Randi’s Journey Out of Money Shame and Debt (+ Why Self-kindness
and Someone Else’s Vulnerability Were Her Saviors)

written by Bari Tessler January 20, 2020
Randi’s journey out of money shame and debt (+ why self-kindness and someone else’s vulnerability were her saviors)

Something magical happens when we dare to get real and speak the truth about money. In this intimate conversation series, Money Memoirs, I chat with people from all walks of life about their money journeys: the good, the tough, the soulful, and the nitty-gritty. We share this beloved series every year to celebrate the opening of The Art of Money, which you can read all about here. Curl up with a cuppa as we pull back the curtain … and get ready to get inspired.

Dearest Community,

We are now open for registration to my year-long, global money school: The Art of Money 2020. YESSS!

More on that in a jiff.

But first I want to celebrate our doors opening with our beloved Money Memoir interview series!

Welcome back to my beloved Money Memoirs Series! Today I have the joy of interviewing Randi Buckley.

Randi is a beautiful soul, whom I have known since 2011.

A Mentor, Author, Speaker and Associate Dean, I was drawn to her “Maybe Baby” course from the moment it launched into the world.

For my whole life I had been certain I didn’t want to have kids…until I woke up on my 38th birthday and did! So it’s safe to say the program resonated and spoke to me.

And then I started to see her teaching on “Healthy Boundaries for Kind People” and I knew we had even more in common. I’d been working on healthy boundaries for decades!

I actually invited Randi to be on the very first Money Memoirs Series 2013 — but at the time she was in the fog of early motherhood (mamas out there, you remember!)…

…but it’s perfect, because when I invited her on again this year, the timing worked, and here we are!

In this intimate conversation, we shine a light on the immense shame she felt around the stifling debt she accumulated in her 20s, how she emerged on the other side, and why kindness is an equation that MUST include you.

Also available on iTunes & Spotify!

Transcription Here:

Bari
Hi, everyone. Welcome to my beloved Money Memoir Series. Today, I have the honor of interviewing Randi Buckley. I’m going to read her bio first and then welcome her on.

Randi Buckley is a mentor, author, speaker and associate dean, whose work helps women find their truth and be at peace with it. She’s the creator of Healthy Boundaries for Kind People, Maybe Baby and the Viking Woman Workshop. Randi also has a podcast called Sideways Truth.

She is momma to Robin and in her free time untangles whales from fishing gear in the Monterey Bay.

I want to say that Randi and I met, I think, back in 2011. I had a two and a half year old. You must have been pregnant at that time when we first met.

Randi
I think I had a very young newborn.

Bari
Okay, when we very first met you were in the very first few months. Clearly first year. Yeah. I remember inviting you to the very first Money Memoir series that I did back in 2013 and that’s when you were in what you and I have described as “the fog” of early motherhood where we barely remember our name, let alone anything else that’s going on at that time.

I was so happy that when I reached out to you again this time – and I always just go on a little walk and say, “Who do I know in my community? Who am I supposed to be interviewing next?” You popped up and then when I reached out to you, you sent me such a beautiful letter saying thank you for asking you again, your son is older now and you’re out of that fog.

Welcome so much to you, Randi.

Randi
Thank you so much for thinking of me the first time and for giving me another chance. That’s pretty amazing. Thank you.

Bari
You’re welcome. Those first few years – I can’t even believe that you were interacting those first few years. Really, yeah, my son didn’t start sleeping until three and I didn’t get online until he was 2.5. There was the timing of when online – my transition from being local, all over California and driving and having my baby and moving online.

When you stepped into that world as well – I know you’ve had a business long before getting online as well.

Randi
Yes.

Bari
Let’s begin. Please share a snapshot of your life and family and work right now.

Randi
Sure. I live in Pacific Grove, California, which is the very tip of the Monterey Peninsula. My husband went through grad school here 20+ years ago and I came to visit and thought, “This would work.” There are sea otters frolicking. There are seals. This would work.

It took a while for us to get here, but we’ve been here about 15 years now. You mentioned Robin. People ask about his name. It’s an old Viking name. I have a strong connection to Nordic culture. I speak Norwegian. I’m very interested in Viking mysticism and mythology.

Yes, I have this business that I absolutely adore, which is a big manifestation of who I am that gets to do something I really love to do. That is reach out globally across the world. Yeah, it’s pretty fun.

Bari
Wonderful. When you arrived in California, I was still there but I was in Santa Cruz at that time.

Randi
We were across the bay.

Bari
I know! We were not that far from each other. An hour drive – not even – back in the day.

Anything else about – I know there are probably long stories to all of this, but your journey from working a lot in the corporate world as a consultant before you got online. Anything you want to share about that?

Randi
Sure. When I finally discovered that there was this thing called coaching, it basically had been the red thread through everything that I’ve ever done in my whole life. Really, since I can remember being on the playground, kids would come and pull me aside and say, “My parents are mad at me. What should I do?” Second grade. Just helping people kind of figure things out.

That’s been a part of every job I’ve had – which are quite varied – for a while. I just thought, “If there was just some way I could do that, that would be amazing. That’s what I want to do, but I have to do these other jobs.” Some of them were absolutely soul-sucking, which does not feel good to be in.

When I finally hung up my coaching shingle, so to speak – right before I went into coaching, I had been in the **** industry. I had studied with an Ayurvedic doctor for years, a doctor for the national massage board, intestine massage therapist afterwards. I knew a lot about this and I studied human anatomy and physiology.

This wellness idea and healing idea was really interesting to me. I found myself in the spa world where I was going to spas globally and teaching them ayurvedic treatments. Also, I ended up coaching spa directors on how to work with staff and staff with how to work with spa directors. I found the spa world to be incredibly toxic.

Finally, I hung up my shingle as a coach. I did some local work around here as I was getting my footing and then I started doing executive coaching for Fortune 5 companies. I found myself there, which was fascinating.

But, by the time I discovered I was pregnant and I knew I did not want to be traveling like that, it was time to take it online. That’s where our paths crossed.

Bari
Ah, I did not know that. I knew that you were doing some consulting for large companies – which I never ventured into. I didn’t know about your whole relationship to the spa industry. I didn’t know that part.

Randi
Yeah. What was interesting is that really opened up my door into Hollywood and I ended up doing a lot of work in Hollywood coaching and bringing the wellness work for others – under others’ umbrella – to the set of Friends. I was at the Academy Awards. We were doing all of this big picture stuff. That became a foothold, having developed all sorts of trust and where a lot of my clients starting coming from.

Bari
Got it. One of the things that I’ve been drawn to you and your work from the beginning is that you were speaking about boundaries, I think, since I met you. I remember Maybe Baby. I was an older mom; I was not going to have children and then at 38 I woke up and changed my mind; just stepped into my 38th year and changed my mind and then had to convince my husband. We had been together for 7 years and had basically said no children on our second date.

I had to drop many, many seeds. He wasn’t picking up until the very end of the year. Then we went and did some therapy.

Randi
Yeah. It’s a tough thing to switch gears into.

Bari
It’s a tough thing and I know you did that. My husband presented me with a 30 page thesis of why we should not have children. I read one world and I was like, “Oh, I’m not reading this crap. This is your issues, you story. Let’s go do therapy.”

I think that was the beginning. It was like you were helping so many women navigate these waters of the old model of choosing – there was that, which I was fascinated with. It was the boundary work that I just felt like, “Oh, my God. No one else is speaking to this in this way. This is so essential on how we cultivate our knowingness and sense of our value.” It’s so important as we age – Boundaries are important teenage years on.

I want to hear some more. No, I want to hear some of your beginning teachings around boundaries. I know you’re in the middle of writing a book and I know you’ve been doing courses and training people.

Randi
Sure. Thank you for asking. I still do the Maybe Baby book today and that was really, when I look at that now, I see how that was such a foundation for people discovering what their boundaries were, what they wanted them to be and then how they honor that in a way that is consistent with what you value.

That’s where I really started to see that there’s something else in there that could be offered. I’ll explain a little bit more in just a second. In terms of my early work with boundaries, it’s totally my parents. I’ve been interviewed a few times on podcasts where I’m pretty sure that the interviewers were really disappointed that I don’t have some boundaries horror story. I’ve always been really good at it – or pretty good at it – and I think that stemmed from my father was in the military and I moved around quite a bit.

I was constantly reestablishing myself in new schools, in new friend groups and new cultures. I have a sister who moved with us. The way we would land some places would be very different. She was very much wanting to make friends right away. She would almost bend over backwards to do it. It was just very important to her to have that friend community, where I was a little bit more discerning. I don’t think it was necessarily snobbish or anything. I just really saw where I connected and where I wanted to connect. I was not in quite a rush.

One of us is extroverted and one of us is introverted and I’m sure that played a big role in that. I was much more aligned with people who shared the same values or similar humor. Really, where I would feel respected.

When it comes back to my parents, it’s a combination. From my dad, I learned how to not take crap from people. He was a nurse and also a Navy Seal. I could see how just by not saying anything, the way he carried himself, he had some respect.

My mom is the nicest woman on the planet and she was also very good at boundaries. I saw how that came together.

Where it really crystalized for me in starting to make healthy boundaries for kind people is, first of all, my big tenant there is… First, I should say that the way boundaries are conveyed or the advice that’s given is kind of conventional way and is wildly unkind to people who value kindness. If you don’t feel like something is kind, compassionate or empathetic and that’s of really high value to you, you’re not going to do it. You’re not going to want to become that person that you don’t want to become. If boundaries look like becoming a jerk, you’re not going to do it. Even at the cost of yourself.

Then, what really crystalized it was my sister – and she has given me permission to talk about this – who is this incredibly strong spit-fire, smart woman, was in a string of wildly abusive relationships that I did not understand. When she was in the thick of it, I couldn’t be the big sister I wanted to be because it would have alienated her. I couldn’t say, “What is going on? How can you let this happen?” It would have helped absolutely no one.

I started to curating all the things I wanted to say to her and couldn’t. I started writing them down. That really became the foundation of the boundaries teaching. She’s this incredibly kind person and in these particular relationships, the boundaries had been eroded. That was the beginning of Healthy Boundaries for Kind People.

Bari
That is beautiful in that you – you’re the introvert, right? She’s an extrovert. For you to be learning and watching from your parents – like we all do – but getting such clear teachings that really worked for you around boundaries. You were able to pause, go slower, observe, watch, have discernment as you were going into all of these new situations over and over every time you moved. She was the opposite.

It sounds like a dear sister, like Dear Sister Letters. That could be one version of the book. I don’t know if you’re going in that direction. Just Dear Sister.

Randi
It sure could be. I like that.

Bari
I’m sure you’re already way into it. I’m sure the structure has already been determined. It’s just beautiful. Just Dear Sister. What I see, what I want for you, what I want to say to you.

Some of the people that come to you, do you feel that they also just have a harder time with making boundaries from a loving and kind place? I used to say the elegant no. I’m learning how to say, “No, thank you,” and elegant no, a lot better. I used to always add the world elegant in it. Which is maybe similar to kind.

At first, boundaries are so intense and there’s so much anger. It’s valid sometimes, the first response being anger and a huge boundary in the sand. We have to back up and then come to a kinder response.

Can you give us some beginning teaching around boundaries? I know you have so many and you share quotes and you share teachings daily on social media.

Randi
Sure. I’m happy to. You may be opening Pandora’s Box.

Bari
I know.

Randi
One of the big things that I alluded to is that for people who value kindness, even if you don’t feel like you’re being – that comes up for people too. Or compassion or justice – fill in the blank what’s important to you. If that was just a kindness, if your kindness does not include you, it is incomplete. The Buddhists have a saying that if you compassion does not include you, it is incomplete.

I wrote on that because I have been saying that kindness is an equation that must include you. If we’re letting somebody that is doing something – in my case because I have such a value on kindness – unkind, we’re basically letting them perpetuate it. At the same time, we have to also extend that toward ourselves so what we’re experiencing in life is really balanced on both sides.

That was the confusing explanation. Really making sure that what you value includes you within that boundary. Then the boundary becomes a scaffolding so that you’re creating more of that value in your life.

Bari
Okay. I know there’s so many directions we can go here around boundaries. This may be obvious, but do you see it as a practice? This is something that we’re practicing daily, weekly, monthly over and over in our relationships and work? People have said to me, “You’re so good with your boundaries,” and I’ll say, “I’ve been practicing this for years.” A lot of my learning came from overstepping my own boundaries or violating something that wasn’t right for me. It’s learning from it over and over.

Randi
Absolutely. It’s a practice. When I teach Healthy Boundaries for Kind People, I have this thing that I call the… I can’t remember what I call. I use metaphors and analogies to teach the boundaries. One of the, where we start is: What do boundaries actually mean? I think we have this definition and if the definition doesn’t feel good, you’re not going to do it.

I have people really define what they want boundaries to mean. I’m not pedantic. I’m very open to what the definition is because it has to work for them or it’s not going to work. We work on defining that, what we want it to be and what it will afford us. When people can not come up with an idea yet – that’s the thing; it’s working definition that can change over time. I’d say, “Just let boundaries mean respect and see what changes from that in and of itself.

Sometimes that’s enough. Or it might change.

Metaphor Methodology, that’s it. I use metaphors and analogies.

Another one I think is really important is that boundaries are like a spine. They must be able to bend and flex to support you.

I think a big hang up we have on boundaries is that whatever we initially say or initially set, we have to adhere to that same thing throughout life.

Bari
But they can change. They have to change.

Randi
They have to change. We have to be able to evolve. Like a spine, a spine affords us a lot of flexibility. But, at the same time, it’s giving us structure. It has to be able to ebb and flow. It’s never the same river twice. We’ll never walk into that same thing. The boundaries – whatever they are, how you define them – have to be able to meet you in the moment as opposed to, “Oh, gosh. If I do anything different, now I’m a hypocrite.”

Bari
Okay. I want to give one example and then we’ll continue. One example that’s coming up for me just happened just recently. Someone asked me to be on a radio podcast show. I looked at it, it looked great and then they wrote back and said, “Okay, your 10 minute portion will be here.” I knew right away that 10 minutes isn’t my thing. I like at least 30 minutes to an hour. I like to go deeper, slower. I don’t like soundbite, quick, fast-paced things.

I wrote back right away and I said that 10 minutes isn’t my thing. Thank you again, but I’m going to say no thank you. If they wanted to do a longer podcast, I’m here and happy to send you my book. The host wrote me back one more time saying it will be fun and they honor you. I wrote about again and said thank you, but it’s not fun for me – the fast pace. I said that I turned 50 this year and need to be really clear about what works and what doesn’t. I said it in the kindest way that I could, just saying to him again, but it really doesn’t work for me but if he wanted to do something longer.

He wrote me back and he said, “If only all people could be as clear as you are. I am so happy to hear how clear you are about what works and what doesn’t. Thank you. I wish you the best.” I was like, boom! Great response.

Randi
Nicely done!

Bari
Nicely done on his side, too! Nicely done on my end. I’ve been doing that over and over and over for years and I still get tripped up. I still had to say **** online business manager, “I’m going to say no to this. Is it okay?” Of course, they were like, “You don’t need to ask that.” I needed a moment and then I said no.

What do you do in those moments when you’re really clear and say it in a kind way and the person comes back so pissed off, like, “How dare you have boundaries?” Of course, I’ve gotten every kind of response. How do you speak to that? I’ve heard you say that we can’t be the keepers of other people’s responses. You say that very differently. How do you support people around that?

Randi
That’s such a great question. First of all, that was really well done and I love that it was honored. Clarity is an act of kindness, just like boundaries are an act of kindness. When you assert something, communicate it, articulate it, what have you and it comes back the way you’re saying – that, “How dare you?” type of thing – people so often think that if they get any pushback at all, it means they can’t have a boundary. No, pushback is part of the process.

When I feel somebody pushing back and say, “How dare you?” or something, I’ll lean into my values quite a bit in how I response. I think values are boundaries in action. For me, it would be a lot of humor, there might be a slight irreverence, but ultimately it will be respectful. That’s how I would respond.

When I honor the values, the values are honored. I don’t need somebody else to be honoring them for them to be honored. I honor my boundaries. It’s also really important to – I think the distinction, of when you’re in that position and when it’s really hard, of the difference between somebody not getting what they wanted and somebody just being upset. Often, people just didn’t get what they wanted. That’s on them. It still can feel crappy on our end, for sure. But boundaries are like a muscle. Your confidence and your skill and your ability to bounce back from that will get stronger over time the more you do it.

Really, that kind of showed you that that wasn’t something that you wanted to be a part of anyway. Look at that.

Bari
Very true. Yeah, okay. That’s true. Very good. I can give you hundreds of examples where I’ve gotten wonderful responses and where I’ve gotten people to be really upset. I’m mostly okay with all of that at this point.

I want to segue into some of your own money memoir and your own story. I’m wondering if you have any beginning thoughts of how boundaries connect with money work and then we can go more into your own story.

Randi
Yeah, there could be a whole healthy boundaries with money, which we do look at to some degree, but it goes so deep, the boundaries around money. At the time we’re recording this, a lot of people are thinking about gift giving and what’s coming up. Here’s just an example of how I think about boundaries and money.

It’s no gift to another person to go into debt in order to give them a gift. I think, often, this time of year or whenever we feel like we have to show our love or whatever, we feel like we really have to overextend ourselves through our finances in order for people to get the gravity of our love or just even know it.

Boundaries and money – I feel like I’m shooting myself in the foot a little bit because I said I was pretty good at boundaries. The thing is, not when it came to money. That was probably my biggest challenge. I think I got a little bit lost there.

Bari
That’s okay. Go into your own story and I’m sure something about this will be revealed or shared. For me, what you’re also starting to speak to is the concept of over-giving. You can over give and you can be too generous. Giving generously is wonderful. It’s a wonderful thing and a wonderful part of our world. But you can over-give and be too generous at the detriment of where you’re at financially. That is one clear boundary that I’ve seen over the years that some people – more based on their personality style – it can happen to any of us. Maybe I shouldn’t go into the enneagram, but it’s coming up. The enneagram loves to give and loves to over-give. They really have to watch that.

Randi
Absolutely. I often look at the other side of it. My podcast is called Sideways Trees because I couldn’t turn things around sometimes to fit my perspective. If I’m receiving something that I know it cost somebody, they over-gave in order to do something, I actually feel pretty awful. That doesn’t feel good to me that somebody put themselves in that position or felt like they had to in order to feel like that’s what would be appropriate to give me or was worthy or whatever the story is or idea is right there.

That also doesn’t feel good. I don’t want somebody to feel like they have to implicate me in that over-giving. That’s just not fun on this end.

I’ll just go into my own story here. I got into tremendous debt trouble and money trouble right around the age of 18 or 19. I was feeling pretty awful about myself. I was there for years. When I really looked back at that, it was because I was trying to be independent. I had such a high value on independence. Not that people were offering to pay for a whole lot, but it was, “No, I’ll pay for this. I’ll pay for this. I’ll pay for this,” to prove to myself – I thought I was proving to others – how autonomous, sovereign and how independent I was. It really let me dig myself into a hole.

Even when I did get married, my parents were like, “Let’s talk about this in terms of finances.” I was like, “No, no, no. I’ll pay for it. I’ll do it. I’ll do it.” I had this idea around that’s what a feminist was and I was independent. I dug myself into a massive hole. Interestingly enough and ironically, made me feel wildly dependent. That is a situation where – and probably a really good learning for me – of where I valued independence and wanted to prove that, but then I did not share that value with myself of working toward independence for myself. I didn’t include myself in that equation, that boundary. I was only looking one direction of how other people would see it or how I would feel as opposed to the actual effects were to myself.

I went to Consumer Credit Counseling, bawled in the office, bawled on the phone. It was pretty bad times for years. I got out of it, but it was really, really tough. I find it so ironic that the thing that I thought it was doing – the independence or autonomy – it had just the opposite effect in the end.

Bari
You were 18/19 years old. You were still so young.

Randi
A little older, too, but I was really in it at that point.

Bari
It began then and moved all the way into your 20s. We’re trying to individuate and it may come out all sideways – hence the name of your podcast – and it may just come out sideways and all convoluted and not be clear the best way to do it.

One of my questions – and we’ll go back – is what is one really big money challenge that you had to go through and how did you deal with it and overcome it? Tell us all about it. You’re going right there. I want to hear more about this and then back up to more of your childhood, too. You were getting a credit card at 18/19. It was so that you could individuate from your parents or family of origin and try to be independent. You got into a relationship with the banks or with credit card companies.

Randi
That was the new relationship. Absolutely. I really had every intention of, “I am this incredibly responsible person. Look at me.” I never got into it – like probably everybody – to say, “Let me go wild and irresponsible.” I really thought I could handle it. I thought, “Oh, this job I have will continue,” or something like that. But between fees and all of that – there was so much shame. That shame was secret, which compounded and then became more shameful.

What ultimately helped, I remember very clearly a conversation with a family member who I really admired how they handled money and they really had absolutely no wealth up until a certain point and then things changed. They said to me, “Oh, yeah, we almost lost the house.” I said, “What?” It was this “me too” thing. It was like somebody put an oxygen mask on me at that moment. This person that I admired so much was, maybe in a different way, at the point where potentially you could lose everything – potentially your life. When they were at that point, it was like the first time I had an oxygen mask in terms of money and I could start breathing deeply and say, “Okay, if they can do it. There’s hope for me.”

That started the dialogue in a lot of my reading around money. It started the dialogue with people very close to me about the pickle I had gotten myself into. But there was so much shame. I actually thought I was going to die of shame.

Bari
How old were you? We’re all different ages of when we wake up. It wasn’t until 28/29 for me that I started. My school loan came due and that’s when I realized I have no relationship to money. I’ve been throwing out my bank statements all through graduate school. What do you do with them? On and on and had my own version of shame. That was when I just first started waking up. I think a lot of us, it takes a while for us to become adults. Money is still one of the last places where we step into adulthood – however we define that.

Was this a 10 year journey? Was this longer? Tell us a little bit about when you got this oxygen mask.

Randi
Probably in my mid to early 20s when that conversation happened. I have to say, I think it’s going to be a lifelong journey. In terms of confidence, making good choices and making sure I’m honoring my boundaries of who I want to be in the world and how I want to show up. But, boy, can it heal. It’s actually almost dumbfounding how much it can heal.

When I started really looking at it, yeah… I was married, I was in my mid-20s when I started to change. I still didn’t know how I was going to get out of it. My husband was working for a lot of rural and social justice at that point. Right after we got married, we were living on a reservation in Nebraska. The only job I could get at the time was $2 an hour tending bar. $2.13, actually. I wasn’t actually helping the situation. Just kind of compounding it.

It took a long time. Even though I started to have that wake up and started to do some healing around it, for situations to actually change, it took a substantial amount of time, but it happened.

Bari
Okay. I just want to honor that you were in your 20s. You got married young. You were still so young. Maybe we’ll teach our children or are teaching our children how to have a different relationship to money, how to talk about money differently, how to work with credit cards – things that my parents didn’t necessarily teach me. I want to hear more about what you were taught, but most of us – our generation – financial literacy wasn’t passed down. Parts of it were, but not the full picture.

You were in your mid 20s – young 20s also. Did you not share any of your debt, at first, with your husband because of the shame?

Randi
Initially, no. He also had student loan debt as well, but not the degree of it by any means. It was too overwhelming to talk about. At one point, I actually didn’t even open the statements. I was so ashamed and hearing other people talk about others with money problems and how irresponsible they were. I was like, “No, I can’t.” It wasn’t just being irresponsible. It was just this incredible shame and the overwhelm of seeing, “How am I going to cover this when I make this?”

It certainly wasn’t a topic I would bring up all that often and one I’ve tried to steer away from. So much of my identity was wrapped up in that.

Bari
In addition to the oxygen mask, what was what stared you on the path of opening that mail, peeking at the numbers, peeking at the interest rates, deciding if you choose to consolidate? What did you do, knowing that this is a lifelong journey? What did you do to really start looking and what handholding did you get and how did you start steering the ship in a different direction?

Randi
I started having some really good conversations with my parents, who had been in hard times and knew what that was like. There was never an offer to bail me out financially. That’s now who they were. They were very much, “We’ll support you mentally and emotionally, but you’ve got to do the rest of the work yourself.” It was really being able to talk to them much more honestly and not have to hide the situation that I had gotten in.

That was really the beginning of the oxygen mask, but also an oxygen tank I could start to work from. At the time, I started reading all the books I could about money. Suzi Orman’s book had just come out then and she was on Oprah. That was a big one for me. Your Money or Your Life was huge for me.

Bari
That’s a great one.

Randi
That’s a fantastic one. I’m trying to think of some of the others. Those are two at the time that were very helpful. I went to Consumer Credit Counseling. I gathered all my stuff – I look at the balance now and it wasn’t that big, but it was well beyond what I could handle at the time, particularly based on what I was making.

I went to Consumer Credit Counseling and the lady there did not judge me. That, I think, was probably the biggest thing; not to be looked at like you were a complete loser, irresponsible. I wasn’t getting medical care because I was afraid to incur any additional cost. It was a tough time, but it was that Consumer Credit Counseling which then paid it off over years. They got me to a payment plan that I could – it was still a big stretch, but I did it. That was amazing.

Bari
What was the timeframe? I hear a lot of three years or five years.

Randi
I think they generally work on a three year plan – at least where I was working. That was a three year plan for those particular debts. There were other things that I had to look at later, but those were the ones that were quite stifling.

Bari
Do you know if that credit card counseling place is still around and would you recommend them?

Randi
I think so. This was quite a while ago – 20-25 years ago.

Bari
Okay.

Randi
It is a non-profit organization. It used to be Consumer Credit Counseling. When we were living on a reservation, it was an hour and a half drive just to get to a store that wasn’t a convenience store for a while. It was quite a hike to get there. I remember being not sure if I had enough gas money to get there. It was the beginning of actually just looking at it.

Bari
Tell us a little bit about the road out; the road paying it back. What changes needed to happen inside of you and what is your relationship to money like now knowing that this is a lifelong journey and we’re fine-tuning every year?

Randi
Right. Once I saw I could do a plan and got past the shame of talking about it and really looking at the numbers, once I saw that plan, I was never late on a payment. I was always able to do it. Like I said, sometimes it was a stretch. At the time, they only took – they didn’t take checks. They only took money order. Every month, I had to go to the bank with my sum and get a money order. I remember being a little embarrassed about that sometimes, but we got there. We go to that place were that was… I paid it in full. I took care of that.

It was little successes like that, which was actually a pretty big success at the time. Successes that built my confidence. I also have this story because of that if I can’t handle money, “I better not make any then. I won’t be able to handle it.” I had to prove to myself that I could and that came through experience.

Also, early in my career, I was barely charging anything. Another component, I think, is really the environments we were in. I mentioned my husband – a non-profit executive now. In some of the non-profits that he worked at, they were coming from a very… they felt like they had to operate in poverty because the people that they served did. That wouldn’t be right if it was any different. IT was that idea of we must almost operate in poverty to be able to serve ideas. It really infected a lot of things.

When I started making some moves and realizing that, actually, I might be one of the best coaches in the world in my areas, I finally started charging for it. When I was working with the Fortune 5 companies, I saw what the agency was getting based on my pay. I was like, “Wow. There’s a big difference here. If I really want to be able to do this, I have to charge enough to be able to do it.”

There are a lot of realizations like that along the way that now seem very elementary, but they were huge breakthroughs at the time. Your work has been so good at fostering that. I know you’re so good about also talking about other people’s money work. Denise Duffield-Thomas has been really great. Morgana Ray has been really helpful. What you’re doing is making it possible and also really breaking down that it’s not just you.

Bari
Right. We all have money stories and strengths and challenges and shame. These little seemingly baby steps are really huge. They’re huge steps for us at this time, from how we grew up and where we are now. For you, you’re working in the non-profit world and for me in the social work world, it was the same thing. It was try and make it on $11 an hour. You can’t get a massage with that. You’re serving a community and serving them so well. That’s what was what moved me out of that. Actually, I want to make some money. I need self-care if I’m going to be able to serve in this way.

Also, in charging, seeing what people around us are charging. Also, seeing other ways. If we charge more – I would never say and I know you would never say to charge what you’re worth. There are so many factors that go into…

Randi
How do we quantify who we are as a human?

Bari
We cannot. We can move that money in so many other directions if we are being paid well.

Randi
It’s a magical thing. Redistribution of wealth? It’s wonderful. I love it; being able to move that money around.

Another thing I didn’t mention and I probably should. I like to be very transparent and honest. All through this money history, I was dealing with substantial depression, which probably exacerbated it – the money issue – but also exacerbated the depression. When we read now about people making a living wage as a way to help their mental health, there’s a huge correlation there. Just to get your basic needs met is substantial.

It really – I never got the memo that depression was something to be ashamed of. My family is very open and I could talk to them about that. They recognized it right away. I’ve been very open about navigating that throughout depression, throughout all of my different journeys. But the money issue really impacted that, which then made dealing with the money issue wildly challenging.

Bari
Let’s talk about that for a moment. There’s another woman that I interview during the series, Manisha Thakor, who shares very openly on her site. She’s a financial planner and she shares very openly that she was diagnosed with being bipolar and having that chemical imbalance and shared her journey about that. That journey is, when you’re in the mania phase, you’re working 60 hours a week. That’s normal in the financial services world. You’re thriving on some level financially, but not on a mental health level.

There’s that version and then the other version was depression. We spoke about it a little bit. I want to speak about this a little bit more because we were saying that what I used to see with depression, some of my clients found it really hard for them to follow through and create a money practice and pay bills on time and track their numbers. I’d give them some homework to do in between our sessions – this is when I was training people on bookkeeping systems; QuickBooks in my earlier days – and they wouldn’t do anything in between sessions. I didn’t know how to initially work with that, even though my background was mental health. I was like, “Wow. How do I support people around these basic, but not easy, money practices?

Randi
Right. That would have been me who didn’t do the things between sessions. Absolutely.

Bari
There’s that, but there’s also more. I’m hearing… tell me more about your relationship to work or how much you can work or the hours or when you were going through a depressive time, maybe you weren’t making money during that time. Can you share more about how that has impacted your relationship to money? The challenges of that, but also as you’ve learned how to honor your strengths and challenges and really who you are, how have you been able to create your work?

Randi
I have been at my best mental health when I’m doing the things that I’m good at and when those things are seen, valued and appreciated. A lot of the jobs you have, whether it’s starting out or you don’t think you can do what you want to do or you’re just not there yet, don’t allow you to do your best work. Sure, you can still be polite or respectful and things like that, but you’re not creating. You’re not necessarily being generative. We are generative souls. We want to create whatever the work is inside of us that wants to come out.

When we’re doing what feels menial and soul-sucking work, we’re paying the bills, which is sometimes absolutely something we need to do just to get the money in. I get that part. But at the same time, when we’re not being seen, those gifts aren’t being put to use. That’s when we start to feel like we’re starting to die inside slowly. At the time, I think it’s really hard to put your finger on what exactly that is.

I started to notice that when I was in environments – particularly the summer camp I work at every summer – where people saw me and really appreciated what I did. I would thrive. There is a cap on what you can make at a summer camp, but it was so connected to my earning potential that I eventually left jobs that I would just call soul-sucking because it felt like I was earning a little bit of a paycheck, but it is actually costing me much more than that.

Hopefully to answer your question of how I navigate that, I do work on love now. I am pretty privileged to be able to say that. It took a long time to get here. I’ve had to build that from scratch. Yes, I have a partner. Because I’m in the States, health insurance was an issue. Our basic, at the time, health insurance covered some things. Other than that, I’ve had to do it all myself. I even found the type of coaching that I was doing when I was initially starting out coaching people who were frustrated because they couldn’t get their garage cleaned and they’ve been trying. That was not my strength.

It was when I could get into coaching where the topics were complex, rich and deep and we could go deep. I could really tap into my intuition and my skills and all of these things. It felt like magic between the clients and I. Too bad we don’t have a camera recording right now because my arms are gesticulating all over the place to show you the magic.

I found that when I was there, my earning potential also went up. I’m thriving now. I’m happy to say. On many levels.

Bari
It’s fine-tuning over and over and over and all of these baby steps.

Randi
Constantly, yes.

Bari
What you’re good at, what you suck at, your yeses, your nos, what makes you happy and realizing you were charging too low for lots of different reasons. Increasing that over the years, which is a whole other conversation, but related. It’s just been a journey. It’s a long road and a long journey.

Randi
Absolutely.

Bari
Are you able to have systems now and practices in place? There’s no right system, there’s no right practice. It’s whatever works for you.

Randi
Exactly. Yes, I do. I do now. That’s going to be another thing. We’re going to have to be able to just ebb and flow and find new things as evolution continues. I do have systems in place, which… Ahhh. You get so mired down and so overwhelmed when you’re in the suck that you don’t even know how to start a system. You don’t even know what’s possible or it feels like too much effort to even get there. But, boy, do they make a difference.

Bari
I remember when somebody sat me down and trained me how to use QuickBooks. It took months. I always say that I had a box of tissue for crying breaks and lots of dark chocolate to nibble on along the way. It took months. I always say that bookkeeping systems take three to six months to learn and a year before you feel really confident.

Do you have a tracking or bookkeeping system that you love right now? Do you have a bookkeeper? How are you doing it?

Randi
I’ve done it different ways. I used Bench for a little while. That was helpful. I kind of learned a little bit that way. I took a bookkeeping class, which was my version of hell. I have this story that my brain doesn’t work that way. Actually, it was in Santa Cruz. It was offered by Small Business Administration or something. I took that and realized that I wasn’t going to be able to be the one who did it. I have some very basic systems that work.

Bari
Do you mean on paper or a spreadsheet? An Excel Spreadsheet?

Randi
Excel, yes.

Bari
Okay, great. Yeah, some people do it by paper, some people do Excel. Some people get a bookkeeper or use Bench. It’s all good. It’s all good.

Randi
Right. I have a pro look at things every now and then to make sure I’m on track.

Bari
Okay, great. Where should we go? I want to know – your son is still young. A few years younger than my son. Are there any money teachings that you’re aware of that you’re trying to pass down to him that are different than what you received growing up? Is there any money conversations that you have with him?

Randi
Absolutely. My parents, like I said, weren’t exactly rolling in it. My father was in the military for a good part of my childhood. The thing is, they’re both incredibly competent do it yourselfers. They would never pay somebody to come over and fix something. They would just do it. My dad could have also been an electrician. He has that knowledge and he learned it from his uncles and his dad. They never hired anybody to come and fix something. They felt like that was a waste of money. If you could do it yourself, even though it’s going to take twelve times longer – maybe that’s part of my story. I hire professionals now.

My dad taught me how to change the oil in my car, so I’d save money on that. I used to change the oil in my car. I don’t do that anymore. Nothing’s wrong with that. That’s great. It’s just not my love. I’d much rather say, “Hey, these are trained professionals that can do it much more quickly than I can.”

What I value is a little bit different from what my parents valued in terms of spending money on. I’m trying to share that with my son. He gets an allowance. He gets a dollar per year based on how old he is. Right now he gets eight dollars a week for his allowance. Part of that automatically goes into his savings. He has sponsored a boy his age in a different country. Two dollars of his allowance has to go to that and I cover the rest. I cover the other $50 a month for that. That was how he wanted to feel like he was in contribution. He also does fundraisers – lemonade stands and he tells jokes – and raises money for the local animal shelter.

He loves telling jokes, so this was a really good match. We have some very kind neighbors who support that.

I’m also about you also get to spend money. That wasn’t something that was necessarily told to me; you get to spend the money as well. I remember going to France in high school. It was my first time in Europe. I loved it. It was amazing, but I was probably one of the only people on that trip that earned every dollar to get there. Some things my parents would match, but there was really an emphasis on if you want something, you have to earn it. When they could or when they felt it was appropriate, they might match a little bit of it.

I’m teaching him that it’s okay to spend some money. Make sure you’re giving it to things that are important to you, make sure you’re saving some and it’s okay to buy some Legos.

Bari
Its that one of his things? He likes to save up to spend on Legos? They’re expensive.

Randi
Right now, he’s saving up so we can move to Lego Land. We’ll have part of the hotel. You’re son’s welcome to play.

Bari
I’ve only written two articles on money and kids because it’s a complex topic and I feel like when my son’s 18, I can write more. We’re still figuring this out. One of them was about my son also saved for a big Lego set. How long it took and it was such a big thing. Then the celebration of it and all of that.

What was I thinking? Are you going to have your son work as well like you did? Do you know that yet? He’s eight, so you may not know that yet. Do you feel like you’re going to have him work from the age of 15/16?

Randi
He can’t wait to. He sees places where he wants to work now. “How old do I have to be?”

I think there’s great value in that. Doing work that you love? Absolutely. I’d love for him to get that message right away. To do good work. I waited tables for a while and I loathed babysitting, even though I was really good at it. I know it’s almost a little bit cliché, but if everybody waited tables or babysat, the world would be a much kinder place.

I think it’s really good to – beyond the financial piece – to work and see how you get along with people and be out in the world. I think that’s really important.

Bari
I had to work at 15/16, too. My father wanted to teach me a strong work ethic. I hated the jobs at first and I wished that I could do things that I loved. I didn’t even know what that was at that time. It sounds like your son already has so many interests that are places that he’s really looking forward to contributing with animals or Lego Land.

Randi
Exactly.

Bari
Wonderful. What do you feel is the money legacy that you are working on right now and that you want to leave?

Randi
That is a really good – you’re good at this. You’re really good at this. I want money to be fun. I want to be able to earn money in ways that are fun for me. Meaning is really important for me. It feels like I’m being a contribution to individuals and, in a greater sense, into the world.

Redistribution of wealth is really important to me. We are not just – we’re getting the money to where it needs to go.

I want to pay my fair share of taxes. That makes some of us go, “What? You want to pay taxes?” I value a lot of things from the Nordic Countries in terms of social values.

I don’t want money to be a source of pain like it was so much for me starting off. I made it that. It doesn’t have to be.

Bari
Were those some of your first emotions growing up around money? It was more around pain? Also, I want to hear a little bit more about your lineage before we complete. Is it Nordic and were you born there? Just share a little bit more about it.

Randi
Sure. I’ll start there. I know my dad’s history. His genetic lineage is Spanish, Portuguese, Cuban and Irish. My mom was adopted, so I didn’t really know in terms of the biological lineage until very recently. I speak Norwegian and it just happened in my 46th year that I have Norwegian ancestry through some tests. I am of Nordic, on my mom’s side, British and Irish decent.

I grew up thinking I was Cuban, Spanish, Irish.

Bari
Okay. And always drawn to the Viking/Nordic.

Randi
Drawn to a lot of things, but really resonating there. Yes, absolutely.

Bari
Yeah. Share a little bit more about this piece. I love what the legacy is – everything that you talked about from meaning and fun and deeper contribution and redistribution of wealth and happily paying your share of taxes. That’s how you’re stewarding money at this time. That’s how you’re holding it and that’s what you’re living and moving into more and more and what you want to pass on.

Randi
I should say that I would like a bigger bang for my buck for my taxes. I would like it to go a little further than it does. I probably shouldn’t have said that because I interrupted what you said.

Bari
Sometimes I ask three different questions at once and it’s hard to follow. Here’s the question. When I’m in this mode… the very first question I usually ask is: What are the emotions around money for you? What are they now? I didn’t ask that. What are they now? What do you want to be growing into more and what were they?

Randi
The very first thing I really remember about money is when I was probably about six or seven. We were visiting our grandparents in Florida where my dad is from. Actually, I was living there at the time, but we went to visit my grandparents. My grandfather would always pay my sister and I to wash his truck. He had a pickup truck and we’d wash it. I would forget to do it and he had already paid us. There was this idea that we just didn’t do it and we were kind of slackers.

It didn’t necessarily come from him, but I always felt this incredible guilt. We never had the time during the visit or whatever.

My dad came from a very blue collar background. His dad was a longshoreman. They were physically hard. Everybody in his family worked very backbreakingly hard. The idea of earning a living was tough. It was hard. You did it and people who automatically had money, they didn’t have muscles like the longshoreman did. What’s wrong with them?

It was interesting to watch my dad growing up because he came from this very blue collar background where this is who we are and the other people kind of suck. Then, after he left the Navy and retired, he went into this white collar world. I saw him really have to navigate that. Who am I? What is my identity? This do-it-yourself guy and my mom to a great extent as well.

The initial thoughts around money is that if you paid for something, you could have just done it yourself. That changed over time, watching my parents evolve. But as a child, “You better save it. Don’t lose it.” I remember I lost some money on a trip – I left it in a hotel room – when I was about eight or nine. I had this idea of “She loses money. She can’t be responsible with it.” Then, I was always out to disprove it.

It was painful. But I knew there was something else to it. Money often was attached to pain or that it was hard to come by so you had to hold onto it daily. For the people who had it, they were of less substance.

Bari
Okay. These were some of the early money beliefs that were created and passed down to you.

Randi
Yes.

Bari
And that you created in the moment, just one time losing money. The story became, “I’m not responsible.”

Where do you think – as you’re looking back… did you say 46 or 47?

Randi
46.

Bari
As a 46 year old, as you’re looking back and can review what you learned from mom and dad and where they came from and a lot of the beliefs and messages and then you watched them change and grow into a different relationship with life, work and money. Then you moved through your 20s and that whole experience. Do you have understanding and perspective of that journey and why you needed to go through all of that and how it played out in the way that it did?

Randi
I think I do. I think I really needed to know… I think I really needed to go through that journey so I could do really good things with it later and to be able to feel good about making it and making a lot of it. To know that I will not be irresponsible, but that I will put it where my values are. It’s okay. Now I love earning money. It feels good to be able to pay something off or go on a trip and do things like that. It is fuel for the things that I’m passionate about, whether that is art or whether that is travel. That’s really my big passion. The animal shelter, helping kids. It’s just fuel for those passions. I see that and I really want to have more fuel.

Bari
Beautiful. Beautiful. Anything else for this moment that’s bubbling up as we’re beginning to have conversations and you’re sharing stories about your relationship to money? Anything else that’s coming up that you would be willing to share about your relationship to money and what you’ve learned from your parents, where you’re different, what you had to go through, what you’re passing on to your son. Anything else?

Randi
I think the main thing coming to my mind is that there doesn’t have to be shame. That’s so often our go-to for a variety of reasons. It starts to compound things. You don’t have to them shame yourself for then feeling shame. Just know that there’s so many people who feel that but have come through the other side.

Bari
I think so many of us – my community is 25-75 years old. I think many of us do go through the shame door as part of it. Do you think that it can be different for your son?

Randi
Absolutely. Absolutely. When you said that and you asked that question, almost my initial reaction is, “It has to be.”

Bari
It has to be. It’s not like he’ll never go to therapy. Maybe he’ll go to therapy one day. I don’t know. I hope he would.

Randi
Absolutely. I hope he does.

Bari
It doesn’t mean we’re not going to have things to work on.

Randi
Not at all.

Bari
He won’t have to go through the shame doorway. They’ll have watched us take millions of baby steps or we’ll tell them about the millions of baby steps of how things were when we were younger and what we’ve had to go through and what we’ve had to work on. Then, to show them a different way.

Randi
Exactly. Isn’t that cool?

Bari
It is! It is.

Randi
I love it.

Bari
Yeah, to be passing on a different money legacy that’s been passed down for a long time.

Randy, how can folks find you online?

Randi
Sure. If you go to www.RandiBuckely.com, you will find me. I am on Instagram at Randi.Buckley. Somebody already took RandiBuckley. My podcast is on all the regular places you get podcasts like iTunes. That’s called Sideways Truth.

Bari
Wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing.

Randi
Thank you so much for having me.

Bari
You’re welcome!

Listen in as this wise, wonderful woman and I delve into:

  • How she transitioned from soul-sucking jobs into running a business she adores — and the red thread that links these two phases of her life.
  • How her sister’s abusive early relationships sparked the ‘Boundaries for Kind People’ program — plus, how to enforce elegant boundaries when it feels difficult. (Practice is key here, dear friends).
  • What caused her to dig a consumer credit-shaped hole for herself, and the lifeline that helped her begin to climb out of it, and feel less alone.
  • The different ways debt and depression exacerbate one another,
  • 3 key things that helped Randi get out of debt — and the little victories she celebrated along the way to stay motivated and on-track.
  • How she started to create a relationship with money at 28 — when before she was utterly terrified to open her bank statements.
  • What her once fraught relationship to money actually looks like today.
  • The importance of boundaries and money, and why it’s no gift to someone to go into debt to give them a present or show your love.
  • The deep need for self-kindness as we navigate money challenges and debt.

We all have money strengths, stories, challenges or shame…and the seemingly baby steps we take forwards are actually hugely impactful over time.

Hopefully this conversation gives you hope that healing from your money struggles or shame is always possible when you get vulnerable, get brave, and get support.

I know that’s what Randi would want.

Blessings,

Randi Buckley is a mentor, author, speaker, and Associate Dean, whose work helps women find their truth and be at peace with it. She is the creator of Healthy Boundaries for Kind People, Maybe Baby, and The Viking Woman Workshop. Randi also has a podcast, “Sideways Truth”. She is mama to Ravn and in her free time, untangles whales from fishing gear, in the Monterey Bay.

P.S. What’s a Money Memoir? In this interview mini-series, I talk to folks from all different backgrounds and walks of life — and ask them to share real stories about money. The good, the hard, and the triumphant. Because we ALL have money wisdom and gems to share. And sometimes, just hearing someone open up lets our own healing begin. As is tradition around Art of Money headquarters, each year we publish a new series of Money Memoirs to give you a taste of the kinds of things we help people within inside my flagship program:

Art of Money 2019

These are the kinds of stories we share (and mountains we move!) in my year-long money school, The Art of Money — which is open now for a short time.

I created The Art of Money because I know: transforming your relationship with money isn’t an overnight fix. It takes some time, some dedication, and some support. You’ll find all that and a bag of dark chocolate chips* in The Art of Money.

If you want to make 2020 your year to say YES to a happier, more empowered money relationship — with deeper peace of mind, and the ultra-supported kind of learning that makes you feel like nothing can hold you back … please join us!

The Art of Money only opens once a year — which is right now — and we officially begin on January 31st.

Explore The Art of Money 2020 right this way.

* Dark chocolate chips not actually included, but highly recommended.

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