She had a sky-high credit score. She paid her credit cards off in full every month. She made contributions to her retirement accounts and knew how to save. But even perfect personal finance hygiene was no match for $310,000 in medical debt. That’s when Wendy Petties declared bankruptcy.
“I was sick for a long time, and I was in this routine of doing whatever the doctor said,” she says. “It was great care, [but] I amassed all this debt.” Petties declared Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2018 and decided she needed to completely rewire her relationships with debt, money, and worth to bounce back.
Petties is the CEO of Simmer LLC and runs Date Your Money. What started as a side hustle in 2005 eventually catapulted her to working full-time for herself in 2014. As a psychologist and former sex educator who also holds an MBA, she uses her decades of experience — as well as her bankruptcy — to teach people how to build a better relationship with their money.
Four years later, the entrepreneur is now worth $1.3 million. Here’s what the Las Vegas-based coach has learned about money mindset along the way.
How Bankruptcy Became a Blessing
When Petties was training as a sex educator, she learned how important pleasure was in every aspect of her life — not just with other people, but also within herself. She says her bankruptcy debt is a tool she uses to teach others how to change their mindset around money.
“My debt was medical debt, which doesn’t make it better or worse,” she says. “I am perfectly fine with that debt, because I am healthy now. And I did not want to feel ashamed. My debt is a tool, [so] I started talking about it. This happened to me. I’m not a bad person.”
Petties started teaching people a three-step framework to rewire their habits with money: clarity, confidence, and competence. As a money coach with a sex education background, she merges the worlds of personal finance and relationships into one. Money is so ingrained in everything we do, but it doesn’t have to define who we are.
“My clients’ measurable outcomes are related to their personal net worth. There are lots of people who are making a whole bunch of money in their business and their personal finances are crap, or vice versa,” she says. “Or both are crap! Let’s get your personal stuff together and see what it looks like in your business. You need to have a budget at home so you can make a budget at work.”
You Don’t Need a Million-Dollar Business to Have Million-Dollar Net Worth
Petties emphasizes that her business doesn’t earn millions of dollars a year, and that her business revenue is one of a number of different investments and assets.
“I’m not a million-dollar company,” she says. “My company averages $250,000 a year offering full-service professional and personal development. I cater to people of color and marginalized communities. Often we don’t have the same opportunities. I’m able to keep rates reasonable so it’s accessible to more people.”
Petties has a mix of corporate and individual clients, which is how she’s able to keep costs at an acceptable rate for those who need it most. Success has changed her focus on her own beliefs about money, and she wants others to see what they’re capable of as well.
“Success has really shown me that it’s possible for many people,” Petties says. “If I hadn’t changed my mindset, I would be nowhere. I have people who are unable to get from where they are to where they want to be because they believe the path forward is not for them, or their self-talk is ‘I have to take care of my family despite not taking care of myself.’”
There are ways to have the things or experiences you love and still be mindful of what you spend. Petties says she isn’t in the camp of giving up pleasure because you believe it’ll save you money.
“If you LOVE Starbucks, do that,” she says. “Let’s find solutions in your spending to still do the things you love to do and buy what you want to buy. That’s the philosophy that I like to work from.”
How you feel about your money and yourself shows up in your everyday actions. Find a healthy balance between spending on what you love and increasing your net worth.
3 Money Mindset Tips You Can Adopt Today
Rewiring your money mindset is something you can start doing now, Petties says. Here are three tips she gives on how to get a running start.
- Don’t let your social media persona define you. “I think people do [themselves] a disservice by only showing their followers the good stuff,” Petties says. “‘Oh, I work for myself! See me, I’m on a beach!’ This is work. Much like your 9-to-5, there will be things you love and things you do not love.”
- Go on regular dates with your money. “For those starting a business, separate personal and professional finances. Keep track of your money weekly. I teach clients to embody the money date. [It’s] a weekly practice.”
- Trust your body. “Check in with yourself and ask ‘Does this feel good or not?’ You can ebb and flow and change. I keep checking in. Don’t compromise and twist yourself in knots in ways that don’t feel good to you.”
It’s easy to scroll through social media and see glamorous posts about working for yourself or living a luxurious lifestyle. Remember you’re only seeing what someone wants to show you. Build a strong relationship with your own money first and you’ll be unshakeable when it comes to pursuing your money goals.