You can have it when you're 59 and a half.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:55):
Yeah. Reinvest it in another retirement plan. That's actually when I started my IRA, when I moved my 401(k) over. Anyways, a lot of 9-to-5 companies have financial retirement plans like. They also have people you can contact to find out some financial information. I know when I worked for Apple, I also was part of the employee stock program where they put money in automatically and you get it for a discounted rate, and I still have that Apple stock. When I worked for Apple, a little while later, it split seven ways and then it recently split three ways, so I have an insane amount of Apple stock now compared to what I did when I started. So, that is staying there. That is not being touched. It doesn't hurt that they're the most valuable company yet again.
Beth Demme (36:41):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:41):
So I will keep that in there. Yeah. I have a financial planner. I also got a CPA. I was doing my taxes myself with my dad's help for a long time, but when I started my business, I decided I needed a CPA. Actually, my uncle is a CPA so he is my CPA and he handles my taxes. I also rolled my retirement over to him as well. But just start investing in something. That's what my parents always said, and my dad always said, "Always put a little bit every year in your retirement plan. Just start now." He was telling me this when I was 20. And I did, and I do. Every year, I put money in the account so when I need to use it, it will be there.
Beth Demme (37:21):
Yeah. I will say we're at a point now, my husband and I are at a point now where we've been investing in our retirement since we got out of college. Our financial planner said a lot of people say that they want to retire at 55 but haven't made the plans for it, and we will be able to do that if we want to. So that's pretty exciting.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:42):
Yeah, that's lovely.
Beth Demme (37:42):
It's pretty exciting to think for so long, we've been waiting for it to pay off and now like, "Oh yeah, we're within a decade of when this could actually happen." It might be like it's really far in the future. It might be like it's impossible that you'll never get there, but time marches on, friends. Time marches on.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:58):
Well, I think it's hard if you have struggles, if you always struggle with money and you've never been really educated about money, and you're always treading water. You don't have good credit. I can't imagine what that-
Beth Demme (38:13):
Stressful. The stress of that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:14):
The stress of that. I really don't want to be discouraging. I feel like we're both at a good place, and I don't want that to be like, "Well, that's not helpful at all."
Beth Demme (38:24):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:24):
I don't want it to be a discouraging thing.
Beth Demme (38:27):
I would just say we haven't gotten to this place without money scars. Right?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:32):
Beth Demme (38:33):
The last semester of summer, I took a class in church finance, and one of the things that we had to do was to write our money autobiography, and it was incredibly illuminating to think about questions like think of a happy memory with money, to think about what was going on and what what made you happy in that moment, what your unhappiest money memory, what your earliest memory of money. I'm going to put a link in the show notes to a resource that has this. This is broken down into a four-week study almost but it's personal. You don't do it with a group. It really is your autobiography. There's a set of questions for every day, for you to think about. It's everything from how did you look at money as a kid, how do you look at money now? How do you foresee yourself looking at money in the future? Are you a spender? Are you a saver? Are you generous? Are you stingy?
Beth Demme (39:28):
All of those thought provoking questions just to really evaluate your own relationship with money because the times in my life where I have gotten into a situation where I felt like I was in too much debt, it was not so much about what I was earning. It was about how much I was spending, and to look at the reasons why the spending happens. Is it just because I do want to be valued and so I want to have more stuff, or because I don't want to tell myself no, or because I think I really deserve a treat? To look at all of those reasons for spending because that's an important part. That is as an important part of the equation as what is being earned.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:12):
Now it's time for questions for reflection. These are questions based on today's show that Beth will read and leave a little pause between and then we'll end with Slice of Life.
Beth Demme (40:20):
Number one, what are your money scars?
Beth Demme (40:25):
Number two, how is your relationship with money today influenced by your upbringing?
Beth Demme (40:31):
Number three, do you have a healthy relationship with money? Are you willing to take steps to get or maintain that healthy relationship?
Beth Demme (40:40):
Number four, when was the last time you splurged on a treat for yourself? What was it and why did you buy it? If you never have, why not?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:56):
We actually got a voice mail from one of our previous guests, Charlene. She called in about the episode titled Forgive and Forget, and I want to play that because I thought she had some good insight that we didn't share in the episode.
Charlene Garrett (41:13):
Hi, ladies. It's Charlene.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (41:13):
Charlene Garrett (41:14):
It's been a while since I've called. Loved your episode, Forgive and Forget. Forgiveness is one of my life messages, especially the piece of keeping short account. I often remember the verse that it's the small foxes that spoil the vineyard. It's the little things.
Charlene Garrett (41:37):
I wanted to add one more tool to the tool belt. You may look it up. It's called CIO-therapy.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (41:43):
Charlene Garrett (41:44):
When it comes to forgiveness, it's an opportunity to have the person in front of you in your mind's eye and really explain to them what you thought you were going to give, what you needed from them. I thought I need to forgive my mom. Mom, what I needed from you was da, da, da. What I got instead was da, da, da.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:07):
Charlene Garrett (42:08):
And really get in touch with what is the debt that is owed, and I think that is a big piece of forgiveness, is really getting in touch with the debt. Then, once you really can on the debt and you know what it is, then you can actually make the choice to fully forgive the debt. And I completely agree, it's a process. The church hasn't done an incredible job teaching it, I don't think, unless-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:31):
Charlene Garrett (42:32):
... you get in a discipleship situation. Hope that you guys are doing well. Would love to talk to you and hear your thoughts on being wide open from what I understand-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:42):
No, you don't want to hear that.
Charlene Garrett (42:45):
... now during COVID. I hope that we're on the end of things, but who knows? Who knows what all that means? Talk to you guys soon. Bye.
Beth Demme (42:52):
Bye, Charlene. Miss you. Thanks for calling.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:53):
Bye. Thanks for calling. Oh, by the way, when we were talking with Charlene, I don't know if I edited it out of the podcast, but she was talking about getting a dog, and she's gotten a dog. She got a puppy.
Beth Demme (43:03):
Yeah. She has a puppy. Yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:04):
Congratulations on your puppy. Wow. Great insight. Actually I thought that was great. Today is October 2nd, I think.
Beth Demme (43:14):
It is, yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:16):
Yeah. We live in Florida, and the governor of Florida-
Beth Demme (43:19):
The great state of Florida.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:21):
Yes. The governor has said that all restaurants can be open at 100% capacity in-
Beth Demme (43:27):
[crosstalk 00:43:27] baby.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:28):
There's only a few exceptions to that like movie theaters and casinos.
Beth Demme (43:35):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:35):
Beth Demme (43:37):
Yes. They need to still-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:38):
They need to continue to social distance because restaurants, I guess COVID is not in restaurants, so that's cool.
Beth Demme (43:43):
If you're sitting right next to someone at a restaurant and they're talking loudly and they're spewing aerosols out, you can't get it if you're in a restaurant.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:52):
No. The governor...
Beth Demme (43:54):
Obviously, a fantastic breakthrough.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:56):
Yes, this is a breakthrough. I'm very excited. Obviously, you could see there's been a lot of change since COVID started, and that's why we are in stage three. I don't think we have any more cases of COVID here. I think it's gone. I think it probably disappeared. It's been cooler. We got cooler weather, so I think it just blew away the COVID in Tallahassee. Yeah.
Beth Demme (44:18):
The sarcasm is strong with us today. Yeah. I don't really want to talk about my feelings about being in Phase Three. I will just say I'm not changing my routines other than to lock myself down a little bit more.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (44:32):
Yes. I will say the same thing. I've been to two stores this week, and I have blatantly seen people not wearing masks, and this has been the most I've seen people not wearing masks since the reopening happened, which is very disheartening to me and also makes me want to not go out as much, which I don't go out a lot anyways. Blatantly, I was at fresh market yesterday, and this lady, no mask, just going through stuff, picking stuff up, putting it back down right in front of me. It took everything for me to not yell at her and be like, "Get your freaking mask. What are you doing?" Because it's given people permission that the state has reopened 100%, it gives people permission, we don't need masks, and it's just so sad and disheartening because there's so much research on the simple things we can do to stop the spread.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (45:22):
I'm not even against the fact that we're reopening or phase three or whatever. It's not even phase three because there's no reason to be there. Our numbers are still high. If the government had said we're not going to put limits on stores anymore on what their capacity is, but they need to continue to social distance and masks are required in every public space, and it's up to the business to decide how they're going to social distance, I would have been fine with that. But to just say you're back open, and to make it harder for counties that do have a mask policy like our county to make it harder by not ... and letting them enforce the policy with any kind of-
Beth Demme (46:02):
There's no penalty. They're not allowed to have a penalty.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (46:04):
There's no penalty. You have to wear a mask, but there's no penalty if you don't. You know people respond really well to you have to do this, but nothing is going to happen.
Beth Demme (46:11):
Do this for the good of the order. No one wants to do anything for the good of the order it seems.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (46:15):
Well, the people that aren't going to wear a mask are not going to care about that.
Beth Demme (46:19):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (46:19):
So it's disheartening to see that that's happened with Florida. Thank you, Charlene, for calling in. We do have a voice mail number that you are welcome to call and if you want to give us any feedback or any comments on an episode, you're welcome to. It is (850) 270-3308. You can also text us, so we can accept text as well. Thank you for joining us and we'll see you next time.