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146 | Embrace The Suck With Shannyn Allan

Shannyn Allan joins us to discuss “embracing the suck”–when life just doesn’t go as planned.

Shannyn’s Story

Shannyn’s money story starts when she was a broke graduate student in Chicago. She had started a blog to talk about how broke she was and how impossible it felt to survive in the city with student loans. At that point, it was just about saving money and being as frugal as possible.

Approximately two years after she started blogging, she discovered the FI movement. Finding the movement gave her a reason to continue saving money and she began learning about long term strategies that were more sustainable.

She had found FI at the right time in her life. At the time, she was growing tired of blogging because her life had changed so much. As she grew, she realized that she wanted to start thinking about bigger things. Instead of wanting to get through the month, she wanted to think big.

Through FI, she sees an opportunity to help her community and leave a legacy.

Though it’s important to get by–that month to month, when you get beyond survival mode and you know the skills, you’ve built the muscle; asking “why?” and finding a larger movement to attach to can be very challenging but it’s so rewarding.

The Graduate School Years

While pursuing a higher degree in sociology, her ultimate goal was to become a college professor after achieving her Ph.D. Throughout this time, she lived extremely frugally. She stayed in a ‘crummy’ apartment with two roommates and a roach problem.

When asked if she would do anything about grad school differently, she says she wouldn’t.

Even though I could say that my graduate years were not very glamourous, it taught me a lot about bootstrapping, resiliency, and the ability to just be like “wow!–this is kind of a gross chapter of my life. And it’s hard.” But I wouldn’t change it for the world. I probably would have saved a little bit more money if I could’ve but I did the best I could in the situation I had.

However, she did end up changing career paths. She finished her degree but chose not to pursue a Ph.D. Instead of becoming a college professor, she found a passion for social media, writing, and video production through her blog. She decided to leverage this into a career.

Now she has a stable career in social media marketing that has led her away from the broke life with a higher income, 401k, and other benefits.

Embrace The Suck

Although she stumbled her way into an amazing career path, she admits that grad school was a mistake. After moving from California to Chicago, she discovered that she actually hated the thought of writing sociology papers forever.

So, I think that embracing something messy about your story is absolutely pivotal to making progress. The idea that some of us, in the community, have had an unblemished record to get to FI, though it’s a wonderful story and it’s inspiring to some, if you’ve had mistakes in your past I would say it is absolutely okay to own them. It’s okay to be embarrassed by them, it’s okay to take some pivots or some turns you didn’t expect. And just really lean into the fact that sometimes in your past maybe you’ve made decisions that were not fruitful or useful for yourself.

Many of us love to have a plan. Sometimes that plan doesn’t work out the way we expect. It is important to embrace the decisions that led to somewhere you aren’t sure about. It is a part of your story and you should embrace it.

Owning Mistakes

Shannyn opens up about many of her own mistakes.

Graduate School

Graduate school was one of her first expensive mistakes. She started graduate school but later decided that she didn’t want to continue on that career path.

Not only did she leave the career field, but also have to pay back those student loans.

Calling Off A Wedding

She fell in love with someone that was not transparent about his financial choices. Although they had many talks about their values and money, he hid the truth for a long time. Eventually, she unpacked these deceptions and decided to call off their wedding.

Wire Fraud During Purchase Of First Home

She lost $52,000 to wire fraud during the closing process of her first home. Eventually, she got it back after weeks of phone calls.

All of these experiences were very public and humiliating. However, she feels that it just proves she is human. She doesn’t claim to know what is going on at all times but continues to keep plodding forward.


Through all of these trials, she has learned to practice resiliency.

I wish I could say that every time something punches you in the face that you could just come up swinging, but, the fact of the matter is, that there are a couple of things in order to be resilient that you have to practice in your life.

First, you have to realize that you have made a mistake or that something has happened to you.

Once you realize you are in a bad place, then you should reach out to your community for help. Ask friends, family, and people in the FI community. Shouldering the burden of your life on your own is too much sometimes. When Shannyn opened herself up to support, she realized that it led to more growth than she could progress on her own.

Additionally, you need to practice self-care. You might need to take a day, or a few weeks, to yourself. However, you need to take care of yourself without self-sabotage. Find some FI friendly self-care methods that work for you.

I find that finding things that don’t blow my budget and just take a day of rest and reflection, when I need them, as they come, has been really helpful in helping me build that resiliency muscle.

A few ideas for frugal self-care include phoning a friend, watching your favorite movie, or going for a run. Just remember that life will have good days and bad days. Stop to take care of yourself along the way.

Wire Fraud

Shannyn lost $52,660.57 to wire fraud. She shared her story and provided some actionable tips to prevent this from happening to you.

Unfortunately, when Shannyn found the error, nobody in the closing group came to her aid. Luckily, she found the error within just 2 hours and was able to call the receiving bank to hold the funds. It took 3-4 weeks of phone calls and tears to retrieve her money. No one on the professional side wanted to help because they were too busy trying to cover their own tracks.

Although wire fraud rules vary from state to state, it is important to find out more about the rules in place in your state. This happened to Shannyn in Texas. Since then, they have put up some consumer safeguards. Wire fraud is on the rise and anytime you are making a large transaction you might be at risk.

Keep your eye on the prize and stand up for yourself.

Stand Up For Yourself

Shannyn’s closing process was fraught with red flags. The real estate professional made many mistakes and she realized that not everyone had her best interests at heart. Looking back, she would recommend listening to your gut and standing up for yourself.

Her wire fraud story had multiple issues. Although she had requested several times for the bank to take a cashier’s check directly from her in person, the title company was having a difficult time connecting with her.

She felt uncomfortable wiring that much money, but the real estate agent waved her off. In the end, the title company was compromised and the hacker used their email to send false instructions. The bank wiring the money did not check the wire instructions and just sent the money.

After the incident, she called both banks and all parties for 3 to 4 weeks. She filed claims with the police and the FBI. Eventually, she called them out on social media and asked her community to support her.

Social media is kind of a dumpster fire on one side. But it also can be an amazing tool; not only to get a corporation’s attention. But also, you know, I was the underdog in this and when people found out about my story they wanted to use their networks to help get me to the finish line.

Basically, she stayed a squeaky wheel and eventually got her money back. Don’t be afraid to take your story public.

Red Flags

A lot of wire fraud happens through compromised emails. You would get instructions from a hacker with false information on where to send the money.

Through Brad’s personal experience in Virginia, he was strongly advised to never look at wire instructions via email. Instead, the instructions were mailed via overnight mail with the documents. Plus, he could call to confirm on the phone with the person that he was speaking with.

Paper documents are safer. However, you should always double-check those numbers.

Stay alert throughout the process. Staying low tech is helpful but it might not always be an option.

Tips For Spotting Financial Infidelity

Shannyn had to call off a wedding due to financial infidelity. Although they had many conversations about money and values, her partner was not always honest.

The fact of the matter is that sometimes people make poor choices. And sometimes people are deceptive.

You do not need to stay in a relationship when you discover the extent of these bad choices. It might take years to discover the truth. No matter how many questions you ask, sometimes people may have their own interests first.

You need to know when to walk away.

Sometimes bad things will happen to you; but if you know what you are willing to tolerate and what you need to walk away from no matter the situation, it’s a good guidepost.

Listen: From Financial Infidelity To His And Her Money

Looking Past Roadblocks On The Path To FI

Once you are on the FI journey with a strategy that will work for you, the slow progress can sometimes be frustrating. Especially when you compare yourself to people on the other side of the finish line.

In order to combat these blues, decide who is going to influence you.

If you’re on social media and you need to take a step back from Instagram or the ChooseFI forums or anything that isn’t inspiring you, it’s okay to take a breather. Sometimes in the trenches of your own experience, you just need to get through that day without playing the comparison game with 50 other people in the community. Take a deep breath and realize that you will get there someday.

Sometimes your accomplishments will feel small. However, wiser choices along the way lead to a successful outcome.

Every accomplishment is worth celebrating. Even the big ones that are great, they are wonderful to get inspiration from, but those big accomplishments come from a series of small choices that often go unnoticed.

Take time to slow down. Share your wins with friends or recognize it in some way. Life is not perfect, but you can put together a life that you are happy with. Just realize that you will always have problems of some kind. They just might be different problems.

Listen: Rebuilding A Life You Love With Christine

Shannyn’s Accomplishments

Although she has never had a job that paid six figures, Shannyn is on the path to FI. She has cultivated in-demand skills that allow her to side hustle on top of her regular job.

In May 2019, she donated a kidney to a stranger because she wants to make a difference. She donated her kidney to someone in the ChooseFI community after finding she was a direct match.

Even though she has faced some difficulties in recent years, she embraces the positives. She has a great job and has a roof over her head with a community to share her life with.

Listen to Brad and Jonathan’s thoughts about this episode here.

How To Connect

You can connect with Shannyn through her blog The Wonder Luster. Most of her updates are made through her YouTube channel which can be found here.

The Hot Seat

Favorite Blog, Podcast, or Book: Design Your Dream Life Podcast By Natalie Bacon, The Year Of Less by Cait Flanders

An Inflection Point: Although many inflections points were shared in this episode, one of the most memorable was donating a kidney. She chose to make a difference in her life and the lives of others before reaching FI. It just goes to show that no matter where you are, you can make your life better or the lives of those around you better through a series of choices.

Favorite Life Hack: Investing in free things that keep you motivated and on track. One of those things for Shannyn is regularly watching YouTube videos, reading books, and listening to podcasts that inspire her.

Anytime you can reconnect with your “why” without spending money is worthwhile. A few examples might include a vision board, a phone call to a friend, or writing down your goals.

Biggest Financial Mistake: After the wire fraud, she was still able to buy the house. However, it has turned into a money pit after a shady flipper covered up many problems. My advice: Trust your gut and walk away!

The advice you would give your younger self: Things will not be terrible forever. Sometimes you feel like it will be hard forever. The good times aren’t forever and the bad times aren’t forever. There are seasons to everything, so just get through each season as best you can.

Bonus! What purchase have you made over the past 12 months that has brought the most value to your life? Upping her coffee game has been a game-changer. Plus, the milk frother she bought before her shopping ban has proved very useful.

Related Articles

New to FI? Be sure to check out Episode 100: Welcome To The FI Community!

Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. American Express is a ChooseFI advertiser. Disclosures.
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