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From Education to Behavior Change: How to Financially Empower Your Members

Georgia Lee Hussey on The Remarkable Credit Union podcast

We all have our own money story. Our financial habits, as well as the beliefs and emotions we have around money, are largely inherited from our parents and the communities in which we were raised. The good news is that we have the power to change these habits, beliefs, and emotions. But we need help. A webpage with links off to financial education resources is likely not enough to reshape your members’ money stories.

Georgia Lee Hussey, a sculptor and writer turned wealth management firm CEO, joins us on The Remarkable Credit Union podcast to address today’s Big Question: How can credit unions move from education to actual behavior change when it comes to helping members be financially empowered?

We also explore how we can align our finances with our values, and how those with means can structure their wealth to benefit the common good.
 

 

Key takeaways

  1. The myth that you can’t make investments aligned with your values and still make money is just that—a myth
  2. Our money stories determine our financial habits, and we all have the power to reshape them
  3. Advice & hands-on planning is what we consumers really need to work toward behavior change

Read the full transcription here:

Cameron Madill:
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Remarkable Credit Union Podcast. We created our podcast to help credit union leaders think outside of the box about marketing, technology and community impact. Each episode we bring on expert guests from inside and outside of the industry for conversations about innovation. Our goal is to challenge your preconceptions about business as usual, and provide you with actionable takeaways that you can use to grow your membership, improve the financial health of your cooperative and magnify the positive impact you have in your community.

Cameron Madill:
I’m very excited to welcome Georgia Lee Hussey, someone who is a bit of a local legend around here in Portland, Oregon. I’ve been hearing wonderful things about her for many years, both for her work with her business and her work in the nonprofit community. Georgia is the founder and CEO of Modernist Financial, a corporate wealth management firm. She has been the keynote speaker on numerous occasions, served on many boards and has won a bundle of awards, including Portland Business Journal’s Forty under 40 and her company being one of Oregon’s fastest growing companies in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Additionally, in her past life, Georgia was both a sculptor and a writer, not your typical bio for someone who works in corporate wealth management.

Cameron Madill:
Today’s big question. How can credit unions move from education to actual behavior change when it comes to helping their members be financially empowered? Before we begin, just a heads up that we recorded this conversation back in January, right before our world, as we knew it, was turned upside down by COVID-19. We think this topic is even more important to explore now since your members are likely feeling even more unsure and uncertain when it comes to their finances. Additionally, the pandemic has only exacerbated income inequality, and a lot of Georgia’s work is dedicated to helping those with means to structure their wealth around their values in a way that benefits the common good. I’d say if there’s one thing we would need right now, it’s more people focused on the common good. So with all that said, let’s dive in.

Cameron Madill:
Georgia, thanks for joining us.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
It’s lovely to be here, Cameron. Thank you so much for having me.

Cameron Madill:
So I would love to start a little bit about your story of origin, how you came to found and run Modernist Financial. As I was learning more about you online, it seems like quite the journey from sculptor and writer to wealth management.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Yeah. It’s an unusual path into the industry and one I hope more creatives will take into finance because we are in dire need of innovation and creativity and new ways of thinking about what money means to us and how we can engage around it. So I was very lucky when I was applying for colleges. I got into the college I wanted to go to called Sarah Lawrence College on the East coast, which has a very unusual structure where you basically build your own curriculum. It’s kind of like going to a master’s program in your undergrad.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
I studied primarily installation, sculpture and creative writing. I wanted to be an artist and be a working artist, which I did for several years. And thankfully I had a gigantic scholarship to go to Sarah Lawrence. And it wasn’t until the last week of school that I realized that, “Oh, I have loans that go with this gigantic scholarship as well.” And so it’s interesting to see how far, when you go in one’s life, you really have to approach money. Even though my family, we didn’t have a lot of money and it was sort of robbing Peter to pay Paul most of the time. That’s just how I thought you dealt with money was by like seeing whether you could leverage the electric bill with the phone bill.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
But my origin story really came from moving back from New York, finally to Portland. I bounced back and forth between the two cities for awhile and I bought a house I basically couldn’t afford during the subprime mortgage crisis. Didn’t know how to manage a budget, had never been taught any of these basic skills. And I realized I really had this yawning gap between my financial skills and the tools I needed to be successful in owning that house. And so basically I started learning everything I could. And then I realized, it’s not rocket science but I realized that the tools were out there but I had to sort of piece it together. I hadn’t been given a class in school or something.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
And so I did piece it together, which I’m very grateful to have the skills to be an autodidact like that. But I realized that most of my friends did not know anything about money either and we were all carrying around a lot of shame and baggage about who we could be in relationship to money because we were primarily creatives. I come from a strong queer community and kind of a radical left queer community in that, so there’s a lot of like money is evil, business is evil. These ideas that material goods are bad for us, et cetera. And I think there’s some grains of truth in all of that, but there’s also got to be some counter-balancing truth as well.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
And so it was really seeing this, what became clear to me as a systematic disenfranchisement of people from finance that drove me to basically sell that house and use the proceeds to pay for my education as a certified financial planner. And I literally didn’t know what a bond was or capital gain was when I started school. So I had a pretty steep learning curve. I basically moved from there and eventually I just decided I needed my own firm if I was going to be able to live that vision and all the ways I wanted to from the way I structure the company. The questions we ask too, the ways that we center beauty and creativity and values in our day-to-day experience.

Cameron Madill:
All right, it’s a perfect segue. You’re also the first person to use the word autodidact on the podcast, so thank you. Thank you.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
You’re welcome.

Cameron Madill:
One of things I really liked about your website and kind of what I think I’ve heard through the grapevine is you talk about money in a really radically different way than at least anyone I’ve heard talk about money. So you just talk about beauty and value. There was a line on your website that really struck me, so I’m going to quote it here. “Our attitudes and beliefs about money have their roots and value laid in messages we’ve picked up along life’s journey.” So I just would love to hear a little more about what messages you think we tend to pick up both explicit and implicit and why.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Great question. I sort of lump all of this under the idea of discovering our money stories. And I often think of them as inherited money stories because it is the rare individual that has a conscientious adult who sits down with them and says, “We’re going to have the money talk,” and actually gives us skills or we get a class or we get mentorship in this area. Most of us, it’s hard to come up with a specific financial role model in our lives. A lot of our clients, they end up having to piece a financial role model together from somebody from the Hobbit and then their Uncle Mike and the way that they took vacations because we need to sort of build a composite of the person we who would like to be. So I think that’s the first inherited belief is that it’s hard to look around and find people who we can use as role models.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
I think, secondly, depending on how you identify in the world, there’s a lot of very real structural disenfranchisement that’s happening in our culture around who can access wealth. As a woman, a white woman with a lot of privilege and a lot of educational privilege and class privilege, I still could not have gotten a mortgage until the 1970s without a male co-signer and I couldn’t have gotten a business loan without a male co-signer until the ’90s when Friends was on TV. I mean, this is very recent experience. And so, unbeknownst to me, I had an inherited cultural belief that I could not own a business because structurally I couldn’t have owned a business until quite recently.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
And so that’s the kind of thing I’m thinking of. There’s a lot of inherited stories about women and ownership and wealth. There’s a ton of inherited stories around race and money. We look back to the GI Bill and black people were not allowed to take advantage of the mortgages that were offered during the GI Bill, which meant that that entire community was disenfranchised or kept out of the ability to grow wealth through home ownership, which the majority of boomers now, their wealth really is from real estate.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
So, these are the ways in which we inherit money beliefs and these value-laid messages of am I valuable? Is my family valuable? Do the structures when I need to go get a loan to start a company, or I say that I’m going to do this startup or invest in this skill, do people look at me with doubt because of bias? And so I think that’s really important. And then we also pick up stories from the religious tradition that we come from, just the parts of the country we’re from. It’s really multiplicitous. So, I think the unwinding and unpacking of what we’ve seen around us and how that’s become our individual personal money story. I sort of think of that as the unwritten financial plan. That story is really what determines our choices. But we have agency, we can reform that story into something that’s more…

Georgia Lee Hussey:
We can reform that story into something that’s more beneficial and more helpful. So for me, I’m like, “That’s right, I am the owner of a wealth management firm.” My 18 year old self would have been horrified at that statement, but I can manage wealth. I can do it in a way that is in alignment with my values. I can be radical from the inside as a system changer. That is a way in which I’ve reshaped my money story. And it’s a lot of the work that we end up doing with our clients is helping them rethink who they can be.

Cameron Madill:
Well, and you have a lot of wonderful resources on your website and I took the advantage to do them myself. And it was all these hard questions, like you said, of who are my money role models. And it really made me start thinking, I think, hopefully even more deeply about these things. So I would love to know, since I think you’ve done a lot of work maybe unusually to be expert or approaching expertise in people and money, not just for those who have a lot of it and can afford wealth management, but for the other, let’s say, 98%. We were debating this, but most of the population can’t afford a wealth manager. And so I’m just kind of curious what everyone else should be doing if they don’t have access to some of these more privileged resources.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Yeah, it’s a great question. One of the things I struggled with earlier in my career was asking for what I was worth and charging what I’m worth. And as a woman, that’s a big question and an important one to address. And so once I actually realized what my hourly rate was and I ran a profitability analysis about four years ago, three years ago, I was like, “Oh, my minimum needs to be $15,000 a year of revenue, just to be able to base maybe breakeven. Maybe only break even in year three and four.” And it’s because I’m really interested in complex planning and really multivalent structures. So the clients need that kind of support. And most people honestly just don’t need that much support. And so the great thing is that there is a growing world of fee-only financial planners out there that will work at an hourly rate or work on a retainer basis.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
I have a friend who has a firm down in LA called Money School. And she has Mana Money School, which is online classes, she and her partner. And then there’s another one that’s more of a financial planning program. And you can do as low as $100 a month retainer with her. And they use similar structures that we do. We’ve got a list of referrals on our website that I highly recommended that just lays out you should have a fee-only financial planner, they should be a fiduciary, which means they are putting only your interests in their consideration when they make a recommendation. They should talk about your emotional relationship with money because that’s what’s going to actually drive your behavioral change. And they should hopefully align with your values as well. And they should be a CFP because if you’re not a CFP, you’re basically not qualified to give advice.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
So I think those are really important. I did an interview with Goop three months, four months ago. And I really laid out all of the things that one should consider with a bunch of other resources as well. That’s also on our website. So we try and put out as much information for folks so that they can find a good fit for them. And thankfully, it’s a growing part of the industry, so there are actually resources available. 10 years ago, that wasn’t really true.

Cameron Madill:
Yeah. So it sounds like part of this is dispelling the myth that if you don’t have a million dollars or $10 million, that wealth management is something that other people do, correct?

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Yeah. And I would sort of take the wealth management umbrella term and break it into its two primary purposes, which is financial planning and investment management. The majority of the industry is actually selling you investment management or not very good product, depending on how you look at it. There’s definitely some exceptions. There’s some great companies out there. But a lot of people are really just salespeople and not giving real advice. And so I think it’s important to remember that despite what the industry is telling us, the product is not what you need to be focused on. What you need to be focused on is the advice and the planning piece. And for many people, they may just need a one-time checkup with a basic plan, or they might only need a couple hours with somebody just doing back of the envelope work for them to be able to get them on the right path.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
And then again, there are other resources now that are, I think, more accessible. And the Financial Planning Association also, most of the local chapters have a pro bono program. So there are often pro bono financial planners available as well if you look out to the Financial Planning Association, as well as the Foundation for Financial Planning.

Cameron Madill:
Got it. So I’m jumping ahead a little bit here, but it seems like one of the opportunities for credit unions would be to work on dispelling these myths that this is inaccessible to sort of normal person who might have a myth that they can only do this on their own. Yeah, [inaudible 00:13:40]. All right. Another phrase I love from your website is you’ve talked about sort of at the heart of your business is the ability to get good returns while investing in our common future. And I think that sort of highlights another one of the academies that sometimes gets put out there or dualisms of you either make money or you do good. So tell us what that means specifically in your world.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Yeah. So it’s interesting. I mean, maybe referring to sort of sustainability portfolios or ESG investing, which that acronym means Environmental, Social, and Governance factors when choosing the investments that we’re buying. And what’s interesting is my joke about this is it’s like organic in the seventies. It doesn’t really mean anything right now, but like a B corp, that didn’t really exist until very recently. And so there, my guess is in the next 10 years, there’s going to be some third party that produces a B Corp style designation and/or a lead certification, something that’s a third party that is unconnected with the organizations that are selling the product. Allowing us to have some filters. Because I will say it’s confusing how to manage investments with a filter. Some people say you actually overinvest in Exxon so that you can have a voice in their shareholders. Some people say divest entirely. It’s really going to be very individual how you approach that.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
What I do know is that, and we know this is B corps, you can choose to support local and/or B corp organizations when you spend your money. And that allows you to align your money with your values, however much money that you have. Right? We developed a little bit of an Amazon addiction in the past six months or so because my life has been so busy at the company and all of our lives. And I said, “We have got to get off. I cannot support them anymore.” But that takes some time and some consideration of how do we find alternative vendors locally? Because we know that the impact of a dollar spent locally is far more dynamic and widespread than supporting one of the larger companies.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
So I think we can support our values while making good financial choices for ourselves. And that can be our investments, it can be where we bank. I mean, for example, I often recommend that people move their money from big banks to credit unions because of just the structure. The legal structure of a credit union is more in their benefit. It’s more supportive of their needs. Not to mention lower fees and better service.

Cameron Madill:
Yeah. I would love to hear, maybe we can segue into you had mentioned that, yeah, that you’re a big supporter of credit unions. And I sort of teased this, but what advice would you give to credit unions, especially because you have so much expertise in getting beyond just kind of education, beginning to actual behavior change. And how credit unions can help their members to do a better job of being intentional with their money and investing in our common future? Because it just always felt to me like the cooperative values are deeply aligned with everything that you’re talking about.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Yeah. So the work we do as financial planners and wealth managers as having basically eight spokes. So there’s the financial planning and the investment management. Then there’s cashflow, which also includes lending. There’s tax planning, there’s business planning, there’s estate planning, charitable giving, and insurance planning. So the cashflow piece is really where the credit union opportunity comes up because we have a very structured way that we help our clients manage their day to day spending and saving called first step cash management, which is also a program that we get through Money Quotient, this nonprofit that we work with for a lot of the tools for our clients. And because it involves structuring a client’s accounts in a way that they’re able to automate their bills, they get a weekly allowance, each person in the relationship gets a weekly allowance, and then individual savings accounts for all of their savings goals, most big banks are really a bad fit for that because they’re going to charge a ton of fees. But they’re also going to be kind of crotchety about implementing something that feels weird.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
If I’m trying to get a client to change their behavior, produce adding in somebody who’s not going to or an organization that’s not going to make it easy for them to do so makes my job harder. So that’s one of the things I really like about credit unions is that you can have multiple savings accounts. And the first step cash management program that we use is really just-

Georgia Lee Hussey:
The First Step Cash Management program that we use is really just like a fancy spreadsheet that takes all of your bills and your spending and organizes it by timeline. We have one checking account for bills, one checking account for my allowance, basically. I get paid that every week, and that’s a debit card. I get both a ceiling and a floor depending on what your spending issue is. I tend to spend more, so I need the ceiling. I have clients who tend to be more frugal, which is not actually, honestly, the best place to be. And so, they need a floor to say, “No, you get permission to spend this.” And what happens for you when you come up against this emotional space where you have permission to spend, as much as it is for me where I have a ceiling and I can’t go buy that lipstick I want or whatever it might be.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
And so, I really love credit unions for that, also, for aligning with our values because the leverage that a dollar deposited in a credit union has, for local families being able to get car loans or home loans is it’s big, and it’s important, and it has an impact.

Cameron Madill:
You’re going to make my wife so happy. She has all these different accounts, and they’re literally like the old glass jars system.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Totally.

Cameron Madill:
And it drives me crazy. But now, I will have to go back and apologize. We both know that you know [inaudible 00:01:18]. I’d love to hear a little bit about why you chose to become a certified B corporation and what you’ve learned in that process.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Yeah. I definitely, as I said, I came from this background of business is evil. I still don’t disagree with that. The concept of unfettered growth and American capitalism is deeply problematic. I think this idea that benefiting a few at the expense of the many is inappropriate and unacceptable. I also think it’s bad for business because when people aren’t making more money, they’re not spending that money at your business. But also, when I realized I was going to start my own company, I knew that I needed a blueprint or a path to walk along that would allow me to make better choices without me having to go out and research every single one of those choices. So, the cool thing about the B corp is we’re just recertifying right now for our first time.

Cameron Madill:
That’s a process, huh? We’ve been through it three times.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Oh man, it’s a thing. But the cool thing is that all 200 of those questions are around an area we could be improving the company. And when we decide to take on a project for that year or that quarter, we can just go to the B corp information and say, “Oh, how should we be thinking about that?” And that’s our starting point. So, it just made perfect sense to me. And also, in investment management or finance, people don’t trust me for very good reason. There’s a lot of bad behavior in the financial world. And so, I am looking through being a certified financial planner, being a fee-only firm, by being a fiduciary, by being a B corp. I’m looking at ways to say, “No, really. I am what I say I am, and there’s a third party that gets no benefit from saying that I am also.” So, I think that’s an important element in the industry.

Cameron Madill:
Looping back, you made a really interesting point. This has been my experience as well. I got really interested in divestment from various things, particularly private prison companies because I did a bunch of volunteer work for a while at a private prison that was… Anyway, I won’t go too deep into that issue. But in this particular case, this was a group that had gotten a no bid contract from the government, so some really shady dealings. And they were charging the government, us, the US taxpayers, $330 per night whether anyone was there or not for every bed. The joke among us volunteers was we could just put them in the W in downtown San Francisco for that kind of money. Right?

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Agreed.

Cameron Madill:
It was crazy. And so, [inaudible 00:21:47] I was like, “I don’t want to be investing in a firm like that as part of my retirement planning.” And as I’ve explored this world, I’ve had a really hard time finding, as you said, anything where I’m like, “Great, I see that logo, I can feel good that I’ll get a fair return and that the money is following my beliefs and values.” I’m curious, if it’s not too far down the rabbit hole, why is that so hard and why is nothing out there? Because it seems like a lot of people want the ability to have something like that.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Yeah. Vote with your dollars, [inaudible 00:22:17]. It’s really a growing part of the industry. And I say that because one of the reasons that… I can’t remember if it was Merrill Lynch, or Morgan Stanley, or one of those huge broker dealers, who, also, I want to say, financed the breakdown of the fiduciary rule. So, let’s be clear about what their intentions are. They were basically forced into starting a sustainability or ESG portfolio because one of the inheritors of one of the gigantic fortunes in America was a grandchild who said, “I will not invest in your standard options. I want things invested alongside my values.” And so, basically, she forced that entire company, huge company to change. I think the more of us that there are who are demanding this, the more there is a need, the more that that need is going to get filled by the market because there’s one thing I know about finance, and it’s if there’s a need, they’re going to fill it.

Cameron Madill:
[crosstalk 00:23:15] That’s so interesting.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
I think it’s about demanding it. And I will say, in the past 10 years that I’ve been in the business, the options are much better than they were 10 years ago. So, I think it’s a little bit of bide our time, but also, realizing that divestment versus over-investment produces what filter you use to look at your investments. It’s really complicated because some people don’t want child labor. Some people don’t want munitions. Some people don’t want prisons. You do need some diversification. Do you want to actually be investing in those companies and pressuring them to change their behavior? Because that’s what has made a lot of changes around climate change as well.

Cameron Madill:
Yeah. What got me especially interested in this was an incredible book you may have heard called Bury the Chains, and it was about that. It’s a history of, basically, the abolition of the slave trade in Great Britain. And it’s a really an under told story. Also, it’s a very uplifting story unlike many of the ones out there, and it was astonishing how it went from a complete non-issue on no one’s radar. And this was a time where they said that like Manchester, I think it was the second largest city in England at this time, had no one. They had absolutely no representation. And then, there was some other city that had six people that had two representatives they sent. So, incredibly undemocratic time. Suffrage was a few percent of the population.

Cameron Madill:
But it was a groundswell, and it went from not being on anyone’s agenda to, within a couple of years, there were hundreds of thousands of signatures showing up in parliament. And it just got me thinking about how those, I guess, as you said, if there’s a need, money will figure out how to fill it. So, I guess it’s a call to action to all of us to push a little harder, however we’re storing our wealth that’s in alignment with our values.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Absolutely.

Cameron Madill:
All right. Thank you. There’s a group that you likely don’t know about called Filene, which is the think tank for the credit union industry. Really sharp, interesting group that’s always doing interesting evidence-based work. And they did a really fascinating study called, I think it was, Who Owns Credit Unions? And one of the things they touched on, which was interesting, was political polarization. They talked about how most credit unions have this kind of… Everyone likes them. They’re like that pleasant, I don’t know, relative or something. And then, everyone’s just like, “Yeah, we like our credit union.” They’re not passionate, rabid raving fans. They also don’t hate them. And they talked about some of the credit unions that have actually taken a stand, which I think is a little scary, but to really be different. And they really align themselves either conservative or liberal as far as with different groups and with different candidates, and the fact that it created a much deeper emotional connection with their members.

Cameron Madill:
Now, obviously, some people didn’t like it, right? That’s the nature of polarization. I was curious, maybe I interpreted this politically when I shouldn’t have, but you said on your site, you talk a lot about… You talk about creatives and progressives, and you say that you all want to help progressive people feel permission to enjoy today while providing a stable financial base for our future. I’m curious through the lens of progressive, the left, can I call it that?

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Yeah. Yeah.

Cameron Madill:
What does that mean? Why do people on the left feel like they can’t enjoy today and have a stable financial base for our future?

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Well, I think it’s a general story. Again, and we pointed to it earlier. I can’t invest along with my values and make money. Right? It’s an old story. When I originally started working nine or 10 years ago, I wanted to work primarily with creatives. And that was great, confusing because people still think creatives mean starving artists. And I meant, no, music producers and people who are putting together Super Bowl ads and et cetera, a much broader understanding, but that’s not a dominant culture understanding of how creativity works. So, what I realized, especially around 2016, was that I was really engaged around politics and how our financial choices…

Georgia Lee Hussey:
… around politics and how our financial choices support or undermine our political beliefs. And so the vast majority of our clients are on the left and would identify as liberal, progressive, or Democrats. And I became really interested in this question of how do we talk about that more?

Georgia Lee Hussey:
I mean, we already talked about it a lot around charitable giving because we are very passionate about charitable giving and aligning, pushing people to think about the impact of their choices. For example, when the 2018 tax bill came out, the dominant story in the media was that people were going to pay more money in taxes.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Every single one of my clients saved money on taxes year over year because I made every single CPA explain to my client how much they were saving year over year, because the majority of our clients did not agree with the legislative changes that were being made in order to pay for that tax bill.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
And so, for example, I said to a client, “Okay, we clearly understand you’ve saved $8,000 year over year, same data, different years. What do you want to do with that $8,000 because you don’t need it?” And she ended up saying, “Well, I could donate it, but I don’t need another deduction for my donation.” So she said, “Well, I have a friend whose daughter needs some medical support. I’m just going to give her the $8,000 and she’ll be able to get her kid when she needs.”

Georgia Lee Hussey:
And so, one of the things I’m really interested in is aligning, here’s the impact of the structure for me as a very privileged person. Let me acknowledge that structure, let me put a number to it. And then let me make a choice about whether it that’s really where I want my money to go.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Every time I get my property tax bill, I’m like, “Really? I’m only spending that much money on the education system in Portland? Shouldn’t that be like six times as much?” So I think I’m about looking at both our money stories, but also what’s the structure we’re operating within taxes, insurance, investments, financial planning, cashflow, et cetera. And then, how do I make a connection between my values and those structures, so those financial decisions make more sense and are more in alignment with what I believe.

Cameron Madill:
So they’re less one-off?

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Yeah. But you can see how the system works, right? So another impact of the tax bill, there was a big article in The New York Times about this, and very unreported, was that the child tax credit now had a minimum income to be able to qualify for it. So now 70% of single moms no longer get the child tax credit.

Cameron Madill:
Wow.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
It’s something like 50 to 60% of black families and Latinx families do not get the child tax credit anymore. So we’ve basically moved that tax benefit from the poor and working poor to the people who have enough or closer to enough. And so that, for a lot of our clients, they have kids. I’m like, “Well, do you need that tax credit?” Most likely not. What if that were the dollar that you focused on giving?

Cameron Madill:
Interesting.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Or you give a percentage? I mean, tithing is a great idea, whether it’s for religious purposes or just to give you a structure so that you can say, yes, I’m going to give away X amount of money.

Cameron Madill:
I love it, yeah.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Does that answer your question?

Cameron Madill:
Absolutely. Yeah, I’ve always admired the tithing concept. All right. Are you ready for some rapid-fire questions?

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Yes.

Cameron Madill:
All right, here we go. What is your favorite ice cream?

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Oh, God. Peanut butter chocolate.

Cameron Madill:
All right. I can’t ask you a different career because you’ve already had so many interesting careers. What is your favorite movie?

Georgia Lee Hussey:
The Gleaners and I by Agnes Varda.

Cameron Madill:
Who is that?

Georgia Lee Hussey:
She’s a very odd ball French filmmaker. She just died.

Cameron Madill:
Oh, very sad. All right.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
She was like 90. It’s fine.

Cameron Madill:
I guess, we all have time comes. What is your life slogan?

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Oh, Lord. Do less harm.

Cameron Madill:
That’s a good one. All right. The song you’re most embarrassed to admit that you like?

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Oh man, there’s so much deep, dark music back there.

Cameron Madill:
Plumbing the depths here. How vulnerable to you want to get?

Georgia Lee Hussey:
I love yacht rock. Let’s just admit that I really like Heart and I like hair bands. I love an anthem I can sing along to. I also have very good musical taste, I just want to say.

Cameron Madill:
All right. Just final take, is there anything you’d like to reiterate or anything you didn’t get to that you’d like to leave our audience with?

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Yeah. There’s just a lot of resources on our website. Because our minimum for a new client is a million dollars, or usually high growth business owners who have the money to pay us 15 grand a year to do the work for them, we realize that we’re not serving the entire income spectrum right now.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
So there is a referrals and resources page on our website that has like, how do you find a planner, good books on financial planning, how to talk about end of life with your family, all the things that we think are really important. Also there’s the modernist money toolkit, which has the downloadable tools on how to have these conversations with yourself, but also your family.

Cameron Madill:
Which is great by the way. I did it. Yes, I will support that.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
And I highly recommend the personal insights about money at like Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Cameron Madill:
Ooh. I hadn’t thought about that. Little rapid fire question of your own at Thanksgiving.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Yeah, but also when we inherit these stories, your parents inherited their stories too. So what did your mother learn from her mother about money? What did your mother learn from her father about money? Do we know what her father learned or her mother learned? I think we can often find stronger connections as we go down.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
And then I would also say that we also offer pro bono workshops for nonprofits in the Portland area. So if you know a great nonprofit, that might be a good partner for us to work with, we basically teach a four-hour, basics of financial life planning, discovering your money story, and then about two and a half, three hours all on cashflow, in which we also recommend that people go work for the credit union.

Cameron Madill:
Perfect way to land the plane. Awesome. Thank you so much for joining. It’s been a real pleasure chatting with you.

Georgia Lee Hussey:
Yes, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much.

Cameron Madill:
All right. Well, thanks for joining another great episode. I really, really enjoyed speaking with Georgia. I heard her described once as the most interesting woman in Portland. I think she lived up to that. A few of my key takeaways. I really enjoyed her framing that there’s this myth that we can’t invest our values and still make money, and to serve her framing that we’re in the early stages of this game, but there’s going to be a lot of focus and there are a lot of options right now, and they’re only going to get better.

Cameron Madill:
I also liked your framing, and maybe just the reminder, that there’s a tendency that we all have to look for management from experts, but really what we need more than anything when it comes to our personal finances is advice and planning and help putting those together.

Cameron Madill:
I was really intrigued by Georgia’s framing of discovering our money stories, of digging through, and actually there are worksheets on this, and I found it to be very helpful. I spoke with my wife about it, of what did we learn from our parents? What did we learn from our partner, our friends, our community? And that those are really what’s shaping our financial decisions more than anything else.

Cameron Madill:
I also thought it was really interesting that Georgia talked about how the vast majority of her clients banked with credit unions and that she recommends that. And so it got me wondering what are the opportunities for credit unions to partner with wealth management firms of whatever kind, but where their philosophy around wealth management really aligns with a credit union compared to a community bank or one of the large mega banks?

Cameron Madill:
And lastly, I was really impressed, as I said, I did these resources in advance of the podcast, Georgia has done a lot of work with being on the board of this nonprofit, Money Quotient, and just all the great free resources that she has for those who want them. And you can find those at modernist financial.com/money-toolkit. All right, thanks for joining us today for another great episode. Until the next time, I wish you the best of luck in making your credit union remarkable.

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