This article is a summary of the podcast episode from Rebecca Robertson’s Money Mastery for Women Podcast available from itunes and directly. Subscribe and listen to the latest in all things finance and wealth creation for women and hear from some incredibly inspirational female leaders too!
Podcast Interview with Julia Bernard-Thompson
Hello and welcome to money mastery and financial planning, a podcast for women with your host Rebecca Robertson. We are going to be focusing on maximizing your money, creating wealth and empowering financial success. For more information about us, head over to our website www.rebeccarobertsonevo.co.uk. Enjoy.
Rebecca: So, Julia, oh my goodness. I am really excited to have you here with me today.
Rebecca: And I say to people, do you know Julia Bernard Thompson and if anyone says no, I am like, how do you not know this woman? She is like a firecracker, she is a force to be reckoned with. You have got to know Julia. And we have known each other eight years, right? I mean I have been running my business for eight years so I must know you that long.
Julia: Yes, but I think it is that long.
Rebecca: Yeah. I remember going to your house in Gravesend and sitting at your front room, having a cup of tea many years ago so.
Julia: Yeah, because I have been living in this house six years already so that was definitely before that time so yeah it is about eight years.
Rebecca: Incredible. And I think what is really interesting in business is when you see people’s growth and you see, like, not to say you were not amazing then, you were equally as amazing then but it was the transformation is quite immense, really and I am really excited to talk to you today and I do not know what you are going to say. I always say this with these wealth series as I call them. I never know what anyone is going to say. I just know it is going to be interesting. So, what does wealth mean to you, Julia? Well, like you have gone through such a transformation and if I still follow you online and I see your post and you talk about money in such an open way, that is amazing and I think that might be quite scary for some people if they are not in the right mindset.
Julia: Yeah, thanks for having me first of all. So, what wealth means to me? I talk about money a lot. Anybody who follows me, I think people just know that I have something to do with money but they are like, they are never quite sure what. So, in a nutshell, as Rebecca said on the intro, I teach premium high ticket sales to mainly Christian coaches but I have clients who believe all sorts and run all sorts of businesses and what wealth means to me is, I will say, freedom of choice is the main thing and that is something that I instill in my clients because when you have money and wealth, you get to make different choices in life whether we like it or not. I know somebody might have listened to that answer and thought, well no I can choose to do what I want to do, well yes but whenever you have to make a decision and you have to go, I want this one but that one is less expensive or lower price, that is making a decision based on what is in your bank account and that is what wealth means.
It means that you get to make different choices, you get to live in a different kind of house, and you get to drive a different kind of car. Yes and that might sound materialistic but you also get to donate to causes that mean a lot to you, get to send your children to better schools like the list goes on and on and on and those things come back to choice and those things come back to having the money to say, yes this is what I want to do because if there is a difference between the decisions that you make and I say this from somebody who has been there, sitting in a little one bedroom flat in London that was run by a housing association and people who do not, I am not knocking anybody who lives in the housing association flat. Do not send me hate mail but it was because I was on a low income and the rent was highly subsidized and etc. to choosing to live in a very nice three-bedroom house with a huge garden and a double car garage and blah blah. Money made that possible and there is no other way to say that.
Rebecca: No, exactly. And I was brought up in a council house by my single parent dad. I do not come from an affluent background in that sense at all and now I have got a four bedroom semidetached and a pony. Yeah, so everyone knows about my horse. I got my pony. I talk about that in my group, my money mastery group, like what is your pony like? What is your goal right what are you trying to achieve because so many people are looking to strive for so much but they do not really know what they are striving for?
Julia: Another thing on a personal note and this is not a secret and it is quite funny that we are having this conversation now because another thing, especially for women because I know your audience is predominantly women, it means you get to choose if you stay in a relationship or leave and I say this very carefully so it is public knowledge, my husband and I, as I call it just transitioned marriage, out of our marriage and it is all amicable, it is all good.
Julia: But let us just say that I did not have access to funds, let us just say that I did not run a business for myself and have my own money and I know this is something that you really stress with your audience, Rebecca is to really know where the money is going, know what is coming in, know what is going out. I would not have been able to say, you know what? It is cool that this is not working, it would have been a different conversation. It would have been, can I pay for a place on my own like can I buy food on my own and let us face it, there are times when women stay in situations and my situation was not life-threatening or bad or anything like that but there are times when women end up staying in domestic arrangements that are not serving them because they do not have the money to leave.
Rebecca: And I have just been talking to somebody this morning that is running an event tomorrow in aid of women’s aid and I have actually said I am not interested in the sponsorship, I will just send you the money to sponsor it because it is women’s aid for that exact reason and what you have just said is exactly spot on and this is something I have not spoken about a lot myself because I think with money… even if you have got money, you can somehow have shame around it and you are scared to show people that you have money because you are worried what they are going to think of you and I have actually run my business for eight years. I think anybody that knows me would know that I have worked hard and I have worked well and efficient and I have people have come and gone and I am still here, you know type of thing? But I have actually financially never had to work and that might surprise people.
Yes, where we have got to, I have more than contributed to our family but the reason I have done that is because of my drive to be financially independent myself regardless of actually the need to and I do not mean that in the sense that other people should be doing the same because they are in, if they are in a loving relationship their husband works or partner works full-time and they have got children that they should make the same choices as me, not at all. There is times where I think I am completely crazy. I am sending the kids to the child minder or nanny and I am paying all this money out for what purpose. I would question that. So, there is no judgement on my part but my main key driver was I did all of that because my husband had been together 20 years but if anything was to happen, I want to be able to stand on my own two feet.
Julia: Absolutely and you know, like I am child free and my ex and I, like for two years running, it was quite funny, for three years running actually, we have had major surgeries and one of the years, it was me. I could not work for six weeks and the following two years it was him and he was off work for about three months each time and there was not a penny. Yes, we had to make adjustments because you want to be mindful because trust me when lots is going out, it is not coming in. You kind of look at your savings like what is going on over there?
Rebecca: You know, that handbag and pair of shoes was not a good idea.
Julia: Exactly but the thing is in the grand scheme of things, we knew that there was not going to be a real cause for panic that I could have recuperated at a pace that suited me, that he could have recuperated at the pace that suited him and there was no real cause for, oh my gosh, you have got to go back out to work. Imagine having to go back out to work ill and I get it, it ties back to the choice. You were able to make a different choice to have the money to send your children to the child minder, to pay a babysitter, so that you could have the time for yourself. How many working moms are trying to do everything and again it ties back to, if you are not creating enough wealth for yourself as a woman, you do not get to make that choice, you do not get to say well I am sending the child to the child minder because I know I can pay for it and it does not even become a discussion like one of the things to me was having a housekeeper and I have always had help at home even though we have no children, even when we lived in a two-bedroom flat, I had help him in the flat because I am not like, you look at me those of you who can see this video. I was not designed for housework. Yes, I know that is a scandalous thing.
Rebecca: But you like to cook though, do not you?
Julia: I like to cook and bake but I do not like the cleaning up.
Rebecca: You are such a good baker.
Julia: I do not like the cleaning up so, you see, I like having somebody who can do that. I do not mind the cooking and the baking, I love entertaining and whenever I do like entertaining and whenever I would have people over because I have not like had anybody over because we cannot in the last few months and so, for the sake of context, we are having this conversation when COVID 19 restrictions are still in place so nobody is going anywhere but guess what? When I have people over my housekeeper comes in, you are going to think this woman is a complete diva, yes I am. My housekeeper comes in the morning, she gets the place freshened up. If my friends, whoever is staying overnight, she gets the spare room done, blah blah. I can just relax and actually enjoy having people coming over. I do the cooking and the baking, that is the bit that I love and then I can just put everything to one side and she will come back in and wash everything up and put it all away. Now, for context, I did not grow up like that. I am an immigrant. I came to the UK at 21 with 400 pounds to my name. I put myself through university, I worked really hard, three and four jobs. Do not even ask me how I did it because I certainly could not do it again today.
Rebecca: What did you do as a qualification?
Julia: Applied science and forensics. Applied science at undergrad and forensics at masters. So, I worked really hard to be able to afford to do that because I was an international student. I was paying a high rate to go to university in the UK. I did not have any access to student loans or grants or anything. So, every single penny of my education, I worked hard and paid for and my mom supplemented as best as she could but you are dealing with an exchange rate. I grew up in Trinidad, you are dealing with an exchange rate of, and at the time I think it was 13 Trinidad dollars to one pound. So, imagine if my mom has to send me a hundred pounds, she is to find 1300 Trinidad dollars to send that to me. So, when you think about it like that, like I did not come from a place of having a housekeeper to clean up my mess but that is something that I worked really hard for through my business.
Rebecca: Do you feel like you need to justify yourself though, Julia?
Julia: Yeah, absolutely. I mean…
Rebecca: But why?
Julia: Well, first of all, my mom thinks I am scandalous.
Rebecca: I love your scandal though. I think you are brilliant.
Julia: My friends think I am ridiculous, I probably am. But there is a little bit of guilt, if I am honest. It is part guilt part, well I do not really care, and the reason why you ask me do I feel as if I have to justify it and a lot of women feel that way and side note into a bit of money mindset, it is actually why a lot of women under earn because women are conditioned to be the givers and the nurturers and the ones who do without and if we have something and a family member needs it, money or otherwise, a woman would be the first person to say, okay I will not have it. If you have to make the choice between, let us just say something terrible happened and you lost all of your money and you had to choose between feeding your children or feeding yourself and feeding your husband, your husband and your kids would eat and you would eat less, that is what women do because we have been socially conditioned to do that.
And it is a real head flip sometimes to say, hey we get to have fun with our resources first and we get to say no when people ask sometimes because you know that you have lent them three times already and you are not going to get it back so why are you going to lend them a fourth time and so yes, there is a sense of justification there because people go where you have a lot. So, why are you being like that? As well as not everybody will have the same feelings, like we joke about having help in the house but how many women do, like it is not that they cannot afford to have help in the house but we have been conditioned to do everything ourselves. So, even saying to, like I have said to friends, why are you spending your Sunday night ironing when you can have somebody do that for you?
Julia: Like you do not need a special skill to iron a shirt and like to me, it is about creating, I mean the lady who helps me, Michelle, and she has a name, like I would be lost without her, like honestly. So, for me it looks like I get to do the things that I am really good at. She loves cleaning and she loves ironing and I am like, knock yourself out.
Rebecca: I know but my mother-in-law lives with us and it has taken me, it has been 18 months she is nearly lived with us and it is taking me only just now can get ahead around the fact that she likes to clean. So, I do not tidy up sometimes certainly, I know she likes to do it.
Julia: Yeah, so justifying like that. I remember when we lived in a two bed flat, even my then husband he was like, we do not need help. I am like, well I am not. I was still working corporate, working nine to five and growing my business because I grew my business alongside my nine-to-five job for a while. So, I was working my nine-to-five job and then coming home in the evening to work on my business, like I do not like housework anyways, much less when I am kind of doing a second shift and trying to get my business off the ground and I remember saying to him, well you do not have to want a house cleaned. I had a cleaner like twice a week at the time. I said, well you do not have to like it because I am paying for it and this is the end of the discussion, like get your nonsense out of the way. The person is coming in, end up.
Rebecca: An interesting point you have just made there that he questioned it and you said, well this is my power. This is my money, I am paying for it. It is my choice.
Rebecca: So, there was a difference in the money there, the exchange, it is not like it was our money and he has a part in the choice.
Julia: No, because I was earning it and I was paying it and side note, I have never had a joint bank account with my husband so I do not know what your view is on joint bank accounts but for me, because I was already earning really well at the time that I got married, it just felt like giving away all of my power to put and yes I know it might sound a bit weird but for me it just did not feel right.
Rebecca: There is no right or wrong. Everyone is different.
Julia: Yeah and then thankfully my, then partner, he was like, well yeah it works so we have always had separate bank accounts for the duration, so it is not like, well this is my money and this is your money. We would have conversations and if things needed to be done, we sought out who did what or where it came from. And we had each other’s bank cards and pins so it was not like it was hands off the other person. There was nothing secret. However, at the end of the day, when it came to paying for the help, I was just like, well hey, it is coming out my bank account so too bad, like get used to it, this is what is happening.
Rebecca: That is empowering. That goes back, you have been doing what you have described about where you are living, you have left the relationship now, you had choice. It is about choice and back then, it was about choice.
Rebecca: Yeah, I get that. So, what advice would you give your younger self if you were going to go back before I met you, let us say 10 years and you are where you are now and you travel, you know, you were traveling when COVID 19 and all happened, I would say you live a fruitful and abundant life. I do not know your bank balance that is not none of my business but I would…
Julia: Right now it is half of what it was. Divorce will do that to you.
Rebecca: That is the other thing with divorce. That is some reason why people would. So, 10 years ago, what would you whisper in your younger self’s ear?
Julia: So, 10 years ago, I would say save more. Yeah, I think that would be the thing. Save more and acquire more assets.
Rebecca: What would you class as an asset?
Julia: Yeah, so when I say save more, I do not mean like be frugal because every trip, every pair of shoes, it is totally worth it and I look at them and I love them. Every cause that I could give to was worth it but I think now I have like a 24-hour rule where if I want something, so I do not impulse buy unless it is like a really good sale off of something that I was already looking for so that is a side note, another part of the advice.
Julia: All sales are not a good sale unless you were actually looking for the item. Sometimes we can go out, especially as women, we like the shiny things and we can go out and we will see something, oh it is on sale, but did you actually plan to buy that thing? You know if you had not planned to buy it then it is not that much of a saving because you are actually spending money that you did not plan on spending but if it is something that you plan to buy and it might be, oh well I was actually going to get that next month but it is on sale now so I will get it this month then great, that is a good financial decision. So, just decision making like that from a place of like the short term rush of the purchase versus the long term senior in my bank account and that is what I would do. I would implement that 24 hour buying period, buying cool off a lot sooner.
Rebecca: I like that.
Julia: So, if I if I really like it then I go home and it is like, okay if I still really like it in 24 hours, I will get it. If I do not really like it in 24… Because then the buzz, the adrenaline of oh my God! Look at that has worn off or not and then you can decide yes I really want it and in terms of saving more because you asked me about assets, I have not forgotten. I think things like stocks understand that a lot better, stocks, bonds, long term savings, that is the sort of thing I would tell myself to get educated on 10 years ago because, even now where I am at that stage, I am starting over in a lot of ways. New home and things like that which does have a financial, moving house is expensive at the best of times. Moving house and splitting things down the middle is an interesting conversation to have.
So, even now starting over, I am like oh okay I am looking at it as an opportunity to make a different set of acquisitions in this stage of my life, so that is what I would say save more, give yourself that 24 hour cool off period before major purchases and acquire more assets, learn more about stocks and bonds and things like that as early as you can and even if you do not understand it 100 percent because I do not understand it 100 percent, hire somebody that does. Like a lot of times, women, we do not look at our money, we do not get up close and personal with our money and part of not investing in assets is because we are afraid to even say I do not understand and there is nothing wrong with saying, you do not understand, it is just to find somebody who does understand.
Rebecca: Brilliant, yes. Exactly. And so what do you think was a key driver or nugget of knowledge that helped you shift from being, you know, paying the bills, getting by to being in this more abundant situation where you are now, what do you feel was the shift for you?
Julia: I shared a Facebook post about this recently and the thing that shifted was me understanding that my clients will always be willing to pay more than I thought they would be willing to pay and I will explain that a bit and if for context, I think it boils down to understanding the value of myself and my knowledge and my expertise and I know not everyone listening to this is a business owner but I always think that women have something that they can monetize, so even if you are a mom at home with the children, like look at the activities that you do with your children and see if other moms would want to get information about the activities that you do with your children and monetize that.
If you are working a nine to five, well can you do something on a Saturday morning for two hours? Can you do something in the evening for two hours? Can you go and learn a skill? So, one of the things that I used to do was I used to teach event planning and I ran an event planning and training company and so I would always run workshops in the evenings and it would always make me feel really good to see how many women would leave their job and then come in the evening to do a course on starting an event planning business. Women are natural event planners. You are planning the children’s birthdays, you are the one remembering all the things in the house, monetize that. So, even if you do not have a business, you have a skill that can be monetized and so that was the shift for me and I raised my fees exponentially almost overnight.
Julia: And it came down to literally we did not have any money and I do not mean that like we had a little bit it was a, oh sh8t moment, hopefully I can say that. And we did not have any money and at the time I was charging like 3000 pounds for something and we basically, even if I had made 3000 pounds, it would have dissipated because that is how dire the situation was and I literally, you know when you have those 3 a.m. money sweats, well I used to have them and you are like what the heck are we going to do and I just had this moment of, I need to sell a ten thousand dollar program because anything else is not going to get us in any kind of a healthy situation and I just thought, sorry I am going to do it and that is what I offered next because I thought well we cannot get any more broke, to be quite honest. You know, and it was in that moment of understanding my value and understanding like people are going to be willing to pay for this service. I actually sold the 10000 pound at the time I used to charge in pounds. Ten thousand pound package way easier than selling the three thousand pound package and that was a huge aha moment for me and it has been the forefront of how I charge now, how I work now and what I teach my clients.
Rebecca: Amazing. So, what do you want for your future self?
Julia: More money.
Rebecca: What are you going to do with it though? What is your pony?
Julia: What is my pony? I donate a lot. So, the funny thing is I am not one for designer stuff and shoes and handbags. I like shoes but I will buy a pair of shoes from anywhere, it does not matter. I buy a handbag from anywhere. I do not actually own a designer handbag thinking about it.
Rebecca: I am amazed by that. I did not know that.
Julia: I know. I do not. I was like, no I do not actually own a designer handbag. I do not know. For me, if I had to choose between buying a thousand pound powder bag and giving 900 pounds to a cause and buying a bag for 100 pounds, I would choose to donate the money. That is my pony and I am not saying that to be altruistic because I fly everywhere. So context, I do not have designer handbags but I spend a lot to get where I need to go in comfort. Better context, so for me, that is my pony to be able to give when people are in need either friends or family or causes like, again, right now we are having this conversation when it has been a complete… the black lives matter movement is having, for context, this is a week after George Floyd got murdered so I am just saying that to people who are listening a year from now.
Julia: So, I was able to sponsor another black woman to do a program, especially this week, I was able to donate to another and I am not saying that for praise but I am just saying like that is what having money means to me. I am in groups with a lot of business women of color and black business women and we were really able to come together and mobilize and say right this cause needs support, this cause needs money, let us do this together and I was glad that I was able to say right, I can put something to that, I can put something to that and not have…
Rebecca: This is a subject you have talked about for a long time, is not it? If we just talk about that for a second, this is not new to you. It might be new to many but it is not new to you because I have known you a long time and you have been quite outspoken about the subject for quite some time.
Julia: I mean I even did a TedX talk on unconscious bias so like this…
Rebecca: I know right. It was amazing. The other day I had someone try and join my Facebook group and their name was like the longest name I have ever seen and they probably came from somewhere like an Israel or Iraq kind of country and you spoke in your TedX talk about that unconscious bias and I saw the name and your name popped up in my head, which is hilarious and we do have natural bias about many subjects without even realizing it.
Julia: Yes, we do. So, yeah, it has been great to be in a position where I could contribute and I could not and so that makes me feel good. Am I going to turn around, like I mean I am going to look at a three-bedroom penthouse on Friday, do I need a three-bedroom penthouse? No, it is the honest answer.
Rebecca: Do you want one?
Julia: But I want one.
Rebecca: Only if I can come for champagne because I am going to live quite quickly.
Julia: Well, that will eventually happen. I am trying to make a sensible financial decision. I am confessing so you all can follow up and ask me, did you take the penthouse or not, but I am just showing context, right? In one breath, I am able to donate to social causes and be grateful that I have the resources to do that, especially now where it is really, it has always been needed but more so and on the other hand, I get to go and look at a place just for the heck of it and think, Julia this is not making sense but it is nice. So, that is what I think, that is my pony more than designer handbags. That said, I am not going to deny myself the perfect designer handbag, should I see one?
Rebecca: I get it and I love that you are so honest about all of that. That you are honest about who you are, you are a woman of color, you support women of color, you are an immigrant, even that word people used to say that word and it is like a dirty word and you said…
Julia: But that is who I am. I am proud of my journey, like there is people, I mean we could just have a whole conversation about that in itself, like I am proud of that and I know for some people, the word has negative connotations but the word has negative connotations because of the media and because in any sphere of society, you are going to have people who let the side down. I could not think of another way to say that and so yes there are always going to be those stories and if the media leads with immigrant man attack blah blah then unfortunately, like we take in those messages, again the unconscious bias, we take in those messages, we see the picture of the person, we see this unusual name and we come to a conclusion in that moment and what we do not realize is that when we see a similar picture and a similar unusual to us name, we still form that conclusion based on that initial idea.
And so, I like speaking up because I want people to see a different picture and come to a different conclusion and like I am not the spokesperson for successful black women everywhere, like there are black women who make me look like child’s play and hey, come on, there is plenty of money in the world for everybody regardless of your ethnicity but at the same token, to get back to the cause as it were, causes need money like a friend of mine said, you have to fund the revolution. And so, if it means that for the rest of the year, I cannot. Like there is nobody’s going long-haul travel, I am not going long-haul travel for the rest of the year. So, if it means making a decision to go, okay Julie what you would have used towards your next trip, you can donate it and you just go and hire up Airbnb in the Cotswold’s and relax instead of going to Florida this year then fine because if that means that a woman gets to eat, I can live with that, like I am cool with that.
Rebecca: Thank you for a start for being that person, for speaking out, and not just when it suits, you have always done that. It is not just because it is the right thing to do now, you have done that regardless and I wanted to say I am learning and so thank you for sharing and being welcome because that is where it starts and so much love to you and thank you so much for joining me today. I would definitely love to have you back and I want us to know if you brought that penthouse or not.
Julia: I am trying not to, to be quite honest. I should not even go and see it but yeah, I will keep you posted.
Rebecca: So, I will be looking forward to seeing what your future looks like, maybe in a year’s time and see what you have learned over that period of time. So, thank you, Julia.
Julia: Thank you for having me. Thank you so much. It was an absolute pleasure.