Amber is not only a fantastic human being and a crazy inspiring entrepreneur, but she’s doing revolutionary work. Seriously, whoever you are, this is going to rock your socks off. Why? Because money, for whatever reason, is something we all seem to struggle with.

Amber is a Cash Flow Specialist, CFO & Profit First Professional. Her work goes far beyond understanding your money and creating a budget. Her mission is to reduce the statistic that a whopping 82% of businesses fail because of cash flow problems. She would like to set the online world financially free. Big goal? Well, wait until you hear what she’s got to say.

In this interview, Amber and I talk about shifting our mindset around money and forming a healthy relationship. Imagine thinking about money without feeling that stress in your chest! Yes, I know you feel that stress, because we all do. You’re not alone! And there is a way out. Amber believes that money is a beautiful resource to help you expand in love, abundance and success – and you deserve to have the systems and strategies in place to not only make lots of money, but also keep it.

The whole point of money is to truly allow us to put ourselves intentionally in situations and experiences that bring us joy.”

– Amber Dugger

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Transcript of Our Interview:

Most of the people that I work with, and in my own experience, has been one where money is kind of an uncomfortable subject. There tends to be a lot of discomfort, fear and panic and even embarrassment around the topic. People don’t want to bring it up. They don’t even want to think about it themselves. So, you work with people to improve their relationship with money. Can you tell me a little bit about what that means?

Sure. Well, for anyone watching this, if you’re starting to feel even a tightness in your chest just from hearing the question, that’s totally normal because when we’re looking at something that we’re not really comfortable with or don’t fully understand, it can create really uncomfortable feelings. So, the first step is really just allowing you to give yourself some financial self-care and opening up just the ability to learn about it and to see what is it about this that is causing me tension? Everyone’s journey is different. And so, some people, there’s a lot of shame and there’s a lot of forgiveness that is also involved in, you know, starting to repair the relationship with money. For others, it’s learning to actually spend money more freely because you know, whether you have lots of debt or lots of savings, there are a lot of feelings involved with money because money is 99% emotional.

And so it’s normal to feel that way. The other thing is up until now it’s been pretty taboo to even speak about it. And so I’m on a mission to really change that because like anything else, the more that we can actually open up and talk about it, the more we’ll actually feel like, oh, I’m not alone in feeling this. I think a lot of times we really feel like we’re the only ones that are feeling a certain way or wondering certain questions and there’s so much complexity that’s unnecessary when it comes to money. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that the financial industry wants you to be ignorant and confused because they can take advantage of that. So, it’s really a very simple thing and there’s just a lot of complexity that comes into it just to make certain people feel like, okay, I’m going to make you dependent on me because I’m going to make sure to keep this confusing for you. Empowering yourself with knowledge and understanding is one of the best things you can do. So kudos to you guys watching this video because this is an awesome first step in really starting to open up your mind to learning more about this.

I love that. One of the things I want to talk about around this topic of why it’s so important to have a positive relationship with money is the decisions that we’ll make based on the desperate need to have money and to make money in our businesses. That’s something that’s happened to me and something I’ve seen other people do a lot is this scarcity mentality. Having such a fear of making money that you start to make bad, quick, desperate decisions in your business. So I wanted to talk a little bit about some of the negative impacts of having a bad relationship with money and how that can affect your business.

Well, I would say even going a step further and just feeling like your revenue goals are driven by your bills. That is probably 99% of businesses out there. And it’s something that can be easily shifted into revenue being driven by your dreams. The key solution to that is having aged money, and what that means is having money that is paying for bills two months from now or in other words, having savings in your account that equal two months of living expenses or two months of business expenses. Then you’re not so much making reactive decisions, but looking more at the actual strategy involved to see, okay, how much do I need to be making to be able to pay for everything and include money for things that I really want to do that bring me joy. So repairing the relationship with money starts with just understanding what your priorities are and also understanding what money really is. It’s just an energy, it’s just a physical representation of value, and everyone’s perception of value is different.

So, for example, what you do in your business, you most likely do not have the need for that because you’re naturally good at it and you can easily help others who do not have that natural ability to have that solution. And so it’s really easy for us to get caught up into thinking, well why would anyone possibly pay for this, or pay as much as I would like to charge? Because the value is very different for them versus you. You don’t have the problem so the value is not really there for you. But just imagine something that you do struggle with or that you have a problem with. And imagine someone coming to you with a solution that is effortless, that is realistic, that actually will bring you to a point where you feel like, I’ve got this now, that’s very valuable to you. And so the price tag on that is much different than someone who doesn’t have that problem. So money is all about just seeing what your true priorities are and recognizing that it’s okay to give yourself permission to have those priorities as well. Cause really at the end of the day it’s just exchanging this money for an experience or something that’s going to bring you joy or someone that you love bringing you joy and that’s what it’s really all about.

That’s great. I love that way of looking at it. Okay, so as far as understanding your money and your cash flow, I want to kind of back up and do some big picture thinking about how we’re thinking about money and what our role is in our money management. Then maybe a bookkeeper or an accountant that we’re working with, how that all plays into each other and works together. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Yeah, great question. So, there are three different parts of money management in your business and I think a lot of, even accountants and bookkeepers, don’t recognize this third component. So the first component is bookkeeping, and bookkeeping is allowing you to have someone track all of your expenses and put it in a way that your accountant can determine how much you will owe in taxes, how much you can deduct from your total revenue that comes into the business. And, it puts it in a way that’s easy for them to run reports to do that function. What I see a lot of time when people come to me is they’ve hired a bookkeeper and they’re so frustrated with their bookkeeper because they still feel stressed when it comes to money and they feel stressed about how much they need to be making and also the timing of cash flow and all of these different things. Just feeling like, Oh my gosh, like I know I’m making money but I don’t see any evidence of that in my bank account and my bookkeeper isn’t really helping me with that or aren’t really sure what to do.

The first thing is the bookkeeper’s job isn’t to help you with that and the bookkeeper truly is looking backward at what’s already happened in your business and that’s the true role of that bookkeeper as well as helping you with receipt management and recording any travel that you do so that you can make sure that it’s evidence that this travel really did have something to do with your business and different things to help you with recording everything so that if you were ever to be audited, the IRS would have everything it needs to show that these were legitimate business expenses.

An accountant, a good accountant, will help you with tax strategy to ensure that you’re not paying more or less than you’re meant to when it comes to taxes. So they are going to help you just to see if there are any laws that allow you to pay less tax or make sure that the things that you’re currently putting on your business expenses are legitimate business expenses or also identifying the ones that maybe you weren’t deducting that you could, and they help you just make sure that your taxes are paid.

What’s going to solve the stress and anxiety and help repair a relationship with money is something completely separate from those two things, while those are really important components of a business, it’s called cash flow management. This is where we completely forget about accounting and bookkeeping because that’s confusing as heck. Like there’s no reason for a business owner to understand and learn bookkeeping unless they love it. And in that case, they may want to like have a bookkeeping business, right? Like there are definitely people who love doing that. But as a business owner, we all know that if we have $100 coming in, that we have $100. That’s a very clear thing, right? And with that $100 we can spend money on certain things but it may be hard to figure out how much to pay ourselves, how much we should put aside for taxes, how much we should have for business expenses. All of this is cashflow management and as the CEO of your company, as a founder of your company, I highly encourage you to learn and embrace this function and to maintain it because this is going to allow you to completely avoid any sort of embezzlement come long term.

When your business continues to grow and you have more employees and things like that, or even if you stay as a Solopreneur and you’re looking at everything from a now and in the future perspective. So this way you can say, okay, how much money do I have right now? Okay, this is how much I have in my bank account and this is what it’s meant to be doing. This is how I’m prioritizing this money. And then as more money comes in, knowing exactly how to separate it out into intentional piles of money, such as how much I’m going to pay myself, how much I’m going to hold aside for taxes, and this amount is specifically for business expenses. That takes the emotion out of it. It allows you to see strategically and realistically what you have available to you. You can start making more forward based decisions and feel very in control and empowered to be able to make real-time decisions on spending because you don’t have to wait for a bookkeeper who’s going to be two or three weeks behind. Instead you have all the information right at your fingertips in front of you. And so that’s a really helpful thing to learn.

That’s great. You know, at the beginning of this interview we talked about how there can be a lot of fear and anxiety around these issues. So getting into the cash flow management and being able to have that knowledge and control, I wanted to talk a little bit about breaking into this. If there are small steps that we can take to just start thinking about our money or to start like using different language about our money to just have a little bit of a better relationship. I think for me personally, there’s this fear of jumping right in so if I can kind of take little steps to ease myself into it, you know? So if you have any suggestions for small steps we can take to start changing this relationship.

Absolutely. I would say the very first thing is giving yourself grace for the process and grace and forgiveness and any preconceived feelings or thoughts you have around behavior that has brought you to this very moment. Because everything that’s happened, including any debt that you have or any savings that you have or savings that are not as high as you think you’d like it to be. Whatever the thoughts are, just fully be present with those thoughts and allow yourself to see that there is no possible way that you’d be exactly where you are right now without all of those things happening in the way they happened. So having gratitude for debt, having gratitude for the lessons you’ve learned, for having gratitude for the perspective that you have right now is essential. Because without having that grace and giving to yourself, it can be very difficult for you to be open to growing and learning and adjusting and pivoting in the future.

Success is paved with the road of failure. So being grateful for every single one that you may perceive as a failure and recognizing it’s a stepping stone for where you are now. The next thing is I think one of the things that, of anything that I teach that has the most impact, is fully understanding three things. The first one is understanding how much resources or how much money is required for you as a specific person to do the things that you want to do with the type of business you have with the type of life you have. Knowing that revenue goal is such a key thing. And the reason for that is someone living in Southeast Asia is going to have a very different requirement. And someone living in Manhattan, someone living in, you know, Northern New Mexico is going to have different requirements than someone living in Idaho or living in Portland or living in London, right?

So having business coaches that are saying, Oh, I can help you make 5k months or 10K months or 20K months, whatever it is, that doesn’t mean anything because what really matters is that you feel abundant and you feel like I am in-flow. I am living a life that gives me the freedom that I desire. It’s giving me the ability to be in-flow and do the things that I love to do and I’m doing so in a sustainable way. Meaning I’m not constantly feeling like I have to make money to pay bills, but instead it’s making money because it’s directly tied to the impact that you’re having with your clients. So having the number one thing, revenue goal, that makes sense.

So, number two, looking at your business model and your pricing and seeing different ways to achieve that and making sure that it’s actually something that you can theoretically do and achieve. Part of that is increasing your capacity to receive. Part of that is looking realistically at the business model you’ve chosen for your business, are those in alignment with the revenue goal that you have determined is what’s needed to be in-flow and enjoy life. If you don’t have a business model that matches that, then it’s the rip off the bandaid moment decision time, which is something that is one of the most beautiful gifts that you can give yourself and it can also be something that, after you determine that, it’s taking a long walk and breathing and really just letting the information sink in, it’s the best thing that can happen.

What happens after this point is you start getting all sorts of ideas on how you can make that revenue goal and or possible adjustments to your business model or pricing so that it can happen. And that’s when things really start to take off. Because when you have those two things in alignment, along with grace and gratitude for where you are now, you’re now in this amazing trajectory of being able to see this is what I desire. Visualizing that, seeing it as if it were true, feeling the feelings now as if it were already happening and then practically looking at this is the revenue goal that I need to make that happen and here are some brainstorm ideas of how I’m going to make that happen. Then you’re no longer feeling like you’re on a hamster wheel and aiming towards a target that’s arbitrary. Now you have a real solid thing that gives you the confidence to actually look at I can do this, I can make this happen.

That’s great. I think that doing that could really just make you feel excited and passionate and confident and replace those feelings of fear and discomfort, you know? And then you can look at things with a different attitude. And I really like it. One more thing I wanted to touch on, which you mentioned briefly earlier, was the idea of spending money. I remember when I was first being introduced to what you do in your work, I was really pleasantly surprised to see you encouraging people to spend money, which is not something you think will happen when you go to someone that’s like, Hey, fix my money for me. And they’re like, spend more money. That was a big surprise to me. So I wanted to talk a little bit about the idea of spending money to make your life awesome and how that’s part of your philosophy.

Well, so money is meant to be moving, there is a karmic flow and cycle of money. This is a concept that I read in a book called The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist. She talks about how the word currency comes from the word current. So when you think of water and water is flowing the middle of the stream, it’s clean, it’s pristine, it’s crystal clear, it’s fresh. We can go swimming in that water and it feels good. Then on the sides where there are maybe a couple of logs in the way and the water has become really stagnant and a little murky kind of filled with something, I don’t even know what, but that’s not really the type of water you want to go and swim in. And money is very similar in that way. Money that is free-flowing and utilized and given purpose and intention is much more free-flowing and will naturally come back to you versus only saving money for the sake of saving it without any real purpose. That money becomes stagnant. It becomes stagnant energy and there’s no reason to really have it.

Now, does that mean that I think that everyone should just spend all their money and not save any? Absolutely not. But there’s still purpose and intention for the money that you’ve saved. So we work on milestones so that you have two months of living expenses that are there and I call them paycheck stash, not emergency fund because I don’t ever want to intentionally call in something such as an emergency to be able to use my emergency fund. But a paycheck stash gives it an intention that if for some reason I wanted to take a sabbatical and I have six months’ paycheck stash, I could easily live the same life that I want to live and have some reserves there. The whole point of money is to truly allow us to put ourselves intentionally in situations and experiences that bring us joy. Because the whole point of being on this earth is to experience joy. That’s why we’re here. So it’s important to see that, okay, this is why this is here. The value of money is to allow us to experience these things. And it’s also directly tied to our impacts. We know that it’s not just working, working, working, making money, but that the value that we bring to our clients is actually what we’re exchanging. And so the only way to truly show up for your clients is to allow yourself to enjoy life too. So if that means a weekly massage because it gives you that total ability to be 100% present for your clients, that’s important.

I like that. That, that needs to go on a tee shirt. I love it. Well, thank you so much for all this. I think this will be really helpful for people.

My pleasure. Thank you.