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Boundaries and Money – 3 Things to Do – Interview Attorney Christine Kingston March 2018

Categories: Interview, Podcast
Katherine: Hello, everyone, and thank you again for joining us on This Needs to Be Said. We’re here with our friend, Attorney Kingston, and she’s coming back to have a conversation with us about our boundaries and money. But we’re going to go a little bit further. Our last conversation was about our relationship with money and how we make better decisions with our money and not be upset when those decisions come back home to roost.

I want to have us pick up where we left off, Attorney Kingston, so welcome back. You gave us three things to do, so if you could hit those three bullet points, just highlight them and then take us into the next part of boundaries and money.

Attorney Kingston: Thank you, Katherine. Always glad to talk to you. Earlier, we were talking about the boundaries and how do you do that. So the first thing we talked about was making a conscious decision and a choice to transform or make a change. The second thing that was more important would be to also live inside those means, which is to set a budget. Set the boundaries for where do you want to go. And it looks a lot like setting goals. Then the third thing is taking the time to let those decisions and choices ferment, and I call it making soup out of it, where we put all the ingredients in the pot of soup and we let it simmer for eight hours. Sometimes, we have to sleep on big choices and take our time. Sometimes, after the time passes, we might make a different choice.

So maybe you wanted that latte at 3:00 in the afternoon and about 3:30, you changed your mind and you got into something else. So that’s good, then you didn’t spend the money. Because people change their mind all the time, so those were the three how-to’s. Then we can pick up from there and we talked about maybe making some choices before you get to that point where you made some bad choices and now you have to change direction.

Katherine: All right. Want to make sure I didn’t interrupt you. So we’re getting back into our discussion of boundaries and money. We were going to lead into student loans and education. As I’m thinking about that, when I began my education, things shifted as far as what schools offered. And you can go to community college first, then university. Those kind of things. But sometimes, it feels like your hands are tied, so really you talked with us about student loan debt and bankruptcy before, but can we really avoid our student loans or can we make better choices if we want higher education? It just seems like everybody’s going to go in debt. They’re just going to be in debt. So how do I make boundaries with my education and the financial part of it?
Attorney Kingston: Yeah. And this is the hard part because we’re asking young people that are under the age of 18 while they’re in high school to make a choice about their life. And that is a huge fork in the road for most young people. Making that decision, do you go to college or do you not go to college? And what am I going to do with the rest of my life? I don’t know, maybe the deeper thinkers are even asking, “What can I contribute while I’m here on the planet?” Those are the deeper decisions that, when people have that deeper, heartfelt exploration, then I think again, it goes back to the third part of how to really set some wonderful boundaries for yourself is to think about what it is that you want to do with your life and are you … what price are you willing to pay for that? What I mean is, we love our teachers. Our teachers perform a wonderful service, but they don’t get paid very well.
Katherine: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Attorney Kingston: So, when someone decides that they want to be a teacher, a lot of them don’t get paid very well. Then others, I’ve seen teachers, obviously through bankruptcy. I’ve seen teachers who make $80,000 or more per year. But the way that they’re paid creates a challenge because they get paid maybe 10 months out of the year and they go two months with no income.
Katherine: I think they get paid once or twice a month and not like every two weeks kind of thing, so all of that.
Attorney Kingston: Yeah.
Katherine: I think, look what … it struck a chord.
Attorney Kingston: Yes, exactly. And when they come to me and think they’re out of control, I remind them that this is your income for the year. Divide it by 12 and that’s your monthly budget. Or the people that get paid biweekly, you know, the people that get the 26 paychecks a year? Maybe they get the-
Katherine: Yeah.
Attorney Kingston: Extra paycheck in the middle of it? Well, they take it as like a bonus and go, “Wee.” And then it’s gone. Well, actually, what they’re spending is another month’s income that they need to hold onto for that month when it’s not there.
Katherine: Christine-
Attorney Kingston: Yes
Katherine: You’re trying to make me be punished.
Attorney Kingston: I know, but it’s like a diet. Everybody suffers, right?
Katherine: Yeah, right.
Attorney Kingston: But it’s just reality. It’s another perspective that … it’s a way of looking at it. And I think if I were to add a little to, it would really be … and it goes into that metaphor with the pot of soup. That’s why we take all the ingredients and stick it in. If we had that pot of soup was made out of glass, now you can see it from 360 degrees and you say, “Wow, I don’t see celery.” But if you look at the back of the pot, there’s the celery hidden on the other side.

Do I have everything in here? So you’re looking at it from all angles, including another person’s perspective, so if they were to treat their money again like if it were someone else’s, which is what I do, then you’re looking at it from, “Oh. I make $80,000 a year.” And I need to divide that and put myself on a budget that way. If I just reconsider how the money comes in and then look at how the money goes out, you make those choices.

So, going back and talking about the student loans and education. All the advice, and you and I are probably similar in age, right around the net range. The advice. My son is 26, he’s a Millennial. Used to be when we grew up, what? You go to college, get a career, sit in there and get your pension. Retire. You’re good.

Katherine: Right.
Attorney Kingston: That doesn’t happen anymore. Pensions are gone.
Katherine: No.
Attorney Kingston: Full-time work is gone, practically. We’ve got the whole me-gig type of economy, where it’s a gig economy and I think that that doesn’t create stability. It’s taken stability out from underneath people. It’s taken benefits away from people. There’s no more healthcare being provided by employers. My son’s about to get kicked off our health insurance and with the minimum wage fast-food job, there’s no healthcare provided. So, he’s going to be going without insurance for a while or he can go on one other program might be available.
Katherine: Right.
Attorney Kingston: So the advice, again back to the point we’re talking about is, we can’t give our children the same advice that our parents gave us. That doesn’t work anymore.
Katherine: Absolutely not. Yeah.
Attorney Kingston: Right. And we have to go back to being self-responsible. Where do we want to go in life? I find that these people want an education because we still value education in America, and I couldn’t agree more. But going to Art Institute or Le Cordon Bleu for an $80,000 chef’s education when all you’re going to get when you get out of that chef education is a $9, $10 an hour job, minimum wage. Then do you really … and the next question would be do you really need that in order to become a chef? Right?
Katherine: Right.
Attorney Kingston: We figure out what do we want and what do we need to get what we want? And what price are we willing to pay? Because you can go to Le Cordon Bleu and get an $80,000 a year, I mean … yes. $80,000 a year education for a $10 an hour job. Or you can go get a job at a fast-food restaurant at $10 an hour, where you’re getting paid to learn.
Katherine: Right.
Attorney Kingston: Huge difference. One is $80,000 in debt and working at that same fast-food restaurant. The other one skipped college and is working at that same fast-food restaurant, who wins? Right, the one without the debt…
Katherine: Right. Correct. Because it’s not the same money. We’re making the same money but we have different debt. It’s not the same because you have to distribute it more and we ended up at the same place. I want to add to your point of what do I have to do to get that thing? In this instance, it’s being a chef. When I started my education, there’s a community college here that was on a quarter system, not a semester system. So it didn’t equally translate and there’s so many more opportunities now to make that better choice than what was available for me back then. So if I wanted to be a chef back then, I would have to go to Le Cordon Bleu or Johnson and Wells or somewhere else. There wasn’t a community college that would even give me an associate’s degree. And now there is.

Do I need four years or do I need two years so they can better questions to ask? So you’re absolutely dead on when you said the advice our parents gave us, we cannot give to our children because it was changing even with us. In the middle, like I said, I went from quarter system and now that community college offers the semester system. So it can equally translate if you want to transfer to a four-year school or you could leave them with a two-year degree. And go into that field you want to. So it’s just different now and it’s showing you without saying it. And we have to ask those better questions. You can get what you would have paid four years for, for half the price or even a fourth of the price.

So if they have the opportunity to make a better choice. You brought that up. I was like, “I lived that.” I’ve live that.

Attorney Kingston: Spot on. Exactly. And that’s exactly the point that we’re making today. Let’s spend as much time making important decisions as we spend shopping for shoes. It’s that simple.
Katherine: Absolutely.
Attorney Kingston: Spend as much time on your future, as much time on creating your life by setting your own goals and boundaries. Spend as much time doing that as you do shopping for other things or spending time watching cat videos on YouTube.
Katherine: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Attorney Kingston: That will make a difference. Thank you.
Katherine: Yeah. And two things I heard today as we wrap up this interview is parents. The advice our parents gave us. You have to give a different approach to your children because they’re in a different situation. It’s not like it was when we were younger and definitely not like when our parents were coming along and they could live off of their retirement with Social Security. So, let’s give our children a better chance with their boundaries when it comes to money, especially education because that’s going to be one of the first debts they get faced with as an adult.

And then our young people who are listening, ask questions. It’s about asking the right questions. Ask better questions. How can I achieve that? How many ways can I achieve this? Do I need a four-year degree, two-year degree, trade school, on-the-job training? Ask questions. How can I get here? And do I have to do it any one way? So before we get out of here, I want to say thank you so much again for coming on, Attorney Kingston, and talking with us. While you are a very warm and fuzzy, affectionate bankruptcy attorney, you come and you bring us information that’s going to make us sit up straighter and ask better questions and not sit back on letting our credit be ruined by student loans and making better financial decisions. And now you’ve gone to our next generation and said, “Hey, talk to your children.” Because we want to make sure that they are having better boundaries because it’s not out of our control or out of our hands. Even though we may have thought so.

Tell people how to get in touch with you. I know that was a huge mouthful.

Attorney Kingston: I agree wholeheartedly and I am so grateful to serve. Thank you always. I am Christine Kingston. You can find me on the web at www.surfcitylawyers.com. That’s spelled S-U-R-F-C-I-T-Y, lawyers plural, L-A-W-Y-E-R-S dot com. Or you can just phone the office. We always provide free consultations. 714-533-9210. Thanks again, Katherine.
Katherine: Awesome. And until next time. Have a wonderful day.