I always like to say that if I had millions of dollars to spend, I, too, could be as put together as a celebrity. We tend to compare ourselves to them, forgetting that they often have an entire team helping to maintain all aspects of their lives. But what if I could get just a taste of the way they do things? Would hiring experts really make a noticeable difference?
2017 was a year of big changes for me. I uprooted myself from California to live out my NYC fantasies. As I began to put down roots in Brooklyn, I found myself in need of help in three areas of my life: my finances, my eating habits, and my physical fitness.
I decided to splurge on experts in these three areas to see if having real, human help would result in more noticeable and lasting change. Roughly $700 later, here’s what I learned.
Expert One: A Financial Planner
Where I went: Brooklyn Plans
Cost: $175 an hour
Like most millennials, I have some debt. And like most NYC residents, my cost of living is quite steep. I haven’t felt great about my finances for the past few years and wanted to finally get a more comprehensive plan for getting my credit card debt down and hear an expert’s overall evaluation of my current financial situation.
I decided to meet with Kristen Euretig who heads up Brooklyn Plans. We started by discussing where I’m at with credit card debt and how and when I use my card. She told me that usually when people are struggling to get out of credit card debt there is an underlying problem.
Turns out she was right. When we looked at all my fixed expenses and weighted it in comparison to my take-home pay, we found where the problem was: the percentage of my income that goes to fixed-cost expenses was too high for Euretig’s liking. (I’m going to spare you exact percentages and dollar amounts because, well, it’s personal.)
Perhaps my biggest takeaway from my time with Euretig was when she told me that even if you have credit card debt, it’s not always wise to throw all your money at the debt. Instead, Euretig adviced me to chip away at the debt at a slower pace and still set aside money in two different savings accounts: one for emergencies and one for things like bigger purchases and travel. Because if you don’t have those, what are you going to fall back on in those situations? Answer: your credit card.
My visit to Euretig was initially a little scary. No one has ever looked at all my accounts except for me. And while her assessment wasn’t exactly “just spend a little less on coffee and you’ll be fine” like I’d hoped, I now have a clearer plan of what needs to happen for me to be in a more comfortable financial situation. I will definitely spend the money to start making a visit to a financial planner an annual or bi-annual thing.
Expert Two: A Nutritionist
Where I went: Real Nutrition (Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN)
Cost: $470 (initial one-hour consultation + 40-minute follow up)
I went to visit Amy Shapiro during a particularly busy point in my life. I wasn’t feeling great about my eating habits and how they had me feeling. But I also didn’t have time to spend hours meal prepping the kitchen. On top of that, I was new to New York City, and going out for dinner and drinks was key to establishing new relationships with friends. When I started considering a nutritionist, I was initially deterred by the price. But there is so much contradictory advice in the health world, I I felt that to really change my habits, I needed to talk to an actual human I trusted.
Before I met with Shapiro, she asked that I keep a food diary for a few days. From there, she asked what my goals were and we dissected my daily eating habits. Having someone break down my daily diet in front of me was eye-opening. There were definitely a few “oh, I thought that was healthy but I guess it’s actually not” moments. I had three weeks of chaotic travel coming up after our initial consultation. She gave me a bunch of helpful pointers to navigate healthy eating while traveling and asked that I continue keeping my food diary until our next meeting.
I noticed that because I knew I’d have to show Shapiro the diary, I was holding myself much more accountable with my eating habits. I didn’t want to be embarrassed when I showed her. Also, I was paying a lot of money for the service, so there was no point in lying.
After our second meeting, she helped me further refine my daily eating habits and we talked through what the difficult moments were. Having a living, breathing person to talk to about something so many of us think about all day long really helped.
Unfortunately, there’s no getting around the fact that this is an expensive cost to maintain and it wasn’t something I was able to continue to do as much as I would have liked to. Even so, the experience definitely got me thinking differently about my habits.
Expert Three: Fitness Training
Where I went: CKO Boxing
Cost: $129 (for a monthly membership)
Okay, so technically, this wasn’t just one expert, but classes at CKO studios are quite small and taught by an instructor so I think it still counts. CKO is a boxing gym that’s just around the corner from my house. I’d never paid it much attention, but as winter approached, I realized that realistically, I was not going to keep up the running habit I picked up over the summer in the freezing temps. I needed something new and I needed it to be close to my house. After my first class at CKO, I was pretty much hooked (no pun intended).
I found the actual act of boxing to be incredibly therapeutic. Sometimes I like to visualize whatever’s bothering me as the bag and just really go at it. And like most people who do group fitness will know, I was more motivated to actually give to my all when I saw others doing the same.
After attending classes for a month, I felt noticeably stronger. It’s a full-body workout that doesn’t really ever get easier. I actually enjoyed taking classes as CKO so much that I went ahead and committed to a full 12-month membership. It’s definitely not the cheapest way to work out, but CKO is a place I can easily get to three times a week and leave feeling better both physically and mentally.
Do you hire any experts to help you in your personal life? Which are worth the cost to you? Share with us on Twitter @britandco.
(Photos via Getty)