On this episode of the Passive Income Attorney podcast, Seth is joined by financial coach and big law attorney Rho Thomas as they discuss how student debt and the golden handcuffs can become anchors that not only weigh you down financially, but also prevent you from exploring your passions for fear of debt repayment. Rho, who scratched and clawed her way out of massive student debt, helps other lawyers make intentional lifestyle and money decisions to regain control of their time, build wealth, and live with freedom and choice, as she believes that true wealth is having control of your time. Enjoy!
“Make sure that you are paying attention and being intentional with your life because it’s easy to get caught up living life on autopilot. Take some time to think about the life you actually want to live, then make a plan to get there.”
Here’s a breakdown of what to expect in this episode:
- A look into the practice of being a trademark lawyer before and during the pandemic.
- Strategies to find balance between work, play, family, and yourself.
- How having a financial coach can help you start making changes to pay off debt.
- The Debt Snowball Method and other actionable steps that you can take to tackle your six-figure student debt.
- Why lawyers are not good at managing their finances and end up with the golden handcuffs of bad debt.
- How to set healthy boundaries between yourself and your family in terms of spending your money.
- And so much more!
ABOUT | RHO THOMAS:
Rho Thomas is an attorney and financial coach who believes that true wealth is having control of your time. She helps lawyers make intentional lifestyle and money decisions to regain control of their time, build wealth, and live the lives of freedom and choice they deserve. She has been featured in outlets such as Yahoo! Finance, Refinery29, and Mic. She hosts the Wealthyesque podcast, which explores how lawyers can achieve lifestyle freedom by reframing their mindset and managing their money to achieve financial independence.
FIND | RHO THOMAS:
CONNECT | SETH BRADLEY:
Snag | The Freedom Blueprint: http://www.attorneybydesign.com
Subscribe and Leave a Rating and Review:
Join EPIC | The Esquire Passive Investor Club: https://passiveincomeattorney.com/join-the-passive-income/
Join | The Passive Income Attorneys Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/passiveincomeattorneys
Seth: [00:00:00] What’s up Law Nation? I hope you’re having a fantastic productive week. If you’re ready to get started on your passive investing journey. Pause this right now and go to escapethebillable.com to download our Billables to Abundance Bible, a field guide to getting started with passive investing. It will show you how to buy back your time.
All right, let’s talk about debt, baby. There’s good debt and bad debt. For instance, good debt is when you leverage financing to purchase cash flowing real estate. On the other hand, bad debt is that credit card that you don’t pay off at the end of the month? Those are easy. Well, how about something like student debt?
Is that good? Is that bad? I think that traditionally we’ve always said student debt is good without question, but now I’m not so sure about that. Is it really good debt when you decide at age 17 to take on tens of thousands of debt to get a degree in communications, sorry, all communications majors out there, but how about going hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to go to law school before you truly know if you love the practice or maybe even if public service is your goal, that’s a tougher call.
Sometimes the student debt turns into an anchor and not only weighs us down financially, but also prevents us from exploring interesting opportunities in fear of our debt repayment. Today’s incredible guest Rho Thomas is a big law attorney and financial coach who has scratched and clawed her way out of massive student debt and helped others to do the same.
Rho is a financial coach who believes that true wealth is having control of your time. She helps lawyers make intentional lifestyle and money decisions to regain control of their time, build wealth and live the lives of freedom and choice that they deserve. She has been featured in Yahoo finance hosts, the wealthiest podcast, which explores how lawyers can achieve lifestyle freedom by reframing their mindset and managing their money to achieve financial independence.
All right guys, let’s go.
Seth: [00:02:45] Hey Rho, welcome to the podcast.
Rho: [00:02:48] Thank you so much for having me set such a pleasure to be here.
Seth: [00:02:52] Thanks so much for coming on. Let’s just jump right in and tell us a little bit about your background and about your story.
Rho: [00:02:59] So I know you asked about me wanting to be a lawyer since I was seven. So I will start all the way back then. Um, so I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was seven, it came from like watching all of the lawyers shows and that kind of thing. And I didn’t really know what that meant. Right. Like what it meant to be a lawyer.
But I saw that on TV. I thought it was really cool. And then all of my family always said that I like to argue, so I would make a good lawyer. And so I’m like, okay, cool. Of course, that’s not what being a lawyer is about. Like, there’s very little argument, but, um, I decided, right. I decided at that point that I wanted to be a lawyer and I went straight through like, Kindergarten to law school and ended up in trademark law at the firm that I’m at now, I’ve been at the same firm, my entire career, and really enjoy that.
And then aside from my legal career, I also am a financial coach, uh, that kind of came out of my own personal financial story, which we can get into if you like. Um, and then aside from the professional side, I’m a wife, I’m a mom and all of the things.
Seth: [00:04:10] That’s awesome. That’s awesome. I mean, you’re lucky in the sense that, you know, from seven years old, you kind of already knew what you wanted to do.
I, it took me about 30 years to figure that out. Yeah.
Rho: [00:04:21] Well, yeah, definitely having that thought from the time I was seven helped to guide my life. Right. Like I knew exactly what was coming next. It was like, okay, I’m finished with high school now I’m going to college. And then I’m going to law school and now it’s the firm.
So that was helpful for sure.
Seth: [00:04:37] Yeah, I mean, I think that speaks a lot about you too. I mean, you were like, okay. Seven years old. I’m going to be a lawyer. And guess what? Now you are at the highest level.
Rho: [00:04:46] It has been interesting for sure. I will say that, you know, like I said, from the time I was seven, I didn’t really know what being a lawyer meant.
Like it was a lot of what I saw on TV, but when I got into law school, I had the opportunity to join the ABA as a student member. And I had a few like groups that I could join for free. I joined like three or four of them and I would get their emails and you know, all of that. And so that’s how I got into IP specifically and then had the opportunity to do some IP work.
During my summers, I loved it. So I was like, okay, yeah, here we are. Let’s go.
Seth: [00:05:22] Nice. Yeah. I think trademark laws, probably a little bit different than what you saw, uh, attorneys on TV doing just a bit, just a big.
Rho: [00:05:29] Yes.
Seth: [00:05:31] Tell us a little bit more about your, your current law practice and maybe what you love about it and what could be better.
Rho: [00:05:38] So my law practice is a lot of fun. I do get into some of the argument piece because I do a lot of contentious proceedings. Trademark office has like a quasi judicial branch. And that’s where most of my practice is. So it’s helping to enforce our clients’ trademarks. If someone files a new trademark application, let’s say, you know, there’s.
If Starbucks were one of my clients, if someone decides they’re going to file stars in books for coffee and tea, right. Then I’m like, Hey. By the way, I don’t know if, you know, like there’s this company called Starbucks. Like they actually have a trademark for that. And you’re, you’re a little bit close.
We’re a little bit concerned. And so, you know, start there and then get into if you know, they don’t back down. We would get into filing. What’s called a notice of opposition, which is very similar to a complaint. And then it proceeds that way similar to litigation in a court. Um, I love the trademark aspect.
Like trademark is so much fun. Um, I remember, as I mentioned, being in law school and reading about trademark law, it all started with the case between Christian Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent. So I’m a huge like fashion person. I really enjoy fashion and beauty and all of the things. And so when I saw that case, um, for those who aren’t familiar, Christian Louis Vuitton has the red sole.
It’s actually a trademark Yves Saint Laurent had put out a collection of shoes that were monochromatic. So. A yellow shoe with a yellow sole blue shoe with a blue sole, there was a red shoe in there. And so they ended up getting into a whole dispute about it and it was just fascinating to me. Yeah. So all of that has been really interesting.
I see a lot of really cool things. I get, you know, some very interesting matters and all of that, the thing that I don’t like about it is that it can be, uh, it can be very time consuming if that makes sense, especially. Before the pandemic. So, um, we talked a little bit before about how, like, in the pandemic, trying to juggle all the things has been interesting, but even before the pandemic, we would have meetings to talk about the meeting before we have them, you know, like that kind of thing.
Um, that part, like I really enjoy the substance of what I do. I just would like to do it a little bit less so that I have more time for other things. And. Then this pandemic came and I’m trying to juggle all the things. My husband is still working outside of the home. And so trying to do full-time practice and have a business.
And with my two kids was a little bit difficult. And so I ended up dropping down to 50% at the firm so that I could better balance all of my responsibilities in this time.
Seth: [00:08:21] Very cool. Yeah. I love what you said there, you know, you have a meeting about the next meeting and it’s just a big waste of time.
It’s like, uh, you know, you’re just trying to fill up the time because you have to be in the office, you know, a certain number of hours and that just, that happens in any business.
Rho: [00:08:34] Yeah. And it, it’s interesting because I do feel that. People want to be very prepared, right. And so it’s like, Oh no, we got to go through this again.
And we’ve got to have this meeting and make sure that we’re all prepared. And then we have the meeting and then we’ll have the post-meeting like debrief session and all of that. And it’s just like, Oh my gosh, I just want to not. We want to not be looking at you guys talking about this again.
Seth: [00:09:02] Yeah. I think that’s where working from home helps out a lot.
Right? Like you’re not going to have those pre-meetings and post meetings. You’re just gonna, you know, wear your sweatpants, get on zoom and have the meeting. Like, let’s talk about what we need to talk about so we can get back to the actual work.
Rho: [00:09:14] So you would think. But I have had some, even in working from home, I have had pre-meetings and post meetings and all the things.
And I mean, I, I, I say that is like the part that I disliked, but I can see some of the benefit in it. Right. So that we’re all on the same page and present this United front to the client. But at the same time, It’s a lot of meetings.
Seth: [00:09:38] Yeah. A lot, lots of meetings. There’s a way to maybe streamline that a little bit better.
Um, and that’s really good that your firm was, you know, open to you doing 50% time. I’m in a lot of folks, you know, aren’t in a situation where they’re, they’re even able to ask for that and their firm might not grant that.
Rho: [00:09:56] Yeah. Our firm has a reduced hours policy, which I am really grateful for because I’ve had the opportunity to take advantage of it.
Even before the pandemic, after having my second child, I found that balancing was a little bit tough. Like I was feeling like I was failing in all areas of life. Right. Like I was. Failing as a wife, as a mom, as a lawyer. And I wasn’t really, like, I ended up going to therapy and like talking through it. And when I talked to my therapist, she said, well, what about the, you, you know, you want to be like, how are you doing as you?
Cause I told her I was not being the wife I wanted to be, or the mom I want it to be, or the lawyer wanted it to be, what about the, you, you want to be? And so that’s where I realized that I was not really paying attention to me, like to myself, to what I wanted. And. I had decided at work that I would drop down to about 90% to help take a little bit of that edge off the way that the reduced hours policy works is that you do, you know, a certain percentage of the hours and you get paid a certain percentage of your salary.
So at 90% of the hours, I was being paid 90% of my salary. Now at 50%, I’m doing 50% of the hours for 50% of my salary.
Seth: [00:11:09] Right, right. Yeah. That’s awesome. I mean, we talk about on this podcast all the time about buying back your time piece by piece. So if you had that option to scale back to 90% or 70% or 50%, maybe you can start investing or, you know, starting a side hustle.
Um, and then you get to the point where you’re comfortable enough to say, okay, I’m going to par back to 70% and then work your way kind of out if you want to or stay with it. Uh, like you have, because you, you love what you do.
Rho: [00:11:36] Yeah, I completely agree. And I love the, like, being able to do that where you can fit your work into the way that you want.
Right. Like I say, all the time that I want my work to fit into my life rather than take over my life. And I think especially in the legal profession, but in America at large. Like our lives center around our work, right? It’s like work is the thing. And then everything else is fitting into the little cracks around it.
And I don’t want to live my life that way. I want work to be a part of my life. I do enjoy what I do. I don’t want it to be all that I do. Right.
Seth: [00:12:14] Right. And we’re going to get into this later, but we might as well now because you brought it up, but you were talking about having more time for you for yourself, not you as a lawyer or you as a mother or father or brother or sister, but you and time for you, you know, how have you been able to kind of make that transition mentally to say, okay, I actually need to work on myself a little bit and have some free time for myself.
Rho: [00:12:38] Yeah. So one of the things that came out of my work in therapy was making that time for myself. And so I get up in the mornings before my husband and kids, and the house is quiet, which is very rare with a four year old and two year old. But I have that time where I can just. B. I tend to read my Bible out, pray I journal, you know, meditate, all of those things to kind of get my mind right.
For the day. And I have had days where, you know, I didn’t get up. Maybe I was up later the night before, and so I didn’t get up and I’ve felt the difference, like not having that time for myself and being able to really center myself and. Just be, uh, it takes a toll during later parts of the day. So that has been my number one for the last few years.
Seth: [00:13:27] And I, I, I presume that you are just a better and happier person because of that.
Rho: [00:13:34] Oh, absolutely.
Seth: [00:13:35] Absolutely. Right. And you’re probably a better lawyer, a better mother because you, you you’re taking care of yourself first. That’s, that’s the important thing, because you tend to put yourself kind of last, right?
At one point in time, you said that you felt like you were failing in all aspects of life. Um, you know, whether it’s that’s as a lawyer or a mother or whatever it is, um, really you need to just take care of yourself and, and offer yourself some self care so that you could be happy enough to succeed in all those other aspects of your life.
Rho: [00:14:01] Yeah, I definitely have fallen into that trap of feeling like I needed to do all the things for everyone else. Right. I need to put in more time and do this for work and why I’ve been at work all day. So I’ve got to spend this time with my kids and I’ve got to do this with my husband and just neglecting myself.
But as you said, when I took that time or when I take that time, because it’s ongoing for myself, then I am able to show up. Better in all the other areas of my life. And I think it, it goes back to if you’ve ever heard someone talking about like filling your own cup, right. Like I was trying to pour from an empty cup, I’m pouring for everybody else.
Like, Oh, you got to get this last little drop. Right. And so taking that time to refill my cup each day just has. It’s greatly improved my life and has definitely made me happier.
Seth: [00:14:49] Awesome. Awesome. Are there any other strategies that you use or you tell your clients to use, to find, you know, find that balance?
I know there’s a little bit cliche, but really it is. It’s finding that balance between work and play family and yeah.
Rho: [00:15:02] Yeah. I think the biggest thing, as far as finding balance is making time for it because especially being a busy lawyer, it’s very easy to let work, just go. It take over your entire calendar.
Um, I think that many of us just kind of go through our day and we’re just doing whatever comes, right? So someone says, Oh, we need this. It’s like, Oh yeah, I’m on it. You know, and doing the thing. And so I make time for myself by putting myself on my calendar, even before the pandemic I would make, you know, whatever it is that I’m trying to do.
Even if it’s just taking a break it’s on the calendar and that way no one can schedule. A meeting or, you know, whatever for that time, the key though with doing that is you have to honor it. I think sometimes we’ll put, you know, things for ourselves on the calendar, but then someone’s like, Hey, Rho like, can you do a meeting at one?
And it’s like, Oh yeah, that doesn’t really count, but it’s fine. I go just for 10, like the things that we put for ourselves aren’t real appointments. So, you know, putting yourself on your calendar and sticking with it, you know, and the other thing I would say similar to that is. Setting your work hours as best you can.
You know, law is one of those professions where the work can just continue to bleed over, like you’re never done. And so you set those work hours and stick to it. And that’s similar to putting yourself on your calendar because then once the work is over, that’s your time.
Seth: [00:16:27] Yep. Yeah. I mean, I think that that’s for a lot of attorneys and other busy professionals, you’re just always caught up in the world, whirlwind.
I mean, you, you, you just never have the opportunity to kinda kind of take it all in and live in the moment. Like a lot of, you know, other folks that are a little bit more free with their time can do, we’re always thinking about the next deadline or the next six minutes or the next, whatever. And I, I know that I’ve certainly been guilty of that and I still, still am.
Um, but it’s definitely not the healthiest way to live the fullest way to live. And I think some of those strategies that you just mentioned, especially calendaring your own time, um, can really help people get to that, you know, healthier place where they, where they spend time with themselves and, and they give themselves room to breathe and, and live in the moment.
Rho: [00:17:12] Yeah, I would completely agree with that. And I think we make time for the things that are important to us, but for some reason we don’t make time for ourselves. And so that, I think says a lot, like if you are important to yourself, make time for yourself.
Seth: [00:17:26] Yeah. Yeah, for sure. So tell me a little bit about your financial coaching business.
Um, I think it’s specifically for attorneys, um, but maybe dive into that a little bit.
Rho: [00:17:36] Yeah. So before we get into the business itself, I mentioned that it kind of came out of my own personal financial story. So about four years ago, my husband and I had our first kid and we were thinking about the life that we wanted to live and how we want it to raise him.
Like at that time I was a third year associate, like. Brand Lee brand newly third year. I don’t know if that that’s a word, you know what I’m saying? We got ya. Yeah. In my third year. How about that? Um, but I have been the like super type a person that I am, and I was, you know, wanting to be the best associate, like no lie first year.
I go into my team leaders office, like, Hey, so I want to be a partner. Like, tell me about that. What do I need to do? And he’s like, well, first we learned to be a good associate and like, you know, he went through all the things of like, you know, helping me to. Hone my practice and to be a good associate. Um, but that was me, right?
Like I just knew that this is what I was going to do. And so like, you know, our hours requirement was like 1900. I was billing like 2000, 2100 easy, like doing all the things. And then I had my first kid and it’s like, well, the mom that I had always envisioned myself being. Doesn’t really work with this lifestyle that I have been living, right.
Like with the amount of time I have been putting in at work. And so I was talking to my husband about it. He was a resident at the time, a second year, I think resident. And so he of course was also very busy, a lot of overnight shifts at the hospital and you know, all of that. And so we were talking about how we could, you know, maybe scale back or.
Change some things around. And we looked at our finances and we were over $670,000 in debt with a negative $342,000 net worth. And it was like, okay, so guess we’re not going to be making any changes anytime soon. And so we, you know, started researching how to pay off debt and you know, all of the, all of that and stumbled upon the financial independence community.
And so that’s where our financial journey started. We actually got on a budget because we hadn’t had one before. Like we were doing the things that you’re supposed to do. Like we paid off our credit cards in full and we were saving and. Even maxing out our retirement accounts and all of that, but we had not paid any attention to the debt.
It was just like, Oh yeah, paying the minimum. And for my husband being a resident with like 300 something thousand dollars in student loan was the minimum was like $20. So yeah. But interest was accruing. Right. Um, but anyway, we started on our plan paying that off and I started a blog about a year into it.
Just sharing our story and sharing the things that I was learning and all of that, excuse me. And so people start seeing, you know, the progress that we were making and asking about us, and then that’s how like coaching started. And I, um, I wanted to do something specific to lawyers because having conversations with colleagues and friends from law school and all of that, a lot of people were in a similar position to us.
Not necessarily to the same extent, right. With the same amount of debt, but just feeling like they weren’t able to make changes that they wanted to make in their lives. Or like there were some people who wanted to take a different job. I felt like they couldn’t afford to do so, or, you know, they want it to, I dunno, whatever the case was, just wanted to make some changes, but felt like they couldn’t afford it.
And especially for most of them to be in big law. And for me to be in big law, it’s like, something is not adding up here. Like this does not make sense. And so I started coaching on, you know, getting the finances in order because people were asking how we were making the progress that we were, and it has just grown from there.
Um, I’ve started in the last year or so reaching people outside of my network and it’s just been a lot of fun.
Seth: [00:21:35] Very cool. Very cool. I think that’s a big problem that a lot of our listeners can relate to. I mean, having that massive debt coming out of school, not only financially, but also it just hamstrings you from a career perspective.
If you want to go into public service or hang your own shingle or something like that, and you’re already working in a big law firm, you don’t really even have the ability to do so because you’ve still got all this debt to pay off. So it’s a big problem. And so that’s awesome that you’re able to, um, kind of share your experience with, with your.
Uh, w w with your clients and how you’re able to do that.
Rho: [00:22:08] Yeah, thank you. It’s been a lot of fun, um, fun being, I guess, relative, but finding all of the different strategies and, you know, learning about money in a way that I was never taught. Right. Like my husband and I come from single parent households.
Like we weren’t taught anything. About money and even like going to schools, like, well, don’t have money to go to school. So I’m going to just sign my name on this paper to take out this money. And there was no education around it, right? Like there, it really baffles me that at, you know, 17, 18, you can just like, sign your name on a dotted line and get yeah.
Thousands of dollars with no education. Like nobody teach you anything about it. So, um, sharing our story has always been for me. Like to inspire others because especially people who have the six figures of student loans. Cause there are a lot of stories out there where it’s like, you know, people who had 30,000, 50,000, which is still a lot of, you know, money don’t get me wrong.
But when you’ve got hundreds of thousands of dollars, I think sometimes it can feel very isolating because you don’t see those stories a lot.
Seth: [00:23:18] Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I mean, financial education is just such a huge, huge issue in this country. And I would say all around the world, I mean, people, you just don’t learn about money.
It’s almost, you’re not supposed to talk about money, but really that’s the number one thing you should be talking about, because like you said, you can sign yourself onto debt when you’re 18 years old and that’s going to affect you for the rest of your life. If you don’t know what you’re doing, um, similar to you.
I mean, I came from a blue collar family. My dad. Uh, as a retired coal miner, and mom’s a retired teacher and, you know, we didn’t, I didn’t learn anything about entrepreneurship or owning a business or real estate or investing. It was just like, What’s the best job you can get. And that’s why I ended up going to, I went to med school first for about a year and a couple of weeks and hated it.
And I dropped out and then I ended up going to law school after that, because the next thing was okay, well, I’m not going to be a doctor. What’s the next best job I can get. I’m going to be a lawyer. So. Unlike you, uh, I wasn’t seven years off thinking about being an attorney. Um, it was just kind of the best job I thought that I get.
Um, but it’s interesting, right? I mean just the lack of financial education that you have in this country. And we really need to start promulgating that and teaching people about investing and teaching people about, you know, this is the debt you’re going to get yourself into. Is it going to be worth it?
Rho: [00:24:37] Yeah, that part, especially because I know of people who went to the same college that I did, who took out six figures of debt for, you know, a history degree or, you know, things where it would be difficult to. Make that kind of money to pay the debt back. And I mean, then we were on, I have a sociology degree from undergrad, but you know, my plan since I was seven, was to go into law school.
And so there’s that, but I completely agree that there needs to be some sort of education and this whole thing with money being taboo. And we’re not supposed to talk about it. Like we need to talk about it. And that’s why I think shows like yours and all of the, you know, podcasts and blogs out there where people are sharing.
These stories are so important. Because if we don’t talk about it, then how are we supposed to learn and improve?
Seth: [00:25:27] Yeah. Yeah, for sure. So let’s kind of go back to that. What are some of the actionable steps that people can take to tackle this debt? If they have, you know, six figures of student debt, I mean, what are some of the suggestions that you give them to start chipping away at that?
Rho: [00:25:43] Yeah, it’s a first get a budget and know where your money is going. Because like I said, we were doing all the things that, you know, we were supposed to do with paying our credit cards and saving and such. But the rest of it, I could not tell you where it went. You know, for however many years, it’s just like, it’s just gone, you know?
And then at the end of the year, you get your W2 that says how much you’ve made. And you’re like, wait a minute. So having a budget I think is really key and it doesn’t necessarily have to be super, you know, Detailed. I do like a detailed budget. I’m a spreadsheet nerd, but just knowing, you know, where your money is going is key, because then you can see those opportunities to, you know, take some of the excess and put it towards your financial goals, whether it’s debt or investing or whatever.
Um, and then as far as specific to debt payoff, I like the debt snowball method. I know that people say like, you know, Oh, well it costs more and you should do the, the avalanche where you’re paying on the highest interest rates. But the debt snowball method where you’re paying your debts from smallest balance to largest balance is so good because of the psychological benefits.
Like as you get those quick wins, like at one point we were paying off a debt. A month because it was like $1,500, you know, $2,000, that kind of thing. And so like when you have those really small ones and you can get those quick wins, then you’re like building this evidence that, Oh, maybe I can actually do this thing and you keep going.
So then when you get to the monster, right, like my husband and me, it was. His loan ended up being $370,000. When we got to it, it was about three 40 when we started. But when we got there, it was like, well, we’ve already tackled like 16 different loans. Like we can do this thing. Right. And so then we’re not going to be as discouraged.
We’re going to be more motivated to keep going. So those are my two big tips. Make sure you get a budget. So you know where your money’s going and then use a debt snowball method so that you can build that momentum to get. Yourself to the finish line.
Seth: [00:27:48] Gotcha. Gotcha. Yeah. You can’t discount that psychological, uh, those psychological wins that you get from that.
I mean, it’s definitely meaningful and it helps you, you know, get that momentum going. Um, what are, what are some of the other common issues you see coming up over and over again with, with some of your clients?
Rho: [00:28:03] Not knowing how to manage your money. Um, I dunno if that’s how I wanna phrase it.
Kind of like the trap that people fall into where you’re spending all your money, that I was just describing like, Oh yeah, we’ve got these basic things covered, but we’re not doing anything else with the exit. So we ended up spending it and then people end up feeling like they can’t afford to. Make those changes that we talk about.
So, um, making sure that you are paying attention to where your money’s going, like managing your money. Well, having a plan because a lot of people don’t have a plan at all, and this is beyond budgeting. Like just having a plan for what you’re going to do with your money. Do you want to pay off your debt?
Do you want to build your savings? Do you want to build retirement, those types of things? And then I would say just making sure that you are like, That you are educating yourself, right? For how having this type of income. Can affect your future. And I did not articulate that well at all, but, um, the way that you can change your future, like we talked about financial freedom, financial independence, a lot of times I think people just don’t know that.
And so they don’t have a plan and they’re not able to utilize this amazing tool is amazing resource to do the things that they want to do. In their lives, right?
Seth: [00:29:38] Yeah. Why are lawyers good at this? And shouldn’t they be good at this?
Rho: [00:29:44] Right. I think, but it goes back to what you were saying about how we’re not taught about it.
Right? Like if we don’t know, then we can’t implement, we can’t do those things.
Seth: [00:29:53] Yeah. Yeah. And especially when you’re working at big firms, I mean, like you said, you, you end up making a lot of money, but you ended up spending a lot of money. Even if you have that debt kind of sitting like a rain cloud over your head, sometimes you don’t even, you don’t pay it and you end up just buying the next, you know, the next five series or whatever, and buying a big house that you don’t need.
Um, instead of paying off that debt instead of. Uh, saving money instead of putting it towards investments. Um, you just kind of get those, the golden handcuffs, so to speak where you just, you, you accumulate more and more bills and you’re just kind of locked down to what you’re doing. And you just, you create just this prison for yourself.
I mean, you’re, you’re, you’re no longer free to do what you want to do.
Rho: [00:30:35] Yeah, I think that’s exactly right. And that’s what I mean about not having a plan. Like, um, I think the biggest thing for many lawyers is not paying attention and it’s because. Typically we’re able to cover our expenses and then some, right.
Like we can pay all of our bills and then we also have enough to get the five series or to go to all the restaurants or whatever. And so we’re just bopping along. That was my story. At least, I guess I won’t put that on everybody, but that was my story. Right. Like I, I was doing the things that I thought I was supposed to do and the rest of it, I was just, you know, spending.
And so then you look up to three years in. And you haven’t made any progress at all financially. And like you said, you’re kind of locked into the position that you’re in because you have not set yourself up to be able to do other things for sure.
Seth: [00:31:25] Did you ever get told by older partners to buy a house that you’re going to grow into that you’re going to be able to afford later?
Rho: [00:31:34] No, I did not, but I know people who have had that experience.
Seth: [00:31:39] Yeah, I have. I remember them telling me that. And that’s one thing that stuck with me because now that I’m a little bit smarter with my finances, I think back to that advice. And that’s like the worst advice you can give someone ever.
Rho: [00:31:53] But you know, if that’s their vantage point, like that’s their.
Experience, and that’s all they know to tell people, but I completely agree. Like if you can’t afford it, then probably should not get it. Honestly, I think that, you know, you know, housing and transportation and food are like the three biggest expenses that most people have in their budgets. And I would say.
Get below what, especially the banks tell you that you can afford because the banks were telling us, even with our, you know, at that point 470, cause about 200 of the $670,000 of debt that we have is our mortgage, but it’s like $470,000 in student loans. And they were like, yeah, 800,000. Like, I wouldn’t be able to buy anything else.
Like, what am I going to eat? Like, do I just like what’s going on? Right. So I think. Paying attention to the big expenses, especially like your house, not buying, you know, the, the house that you’re going to grow into or whatever, but by, you know, enough house for you to be comfortable. But if you can keep that expense lower and you know, still be comfortable, then you’re going to be able to make a lot more progress in your finances because you don’t have so much of it tied up in their living expenses.
Seth: [00:33:07] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, so those banks, they’re not looking at the half a million dollars in debt. They’re looking at your minimum monthly payment that you got to make, because if you only have to make $20 a month on that payment, that’s what they’re looking at. They’re not looking at that half a million dollars.
Rho: [00:33:22] Exactly. That was exactly. I think they were looking at that. And then also they’re like, Oh, well he’s a resident. And so then his income is going to go up in a few years and whatever it’s like, well, what about right now? Like I still have to eat now. Yeah.
Seth: [00:33:35] Well, how do you, how do you kind of set those boundaries for yourself and your family?
’cause, you know, uh, maybe your family, you know, they’re not, maybe they’re not your, husband’s not a doctor or something like that. And they’re like, Oh, Rick, you’re making really good money. Like we’re comfortable. We’re, we’re wealthy. You know, we should be able to go out and eat every single night. Like we should, we should buy the new five series.
We need to get the big house. You know, how do you, how do you have those conversations, uh, with your family and, uh, about kind of setting those boundaries?
Rho: [00:34:03] Yeah. I think the key to setting boundaries is knowing what you want and what is actually important to you. And a lot of us don’t think about that, right?
We’re just going through life, doing what we’re supposed to do because we’re lawyers or doctors or whatever the profession is. And so thinking about what you actually want will allow you to set those boundaries, because if you’re looking at doing something that you don’t really care about, Then you can say no when you know that this is not something that I care about.
Um, I think that for many of us like getting into this profession, we have this idea. Especially looking at people ahead of us. Like you were talking about the partners who say buy the, you know, big house that you can grow into. You’re looking at these people ahead of you and just kind of emulating it without really knowing why.
And so if you can take a step back, think about what you care about and what truly matters to you, then it’ll be so much easier to set those boundaries with how you spend your money.
Seth: [00:35:02] Yeah. Yeah, I agree. And I think that, you know, that might even lead down the road. If you don’t do that and have that honest conversation with yourself, uh, pretty early, you might find yourself unhappy.
I mean, a lot of doctors and lawyers and dentists, they have, there’s some of the most unhappy people on the planet, even though, you know, we make a lot of money and you would think that it wouldn’t be that way, but it, but it is. And we show up in high suicide rates and broken marriages and all that kind of kind of stuff.
I mean, why do you think that is?
Rho: [00:35:31] I think for exactly the reason that we were just talking about that people don’t think about what really matters to them. And so, you know, I’m chasing the next thing and buying the bigger house or the, you know, nicer car or whatever, looking for that happiness and not thinking about what really matters to me, because if I look at what really matters to me and what truly brings me happiness, And go after those things.
A lot of times, those things don’t cost a lot of money. Right. But when we are chasing thing, after all of the other things that we’re supposed to do to show that we’ve made it, and then you’re trapping yourself, as you mentioned, the golden handcuffs to this position that tends to be high stress. And, you know, it takes up a lot of time and all of that, it’s just a recipe for the unhappiness, the high suicide rates, the substance abuse, all of that.
Seth: [00:36:19] Yeah. Yeah, I agree. A hundred percent. Um, before we jump into the Freedom Four what’s one last golden nugget for our listeners?
Rho: [00:36:28] I’d say, make sure that you are paying attention and being intentional with your life. I think it’s so easy to get caught up living life on autopilot. And so take some time and think about the life that you actually want to live and then make a plan to get there.
Seth: [00:36:44] Love it. Love it. All right. Let’s jump into the Freedom Four.
What’s the best thing you do to keep your mind and body healthy.
Rho: [00:36:55] Hands down. Number one is that morning, time to myself, um, taking that time and just kind of clearing my mind, making sure that I have got my mind.
Right. I will admit that in the pandemic, I have not been as good with like working out, uh, my kids and not like take a walk around the neighborhood. I think it’s like a mile or something. So I do that each day. But beyond that, I haven’t done a whole lot. As far as my body goes.
Seth: [00:37:20] It’s been tough to stay on track for sure.
Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Um, in an alternative universe where you weren’t an attorney and you didn’t have your coaching business, what would you be doing?
Rho: [00:37:33] I think that I would still be coaching if I can’t say that though. I don’t know. That’s not one of them.
Seth: [00:37:40] We can go with that. If you weren’t an attorney, what would you be doing?
Rho: [00:37:43] I think I wouldn’t be doing the coaching because I find so much value in it. And. Like one thing that has always been missing for me in my legal practice with trademarks, I tend to enforce trademarks for large corporations. It’s been that piece of like, feeling like I’m making a difference. And so the coaching kind of gives me that because I see.
The change in my clients and the way that they’re able to do different things. Um, so yeah, I think I would say that, but if, if that’s not an answer that I can give, then maybe some sort of like entertainer or, you know, something like that. I don’t know exactly what, but yeal.
Seth: [00:38:22] I got to get creative. It was like, go, I like it.
I get all right. Where were you at five years ago. And where do you see yourself? Five years from now?
Rho: [00:38:31] Five years ago. I was a junior associate. Billing all of the hours and all of that. I was a newly married and yeah, it was just kind of like thinking about what I wanted my career to look like. Um, five years from now, I see myself still doing somewhat like what I’m doing now, but having even more control of my time and making sure that I am living intentionally.
Um, my kids will be a little older, you know, there’ll be in school. And one of the key things for us with having more control is not wanting to go to their events and still be thinking about work in the back of our heads. Right. I don’t want us to be thinking like, Oh, I gotta go bill, I gotta go do this.
Seth: [00:39:21] Just being present. That’s the thing we’re always thinking about the next thing. So it’s, you’ve gotta be intentional about your thoughts and, and just living in the present.
Rho: [00:39:30] Yes, exactly.
Seth: [00:39:31] And last question, how has passive income or your side income from your coaching program made your life better?
Rho: [00:39:38] So I think both have made my life better and that I’ve got these. Other streams of income that helped me to feel more secure, especially in the pandemic. I’ve seen, you know, people lose their jobs or be furloughed or, you know, all of that. And so knowing that I’ve got something else going, it just gives me a little bit more peace of mind and helps me to, I think, even show up better because I’m not worried about the finances.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Seth: [00:40:06] That’s awesome. Rho really appreciate you coming on today. Where can our listeners find out more about you?
Rho: [00:40:10] Yeah, you can find me at my website, Rowe, thomas.com and that’s R H O. And it has the links to all of my social media and all the things. But thank you so much for having me. It’s been so much fun.
Seth: [00:40:23] You’ve been an incredible guest. Really appreciate it. Thank you. Thanks.
All right. All right. All right. Thank you, Rho. That was incredibly inspiring. Just spending a very short time with RhO I could see and feel her passion for helping others to reframe their wealth mindset. Major key, wealth is not just about money.
We have that twisted money is just a tool. Well it’s about time, freedom, and control to start getting back your time, your freedom and your control. I invite you all to join EPIC, our Esquire Passive Investor Club. By going to passiveincomeattorney.com and clicking “join the club.”
Until next time, folks, enjoy the journey.