Achieving financial freedom, much like achieving personal health and wellbeing, takes practice. It requires consistency and commitment to positive behaviors. On my podcast, So Money, one of my favorite questions for guests relates to their #1 habit – big or small – that allows them to lead a rich life, one that is free of financial stress and worry.
In this series, I’ll be sharing these habits from some of my favorite podcast interviews. First up is Tony Robbins, the nation’s #1 life and business strategist. Robbins has been called upon to consult and coach with some of the world’s top athletes, entertainers, Fortune 500 CEOs, and even presidents of nations.
Robbins was my first guest in 2015 soon after he’d released his book MONEY: Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom. Back then he credited his curiosity and “never believing you have all the answers,” for allowing him to lead a rich life. “The best people on Earth, they all say, ‘What don’t I know?’ because the world’s always changing,” he told me.
It’s a simple habit, but asking money questions is not something we’re hard-wired to do. For many, money is a taboo topic. In fact, a recent poll found that we’d rather talk about race, sex and religion…anything but money!
As a financial expert and author, I’ve been studying how we relate to money for over 15 years. I agree that many people shy away from talking about money – even when we desperately need answers to important questions related to our salaries, investments and debt. It’s a big reason why I, along with my co-founders, decided to launch Stacks House, a touring financial pop-up that invites people, in particular women, to experience money in a way that’s inviting, engaging and fun. I know that money can be mystifying and confusing but it doesn’t have to be.
“The best people on Earth, they all say, ‘What don’t I know?’ because the world’s always changing.”
Robbins’ answer reminds us that we need to be our own advocates. We need to raise questions about our finances and to hold those who play a role in our financial lives – our employers, banks, money managers and tax preparers – accountable to our questions.
I can personally attest to the benefits. After my conversation with Robbins, I called my financial advisor and asked why she’d chosen to invest my money in certain funds that carried higher-than-average fees. I wanted to know if we could move my money into funds that historically performed as well, but had lower fees. She offered to research a little further and by the end of the day, had found more cost-effective solutions. I did the math and believe that small question – and the changes that followed – helped me save tens of thousands of dollars over the 30-year life span of my portfolio.
Flex your curiosity muscle and start asking more money questions today. Begin by choosing an area of your financial life that you believe could use some additional support. Perhaps it’s your income. Do you want to earn more? Start by asking, “What do others with my level of experience and skills earn in my industry?” Sites like Glassdoor and Comparably can help you narrow down some relative salary ranges. At many companies, human resources can also provide employees with their salary band or range, which can indicate the maximum that’s been budgeted for someone in that role. These are all important steps towards building a case as to why you deserve a raise.
Flex your curiosity muscle and start asking more money questions today.
Farnoosh Torabi is a bestselling financial author, podcast host and co-founder of Stacks House, a massive financial pop-up designed to help people take control of their finances. Stacks House will be stationed in Los Angeles for five weeks, beginning on April 17.