Surviving Financial Abuse At The Hands Of A Parent

This week, Maggie sits down with Judy Elizabeth, the money coach behind Hear Me Finance. In this episode, they talk about how one can get through and recover from financial abuse at the hand of a parent.

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Judy is a coach who is obsessed with talking about money and putting people on the course to financial freedom. After growing up with a vulnerable immigrant mother and experiencing financial abuse from her father – and later accumulating a lot of credit card debt in her 20s – Judy decided to take the reins of her life to steer her down the path of financial wellness. Now, she draws from her own experiences to help others do the same. Coming from a background as a union organizer – fighting for low wage workers to get better salaries and benefits – Judy now loves coaching women and couples to pay off debts, negotiate down the cost of literally anything, create ‘escape funds’ to leave their jobs or their own financial abuse situations, maximize their finances, or become money coaches, too.

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To learn more about Maggie and her coaching and speaking services, visit

The theme music is called Escaping Light by Aaron Sprinkle. The podcast artwork design is by Maggie’s dear husband, Dan Rader.


Maggie Germano 0:08
Thanks for listening to the money circle podcast. I’m your host, Maggie Germano and I’m a financial coach for women. I’m passionate about helping women improve their relationships with money so that they can take better control of their futures. Part of that journey is making personal finance education more accessible and less judgmental, which is why this podcast exists. Each week, we’ll discuss a new financial topic to help you explore how you can make a difference in your own financial life, or in society as a whole. I’m currently on maternity leave until April, but there are still ways for you to get support from me while you’re on your financial journey. If you’re interested in diving deeper into issues like income inequality, debt or money, shame, check out my new money circle community. In this safe feminist space women gathered to talk about money without fear of being judged or shamed. We break down shame and build community and safety for everyone so that you can find the support you need to gain control over your finances. Visit to learn more and to join the community today. I can’t wait to see you there. Hey there. Before I get started, I wanted to jump in and give you all a content warning for this week’s episode. This episode focuses on domestic violence and in particular how financial abuse fits into it, particularly at the hands of a parent. If this subject matter is triggering or upsetting for you in any way, please feel free to skip this week’s episode. Hey there, and thanks for listening. I’m your host Maggie Germano. And this week, I’m chatting with Judy Elizabeth, who is a money coach and the founder of hear me finance. In this episode, we talk about how one can get through and recover from financial abuse at the hand of a parent, if you’ve been the victim of financial abuse, and you want to feel less alone and learn which steps you can take to recover and move forward. This episode is for you.

Great welcome, Judy. Thanks so much for being here today.

Judy Elizabeth 2:07
Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to talk about this topic today.

Maggie Germano 2:10
Me too. It’s a really important one. It’s it can be definitely tough to discuss, you know, for a lot of people, but I think it’s really important to make sure we’re being as open and honest and all encompassing around all the issues that come up related to money.

Judy Elizabeth 2:26
Yeah, I feel like you know, there’s so many conversations in the money world that are missing. And it’s just so important. I’m so excited about your podcast and big fans. And I think it’s just so important because you have those types of conversations that we need to be talking about. Because we don’t talk about these, you know, whether it’s financial abuse, economic justice, you know, whatever it is racial justice, we’re leaving out huge chunks of the conversation, making people feel like their voice doesn’t matter, their experiences that matter. So I think this is really important and awesome.

Maggie Germano 3:00
Thank you. I appreciate that. And I agree with you. So before we jump into this topic, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Judy Elizabeth 3:09
Yeah, so my name is Judy. I am a money coach actually used to be a union organizer for like 11 years. And loved it. I work with mostly low wage workers, mostly stadium workers, like if you know, Dodger Stadium, the Phillies Stadium, Eagle Stadium, I worked in LA in Philadelphia, I helped those workers, the cashiers, bartenders, dishwashers get better benefits, you know, help fight for what they want. I taught them how to, you know, speak up and have a voice on the job. And so it was very interesting, because I was helping them fight to get better wages. And I feel like now this is a, you know, it pairs with that in a way because you could make more money. But then if you don’t know what, how to what to do with it, then you also can get screwed. Right? And so, last year, in 2019, I started having some health issues. So I decided it was time to step away from union organizing, which was really scary for me because I thought I’d be doing it for the rest of my life. And I thought what else do I love doing? And I love talking about money. Because when I was in my 20s, I got into some credit card debt and I I had to figure out on my own how to get out of it. And so I would always like give tips to my friends but nobody ever really cares that much. Unless, you know, so that when it’s like unsolicited advice around money. And so I realized, well, maybe there are people who want support in this area. So I started coaching and so now I have a group coaching program called the competent money club. And then I also train other women of color to want to start their own money coaching business because as a daughter of an immigrant, I wanted to see more women of color. feel like they can be they you know, I saw a lot of women of color have a lot of expertise around money but feel like Well, you’ve been They weren’t expert, they didn’t feel like one because, you know, it takes a lot of support and encouragement to have that to really, you know, step forward and have your own business. So. So I also do that as well. So I do do a lot of things with hear me finance, which is my business. So I’ve ton of programs, and it’s so much fun. Yeah, I love it.

Maggie Germano 5:19
That’s really great. I love that you’re focusing, it’s like twofold. You have the group coaching program for folks who really do need support in getting their finances together. But then you have the other program to help people actually get their coaching business up and started because I know, as a financial coach myself, it can be really tough in the beginning, especially if you don’t know anyone else who’s kind of been through it, and you don’t, you know, you’ve never had a business and you don’t really know what you’re doing. It’s really great. You have that as an option.

Judy Elizabeth 5:47
Oh my gosh, yeah. Cuz it’s like, especially as a woman, like you’re not raised as a kid be like, you could have your own business, you know, and like, this is what you would do, you know, open up this bank account and do this to get clients. And this is how you should set up your program. nobody teaches you that stuff. So when I started, I was just like, winging it. Like, I guess, let me try this. You know, I knew like I had a lot of information, because I love learning and talking about money. But I didn’t know how to get it out there how to make it relevant to potential my ideal client. And I joined two money coach masterminds, which I loved. But there was very few women of color. And so that’s where I was like, wait, would it be so cool to have this where like, there’s a space where we could just talk about like, what it’s like, growing up as an immigrant, what it was like growing up black, you know, and how that affects our finances? And how is our community that think about finances differently than if you’re from a white community? And so it’s really cool to have that space where we can have those types of conversations.

Maggie Germano 6:49
Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense to me, I know that, just like many fields, a lot of a lot of the money conversation is very white. And I think that a lot of the people that kind of come to the forefront with advice tend to be very white, very male, as well. So I love that you’re encouraging women of color, specifically in starting up their own businesses and giving that advice, because I’m sure seeing other people that look like you or that have had similar experiences to you growing up. And then also seeing that they are interested in doing the same kinds of things as you are, that can be really, it sounds like it would be really motivating.

Judy Elizabeth 7:27
Yes, yes, it’s super exciting. We are going to, you know, really change the face and make it you know, and also we need more women in this space, you know, and just like I want to change the face, so it’s not like run by the white male. patriarchy that currently runs it. Right?

Maggie Germano 7:47
Yeah. No, I’m with you there. And it’s so funny, because that comes up a lot. And and I’m, I’m aware that that’s the main kind of niche of people that are have always kind of been the face of the industry and personal finance, but I don’t follow any of them online, or subscribed to any of them. So it’s like, all I see are women and folks of color. And that’s awesome. It’s just funny. It’s funny, like knowing intellectually, who is kind of trying to really own the field, but then the other people that I’m more interested in, and that I click More with, too.

Judy Elizabeth 8:22
And so, yeah, that’s awesome.

Maggie Germano 8:24
Yeah. Great. Well, thanks for sharing your kind of journey. And and I think it’s really cool how, what you the work you did with unions, in the past really does feed into what you’re doing now? I think it it makes sense to me that there was that kind of transition into your new career.

Judy Elizabeth 8:45
Yeah, it’s, you know, I’ve never seen anyone make that transition. But it’s like, but like, it does make sense.

Maggie Germano 8:54
Yeah, totally, especially when you describe it in the way that you were describing it as well. So, um, but I have you here today to talk about, as we alluded to, in the beginning of the conversation, something serious and important to discuss. So why don’t you kind of start off by telling us a little bit about your own experience with financial abuse in your life?

Judy Elizabeth 9:19
Yeah, so I grew up my mom’s an immigrant from Honduras. And she, her mom was actually pretty, like emotionally abusive towards her. And so, you know, often that cycle tends to repeat itself in families and in relationships. And she married my father with after having known him for a very short period of time, like, four to six months, something like that. And turns out he had very similar patterns. So she had to have three kids, I’m the middle child, three daughters. And growing up you know, I’ve especially with my work in the Union wage process, a lot of the our childhood and stuff that we’ve gone through makes us who we are makes us strong enough to fight for what we believe in. And I process a lot of that abuse that I experienced growing up from my father being, you know, physically and emotionally abusive towards me. And then becoming a money coach, I really, I started, I knew about that. But I didn’t really put it together that there’s also this layer of financial abuse that I didn’t like, identify or name, right. And so now, now looking back, I’m like, oh, wow, there was all these horrible financial abuse. And one thing I did, I’ll say, like, the one thing I always understood was, my mom was on disability. For most of my childhood, she had a lot of health problems. And I think a lot of it was related to the stress of growing up in abusive situation. There’s this whole crazy dynamic with our mom, it was just, there’s a lot of stuff that goes there that I won’t go into today, if you want another another podcast another day. Um, and, but I think a lot of that created a lot of health problems. And her being on disability, I always knew that part of the reason why my mom stayed with my father for so long, was she felt that she left him she didn’t make enough on disability, to provide for us, and she was afraid that she would then lose custody of us because my dad, my dad wasn’t financially secure. He was a serial entrepreneur, but we believe he was bipolar, but he wouldn’t ever get diagnosed. And so we don’t, you know, 100% know everything, for sure. But he acted very neurotic at different times. And he would make a lot of money and then just blow it and then make a lot of money and then blow it like immediately. And so we’re constantly moving around house to house apartment apartment. And so he but in spite of that, he also could be a charmer, he was very narcissistic, can be a charmer. So my mom was like, well, and he put her down so much emotionally, that she was like, I’m not strong enough, I’m not good enough. And so she was afraid. It’s like, if I try to leave him, I’ll lose my daughter. So she finally did leave him when I was 18. And so just like, my younger sister was only one left. And we were really encouraging her to leave him at that point. So but um, but like that financial dynamic. Now I look back and like, well, that’s financial abuse, because he knew that he knew that she was too scared to leave him, because she didn’t know how she would pay the bills, how she was supportive. And then there’s other like aspects of that the way he would put her down in terms of like, she would actually have her handle a lot of the money. And she knew more about the finances, and he did. But then when she would challenge him about stuff, decisions that he would make around the money that were bad, horrible decisions around our finances, he would put her down and said, well, you don’t know anything. I’m a businessman, you’re stupid. You You don’t know anything about money. So there’s just all kinds of dynamics about that, and then even like, dynamics around me and like my access to money. So there’s a lot of stuff going on.

Maggie Germano 13:00
Yeah, no, it sounds like it. And thank you for sharing that. And I think a lot of people, when we talk about domestic violence, generally, there’s a lot of like, why don’t you just leave? Why doesn’t she just leave. And it’s so much more complicated than that for so many reasons. But the financial aspect of that for so many women in particular, especially when they’re kids in the picture, you can’t afford to leave or you worry about, like you said, losing your kids or not being able to care for them if you were to leave. And sometimes even if it’s an abusive household, at least it’s a stable living environment. There’s a home, there’s beds, there’s food, there’s, you know, basic needs being met, even, you know, with the other disruptions and dysfunctions going on. But you know, women have to keep those kinds of things in mind and have to make decisions of like, what is more important and weighing those kinds of choices all the time. So I think it’s really important to point out that it’s not as simple as a lot of people think especially people who have never experienced anything like this or witness anything like this. So I appreciate you sharing that kind of that cycle that your mother got into there.

Judy Elizabeth 14:14
Yeah. Yeah. I think the one of the things that I realized looking back is how much money is used as a tool for power. And so it’s, you know, like, even in our relationship, like, my father would use access to money if he was if he couldn’t control and power and control. And so like, a situation I look back now, like I was, I was a stellar student. I was top of my class. I was editor in chief of the CO editor in chief of the newspaper president, the Christian club. Yeah, I did all the things a star of this high school play, right. And but my father, always Had to in those abusive situation, he always had to know exactly where we’re at every moment. And if he didn’t, Then all hell would break loose. And he, even though we didn’t have money, and we were living in a small apartment, he would get us a cell phone that we probably probably should have been paying for. But because that way he could access us at all times. So we were one of like, we had cell phones before a lot of other people. But we were not allowed to use them ever to talk to friends. It was only so he could control us and know where we were. And I had to take my sister to school, drive his car to take her to school, my senior year, because we’ll look we will, influencer. But basically, I had, I had, I didn’t have a first period for a while. And so my aunt lived right across the street from our high school. And I would drop my sister off and then go hang out there until I had to go to school. And there was one day that I forgot to turn the cell phone on. And my father was trying to call me, and he couldn’t get ahold of me. And at the time I was, you know, he would never give us any money. Or if he did it was, it was a thing that he would dangle like, oh, maybe just be thankful and might give you a little money or buy you an outfit like because we rarely we mostly shopped at thrift stores. And what he so basically because so at the time, I had gotten a job tutoring a student, which was like, Oh my God, for the first time ever I had, I had money, I was tutoring massive student. And because he couldn’t get ahold of me, finally, my sister, I was on my aunt’s computer and on aim and my sister’s like, turn on your phone, dad’s trying to get ahold of you. And I was like, Oh, my God. So turn on my phone, he calls me and then he’s like, you’re not allowed to tutor anymore. And so that was my punishment. Like I was this nerdy, smart, good students. Tutoring kids, for $15 an hour, only a couple hours a week, but like that 30 to 45 bucks a week meant everything to me. And, and that was my punishment, because he couldn’t get ahold of me. It wasn’t like clean or, you know, it was like, because he knew money was power. Right? Money could get me away from him. Money could make me not dependent on him. And so any chance that he could take any access to money away from me, he would. And so that’s something that I realized, wow, it’s like, people use money as control. And how do people access freedom, by not being they don’t have to become rich, but have enough money to be able to be free from those types of situations?

Maggie Germano 17:35
Right. And I mean, I think that that’s pointing that out is really important that financial abuse is not separate. It’s not a separate type of abuse, it’s it’s one of the tools in the toolbox of abuse, because the abuser knows, like you just said, if this person that I’m trying to control has access to money, or even gets to a place where they feel like they might start being able to make their own decisions and have their own independence, then I’m not going to have as much control, I’m not going to be able to tell them what they can and cannot do. And so yeah, restricting their access to money or threatened making threats related to money. A lot of people I mean, even as a tutor, like telling you, you can do that anymore. A lot of abusers sabotage their victims career in one way or another. So it’s, it has long lasting repercussions for sure.

Judy Elizabeth 18:28
Yeah. Like if they think that the person they’re abusing might have an opportunity might have a career might have access to other things, they will make sure to put them down, make them think that they don’t deserve it. They will Yeah, do whatever they can to limit their access to those things. Because if they have access to those things, and it’s actually really interesting, because I’m, after my parents, my mom finally had the courage to leave my father years later. He you would still like pursue her and he would still try to reach out to her. And one day so then she eventually I started getting into organizing before I worked for the universe for nonprofit. And she was still on disability, but it was not enough to support us. It was she was constantly struggling. And I had gotten involved in organizing with the union. And I told my mom, there’s an opening at the union. She had always been an administrative assistant when she did work. And I was like, you gotta they’ll have health care which you can finally get medication for your health problems. You can you’ll have paid sick days so you can afford to take a sick day and not stress about whether or not you know, you’ll lose your job. And so she ended up getting the job. And my mom, he called my mom one day at work. And she actually no, I think she called him or there was something there was a conversation because he had actually called me and I was freaking out because I was so terrified. Still him from the abuse even though I was like adult, I’d moved to Philly and he called him and I’m sitting there terrified and that’s like what an abuser does To you, it makes you like scared for your life, you know, just even get a call from them. And he and he was out of our lives at that point. And so my mom was like telling him leave Judy alone. So they’re on the call. And she had to put them down because someone at work was like, people are asking her questions. And she was, you know, she’s like this, where she works. She’s like, very important, like, access to all kinds of information. People really rely on her for a lot of things she does great at her job. And then at what then she picked up the phone after like, helping some people stuff. And he’s like, I can see you’re very important person. Now, I’ll leave you alone. And he never followed up with her again. Because once he saw that she was in a position of power. She was needed. She was wanted. All of a sudden, he was like, well, I can’t control her now. Because she has some power. She has a job. She has a career. And it’s crazy, like, but when she she needed him, or when he you know, then he could control her. So that’s when he wants her. But when he can’t control any more than Oh, okay, now now he’s done with her. It’s insane.

Maggie Germano 21:04
Yeah, that’s really, it’s like, not surprising. But as you were telling, it’s like, also kind of amazing to think like that. for him. It was like just a switch left, like, over hearing that. Like, she’s maybe not the person that he thought she was before that he could control and scare and intimidate and everything. And it was like, oh, maybe this isn’t worth my time anymore. I’ll find somebody else.

Judy Elizabeth 21:33
It’s freakin insane. Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s like literally just a flip of a switch. And it’s like, and he’s, I don’t know if he’ll ever hear this. But, you know, he’s, like, continue to, like, be with other women. And we, what other immigrant women to. And that’s, I think what he does is like women who then need a green card, you know, and that’s like another there’s a whole nother dynamic there. Right? Because they’re vulnerable, because they need something from him. And so it’s like, Can I so when you’re an abuser, it’s like, can I find someone who needs something, I find a way to provide that. But in exchange, I get to control an abuser whole life. And they become almost indebted to me. And so they can’t, so I can do whatever I want. I have full full range of power. It’s insane.

Maggie Germano 22:24
Yeah, yeah. It’s, it’s crazy. And it also makes sense if you sit and think about it, right, with just the dynamic, the power dynamic. Um, so you’ve talked a bit about, you know, how this financial abuse kind of played out between your parents. And I think when a lot of people talk about financial abuse, they are talking about it in terms of a romantic relationship. But you also experienced it, you know, from a parent, and so can you. And I’m sure that that happens for a lot of people’s not just present in romantic relationships. So can you talk a little bit about the difference and how you feel like, it shows up differently, as opposed to like being between a romantic couple involvement and the parent situation?

Judy Elizabeth 23:14
Yeah, like, a really clear example for me is just in terms of like what you talked about, were blocking your ability to have a solid future career, my dad very specifically did that. Because I knew growing up, I knew very much, I need to make a lot of money. Because that’s the only way that I’m going to be free from this. Like, if I don’t make a lot of money, then I’m going to be controlled by him forever. So I was like, I had this you know, this image, I have to be like some editor and I actually started writing. And that’s why I ended up on the school newspaper, because my father, you never got a college degree. And so he actually forced me my sister to play sports wanted us to be on the LA sparks. Does not did not work out for him. But so he would control like, every little aspect of what we did, we were bowling, he’s like, you have to be the perfect bowler. And he was like that, like, intense drill sergeant father. But he didn’t know how to write very well. And so that’s why I got into writing. So I was like, I’m going to be this like news editor because that’s something he can’t tell me how to do. Right? He can’t control. And so I had this image of like, the girl and the coffee mug and the pencil skirt, you know, and like, I’m gonna be I’m gonna make a lot of money. But to do that, I need to go to like UCLA or NYU. But going to schools, applying to colleges cost money, you have to have money for the applications. And that’s one of the things that I was like tutoring for us to get money, but then he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t let me apply for other schools. That was banned. I was only he wanted me to go my both my socials went to this Christian college. And that’s where you know, he could also use religion a lot to control Like you have to be a good Christian girl. And so I’m the rule I. So one thing is I went, I’m from Los Angeles. And if you go to Los Angeles Unified School District School, they help out, you all apply to the UC system. It’s a state system. But it’s a good system. There’s UC Berkeley, UCLA, very well known very prestigious schools. And you apply to all the schools and you if you get a certain GPA, you get automatic admission to one of the schools. And so, so I was able to apply, like, my counselor was helping me. And I remember the day where I got the big envelope to find out which UC school I got into. And I went to check the mail in our apartment complex. And I was thought I was like, I knew if my dad saw it, that, like, he wouldn’t even let me find out what I got accepted to, he would just get rid of it. I thought about hiding in the laundry room, or the apartment complexes about trying to hide it underneath my shirt, but I was like, if I do that, I get caught. Like, I will get beat. Like, I he might kill me. Um, so I just put in the man, please, please, please. He takes him out. He’s like, what’s this and I explained what it was he immediately threw in the trash. Well, you don’t need that. And I never and I thought I remember in the middle of the night thinking, maybe I can get up and like, get at least go see or, you know, maybe I could figure out sneak around and get to, you know, the college that I want. And but I was too scared to do it. Because I knew like he would listen to everything. He would sometimes even be standing outside our doors like trying to hear what was happening in our rooms. Like that’s the kind of control happens in abusive situations. But that was that was one of the most heartbreaking things for me because I was like, What if I got into UCLA or Berkeley, like, that would have been a dream for me. And now looking back, I do realize everything happens for a reason. And I went to the Christian school for two years. And that by then my mom had separated from my father. And then I was able to take a year off. And I live with her because she was struggling financially. And I was able to help her pay rent, we shared a bedroom and like I was really able to be there for her when things were hard. And then I ended up transferring to UC Santa Cruz, because which was amazing for me. And like I learned a lot there. It still wasn’t as high caliber at UCLA or Berkeley. But when I went to college, I then had to work to support myself. So my grades, I was top of my class in high school, and then my grades started tanking because I was having trouble working so much. and going to school, which is like another dynamic is like when they control you, you ended up like having a harder time than you know, you have to work twice as hard just to get what you want. So but it all works out, you know, I loved UC Santa Cruz. And if I didn’t go that path, I wouldn’t be where I am today. And I love my life today. But it was definitely at the time. It was heartbreaking and devastating for me. And that was like a clear way that he controlled my future and kept me from getting the life that I want. wanted.

Maggie Germano 27:50
Yeah, I mean, I’m I’m sorry that that happened to you. You’re that must have been incredibly heartbreaking. And just the not knowing it must have been really, really difficult too. I know, for me, like Limbo is the worst place to be. And so just like never really knowing, especially when you did try, you’re like by applying to these schools, like you took the steps you you needed to take and you were utilizing that counselor and just having that taken away from you in that way. I’m sorry to hear that it must have been really hard.

Judy Elizabeth 28:23
It’s all good. Now I still sometimes wonder like, What school did I get into? UC Davis? I don’t know. I don’t know. San Diego. Which one did I get into? still wonder? Because then I actually applied to UCLA. After but then my since my grace had gone down, I didn’t get into UCLA the second time around. And part of me is like what have I done? But you know what, it all works out. Like, I was able to get some really great exciting actually, you know, because I was still really i was i was really conservative in high school because I was raised in a very conservative home knows I consider myself a Republican. And I actually think going to a really conservative Christian School is part of what radicalize me. Because I, you grew up in my high school, my friends were Latino, you know, either Central American or Mexican. And also, like, didn’t have a lot of money either. And then go into this Christian school, there was a lot of it was there were very few people of color, and just a lot of privilege. And that’s when I learned about financial privilege for the first time I didn’t know who had it, really. And that same way. And then I was like, oh, wow, these kids will have stuff that I don’t have. They don’t have to work, like and I saw the other kids that worked behind, like in the, you know, the fast food place on campus with me. They were also mostly students of color. And so like seeing that made me realize, Oh, my god, there’s something wrong in the world. And so that I think, made me created the values that I have today of fighting for economic justice for everyone and fighting for equal opportunities for everyone.

Maggie Germano 29:57
Yeah, so It ended up being a blessing and in disguise, even though it wasn’t what you wanted, and you obviously didn’t stay at that school all through college, but it obviously informed your beliefs in your value system and your career.

Judy Elizabeth 30:11
Yes, exactly. So it all works out. It all works out. And I’m so happy that we are free from the abuse. Thank God.

Maggie Germano 30:19
Yeah, no, me too. And I’m glad to hear that you’re in a place that is right for you, and that you made it work. After all of that? Do you feel like experiencing that financial abuse? Or, you know, witnessing that abuse growing up? Does that still affect you in different ways today, whether it’s the different mindsets that you have, or behaviors that you kind of choose to use? Or maybe get stuck in it positive or negative? How does this kind of still show up for you?

Judy Elizabeth 30:52
Yeah, great question. Well, I do think that one thing that was really lucky, because I, you know, and every family have the different dynamics, my older sister was the performer. You know, my younger sister was the popular one. I was the nerd, the reader. And I think I growing up in that environment motivated me to be like, I have to be financially independent. And, like I mentioned before, and I think that has helped me financially that I’ve had this like inner motivation to make sure that I never get stuck financially. And so I think that has that helped me on my financial journey to be like, No, no, I’m not going back there again. No, I. And it helped, it helped me want to learn about finances, and want to know everything that I can, so I don’t feel stuck again. So I don’t feel like I don’t have options. So I think that has definitely helped me, then also, um, I do think that there’s some scarcity mindset that I do fight. Where if I actually talking to someone about this today, like, I set some really big financial goals for my self, my partner for this next year, and I reached him last month, and then this month, because the holidays, I was like, Oh my god, I don’t think I’m gonna reach this goal. We spent too much and, and we’re doing good fight really good financially. So I’ve been like, Oh, I need to, like I’m giving to, you know, everyone’s Go Fund Me, you know, and then I’m like, Oh, yeah, like, you know, my mom, let’s buy my mom dinner, you know, it’s, so I’ve been doing all this, and then I looking like, Oh my gosh, I probably should like calm down a bit. So more presence, I need to buy all this stuff. So um, but like, even though I still have lots of money in the bank, I have investments that still like every once a while it comes up like, Oh, my God, and then I have to like, sit back, remind myself, I’m not there again. I’m okay, I have lots of money in the bank. If I don’t reach my financial goal, if I dip a little bit into my savings to cover some of the holidays, because I spent more than I plan, that’s okay, I still have lots of money, I’m still free, I’m still secure. So there’s still that, like, fear that comes up of like, getting into that bad situation again. So I do have to find it. But luckily, I have a lot of support. And luckily, doing this work. Like I’m like reminded of every day because it’s my job. And and this is one thing I like to share with clients. Because it’s, you know, they sometimes my clients are like, you’re gonna be so disappointed in me. I hear that all the time. I spent more than I planned, you know, Mike, there is like, I will never be disappointed in you know, like, that’s also like a useless emotion. You know, like, I’m totally fine. Like, and then I’m like, you know, I go over my budget all the time. That’s not the point is not to be perfect is to work towards your goals and constantly adjust. And we we don’t reach our goals, but probably we do better because we created a goal than we would have without the goal. Right? Right. And so I think that’s like, the thing I constantly have to like, I get to work through my business is like, I’m not perfect, too. And that’s okay. And that actually makes me a better coach. You know, being like, yeah, I have the scarcity mindset from my childhood, growing up in abuse, and that’s okay. And I’m constantly working through it. And I’m going to walk alongside of you and hold your hand as you work through it, too.

Maggie Germano 34:36
Yeah, I think that’s a really good lesson. Like as you were saying it like knowing that you’re a financial coach, and I am too, like, not acting like Oh, I’m so perfect and I got to figure it out. And I made it to the end of the line for the ultimate goal of being amazing with your money and never struggling ever and never questioning yourself or, you know, falling off the wagon or whatever. It might be. That’s not reality. And that’s not realistic. And it doesn’t really inspire people either. So I think, yeah, it’s a really good lesson that like, you don’t have to be perfect in order to make progress. And just because you’re still scared, or just because you’re struggling or going over budget or whatever, doesn’t mean you can’t keep going. I was just talking to someone yesterday about having a business and like, it’s really about, you know, doing making any big decisions that it’s not about getting rid of fear. It’s about learning how to cope with the fear and continue going anyway. And I think it’s the same with finances too.

Judy Elizabeth 35:38
Oh, my God, that’s powerful. That exactly right. It’s, we all have fear, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I think you’re totally right. It’s just learning to cope. And learning to, to keep moving forward. Yeah, learning that it’s and learning to give ourselves grace. It’s totally fine. Not to be perfect. Nobody’s perfect. Even if you think we are, we’re not very far from perfect.

Maggie Germano 36:03
Exactly, exactly. It’s hard to it’s hard to remember that, especially when you’re on like, Instagram all the time. Everybody always looks perfect. But they’re not. We’re human.

Judy Elizabeth 36:12
No. Not at all. Not at all. I think like, the more that we are ourselves and show our imperfections, and I’m still working on this, sometimes I still get nervous. I’m like, Oh, my God, I totally screwed up. You know, I hadn’t done my budget. My money coach, I did do my budget over a month ago, like, cuz I got distracted. And I wanted to share that, but I feel weird, like, are people gonna judge me, but then I remember, like, that’s actually the most important things to share in our businesses. Because then we show people that that’s okay, that there’s nothing wrong with that. And I still can move forward in spite of making mistakes all the time.

Maggie Germano 36:55
Right. And, and I think related to that people who have experienced financial abuse, whether from a partner or a parent or a friend or another family member, whoever it might be, just because that has been an experience you’ve had doesn’t mean, there’s something inherently wrong with you, it doesn’t mean that you are unable to move move forward from that, it doesn’t mean that you deserved it for some reason. And I think just remembering that, like, regardless of the experience you’ve had, or the way someone has targeted you in the past doesn’t mean that it has to keep being that way. And it doesn’t mean that it’s it’s about you, it’s often most often about the other person and what they decided to do to someone else.

Judy Elizabeth 37:37
Oh my gosh, absolutely. Like my mom was with my dad, I think for 21 years. That’s a long freakin time. But now, she, you know, she has her apartment, she has a great job, she has a small pension, I worked with her this year, she maxed out her Roth IRA for the first time ever, like, it’s never too late. And like she came from that situation where she even had some IRS debt. Like, because of my father, she had like, the finances were matched her credit score, my father ruined her credit score. And so now she has a great credit score. You know, she has savings, she’s doing great. And that’s after like being in an abusive situation for 21 years. So it’s never too late to get out of it. It’s never too late to, to rebuild. And it’s totally possible.

Maggie Germano 38:35
Yeah, I totally agree. And so what kind of advice would you give to folks who have had the experience of financial abuse from whoever it might have been from? What are some of the steps you recommend they take to start recovering either recovering financially, or recovering emotionally and moving forward so that they can start rebuilding?

Judy Elizabeth 38:57
Yeah, so well, I, even before if you’re still in the situation, one thing I love sharing about that I didn’t know, you know, I never heard anyone talk about it. I heard someone talk another money coach, about a year ago, and I was like, wow, this, we need to talk about this. Because if my mom had known about this, when we are in the situation would have been really helpful about building an escape fund. And so, um, and so some of the things that and I even see, like my mom, when she separate from my dad, I think she had like $300. And the only reason why she was able to get that $300 is because my dad had no idea what was going on with the finances. And so she just drained the last 300 from the account and my dad’s like, why is there no money in the account? Like, I don’t know, the bills went through, and the finances were such a mess because of him. That that was believable. But we were able to take that 300 and that’s all we had to like, try to rebuild. Had a leased car that my dad had leased that we couldn’t afford why We’re losing the house. So my mom stayed with my grandma, I stayed with a friend, we just kind of had to figure it out. But thank goodness, at least we had that $300. That was like, that’s not a lot to like rebuild your life. And so, but there are ways to kind of sneak when you’re in that financial situation, you, it’s, for those who are in it probably know, this is like, you can’t just be like, Oh, let me just have my own separate money, they’re often controlling money or looking at the money. And so you have to be very sneaky about how you how you put that money aside for your escape. And so one of the ways that I think I’ve heard, I love that the easiest way, and I think my mom would do this, my mom would do this at times, and their relationship she wanted money for something is when you go to the grocery store, use a debit card and get cash back. And then they’re not like always looking at the receipts or just looking at how much you’re spending at the grocery store. And if you do 20 bucks here, 20 bucks there, that can really add up and, and help you have that escape fun. Then also, um, one thing that you can do is also freeze your credit while you’re in that situation, so your abuser can continue to use your credit and ruin it. And then I love this other money blogger Johnny, who’s amazing, she taught me like, you could also I didn’t have not thought about this, but you can create a doing business as a DBA and have like a separate like a business account. And that could be where you sneak money away. And they don’t know because it’s not under your name, right? It can be or it’s like under the business. So it’s like, they don’t know what that is. Um, and then, um, there are other ways, like if it’s now this is a lot harder now. But if there’s ways to ask your employer to, like pay you in cash, or even separate the money into two different accounts, and say, so there’s less if they’re not looking at your pay stub, sometimes they will. But if they’re not, then you could have someone you know, have like 200 a month go into a separate account, they can split up your paycheck, and then you say, Oh, well, now I just had to pay for health care, or something. And so then they might not, they’re not gonna they’re not always going to check if you and you know, like, generally, you know, your abuser. And so you know, are they going to check? If not, then you can probably get away with setting money aside that way.

Maggie Germano 42:20
So yeah, yeah, those are really good pieces of advice. Because I think building up that escape fund is one of the most important ways to start preparing to leave a situation like that. And you like you said, Oh, even $300. Like, for a lot of people like, obviously, that’s not a ton of money. But for a lot of people that’s like, what you need to get away and just like get a hotel for one night to figure out what you’re going to do, and go from there. So I really I love the advice that of how to start building that up. Because Yeah, a lot of people don’t have the control of the money and the actual income coming in. So these are really good pieces of advice for how to kind of find ways around that. And I think what you said is like, knowing your abuser is really important, because you know what they will and won’t do and what they will and won’t look at, because I’m sure you’ve been highly aware of every moment and every behavior and inclination that they have. And so every individual person is going to be the best one to know what the smartest decision is. And that I think that’s important to keep in mind too.

Judy Elizabeth 43:30
Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. It’s like you, you know, every situation is different, and some are more more dangerous than others. Right? And so, yeah, like, kind of, and that another thing is like, if you can also reach out and you have people that you can trust that you can talk to about this, that can also be really helpful and have those people hold money for you, potentially, because, you know, if you have a separate account, then they might find it. Right. And so but it’s it’s challenging, it’s so challenging. Here like walking on pins and needles and those types of relationships. But if you do, you know, there are resources out there and you do it, you do have to still like you have to be careful. grime. Like you said, like we said, you know, you have to like know, figure out like what are they going to do? What are they not going to do? But it is possible my mom did it and as many people do get offices, which is it is possible. It just takes a little work and then once you’re out of it, then it’s like I think that the best thing then is I try to take advantage as many as many resources. Like I believe we were on food stamps for a little while after my mom I know she was it was a hard there was a lot of like waiting in lines trying to figure it out. But I would like there’s like cell phone assistance programs. There’s like the federal Lifeline cell phone assistant program. program. I also heard about that from Johnny. And so like applying to all these programs will be really helpful once you’re out of it just to like, get you through it. And honestly, like reaching out to communities, like your church, like our church, we stayed with our pastor for like a week. And so reaching out to like those services is really helpful. And then it’s just honestly, it’s taking one day at a time. You know, it’s like trying to put yourself out there and find it find work as much as you can, if you don’t, if you don’t already have it. Like, my mom was still on disability. And we ended up living with my aunt. Well, I was in college, but my younger sister, my mom lived with my aunt, they moved in and found a two bedroom apartment for the three of them. And so it’s just, you know, there there is no easy way out. It’s just one day at a time, but you will get there.

Maggie Germano 45:56
Yeah, no, I appreciate that. I think that’s really a really good thing to remember is that you just got to do what you got to do every day, put one foot in front of the other and not try to expect transformation overnight. And like you said, Yeah, taking advantage of all of the services that are out there, whether they’re services provided by the government, or provided by local nonprofits, or like you said, your church, and I will link there’s lots and lots of resources, I will link to a lot of those in the show notes as well, but to the different nonprofits that help with abuse victims as well. But is there anything else that we have not covered yet that you want to make sure listeners take away from this conversation?

Judy Elizabeth 46:37
Um, I think um, so I, I’ve actually did like a big takeover with a friend A while back, and my mom joined me for a little bit of it to share parts of her story. And I think one of the things that she said is like, you know, it’s up to you to take your power back. And so, just really, spending time working on building yourself esteem. And it’s hard, it’s not easy, because you’ve been programmed to not believe in yourself, your subconscious have been programmed not to believe in yourself, but you are powerful, you are strong, if you’re in this situation, you are amazing, you’re strong. And when they are putting you down, it’s because that’s how they feel about themselves. That’s not a reflection of you. And I know it’s hard not to believe it, and, and to reject what they’re telling you. But, but you have to do the work because you’re worth it. And so just like working on telling yourself every single day, I’m worth it, I’m powerful, they’re wrong. And, and just really getting that inner courage to to emotionally fight it. Right? That doesn’t mean that you have to fight them and challenge them. Because sometimes doing that can put you in physical harm, but you have to start building that inside of you. And then that will help give you the courage to leave that situation and fight for what you deserve.

Maggie Germano 48:14
Yeah, I love that. I think that’s a really wonderful piece of wisdom to kind of end on with the conversation. So what where can folks reach you? What do you have kind of going on that you would love to promote? How can folks get in touch?

Judy Elizabeth 48:29
Yeah, so I’m I’m over at hear me finance, H e AR me finance, because my slogan is I am woman hear me finance. Um, and I’m at as well. And so I’m on Instagram and Twitter and you can go to my website and right now, so I’m always taking enrollment for whatever next round for the confident money club, my three month group coaching program, helping you go from stress around your finances to having a budget that works a debt payoff plan, just feeling really secure, and reaching your money goals. And then I have my money coach Academy, women of color money coach Academy for women of color wanting to start their own money coaching businesses. So if you’re curious about either of those, these things to do is honestly go on Instagram, and just send me a DM, my DMS are always open, as they say.

Maggie Germano 49:19
Wonderful, and I will. And I will link to all of those in the show notes too. So folks have easy access to you. Well, wonderful, thank you so much for spending the time and for sharing your story. I know that this topic is not always very easy. So I really appreciate you being so open and vulnerable and sharing with others because I’m sure they’ll see there will be people out there who will see themselves in your story as well.

Judy Elizabeth 49:43
Thank you for creating this space. I really appreciate it.

Maggie Germano 49:46
Of course I’m happy to do it. Thank you so much for listening to the money circle podcast this week. If you like the conversations we’re having here and you’d like to go even deeper. Join the new money circle community In this safe intersectional feminist space, we will break down money shame and build community and safety for everyone so that you can find the support you need to gain control over your finances. Visit to learn more and to join. If you’d like to get more connected with me, subscribe to my weekly newsletter at to learn more about my financial coaching services, my speaking and workshop offerings or just to read my blog visit You can also follow me on instagram and twitter @MaggieGermano. I look forward to hearing from you. Bye bye