Are you tired of feeling overwhelmed by all the courses, programs, and opportunities promising to take your writing career to the next level? In today’s episode, Kathi sits down with business strategist Tonya Kubo to unpack a simple yet powerful framework for making wise investment decisions that align with your unique goals and resources. 

Together, they discuss: 

  • Recognizing the persuasive tactics often used in sales funnels and offers targeting writers 
  • Determining if a problem is genuinely yours or one introduced by the offer itself 
  • Examining your awareness of the problem and past attempts to solve it 
  • Projecting realistic outcomes and required effort 6-12 months out for both “yes” and “no” decisions 
  • The dangers of making rushed choices based on “limited time offers” or FOMO (fear of missing out) 
  • Separating emotions from logic and taking a step back to evaluate each opportunity objectively 
  • Creating personal price point “checkpoints” based on your current business stage and resources 
  • Treating your writing as a business and making thoughtful investments in your growth

Kathi and Tonya also share real-life examples from their own experiences, illustrating the potential pitfalls of impulsive investments and the benefits of strategic decision-making. Whether you’re considering a high-ticket coaching program, a tempting course bundle, or an exciting speaking opportunity, this episode will equip you with the tools to confidently say “yes” to the right things and “no” to the time- and money-wasters. 

By the end of this conversation, you’ll have a clear roadmap for evaluating any writing-related investment that comes your way, ensuring that you’re always moving in the direction of your God-given dreams while stewarding your resources wisely. So, grab a notebook, press play, and get ready to approach your writing career from a fresh perspective! 

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Meet Your Hosts

Kathi Lipp

Kathi Lipp

Author, Speaker, Writing at the Red House Creator and CEO

Kathi Lipp is the host of the Clutter Free Academy podcast, the Writing at the Red House podcast, and the bestselling author of The Husband Project, Clutter Free, Ready for Anything, and An Abundant Place. She and her husband, Roger, live in the mountains of northern California, where they run the Red House Writing Retreats.

Over the past 10 years, Kathi has helped hundreds of people increase their platform through teaching and coaching. She is a frequent teacher at writer’s conferences and has helped countless authors and speakers find their audiences.

Kathi’s desire to help fellow speakers and authors avoid the mistakes she made, increase their confidence, and be the person God made them to be inspired her creation of Communicator Academy. Her newest adventure is The Red House, where she offers writer’s retreats and Writers in Residence events. Learn more about the Red House at

Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo

Speaker and Writer

Tonya Kubo is the illustrious and fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy Facebook group and the Clutter Free for Life membership program. A speaker and writer, Tonya makes her home in the heart of California with her husband, Brian, their two spirited daughters, and one very tolerant cat. Visit her at


Kathi (00:00.374)
Well, hey friends, welcome to the Writing at the Red House podcast, where we gather at the table with some of our favorite writers and creators who share their wisdom to help us all share our story. And I am here with social media maven. It’s Tonya Kubo. Hey, Tonya.

Tonya Kubo (00:36.75)
Hey, Kathi.

Kathi (00:39.51)
Have you been called a maven before?

Tonya Kubo (00:42.037)
I have. I have been called a maven.

Kathi (00:44.314)
Okay, I love that. I love it so much. Okay, and here’s my next, well, recently, so we have a paid program. It’s our mastermind program, which is the top offer that we have here at Writing at the Red House, where we have small groups of people who meet together who work on their business, and we give them advice. And one of the things I love about that group is,

Tonya Kubo (00:55.609)

Kathi (01:12.406)
you can kind of call me at any time and just say, can you help me figure this out? And when they’re doing that, I’m usually saying, yeah, Roger and I can help you figure this out or Tonya and I can help you figure this out, depending on what the situation is, because I’m smarter with my smartest people. And recently we had somebody in our group who said, hey, I want to improve my speaking.

Tonya Kubo (01:17.038)

Kathi (01:40.89)
And there is this offer that is about helping me to be recognized by this national program where I can get stage time, I can get a video, I can get everything I need to really work on my speaking career. And this person is an author and she just, she wants to do more speaking. And so she sent me the offer and said, can you advise me?

is this something that you think would be beneficial to me? And I said, sure, Tonya and I can advise you. And so we took a look at the offer and I just did not have a good way of sorting it out for, it’s very hard to make a decision for somebody else because I do believe in investing in your business. I do believe in investing in your career. I just don’t know, and I had never heard of this program before, which is kind of a…

Tonya Kubo (02:14.017)
Ha ha ha!

Kathi (02:37.018)
not a red flag, it’s a yellow flag. It’s a like, hmm, this is supposed to be an amazing program but I’ve never heard of it before. And the person who brought this to us didn’t know anybody who had been through the program. So those are not red flags, but they’re yellow flags for me. And Tonya, you have a whole system for deciding. What do you call this system?

Tonya Kubo (02:56.)

Tonya Kubo (03:06.993)
Um, well, you know, it’s…

Kathi (03:07.554)
for deciding whether I should lay down the money.

Tonya Kubo (03:10.753)
Okay, are you ready? It’s super clever, Kathy. It’s called, Do I Need This Now? I know, I know you’re shocked. Took me ages to come up with that. No, it’s not trademarked. It’s not even copywritten or copyrighted. No, it’s just, Do I Need This Now? But I mean, it’s succinct.

Kathi (03:14.459)
Okay, do tell.

Kathi (03:18.702)
I’m sorry.

Kathi (03:33.078)
It’s, and it’s got two questions to it. Do I need this? And do I need this now? Like those are two questions that you have to answer. Now, does this work the same for a $14 program and a $14,000 program?

Tonya Kubo (03:37.189)
Mm-hmm. Right.

Tonya Kubo (03:48.489)
It does, although, you know, your decisions are probably a lot faster with a $14 program versus a $14,000 program, I would say. But it works. And honestly, so here’s a spoiler alert. It works in personal decisions, too. We need to buy a new stove. We need to buy a new stove. I’ve gone stove shopping now three times and I run through the whole framework and I keep not buying a stove. Because

Kathi (03:57.965)

Kathi (04:06.22)
Oh, see that’s… Hmm.

Kathi (04:17.491)

Tonya Kubo (04:18.389)
just, you know, it’s just not working for me. Nothing I see I like enough to bring home. So the first thing I wanna do, Kathy, is I think we first have to talk about sales in general because most of the decisions that we are talking about have to do with business investments. And business investments…

Kathi (04:25.787)
Yeah, I get it.

Kathi (04:36.356)

Tonya Kubo (04:42.325)
everything costs something. Okay, so even that $14 offer, that costs you time usually. There’s a lot more DIY expectation around a lower cost offer than a higher cost offer. But ultimately there’s gonna be money changing hands. And so there’s a sales process. There goes, you know, and you’re gonna go from having no idea that this offer exists to being.

Kathi (04:46.059)

Kathi (05:06.05)

Tonya Kubo (05:07.213)
given the opportunity to choose to invest in it or not invest in it, right? That’s kind of the beginning to end part of a sales process. Anybody who has come to a Writing at the Red House retreat, they go through that same process, right? They didn’t know that there are writer’s retreats. They find out there’s writer’s retreats. Then they have to decide is A, are they a retreat kind of writer? Not everybody is.

Kathi (05:22.612)


Kathi (05:33.966)
Mm-hmm. Yes.

Tonya Kubo (05:34.337)
Then they have to decide, okay, if I am a retreat kind of writer, do I want to go to a retreat in California? That’s another decision. Then from there, they have to decide, am I a forest retreat person or am I a beach retreat person? Because if they’re a beach retreat person, the Red House Writers Retreats are not for them. Right? And then there’s some other decisions they have to make.

Kathi (05:42.478)

Kathi (05:51.387)

Kathi (05:56.462)
Right, yes. If you want it suntanned by the time you leave, we are not for you.

Tonya Kubo (06:01.801)
No, it’s not for you, right? But then there’s a bunch of other decisions that they have to make, but it goes from start to finish. And then ultimately the final decision is, is this retreat in this location at this time right for me? So I think sometimes when we get into these processes, so one of the things that I always say is that a sales funnel, so people listening to this podcast have probably heard the term sales funnel before, right? It’s wider at the top, it’s narrow at the bottom.

I always say that they are shaped like a vortex and they have the exact same purpose, which is to suck everybody into them.

Kathi (06:40.671)
Right, absolutely.

Tonya Kubo (06:41.409)
Right? And so when you acknowledge that, that hey, we all have a job to do here and the person making this offer, their job is to sell their offer. And my job is to make the intellectual decision of whether it makes sense right now for me to invest in this offer or not. See, I can choose to not invest without it being a bad offer. Now there are some offers that are really bad, right?

Kathi (07:08.126)
Right, absolutely. Yeah.

Tonya Kubo (07:10.221)
But some are just, they’re just not right for me or they’re not right for me right now. Is that helpful for framing sort of where we’re gonna go here?

Kathi (07:15.87)
Right, okay. It’s very, very helpful. Yes, okay. So what is step one of deciding this is for me and this is for me right now? How do you get to step one?

Tonya Kubo (07:30.585)

So the first question is, and we’re assuming that you have been presented with some kind of offer right now, right? Like there’s something you’re looking at. So the.

Kathi (07:41.598)
Right, right. You clicked on something on social media or a friend recommended it or yeah, somehow this offer has been presented to you.

Tonya Kubo (07:53.773)
Right, so the first question you’re gonna ask is, what problem do I have that this offer promises to solve?

Kathi (08:06.222)
Mm hmm. Okay.

Tonya Kubo (08:06.509)
Because I will tell you, Kathi, if you can’t clearly articulate your problem, it’s probably not the offer for you.

Kathi (08:15.618)
Right, right. I have been taken in by things where, you know, I’m just merrily going along and I click on something on social media and that looks interesting. And now I’ve decided that in addition to offering retreats, I am also going to offer courses that I had never thought of before because of this offer.

And it’s like, wait, did I really want to start a whole new facet to my business? And I, I am very, I, I get yes, momentum going very, very quickly. And so I think this is such like, do I actually have this need? You know, that might be something to do five years from now, but I, I was not on a Tuesday thinking, oh, I need to develop.

Tonya Kubo (08:57.014)

Kathi (09:13.078)
these multifaceted courses, but now I’m thinking about it. And that’s the power of a good funnel.

Tonya Kubo (09:15.555)

Tonya Kubo (09:20.769)
Right, it is. And going back to kind of the case study that we’re building this conversation around, like this individual, the problem that they were actually seeking to solve was to grow their platform. They ended up in a funnel that was about growing their platform through speaking. And in that process, they’ve said, well, I actually don’t think I’m that great of a speaker.

I actually think I have a lot that I could learn from being a speaker. But they weren’t already thinking about growing their platform through speaking, right? It was the offer that introduced them to the idea that was a way that they could grow their platform. So the first question is, what is the problem that this offer promises to solve? Then the next thing that you have to do is you really have to get clear on like, how aware were you of this problem?

before the offer presented itself. And so what I will encourage people to ask is, okay, so how long have I been trying to solve this problem? You know, and I would even say, have I invested in other programs, other services in an effort to solve this problem? And what we’re really trying to figure out here is, did I already know I had this problem or did you salesperson, did you diagnose the problem for me?

Kathi (10:17.23)
Mm-hmm. Right.

Tonya Kubo (10:45.029)
Because there’s nothing wrong, like maybe I’ve had this problem for years and I just didn’t know that’s what it was, I didn’t have vocabulary around it, like I’ve been searching and now I’m like, oh, that’s my problem. So maybe genuinely, yes, this is the right thing for me. Or maybe they just created a problem that I don’t actually have right now.

Kathi (10:46.046)

Kathi (11:08.174)
Well, and I think this is what we see in those funky health offers all the time. Like, oh, you know what your problem is? Your, your, um, fluoroclitamine levels are down. Well, we don’t actually have fluoroclitamine in our bodies. So, um, you’re trying to solve a problem that doesn’t actually.

Tonya Kubo (11:16.927)

Tonya Kubo (11:32.866)
I don’t even know what that is!

Kathi (11:37.39)
It is not. I just made up a word, but I can send you to Google. When people say, hey, this is the miracle cure, we recognize it in health things as like, oh, this is snake oil. But sometimes we don’t recognize it in business. Like, oh, everybody’s doing this. Are they really? Is everybody succeeding with this?

and I’m the last to know, or are you maybe making up a problem that I’ve never had before?

Tonya Kubo (12:13.001)
Exactly. And you know, once we get through these questions, then we can kind of talk about some common, like some common occurrences, like how what this looks like out in the wild, because I think that’s the other thing is sometimes, especially if you’re really new, you’re new, your early stage business, you have actually never seen any of this. So you don’t what I like to say is you don’t see the matrix or the man behind the mirror. You’re, you know, you are completely

Kathi (12:39.564)

Tonya Kubo (12:42.469)
help to be aware of some of this stuff as to become a savvy consumer. So the first question is really like, you know, identifying your need, like, was this an established need or did they introduce you to it? The second is how aware were you of this need before being put in a position where you’re asked to buy something to invest in solving the need? Then I want you to look ahead, because here is the thing I can tell you as a marketing professional, I have been in the marketing.

industry since my mid 20s. So as a marketing professional, I can tell you that what marketing does is try to get you to make the decision right now. Try to get you to feel away right now so that you decide right now. And yes, right, it’s like now or never sort of messaging is what you’ll often get. With that, one way to remove yourself from that impulse is to go, OK, well let me

Kathi (13:23.559)

Tonya Kubo (13:38.697)
let’s kick the can down the road a bit. If I do say yes to this offer, what can I realistically expect as a result six months from now? And spend some time really thinking through that. And then once you’ve figured out sort of what you can realistically expect in six months, then I want you to go a little bit farther. What can I realistically expect to happen in 12 months?

Kathi (13:43.19)

Kathi (13:53.41)
Such a great question.

Tonya Kubo (14:08.109)
And I want to say it goes without saying, but it actually doesn’t. And what would be required to get those results? Right. If they’re realistic, like, what am I realistically going to have to do over the next six months, over the next 12 months? And then what I want you to do is I want you to do that, make the same decision or have the same thought process in reverse. OK, so what can I realistically expect to happen in six months if I don’t buy this? And what can I realistically expect to happen?

Kathi (14:17.739)

Tonya Kubo (14:37.249)
in 12 months if I don’t buy this. Now in the marketing world, we call that what’s the real cost of inaction? But what I wanna say, you’ve heard that, right Kathy? I mean, we’ve all heard it. What’s the cost of inaction? What’s it gonna cost me not to do this? But in many cases, the cost of inaction is I’m gonna be in the same place I was today, right? I’m like, if I don’t do anything about this, I’m gonna be right where I am now. Well,

Kathi (14:47.694)

Kathi (14:51.538)
Yes, yes.

Tonya Kubo (15:05.241)
that’s not a bad thing if this offer is solving a problem you didn’t even know you had, right? So if your answer to question one was that I don’t actually, or the question two is I didn’t know I had this problem until I entered into this process, then the cost of inaction may be not such a bad thing.

Kathi (15:12.848)

Kathi (15:26.974)
Yeah, because we only have so many dollars and we only have so much time and so much energy and so much mental space to aim at issues.

And so if you’re putting money, time and energy and mental space towards issues that were not even an issue yesterday, they were not a problem for you yesterday, I’d rather see you put that money towards something that is actually gonna help something that is causing you pain. The other thing I will say is our client who came to us and said, they said, I have to decide by Friday. And I’m like, hmm.

Tonya Kubo (15:49.253)

Kathi (16:10.07)
Do you though, they’re not gonna sell to you on Saturday? They’re not gonna sell to you next Tuesday? Really? Is that really what’s gonna happen? And I would rather you spend 10, 20% more on Tuesday and know that this is what it’s going to take.

Tonya Kubo (16:29.285)

Kathi (16:36.406)
to get you over the line of what you need to do, then you put that money down on Friday and you save that 10%, but it was for the wrong, you’re answering the wrong problem.

Tonya Kubo (16:52.509)
Right, and I wanna just clarify what you’re saying. So, cause a lot of times I think we hear, I have to make a decision by Friday or else. When the reality is, is it’s, I have to make a decision by Friday to lock in this specific pricing, or I have to make a decision by Friday in order to be part of the current cohort. But almost every offer cycles back. Like there is a…

Kathi (17:21.394)

Tonya Kubo (17:22.601)
An example that I use from my own business, where it was a program that only opens once per year. So I had been exposed to it in one year and I was like, oh, you know, that’s an interesting thing. The next year it came around, I thought, this is probably something I should look into. And the third time it came around,

Kathi (17:45.504)

Tonya Kubo (17:46.761)
was a time where I was like, okay, like I’m actually in the spot in my business where I need to like look at this and consider whether this makes sense for me to invest in right now. But the thing is, is the person who was providing the offer very ethical is like, yep, we open enrollment for this every May. Like I’m not saying it’s going to be this price next May, but I will tell you, you can enroll next May. And so the only decision I had to make, right, was do I need to do this right now?

Kathi (18:03.208)

Kathi (18:10.837)

Tonya Kubo (18:15.273)
And if it goes up in price, is it, you know, am I gonna be okay with that? Cause too often, Kathy, I see people make decisions, not so much like I want this, but it’s, well, I want this, I think I want this, but I don’t wanna pay more than $500 for it. And it’s $500 right now. So if it’s more than $500 next year, I’m not gonna buy it. And my answer is, well, if you don’t wanna pay more than $500 for it, maybe you don’t want it. That’s okay.

Kathi (18:33.102)

Kathi (18:41.83)
Right, it’s so true. Yes, and you know what? Price is clarifying. That’s what I love. If it’s too expensive, then I can’t do it. And oftentimes, there are lesser offers from people that it’s a good place to start. Now, we do offer sales on our stuff, and we do have cutoff dates for that, because it’s…

Tonya Kubo (18:48.576)

Kathi (19:06.866)
it’s easier to process everybody at the same time than have people trickle in. And so I’m fine saying, you know what, if this doesn’t work for you this year, keep us in mind for next year. But you may come back and say, no, I actually need this and it’s okay, you can enroll at a higher price. But I’m not trying to pressure anybody. And I think oftentimes,

Tonya Kubo (19:18.371)

Tonya Kubo (19:27.258)

Kathi (19:33.946)
our best clients for like Clutter Free for Life, which is our paid program, or writing at the Red House Collective, which is our paid program, are the people who have thought about it, who have prayed about it and said, not this year, but next year, and they sign up the next year, and it’s exactly what they need because they’ve really processed it.

Tonya Kubo (19:38.521)

Tonya Kubo (19:53.717)

Yeah, I would agree. And there are people who, you know, they find us on the Tuesday and it just happens that we already were planning to put something on sale on Saturday and they buy it and it’s exactly what they needed at exactly the right time. But those people weren’t new to the problem. They…

Kathi (20:08.353)

Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Tonya Kubo (20:14.765)
had the, they found us because they had been trying to solve the problem for a very long time and were not successful. Maybe they bought other things to solve the problem and those other things didn’t work. And then they found us and suddenly it was like, oh, now I understand why all those other things didn’t work. This is actually what I need. And now as an informed consumer, I am ready to make what seems to you, Tonya.

Kathi (20:16.897)

Kathi (20:33.511)

Tonya Kubo (20:40.525)
because I just met you yesterday, seems to you like an impulsive decision, but see, you don’t know all that I’ve done up to this point. And those people are very successful as well, but I think everybody is more successful when they just take a step back and strategically work through this decision from a place like from a business owner perspective versus an emotional perspective.

Kathi (20:45.71)
Mm-hmm. Right. Yes.

Tonya Kubo (21:06.945)
which is what marketing is designed to do. It’s designed to get an emotional reaction.

Kathi (21:12.446)
Yes. And you know what, emotions are good. But we need to, you know, another, another thing we need to consider is wisdom and timing. And oftentimes, I think a lot of people join things, they put all this money down. And because they think the money is going to solve the problem, and it’s really the effort and working the program that is going to solve the problem. So if you don’t have the time and the money to do it, then it’s not the right time for you.

Tonya Kubo (21:15.266)

Kathi (21:42.806)
Tonya, what, so in our example, our person decided not to go with that offer, but is looking at other programs, other situations, other coaches to get them across the line, because we really, we went through it with her and we said, we think you can achieve this for a lot less money and probably with more success. Do we know that for sure? No, but.

Tonya Kubo (21:53.934)

Kathi (22:11.386)
She has peace about it, we have peace about it. Anything else we need in order to make this decision for the program, Tonya?

Tonya Kubo (22:19.925)
Well, what I would say is the biggest thing that you need is self-restraint. So understand, right, that when emotions are high, our logic or reason is low. So if you can just take a step back and just go, oh, okay, like this is super exciting. And yes, I get all those fast action bonuses if I act in the next 24 hours, but let me take a step back and let me really, really think.

Kathi (22:36.203)

Tonya Kubo (22:50.341)
is, you know, are those bonuses even something I want? Like I am the person who will invest in the program for the bonus, right? But then I’ve already felt feel like I win just because I get the bonus. I don’t need, you know, maybe I don’t need the full program. So I think that’s the first thing. And then I think if you need help, I mean, obviously we’ve got the Writing at the Red House Free group that people can join and ask these sorts of questions with, right? I have like a super cheap.

Kathi (22:54.339)
Right. Yeah.

Kathi (23:02.13)

Kathi (23:12.366)
Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Tonya Kubo (23:17.589)
little, like I have this all set in a super cheap mini course. Um, it’s like nine bucks and it’s called, guess what? Do I need this now that people can buy.

Kathi (23:19.529)

Kathi (23:26.195)
And we’ll put the link up for that. We’re not doing this to sell this to you guys, but sometimes that nine dollar Decision-making tool can save you thousands and we like to save thousands. Yes

Tonya Kubo (23:29.181)
No, we’re not.

Tonya Kubo (23:37.129)
Exactly. But let me just say this. You can also just save this podcast, download this podcast episode and play it every time you need it. I have a little note in my phone, I have a little app where it’s like decision making resources. And if I’m up against a decision, then I just kind of go in there and go, oh yeah, I remember that. That’s how I make a decision on a service provider. Oh yeah, that’s how I make a decision on a course.

Kathi (23:45.46)

Tonya Kubo (24:05.837)
And I’m gonna leave people with one more thought. I think we all need to, from a business perspective, create some price point, I don’t wanna call them warning signs, but some price point checkpoints. So there was a time early on in my business where my yes price, where it’s like, okay, I don’t have to think too hard on an offer that is under 40 bucks.

Kathi (24:08.386)

Kathi (24:22.516)

Tonya Kubo (24:33.089)
Okay, but my threshold is $100. Like at $100, I need to sit down, I need to think long and hard because of where I’m at, that’s really like what I can afford to invest. And then there have been times in my life where my yes price was up to 500, given where I was at my business. So don’t be afraid to treat your writing like the business that it is and make thoughtful investments.

Kathi (24:33.651)

Kathi (24:38.228)

Kathi (24:44.62)

Kathi (24:51.22)

Kathi (24:58.678)
Yeah. I love it. What a great note to end on. Tonya, thank you so much. This is a wisdom podcast. That’s what I love. This is a wisdom episode here, and that’s what we need because these are investments of our time, money, space, and energy, and we wanna be wise with where we put all of that effort, all of our resources. And friends, you’ve been listening to the Writing at the Red House podcast. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now go tell your only you story of God’s extravagant love in your life.


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