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5 ways to take a smarter approach to your finances

Shannon McLay, founder of The Financial Gym, explains why women are so emotionally connected to their money and gives her top tips for a healthier financial life.
Shannon McLay, founder and CEO of The Financial Gym.
Shannon McLay, founder and CEO of The Financial Gym.Chris Taggart

When you walk through the doors of The Financial Gym in New York City, you’ll be greeted by a trainer, offered a glass of wine and then will be asked to “get naked”—financially naked, that is.

“We intentionally call the first session you have with us the ‘Financially Naked Session,’ because we understand that money is emotional,” said Shannon McLay, founder of the company that takes a “fitness-inspired" approach to finances by coaching clients on how to make smarter money decisions. “When you’re going to share your financial details with us, we know that’s the equivalent of taking your clothes off," she added.

McLay recently sat down with MSNBC’s Yasmin Vossoughian and shared her top tips for women who want to take a smarter approach to their finances. “Money is the ultimate taboo topic,” McLay said. However, certain best practices can go a long way toward gaining control of your finances.

Open up

Openly discussing personal finances is a good first step on the journey to tackling money woes. Whether this involves meeting with a financial trainer, a financial advisor or even openly discussing finances with your partner, it’s always a good first step to clear the air and communicate your financial concerns, goals and dreams.

Drop emotion

While money is an emotional topic, it’s helpful to put all feelings aside when talking about your finances. “Women give too much emotion to their financial situation,” McLay said, explaining that finances are just numbers and don’t define you. Furthermore, she is a firm believer that everything you do with money is fixable. Whether it involves losing clients or having to file for bankruptcy, any money-related issue can be fixed over time.

“When you drop all of the negative emotions and feelings you have with your finances and embrace them and become empowered, it’s game-changing,” McLay said.

Be mindful of your money habits

Mindfulness is key to getting financially healthy and knowing where your money is going, McLay explained. When you’re engaged with your finances, it becomes easier to be mindful of what you’re spending money on and what you want to save for in both the short-term and the long-term.

Dream big

McLay believes it’s important to have big expectations for yourself. If you find that you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it’s possible that you’re not negotiating your salary or not asking for what you’re truly worth.

“Have really big dreams for your financial life,” McLay said. “And don’t be afraid to ask for it.”

Bet on yourself

When McLay met with her first investor for The Financial Gym, she explained, “I have everything invested in this company, and I never failed at anything in my life. I can’t bet on the markets. I don’t know how they’re going to perform. I don’t know how bitcoin is going to perform. But I always know how I’m going to perform,” McLay explained.

“I would bet on me all day long,” McLay added. Indeed, if you’re willing to bet on yourself, it’s likely that others will believe in you too and will follow.