238 | Setting Boundaries to Improve Your Money Relationships with Terri Cole

Terri Cole



Welcome to episode 238 of Love, your Money! In this episode, I’m talking with Terri Cole, a licensed psychotherapist, global relationship and empowerment expert, and the author of Boundary Boss – The Essential Guide to Talk True, Be Seen and (Finally) Live Free. Terri is also the host of the highly popular and fantastic podcast, The Terri Cole Show.


Setting boundaries can be a challenge for women. Being assertive is often seen as a negative, disguised under terms like “bossy” or “controlling”. But in reality, setting healthy boundaries is critical — especially when it comes to your money.


In today’s episode, Terri shares the keys to setting effective boundaries in a way that improves your financial life and strengthens your relationships. You’ll also learn the steps to take for setting money boundaries, exercises for creating an open money dialogue with your spouse, and why identifying what you resent financially can be critical for financial empowerment.

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

  • What are money boundaries? 
  • How your money boundaries are formed
  • How to do a “resentment inventory” 
  • The first steps to making money changes 
  • Setting firm boundaries as a people-pleaser 
  • Navigating financial crises with your spouse
  • Paying attention to your money 

Inspiring Quotes

“Love your money, which to me means pay attention to your money. Give gratitude to your money for what it allows you to do.”

“Nothing defines us. What defines us is what we say defines us. Let's just revel in the good things that we have. Give gratitude. Pay attention to our money now.”

“Your boundaries are made up of your preferences, your desires, your limits, and your deal-breakers.”

“People have a very confusing relationship with money because you have family systems that use money as covert control.”

“You can start making changes by just understanding where you're resentful financially.”

“It is an existential crisis to not be known by the closest people in your life. That is painful and avoidable.”

Resources and Related to Love, your Money Content

Enjoy the Show?​

Hilary Hendershott: Well, hello, money lover. Today, I have with me the amazing Terri Cole. You may recognize her name as the host of the epic podcast, The Terri Cole Show. You may not know she’s also a licensed psychotherapist, global relationship and empowerment expert, and the author of Boundary Boss: The Essential Guide to Talk True, Be Seen, and (Finally) Live Free. I cannot wait to have this conversation about money boundaries. Welcome to the show, Terri.


Terri Cole: Why, so happy to see you, my friend, and I can’t wait to have this conversation too.


Hilary Hendershott: Yeah. And I’ve been, well, you’ve got some amazing stuff out there about, obviously, money boundaries. Let’s start with the basics. Define boundaries.


Terri Cole: Okay. According to me or the way that I want you to think about it, think about boundaries as your own personal rules of engagement. It lets other people know what’s okay with you and what’s not okay with you. Your boundaries are made up of your preferences, your desires, your limits, and your deal breakers like your non-negotiables in your relationships, whether that’s to money, whether that’s to other people. Now, that sounds simple where you go, “Oh, I just need to know my preferences, my desires, my limits, and my deal breakers.” But the problem, Hilary, is that most people don’t know them, at least in my therapy practice. And even if you do know them, now, you need to know them and then have the ability to clearly and transparently communicate them. And that really therein lies the rub for many people.


Hilary Hendershott: Therein lies the rub and there’s so much in there in terms of how women are in culture to be. And I just want to point out because I’ve sat with your definition of boundaries and when most people talk about their boundaries, it’s a righteous thing, an indignant thing, a you-messed-with-me kind of a thing like that crosses my boundaries but your definition is very loving. It’s very much like self-love, relationship-based. Is that how you would say that?


Terri Cole: Yeah. Because here’s the thing, I think that there’s a misconception out there that a lot of people will call something a boundary but it’s really a lever of control. They’re saying, “This is my boundary.” So, like, for example, someone may say to their boyfriend, “When you’re out with your friends, I need you to call me every hour. That’s my boundary because I feel insecure.” And that is not a boundary. That’s just control. That is simply a desire.


Hilary Hendershott: It’s just manipulation, yeah.


Terri Cole: Yes. And not even good manipulation, anyway. Not even that clever.


Hilary Hendershott: Like, insecurities with a mean coat on.


Terri Cole: Exactly. It doesn’t work. Now, you could make a simple request, “Please let me know when you’re leaving so I know when you’re going to be coming home so that you don’t startle me. So, I hear you coming.” There are ways that you can ask someone to let you know what’s going on with them without having it be. That actually can be a boundary request, as I would call it but I think out there, a lot of people because nobody knows about this, Hilary. Like, people don’t know how to do it. I’ve been on a crusade to teach people how to do it but when you think about exactly what you said, we’ve been indoctrinated into a culture that basically says, “To be a good woman, you must be like this. You must be pleasant. You must be easy. You must be nice.” I mean, think about like, at least when I was growing up, I mean, it was like the highest thing, right? This was like the goal was to have people perceive you as being nice.


Hilary Hendershott: Selfless.


Terri Cole: Right. Oh, selfless. Oh, my God. Stop.


Hilary Hendershott: She’d give you the shirt off her back.


Terri Cole: Yeah. And you’re like, “Betty, keep your effing shirt on.”


Hilary Hendershott: How about keeping your shirt on?


Terri Cole: Why are you stripping and for anybody? We celebrate this like it’s a good thing but it is something we learned. It’s a way that people get positive feedback or people think that it’s amazing. I don’t think that because I’m a psychotherapist. I know that that is dysfunctional and that is disordered. And we can be generous, kind, compassionate, loving, and not give our shirt off our back to anybody.


Hilary Hendershott: Right. It’s okay to make sure your cup is full. If we think about something we might call money boundaries, it’s a little bit different because money is an object, right? I mean, it’s a thing. Now, you have a relationship with money but you also have relationships that impact your money. How do you think about money boundaries?


Terri Cole: I sort of see money boundaries as a part of internal boundaries because what we’re talking about, when we want to master money boundaries and the way we relate to money, we want to do it optimally and effectively. It really is about our relationship with ourselves. So, internal boundaries is the way we relate to ourselves. Do we keep our word to ourselves? Do we do the things we say we’re going to do? Do we treat ourselves as well as we treat other people? And a lot of the times, the answer to that is no. Do we self-sacrifice financially because we’re people pleasers or because we feel overly responsible for the situations, the circumstances, and the feelings of other people, which is really just codependency. That all can impact the way that you relate to money. And then we bring it into the family system.


All of us had family norms around money. All of us were impacted by the way that the adults in our life related to money. Was there enough money? Was there not enough money? Were they overly responsible with money? Were they irresponsible with money? Were your lights getting shut off when you were in third grade? That can really impact you to have a scarcity and scared mindset. I have clients who have tons of money and you wouldn’t know it because inside they never feel like there’s going to be enough and they always feel like they’re going to run out even though they’ve never run out.


Hilary Hendershott: Right. This is the cat food phrase. I’m going to end up eating cat food. It’s such a popular mindset that they’ve coined a phrase about it. And how I think about money boundaries in my life, I think about a few things. I think about the ways I’m willing to play with money, with other people, mostly my husband because he and I are in this financial partnership but also kind of the way I’m willing to get paid or not get paid. So, I don’t show up for less than X. And I also think about the ways that I’m willing to have money go out of my life, what I’m willing to spend on. I mean, I remember the first time I developed this phrase, which I’ve been saying and teaching for years now but it’s like, “I’m not going to put that in my spending plan,” rather than, “I can’t afford it.” And for me, that was kind of a basic you might consider it a blunt instrument, kind of a boundary statement. But what do you think about that reflection on money boundaries?


Terri Cole: Well, if you’re not putting it in your spending plan, right? Is that what you say?


Hilary Hendershott: Yeah, because I was overspending. I was spending money on people to buy their approval. And it was hand over fist.


Terri Cole: Too much.


Hilary Hendershott: Good money after bad. Yeah.


Terri Cole: Yeah, exactly. My feeling is it’s a way more empowering way of looking at it, right? Rather than saying, “I can’t.” Nothing feels good about that. I’m choosing to not be overleveraged because it’s better for your nervous system and your life to not be and your financial success. Right? It is not optimal to be spending money we don’t have on people who really probably sometimes we’re spending it on people who don’t even matter if we’re trying to or I would feel overly responsible because I was such a codependent for many years until I had a sh*t ton of therapy. So, I would feel overly responsible for whether it was my nieces or my nephew, whoever it is, and spending money that then put me in a bad situation with other bills because I didn’t want to see them go without, or I felt bad about the situation that they were in.


And again, that is still having disordered money boundaries because the bottom line is, if you’re doing it at least, and if a kid needs a pair of glasses and that means I go without going out to dinner with my friends, that’s a choice I can consciously make without a problem. No problem. I’m talking about where it’s more if I did something and then I was having trouble to pay my rent in my 20s, you know what I mean?


Hilary Hendershott: And that was me. Yeah.


Terri Cole: Yeah. So, that doesn’t make fiscal sense but it also then creates resentment because a lot of times not with my nieces and nephews per se but if I was doing this with other people, I’d be counting a little bit in my mind that if they didn’t do what I thought they should be doing for me, I would in my mind go, “Ugh, after everything I’ve done for them through all the times I paid for dinner after,” you know what I mean? And I’m like, “Wow. You’re bean-counting like eww.” That means you’re giving from a place of expectation, not giving from a place of true equanimity where you go, like now in my life, if somebody needs money and if I can afford to give you money, I will give you money, right? I will not lend you money. I’ve got zero interest in lending anybody any money. It never works out. There’s always going to be some sh*t show that happens where the relationship is worse off.


Hilary Hendershott: For your interest, no pun intended. I lend at zero interest, zero repayment schedule too.


Terri Cole: Exactly. Because if I can gift it to you, and I love you, and you need it, I will. And then it’s a clean exchange. Because I think that one thing with money is that what I see in my practice is people have a very confusing relationship with money because you also have family systems that use money as covert control. So, you have families of means. And I’ve also seen the opposite families of means who hand down beautifully clean agreements and trust funds that are already done. And they still have rules like you won’t get it until you’re 25 but there’s no manipulation from the generation before. I actually have that one of my sisters married into something where I feel like it’s a very clean agreement. People are all aware of what money is there.


And then of course, this is a very privileged position for people to be in but I’ve also had clients who, if you take that Fifth Avenue apartment from grandpa, then every time grandpa wants you to go on vacation with him, you have to. And every time, like you are at grandpa’s beck and call when…


Hilary Hendershott: Strings attached.


Terri Cole: So many strings. And then my clients would come in and talk about, “I’m so mad that my grandfather has this expectation.” I’m like, “Listen, you’re in a silent agreement with your grandfather about money. Stop taking his money and he will stop having control over you.” Right? Like, that’s it. But they don’t want to. They would like me to come up with a better plan for them than that but I’m like, “There is no better plan.”


Hilary Hendershott: They want the money. Yeah.


Terri Cole: Yeah, they do. “But let’s keep our eyes wide open, though. If you take the money and you know how manipulative and controlling your grandfather is, you are in full agreement with what this is.”


Hilary Hendershott: You have signed a contract.


Terri Cole: Yeah. Correct. Yes.


Hilary Hendershott: Okay. This is from your Boundary Boss Bill of Rights. If you’re listening, listen from the perspective of your relationship with money, you have the right to say no or yes without feeling guilty. You have the right to make mistakes, course correct, or change your mind. You have the right to negotiate for your preferences, desires, and needs. That goes so deep with money and you have the right to prioritize your self-care without feeling selfish. Hello, fellow moms. Are you listening? I think most people, women, in my experience, and I’m just like remembering the circles of women I’ve sat in and talked about money. I mean, it just breaks open all the expectations, all the ways women feel like they have to disappoint their moms, society, men in order to emancipate themselves about money.


How have you seen people, your clients, struggle with this? Where are the places they get stuck? And how do we find the motivation? I heard Jillian Michaels one time. She’s the one with the rock-hard body. She goes, “Just find a motivation. Just find a reason.” And I think when you’re negotiating with yourself, it’s easy to lose the reason because it’s like me or them. But when you put up a boundary and say, “I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to spend on that,” it’s a clear thing that’s happening called, “They’re not getting their way,” whereas I can just self-sacrifice one more time. Anyway, that question was really long, but thank you. I love the Boundary Boss Bill of Rights.


Terri Cole: Right on, sister. So, how do we change it? Let’s start with I think that from a practical point of view, if we’re looking at the way that we relate to money, what we’ve been willing to do with money, and maybe that’s changing now, giving yourself permission to change your mind and change what works for you. Whether it worked for you or not, you have a right to go, “I know I used to pay for that, and I don’t want to pay for that.” I think that the first thing we have to do is through the lens of money, do a quick resentment inventory. Where are we feeling a little edgy, a little something around money? Whether it’s someone not pulling their weight, whether it’s having a grown child living at home who’s not paying rent? There’s a lot of setups.


And I see this with my friends because we all have grown children and you can see like, there’s an over-giving tendency and then there’s a resentment. So, I’m letting you live in my house for free. And then every time an Amazon box comes to the door, I’m pissed. Like, stop spending on Amazon. I had a friend whose daughter is getting married and she’s like, “They’re living here for free. I’m paying for all the frigging food. And Amazon can’t stop delivering to my house and PS it’s never for me.” And I’m like, “Here’s the thing, they should have been paying rent the whole time.”


Hilary Hendershott: Right.


Terri Cole: Right? And her value is, “I want them to be saving money for the wedding and I want them to be…” You know what I mean? You’re like, “Okay. But that’s again, this is a 30-year-old grown adult. You’re not talking about a 20-year-old, right? You’re talking about a 30-year-old where what they do with their money, you letting them live there for free does not give you a right to dictate what they do with their money.” That’s distorted boundaries. So, anyway, anyone listening…


Hilary Hendershott: It blurs the lines.


Terri Cole: Yeah, it’s confusing, but you’re only responsible for what’s on your side of the street. And I think that you really need to look at wherever you feel resentful when it comes to your money. Maybe you have a spouse who’s under-earning, right? I see this a lot in my practice because I have such high-performing women in my therapy practice and in my group, like the people who are in my demographic, basically, that a lot of times there’s resentment if they have an underperforming spouse and they don’t see that a lot of times them saying, “I got it, I got it, I got it,” so much because we’re difficult people to give to. We’re controlling and we want it to be a particular way and we feel like we got it, and you can end up feeling resentful.


So, once you look and go, “Okay. I’ve really realized that I’m resentful of my sister because I lent her $2,000 five years ago, and now she never mentions it and her life goes on. And no one mentions it, meaning I don’t mention it. I’m the person the money is owed to.” Now, you would be like, “Well, if she were a decent person, she would do it.” No, you’re responsible for getting yourself paid back if that was the agreement. Maybe you’re resentful of an under-earning spouse or maybe you’re resentful of a family member who is trying to get more inheritance than someone else. Whatever it is, now, look at those situations and start thinking about what needs to change for them to change. What do I need to do differently? What is my 50% of this dance that I’m doing with this person?


Maybe they’re doing sort of the overt stupid or bad thing but you’re doing the less visible thing by not saying anything, by not letting them know how you feel, by not being clear about your desire or what it is that you want your preference about, whatever the thing is. And that’s the beginning of where I feel like we can start making changes by just understanding where you’re resentful financially.


Hilary Hendershott: That would be profound for most people to do, the list of money resentments. And then as a psychotherapist in your view, when you see people having disordered money boundaries, where do you go looking? In other words, is it important to look for the source of those kinds of things? Is that what in your book, I believe you have the boundary patterns or if there’s a name for the background that you come from?


Terri Cole: It’s a blueprint.


Hilary Hendershott: Blueprint.


Terri Cole: Absolutely. And I do financial blueprints with my clients as well because it totally matters where it comes from. If I look at my own background, I always had the ability to make a lot of money, and until the last ten years, I’d say I wasn’t great at managing it or holding on to it. And part of that was a belief because my mother was a bit anti-rich. She was a bit like not horribly but both of my parents grew up pretty poor. My father ends up doing well. As soon as my father started really making it, my mother had an affair with her boss at the IGA and left him. So, I had all of these. There were these unconscious connections between money and losing things. Like, if you have money, then you probably can’t have a healthy marriage.


So, I think that when you look at your family of origin, what you learned now, that was pretty deep like that’s something that people might be like, “Is there really a connection?” But there absolutely is. And you can look and go, “How did your parents manage?” Or the adults? Because maybe it was a single parent or whatever the adults in your life, how did they manage money? Did they talk about money? Because I learned to be responsible about money. My parents sat down together on the first Sunday of the month and wrote out, right, this is when people wrote checks. People, I know it was back in the olden days, but anyway, broke out all the checks to send out the bills like I was so clear like don’t cheat anyone, pay your friggin taxes, claim all the cash.


I knew from being raised a particular way to country people, basically, but there’s a right way to do it and to work hard. Like, I never had a problem working hard. But the complicated part about my mother who was so important to me, sort of thinking that rich people were worshiping false gods or something, really impacted my ability, I think, psychologically and emotionally to hang on to money. And so, I worked that through in therapy. And then it got way easier to hold on to my money and hire the right people to help me with money, my husband and I, both of us.


Hilary Hendershott: Isn’t it interesting that my father was a financial advisor my whole life, and he never once talked to me about money? Like, nobody ever told me that when you get a credit card, you have to pay the bills off, the balance eventually has to get paid. I promise you, no one ever said that to me. I’ve asked both my parents about that. They’re like, “We know, but you still should have figured that part out.”


Terri Cole: Why do I have to figure it out? Why don’t you just tell me? How do you think I know? It’s not obvious.


Hilary Hendershott: What do you think are the preexisting conditions that lead to people developing healthy money boundaries? In other words, what has to change in order for something that’s been so embedded in someone’s life to change?


Terri Cole: I think you have to want it to change, Hilary. Like, honestly, that’s the beginning, at least for me. I went for years being stressed out about money in this way that I didn’t even understand, but I just thought, “This is the way it is.” And it wasn’t until I decided I really wanted it to be different, and that I didn’t want to work like a beast the way that I had been working forever and ever. Like, that I wanted to have some kind of a plan that would allow me to be more selective in what I did. So, I think that the first thing is the desire. The second thing is a willingness to be uncomfortable. Because when you are a master of the universe so I was someone who anything I put my mind to, I could just get good at. I knew. I changed careers, I used to be a talent agent, then I became a psychotherapist.


But I knew I would just do what I did everywhere. I would just head down work, work, work. I would just do it. And eventually, that work pays off. That didn’t work when it came to figuring out the money thing because I never set my intention on figuring it out. I always set my intention on making more money, which then I did. But it doesn’t help if you don’t manage it well.


Hilary Hendershott: Right. You have to earn it and keep it.


Terri Cole: Yes. You have to earn it and keep it. So, I think that if anyone is struggling and, listen, if you’re listening to this amazing podcast, then your brain is in the right place. You have enough desire and intention to have it change to even be here. So, you’re definitely in the right place. But I think it’s important to look at where you struggle. Where do you stumble with money? And I’m going to give you a little tool that you can use. You can ask yourself these questions. How is this familiar to me? Where have I felt like this before or where have I witnessed this before? This is so specific to what most of us grew up. Whatever your situation is, they’re all going to be different.


But if the adult in your life had to go Chapter 11, they had to, let’s say, declare bankruptcy, that might be something that is in the realm of something that makes sense to do when you’re in a bad position, right? Because you learned it. My parents, that would be considered bad. I’m not judging anyone for doing it, but I would never do it because even if I needed to do it, I probably wouldn’t do it because that would be considered from a family situation I would feel judged.


Hilary Hendershott: It’s not a possibility.


Terri Cole: Yes.


Hilary Hendershott: Where some people will have the neural pathways built up around it.


Terri Cole: Yes, to say. So, when you start to see familiarity, especially if you add another. So, that’s one tool. I call that the three Qs where I felt like this before. Usually, we ask this about people. So, the first question is who does this person remind me of? But you can just use it in a situation. What does this situation remind me of? But another tool that you can use if you find yourself over and over again in some kind of an undesirable situation, and because we’re talking about money, it could be a financial situation, but it could be any situation, you’re going to figure out what the secondary gain is. So, the way that you do that, and we’ll put all this stuff in the show notes for you is you ask, “What do I get to not face, not feel, or not experience by staying stuck here, by staying stuck in this behavior that I say I don’t want?”


So, if we’re overspending, I used to just overspend, right? I used to just do what I wanted like I didn’t care. I didn’t look as to whether I could afford to do the thing or the trip. I was always spontaneously traveling to places. And I loved it. I wanted to, but what did I get to not face, not feel, or not experience? The truth of my financial situation when I was 25. I got to avoid the truth and I was so instant gratification-oriented at that time of my life that I couldn’t put off the gratification, and instead, I charged it and went to Greece anyway, even though I couldn’t afford it. Now, I’m not saying I regret that but that’s not the way I wanted to live long-term.


Hilary Hendershott: Did you say you went to Greece anyway? Did you?


Terri Cole: I went to Greece anyway multiple times because I was dating someone.


Hilary Hendershott: Oh.


Terri Cole: I just kept going back to Thessaloniki. Like, please stop.


Hilary Hendershott: Thank you for this. It sounds awesome but I can’t afford it.


Terri Cole: Exactly.


Hilary Hendershott: I have heard on your show sometimes you give people actual scripts, right? I think it’s hard. Like, sometimes people can lead with, “I know what I want to say right now.” And so, your book starts with a story about how you were a bridesmaid eight times in your 20s and that you didn’t want to do it and couldn’t afford it but you didn’t want to tell those girls no, the brides, no.


Terri Cole: Yeah.


Hilary Hendershott: So, I was just wondering, if you could go back, your empowered self now, to those times when they said, “Terri, will you be a bridesmaid?” And you said, “I haven’t seen you since we worked in that restaurant together when we were 18 or whatever,” what would you say to them? That would also preserve the relationship.


Terri Cole: Well, the thing is, with that person, I was like, why am I even trying to preserve? I barely have a relationship with you. I haven’t seen you in years.


Hilary Hendershott: Oh, really?


Terri Cole: But anyway, I would say we can always start with something sweet if it’s true, right? So, I would always start with kindness. I would always start with, “Thank you so much for thinking of me. It’s an honor to be considered. And yet I must decline because I’m not in a position right now in my life to do it, and I don’t want to do it badly. This is the most important. Like, I will come to the wedding if I’m invited like I’m so excited for you, but I do not have the bandwidth or the financial bandwidth to do it the way that I would want to do it right now. I hope you can understand.”


Hilary Hendershott: That’s graceful. I liked the impact of the phrase to do it the way I would want to do it because it made me feel as if I’m putting myself in the position of the person asking you like, “Oh, she’s not just rejecting me. This is actually an honorable communication. It’s a regrettable communication but I feel honored in the communication.”


Terri Cole: Yes. And we can always do that though, Hilary. Like, the truth is I think that we have to bust the myth of that setting boundaries is b*tchy or setting boundaries is aggressive, or setting boundaries is you like saying, “No, no, no,” and punching people in the face verbally like it’s not. We can always do it with kindness. We can always do it with love, and we can do it with more heat if it’s necessary, right? Bob from accounting, I don’t need to do it with love and heat if he’s being gross, right? If I want to tell him to stop talking about my body, I don’t have to be so concerned about walking on eggshells. I don’t. But again, I feel like for many women in particular, we’re so conditioned to be nice and to not do anything that’s offensive, especially white women.


It’s like you have to think about that there’s always a way for you to do it with kindness. And also, a lot of times I’m setting boundaries with people I love. I don’t want to hurt your feelings. I don’t want to make you feel bad like that’s not my intention but I’m also not going to say yes when I really need to say no because what happens when we set ourselves up with that people-pleasing scenario is that ultimately, the people in your life, you’re giving them corrupted data about who you are. And I’ve had women in their six or seventh decade of life coming into my therapy practice being like I’ve done all the things, checked all the boxes, had a career, quit to have kids, have great kids. They all went to Ivy League schools.


Many get it like all the things or like I’m on the boards. I’d go to SoulCycle three times a week. I still kind of like my spouse. We travel, whatever. Like, I’ve done it all. Why do I feel so empty? Like, literally, I’m 65. Is this all there is? And I think when I say something different but I think you feel empty because you built your life checking boxes that someone else constructed and nobody friggin knows you. You’re endlessly self-abandoning, taking one for the team. This is more important. That’s more important. Never asserting. Not asserting yourself as to what you really want and who you really are. And at the end of the day, it is an existential crisis to not be known by the closest people in your life. That is painful and avoidable.


Hilary Hendershott: Wow. I feel like if you’re listening, you probably want to rewind a couple of minutes and listen to that three or four times. That was profound. Thank you for that. And related to that, your marriage relationship, if you are listening and however you define that, if you have a partner you live with and you’re doing finances with that person, it’s not only a romantic and sexual partnership, it’s also a financial partnership. And I think some people don’t give that its proper due, that you’re actually you’re entering into multiple facets of a relationship. And so, a lot of people really struggle because finances don’t work in their relationship. And I’ve shared on the show about how Robert and I work it out and if I’m putting you on the spot, let me know. You talk a lot about your happy marriage with Vic, and I’m wondering if you have lessons from the trenches about how you two navigated the tough curves around money.


Terri Cole: Dude, we have been through it. We both have some really interesting money karma, and we really have been through hell and back. We had our entire retirement embezzled from us, our entire retirement in 2011-2012 by Vic’s best man.


Hilary Hendershott: Oh, dear me.


Terri Cole: Yeah. R.I.P. He’s dead, so whatever. But it was a really bad situation. And I’ll tell you the way we had that. And there’s more than that but we really do have had like a hell of a go. And we both are very successful at what we do, and we both have great earning potential and have earned tons of money in our lives together and collectively. But in that situation where our lack of paying attention to our money and we’re both – he’s really conflict-avoidant. I’m less so now, of course, many years later but we just trusted this person who…


Hilary Hendershott: And he had check writing ability or something like that?


Terri Cole: It was one of those things where it was you rolled over your IRA into something that he could access but use it for business and it was like, I mean, listen, we had lawyers that all looked really legit. It was not. So, there really was an intent to defraud, which is even more painful. The way that Vic and I handled that though together is he was so terrible, so ashamed. I was like, “Listen, we both agreed to this investment. This was not like you did this like you gambled money away. Don’t even worry about it.” And I said, “And listen, we have to decide that we have everything that matters because we do, both healthy, kids are good. We’re in love. Like, we both have careers that we adore. Like, hello, an amazing earning potential. So, we’re not going to turn on each other in this situation. I don’t blame you.”


I was like, “And stop acting like you think I do because I do not. I take my responsibility too. But let’s not let it rob us of our joy. We will build back big. We have great earning potential. We will hire the right people. We will figure it out but let this be a wakeup call for us that unattended money disappears. So, we must love.” Yes?


Hilary Hendershott: To frame that.


Terri Cole: It goes away. As you would say, love your money, which to me means pay attention to your money. Give gratitude to your money to what it allows you to do. And, yes, I’m a hard worker. The money I have, well, I didn’t inherit it. I’ve made it and Vic as well. But it shifted the way we related to it. It shifted the way I did business. I needed to change the whole money model of the way that I was doing my therapy practice at that time. I did. I switched from pay-per-play to only dealing with people on retainer. And it became therapeutically informed coaching. Like, yeah, there were many changes that I made that were kind of bold and there were changes I think I was really afraid to make before that but there’s nothing like being broke to give you some courage where you’re like, “Ooh, better get it together, girl.”


Hilary Hendershott: The time is now.


Terri Cole: There is no more time. What do they say? Necessity is the mother of invention. So, I got very inventive. But what it made us do, both of us, we both had a lot of therapy, and he totally got what I was saying. I was like, “Nothing defines us. What defines us is what we say defines us. Let’s just revel in the good things that we have. Give gratitude. Pay attention to our money now. Get the right people to help us get out of this hole,” which we did. And obviously, that was 13 years ago or whatever it was. And it was super painful. I mean, it was very, very scary. But we figured it out. So, how we do it now is we have things separate because I’ve got business accounts and then we’ve got the home account and certain things that home account he’s more responsible for, like paying for the mortgage and cars and different things. And then I pay for different things.


But we have it all worked out between us. Our mindset, though, and this is different for every couple, I feel very much like my money is Vic’s money and Vic’s money is my money. There’s never for us from the very beginning. We both say because we mismanaged our money but we both were very generous and didn’t feel like he paid for a lot in the beginning because I actually was sick in the beginning of my marriage. I had cancer, and when we started I had stopped being a talent agent and I was a therapist that was trying to build my practice but then I had to put it on hold because I was getting treatment. I’m healthy now. Thank God. But never once he was like, “It could stay like this forever. Not a problem.” But I was like, “But it can’t because I’ve got my ambitions,” which I was able to then go on to.


And then he’s ten years older than me. And so, I’m in a different sort of phase of season of my life, and he’s in a different season. Like, I want him because he’s worked like a beast for 50-something years, I want him to do what he wants. I want him to do a bunch of pro-bono work and he goes on location. He goes into war zones. He’s a visual journalist. He’s an artist. So, I think that those are also conversations that when it comes to fiscal health in a marriage, you need to have an open dialog around everything, including money. I call this the State of the Union, which we do every two weeks. We do it on Sunday in bed, where we talk about everything, including money. How are we doing? Can we afford to take that trip or do that thing?


With Vic and I, we try not to be, but we both are workaholics, honestly, by nature so we really have to be like, we have to plan a trip. We haven’t been. Right now, I haven’t been away on really a trip for just the two of us. We’re always traveling to see the kids and whatever grandkids, but we haven’t been away, honestly, the two of us, a real vacation since 2017, I don’t think. It’s time.


Hilary Hendershott: Oh wow. State of the Union. We need a vacation.


Terri Cole: Yes.


Hilary Hendershott: Well, are you complete? That was lovely. Thank you. I just want to point out a couple of things. First of all, I mean, the way you articulated the lessons that you learned, I’m so, so sorry for what happened to you. And it sounds like you turned it into something really beautiful like love your money, love your life, love your career, love where you are. So, that was profound but also the radical responsibility you took because so many people would be like blame-y. I mean, that was his friend, right?


Terri Cole: Yeah. It’s funny. Hilary, we had an opportunity. We did go legal because we were trying to get restitution.


Hilary Hendershott: Of course.


Terri Cole: And then the lawyer said, “Well, there’s also, though, there’s also a criminal case.” And so, we can pursue a criminal case. I looked at Vic and he looked at me and he was like, “Do you want him to go to jail?” I was like, “Absolutely not.” And I was like, “Do you?” He was like, “No way.” Like, even though he did a terrible thing, we know his children like, “No.” No, we just were hoping we’d get a little bit of that lots of money back. We were hoping that. But for what? Revenge? No. You know where that lives? You know where revenge lives? Your mind, your body, your life. Like, I don’t want to go to court and be like, “I want you to suffer.” I’m sure the way he felt about what he did, he suffered plenty before he passed away. And that’s my side of the street, right? But it’s so interesting that I’m so well matched with my husband that we both were like, “Oh, absolutely no. No.” Now, that’s not interesting to me and him either, you know.


Hilary Hendershott: Thank you. Wow, that got even deeper. I feel like that’s a perfect segue for my signature question or that I ask my guests on the Love, your Money podcast, which is if your money were writing you a love note, what would it be thanking you or complimenting you for?


Terri Cole: “Thank you so much for paying attention to me. It’s about damn time.” It’s probably what it would have to say. “Better late than never, girl.”


Hilary Hendershott: Thank you for singing. And speaking of paying attention, we’re going to be paying attention to you a few days after this episode drops. You are hosting an event. Will you tell my listeners about it?


Terri Cole: Yes, I actually have a free training that’s happening, which you guys can get at TerriCole.com/training. I’ve been talking a lot about father wounds and because I personally have a father wound and my whole crew, a lot of women in my crew have father wounds. So, if you feel like you do, this is just a free thing that I’m putting on for my community and you are welcome to join us. TerriCole.com/Training, all about causes of father wounds, consequences of father wounds, and basically, how do you get on a healing path. Because I feel like a lot of times we don’t realize what is impacting the way that we’re relating to other people in our lives. We don’t realize that there is an original injury that needs our attention, and even if we do, we don’t know how to give it attention. And that’s what I’m going to be talking about in this training.


Hilary Hendershott: Incredible. All right. We’re sending everyone there. Don’t delay because if you’re listening, it is happening this week. Terri, thank you for joining me on Love, your Money.


Terri Cole: I loved it so much, Hilary. Thank you.


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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