Kim Curtis is the CEO of Wealth Legacy Institute and is proud to be part of a firm that puts clients first. For Kim, how you deal with money says a lot about how you deal with life. She’s the best-selling author of Money Secrets: Keys to Smart Investing, and her mission is to give women the right mindset and money formula to help them get comfortable with their money so they can focus on creating lives of purpose.
Today, Kim joins the show to talk about the Two Laws of Money, the gender differences surrounding money, and how and when money finds us.
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00:54 – Jonathan introduces today’s guest, Kim Curtis, who joins the show to talk about how her parents’ divorce impacted her views on money
08:45 – The value placed on education and a student loan surprise
13:55 – The origins of the Wealth Legacy Institute
19:45 – The most potent money scripts Kim runs into with couples
24:07 – Love yourself and money will follow
25:29 – Two Laws of Money
28:46 – Differences in how men and women approach money
37:36 – One thing we can do to increase personal and financial success and one thing to completely ignore
39:32 – The last thing that Kim changed her mind about and one thing she would like others to know about her
41:27 – Jonathan thanks Kim for joining the show and lets listeners know where to connect with her
“Events happen in our lives all the time that we have no control over. But, what I recognized at that point, was that I did have control over the responses or the choices that I made. And that would determine my outcomes.” (11:17) (Kim)
“I wanted to create a firm that had a soul – a firm filled with humanity that puts clients first, not last – and that’s when I created Wealth Legacy Institute.” (16:43) (Kim)
“You have to have managing money tied to a financial plan for self-preservation and putting it in perspective.” (21:38) (Kim)
“Money finds you when your frequency is high. And, when we have high frequency is when we have joy, when we have aliveness, when we have gratitude, when we have self-love, when we have self-respect, when we have consciousness and awareness. That raises up our frequency to understand for money to find us. And how does money find us? Well, money finds us through our ideas, and ideas are abundant.” (25:02) (Kim)
“I think the struggle allows, for the other side, gratitude.” (37:10) (Kim)
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Jonathan DeYoe: Hey, welcome back. On this episode of the Mindful Money podcast, I’m chatting with Kim Curtis. Kim is the CEO of the Wealth Legacy Institute and is proud to be part of a firm that puts clients first. For Kim, how you deal with money says a lot about how you deal with life. She’s the best selling author of money Secrets, Keys to Smart Investing, published by Financial Literacy Press. She shared the stage with the likes of astronaut Buzz Aldrin at the US Military Academy at West Point. She’s received the Financial Innovator award with the business Expert forum at the Harvard faculty Club and it was featured on the Jumbotron at in Times Square. We’re going to have to get that story later. Her mission is to give women the right mindset and money formula to help them get comfortable with their money so they can focus on creating lives of purpose. Kim, welcome to the Mindful Money podcast.
Kim Curtis: Thanks Jonathan. Happy to be here.
Jonathan DeYoe: So first of all, where do you call home and where are you connecting from?
Kim Curtis: Now that’s a two question part. You’re right. I actually grew up in Buffalo, New York, but I thankfully live in Denver, Colorado. And I’ve been in Denver for the past 30 years.
Jonathan DeYoe: So you went from cold to cold?
Kim Curtis: No, I went from cold to sunshine.
Jonathan DeYoe: Don’t you get like 20ft of snow in Denver? Don’t you get a lot of snow?
Kim Curtis: We did just have ten inches, uh, two days ago.
Jonathan DeYoe: That’s not cold though.
Kim Curtis: We generally show that to the country so that everyone wants to come to Colorado to ski. So that’s really more of a media game than the reality of.
Jonathan DeYoe: So, um, this is an aside, but my wife and I are looking for that mountain home, that place, and we have a place in Tahoe, but eventually we want to go to Colorado or Montana. And that’s what she says. She said Colorado is very sunny Montana less. So that’s your experience, 30 years? It’s sunny.
Kim Curtis: It is true. But Montana does have big sky. Not just. There’s a lot to be said for that, I think. Colorado, a lot of people are finding Colorado, so it’s becoming populated quickly.
Jonathan DeYoe: I think a lot of people are finding everywhere. There’s nowhere to hide anymore.
Kim Curtis: I mean, nowhere to hide. Yeah, I know all of the, you know, with the pandemic, people did not want to live in Buffalo or Bay area. Yeah, that’s exactly right.
Jonathan DeYoe: So you grew up in Buffalo. What was it like growing up in Buffalo? What did you learn about money?
Kim Curtis: And know, back in the day, buffalo was actually a very blue collar city. Surprisingly, it’s not anymore. It’s actually a big banking community. They’ve done a really good job of changing industries. So for me, my father worked for company, you know, I mean, he had a pension. Growing up, uh, on the lake was really fun because being near water, unlike in Denver, Colorado, we don’t have water, but it was really a community that was very industrial blue collar that everyone had out. Like, we would have dinner at, like, three in the afternoon because my dad had a shift, and he would get off his shift, and then we would have this early dinner when all my other friends had dinner at, like, 536. So it was kind of weird that we had his schedule that forced our early dinners.
Jonathan DeYoe: Back in the day, do you have any memories of parents fighting about money, or was it just so smooth because of the, uh, kind of an industry job and a pension and security and all that?
Kim Curtis: My mother handled the day to day bills. I think my dad would give her the money, and she would take care of the bills and give him cash for his spending money. I can’t believe I know that, but that’s what they would do. And I remember going door to door selling, uh, holiday cards to make some coin for myself. So I had my own money, and that was all well and good, but my parents divorced when I was a teenager, and my mom got full custody of three teenage girls, and she had no employable skills. So to watch my mother with no employable skills, she applied for and received government assisted lunches for us. So I had this red paper ticket. It actually looked just like one of those lottery tickets today that you have, like, for a raffle ticket, it looked just like that. And that was to indicate that you were a poor kid in school as you handed that ticket to the cashier in the lunch line. So I would go to the furthest line away from my friend. Look, back before and grab it, put it under my tray, get it out of my pocket, slide my tray down and look back and quickly hand that to the cashier. But the shame around that and the not enoughness and who am I and I’m unworthy was a narrative that I carried into early adulthood.
Jonathan DeYoe: So tell me about the transition from. Because I’m imagining you’re pretty aware of money at 1112 13 and then the divorce and then the sort of the awareness of lack. Talk about the transition. I don’t know that I haven’t had anyone that’s experienced that kind of a transition.
Kim Curtis: No one has asked me that question before. So my father, because he worked at Ford, he would get a new car like every year, every other year. That was very important to him, and that was pre leasing. So we would always have the, uh, nicest car on the block. But back know. Imagine a Ford country squire with the paneling, the fake paneling on the know, that was him cruising around in his country squire.
Jonathan DeYoe: Super proud of that car. Super.
Kim Curtis: We would go on Sunday drives and so he could drive his car and we’d go get ice cream somewhere or something. But, yeah, that was a huge transition of having it feeling like we fit in, maybe a little above, but mostly fit in to then back in the 70s, really, no one that I knew of was divorced. None of my friends parents were divorced. So that was another whole area that I wasn’t quite completely tapped into as much as my older sister was tapped into. That was her narrative. Mine was more about, where’s the money? How come I don’t have any? And I want to go play with my friends and I want to go to movies, and I want to get corduroy Levi jeans.
Jonathan DeYoe: Just the important things.
Kim Curtis: Yeah, because you want to fit in. You want to fit in, so you want to wear the clothes that everyone else is wearing.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. I was raised between my third birthday and my 15th birthday. Neither of my parents had jobs, so I was raised with very little. And I remember I played soccer and I sold sandwiches, chocolate, all kind of buttons, door to door for fundraisers, for the church trip, for fundraisers, for the soccer trip, for fundraisers, for all this kind of stuff. So I’m very aware of that. But that sense of lack that holds on. How have you dealt with that as you grew older?
Kim Curtis: Yeah, well, uh, my mother was a director of a majorette and drum corps, and so she had all three of us girls in this corps that would go to parades every weekend, and she did that since I was like three years old to probably teenager. And that really met a lot of my mom’s needs because she was a major when she was in high school, so that was like, her jam. So when I got to high school, I was like, enough of this, Ken. My parents are divorced now. Like, I am calling the shots on my own life. Right? Sure. Yeah. Not really. But I played sports, and once I played sports, all of a sudden my life unfolded, like, wow, I’m good at this. And, uh, imagine, had I played sports when I was younger, I could have been really good. But my exposure was in high school, and I was really good at it. And I think that helped with my self esteem. And the other thing, jonathan, is that my mom had a really special value that she really instilled in us, and that was to make sure you get your education, because no one can take it away from you. And so all three of us went to college. I went to undergrad in New York, Elmira College below Cornell and Ithaca, and then after undergrad, went to law school. And that’s when I moved out to Denver, is to go to University of Denver College of Law. And so that was important to me. But what happened right after law school, within six months, I defaulted on my school loans. In today’s dollars, it was worth about $92,000. I had no business, one, having that kind of debt. Two, understanding the impact that that would have on my life. Three, the impact on my credit report and what that meant. I was completely unconscious around money and the implications of what that meant for me personally. And what happened, Jonathan, you won’t believe this. It is unbelievable. What happened is I had an anonymous donor pay $1,000 on my school loan debt. And now, back then, to me, it was like that. Wow. And the fact that I was unconscious, the fact that I even opened up my statement, my loan statement, was in itself unusual, because I believe that how you do money is how you do life. And if your head is in the sand in money, trust me, it’s in the sand in other areas of your life. So the fact that I opened up the statement, saw and noticed that the bill went down was in itself remarkable. And at that moment, because it was anonymous, Jonathan, it was almost like a snap, because it was like I couldn’t go to the person and say, why me? Or what do you want from me? I had to ask that to myself. And so the idea of someone believes in me, that all of a sudden is love. If someone believes in me, what is it that they believe in? Who do they see? And what do I see and who do I want to be? And I have to tell you from that, it was like this rush of, uh, one, I think, self love, if I were to really be honest, and then that self respect, self love, who am I? Who do I want to be? I think that was the very first time in my life that I recognized that stuff happens, events happen in our life all the time that we have no control over. But what I recognized at that point that I did have control over the responses or the choices that I make, and that will determine my outcomes. So it was one of those signature events of, uh, self love, self respect, consciousness, self awareness, asking myself those questions that from that point forward, I kind of took control of my destiny and made choices in my life.
Jonathan DeYoe: I’ve never heard of somebody just opening up their $92,000 debt statement and discovering that someone they didn’t know somehow had made a payment for them. That’s the first time I’ve heard that. Have you ever figured out, did you ever find out who it was after the fact?
Kim Curtis: Yeah. Not many people ask me that second follow up question, and I did end up finding out who it was, uh, several months later, and it actually was a woman who went to the church that I went to, and she had no money herself. She was a single woman, had no money herself. But she had the biggest and kindest of hearts.
Jonathan DeYoe: What do you do when you discover that? I mean, how do you respond to that, other than, you know what? I got to believe in myself. I got to pull my shit together. What do you do?
Kim Curtis: I think at the time, when you’re in your early 20s, it’s all about you. And so I think it was just the gratitude of thank you. But the better story, Jonathan, is about 15 years later, I looked her, uh, up, maybe even 20, if I were to be honest, because my legal background was in negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. And at 30, I moved into finance. And so I was a decade into finance that I looked her, uh, up. And believe it or not, it took me a bit to find her. She was still in Denver, but that weekend, she was having a yard sale to sell all of her stuff, and she was moving back to Philadelphia to take care of her aging parent. So that was my only weekend. And whatever I heard intuitively to say, look up this person. And I had an envelope in my pocket, and that envelope had $5,000 in it. And I showed up.
Jonathan DeYoe: It’s beautiful. It’s beautiful.
Kim Curtis: Yeah. I said, this is the interest. You made a good investment.
Jonathan DeYoe: That’s lovely. That’s fantastic. I love that. That’s one of the best stories I’ve heard. So you graduate as an attorney, arbitration mediation, and you practiced that for, like, ten years. How do you then say, you know what, I’m going to be a financial advisor. How does that happen?
Kim Curtis: Yes, I was not an attorney. The area was, uh, judicial administration with my degree. And so as a result of that, I worked for a national dispute resolution firm headquartered out of New York City. And I did a lot of mediations, dispute settlements. And what happened is I moved up in the organization and no longer was in the heart of the matter of, uh, doing settlement. I became a spokesperson. And so I was entrepreneurial because I moved to Salt Lake City to open up a Salt lake city office of that organization. So it’s entrepreneurial. And I really liked what that was all about. And I worked my butt off, and I thought, God, imagine if I worked my butt off for me. And so I don’t know, listeners and viewers out there who have friends in human resources that know all of those psychological tests to take about what that next could be for you as it relates to employment. And so I got into finance from a quiz.
Jonathan DeYoe: Wow.
Kim Curtis: Yeah, that’s. Finance would be something I would do well in.
Jonathan DeYoe: But did you start as an advisor or did you start as something else? How does that develop into founding the wealth Legacy Institute?
Kim Curtis: Oh, thank you for that. Which I love that story. I ended up in a brokerage firm.
Jonathan DeYoe: Me too.
Kim Curtis: Well, for the brokerage firm. And one day, Jonathan, I read the small print on the back of a client disclosure statement. I read the disclosure, and at the time, it was only four pages, but it was eight, because it was two to a page of tiny, tiny, tiny print.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yes, I remember.
Kim Curtis: And being, having a legal background, the fact that I won, embarrassed that I had not read it beforehand, who would? It was eight pages. But whatever compelled me to read that. And as I was going through it, I remember a, uh, tear coming down the side of my cheek, because I had realized for the first time, oh, my goodness, all of these conflicts of interest and fees and twelve b one fees and sales fees, and, uh, just fees upon fees and relationship upon relationship. And it was at that point that I realized I’m not a fiduciary. As much as I do the best work, everyone wants to do the best work for their clients, otherwise they wouldn’t be in business. It’s kind of like when you go to the grocery store and, uh, what is on eye level shelf? The products that are eye level. Well, they pay more to be at eye level. And that’s what happens in a brokerage firm. Wholesalers pay more to be at eye level to have access to the registered reps. And so that’s when I recognized that clients are primarily last, not first. You work for the house, not for the client, even though you do the best for the client. And so I wanted to change a firm and create a firm that had soul. A, ah, firm filled with humanity, that put clients first, not last. And that’s when I created wealth, legacy institute. And that was 17 years ago.
Jonathan DeYoe: So how long were you in, uh, the. Can you name which firm? I’ll tell you my firms if you tell me.
Kim Curtis: But the firm. Actually, what I loved about the firm is that you. All you have to do is go to my LinkedIn. The firm focused on financial planning, okay? Instead of stock picking, so it was really a financial planning shop. So the lessons I learned about delivering advice was actually consistent with who I was. It was just the way they did it.
Jonathan DeYoe: So I did the Barney, you know, prudential, Dean Witter. I did that for five. I was at seven firms in five years before I started my own company. So I switched. Learned a stupid lesson here. Learned a stupid lesson here. Learned a stupid lesson there.
Kim Curtis: Um.
Jonathan DeYoe: Wait a minute. It took me a long time to learn. So how long were you there before you started your own?
Kim Curtis: Longer than I wanted to be, because I had two young kids at the time. And so I’ll name the firm since you named the firm. It was american express financial Advisors. And then it rolled into Ameriprise, and a lot of my colleagues had already left. But because I had young children, I had to get the timing right of when that was appropriate, so never look back. My colleagues that left ahead of me always said, what took me so long? And I was like, what took me so long? Oh, my, uh, gosh.
Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, they tell you that you can’t do it yourself. You need the firm. I mean, that message is so ingrained as you’re there. Oh, you need our research, you need our access to product. Or you need this. You need this and you don’t. I mean, it’s all so easy to get to. So, I’m curious, when you set up your, like, as a percentage, how many of your clients followed you and were you starting over?
Kim Curtis: No, one did not follow?
Jonathan DeYoe: One.
Kim Curtis: And the only reason that one did not follow is they were moving to Canada.
Jonathan DeYoe: Right? That’s awesome.
Kim Curtis: Yeah, it’s a relationship business, and managing money is really not so much the rate of return as much as it is the achievement of goals and having a life well lived. So if you’re doing your job right, your clients will follow you because of, uh, you offer better outcomes, I think.
Jonathan DeYoe: Especially at that firm, though, there’s a lot of insurance products that lock people in for a long time, right? Maybe you didn’t do that.
Kim Curtis: Those firms are very good at stickiness.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, of course.
Kim Curtis: And that is very hard. I was able to find an insurance product through TIAA that didn’t have any sales charge. So we were able to take a lot of those legacy insurance policies and get them into, uh, a no load, no surrender fee, much better product so that they can continue those for that solution, for that goal, and so they.
Jonathan DeYoe: Can escape the institution. The sticky.
Kim Curtis: Yeah, I still own some of that from back in the day. Why did I not move my own money at the time? It’s almost like the cobbler, the shoes. Your kids are the last to have the nice shoes because you’re working on everyone else’s.
Jonathan DeYoe: So I’m curious, when you meet a new client today, what are some of that? And you talk about money scripts. What are some of the money scripts or the most potent money scripts you run into before?
Kim Curtis: I’m going to answer it, and then I’ll share something. I think the people that come to wealth legacy institute, they have at least 2 million and up. And so the money scripts generally have been resolved in some way, or they piggybacked on a spouse. So I think what we see more often than not, uh, is that they’re not communicating with each other as it relates to their next transition of stepping off. And so, for us, uh, oftentimes, it’s the first time the spouse has the ability to share what they want. And, of course, my background, I could hold that container really well so that they both feel heard and they both get what they want, and they could then, from that point forward, have joint and separate goals. But m they’re on the same page, and that in itself is substantial. So I would say the biggest thing is one spouse may not be as informed or not be heard, and to allow them to collectively come together, it’s kind of a beautiful thing, because think of their whole life saving saving for finally being able to live live. And yet, in the whole saving, they weren’t necessarily collectively having those conversations.
Jonathan DeYoe: Right.
Kim Curtis: So when I think about people that come to firms like know, like Maslow’s hierarchy of know, SEM at the bottom, food, clothing, shelter at the top, self actualization. Well, for us. People come to us. Of the four rungs, the bottom is managing money. That’s usually why someone comes to us. And then that next rung is attaching it to the goals that are important to them. So you need the money attached to planning. Otherwise, it’s like archery without a target. It means nothing. When the markets go like this, you have no idea what that actually means to you and your goals. So you have to have managing money tied to a financial plan for self preservation and putting it in perspective. So if you do those two things, that third of the four rungs as you work up is lifestyle. All of a sudden, money that’s frenetic and crazy. We have just put it down as a foundation. And once it’s a foundation, it’s no longer a nat bothering you. You have this clear blue sky of fresh air you could breathe. You got peace of mind for the first time ever, knowing that you’re finally on track. All that work that you did. Wow. It’s doable. And that feeling, that peace of mind, that who I could breathe. Hopefully, if we do our job right, like, we could get people to that place all day long in our sleep. We do that really well. But if we could do really well, like, the best, it’s the pinnacle. And that, uh, pinnacle is impact. If you could finally focus on the things that matter to you most because you’ve done the work, that. That pinnacle. It could be legacy, it could be fulfillment, whatever word works for you at that pinnacle is what we love to do. And if we could get a client to a space that they finally can do, why they’re here on this planet. Wow.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah.
Kim Curtis: That brings tears to our work.
Jonathan DeYoe: So that resonates so much. I’ve managed my own practice kind of the same way. It strikes me that you sound a lot like Nick Murray. Do you know who Nick Murray is?
Kim Curtis: I don’t know if that’s a compliment. I remember Nick Murray back in the day in the brokerage world.
Jonathan DeYoe: He wrote a thing. I love Nick Murray, by the way. I mean that with. So he wrote a thing, and you should look this up. You should google this. He wrote a thing called Rebecca’s River Keepers, and he looks at himself. Rebecca is his either granddaughter or great granddaughter. I’m not sure which. And he know everything I do. All the money I manage, all my earnings, everything. I am keeping the river of money so that it widens and deepens as it flows, so that when Rebecca inherits it, it’s everything. And he says, it’s not mine. I don’t care. I got plenty. I don’t have to worry about it. But I want that river to widen and deepen. So he’s actually at that pinnacle that you’re talking about. And he talks about that pinnacle a lot. So you should look up that. I think it’s a great article. You’d like it.
Kim Curtis: I wrote it down. I’ll definitely, Jonathan, look that up. Thank you.
Jonathan DeYoe: If you can’t find it, let me know, because I have it. I’ll send it to you. So you talk a lot about, or you mentioned this idea minute. Love yourself and money will follow. Explain that. What do you mean by that?
Kim Curtis: And remember, that’s the story that I shared about my own journey of being in debt and now a CEO of a wealth management firm. Obviously, I had to do a lot of self love, uh, self respect, to get to a place for money to find me. I believe that people say, I need money, I need money. Well, it’s really quite the opposite. Money needs you to become something of use to the world. Money has no value other than the value that we give it. So actually, money is really looking for you.
Jonathan DeYoe: That puts it on its head.
Kim Curtis: It does, doesn’t it? Money is actually looking for you. So how does money find you? Money finds you. Money, uh, finds you when you’re in a place. I’m just going to say it. There’s better words to say it. But money finds you when your frequency is high. And when we have high frequency is when we have joy, when we have aliveness, when we have gratitude, when we have self love, when we have self respect, when we have consciousness and awareness that raises up our frequency to understand. For money to find us. And how does money find us? Well, money finds us through our ideas. And ideas are abundant. So there are two laws of money, Jonathan. The first law is what we human made laws. This is what you and I do every day. So cash flow management, tax planning, retirement planning, estate planning, you name it, investments, that’s what we do as practitioners. The second law of money is natural money laws. And natural money laws are inherent in all of us, starting with giving and receiving, which is the story that I shared. That’s a good example. To be able to give, you also have to be able to receive in balance, also cause and effect. That’s kind of like karma or supply and demand, intention and desire. Ebb and flow. When we think of ocean and nature, the ebb and flow of an ocean, when it ebbs, when it comes to money, we don’t really feel that great about it. But generally, that’s a chance to work on ourselves and grow us so that when money flows again, we’re at a higher level to deliver better service to others. And then even mercy and justice, those are all natural money laws in balance. And then we need that in balance with the human money laws, because you could have natural money laws inherent in who you are already and believe and work all of those natural money laws. But if you don’t understand the human money laws, you’ll not be able to capture it and put it to use in a way that is productive to the world. So that’s why you need both in balance, but you start actually in the natural money laws. And if most people understood that, they would be more open to the frequency of money to find them.
Jonathan DeYoe: So you spoke earlier about Maslow’s hierarchy and how generally people have the basics figured out before they come to you. And that’s true in my practice as well. Are you at all frustrated with. And there’s a reason for this question, and it’s deeply personal to me, are you at all frustrated with the inability to help people that don’t have.
Kim Curtis: Mhm.
Jonathan DeYoe: Right. That have $100,000, maybe have debt? Because I think there’s a lot more of those people, and they really need the help more than the person that’s got two, three, $4 million. So how do you square that in your own head in terms of your impact on the world?
Kim Curtis: That’s why I’m having this conversation with you. I do podcasts as pro bono work as a give back. My next book, which will be hopefully coming out next year, it’s 90% done. Um, the title of that is called money is looking for you. And the whole purpose of that book is exactly what you’ve just described. The people who need it the most don’t have access to people like you and me. I think the industry is changing, where people can get an hourly advisor to just focus on what that question is or that need at that time, which will help. We could get into a whole conversation about financial literacy and our country and the tropes around capitalism and what that means and the divide between the haves and the have nots. There’s so much around that that, uh, we as practitioners, need to be able to give back in a way that’s meaningful to help others. Because if we don’t, ultimately, when you have inequality in a significant way, democracy no longer exists as we understand it.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yes, I agree.
Kim Curtis: Uh, a republic, if I were to use the appropriate term.
Jonathan DeYoe: Right. I think that we’ll have this conversation offline someday, but I want to compare notes on how that impact can happen. I want to shift gears a little bit, because you had actually mentioned men and women are raised differently around money and investing. And I want to tease that out. Like, what do you think is the difference between how men and women are raised? Well, why are you laughing.
Kim Curtis: To a woman? All, ah, those women out there that are listening, you’re laughing with me. I bet money was created by men. The languaging of money, it doesn’t resonate with women. Ah, gross domestic product inflation. I mean, these are all like, what is it? What, it doesn’t mean anything. What means something to women are paying for their children’s education, making sure their family has, uh, their bills paid, taking care of aging parents. So that’s why the financial planning was a game changer in the industry, to really bring both to the table, because oftentimes it’s men who usually are managing the money, and they come to firms like ours. It’s our job to bring in the spouse to make sure that they’re on the same page and to make sure that the man understands, wow, these goals are really important. You really need them, because otherwise you’ll get distracted by rate of return, when in fact, that really has not taken you off track that much in down markets like the tech bubble, the great recession, the mortgage meltdown, all of those things. So I think, one, the language wasn’t, uh, developed by women. My grandmother, up until the 70s, women couldn’t even get a credit card without having their husband sign off on it, or even for some, get a job without their husband signing off on it. So for women, we haven’t had the chance to like the training wheels, to ride the tricycle very much until more recently. And historically, women were property. I mean, my grandmother had a stash of money, and it wasn’t for an opportunity or a business. It was for security.
Jonathan DeYoe: Right.
Kim Curtis: Safety. So I think if you come back from gender, just gender alone, and then add culture to that and women in different cultures around the world, it’s a very different conversation. So I think that just from the starting point of where I was and where we are today, I think it really takes a lot to have women engaged in the conversation in a way that allows them to want to lean in.
Jonathan DeYoe: So I have a couple of comments that I have to share because I think there’s something you said there in the beginning about men created the language. Maybe we did, and I’ll be part of that. I don’t think we actually understand it either, though.
Kim Curtis: Fair, right.
Jonathan DeYoe: I think that there’s a lot of ink spilled and a lot of airtime spilled on things like GDP and inflation and rates and stuff. And at the end of the day, that doesn’t affect our long term outcomes. That’s just freaking noise. And when I think about. The second comment is when I think about my clients, the people that, when I look up at the audience at one of my client events, it’s like 80% women. I think that’s because I lead with planning and I think those people are attract. Women are attracted to planning. Men are attracted to bitcoin and things moving quickly and it’s fast and it’s bright and shiny. Right. Women are attracted. And this, I don’t know. I’m not a woman. I’m not speaking as a woman. I just am sort of looking at the anecdotes and saying, huh, this is interesting, but I don’t think anybody understands the data. I think we all put meaning there that doesn’t exist. Right.
Kim Curtis: Very true.
Jonathan DeYoe: But I still am attracted by the shiny object. Absolutely. My wife is not. That’s an interesting comparison. That’s interesting to know that I do.
Kim Curtis: Have a little shiny object myself. Do you actually? How I get around that?
Jonathan DeYoe: How is that?
Kim Curtis: Uh, I need to understand bitcoin so that I could have the conversation with my clients back in the day with my twelve year old son. We bought a bitcoin, $250. Yeah. That’s how I get objects. It’s all in research.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. It’s part of the experiment. Like, you’re curious, you got to find out. It’s part of the experiment. Right. I’ll own my bitcoin through the companies that I own. They can do it.
Kim Curtis: Fair enough.
Jonathan DeYoe: Right. So are you seeing those gender differences change maybe because of what you do? You’re only looking at people that are retiring, but if you’re looking at their children, do you think those gender differences are the same or do you think they’re changing?
Kim Curtis: No, you probably are. I don’t know if you’ve read. I remember when I read this, I was shocked, but I thought, it’s so true that each generation is smarter than the generation before it.
Jonathan DeYoe: Of course.
Kim Curtis: Exactly. I was thinking of my parents. Duh. Yes. And then I went, oh my gosh, I have a daughter and a son. And I thought, wow, they are smarter. They show up different. And so, yes, I would answer the question. I have a daughter that’s 25 and a son that’s 23, and my daughter very much. She is very independent. She’s very money aware. She articulates her needs really well with her companion, and they do really well together as a couple. And so, yes. Uh, I also hope that she heard a little nuggets from me along the way. But I do think that women, and with the whole gig economy and various other things, that women are more empowered than my generation, and my generation was absolutely more empowered than my mother’s in the mother in the. Absolutely more empowered than my grandmother during the great depression.
Jonathan DeYoe: So we’re on the right trajectory, for sure.
Kim Curtis: Yeah. I would like to think that we’re getting smarter about how we show up, and it will be interesting to see, I mean, sustainability and various other issues that we need to address that I think that our younger generation already probably has the answers to the solutions.
Jonathan DeYoe: Right. That’s not for us to solve, but we need to have a younger.
Kim Curtis: We don’t have the brain to solve it.
Jonathan DeYoe: Right. We need to actually reduce the age in our political population so that they can start making different decisions, because right now we’re electing octogenarians too much anyway.
Kim Curtis: In our house, that there should be an age limit.
Jonathan DeYoe: Totally.
Kim Curtis: For being, uh, in Congress.
Jonathan DeYoe: Totally, yeah, for sure. So I want to go back to something you said in the beginning. I want to pull on it a little bit more because you sold Christmas cards or cards, holiday cards, door to door as a kid. How old were you when you did this?
Kim Curtis: Ten. Can you believe that? Going door to door as a ten year old today?
Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, I did well today. No, but I did it. So that’s what I was going to ask. Is your kids, do they do that at all?
Kim Curtis: No. You know what? As a matter of fact, I didn’t want my kids to do that, so when they had to buy something for their school, I would just pay whatever that requirement was.
Jonathan DeYoe: Okay. This is good. I’m glad we’re going here. I do the same thing. So I was raised with very little. I had to do the fundraisers so that I could do the thing. My kids were given everything. I wonder, and I worry a great deal that I did not put roadblocks and challenges in front of them so that they didn’t have to overcome them, so they didn’t have to become better themselves. Do you worry about that? Am I insane?
Kim Curtis: Well, there is data on that in terms of family wealth, and you may have heard the expression shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations. That proverb, and it’s a universal proverb that goes through countries, clogs to clogs rice patty to rice patty. And that is, you have an entrepreneur that creates the wealth, has an idea, creates the wealth, and then the next generation moves to the city and joins the opera board. And the third generation, the family is fractured, and the money is gone. So there is, uh, data that, yes, we may not be doing the best for our children. I would like to think that I make it up in different ways of how that I make them struggle.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, there’s a certain amount of implemented false struggle, but I wonder about that. Where’s the money coming from? Fear. Because I think you built something, and I think you built something because you had that. Where’s the money coming from? Fear. And I think I built something, and I think I built it because I had that fear. My kids never had that fear, and I worry about that as they go out into the world. And I’m not saying everyone has to build something, but overcoming is an important part of growing.
Kim Curtis: Well, I think the struggle allows for the other side. Gratitude, right?
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. You understand how hard it is to do this so you can be really grateful for what you have. It’s true.
Kim Curtis: Yeah. And respect for others. When you struggle and have gratitude, you’re more open to the diversity of others.
Jonathan DeYoe: And story and seeing their struggles. Yeah, I hear about that struggle. That struggle is hard. It really is. There’s a ton of noise out there. I ask every single person to sort of simplify it for us. Maybe you heard Paul’s, uh, response to this. When you listen to that podcast. If you were to meet someone who struggles with their money on a flight cross country, what is one thing that you would say that they should do today that would lead to better personal and financial success?
Kim Curtis: Well, there is the quantitative side, and, uh, then there’s the qualitative side.
Jonathan DeYoe: You pick what’s the most important. You only get one.
Kim Curtis: Okay, if that’s the case, if I only get one. Set up automatic savings so that you don’t have to think about it and you don’t touch it, and it’s automatic. Set that up immediately with your first job, if you’re lucky enough to have a qualified plan or a retirement plan, ideally 15% to 20%, and don’t ever think about it. And if you do that, if you give me a 20 year old, I can turn them into a millionaire if that’s what they want. And that is the number one first step. And you do that, you’re already halfway there to becoming a millionaire. As long as you don’t touch it or take a loan. Against it.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yes, I agree. It’s a good one. And then the flip side of that coin is there’s a lot of noise out there. What is one thing that maybe they think they should be doing that you would say, hey, stop doing that.
Kim Curtis: There’s so many to that. Stop following shiny objects. Stop listening to the media. Turn, uh, the media off. It’s a distraction. It makes us sad. We can’t control it. So turn the media off. You got your phone, you can get your newsfeed. You could scroll through, click on what you want to see. But that would be the only suggestion that I would make in terms of not following the media’s hype, because that’s their ratings, and it has nothing to do with you personally. It just gets you off track.
Jonathan DeYoe: It sounds to me like you’ve been.
Kim Curtis: Reading Nick Murray so funny 20 years ago. Yes. That’s cool. I’ll really look them up.
Jonathan DeYoe: So before we wrap, I want to go back to personal a little bit. So what was the last thing you changed your mind about? Remember those zingers we talked about? This is one of them.
Kim Curtis: Yes. I would say that it has to do with my son. I think as a parent, we want to, as you, Jonathan and I have already talked about, we feel like we know what’s best. We have insight. And yesterday, I just released my role in his decision making. He graduated and got a degree in business, but he went back to get his one year master’s in finance. Not our kind of finance, different kind of finance. And he wants to do something. And I just thought, you know what? He’s a grown ass man, right? He’s 23. He has been showing good decision making skills. I’m going to step back and watch his decision making. Uh, so far, I’ve really appreciated the process he’s going through. And when I stepped back, all of a sudden, what I saw was really nice.
Jonathan DeYoe: He stepped up. That’s awesome.
Kim Curtis: Yeah.
Jonathan DeYoe: That’s what every parent hopes for eventually, where they step at 17 or 25.
Kim Curtis: Or 32, they hope that frontal lobe.
Jonathan DeYoe: Oh, my God, it’s so terrifying. M I just dropped mine off at college. He went to starting at UCLA, my eldest. So I’m a little worried. But he’s doing great.
Kim Curtis: You’re thinking about you did as a freshman.
Jonathan DeYoe: That’s absolutely right. So is there anything people don’t know or maybe just don’t remember about you that’s really important to you that they know?
Kim Curtis: I don’t know if it’s about me specifically, but life is short to live a life filled with joy and aliveness. And if you’re not, man, how can we get you there? Because that’s the only place to be, to be able to follow the things of why you’re here. We’re all here uniquely beautiful to do what we’re supposed to do. And I hope I’m doing that, and I hope that others can follow through my actions and my help.
Jonathan DeYoe: Well said. Kim. How do people connect with you? Where do they find you?
Kim Curtis: I want to say Instagram. Kim Curtis prosperity is Instagram, which is fun. And I want to say happiness doesn’t retire is another Instagram post, and it’s a movement of stickers. I, uh, thought I had one in front of me, but I don’t. Happiness doesn’t retire. It’s taking a picture of a sticker of when you’re doing your most joy so you can be with your grandkids and you’ll hold up this happiness doesn’t retire. And we set up this campaign to help people, to have others see what brings joy to people. And it all started when my aging mom and my uncle, during the pandemic, we rented an RV, picked up my mom, picked up her brother, picked up her sister, and went to Wisconsin because it was open and had a hotel. And they got together and they danced and sang and laughed, and I sat there and watched. Happiness doesn’t retire. It doesn’t matter how old you are. Joy always exists. And that’s when I came up with the campaign, and now neither of them are on the planet. That was the last time they saw each other. But when you think about that fleeting.
Jonathan DeYoe: Moments, happiness doesn’t retire. I love it. Kim, thanks for coming on. We’ll make sure everything’s in the show notes. I really appreciate your time here, and I’ve loved the conversation.
Kim Curtis: Thanks, Jonathan. Me too.