How to Be a Conscious Consumer and Investor with Kate Barron-Alicante

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If Money Were Easy

Hosted by Mary Beth Storjohann and Neela Hummel

How to Be a Conscious Consumer and Investor with Kate Barron-Alicante

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If Money Were Easy
How to Be a Conscious Consumer and Investor with Kate Barron-Alicante

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Episode Summary

Today, we bring on Kate Barron-Alicante, Director of Impact and Financial Advisor at Abacus Wealth Partners. Kate is here to guide us on a journey to becoming conscious consumers and investors. She’ll share her insights on aligning our spending and investment decisions with our deeply held values, making mindful choices that do more than just serve our immediate needs—they help to sustain the communities and the planet we care about. In this episode, Kate will walk us through her own experience and offer practical, personalized steps to initiate meaningful change. We’ll explore the concept of B Corps, explore the importance of impact reports, and discuss the broader implications of our financial decisions, from everyday purchases to the banks we choose. By the end of our conversation, you’ll have a better understanding of how to evaluate companies on their treatment of workers, environmental practices, and social impact—so you can make choices that reflect what matters most to you. So let’s jump in and get started!

What You’ll Learn in this Episode:

  • What is meant by conscious consumerism
  • Why we should pause, slow down, and be mindful of our spending decisions
  • What Impact Spending is and how to maximize your conscious consumerism impact
  • Where to start to build conscious consumer habits
  • How to tailor your conscious consumer decisions based on your personal life
  • Some criteria to use when searching for ethical companies
  • B Corp explained and the impact these companies have
  • How to read and analyze a company’s impact report
  • Why you should focus on being 1% better on your conscious consumerism
  • Other industries to include in your conscious consumer choices to leverage a collective impact in the world

Resources Mentioned on the Show:

Additional Resources:

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Transcript of the Episode

Mary Beth [00:00:14]:

Hey there. Welcome to the If Money Were Easy podcast, the show where we teach you how to expand what’s possible with your money. We’re your hosts, Mary Beth Storjohann

Neela [00:00:24]:

and Neela Hummel, 

Mary Beth [00:00:25]

certified financial planners and co CEO’s of Abacus Wealth Partners. Today on the show we are talking about how to be a conscious consumer and investor. 

Neela [00:00:35]:

Today on the show we are excited to welcome back Kate Barron-Alicante. Kate is the Director of Impact and a financial advisor at Abacus Wealth Partners. Kate is a certified financial planner and holds a master’s in international development from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Boston University. Prior to finance, Kate spent 15 years in social justice and social change work in nonprofits and academia. Along with her clients, she shares a passion for leveraging money for climate and racial justice in this moment in history. Kate lives in Philadelphia with her partner and two children. Kate, welcome back to the podcast. 

Mary Beth [00:01:20]:

Welcome back. 

Kate [00:01:21]:

Thank you. I’m excited to be back. You guys have so many episodes in between since we last spoke, so it’s good to be here.

Mary Beth [00:01:28]:

So much life has happened in between, so let’s kick it off. What does it mean to be a conscious consumer and investor? 

Kate [00:01:39]:

Well, at its most basic level, right, to be conscious is to be paying attention and to be awake. Right? You’re unconscious, you’re not awake. So to put that in the context of consumption, shopping, or being an investor and investing, I think it is paying attention to where you’re putting your money, either through what you purchase or what you invest in. 

Neela [00:02:02]:

And when you talk about paying attention, what kinds of things are you paying attention to? 

Kate [00:02:08]:

Well, the list is endless, let’s say. And I think we’re going to get into that as we talk here today. But the things you could pay attention to are things like, well, beyond what we normally pay attention to, which might be price or convenience, depending on what service or product you’re purchasing. But so beyond price and convenience or beyond cache or what a brand or a product might give you on that level, which is what marketing really is about to pull out of a consumer, it’s bringing in consciousness on a few other levels. For example, what is this company’s practices with respect to the people that work at the company that make the product? What is their practices when it comes to how they source the different parts? Let’s say, for a thing that’s made, what is their practice when it comes to the way that they use their voice out in the world or who they partner with, or how they choose to make choices related to environmental issues that could be in their supply chain, or what they might be doing with respect to their particular industry. That is showing that they themselves, as a company, as a brand, are being more conscious around something like environmental or climate issues. So those are some examples. 

Neela [00:03:28]:

So it’s interesting. It’s almost like there’s two pieces of it. One is this mindfulness, this conscientiousness in making a decision, which oftentimes, I know from a consumer standpoint, we kind of rush into these decisions really quickly. And so what you’re talking about is almost like taking a pause before you are making that decision. And then the other piece is almost like a slowdown in maybe doing some due diligence on a company and understanding a little bit more what is happening behind the scenes versus what we just see. That is what we are marketed to. Does that kind of make sense? 

Kate [00:04:04]:

I think that makes a lot of sense, Neela, and also, what you’re saying about the pause and the slowdown that is in some respects actually goes against what marketing wants people to do is put you in a certain emotional state so that you purchase in that emotional state and you purchase pretty quickly. And so it is bringing in all of your self beyond that immediate feeling that you’re trying to go for it. That usually is when you’re making a quick purchase, like at the checkout counter in the grocery store, those things that are right there, they’re kind of meant to get you quicker without bringing in these other components of how you might assess what are you supporting. Because as a shopper, as an investor, where you put your money is what you’re supporting in one way or another at the most basic level. So, yeah, definitely it’s that pause and slow down. 

Mary Beth [00:04:48]:

So when you’re talking about becoming a conscious consumer, there are so many places that we allocate our money on a daily basis. I mean, in terms of services, in terms of products, goods, food, clothing, cars, people that we hired to support us legally, financially, et cetera. And then we talk about slowing down to be mindful of these decisions. And also, we know that time is precious and many people don’t have this amount of time. Where do you get the highest ROI, so to speak, in terms of being a conscious consumer, where would you venture to guess or recommend that people begin? Is it based on dollar of investment? 

Kate [00:05:29]:

I think it could be based on frequency and based on dollar amount. And the reason why I would put both in there is because you may actually have a, let’s say, where you put your money to invest is actually a bigger dollar expenditure and an annual basis, like what you’re contributing, let’s say. So the dollars are big, but you might not see it that often or interact with it. So you’re. You’re doing one thing, but you’re not doing another. Whereas you might be going to a grocery store once a week. That you’re not spending as much money on an annual basis, maybe, I don’t know. But that is an actual embodied experience that you’re having on a weekly basis. And so I would look at both of those, which is where on a number scale, can you have the most impact with being conscious about that one thing or take one step further? And where can you change one process in your life on a regular basis, where you might be doing something frequently and try to take that one step further too, and balance both of those two sides of the coin so that you can feel into that in both ways. But I do think to just do one without the other isn’t as complete as to try to do both. 

Mary Beth [00:06:31]:

Would it be correct to say that picking the higher frequency conscious consumerism keeps it present and at a surface level for other decisions that you’re making in your life? So there is more likely to be a compound effect there when you’re choosing frequency over a lump sum investment? 

Kate [00:06:46]:

Yeah, well, I would say not choose over. I definitely think you should do both. But I think it’s what you get with the frequency is you get the muscle of an identity. You’re the type of person who makes this conscious choice in their day to day life. This one choice is conscious. And so you begin to build that muscle and identify with that. And then you’re able to expand a little further because it is impossible to do this across the board with the flip of a switch. With every single choice you have. In our 21st century western lifestyle, where so many things are decision points around where we put our money.

Neela [00:07:17]:

It’s like the habit piece is the part that is good to focus on. It’s like exercise. Do it, make it part of your normal routine versus running a marathon once a year and not doing anything else, which also, good luck with that run.

Kate [00:07:33]:

It’s like, how do I become a marathon runner and want to run the marathon tomorrow? It’d be like, that’s not a thing, right? 

Neela [00:07:43]:

Following up on what Mary Beth said is we have so many ways that we can make conscious decisions, and there’s also so many things that we can optimize for. So it’s like, what are the things that are on the table that a consumer can opt to support or choose or avoid? Because it’s like, if we care about everything, you almost can’t do anything. And so, like, what are the different layers? What’s the menu? What’s on the menu? Everything is going to be a food reference for me.

Kate [00:08:16]:

Yes. Yes, please. I think that one could answer this question by being like, here’s x number of things you could do. But I actually think what is more impactful is to take stock of your own life and your household, and therefore, you’re going to get to a different answer for different people and not just different households, but at different life phases. So I’ll give you an example. You know, when I was single and in my twenties and had, like, more free time on my hands, there was things I could do with my purchasing, let’s say, like clothes that I bought, or I just had more time to research and more time to go the extra mile to do that. As a parent of young children, during the pandemic, my spending with a certain online realtor skyrocketed. Like so many of us. It wasn’t a value choice. It was sort of like a practical, what are the things I can alleviate, you know, the stressors in my life? And so that was a particular life moment with a particular household contract that it would have been really unrealistic and almost sort of really being hard on myself to say, like, we can’t do this right now. But I do see it as where in your household, where are the major expenses on a regular basis? Where are you putting your money as a consumer anyway? And where are your, your loci of control? Where are the things that you can realistically make the change? So there’s a coffee shop in my town that is a part of a mega chain. And, you know, maybe I do or do not want to shop there. Maybe I want to go to a locally owned and choose a very small dollar way to show what my values are, maybe to be supporting people who are trying to build something on their own. So that’s kind of where I think about it, is at the level of personalizing and really customizing. Like, what is your life like and what would be practical to change and take it step by step in that respect?

Mary Beth [00:10:04]:

And so when you’re making these changes and choosing conscious consumerism, what are the tools that are available to me as a consumer that I can leverage in researching or getting this information? Am I just typing into Google? Am I only going locally owned, how do I know what I’m looking for? So there’s, what I want is what my values are. How do I find out if these companies or brands or services match those values? 

Kate [00:10:33]:

Yeah, well, let me lay out a variety of things you could be looking for and then how to practically go and do that. Right. So you could say, I really want to focus on a certain geography. If we’re talking about sort of services and products you’re buying, you might say, I want to focus on local, or you might really care about how the workers are paid or who owns the business. Right. And so you’re really thinking about the way the company is structured from a people standpoint inside of it, or the supply chain, and where do they source the materials to build the product? Do they participate in kind of exploitative labor practices or not? What do they do with respect to climate? So there are a variety of things like lenses you could use. And if you were to just google it, I think it would be a very frustrating experience. I also think that if you were to just google it, like anything on an Internet search, you’re not really sure what is verifiable or not. 

Kate [00:11:28]:

How do you know, like, who is holding these companies accountable to what they might message and say on the marketing side that they’re doing? But how do we know what’s really going on under the hood? And so one thing that I learned about many years ago was something called B Corps. And so B corps are companies that if you see, I’m thinking of, like the athletic clothing brand, or we got some water the other day in a carton box, and it had this little b in a circle on it, right? It’s one of those small little logos, and that’s a signifier that you’re interacting now with something made by a B corp. And a B Corp is a business that has met pretty rigorous criteria and had to back it up with data to prove the criteria around different issue areas when it comes to how they are being a business. So things like how they treat their workers, how they show up in the community that they’re based in, what their environmental footprint is, what their supply chain looks like, their ownership structure, the diversity inside the organization, all those things I said before are different things you could google. But if a company is a B Corp, they’re already meeting a basic threshold of these issue areas. And so to me, if I know that I need to buy, let’s say, a sweatshirt, and I’m going to go buy one of these three or four brands. I would know that one of those brands is Patagonia and is a B Corp. And there’s something that would push me over the edge of making that purchase, because if we’re going to spend in a certain price point anyway, why not reward the company that is going through what I know is a pretty heavy lift to track and pay attention to and communicate the impact that they’re having.

Kate [00:13:13]:

So it’s this triple bottom line of the people inside the organization and outside the planet, and then the profit as well for the business. And so. And Abacus is a B corps, and that’s why I know so much about it. But I actually knew about it before coming to Abacus. I didn’t even know that companies that worked with money could be a B Corp. I just didn’t know how that would work. Right. But they have a search feature, so you can actually go onto that in a more controlled and contained environment on the Internet to search to see, you know, you’re looking in a certain geography or you’re looking for a certain type of service. Let’s say you’re looking for a company to do mediation inside your business. Like, there are actually B corps that do that, and then they’ve met these other criteria, too. So I think that is a really good shorthand. And whenever we’re looking for corner of the purchasing world, I sometimes start at the B Corp search site to say, okay, who are the leaders from this conscious consumer or conscious investor standpoint? And then let me compare within that universe. 

Neela [00:14:09]:

I love it. It’s a third party validator, because I think we know from a marketing standpoint, talk is cheap and that it can oftentimes be cool to be green or to say that you’re being green or that you value these certain things. But I think one of the frustrating areas for a consumer is when companies say that they value these things, but their policies and their actions actually undercut those same things. You feel almost betrayed. And so B Corp is a way of just making sure that they’re kind of putting their money where their mouth is, because you don’t become one by accident.

Mary Beth [00:14:43]:

And Kate knows this because she spends many months on our B Corp certification every other year. Thank you, Kate. 

Neela [00:14:49]:

Not an accident. So much work. Thank you, Kate.

Mary Beth [00:14:53]:

So much data, so much work.

Kate [00:14:55]:

But it also sparks great conversations inside a company, right. That you’re doing this and someone might be like, head down doing operations or head down, like, working in the warehouse. And, like, this isn’t necessarily brought to the forefront of very busy people doing their jobs. Unless a company from the highest levels has said, no, we value this, we care about this. And questions get brought to each division of a firm, of each division of a business to say, well, how could we be doing this one thing a little bit better? And so it actually ends up flowing throughout the whole company and sparking, I think, a lot of creativity and also a lot of passion of the people inside the company who are making these things and can find ways to do it even better, and who are excited because the people who want to use their service or buy their product value them for going that extra mile as well. So it’s a beautiful win win of who is attracted to work with a B Corp and who is attracted to work in a B Corp as well. 

Mary Beth [00:15:48]:

Talk to me a little bit about impact reports and the pros and cons of those, because the benefit is a company puts out an impact report and there’s a holistic story there. But again, the company also has control of the narrative for the story and the impact report. So tell me a little bit about if a consumer, as a consumer, I should be interested in reading a company’s impact report. What I should also be on the lookout for as well, or thinking about critically when I’m reviewing them. 

Kate [00:16:17]:

Yeah. So an impact report is a company’s self-publication, right? So any company can choose to put this out, a kind of a cousin to them is like a corporate social responsibility report. It’s basically a company’s own self disclosure around the impact. I’m doing air quotes, the impact that it’s having in the world. And there’s no required definition about what that impact can be. Unlike a third party verification of being a B Corp. Right. So anyone can put an impact report out and anyone can define impact however they want. So that’s not neither good nor bad. It’s just sort of the terrain that we’re in.

Mary Beth [00:16:48]:

It’s unregulated, right? It’s unregulated. A choose your own adventure. If you’re choosing an impact report, you just to choose what it looks like. 

Kate [00:16:55]:

Yeah. So, I mean, I, when I look at those, I always think about who is it written for? And so if it’s text heavy, I’m like, who’s actually reading these things? Why was this created? Like, how many of us are out in the world, like, looking for companies impact reports to read them? Not pretty much anybody. I am. 

Mary Beth [00:17:12]:

I am sometimes.

Kate [00:17:13]:

But most of them I don’t want to read because there’s too words. 

Mary Beth [00:17:15]:

Right when they are that text heavy right. 

Kate [00:17:17]:

Yeah. When that happens, I start to think like, okay, who is this for? And it really, in my opinion, should be actually all about communicating to the end client. Like, this is for the end consumer. Like, this is what we believe in. So if you’re burying people on text, it’s not really living up to that purpose, in my opinion. But I think an impact report that I’m looking at is, is it kind of scanning across the whole business line? Like, what all the different kind of intersections inside a business. Does the impact report look across many things or is it just one little corner of the business to shining a light on and a whole lot of the other business is not shown. So what is the impact report choosing to focus on? How widespread is that focus also, are they nice balance of telling stories? Because I think that makes it really tangible as a client, as a consumer. Like, okay, what does this even mean? But also some data. But I think data can go either way. You can have data that is numbing to the end user. So data that’s used very judiciously to support what it is the company is trying to tell me as a consumer is important because I don’t know what you think is impactful until I read your report. And then the other thing I always love to see is are they being really candid and vulnerable in some places to share where they’re trying to improve? So it’s not just this glossy. 

Neela [00:18:32]:

Look how great we are, kind of a situation.

Kate [00:18:33]:

We have nothing to improve on. It’s like, great. What are you going to put in your impact report next year? Like, we’re done. Impact check. Just like you can never be done being a conscious consumer. Like it should literally be an iterative process, which means there should be things that they’re already saying in this report, like we didn’t do. So like, we thought we were gonna knock it out of the park here. We didn’t do as well. And now we really want to know why. Or we then went and found out why, and now we’re working on it. So it’s like, I want to know the journey that you’re on too, because if you’re telling me that you’re already perfect, then it does not feel like you’re being truthful. Right. So some way, this impact report, what impressed me are impact reports that are really kind of grounded in the truth, looking across all the pieces or most of the pieces of the business. And also an impact report that is got the voice of the people highest up in the company. It shows you that the firm, the business really believes in what they’re putting out there. So it’s not just one. Again, one corner of the business is doing this. So those are some things that I would look for Mary Beth. 

Neela [00:19:32]:

How big of an impact can the individual consumer have. So, you know, I have an example of spending time with a friend and talking about this razor company is better than the other one. And I remember her saying to me, she’s like, you know, I don’t think X Company is going to be changed by my dollars. It’s just a couple of dollars purchase. So how would you respond to that? Almost a skeptical take, but kind of like, how much good can I do as an individual purchaser? 

Kate [00:20:05]:

I think it’s a fair question for the kind of the realists here. And also so many of us as consumers are like, are they just marketing something at me? And is that really going to make a difference? But I think if everyone were to think that way, then the answer would definitely be yes. And at the same time, from a business standpoint, every dollar that doesn’t come into the business hurts the company. So if you think about it from the business perspective inside the business itself, the thought that consumers could be pulling their dollars away for whatever reason, if that were to snowball and catch on, it would definitely get the eye of the business right. So it must have an impact as a result of that. And I think more importantly, it’s sort of like anything in life. Well, there’s a couple of things to say here. One is doing things in coalition with many other people is what really can move. So there are examples of boycotts in different sectors. The fact that that was work done like collectively really did influence, say, like apartheid in South Africa or certain agricultural practices. So that’s literally what a boycott is, is people choosing to move money, but moving in on an individual level. Yeah, that does feel in some respects futile. But I think the inner motivation to be more in alignment with your own choices and let the chips fall where they may is actually where you’re most empowered as a consumer is like, this is what I believe in, and I’m going to make this one change and I can’t control the outcome and I’m okay with that. And you may make different choices around different purchases as a result. Like maybe you can’t do all the things, but maybe there’s a two or three that you’re like, I’m going to make this change because I would really be out of integrity. The trade offs are not that big. So I can start here, but I think when it’s collective, yes, for sure, you can have an impact when it’s individual. I think the inner motivation is key. And then just from a business standpoint, when things fall out of trend or there is a scandal, for example, and dollars shift out, like a company really does feel it. 

Neela [00:22:00]:

It’s like, I will never miss an opportunity to vote for an elected official. And yet, that might only happen every couple of years, but when you’re spending money, you’re voting every single time. And so it’s like a bunch of different votes that you’re making over and over every single day. 

Mary Beth [00:22:17]:

I like what you said about just the intrinsic, and it goes back to what you said in the beginning about needing to start with your personal values. Right? You’re doing this from the intrinsic motivation, being aligned and integrity with what you believe in and feeling good about those decisions, because it’s in line with your values versus trying to create that collective change. So it starts with the intrinsic, and then from there, there are layers into which you can create change by collectively moving or boycotting together. The movement into becoming a conscious consumer has to start with that intrinsic curiosity or just knowing of what you are truly passionate about or values aligned with.

Kate [00:22:55]:

And I would flipping that from the vantage point of a company, a company that has an intrinsic motivation to be a better company and go through something like a B Corp certification, that’s a signal that they really care. And so there’s something about that intrinsic-ness that I think is very powerful, both from the vantage point of a company and of a consumer. And so over the past 15 years, especially from the business side, the community, that conversation of companies saying, we’re going to make certain choices and certain trade offs, because this is actually like who we are, we’re intrinsically motivated to do certain things and to not do other things, and we’re going to build a business around that. I think that’s a company living out the same ethos as a consumer wanting to move in alignment with their values. 

Mary Beth [00:23:40]:

So in order to be a conscious consumer, do I need to consume less? 

Kate [00:23:48]:

You could, you know, reduce, reuse, recycle, but you don’t need to. No. The consciousness is really the first step. Probably many of us do this, probably everybody on this call. But I know where we spend our money every month. I pretty much know because most of it is pre planned, and then some of it is pretty run of the mill, right? Like groceries and stuff like that. You don’t necessarily, as a first step to being a conscious consumer need to consume less. But it maybe is taking a closer look at the consumption choices you’re making and find one or maybe two easy places to make one shift and start with that. And you don’t have to reduce anything, right? You just swap it out right now for a first step. 

Mary Beth [00:24:32]:

So it doesn’t have to be reduced. It’s just a swap. 

Neela [00:24:36]:

Immediately when I think about consumerism, I think about buying things, but it’s essentially who is getting your money. And that’s more than just what brand of cereal you’re buying. It’s who you bank with, who your loans are with, what insurance companies you use. It’s not just the tangible things in the day to day decisions, it’s also maybe the bigger ones and those big recurring decisions that you can also vet too. 

Kate [00:24:59]:

Yeah. That are also, can feel very invisible in your life. Which is why before we said sort of like the two for the like. On the one hand, the thing you’re doing that you can have that muscle and that embodied experience, but also these other things that maybe they’re big ticket items like insurance. We spend a lot of money on insurance and I’ve been in conversations recently about some movements inside the insurance industry to collectively bring together end users of insurance to pull their requests for both. Oh yeah, policy that meets your needs, it meets your price points, but also pushing the insurance companies further along with climate, because there so much money is in insurance. When you look at the whole global marketplace, that’s been a terrain in the financial services world, put insurance in there where it hasn’t been top of mind to look at your insurance and think about it from a conscious angle, but that is already moving. So I also think it’s an exciting time to support businesses that are on the front lines of doing this work and figuring some things out that’s going to help all of us. And so those are in many ways, I think, more creative and innovative companies that are thinking about these issues from this multi-pronged vantage point. 

Mary Beth [00:26:08]:

So when you think about being a conscious consumer, one of the, I don’t want to say myths, I don’t want to say facts, it can be more expensive to choose a more conscious lifestyle when it comes to spending. These are products that are not being mass produced. They pay fair wages, they are being produced in an ethical way, not extracting. How would somebody who is on a fixed budget every month, how do you incorporate this into your life? Because it may in some areas cost more. 

Kate [00:26:44]:

Definitely when my mind’s going to organic food.

Mary Beth [00:26:47]:

Yes, yes, exactly right. 

Kate [00:26:49]:

It could be a health lens, but it could also be, you know, that there, there is a berry company that I know treats their workers less well than other berry companies. And, you know, it’s like a. Every time we go to that aisle, I’m like, okay, what are we going to do? And this point, my children, like, they’re in my ears, which is great when you have these conversations with your kids, because then they’re latched on to like, well, we’re not. We can’t get that company because they do this and this and this. And, you know, I think it is about calibrating. And there are certain places in a budget where maybe you could do one thing and be gentle and loving on yourself that you can’t do all of the things on a fixed budget, but it’s not impossible. And it’s. It’s a small thing to pick out. Like, maybe it’s your coffee brand or one item that you buy at the grocery store repeatedly, and you’re going to change that thing. But instead, maybe you don’t need to change where you’re shopping entirely. You don’t need to get a whole new wardrobe from the, like, ethically sourced, you know, cotton fashion place. But you could, maybe if you need to get, like, one piece that’s going to last a long time, you might invest in something that is both higher quality and maybe as a B Corp brand, for example, and say, like, I’m going to have this for a long time, and therefore I’m going to try to bring in my values and the quality at the same time to the purchase. So, I mean, I do think we want to get it right. And we are scared that, like, especially when you start talking about being in line with your values, it’s like, oh, gosh, how many places am I out of whack with my values? And, like, it’s be so hard to, like, look at it and come to terms with, I’m not really doing all the things as well as I could be doing. I could be a stumbling block for all of us to just actually take a look, to actually be conscious. And so much of how we go about our life today is designed for us to really not pay attention. 

Kate [00:28:33]:

We’re busy, we’re triaging many things. So you just price convenience, boom, keep it moving. But when you do pause and think about it, and then you make a choice to do something deeper. Like, it does feel better. It feels better to do that. And you just need to do it in one place more than you did last week. Like, I think it really is about that, taking the one step, the one next step to not get overwhelmed. And, you know, I’ve talked to friends about this, talking about life changes and, okay, new phase, new professional phase, wanting to get a new wardrobe. Where are you looking and what are factors? Are you coming in and using that as, like, a place to crowdsource from other people. Like, what brands do you like and why? You know, and you can take the why deeper. So it’s also a pretty cool conversation to have with others and not just in your own head about choices that you can make with your dollars. And I think we do ourselves a disservice when we are on a budget and we think we can’t do anything, it feels like you’re a victim. You’re completely disempowered with how you are living, with your values, with your money, because you just happen to not have as much as you’d like to have. And that’s a really disempowering place to be. So I think it is about finding a small place in your budget and making a small change. Just because we’re on a fixed budget doesn’t mean we have to, on the one hand, completely turn away from what we know and feel and think is the right thing to do, or to somehow be overwhelmed and think we can’t do anything because we just don’t have the money for it. 

Neela [00:30:05]:

I just love that. It’s like big fans of the atomic habits of just trying to be, like, 1% better. And then it also can encourage that intrinsic motivation because you’re like, I’m not trying to do everything all at once, which makes me want to just sit down because it’s kind of exhausting. And I feel like I’m just screwing it all up. But if we can keep iterating in different areas over time, it builds. 

Kate [00:30:28]:

Yeah, I mean, and one thing I didn’t really think about until I worked in finance was where my money sat, like, in a bank account or in my retirement account. I didn’t think about it. It was like, why? Why do I need to think about it? Right? And everything we’re seeing and learning is truly where money is moving or not moving is powerful. And so back to the point about where we can have a lot of influence. It does really make a difference when people switch banks and take that one step, which is not easy, but it’s not impossible. It does make a difference when investors make different investing choices to see, like, the people who are selling will say, okay, people care about this. And, you know, let’s pay attention and shift it. 

Mary Beth [00:31:08]:

Love it. This has been an amazing conversation, Kate. Thank you. 

Neela [00:31:12]:

So good. I feel like I always get good nuggets. Just keep having you back, Kate. 

Mary Beth [00:31:16]:


Kate [00:31:17]:

All right.

Mary Beth [00:31:19]:

Thank you for being here. Before we wrap up, how can our listeners get in contact with you? 

Kate [00:31:24]:

Yes, you can find me on LinkedIn. Kate Barron-Alicante. I am the only person with that name, and you can also find me on the Abacus website,, and look for me, Kate. 

Mary Beth [00:31:37]:

Thank you for being here. 

Neela [00:31:40]:

Thanks, Kate. 

Kate [00:31:41]:

Thank you both. 

Neela [00:31:44]:

Most people have formed helpful and harmful habits around spending, giving and investing. Head to to take our financial archetype quiz and learn your three dominant money types. You’ll receive personalized guidance that helps you have a healthier, more balanced relationship to money.

Neela [00:32:27]:

Abacus Wealth Partners is an SEC registered investment advisor. SEC registration does not constitute an endorsement of Abacus Wealth Partners by the SEC, nor does it indicate that Abacus Wealth Partners has attained a particular level of skill or ability. This material prepared by Abacus Wealth Partners is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to serve as a substitute for personalized investment advice or as a recommendation or solicitation of any particular security, strategy, or investment product. Opinions expressed by Abacus Wealth Partners are based on economic or market conditions at the time this material was written. Facts presented have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Abacus Wealth Partners, however, cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source. Abacus Wealth Partners does not provide tax or legal advice and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as tax or legal advice. Economies and markets fluctuate. Actual economic or market events may turn out differently than anticipated. No investors should assume that future performance will be profitable or equal either the previous reflected performance or that of the reference benchmarks. The historical performance results of the comparative benchmarks do not reflect the deduction of transaction and custodial charges or the deduction of an investment management fee, the incurrence of which would decrease indicated historical performance. The S&P index includes 500 leading companies in the US and is widely regarded as the best single gauge of large cap US equities. The holdings and performance of Abacas Wealth Partners clients accounts may vary widely from those of the presented indices. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Abacus Wealth Partners and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered by Abacus Wealth Partners unless a client service agreement is in place.

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