Episode 101

Putting Your Money Where Your Happy Is with Sarah Von Bargen

December 6, 2016

Sarah Von Bargen, a blogger and writer who believes that yes is more fun than no is joining us today on Being Boss. She helps her readers and clients find more money and more happiness and make their more interesting and intentional. So we’re talking with her about making an intentional shift in your business and making intentional choices on spending money in what makes you happy.

Learn More about the Topics Discussed in this Episode
This Episode Brought to You By:
"When you can really get clear on what makes you happy, you can add more of it to your life."
- Sarah Von Bargen

Discussed in this Episode

  • The process of letting go of working with one-on-one clients
  • Transitioning a blog to a primary source of income
  • Is blogging dead? Navigating the changing landscape of blogging
  • Promoting streams of passive income
  • Networking and connecting with internet friends in real life
  • Spending money on what makes you happy
  • Saying no to what won't feed your happy


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Kathleen Shannon 0:01
Hello, and welcome to being boss,

Emily Thompson 0:04
a podcast for creative entrepreneurs. I'm Emily Thompson.

Kathleen Shannon 0:08
And I'm Kathleen Shannon.

Sarah Von Bargen 0:10
And I am Sarah bond bargain and I am being boss.

Kathleen Shannon 0:18
Today we are talking to my friend Sarah Vaughn bargain. Sarah is a blogger and writer who believes that yes is more fun than No. Alright, and as always, you can find all the tools, books and links we reference on the show notes at WWW dot being boss dot club. In this episode, we're talking about the process of letting go of working with one on one clients. Transitioning a blog to a primary source of income, we talked about whether or not blogging is dead. We talked about passive income, networking, connecting, turning those internet friends into real life friends and spending money on what makes you happy. Okay, you guys get ready for the simplest way to be more productive, organized, and more importantly, get paid quickly. Fresh books cloud accounting is so simple. Even if you're not a numbers person, actually, especially if you're not a numbers person, fresh books, cloud accounting is for you. This is for creative business owners, not accountants, and so freshbooks has designed their platform with you in mind. It's easy to invoice your clients, it's easy to import your expenses. You can even track your time using fresh books, cloud accounting, it's super mobile friendly. And I just can't get over how easy and how intuitive and how visual freshbooks makes it for creative entrepreneurs to get paid faster. Try it for free by going to freshbooks comm slash being boss and enter being boss in the How did you hear about us section to try it for free today. I'm so excited to have my good friend Sarah Vaughn bargain on the show today. So for those of you who aren't familiar, Sarah has a website called yes and yes.org where she posts so much great stuff. It's literally one of the only blogs that I still read. Oh, thank

Unknown Speaker 2:17
you so much. Yeah.

Kathleen Shannon 2:19
So before we get into talking about blogging and money, and all the good stuff we're gonna chat about today. I mean, I really feel like I'm just using this as an excuse to catch up. But I want to hear a little bit about your entrepreneurial path and catching people up who aren't familiar with your work and what you do and all that jazz.

Sarah Von Bargen 2:42
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I have been getting paid to write in some form or another since I was 20. And I'm now 37. So I've been writing professionally for ages and ages and ages. I also worked as a teacher for seven years. And I was an ESL teacher. And so I live in traveled all over the world doing that. And when I moved back to America, I honestly had a pretty hard time adjusting. And I needed a creative outlet. So I started a blog. And there was a certain type of blog I wanted to read. And I couldn't find the blog that I wanted to read. So I just invented it. And I guess I sort of luckily found a hole in the market. And it became pretty successful and pretty well read and I was able to turn it into my career.

Kathleen Shannon 3:27
So how did you do that?

Unknown Speaker 3:30
No, but how?

Kathleen Shannon 3:33
Well, I have so many questions about this, but you still do freelance writing correct? Are you still blocking now

Sarah Von Bargen 3:40
I'm just blogging now I very occasionally work with corporate clients. But in March of this year, in December, I made a decision to let go of all my writing clients. And by March I was done with that. So from March onward, I have been supporting myself solely through affiliate links, ads, and, and a little bit of consulting. And I just recently launched an E course. Yeah, yeah. Thank you.

Emily Thompson 4:13
I want to I want to talk about that transition. Because I actually, I guess about the same timeline as you stopped working one on one with clients. And I feel like since doing that, I've had tons of questions about like, how do you make that transition? And yeah,

Unknown Speaker 4:28
easy. Yeah. But

Emily Thompson 4:29
it also is, yeah, and like making the decision to finally just do it. So I'd love to hear like some of your thought process around letting go of that, like stream of revenue. And I don't know what it felt like and what Yeah, for Yes, well,

Sarah Von Bargen 4:43
it was definitely something that I had been thinking about and have been on my mind. But it's scary. It's really scary to make that leap. And something that was really helpful for me, and I'm sure you guys have had this experience where you've got an idea that you think is like so crazy. And it couldn't possibly work. And like you tell your friends about and they're like, Oh, yeah, you could totally do that. Like, you think it's like crazy impossible. And they're like, Don't be ridiculous. Of course, you could do that. And so like talking to my friends about it, and having seeing how much confidence they had in me, felt made me like, oh, okay, if everybody else thinks I can do it like I can, I can probably do it. And what I did, I tried to be really strategic about it, I figured out how much money I needed every month to pay my bills, I figured out how much money was coming in from my clients. And where I could replace that or where I can sort of, you know, trim my budget, so I could make this doable. And I also when I, when I announced to my list that I was no longer going to be ghost writing. I said, You know, I have this many spots left, and they filled up immediately. So I knew that if I, if I worked really hard for like two months, I could have like a good like four month buffer before I released my e course. So that's how I did it. And something that I found as well is, it sounds so cheesy, but it's really true. Like, when you tell the university what you want, you know, a lot of things will appear on your plate that hadn't, you know, even been a possibility before because you have the energy and the time and the interest to pursue them.

Emily Thompson 6:17
I love that. And I love that for you like looking at your numbers and knowing exactly how many clients you need to take and how long it would take you to complete them. And what you how you need to replace it, like gave me the confidence to just sort of do it.

Sarah Von Bargen 6:31
Yeah, knowing those numbers aren't Yes. And the other thing that I will add, in this spirit of full disclosure is that because I have I'm signed with an ad network. So I I am lucky that I can bring in somewhere between 15 $102,000 a month in ad revenue, which obviously takes a lot of the pressure off me. So I think it's important to be honest about that. Because if you don't have that like passive income, it's it's a lot harder to make that leap.

Emily Thompson 7:01
Right. But I do love that you set up even the passive income, like that passive income before you made the leap. And then you were able to make the leap and then create more passive income in an ecourse or an online course. And we could talk about how passive or non passive

Unknown Speaker 7:15

Emily Thompson 7:16
yes, yes. But just sort of lining things up to allow you to take off that way.

Kathleen Shannon 7:24
Okay, I want to rewind a little bit and talk about your blog, because I feel like we've had this conversation before where you kind of get this pressure to niche into just talking about one thing, and you've always been pretty adamant, yeah, out talking about whatever you want to talk about. And so just to kind of give people the landscape of your blog, you have this category called True story. Yeah,

very like journalistic style q&a, where you're really getting a picture of someone's life. And you kind of give the broad strokes but you also narrow in on little details. And it's such a cool category that you include. And then you also do many travel guides. What are some of the other things that you're writing about?

Sarah Von Bargen 8:13
Well, I do travel guides, I do cheapskate guides, I do True Story interviews. I occasionally host guest posts on topics that I don't know enough to write about, but I know my readers would really like. And I also for a long time there were series that I hosted, that I loved. And I published them just because I loved them. But pretty recently, when I got honest, and I looked at my analytics, and I looked at like what gets shared and what gets paid and what to get what gets comments, several of those posts series honestly didn't really make the cut. And they were incredibly time consuming to put together. And either I was spending hours on them, or my VA was spending hours on them. And it just felt like I love these but nobody else does. So, so a few things had to sort of I had to cut because it just wasn't I wasn't getting the response that I wanted. And it just seemed like why am I spending dozens of hours every month on these things that nobody else really cares about? Okay, so maybe I'm starting to see a little bit of a shift here.

Kathleen Shannon 9:22
Right What I want because something else is paying the bills too. Oh shit. Yeah, he's a look at my analytics and figure out a way that I create a legit living out of

Unknown Speaker 9:34
Yes, yeah.

Kathleen Shannon 9:35
So what um, what made the cut and what are you kind of focusing on or have any themes started to rise to the surface? And do you feel like you might actually kind of niche down a little bit?

Sarah Von Bargen 9:46
Well, I think I might niche down in the sense that sort of what unites everything I write about is at the risk of sounding really hippy and life coaches living an intentional life and like making it have choices about how you spend your time and your energy and your money. And you know, like opening your mind and trying new things. And so like, I think that's sort of like the overarching that everything fits under that umbrella. But some of the stuff that I was reading about that fit under that umbrella just wasn't as popular. So, I mean, there will always I'll always be writing how tos, I'll always be like writing, responding to like advice that my readers asked me for. But I'm not going to be doing I did real life style icon interviews where I would interview fashion bloggers, who were all different sizes, heights, ages, and I loved doing those. But nobody really cared about them. And I had an awesome series called read eat, which was food from books that we all loved. And I love that series, and nobody else did. And I had a mornings in series, where I interviewed women from other countries about their beauty routines and their breakfast routines. I love that series. But I also like, there are only so many countries where you have access to people whose English is good enough that you can interview them over email. And I've like done all those countries. And the really like

Kathleen Shannon 11:09
that was one of my personal I know, I loved it,

Sarah Von Bargen 11:12
I loved it. And I've got probably like 35 of those interviews. And truly anyone who's listening to this, this podcast, if you look through my archives, and your home country has not been covered, please email me. I'm totally open to continuing it. But it's really hard to find someone you know, who wants to be interviewed about that stuff in a really obscure, you know, country who wants to email me about it? So yeah, I have gotten, as I no longer as I cut that income, I no longer had the luxury, honestly, of just publishing whatever I wanted, even if nobody else cared about it.

Emily Thompson 11:49
I love that. How does? How does that make you feel?

Sarah Von Bargen 11:53
Oh, that's that's a great question. I mean, honestly, I was a little bit sad to see some of it go. But it freed up so much time is so much time and so much energy. And the stuff that I'm replacing it with is stuff that I feel equally passionate about, like, if I was replacing it with, you know, tech tutorials, I would feel differently, but I'm replacing it with stuff that I feel equally passionate about. So. And also honestly, like, there are plenty of things that I do in my offline life that failed, those seem those same needs. It's not like that stuff has gone from my life. It's just gone from my blog.

Kathleen Shannon 12:31
Right? I feel like as creative entrepreneurs, sometimes we have this, we get into a scarcity mindset where we feel like I'm never going to have a good idea ever again. And sometimes it takes letting go of some things to make room for more things. And so for me, I actually had to kind of give up personal blogging for a while, and I love it. But it's still taught me so much about my voice and how to start to blend that voice that I discovered from personal blogging into the work that I'm doing on this very podcast. So I really feel like the landscape of blogging has changed. And I didn't realize that you had cut out freelance work to go into blogging, and meanwhile, I was just asking myself the other day has blogging die? Are you getting that question at all? Or are you asking yourself that question? How are you kind of like navigating your way around the changing landscape of blogging? And then going into it full time?

Sarah Von Bargen 13:29
Oh, that's a really good question. Well, I think that I think that blogging is still for me, and in my experience, like it's still definitely alive. And well, I mean, as long as people are search are typing things into Google, blogging, or any online content will be will still be a thing. I think that being serious about blogging, understanding, SEO, understanding how to create, you know, images that have alt tags that use the right photos that are going to get pinned, that that shits real, you have to do that, like, it's no, I mean, you can absolutely still have a blog where you're like, this is what I did this weekend, and here's a photo of my food, like, you can still do that. But it's very unlikely you're going to make any money or or, or get real traffic from doing something like that.

Kathleen Shannon 14:14
So in what ways have you gotten serious or I mean, obviously, looking at SEO and looking at your analytics, but are there other ways that you've gotten serious about making a living off of this and things that you maybe didn't consider beforehand?

Sarah Von Bargen 14:29
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I think I actually, you know, I was I went to a liberal arts college, I worked in the nonprofit world. And so there were a lot of like, sort of sales and marketing things that on some level, I thought I was quote, unquote, above, you know, like, I don't want to use hashtags on my pin on all my Instagram photos. Like I don't want to do webinars like I don't want a real sales page. I'm like, as though I was taking a moral high ground like what? But, but I think the thing is like if you have created something that you're proud of that you believe and you have witnessed will change people's lives. You owe it to yourself and the thing you created and the people you could help to properly sell it. Like, if Yeah, yeah, like if you think about, like, think about Liz Gilbert or think about, you know, Ira Glass or any of the people who we love and whose work we admire, like, where would we be if they were all like I made a thing? It's over there. Oh, you know, like, that's not helpful. So I think I just sort of had to get honest about the fact that I believe in the work I do, and I need to make it easier for people to find. So just put on your grown up pants Sarah,

Emily Thompson 15:34
and learn some online marketing. Yeah. Yeah, basically what this becomes, which I feel like we need a new word for online marketing. That whole spiel is very white male with a

Unknown Speaker 15:47
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Emily Thompson 15:50
But, um, but I love that. So. I don't know. I love that. Yeah, well,

Kathleen Shannon 15:56
okay. So I know, Sarah, that you have created and launched courses before or ebooks or digital products that you could sell, yeah. And these passive revenue, or these passive streams of revenue that you could sell, and that maybe you haven't promoted them like you could in the past? So I'm curious to see what your experience was, like, whenever you would create these things before, like, what were you doing before? And now what are you doing differently with those digital products and courses and things like that? Yeah,

Sarah Von Bargen 16:31
well, I've just I, and also, like, sort of, to be fair to myself. When I created things in the past, like webinars, were not even a thing that people were doing. Like when I created my first ebook, nobody had options, you know. So to be fair to myself, maybe I would have promoted better, but those things didn't exist. But in the past, I would make something and I would write like one blog post about it. And then I would put it in my sidebar. And then very occasionally, at the bottom of a blog post, I would say, like, Hey, I wrote an ebook about this. And then I would link to the sales page. But I didn't have a funnel, I didn't have like a content upgrade that led to the funnel. You know, I wasn't like, updating my testimonials. I wasn't like sending a follow up email, you know, a few months after people bought the thing saying like, Hey, did you use this? I absolutely didn't have I didn't use webinars. I didn't have Facebook ads. I didn't really promote it on social media. So yeah, it would mostly usually what would happen is people would buy it, you know, there would be a big spike in sales when I released it, and then that would be it. And you know, so I'd make like, I would make like a nice amount. But I would make a nice amount one time, and then I would sell like $15 worth of ebook, you know, every month for the next like year.

Kathleen Shannon 17:54
Yeah. Okay. So now you've recently launched a course called put your money where you're happier, yes. And before we get to that, and how you're now promoting that course, differently than the blog post, and the sidebar, and sometimes the call to action at the end of future blog posts, which is literally exactly what I did with my e course, whenever I launched it. I didn't even know I was just admitting this other day. I didn't even know what a sales funnel was until about six months ago. Yeah, you're the one that introduced Yes, content upgrades to me, whenever we did that little DIY mastermind in Mexico, you were like you guys content up. Let me explain that to any of you listeners who are not familiar yet with content upgrades. But um, so one of the things that I've always really admired about you, Sarah, is your ability to just be a working creative. And I want to talk about that a little bit, because I feel like right now, there's this whole thing about the six figure business and hustling and I know that we're a part of that also with our podcast, and we're all about making six figures. And there's no shame in that. But there's also something to be said for just being a working creative. And I often think of actors who we don't know their names that make a good living. Yes, actor. Yeah, they're on IMDB, but they're not Brad Pitt. And I feel like you are totally content. Yeah. Being that character actor. Yeah, totally have to have the fame and the glory and the millions of dollars. I'd like to talk about that.

Sarah Von Bargen 19:33
Sure. Absolutely. Yeah. Um, well, for better for worse, I have always viewed writing as it's simply a skill set. You know, like some people hang drywall. I write, like, like, when people are like, what's your process? And I'm like, I open up my laptop and then I type words into a Google Doc, you know what I mean? Like, I'm not like and then I pour my whiskey and I light my candle and then I call it my muse. Like now, you know, I just I just do it. And I think and maybe that's just part of my personality or because I've been doing it for so long or because I got my start at newspapers were like you cannot be precious because there is a deadline and anything you write is going to get edited down anyway. And then after that I worked in advertising, which is the same thing, like you write so much. You're writing press releases, you're writing, you know, so much that any like preciousness gets drummed out of you. So I think it's a combination of my like, sensible Midwestern ness. And like, where I started as a writer that I am, patently, I'm precious about it. And I really realized that you need a shitty rough draft to edit down like, nobody, nobody's expecting you to write a Pulitzer Prize winning novel on your first attempt, like, I frequently, you know, I'll come up with an idea for a blog post, I write out the bullet points, I fill in the bullet points. if something isn't working, I just skip it. And then I let it sit. And then I come back and write an introduction. And then I prove it like, it's just, and I've sort of applied that to the rest of my career. Like, I love the work that I do. And I really believe in my blog and the work that I do, but mostly, like, I want to have an awesome life. You know, I want to travel, I want to see my friends. I want to enjoy my marriage and my garden. And my work supplies the money and time to do that, you know,

Kathleen Shannon 21:19
yeah, I love that you don't really identify with your work as like a part of your soul.

Sarah Von Bargen 21:25
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, no, I mean, I want to do a good job. But yeah,

Kathleen Shannon 21:30
I feel like my work identity, or my career is so much a part of my personal identity. And I often struggle with that. And I think that's why I see that in you your ability to just like, yep, I showed up, I did the work. And then I did all these awesome things. So I want to talk about some of those awesome things. Because Another thing I admire about you, is your ability to travel the world and prioritize new experiences. And you're doing it with not a whole lot of money. Like you're not some trust fund. No, super, no, you are working for every cent you make, right? And so I want to talk about how you've been able to prioritize those things, and maybe just some of your experiences with travel and what it's given to your life. Sure.

Sarah Von Bargen 22:17
Well, for me, when it comes to prioritizing, this is gonna sound like so unsexy and obvious, but it's literally just looking at the calendar and being like, Okay, well, I'm going to Europe this summer, and then right, and then writing it in the calendar and then booking the ticket. I know that's so dumb, but it's true. It's true. Like, you just have to be like, Okay, well, this is what this is what I'm doing, and I put it in the calendar. And when people try and like schedule something for that time, I'm like, No, I'm gonna be in Greece. Like, it sounds obvious, but most of us don't do it. And I think also sort of getting out of the mindset. Again, this sounds really hippy and life coaching, but getting out of the mindset that like some day, some days, not a day, and nothing is promised. And like, if you keep like something, you're going to be 70. Like, I had the Epiphany earlier this summer, I'd always I've always loved Greece. And I've always wanted to be in Greece for orthodox Easter, because it's a really special celebration. And I was like standing in my Tiki Bar working and thinking about how I want to do that. And I was like, Well, no, but I can't, like, I have the money. And I had Why am I just not doing that. And so I'm not like I realized I could do it. And then I went on kayak and looked at flights and I was like, Okay, yeah, no, I'm doing that. And I sent a text message. I mean, like, so I think I'm gonna go to Europe for like, four weeks of spring. He's like, okay, like some Obviously, I'm so lucky that that is my situation. But

Kathleen Shannon 23:44
okay, two things. One, you're working from a Tiki Bar. Is this your tea? Yes.

Unknown Speaker 23:48

Sarah Von Bargen 23:49
you go, it's my Tiki Bar. This is just another reason for you guys to visit me in Minneapolis. We have it we have a tiki bar, a built in tiki bar with a roof and like lights and a little mini fridge and the whole thing. Wow. Okay. Yes. Yeah, too.

Unknown Speaker 24:05
Are you going to Greece by yourself?

Sarah Von Bargen 24:07
Yeah. Well, sort of. So I'm going to Lisbon, Portugal and Lesbos, Greece and Transylvania. What? Yes. Yes. But so actually, and I might have even posted about this in the being boss group. But there so obviously, as you're all aware, there's an economic crisis in Greece and all of the Syrian refugees are landing in Lesbos, which is an area that was very, very all their income came from tourism, so they're not only has their economy dried up. All of the refugees are landing there. So a friend of mine actually put together I don't know what you would call it but they are trying to appeal to digital nomads like us to come and stay in these hotels that are empty. They have really fast internet because they want to bring in people and bring in tourism dollars. to like, reinvigorate the community, so they can better support the refugees and better support the locals. So I'm going there to be part of this. So I am like flying to Greece by myself. And then like hanging out with a bunch of internet friends like in Greece.

Kathleen Shannon 25:15
That's so fun. I

Emily Thompson 25:16
love the internet. I

Sarah Von Bargen 25:18
know you guys have to I will, I'll send you a link for the show notes. And you can tell all your people about it.

Kathleen Shannon 25:23
So this is another thing I want to talk about is you're really good about connecting with your internet friends. And it was probably this time last year that you email me and you were like, hey, do you want to go hang out in Mexico for a week and talk about nerdy business stuff? Yeah, yes, totally. And I have to tell you, I don't know if I've actually fully expressed this to you. That completely re energized.

Emily Thompson 25:49
Back with so many tasks and to dues for like me and us, I was like, I don't think I'm ever gonna let you do that. No, but really, it was so great, like getting her on the same page with like, email marketing, and all of those things. Thank you very much for doing

Kathleen Shannon 26:07
2018 was just a really hard year, and I was really tired. And so going into 2016 with that trip. And it was me, you and just probably three other women hanging out. In Mexico, we never even really left our condo we went to I went to the beach once and it was too windy. So we were just really nerding out on business for like five days straight. And it was so much fun. And it was exactly what I needed. And it was not super expensive. No, no. And it wasn't like some sort of official mastermind group. Even though that stuff is great, too. It was really helpful to just get people together. And it started with an email, just like you said, there was an email, there was some date set there. plane tickets bought. And it was as easy as that. Yep.

Sarah Von Bargen 26:57
Yeah, yeah. And I think, especially for your readers in terms of like, building community and networking. Networking doesn't have to be some like cheesy hotel ballroom thing. It can literally be like, Hey, I'm going to be in Cleveland. I know you're in Cleveland, do you want to grab lunch? It can be that easy.

Emily Thompson 27:16
Right? And it is that? Yeah, I

love that. I feel like, like, I've had so many conversations around women, like in communities, you want to build community. And then they go into like, you know, we need to do networking events. And just like, those things are like, No, you need to invite everyone to dinner. Yeah, like, Yeah, tell party, or just get two or three people in a room and see what happens. Yes, absolutely. Because I love that, like, especially women we connect differently.

Kathleen Shannon 27:45
I know we were recently talking like networking is just making a bunch of friends.

Sarah Von Bargen 27:50
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think that when you put the word networking in the title, everybody like gets on edge. And they're like wearing their blazers and they've got their cards, they're like, I've got my elevator pitch. But if you're like, you know, we're all just having dinner, like you're, of course, you're going to end up talking about business, because that's what you all have in common. But it takes the pressure off you, you can feel more like yourself, I think you connect more on a human to human level instead of like, how many followers do you have? Right. And

Kathleen Shannon 28:18
you know, what else I get from the sense of networking lately is like, what can you do for me? Oh, gosh, and I hate it whenever people completely blow each other off, because they think that they have no use for each other. And I love thinking back to I mean, Emily and I each had 12 followers whenever we became business.

Unknown Speaker 28:41
Yeah, it's like,

Kathleen Shannon 28:42
and you don't need a lot of aiono This is my whole thing lately is just don't try and see what someone can do for you see what

Unknown Speaker 28:51
you can do fast.

Kathleen Shannon 28:52
salutely not even that, like just see if you can be friends and have a real conversation.

Sarah Von Bargen 28:57
Yep, I absolutely agree.

Kathleen Shannon 28:59
Okay, so I want to talk a little bit then about putting your money where your happy is, I love that you've created a course around this. And and I think it's so important because a lot of us working creatives who are graphic designers, coaches, consultants, writers, nutritionists, makeup artists, a lot of us are just trying to be happy. We're trying to be happy doing what we love. And we're trying to live a life that allows us the freedom and flexibility to do what we want, and to spend our money on things that make us happy. So I'd love to talk about that a little bit. Because I think that far too often we use money and time as an excuse to not do the things that are important to us. So how do you kind of get around money and time and feel free to just jump in and read? Oh, sure. created the course and all of that. Sure.

Sarah Von Bargen 29:56
Well, so basically. So when I first started Yes, and yes And when I first started, I was a little bit secretive about this because I even felt a little bit embarrassed about it. But so when I first heard Yes, and yes, I was working as an ESL teacher, I made to $16 an hour, I had $50,000 worth of debt from getting my undergrad in my master's. Um, and I, you know, I just, I was not in the world's greatest financial situation. And despite that, I lived in a really cute apartment in a nice neighborhood. And I lived in the Twin Cities, which is not like incredibly cheap or anything. I owned my car outright. And I was able to save enough in a year and a half to travel internationally for 10 months. And so like when you run those, when you like, think about those numbers that I just told you, that seems impossible. I mean, that seems like how could you possibly do that? And I didn't live on ramen. And I didn't have support from my parents a partner. I didn't put anything on a credit card like so that just seems crazy.

Kathleen Shannon 30:57
Totally. How did you? Well,

Sarah Von Bargen 30:59
basically, what it came down to is I figured out what made me happy, and I stopped spending money on things that didn't, is honestly, that's all it came down to. I figured out what made me happy. And I stopped spending money on things that didn't make me happy. But the thing is, most of us don't have a really clear picture of what makes us happy. We have like really broad overarching ideas about like, travel, friends with time and family. And that's great. But so when we're talking about travel, are we talking about like an all inclusive in Cancun? Are we talking about three months in Romania? And when we're talking about time with friends and family, are we talking about like you and Emily, like drinking wine on your couch? Or are we talking about like you go into Florida with your family, because those things are different. And so when you can really, really get clear on what makes you happy, you can find more of it and add more of it to your life. And you can also find it sort of at different price points, because you can get clear on Okay, what actually makes me happy is connecting with somebody who really knows me, or what actually makes me happy is feeling is feeling anonymous in a new city. And so if you know that what really makes you happiest feeling anonymous, a new city, you can just drive to like Cleveland, you know, you don't need to fly to Budapest. Or if you know that what really makes you happy, is having a cabin weekend with your girlfriends cool. But it doesn't make you happy to like go out to dinner a million times a week, then stop going out to dinner. And with that money you've saved now you can rent a cabin with your girlfriends. So one of the things that I like the the sort of the pillar of my course, is I tell my students to print off one month of bank statements and one month of credit card statements. And then you get three highlighters, a pink one yellow one and a green one. And you look through every single purchase that you made. And if it's a purchase that improved your life, or made it happier, it's a green, if it's an unavoidable expense, like rent or groceries or insurance is yellow. And if it's money that you regret spending, or you don't even, like recognize the purchase, and you're like I don't even know what that is. It's a it's pink. And then you add up those three categories. And Holy shit. You would be amazed by what you find out. Like, and you'll also be really amazed because you'll look at all the things you said made you happy. And you'll look at your back the way you spent your money. And most people are like, Oh, those, those aren't aligning the way I thought they would. When I when I worked my when I taught my through this through this exercise. I had one student who's a very high earner who realized that she was spending $2,000 a month in on regrettable purchases. Yeah, I know. I know, I had students who said that they were on like a really tight budget, there's no way that I can cut any more from it. And they realized they were spending like $150 a month they didn't need to. I had a student is actually a life coach who said like, Oh, I'm really good at self care, I'm really good at like spending my money in ways that make me happy. And then she realized she only spent $27 on herself. So it's really crazy. And when you figure that out, when you figure out what makes you happy, and you figure out where your money is going. And you figure out how to make it align. Like it's crazy the way your life transforms. And especially like think about how different your life would be if you were spending $2,000 less a month and or you had 2000 extra dollars to spend on things that made you happy, like just think how that would shift everything.

Kathleen Shannon 34:28
I know and I connect time and money so much. So even as you're talking through this, I'm thinking of it more as time like how much time have I spent scrolling through Instagram whenever I could have been having a dinner party with my friends? Absolutely no. So I really am thinking of it in that way as well. But um, wow. Okay, so I'm curious, what are some things that you stopped spending on that you thought maybe made you happy but actually don't?

Sarah Von Bargen 34:58
Yes, I realized that I don't particularly like going out to eat or whether I should say it doesn't bring me joy going out to eat doesn't bring me joy, I'm vegetarian. So 90% of the time, I just end up eating like salads and pasta that I can make at home. And they're healthier, more delicious when I make them at home, and going out to eat is so expensive. It's so expensive. And every time I go, and I'm like, how did we spend $50 on like a cheese plate and some mediocre wine. So I, I pretty much stopped eating out and I started having friends over for dinner more, which I like so much more anyway. And it's so much cheaper. So I stopped, I stopped going out to eat mostly, um, I not only for saving money, but also in terms of like the environmental impact I buy almost exclusively secondhand clothes, or I buy clothes that are like custom made or, you know, very ethical. So I'm basically either spending like $7, or like $25 on a T shirt. But I would so much rather do that and feel good about it. Then, you know, like buy something at Target and be like, Well, this was a 14 year old in India who made this for me, and it's gonna fall apart. So I got really intentional about my shopping in a way that I was proud of ethically. And the other thing, so one of the things I talk about my course is the eight common reasons that we make regrettable purchases. And once you figure out why you're making them, you can you can change your spending. And my two biggest reasons that I make regrettable purchases, and obviously this is much lower now that I noticed about myself is I make regrettable purchases because I'm disorganized or hurried. So like I will this is a true story. I have booked tickets like flights and train tickets and for the wrong day on multiple occasions, because I'm not paying attention and I'm going too fast. And I have like four sets of headphones because I always forget to pack them and then I get to my destination. I'm like shit, I have to buy them again. So once I realized that so many of my regrettable purchases were tied to being disorganized. I forced myself to slow down. And the other reason I make regrettable purchases is I make the close enough. regretable purchase where you're like it's on sale. If I wear a blazer over it, it'll be fine. Oh, if I have it, then it'll be cute. I'm never having it. I'm never having it. And so now that I know that I only buy things that I really love instead of like the Oh, it's almost good enough.

Kathleen Shannon 37:35
Okay, I noticed that I overspend or that I started spending a lot of money whenever I'm sad.

Sarah Von Bargen 37:40
Oh, yes, that's that's the that's the shopping instead of feeling your feelings, and it's the most common reason that people make regrettable purchases.

Kathleen Shannon 37:46
I am all about some shopping instead of feeling my feelings. Yep.

Emily Thompson 37:50
See, I do when I get bored. Like, I'll just be super bored and pull up the Amazon website. And then shit gets real because I buy like a new library of books or something that like I don't even need. Yeah,

Kathleen Shannon 38:02
no, Amazon Prime has made it so easy. I know by whatever. And I love it. For that reason. I love the convenience. I don't want anyone to ever take my Amazon Prime away. But even thinking of it almost in a primal to our roots. Like how? Because sometimes I think that's buying things can make us happy. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And that, but part of it is that anticipation and that hunch. So even like looking at it from a primal aspect. We used to have to hunt for our food. And now I can literally have it delivered to me. And I wonder if that's actually taking out some of my satisfaction.

Unknown Speaker 38:38
It totally is. I

Kathleen Shannon 38:39
don't work for it. Yeah.

Sarah Von Bargen 38:41
Because when you think about like, how excited do you feel when you see in a boutique like this is the bracelet I've been wanting for five years. Like it makes you feel so awesome and accomplished instead of just like going on Amazon and sorting like thin gold bangle, like between 20 and $75. That's not that you don't feel like I got it. It's awesome. I have an amazing story about where I found it. It's just like, yeah, I found it on Amazon by sorting like best reviews. Oh, I

Emily Thompson 39:07
love that. Okay, so you just said something that if you have words for it, I'd love to hear them about having a good story for things that you do buy because as I've gotten older, I find myself like focusing on that a whole lot. Like whenever I'm traveling, I like to bring home one thing Yes, it is like my thing from that trip or whatever. So I don't know, in case, your wanderings and teachings of money has made you think about that topic. And

Sarah Von Bargen 39:37
oh, yeah, well, I think that that's just like the meaningful purchase, you know, like I'm commemorating. So after I launched. And this is something else we can talk about. But when I launched the course, you never know how successful it's going to be. And it's so hard not to put all of your feelings in that one basket. And so I created an emotional contingency plan for myself. And so like, even if it didn't sell any I didn't want to, like hate myself and hate my life. And part of that was we had already planned a weekend away, regardless of the outcome of the course. And I knew that on that weekend, I wanted to like, find something and buy it. There'll be part of my life that when I looked at it, I could say like, you know what, I tried a new thing. I did a hard thing. And anytime I look at this, I remember that like, I did a good job. And so I found like a really pretty gold Blake bangle in a boutique, and I bought it. And it was like a something I had wanted anyway and be every time I look at, I think about like, I learned all these new skills and like think, thankfully, the course was successful. But like, regardless of that, like I try something new. I got out of my comfort zone, I did something that was brave. And every time I look at that, I think about it, which is so much better than just like wandering around target and being like, Man $15 is a little bangles. Cool.

Emily Thompson 40:51
I love that. And so I i've, again been practicing that, or just like it's been happening for me. And I find myself making less, making less just pointless purchases. Because whenever I do want something, I want to wait until the right time. Yes,

Sarah Von Bargen 41:06
yes, yes, I call that you need to honor the immediate Yes. Like, you know, when you see the thing across the store, and you're like that was meant for me, instead of like mindlessly going through the sales racks and being like, Oh, this is fine, I guess. And I mean, we've all had that experience where you see it across, you know, like the light of God, like shines down onto it. And you're like, this was the winter coat that was designed specifically for me at this point in my life. And you don't even look at the price tag because it's a moot point, because it's so perfect for you.

Emily Thompson 41:38
Yeah, I love that. Okay, I

Kathleen Shannon 41:41
want to circle back around to promoting this course. Yeah, how that's been different for you this time versus last time. And coming back to what Emily said about how passive income isn't so passive. Yeah, you're working hard on it. So obviously, now you've got your sales funnel set up, you have opt ins, you have webinars, what else are you doing? And how, how has that made you feel like that kind of promoting in a different way? Have you been scared? Did it? Did any? Did you see any repercussions that you were scared of before? Oh, that's

Sarah Von Bargen 42:15
a good question. Um, well, so I was pretty nervous. I had done one webinar before, but it was like hosted by somebody else. And I was like the guest. And so this webinar, I was doing completely by myself completely by myself. So you know, if the tech falls through, if it's boring, it's all on me. And so that was pretty terrifying. And like, I was a theater kid for a long time. So I'm not afraid of being on camera talking to people, but like the tech aspect, oh my god, it's terrifying. And we've all been on webinars or where like, nobody can hear you, or like the screens black like it happens. It happens to everybody. And so I was really nervous about that. I was also nervous. Like we've we all read blogs, we all know what happens when somebody releases a book. And there's like, non stop blog posts about their book tour, or like non stop, and you get a little bit annoyed. And I was, you know, I was worried. I was worried. But it wasn't going to stop me from promoting it. But I was like, I know, it's only a matter of time till I get emails being like I couldn't really do without this, you know, so I was worried about that. Did you get that? No, I didn't. And if anything, I thought maybe like maybe I'm not promoting it enough complaining about it. That's actually a good point. I

Kathleen Shannon 43:33
loved here. I'm on your mailing list, obviously. And I loved hearing about it. And I felt like you're creating fresh sales content. And I think maybe because you don't come from this world of online marketing. I mean, you're very much in it. But you almost seem like again, above it. Just this word, yeah, creative, that maybe you came to it with a fresh perspective that you weren't just checking off the boxes of sales emails that you're supposed to do, and you're just kind of doing it your way. And I kind of get the sense that you will take best practices and really make them your own.

Sarah Von Bargen 44:09
Well, thank you. I mean, that's definitely what I'm trying to do. And I really tried to keep in mind, like, Okay, I'm gonna write a blog post that promotes the course. But I want this blog post to be helpful to anyone, regardless of whether they buy the course or not. And I also, when I was putting together the webinars, I wanted the webinar to be so good that people are like, Oh, my gosh, if this is what's in the free webinar, what is the course going to be like? Because of course not everybody's gonna buy it. Not everybody can afford it. But I wanted people to walk away being like, wow, just this. This stuff that she shared with us is incredibly helpful to me right now, even if I'm not going to buy the course.

Kathleen Shannon 44:49
I mean, can we talk about pricing really quick? Yes. Yes. How did you decide what to price your product that

Sarah Von Bargen 44:54
I decided? Well, because it was so my plan is to run it twice a year. So I wanted to obviously start low, and then you know, potentially increase it. So I started at 97. And then there was 97 for a week, and then I increase it to 147. And I know that I could be charging a lot more for that, because anything about money can be a lot more expensive. But but to be totally, totally honest, I live in a cute house, I travel as much as I want, I have the life that I want. Like, I and it's, I know that sounds cheesy, but the stuff that I'm talking about is incredibly helpful to people. And I don't want somebody not to learn this stuff, because it's too expensive for them. And like I have been in the place making $16 an hour. And when I was making $16 an hour, even a $97 course I'd be like, Oh, no, I really have to think about that. So I want to be sensitive to that.

Kathleen Shannon 45:48
where people are always asking, like, how do I price my thing? And Emily and I are always like, just check with your gut. Start low.

Sarah Von Bargen 45:55
Yeah, yes, yeah. And I, my husband used to work in the corporate world. And when he said that you should do is with your beta testers, you give them three prices, and you say which one is too much, which one is too low? That's like that makes it seem suspicious. And then that's how you figure out your pricing, which, I mean, I probably shouldn't have done but honestly, I was like, well, I just want to make it accessible.

Unknown Speaker 46:17
I love it.

Emily Thompson 46:19
Well, and that's what I love about starting things low like that is that you can raise them as you feel the need or like looking at. I don't know how many people want in can be a good gauge prices. You just got to get going. I love that. You just got it out there. Yes,

Sarah Von Bargen 46:34
Yep, absolutely. Okay,

Kathleen Shannon 46:37
so to wrap this up, I'm curious to hear in what ways are you feeling super boss right now, one piece of advice you would give to our listeners so that they can feel more boss?

Sarah Von Bargen 46:49
Oh my gosh, that's a great idea. Um, so I would say I'm feeling really boss right now. Because the course gave me the financial breathing room, that from now until probably January, I can just calm down. You know, like, I don't necessarily, I mean, I'm still gonna be publishing blog posts and stuff. But I, my plan is to put the blog on a break for most of December, so I can hang out and do winter holiday stuff. So it makes me feel really boss to have the professional and financial and emotional space to be like, you know what, I'm just gonna, like, take a break for a little bit because I want to, so that makes me feel really good. And I would say that you can probably create that feeling in your life, even without like a huge influx in cash. You know, you can say no to social obligations that you're not into, you can say no to that. I just want to pick your brain phone call. Like there are things you can do in your life without needing some, you know, like, five figure paycheck, like bonus to to get that feeling. Alright, follow up question. Yeah. Yeah.

Kathleen Shannon 48:01
Let's talk about saying no, because I feel like you are someone that could do it with grace. Say No, whenever Oh, my gosh, like really nice things. Like, can you come on my podcast? How do you say no? Well, it

Unknown Speaker 48:13

Sarah Von Bargen 48:14
I mean, honestly, depends. I mean, there, there are seasons of my life where I'm like, sure, everything, whatever. Um, honestly, I'm usually just very honest. And say like I am, I am knee deep in, I need even the holiday season with my stepkids. And we have Hanukkah and Christmas, and it's a lot, or like, I am developing a new course. And I'm completely overwhelmed. I just, I'm just very honest. And I say like, I so appreciate. I so appreciate your interest. And then if ever, whenever it's possible, like if somebody is like, Can I pick your brain about XYZ? And I say, No, I'll either point them towards somebody else. Like not not like Oh, go call Kathleen, because she'll talk to you. But, but like, Thanks, Sarah. But somebody who's like published work like this blog post, by Melissa Griffin will tell you everything you need to know. Or if I've written a blog post about it. I'll say like I wrote about it here, here in here. hope that's helpful. I'm usually just like, I'm busy and overwhelmed. Sorry, but here's something that helps is how I tried to do it.

Kathleen Shannon 49:13
I have to tell you the hardest thing I've said no to recently was going on a vacation with you again. You got to see my local waffle.

Sarah Von Bargen 49:22
You can still come the house is big enough you can still come

Kathleen Shannon 49:25
it's only I know. I was like keep me on the email chain. Maybe I can change my mind. But I had to say no to so my thing in 2017 is really focusing on where my happy is and I would be so happy going on vacation Of course. Yeah. But it was also like, Where can I focus on my family and I've really been putting this intention in focusing on my house.

Sarah Von Bargen 49:51
Oh, yeah. and fun.

Kathleen Shannon 49:54
Yeah, so man, but it was hard.

Sarah Von Bargen 49:58
Like we totally understand toe

Unknown Speaker 49:59
in Oh

Kathleen Shannon 50:03
thanks for inviting me Don't Don't forget about me in 2018 know

Sarah Von Bargen 50:07
what you'll be on the permanent email chain

Kathleen Shannon 50:11
All right, where can our listeners find more from you?

Sarah Von Bargen 50:14
I'm everywhere on the internet I'm on social media I'm yes and yes blog so on Instagram on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, I'm guessing yes blog and then my URL is yes and yes.org.

Kathleen Shannon 50:27
Thank you for listening to being boss. Find Articles show notes and downloads at WWW dot being boss club.

Emily Thompson 50:37
If you're a creative entrepreneur, Freelancer or small business owner who is ready to take your goals to the next level, check out the being boss clubhouse, a two day online retreat followed by a year of community support, monthly masterclasses book club secret episodes and optional in person retreats. Find more at www dot being boss club slash clubhouse.

Kathleen Shannon 51:00
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Emily Thompson 51:21
Do the work. Be boss and we'll see you next week.