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Money And Love | Abby Davidson #618

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On the Regular Version …

Abby Davidson joins the show as we talk about one of the more contentious topics in married life, money.

What are some good ways to address this topic and then make decisions together? Listen to find out.

Learn more about Abby here –

On the Extended Version …

We keep the conversation going and get a little more personal.

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corey_allan: Well, it is a privilege to be joined by Abby Davidson, who, I mean, you've got an interesting background, Abby, on a thought expert, a social expert. I mean, there's a lot of different things, even working for GAP, if I remember the information right. And so, beg the first question of how did your journey and how you've evolved lead to this book, Love and Money?

abby_davisson: Well, thank you so much, Corey. This is great to be here. And yes, it's been a winding road, not a straight shot, like many interesting journeys in life.

corey_allan: Yeah, right.

abby_davisson: So the book Money and Love is based on a course that I took 15 years ago when I was in business school. And my career has been at the intersection of the public, private and nonprofit sectors. As you mentioned, I've

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: worked in all trying to leave the world a bit better through ways that haven't been tried before. And so

corey_allan: Right.

abby_davisson: I went to business school because I had spent time in the nonprofit and public sectors and I was looking to take some of those ideas and get more of a corporate experience so that I could be an effective communicator across all three sectors and an effective partnership broker. So I found I ended up meeting someone there who I then started dating and we had been dating about a year when we took this course with a labor economist. She was the first female faculty member hired by Stanford back in the 70s

corey_allan: Okay.

abby_davisson: and she pioneered this course. It was called work and family and it was about all the big decisions that you would need to make in life as someone intending to combine work and family

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: money and love and It was full of data. She's a labor economist by training so lots of data lots of guest speakers and My husband and I were taking this class at a time where we know what spoiler alert he then became my husband

corey_allan: Oh, okay. To jump ahead, yes,

abby_davisson: To

corey_allan: I

abby_davisson: jump

corey_allan: get you.

abby_davisson: ahead yes So this man I was dating for a year. We're taking I was taking this class with him at a time when we needed to decide Do we Look for jobs in the same city do we end up living together?

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: Are we on this path towards a marriage, a deeper

corey_allan: Yeah.

abby_davisson: relationship? And it was really intimidating to have these conversations after only dating for a year, but because of the encouragement of the class and my professor who became my co-author, we were able to have some really fundamentally important conversations all about money and love and what was important to us and did we want kids and what religion did we want them? to be raised in and, you know, big topics. And so,

corey_allan: Yeah.

abby_davisson: you know, fast forward 15 years, we have gone back as guest speakers in that class. We've both been climbing the respective ladders in our, our fields. I was at the gap, as you mentioned, corporate for about a decade. And the further I got out from the class, the more that I realized that it really profoundly changed my life. And the approach

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: that we took in the class was one that, you know, everyone should have access to, not just the people who had the privilege

corey_allan: Yeah.

abby_davisson: and opportunity to be in the class. And so I wrote the book with my co-author in order to do just that, to give more people a framework for making the biggest decisions of their lives so that they would have more confidence, feel more empowered, and find more meaning and purpose in their life.

corey_allan: And that's so good because you're touching on some of the big ones that we have to make decisions about, right? That there's aspects of life in relationship or not, but they're particularly troublesome and insidious at times when you're talking about adding a marital context to it, or a relationship context to it. Because I could have a certain way I want to do things, which is not the way my wife wants to do. Shocking, I know.

abby_davisson: Thank

corey_allan: But,

abby_davisson: you.

corey_allan: but it's recognizing that. Okay, that makes it even all the more important that we figure out how do we navigate these things? What is what are the best ideas, the best frameworks like you're describing? And then also, what are the ways not to do it? And so, I mean, you're teeing it up perfectly. Walk me through, because I've gone through the book and already know the answer to this question, but the people that are listening to this may be don't yet. So walk me through what are some of these frameworks? Thanks.

abby_davisson: So our big framework, which is designed to be flexible, so you can apply it to any life decision, big or frankly even small, but sturdy. So it actually is the same shape, if you will, across

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: all those decisions, is called the five Cs. And I'll run through them and then we can go deeper on any of the Cs that you think your listeners would be interested in hearing more about. So it starts with clarify, clarify what is important to you. Second C is communicate. As you mentioned, you're not making these decisions most likely in isolation. So it's very important that you

corey_allan: Right?

abby_davisson: talk to anyone affected by the decision. If you're in a marriage, that will be your spouse, your partner. The third is to consider a broad range of choices. The fourth is to check in with friends, family, and trusted resources. And the fifth C is the likely consequences of your decision.

corey_allan: Okay, okay. And so let's kind of take a one by one with the idea of clarify. Because some of this I love because you're putting together some building blocks of things that when you hear it, I remember when I came across as like, well, duh. You know, it's like, okay, those are those things that they're right in front of our face, but we never kind of synthesize it to this kind of degree. about clarify. What do you mean?

abby_davisson: Yeah, well, that's exactly what we've heard from the folks who have tested out the framework. And I should say we, my co-author and I have personally road tested this over a number of years and applied

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: it to our own life decisions. And but the feedback we've gotten is that, yes, it's not rocket science. This isn't like a magic silver bullet or a bolt of lightning that's going to automatically make you make the right decision. But it does give you more confidence in your approach and

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: therefore, more self-assurance as you move through life. So when we say clarify, it's really important to think about the things that are most important to you. And that, again, it sounds kind of logical, right? Yeah,

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: think about what's most important. But the truth is that we are so influenced by what we might have been raised to think is most important,

corey_allan: Right.

abby_davisson: or what society tells us we should care

corey_allan: Right.

abby_davisson: about. So it's really not angle our own personal values and wants and desires from that of important influences to us. So, so the, when we say clarify what's most important to you, it is really to you and not to, you know, your parents or

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: your teacher who had a big influence on you. So a lot of times that could look like doing an exercise to understand your own personal values. There's lots of them online that people can access.

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: also look at paying attention to what gets you really fired up. You know, if you read an article in a paper online and you're like, that's not fair or that's terrible, you know, that is touching on an important

corey_allan: Right,

abby_davisson: value. And

corey_allan: right.

abby_davisson: so that's

corey_allan: Something's

abby_davisson: information.

corey_allan: triggered in that. Right.

abby_davisson: Exactly.

corey_allan: Something that's, that's meaning and foundational to you is triggering that cause I hear, I hear the word clarify and I immediately jump to the terminology I use, which is the meanings.

abby_davisson: Hmm.

corey_allan: Right. What's the meaning I've attached to whatever the things is. Cause one of the, one of the truisms I have in married life is we don't fight about things. We fight about the meanings attached to the things.

abby_davisson: totally.

corey_allan: And, and so clarifying as you're describing what's underneath it, because it's not. just let's save well saving means something and I want to reach the certain amount because that means something and you're describing if you can open that up I think that fits right into the other one of the other C's which is the choices right because maybe if I've clarified some stuff I realize wait I'm not as locked in on a narrow path that I have to have it this way clarification helped widen the scope.

abby_davisson: Absolutely. And I think you made such a good point that often when we think about our budgets and our money, it is an expression of our values.

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: It is a way that we say, hey, this is actually important to me to spend. And I even though I might be a, you know, a saver, I think it's okay to have a craft beer with my partner every week, or I think, you know, I love being out in nature with my family. So I'm going to make

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: sure we have really good rain gear. So if you're in the rainy season, we're still able to go outside. So those

corey_allan: Right.

abby_davisson: sorts of things are telling, and they're very connected. And to your point about choices, we get very locked in to almost tunnel vision, kind of the binary choices,

corey_allan: Yeah.

abby_davisson: especially when we're facing a big life decision. So as often people think about, well, should I marry this person or break up with them? Those are

corey_allan: Right.

abby_davisson: very extreme.

corey_allan: Those are big ones. Yes.

abby_davisson: There might be a whole host of options in between. Or should I take this job? Or should I go for the promotion? Or should I quit my job? Right?

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: I mean those are again like pretty extreme paths within...

corey_allan: Right. Should we have another child or are we done? Or should we have a child at all? I mean, all of those are big things we're describing.

abby_davisson: Right. And so, you know, to this, to the point of generating additional choices, you know, it can be helpful to try to think about what you might be missing when you're just locked into those binary choices. So are

corey_allan: Right.

abby_davisson: there, are there some options in between? And I'll give you an example. In the, in the height of the pandemic, I have, has been, I have two young kids and they were both on zoom school for a very long time and we were feeling really tight in our small family. footprint home

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: and we felt like, oh, we just, if we had more space, I think everyone felt this way, but we

corey_allan: Ha

abby_davisson: felt

corey_allan: ha!

abby_davisson: if we had more space, everything would be easier and, you know, we would all not be on top of each other, we'd all get along. And so, you know, the idea is, well, do we, do we move to a completely different city and get more space?

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: And it turned, you know, we kind of chased down some of our information and ran the numbers and it turns out that, you know, it didn't actually make financial sense for us to do that based on, again, what we clarified as our long-term goals. But

corey_allan: Right.

abby_davisson: one of the things that became clear in that process is that I did need more space for my office. I was working out of my kid's bedroom with their bunk bed behind me and Lego pieces on the floor and that was not conducive to creative

corey_allan: Yeah.

abby_davisson: work.

corey_allan: Yeah.

abby_davisson: And so I ended up renting a separate office space. So I'm talking to you today from, you know, a different space, it wasn't initially something I thought about as a choice,

corey_allan: Right.

abby_davisson: right? But when you take the time to

corey_allan: Yeah.

abby_davisson: think about all the different places in between, stay in our house and move, finding creative ways to expand the space that we have at our, you know, to use was another option that we ended up working out.

corey_allan: Oh, that's that's so good. What came to my mind when we were talking about this right before was something that's much less on the high on the scale of I'm married to a woman, Pam, that she is the one that from just some of the things she loves doing is the thrift shore shopping, the bargain shopping, the hey, I'm going to get that on sale. I had to clearance racks right off, you know, just that's kind of who she is. And for sure who she was. was. And one of the things we recognized is she would always come home with bargain shoes early in our marriage. And then they looked cute and they were cheap, you know, they were inexpensive at least because they were on sale. Well, there's a reason they were inexpensive also is because they're not as comfortable maybe over the long day. And so she'd come home and her feet would hurt. Well, her grandmother had a saying of spoil your feet because that which usually then means you're going to be spending much more than you would on a sale pair of shoes. And so that's finally that actually came true just the other night. We, she bought a new pair of shoes and we're out walking and she's like, I absolutely love these things. And there are a whole lot more that I wanted to spend, but, and I already knew where she was going. Spoil your feet, which that's a different clarification of who she was, then where she is now of recognizing there's a different meaning attached to what's a cute pair of shoes. versus no, these actually serve a purpose that lasts longer. So in the long run, she's an accountant, so she's already probably ran the numbers too. I can get this many more years out of it and I'll end up, it was cheaper than buying the cheap pair anyway. But it's just, all of that is kind of what you're describing with some of these C's is just when I can clarify it and I can get to the deeper components, I get a chance to realize some different choices which are fit better with where I am, what I wanna be, what's better. better for me in that situation.

abby_davisson: Absolutely. And that example, it kind of brings up the last C, which is consequences. So, you know, going with the shoe example, because I also believe in fewer better things, right? And so you might spend,

corey_allan: You and I both. Yep, you and

abby_davisson: you

corey_allan: I

abby_davisson: might

corey_allan: both

abby_davisson: spend

corey_allan: own

abby_davisson: more,

corey_allan: some things but make them good things. Yes. Ha

abby_davisson: that's

corey_allan: ha ha ha. Ha

abby_davisson: right,

corey_allan: ha

abby_davisson: you might spend more

corey_allan: ha.

abby_davisson: on an item than you would, you know, if you bought the cheap option, but the consequence of buying, you know, you know, $20 each is that you're gonna, they're not gonna last you very long. So the short

corey_allan: Right.

abby_davisson: term, you know, yes, you're spending less, but you're gonna have to buy five of them over, you know, the course of the year or whatever. Um, and if you just invested in a pair of shoes that were maybe a little bit more expensive, let's call it, you know, $150, that's gonna last you five plus years. Right. And so

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: if you think about consequences, we're so wired as humans to focus on the short term to think about

corey_allan: Right.

abby_davisson: what's right in front of us. If you think about, force yourself to kind of think about the short term as, you know, let's say the next zero to six months, then the medium term, six months to say two years and long term, say two plus years, you'll realize that the impact of your decisions might look very different over the medium and long term horizons. And so by giving yourself an exercise and we have exercises at the end of every chapter in the book. helps trick your brain away from some of these biases that we have as humans to think

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: about consequences in a different way.

corey_allan: Yeah, that's the thing that jumped out to me when going through this was how much our family of origin is is just such an ingrained. This is just the way you do things. This is just the way you're supposed to do things. This is the right way to do things rather than. Now, there's no morality. We're actually talking about these aren't moral things, you know, shoes. What there's not even a larger house or an office, you know, there's no morality. here really. It's just what fits my circumstance best. What fits with the path and the journey we've got best. And so then you're just talking about what's comfortable. I think that's largely why we have these traditions, right, of a family of origin because it's what I've known that I love the classic story. And I heard this from a client. So I don't know if she was giving me the classic preacher story, which means it didn't actually happen in her family, but it seems like it's more fun to tell it in the first person. but she always made a roast and cut the ends off of the roast before putting it in the pan to cook and then one day her husband's why do you do that? She said I don't know so she called her mom and her mom said well I don't know grandma would do that so I thought fortunately grandma was still alive so called grandma. Grandma why do you cut the ends off the roast because it wouldn't fit in the pan otherwise

abby_davisson: Thank

corey_allan: and

abby_davisson: you.

corey_allan: so it

abby_davisson: Bye.

corey_allan: became a tradition of how the family how the family cooked a roast because two, three generations prior, it wouldn't fit in the pan. And now all of a sudden it became the way you're supposed to cook a roast. And it's just, that's such a classic example of we just do things so robotically at times that we never actually take the chance to break things down like the five C's to really make a better informed decision.

abby_davisson: It's so true. I mean, our family of origin is what we know. It's what's familiar, what we see when we're growing up, and

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: the saying is you can't see what you can't be, what you can't see is so

corey_allan: Right.

abby_davisson: true. And so one of the things that is so important

corey_allan: Thank

abby_davisson: is

corey_allan: you. Bye.

abby_davisson: the check-in step. And I love that we're talking about these out of order because this is not a linear process. This is

corey_allan: Exactly.

abby_davisson: kind of very iterative. So

corey_allan: Yep.

abby_davisson: it's actually perfect because you'll go back around. just as you might have to clarify something once and then re-clarify it, the check-in step can be very helpful to broaden your set of influences and set of

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: role models. And so it can be both with people and it can be with published studies. And so it's interesting in the example that I was sharing about looking for a new house, my husband and I thought that if we had more space, we would all be happier, we would get along better. But actually, when I was doing the research for the book, came across a published study that talked about, it found that actually the number of square feet of a home is not actually a predictor of how well a family gets along. You would think that, okay, you have more and more and more

corey_allan: Right.

abby_davisson: space and therefore everyone gets along better if they're not all sharing one bathroom or well, you might want more than one bathroom, in order to get along. But, you know, especially with families with boys, which I have two young boys, it can actually, more space actually can make the family feel less connected

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: and less kind of harmonic, harmonious.

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: And so that was a really interesting resource when I did the check-in because I grew up in a big house in the suburbs and we live in the city and it's a much smaller home see that published study to say, hey, it's not all about getting the big house in the suburbs so that, you know, I can raise my kids exactly the way that I was raised. It's about understanding the research that's out there, what's important

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: to us again, and making some choices based on what we care about, not just, again, what we're wired to

corey_allan: Right.

abby_davisson: be familiar with.

corey_allan: And Abby, I love that idea of the check-in, particularly with the nuance like you're describing here of. It's not just going to your normal everyday yes man or woman group of people that are just there to support you, not necessarily confront you. Those are the fun friends to go out and have dinner with, but they're not the ones you bounce all your ideas off of because they may not give you any pushback when you're way out off the deep end. So you're describing the importance of the variety, of seeking out what are some things I don't know about this subject because I believe we all got blind spots like you're describing of, well, my view, you know, that's the world we live in, particularly with the connected social media company world, it's echo chambers, you know, that if you if you just stay in one, you just see because the algorithms that one, you never get the other side, unless you're intentional about that. And so I love the component of I need to seek some feedback, but from a variety of sources, not just from a couple.

abby_davisson: It's true and it really depends on the type of decision that you're confronting because there are some decisions where it is helpful to hear from a wide variety. So take the example of someone who might have paused their career to raise a family

corey_allan: Mm-hmm

abby_davisson: and then they're ready to go back into the workplace and it is very helpful. There's lots of research showing that the more people you tell and the more, you know, we call them weak ties. It's not our inner circle. But it's, you know, the. their circles and their sisters, neighbors,

corey_allan: Mm-hmm.

abby_davisson: dog walker circle, they can be very helpful because they surface potential leads to us

corey_allan: Right.

abby_davisson: that we might not already know about. So that might be a situation where you actually do want to check in with as many people as possible and tell them what you're interested in doing and hear their thoughts. The decision to have a child or to have another child on the other hand, might not be one that you want to talk with

corey_allan: Hehehehehe

abby_davisson: everyone about. Everyone's gonna have very strong opinions, often people want to justify their own choices. And so

corey_allan: Yes.

abby_davisson: that might be one we talked to a survey respondent, we did a survey as part of our research. And this person said, I intentionally only talked to a very few people about that very personal decision because I didn't want to be influenced by everyone's opinion. It wasn't

corey_allan: Right.

abby_davisson: until later when I knew what I wanted that I then wanted to reach out. So it's it can really depend how far you the number of check-ins.

corey_allan: Yeah, I think that to me, I hear all of this as recognizing that I'm not alone in helping figure out things, that I have resources, I have people, and I just need to be wise about that on the hierarchy of whatever it might be, right, that there could be something that is a much more personal thing that like you're describing, they're just justifying or projecting their component of it, not actually in your corner. It's about them in that instance. But then there's other elements where like, sometimes it's good to hear because you have maybe never even thought about it. And so I think it's good to just include that step. I mean, I'm loving that step just because it's important, because we're more informed then, which just empowers me all the more to make the choice, to make the decision and move forward.

abby_davisson: Absolutely, and we do often feel very lonely when we're grappling with big decisions. And so to your point, talking to people who have faced these types of decisions and moved through them and anything that you can do to feel less alone and to feel more in control, putting yourself in the driver's seat of your own destiny is so important. And so, I think that's a great question. I think that's a great question.

corey_allan: That's good. So Abby, how can anybody that's heard this thus far? How can they find more in the book and just what it is you're up to? How can they find you? So Abby, how can anybody that's heard this thus far? How can they find more in the book? And just what it is you're up to. How can they find you? So Abby, how can anybody that's heard this thus far? How can they find more in the book and just what it is you're up to?

abby_davisson: We have a website for the book. It's So that's the best place to go. And they can also find me on social media. I'm at abbey.davison on Instagram and at abbeydavison on Twitter.

corey_allan: Okay, perfect. Well, Abby, thank you so much. And all the best on the book and its impact of getting that framework out there. Because, man, if we can empower people to help feel better about the decisions they need to make and a roadmap they're in, I think everybody gets better. So thank you.

abby_davisson: Thanks for having me. I absolutely agree.