Overcoming Financial Shame with Stephanie McCullough

Stephanie McCullough, founder and financial planner with Sofia Financial, is here to talk about overcoming financial shame and aligning our finances with our values.


Our guest today is Stephanie McCullough, founder and financial planner with Sofia Financial. She specializes in helping women over 45 navigate their financial futures. With over two decades of experience, she brings a wealth of knowledge to the table and is a true advocate for women becoming financially fearless.

In our conversation today, we’re going to focus on the shame many women feel around money. Stephanie shares where this shame stems from and some powerful tips for overcoming the barriers that stop so many women from moving forward in their financial journeys. Throughout the episode, she discusses how important it is to align our finances with our values, have open conversations, and understand our behaviors and beliefs around money.


Here’s some of what we discuss in this episode:


  • 1:51 – Why women feel shame around money
  • 7:23 – The power of getting started
  • 9:15 – Finding an advisor that listens and asks questions
  • 14:01– Aligning money with your values
  • 20:21 – Beliefs and attitudes about money
  • 31:12 – Taking small steps and embracing curiosity


Learn a little more about Stephanie:


Stephanie McCullough is founder of Sofia Financial and co-host of the award-winning Take Back Retirement podcast. One of Investopedia’s Top 10 Financial Advisors of 2023, Stephanie provides non-judgmental, truly holistic financial planning for professional women. She has found that women “of a certain age” are faced with a particular set of problems around the goal of retirement, especially those facing it on their own. Her mission is to empower women to make wise financial decisions so they can control their future, and thus she speaks to women’s groups regularly. Stephanie is married with two kids in their 20’s, and has degrees from Duke University and the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Follow Stephanie @sofiafinancial and www.sofiafinancial.com.


Episode Links:



Stephanie on Purse Strings


Website: https://sofiafinancial.com/​​

Stephanie’s Take It Back Podcast: https://takebackretirement.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephaniemccullough/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stephanie.mccullough.334

Company Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SofiaFinancial

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sofiafinancial/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sofiafinancial


The Ins and Outs of Mediation with Brian James

Brian James, the founder and lead mediator at C.E.L. & Associates, is here to help us understand the ins and outs of mediation.


We’re delighted to sit down with Brian James, a seasoned Divorce and Family Mediator based in Chicago with offices across Chicagoland and Southeastern Wisconsin. As the founder and lead mediator at C.E.L. & Associates, Brian brings over two decades of experience to his practice and has dedicated his career to helping families navigate divorce and domestic conflicts.

He’s here today to talk about the mediation process, highlighting its benefits, misconceptions, and how it differs from traditional litigation. Throughout our conversation, he shares some of the unique challenges women might face in divorce, the essential questions they should ask their mediators and the importance of financial education. Brian aims to equip women with the tools they need to navigate divorce confidently, so they can make well-informed decisions and receive the support and guidance they need.

We learned so much from Brian in this episode and are excited to dive into this topic with you!


Here’s some of what we discuss in this episode:


  • What is mediation and how is it different than hiring an attorney?
  • The typical timeframe for mediation + how Brian works with families to navigate finances during this process
  • The questions that women should ask when consulting with a mediator
  • Managing client expectations during the mediation process + avoiding emotional decisions that might lead to regret
  • When is it better to work with an attorney?
  • What working with Brian looks like, typical costs of mediation, and Brian’s advice for our listeners


Learn a little more about Brian:


Brian James, a seasoned Divorce and Family Mediator, established C.E.L. and Associates, Inc. in 2005, serving Chicagoland and Southeastern Wisconsin.

Brian holds a B.S. in Sociology from Northern Illinois University (1994) and received Mediation and Conflict Resolution training at Northwestern University.

For a decade, Brian worked in the Criminal Justice System, aiding domestic violence and divorcing families in resolving conflicts and facilitating healing post-life-altering events. His approach to mediation is client-driven. By aiding his clients with the resolution of their divorce issues outside of the courtroom, Brian helps create a win/win situation for all parties in a divorce.

His mediation style not only resolves immediate issues but equips clients with conflict-resolution skills for the future, emphasizing problem-solving, empathy, and informed decision-making.

Brian recently celebrated 27 years of marriage to his wife Cindy. They have two boys, Connor, age 25 forever, and Evan, age 22. Connor and Evan are the C. and E. in C.E.L. & Associates, Inc.


Episode Links:


Where you can find Brian:



Brian on social media