239 | Setting Financial Goals that Make Sense for Your Situation with Sarah K. Peck

Sarah K. Peck


Welcome to episode 239 of Love, your Money! In this episode, I’m joined by my good friend Sarah K. Peck, the founder and CEO of Startup Parent, a company focused on telling the stories of women’s leadership across family and work. Her work has been featured in publications like Forbes, The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, and more.


In today’s digital world and scrolling through our social media feeds, thoughts of “Keeping up with the Joneses” can be overwhelming. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself if the financial dream you’re pursuing is even your own?


In today’s episode, Sarah breaks down how to set financial goals that are right for you and your life. You’ll also hear about how to stop worrying about money so much, how to create a healthy financial partnership with your spouse, and how getting clear about your intentions can help you clarify your questions about money and unpack your trauma.

Here’s what you’ll find out in this week’s episode of Love, your Money:

  • Why money is worthless without intention
  • The link between wealth and unhappiness
  • Finding your way out of 6 figures in debt
  • Getting to $100,000 by age 30
  • The science behind money manifestation
  • Starting a company with young children at home
  • When to allow yourself to buy luxury items
  • Forming a money partnership with your spouse

Inspiring Quotes

“When you get specific about it, it's easier to remember and believe in the goal.”

“If you don't get clear on what it is that you want and what it is that makes you happy, money is pretty worthless, because you can have a ton of money and you can be very unhappy.”

“Getting to know yourself is really hard, but when you do, it's so incredibly rewarding.”

“I would love to be set financially by somewhere between 45 and 55 so that all the work that I get to do in my life is by choice.”

“If I could go back and give 20-somethings any advice, it's that now is a great time to save.”

Resources and Related to Love, your Money Content

Enjoy the Show?

Hilary Hendershott: Hey there, money lover. Today I am excited to share with you a timeless episode from our podcast archives. It’s a very special conversation with a dear friend of mine named Sarah Kathleen Peck, occasionally affectionately referred to as SKP.


Sarah is the founder and CEO of Startup Parent and its associated podcast. Recently, her efforts have also been focused on running the Wise Women’s Council, a leadership program for working moms that I have very much enjoyed being a part of myself. I think you’re going to love Sarah’s take on money, goals, personal net worth, and internalizing your own value. Here we go!




Hilary Hendershott: Welcome to this very special interview with founder and CEO of Startup Parent, Sarah Kathleen Peck. She actually happens to be a good friend of mine. We met in a moms group that has been extremely resourceful and helpful for me. So just a great place to meet women who are up to amazing things.


Sarah is a little bit different from our normal guests, our ordinary guests, but I’ll let that story tell itself. Sarah is the host of the Startup Parent podcast, and I’ll have her tell us about that. It’s an award winning podcast featuring women in entrepreneurship, business and parenting, and she writes about work, culture and parenting. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Inc., Fast Company, The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, and more. So, a very well pedigreed woman.


She’s also, I just learned this this morning from reading her bio, a 20-time NCAA All American swimmer. Successfully swam the Escape from Alcatraz nine separate times, once doing the swim totally naked. So nudity, this might be the first time naked has been said on my podcast. It’s very exciting.


Sarah K. Peck: I mean, that feels like the theme of the interview, too.


Hilary Hendershott: Talking about money can make you feel naked.


Sarah K. Peck: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right.


Hilary Hendershott: So, let’s start, just tell people about what they should know about Startup Parent. How can they know what that is?


Sarah K. Peck: Oh, it’s so fun. I work with women entrepreneurs and people who are adjacent to entrepreneurship. So, a lot of times, you’re 15 years into a career and you think you might want to start something or you’ve had an idea for a while. So, business leaders, people in long-term career tracks, people thinking of starting something on the side, and then people who are raising venture capital, I work with those women, those women and parents. And we’ve done 200 interviews so far of the podcast.


Hilary Hendershott: Wow, amazing. And you’re a fantastic writer as well. So, when we were talking about money a few weeks ago, you said something that I think, and they say start with the big idea. So, the big idea of this conversation is you don’t have to make a ton of money to live the life that you want. And you can’t see her, but she’s doing jazz hands.


Sarah K. Peck: I think it’s really true. I think something that’s really important to me about money is that money is a tool. And if you don’t get clear on what it is that you want and what it is that makes you happy, money is pretty worthless because you can have a ton of money and you can be very unhappy. And so, the most important thing for me is figuring out what you want and then matching the money situation to being able to get what you want.


And a lot of people actually don’t want what they think they want, right? It’s like actually, the thing that I want is time with my kids and I want to be able to take hikes and I want to send my kid to a nice daycare. So, okay, exactly how much money do I need for that? That’s my goal. It’s not to become a multimillionaire, being incredibly unhappy in a job that I hate, where I never get to see my family.


Hilary Hendershott: Well, one thing I’ve learned about, I have had the occasion to interact with some extraordinarily wealthy people. And the thing I found most sad about that is that all those people are currently engaged in, let me not say all, many of those people are currently engaged in how to live beyond death, right? So, they’re worried about their own mortality. And I just find that to be so sad that they’re not fulfilled as human beings in this life right now.


And then, the second thing I’ll say is, when I speak publicly, I often say, really this talk is about money, but I have to be honest, I don’t actually care about your money, I care about you. And we’re not talking about you’re stranded on the side of the freeway and you can’t afford a ride to get to a safe place like money solves that problem, but beyond that, this is about you having a fulfilled, happy, satisfied life. And I think a lot of people are addicted to more and more and more. So, I think your narrative and your lived truth about that is really, really interesting. And I think it can bring a lot of peace to people. So, talk to me about how you think about– well, let’s just start from the beginning, kind of tell us the money story you want to tell us.


Sarah K. Peck: It’s so interesting. And I so, like, kind of piqued by getting to be on the show because I wouldn’t say I’ve “made it,” but then it depends what lens you look through because I have, I’ve done what I wanted to do. And I started my own company. I have a family, I get to spend time doing what I want and with the people I love, but I have gone through a number of journeys and experiments to get here.


When I was a young kid, there’s four of us growing up, four kids growing up, and we were pretty scrupulous. My parents are pretty conservative in terms of like we didn’t get to do lots of big things, but they did help us, say, financially. And I went to college. I went to graduate school. I took on obscene amounts of debt in graduate school because it was the thing to do, right? You go to graduate school, you get a degree. Of course, it’s going to cost $100,000.


Hilary Hendershott: Right. And it’s like this foregone conclusion that means success. After that, just comes career success, right?


Sarah K. Peck: Then you just get a career success. I would like to lay that to rest because I had $20,000 in student loan debt from undergrad and then I had $80,000 from graduate school. So, I had about $100,000 in debt. I got an Ivy League education, and my first job out of graduate school in 2008 in the middle of the recession paid me $46,000. And it wasn’t until after I got into that job, and I looked at my rent and my student loan payments and my take-home pay on my pay stub. And I said, “How does this work?” Like, I don’t understand. Why didn’t anyone tell me? And I have a responsibility to have done that before, but I really blindly trusted people. I blindly trusted that going to graduate school was a great idea and that it would all work out. And it doesn’t.


Hilary Hendershott: Yeah. I did my MBA, really took care of my own self-confidence problems. And there were a number of people in my program who I think were very unhappy. And it’s in Silicon Valley. So, a lot of engineers who wanted to get into management wanted more autonomy, wanted more decision-making power. And I don’t think the MBA translated to that for them at all. I’m not sure that it contributed to my professional success except I met my husband there. So, it’s like the most expensive dating service ever.


Sarah K. Peck: I did not meet my husband in graduate school. Yeah, that’s really fascinating. That led into my 20s, which I was 25 when I graduated from graduate school, I think 24 or 25. So, I was pretty young because I went to college a little bit on the young side. And I had massive amounts of debt, a job that didn’t pay enough, and I scrambled a bit. I took busses, I worked side jobs, I worked on the weekend, and I put together a pretty comprehensive plan.


And then, once I figured out my budget, I decided to start saving 10% of my salary at that point. And then every time I got a bonus, I saved a little bit more. So, if I got a bonus, I bumped it up to 12% or I bumped it up to 14%. And I read a bunch of books, The Millionaire Next Door, Ramit Sethi’s book, a couple of other ones. I think I’d listened a lot to– oh, who’s that famous podcast guy? The most, your money, no.


Hilary Hendershott: Dave Ramsey.


Sarah K. Peck: Dave Ramsey. Yeah, thank you. I listen to him. And I was like, okay, I’m going to try this. I’m going to try to save. And I had a bit of savings from college because my parents helped me, which we can get into, but I have this big audacious goal of saving $100,000 by the time I turned 30 and saving a million dollars by the time I turned 40. And I looked at the numbers and I was like, well, how on earth am I going to get there?


And remember, I was negative 100 in the hole like I was really working out of a hole. And I remember the day I called my dad when I was 28 and I was like, “Dad, dad! I’m worth nothing. I got to zero.” I was like, “I finally have zero dollars.” Like I still technically, I still owed some money, but I had savings at the same amount.


Hilary Hendershott: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I remember my zero day, too, girl. I remember my zero day.


Sarah K. Peck: I’m worth nothing.


Hilary Hendershott: Sorry. Okay, so did you get to $100,000 by 30?


Sarah K. Peck: I did. I did and I am surprised by it because it’s not like my income radically increased. I negotiated, I got 10% increases, but that’s not a lot. Sometimes, I got 15% increases. And I started some side projects. One of my first side hustles paid me about $30,000 on the side– did not pay me. It, in revenue, was $30k on the side. I had to pay taxes, but I had  pocket change. And it was really through saving about 16% of what I made, even at that low salary year over year. And then when I got a bonus, I put some of it into my savings, and then sometimes, I put the whole chunk into my savings and paying down my student loan debt pretty aggressively. So, I put it on a 10-year plan, and then, if I had a little bit of extra cash, putting a little bit towards the student loans. And then, six years later, I had saved. I have the screenshots. I saved the screenshots of my mint – I sent it to my dad. I was like, “Dad, I’m worth $100k,” like I have $100k. And he was like, “That’s really actually, really great.” Like, he was really proud of my accomplishment.


Hilary Hendershott: Pretty remarkable. Well, I actually think that’s a nod toward the power of manifesting that almost always when it comes to manifesting something you don’t currently have and don’t know how to produce. And I don’t know if you would use the word manifesting, but I’m a little bit woo about money. And you’re a powerful woman. And so, there’s no reason, given your consistent dedication, staying focused on the goal that you wouldn’t be able to do that, right? Like money shows up when you sort of command it to do so. And there’s something about those side hustles and your willingness to save that money versus spend it that pays off.


Sarah K. Peck: Yeah, I love manifesting. And I like woo, like a large side of science. So, I actually dug into the psychology and the science behind manifestation and like, what’s woo and what actually works. And so, I’ve kicked out about this. I’ve written about it on my blog. I have a course about it called Get What You Want. And if you get really clear on what you want and you get really clear on why you want it, and it’s something that you actually want, then you will pursue it. That’s something that you can take ownership over.


In addition, there are things like psychological priming, and it’s the effect that if I tell you, like, “Hey, Hilary, let’s walk down the street.” And also, the color red is awesome, you’ll probably see things like red cars and stop signs and stop lights that are red. We can prime ourselves. So, when we go through the effort of writing down a goal and priming ourselves, and then we use questions that aren’t like, am I going to get this? Yes? No? If we use nonbinary questions, but we instead ask, like, how is this possible? All of a sudden, you can start to be like, okay, my goal is here. I have to do this much each year. Compound interest and growth looks like this will happen. So, how might I earn $5,000 more per year?


Hilary Hendershott: Yes. And that’s getting into a state of wonder as opposed to the certainty that it can happen because when you are in a state where you don’t know how to get or produce a particular result, it’s silly to stand in front of the mirror and say, “I’m rich, I’m rich, I’m rich,” because your brain is just going to go, ooh, you’re actually not.


Sarah K. Peck: Right. The cognitive dissonance is going to be strong with that, but actually, I have data that proves otherwise.


Hilary Hendershott: But actually, I’m worth zero.


Sarah K. Peck: Yeah, I’m worth nothing.


Hilary Hendershott: And that’s that. And I use that as a reframe, a suggested reframe for people all the time. It’s like instead of trying to convince yourself of something you know isn’t true, just get into a state of wonder, how can I get there? How is this possible? How can I call this in? So, that’s great. I love to hear your science about manifesting.


Sarah K. Peck: And get super, super, super clear on what you want. Like, I think that most people are like, “Oh, I want to be a millionaire,” but there’s no, like, depth to it. Like, what’s it for? What exactly will you do with that money? Where is it going to go? How much do you need each year? Like that specificity of knowing, yeah, I’m going to be a millionaire because I’m going to do X, Y, and Z with it, like the house I want to buy is $600,000. The college education I want is this. I’m going to pursue my MBA, even though it’s a bit like a gobsmacking amount of money. When you get specific about it, it’s easier to remember and believe in the goal.


Hilary Hendershott: So, it seems a little silly to ask how do you really get clear what you want, but I think you and I both agree that it can be hard to get there. How did you accomplish that?


Sarah K. Peck: How do you get clear on a goal?


Hilary Hendershott: Yeah, how do you get clear on what you really want when the messages from society can be so confusing and overwhelming.


Sarah K. Peck: Yeah. So, I worked with people through this, and a couple of the questions, I used the five whys, which is not my invention. It’s popular out there. But ask yourself why you want something five times. So, really go deep. Like I want a fancy gym membership. Why? Because I want to look good. Why? What will it feel like when I look good? Well, I want to be attractive to people. Why? Because I’m lonely and I want to be in a partnership like I want to get to know people. Oh, why? And if you really dig down there and you’re like, you know because like I’m not satisfied with my current life because I live alone. And you’re like, oh, that’s really interesting. Like maybe getting a gym membership is not the thing that you actually want, but you want to connect to more people, right?


You have that specificity. It requires bravery. A lot of times, the inner emotions, the inner psychology, there’s fear, there’s intimidation, there’s insecurity, there’s past trauma, little “t” trauma, like getting to know yourself is really hard, but when you do, it’s so incredibly rewarding because you’re like, oh, I’m lonely. And now I can ask myself, how can I be a little less lonely? Like, what can I do about it? And maybe the answer is money. And maybe the answer is like going and trying to do triathlons or joining a meetup group or like there are different ways to solve the problem.


Hilary Hendershott: So, talk to me about– I talk a lot about the importance of your financial narratives. And you already said you see money as a tool. So, that’s helpful. I think that’s a good starting place, but I think, a really interesting place to look is, I’ve heard the term recently and I love it, your thought and emotional landscape, because it’s important to have happiness and joy and pride and a sense of satisfaction about things. So, tell me what you think and feel about money, just give us a sense of your inner workings about money.


Sarah K. Peck: I love that as a tool. I also find like I’m really satisfied. I think quiet confidence is part of it. I want to be alert, educated, and aware. Like I’m very annoyed when I don’t understand how something works, and I feel really empowered when I get to go figure it out. So, if there’s something I don’t understand, I might be frustrated for a while, but I really love– there’s a quote attributed to Michelle Obama recently. And she was talking about the senators and like was she intimidated being in Congress and what was it like to be there with all of these powerful men. And I’m going to butcher the quote, but essentially it’s “Well, they are not that smart,” is her quote, where she’s just like I looked around, she’s like, they’re not that smart.


And it’s not putting other people down. It’s more like everybody here is figuring it out, is the way that I interpret it. And I’m allowed to figure it out, too. No one has the secrets to the universe. I can be like, how does that work? How do taxes work? Who do I need to know? Well, how much do I have to pay here? And so, like, when I didn’t understand crypto, I’m like, well, what would I do to figure it out? Where can I read and what can I learn? And how do I get to have power and take power back of my own life, so that when I’m 60, I’m not stuck, or when I’m 80, I’m not wondering or wishing I had done something else? So, I guess, yeah, those are some of my kind of states of mind.


Hilary Hendershott: Okay, so let’s talk about– you had kind of brought us up to approximately your age 30, but at that point, I think you were a wage earner. So, now you’re fully an entrepreneur. So, tell us about the evolution from, and I don’t know if you want to share your approximate age. How long has it been since you were 30?


Sarah K. Peck: Seven and a half years. I’m almost 38.


Hilary Hendershott: Okay.


Sarah K. Peck: Yeah. So, I’m getting close to 40. And the roadmap here is it’s really been bumpy because I would have thought that my 20s were my lowest earning phase except I joined a startup, and that is highly– like that’s highly risky. And then I went off on my own. So, my salary went back down because I was starting out on my own and then grew it up again, and then, have all these savings. I’ve grown my salary up again. I decide to have children. That’s not cheap.


So, I have two kiddos, and between two kiddos and putting them to daycare in New York City, where wherever you are in the United States, the cost of daycare per child is about the cost of a one-bedroom. So, take your one-bedroom times two in New York City, it’s incredibly expensive. And so, like everything I was saving went into child care just so I could get to work again. And then I decided to start a company, while I had young children at home. And so, that first year…


Hilary Hendershott: Nonsensical.


Sarah K. Peck: It was so great. That first year, we made $30,000. It was like kind of an accident into the company. I thought I was writing a book. I thought I was taking time off to write a book. And then I was interviewing women and then I turned it into a podcast. Then we got sponsors for the podcast, made 30K, and I was like, oh, I should probably like look at this more like a business than as a book. And we spent $29,000 on the editing and the team and all of the different pieces of running the business that year. So, I paid myself $1,000 that year, which is if you are asking my average salary over the years, that one is definitely going to anchor it low.


And then, in starting a startup in the early years, you pay yourself $50K, $75K, you’re like back in the tinier numbers with the idea that you’re growing it to be able to pay yourself more. And I’m right at that precipice. So, I had children which cost a lot of money, and I started a company which we are now, we’ve doubled our revenue every year and we’re in the fourth year. So, we’ve got a great curve ahead of us, but I’m still at that precipice of like, will she, won’t she? Where is it going to go?


Hilary Hendershott: Really?


Sarah K. Peck: Yes, totally. I am pretty confident that we’re doing pretty well, but there’s still so much growth ahead of me where I’m excited and I’m nervous.


Hilary Hendershott: And so, my podcast is designed as an educational tool, but also to promote my service-based business, but yours is different. Yours is more of a media empire because it’s about the podcast and your revenue sources from sponsors, but then you also have this writing aspect to what you do. Is that correct? Because you’re not offering coaching, or you are.


Sarah K. Peck: And we do have The Wise Women’s Council. Yeah, so in year 2, we launched The Wise Women’s Council. And The Wise Women’s Council is a nine-month leadership incubator for women entrepreneurs, navigating parenting right at those early parenting years and pregnancy, and with 40 people in the program this year, which is great. And some people sign up for executive leadership, executive coaching packages. Some people sign up for group coaching and some people sign up for the community. So, we’ve three tracks. It starts every March, and next year we’re looking at seeing if we can run two tracks at the same time. So, 80 people, and then we’re looking at expansion plans, like what does it look like to have 200 or 500 people running it through this program every year?


Hilary Hendershott: Right. Who’s we?


Sarah K. Peck: I hired three coaches.


Hilary Hendershott: Okay.


Sarah K. Peck: Yeah, I have three coaches, I have an operations assistant, and then I have an online business assistant. So, like I’ve also got people that I talk to. I used to be a solopreneur and now, it’s like, nope, we’re getting this. We’re getting all the dots dotted and the T’s crossed.


Hilary Hendershott: So, you’re getting official. And then you had mentioned, so 100K by 30 and a million by 40. Was there a goal by the 50s?


Sarah K. Peck: No, it’s more like a retirement goal. And I would love to retire early like I would love to be set financially by somewhere between 45 and 55 so that all the work that I get to do in my life is by choice. That’s a part of my freedom dream. It’s not quite fire, like financially independent retire early because a lot of people are trying to do that by younger, but I think the closer I can be to anywhere between like $2 million and $6 million, probably $4 million in savings, the easier it’s going to be. And the way that I always look at this is, let’s say you have a million saved, you expect 4% returns. You can withdraw $40,000 on that million.


I know you have to pay taxes on some of that, but like if– so this is like simple math, but if you could live off of $40,000 a year and you’re happy living off of $40,000 per year, then you only need a million in savings to never have to work again.


Hilary Hendershott: Awesome.


Sarah K. Peck: So, for me, it’s probably at the $4 million mark, right? So, if I could withdraw $160K, then I would never have to work again, except I love working. Like for me, working would be writing and creating and helping people and like, I would continue to grow the business, but. So, the goal, probably by 50 would be like, what if I could have $4 million in the bank?


Hilary Hendershott: Okay. So, are you on track for a million by 40?


Sarah K. Peck: Not quite. So, I’m turning 38, and we’ve got half a million. I guess because I’m talking about my husband, but yeah, I’ve saved $500,000 into my retirement savings which I looked at it and I took a screenshot. I’m now a little afraid of sending it to my dad because I’m like, Dad, like, is it okay, right? Money can be so challenging to talk about, but I don’t think I’m going to save half a million dollars in the next two years, but I do think I’m going to hit the goal pretty close to 40, which is going to be pretty fun.


Hilary Hendershott: Well, you never know. Your entrepreneurship efforts could really mushroom. I mean, these things have a way of kind of taking off once you’ve got everything’s energetically aligned, right? And you’ve supported the business with the people it needs and the marketing it needs. So, what have been your stumbling blocks along the way?


Sarah K. Peck: Yeah. Student loan debt is one of the biggest ones, I think that has taken a lot of effort to figure out how do I work through that. The cost of child care, the cost of child-rearing, like if I could go back and tell 20 somethings any advice, it’s like actually now is a great time to save if things get more expensive as you get older. I know it sounds extraordinary, but like I didn’t drink in bars, I chose not to. That was so expensive. And I learned how to cook all my own food. And there’s a bit of savviness here, but it comes not from telling you that this is what you have to do, it comes from those things that weren’t important to me. I wanted to spend time with people. I didn’t care, like, what sugar or alcohol I got. And so, I made some choices that were maybe a little bit different than my peers, but it really helped. Other stumbling blocks, oh, those children. I love them. I love them. They are so expensive, I need to switch time.


And then this pandemic, we had healthy emergency savings in place, which we were very fortunate to have. I guess I would also say the earlier question about fear or not about fear, sorry, your earlier question is about the emotional landscape in your financial narratives. I’m always a little bit cautious. I’m always a little bit afraid and a little pragmatic. So, we had good emergency savings and we spent half of it in the pandemic, and that was terrifying to me. And I had to constantly remind myself, like, this is what an emergency saving is for.


Hilary Hendershott: This is the emergency.


Sarah K. Peck: This is the emergency, right? But your body feels, my body was like, this is the emergency, and you still have trouble spending it. And so, now we’re rebuilding it, which is part of the reason why I think it’s going to take maybe a couple more years to get our ducks lined up.


Hilary Hendershott: You said something to me that I thought was really tremendously insightful. You said if you want the $500 a month gym, just earn $6,000 a year more. So, I call those intermittent luxuries, like everything in your life doesn’t have to be balanced. I don’t think it makes sense to drive a $100,000 car in any way if you’re earning $40,000 a year, but if you want to $6,000 a year gym, like do it. Or if you want a Louis Vuitton bag or if you want a $10,000 vacation, figure out a way to make it happen, even if it doesn’t seem balanced with the rest of your financial life. So, is the $6,000 a year gym real for you? Or is there something else that you do that is just a source of pleasure for you?


Sarah K. Peck: Yeah, absolutely. I think when you get really specific about it and you get concrete about the numbers, you’re like, oh my gosh, this gym is like $600 a month, or this vacation is this much. When you actually look at it, it’s concrete. Most of these things aren’t going to be much more than $10,000. And I would add a little caveat, like pick one this year, pick one or two luxury items each year that you want to get. And then if your numbers don’t balance, get creative about it. How can I earn $6,000 this year? Like, what could I do on the side? Could I host a retreat? Could I do some private tutoring? Like what are the options for it? Could I just ask for the raise I deserve? What are some options for doing to earning more money? And so, for me, I would definitely say books. If we’ve ever met before, you will see how many books I have in my house. It’s almost a hazard.


Hilary Hendershott: I do see large stacks of books behind you right now.


Sarah K. Peck: Those are the ones I want to read like this summer. This whole wall is full of books. They’re all color organized, I’d have to show you, but I’d never limit myself in the number of books. I think I probably spend several thousand dollars a year on books. I also have multiple library cards and like, part of it’s energetic. For everybody who writes a great book, I want to pay them for their efforts, like it’s $9 for their multiple years of research. Like I want more of that thinking in the world. I’ll never be able to go to coffee with all these people, but this is the best coffee date I’ll ever have with them because they’re that smart, right? This is them at their smartest, ideally, like, they’ve spent so much time. And then I want to be able to have deep conversations. So, books and education, I will always spend money on. Education has to be commensurate with the spend, like $9 to $20 in a book is ridiculously amazing for a price. $250,000 for an MBA, you’ve got to really like understand what the benefit is for you.


Hilary Hendershott: They better be offering me a $500,000 a year gig after graduation, right?


Sarah K. Peck: That’s right.


Hilary Hendershott: Okay, so how do you manage money with your husband? I would guess you’re the quarterback of the financial team in that marriage, am I correct?


Sarah K. Peck: We work really good together. So, we have a budget that we share and we each can go in and review it maybe every six months, but we basically get the flows, like I see it like a flow chart, we understand where things go. And then we have a cash envelope system, but we use Ally Bank because there aren’t any fees and then we just have to see my wallet, but I have like seven different debit cards because each debit card is linked to our different accounts. So, we agree beforehand on what we’re going to spend money on, and then we each have our own personal account because like I think one of the worst things in a partnership is when you’re micromanaging each other. And like, if I want to buy thong underwear and gum, like, I don’t need him to know about that. And if he wants to buy…


Hilary Hendershott: And you don’t need his comments.


Sarah K. Peck: No, like, unless the underwear looks good, I don’t know, but like, if he wants to buy it on video games and candy, like, these are just arbitrary examples, but like let yourself spend without anyone looking over your shoulder, just agree on how much goes in the account beforehand. That’s what we do. Like, we just both get a certain amount of money, and it’s like an allowance kind of, but we just get to spend it on what we want. No questions asked.


Hilary Hendershott: Yeah, beautiful. And you have created a partnership where it sounds like you pretty much agree on the big stuff. In other words, you were both agreed it was time to spend on the emergency fund when it was.


Sarah K. Peck: Yes, that’s right. That’s right. We had our children home for seven months last year with no child care. We were basically trapped inside of an apartment. We didn’t have a backyard with no family around. We were like anything that makes this better, just anything, and we literally pulled out my credit card and we’re like, it’s all going on here and we’re going to deal with it later. Like that was our mindset through it. And it was like ordering food, ordering takeout, ordering games. We bought a second iPad. We bought headphones for the kids. Like it’s hard to spend obscene amounts of money on these small purchases like we did spend like I said, we spend half of our emergency savings. We also moved.


Hilary Hendershott: You moved, yeah.


Sarah K. Peck: Yeah. And then, right now, it’s June of 20th, almost July of 2021, we have slowed the spending down back within our budget and now, we’re starting to gain on our savings again.


Hilary Hendershott: Yeah. Okay, great. Well, I just think this is fantastic. I think it’s such an alternative view. I mean when you tap into business podcasts and even money podcasts, I think the unstated assumption is that more and more and more is better, better, better. And I think that that pursuit can lead to a lot of dissatisfaction for people. And so, it’s just so refreshing to hear you. And I asked about your emotional landscape with money. You didn’t use the word satisfied, how would you describe yourself as financially satisfied? Do you have peace of mind?


Sarah K. Peck: Yeah, I think– yeah, that’s like a good question to check in with all the time. Yes, and it’s one of those like I do have my next goals, but I’ve been really satisfied hitting my goals so far and I feel like lightly confident and pretty satisfied that we’re doing a good enough job. Like it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be a good enough job, like, hey, what makes me happy and how much money do I need to do that, as opposed to, I think it’s a little bit convenient. It’s too convenient to take somebody else’s goal if you should make as much money as possible. And sometimes, we swap that in for instead of understanding ourselves.


Hilary Hendershott: That’s amazing. Thank you so much for being willing to tell your story. I just know you’re going to bring so many people peace of mind. It’s just refreshing to hear you could be happy no matter what, just save some of it, and you’ll be alright eventually. Like, really, the core of what you as a human being want in this life and you can make that happen.


Sarah K. Peck: Try a little, make a little, be happy. Thanks so much for having me.


Hilary Hendershott: Anything else you’d like to say before we wrap?


Sarah K. Peck: Figuring out what you want is an instantaneous thing like if somebody’s listening to this, they’re like, but I don’t know what I want. I would say, that’s great. Now, you know that that’s your next question, right? And spend the next year, like doing experiments and testing, like ah, I spent money on this. Do I like it? I tried this. Do I like it? Like, do I like my job? And do gentle inquiry and observation, and through iteration, you can actually get really cool insights.


Hilary Hendershott: I love it. I do remember a time in my life when I would have said I have no idea what I want, and I agree, life comes at you fast after you put some decisions in place – marriage, kids, a house, pick a career, and you learn, you learn experientially. This is not working for me or…


Sarah K. Peck: That’s right. Something has to change, right? And at least, you know something has to change. And then your next job isn’t to like have a perfect answer and then do it. Your next job is to like, try a little and see.


Hilary Hendershott: Love it. Thanks for joining us today.


Sarah K. Peck: Thanks for having me.


Hendershott Wealth Management, LLC and Love, your Money do not make specific investment recommendations on Love, your Money or in any public media. Any specific mentions of funds or investments are strictly for illustrative purposes only and should not be taken as investment advice or acted upon by individual investors. The opinions expressed in this episode are those of Hilary Hendershott, CFP®, MBA.


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