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  • Writer's pictureBridget Sullivan Mermel CFP(R) CPA

Special Guest Darcy Luoma Talks Money: Three Steps to More Intentional Personal Finance

Updated: Dec 18, 2021

Darcy Luoma describes how you can become more intentional with your money. Our Special Guest Darcy Luoma will help us understand! She's the author of Thoughtfully Fit, a book that helps people get granular about how to become more intentional and thoughtful every day.

Darcy Luoma talks about how she developed the method--through research and years of working with coaching clients--to help people perform better in their daily lives. What do you know? The same principles work when approaching money.

There are six obstacles we all face. And there's a lather-rinse-repeat set of three practices that sound simple, but are beguiling: 1. Pause 2. Think 3. Act.

We talk about what type of financial planning situations that this will apply to for both spenders, misers, and everyone in between.

Bridget has a gift to buy. She actually uses the Pause, Think, and Act during the show to come up with a great gift that is free!

Check out Darcy's website: Buy her book on Amazon:

Here's Bridget's firm website:

John's firm website:

For advisors around the US:

Thanks for watching and please subscribe!


John: How you react to things in life can be a key to personal and business success. What does this have to do with financial planning? Find out on today's episode of Friends Talk Financial Planning. Hi, I'm John Scherer, and I run a fee-only financial planning practice in Middleton, Wisconsin.

Bridget: And I'm Bridget Sullivan Mermel, and I've got a fee-only financial planning practice in Chicago, Illinois. Our guest today is Darcy Luoma. And Darcy has just written a book called Thoughtfully Fit. She's got a coaching practice in outside of Madison, Wisconsin. So, Darcy, why don't you tell us more about Thoughtfully Fit? Tell us what it's about.

Darcy: Thank you. Great to be here. Bridget and John, I'm so grateful for the opportunity to share a little bit about Thoughtfully Fit. It certainly seems like it aligns a lot with your message about being intentional in how you're living, how your financial planning. That's what Thoughtfully Fit is all about…is being able to handle yourself thoughtfully in any situation.

And I have found the book was developed based on years of research working with clients, doing coaching for individuals, executives, leaders, managers. And I identified these themes. There were six themes after years of research of the top struggles and the biggest hurdles that get in the way of being high performing. And so in the book, I outline what those hurdles are and give a strategy on how to how to overcome them.

John: That's really great. The history…one of the things I like about and reading through the book is the history. And this is not something that you came up with or learned in a class, right? It was real life things that you use with clients and coaching and things over the years. And can you give us a little bit of the framework, Darcy, about it? You can't condense a 200 plus page book into ten minutes. But what are the keys when you talk about Thoughtfully Fit? Like, what is that? What are the steps? Is that a fair question?

Darcy: Absolutely. So the model…there's six practices in the model, and it's a metaphor and designed around when you're physically fit, you have to train and practice. And when you do, every movement is easier. You're not going to wake up on Saturday and just say, I think I'll run a marathon today if you haven't been training. You'd be miserable and you get injured. But if you train in practice, you can do it and it's easy. Well, it may not be easy, but certainly easier.

In the same way, Thoughtfully Fit has this training plan where, and there's six practices, where if you train and practice to handle yourself, when there's conflict, when you're blindsided, when you're stuck, you can get past those obstacles in an easier way. So, three of those hurdles are internal, where we get in our own way, and three of them are external, where we have challenges and obstacles with other people, where our relationships are out of balance, where we react poorly when we're blindsided.

And at the core of the model are three simple steps. You pause and then think. When you're thinking, you're asking yourself some thoughtful questions: How do I want to show up? What's important to me here? What's triggering me. And then you act thoughtfully based on your new awareness from pausing and thinking. That's the very shortest description, John. I could go on and on, obviously.

John: Yeah. And, you know, it's interesting as we think about the work that Bridget and I do with things, is that, one of the things I love about our show is that it's not friends talk money. Somebody else does that. It’s “Friends Talk Financial Planning,” right? Yeah, it involves money, but it's not about that. It's about goal setting and those sorts of things.

And it seems like there's some real crossover goal planning and being intentional about your financial planning and being Thoughtfully Fit. Is that an accurate reflection of what…as you think about financial planning as it relates to Thoughtfully Fit?

Darcy: Absolutely. At the core of the model…the essence is that you are being intentional in how you're living and making decisions. And so for you, where that overlap is when your financial planning, you're being intentional instead of being impulsive and spending or not making a decision to pay yourself first when you get that raise.

In this model, again, it always goes back to the core, and I think that aligns beautifully. Pause and think. How does this, whatever it is that you want to buy, align with my values, my situation in life right now, where I'm going, what my future is? And then you act. There's not a right or wrong in how you spend your money and how you choose to live your life. It's about being intentional and thoughtful, instead of being unconscious or on autopilot.

John: I really love that. So, it's interesting, as you were saying that and thinking about that reaction, I've heard you use that word a number of times, and I think about reactions to what's in the newspaper, what's on the news feeds, right? What did the market do today? What are interest rates? What are taxes? All those external things. And so much of financial success, as I think about it anyway, is how you react to that, or don't react to that in our case, is a lot of the big thing.

And it was interesting, Darcy, to hear you say about out making purchases and how you think about buying. And, of course, it's really important. And one of the things that Bridget and I talk about on the show and with our client is it's not about piling up as much money as you can, right? Having everything that you can have. It's about how you do use that stuff?

And so what’s interesting in my head, I'm thinking, "Oh, ‘Thoughtfully Fit.' Yeah. How I react to what's going on in the financially world." And yet it's also like, yeah, how I react to, on one hand, not making an impulsive purchase and on the other hand, not just hoarding money, but being intentional about how I do that. That's a really interesting connection that I hadn't made before on things.

Darcy: And you just gave a beautiful example. So being intentional, there's some people who are spending impulsively and not saving and paying themselves first. There're others who are saving to the extreme and not finding the quality of life that they can get from working hard and having money. And so again, there's no right or wrong, but it's about being thoughtful on how you want to live your life. So being a miser and not enjoying it, maybe isn't also the best way to deal with your money.

Bridget: You know, as you're talking, I'm trying to figure out a gift for someone who's close to me. And I just figured it out. Because I was talking to this person just yesterday and you would think I want to buy you a gift, but the person said specifically, “I just want to spend more time with you.” Like, that's what the person said specifically. So it's like, “Oh, okay, wake up. I can do that if I'm actually listening.”

And for me, Darcy, with your work, it's like, I can think that both thinking and listening don't take any energy. I do that when I'm resting, but actually, they're actually thinking for me as an action. Does that make sense? Like I have to say, okay, I'm going to think about how I'm planning today.

Darcy: Yes.

Bridget: I have to think about it. It's not just…so there's a separate thing, like I can get myself saying, okay, pausing and thinking I do that at once. But actually, if I plan my thinking times, my pausing and my resting is, well, enhanced. That's what I have to say. I don’t know if I just blew your minds or going off topic. But anyway, so, Darcy, what if people want to find out more about your work and what you're doing. Why don't you tell us more about how they can find that?

Darcy: Sure, I'm on all the social media channels, if you search for Darcy Luoma. We also have has a quiz. So, if anybody is watching and says, "Gosh, what are these six hurdles and what are the biggest obstacles?" And if you want to take the quiz, it's two or three minutes, you can find out which is your biggest hurdle and what are some strategies to overcome it.

And then if you want to learn more about our coaching, I do keynote speaking, consulting, team coaching. is our website that outlines the services. And there's also our blog, past episodes of “Thoughtfully Fit Thursday” videos that I do every week. So, lots of ways to learn more.

John: So, one of the things we like to talk about in our show is action items, and I just heard an action item is go to…is it com? Is that right?

Darcy: That’s right.

John: and take a two- or three-minute survey to find out where you are. That's going to be on my to do list with things.

Darcy: Perfect.

Bridget: Awesome! So with that, I am Bridget Sullivan Mermel and I've got a fee-only financial planning practice in Chicago, Illinois. And this is John Scherer, and he's in Middleton, Wisconsin. We want to ask people to subscribe. It really helps us with our channel and helps us keep producing our channel.

John: That's right. And big thanks to you, Darcy. As I'm thinking about our conversation here, I've got more questions. We’re going to have to follow up on this in the future. But thanks to Darcy Luoma, author, life coach, consultant. Thanks so much for being on here. This is really great.

Darcy: Such an honor! And I love what you guys are putting out in the world to help people really be thoughtful about their financial planning and their future.

Bridget: One more thing. I don't want to forget to mention ACP, which is Alliance of Comprehensive Planners; it's a fee-only financial planning group of advisors, a non-profit organization. That's how Jon and I met. We always like to mention them. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

John: All right. Bye.

At Sullivan Mermel, Inc., we are fee-only financial planners located in Chicago, Illinois serving clients in Chicago and throughout the nation. We meet both in-person in our Chicago office and virtually through video conferencing and secure file transfer.

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