Meet the Registered Dietitians Who Are Serving up Mindful Savings Advice

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Together with Citi, we’re finding out how inspiring entrepreneurs saved to make their dreams reality. Learn how to save money from Wendy Lopez and Jessica Jones—registered dietitians, diabetes educators, and co-founders of Food Heaven—below, and get more info on how to be smarter with your savings here.

If you've ever listened to Wendy Lopez and Jessica Jones' podcast Food Heaven, then you know that the registered dietitians and BFFs are all about keeping it real—nutrition style. From demystifying intuitive eating to talking about diversity within the professional nutrition space, they cover how food affects us and society at large.

"I want Food Heaven to be the go-to nutrition resource for all people, especially for those who don’t see themselves represented within the wellness industry," says Lopez. The two are on a mission toward making the world a healthier place, not only through their wellness podcast, blog, and social-media footprint, but also through their financial real talk.

Lopez's original career was in counseling, and Jones was initially a journalist. While both had a passion for helping others, neither career was the right fit and it took some strategic savings plans to work toward their goal in nutrition.

"I decided that I wanted to be in a career that was directly helping people live healthier lives," explains Jones. "I liked the idea of nutrition because it could merge my nerdy science brain with my passion for helping people. I was really drawn to the idea that you could be your own boss as a dietitian."

Having a career that fulfills you and pays the bills is pretty much the definition of a dream job, but first, Lopez and Jones needed the financial foundation to make that happen. Consequently, before Food Heaven became a flourishing business, they learned some valuable financial lessons along the way.

Keep reading for their 4 tips on how to save money, whether you're looking to fund your dreams or to cushion your everyday savings.

wendy and jess food heaven

1. Learn the value of personal relationships

While on her journey, Lopez went without a cellphone for a year, which not only helped her save money but served as an opportunity to connect with others in real life rather than on her screen.

"I lived at home, would eat meals mostly at home, and would do things like host clothing swaps with friends to avoid having to buy new clothing," says Lopez.

Throughout it all, the two relied on each other to keep things in perspective and learned the value of having a supportive partner to bet on your dreams. "We’ve learned so much together throughout the years, and think that if we would’ve waited for the 'perfect' circumstances, Food Heaven would have never happened," shares Lopez.

2. Lean on your community to help you save

Although neither had significant savings prior to making their career jumps (at the time, Jones was making $35,000 and spending nearly half her monthly income on her New York City apartment), they made some savvy financial decisions like picking up multiple side jobs while in school to make it work—and tapped into their community along the way.

For example, "We worked at the farmer's market doing cooking demos and nutrition workshops, and there was always leftover food that we were able to take home after our shift," says Jones.

For fun, the two would hit up free community experiences, like summer festivals or movies in the park. These experiences not only helped boost their savings accounts, but helped shape their future vision for Food Heaven: Lopez counts connecting with the community via local events and cooking classes among their current plans.

3. Build a budget for future goals

Next, the two took a closer look at their spending. "I’ve always been big on creating a breakdown each month of income and expenses," says Lopez. "This was pivotal during the time I was switching careers. Even if it’s just a small amount, save a portion of the money you have coming in."

Jones agrees: "Budgeting spreadsheets are literally how I relax. If I’m having a stressful day or feeling anxious, I bring out the budget and crunch the numbers to make sure I am on track."

These practices not only helped them before their career switch, but also once Food Heaven was off the ground. They launched the business with some budget-friendly tactics like shooting videos in Jones' apartment, and always stayed focused on the bottom line. "I made sure we created quarterly and annual income goals and projections, had quarterly and annual reviews of our profit and loss statements, put money away for taxes every quarter, and built a business emergency fund," Jones explains.

All of this budgeting only serves their future plans: "Our goal is to have a wellness summit one day, and also open up a creative space for cooking workshops and food photography."

wendy and jess

4. Cultivate financial mindfulness

Staying zeroed in on your goal requires being honest with yourself and focused on your regular spending habits in order to truly enjoy the rewards. To keep yourself accountable, "Check your bank account at least two times a week to make sure you're on track with your weekly and monthly finance goals," recommends Lopez. 

From there, it's all about balancing your savings plan with the experiences that make it all worthwhile. "As long as I can remember, I’ve always been very mindful of budgeting," says Lopez. "I take on the same approach to money now, but recognize that I have more flexibility to spend money on things that [...] bring me happiness, like going out to great restaurants, traveling, and being able to share meaningful experiences with my loved ones."

For Jones, it all comes back to mindset. "Once I started getting real with my finances, my life drastically changed," she says. Case in point: Five years after establishing and committing herself to her financial goals, she was able to purchase (and pay off) a new car, pay off all her credit card debt, save for a down payment and buy a house, and create an emergency fund with six months of expenses.

"People are so scared to look at what is really going on with their spending," Jones says. "I was like this too. You don’t have to be. The second you start being honest with yourself and what’s going on, you can plan, save, and thrive." 

Presented by Citi

Photos: Food Heaven

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