My Money Talk with Jean Chatsky, Today Show’s Financial Expert

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Last week I had the honor of being a guest on Jean Chatzky’s Her Money Podcast. Jean and I discussed my new book, Breaking Money Silence: How to Shatter Money Taboos, Talk More Openly about Finances, and Live a Richer Life and how women especially need to learn how to overcome their reluctance to engage in wealth conversations.

You can listen to our conversation here: http://ow.ly/OBWL30gTuk0

If you like the show, share it with your Facebook friends, tweet about it on Twitter, or listen with a partner or friend as a way to get the conversation going.

What is your biggest fear in talking about money? When you do break your money silence, what happens?

Breaking Money Silence Over the Holidays and Spending Less

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The holiday season is upon us. Everywhere you turn you are bombarded with messages to shop, overspend, and be merry. But you know that overshopping rarely makes you happy for very long. Instead, it usually leads to anxiety, fear, and a sense of dread when the credit card bills come in.

To avoid spending too much this holiday season consider breaking money silence. Money silence is the term I use to describe the societal taboo against talking openly and honestly about money. This silence is especially strong from Thanksgiving to New Years when our consumer-driven culture is in overdrive telling us that if you really love your family you will shower them with store-bought gifts. Take back control by deciding when and how you want to invest your time, energy, and financial resources this year.

One of my favorite holidays was when my family talked about money and agreed to not exchange store-bought gifts. Instead, my father rented a ski condo and my family spent three days over the holidays skiing together. We each picked one secret Santa and bought this person one gift not to exceed $30. I got ski goggles that I wore proudly all season long. What I learned that year was the material goods you receive are not what really matters. The people, experiences, and spirit of the holiday do.

Breaking money silence often leads to spending less and enjoying the people in your life a little more. Why not try it this holiday season and see what happens? You just may end up with more precious memories and more money in the bank in the New Year.

Here are a few tips for breaking money silence this holiday season.

Identify and share your holiday money mindsets.
Everyone has a money mindset that is made up of their automatic thoughts and beliefs about money and its purpose in life. Ask someone you love to share his or her money mindset with you. Use the following questions to get the dialogue started.

  • How much did your family spend on presents when you were growing up?
  • What nonfinancial activities did your family engage in?
  • What family holiday experiences did you enjoy the most and why?
  • How might you honor that tradition this year? 

Take the seasonal money messages challenge.
Challenge your family to identify as many seasonal money messages as they can in twenty-four hours. Look for these messages in advertisements, music, movies, and on social media. Write down the slogans or sayings you notice and then at the end of the day the person with the most money messages wins. Once a winner is declared, discuss how the messages about spending and gifting impact your finances and your emotions during the holidays. What would you like to do differently this year? 

Remember it is the thought (or experience) that counts.
Research shows us that shared experiences have a more positive impact on our psyche than buying stuff. Discuss with your partner, a friend or family how you might do something together instead of buying each other gifts. What would it feel like to not exchange gifts? What would you miss about getting and receiving a gift? What would you not miss? Talk it through then mindfully make a decision about how to celebrate together this year.

How will you break money silence this year? What impact do you think it will have on your spending and shopping behaviors?

What you need to know about student loans.

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Guest post by Ryan Lane, Senior Editor, American Student Assistance

“Should I consolidate my student loans?”

It seemed like a simple question to me. However, my father’s answer was surprising: “I don’t know,” he said.

How could he not know? This was my CPA father—a man who made financial decisions for a major hospital in Boston. Surely, if anyone had sound advice about student loans, it’d be him. And yet, he was as clueless as I was.

It’s not surprising that I would ask a parent for help. According to a 2014 survey, 56 percent of millennials reach out to parents or other family members for financial advice. But where can those family members turn when they lack the necessary answers, as my dad did? Ideally, financial advisors like you.

The challenge is that student loans have intricate borrowing and repayment rules. Borrowers can turn to organizations like the one I work for, the national nonprofit American Student Assistance, for neutral advice. However, parents with children struggling with student loans—or dealing with this debt themselves—may expect more personal insight from their advisers than a website to visit.

That might especially be the case this month. The grace period for many recent graduates expires in November, and that will likely have them asking their parents, “What do I do with my student loans?” Set them up for a productive conversation by sharing the following information.

Lower Payments

Federal student loans come with flexible repayment options that can help borrowers find a payment amount that fits their lives and budget. Most notable are a number of income-driven repayment plans, which share an application and base borrowers’ monthly payments on factors like their family size and salaries. Payments under these plans can be as little as $0—and these lowered amounts could prove especially useful to those just entering the workforce.

Payment Postponements

In addition to lower payments, federal student loans also let borrowers pause repayment temporarily via deferment and forbearance. Unemployed or cash-strapped new graduates often opt for these options, particularly forbearance—which can be enacted with a simple phone call.

Forbearance always increases the amount a borrower owes, though, and deferment time is limited. As a result, borrowers should use these options only when truly necessary. Income-driven repayment is often the smarter bet.

 Repayment Goals

These unique options can play an important role in repaying federal student loans. However, at the end of the day, they’re a debt like any other that borrowers must manage. For financial advisers, that means helping parents and their children figure out how to align these payments with other financial goals.

If a borrower opts to pay less now (via an income-driven plan or postponement option), it could mean paying more overall. Both options can let more interest build up on a loan. If the borrower prefers to get out from this debt faster, you can prioritize that.

In the end, understanding student loans is important, but planning how to repay them is too—and you’re uniquely qualified to help borrowers do so.

What student loan problems have your clients brought to you? Do you feel comfortable offering them solutions?

Ryan Lane is the Senior Editor, at the national nonprofit American Student Assistance. In his role, he oversees the development of articles, infographics, and course materials for the organization’s free education finance support program: Salt. Working with internal and external subject matter experts, Ryan creates content that simplifies the world of college financing and helps families successfully plan for, pay for, and repay higher education expenses. Over the past three years, he has written about student loans as a co-author of the U.S. News & World Report Blog “The Student Loan Ranger.” For more information about Ryan and the ASA, visit http://www.asa.org/

Myth: Women are Financially Dependent

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In this brief video, I bust the myth that women are financially dependent. Part of my work with financial advisors is to dispel the notion that women are not interested in finance and defer to the men in their lives to make and manage the money. The truth is many women create their own wealth and are the primary decision-makers for many couples.

Women are an economically powerful and growing segment of the client population. Offering to help women engage in healthy financial conversations is a wonderful service that will attract and retain these affluent and powerful consumers. So let go of the idea they all women are financially dependent and start getting curious about the unique client sitting in front of you – regardless of his or her gender.

How do you engage female clients in financial conversations?

Kathleen Burns Kingsbury (KBK) is an expert in financial psychology who is passionate about training financial services professionals on how to effectively communicate with women, couples, and families. Drawing on over two decades of experience in psychology and finance, Kathleen’s keynotes and workshops will inspire, educate, and entertain your audience while offering practical tips and tools that work in the real world. Every talk is customized to meet your organization’s meeting goals and objectives and is highly interactive to keep your audience engaged in the learning process. If you want a fun, engaging and thought-provoking speaker for your event, KBK is the right one for you.

Contact us for more information.

Are millennials more honest about money than their parents?

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A new research study by The Cashlorette.com and Bankrate found that individuals from the millennial generation are breaking money silence when it comes to their salaries. Their research finds that 63% of people 18 to 36 years of age have discussed their compensation with an immediate family member, compared to 41% of baby boomers.

In my opinion, the most significant finding is that 20% of millennials talk about their salaries with coworkers, whereas only 8% of baby boomers report having this type of open and honest dialogue at work. The increase in salary transparency among the younger generation will hold employers more accountable for their compensation practices and can be especially beneficial to women who are looking to close the gender wage gap.

If talking about money makes you cringe, here are three tips to help you break money silence at work and at home.

Tip #1: Examine your money talk mindset. What are your automatic thoughts and feelings about discussing finances at work or at home? What did your parents teach you about money talk? How might these attitudes impact your ability to discuss your compensation with your family, your friends, or your coworkers? By identifying these attitudes and beliefs, you can start to embrace the ones that serve you and let go of the part of your mindset that blocks you from receiving a fair and just salary.

Tip #2: Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. A money conversation is not about winning an argument. It is about moving toward mutual understanding. Approach each dialogue with a healthy dose of curiosity, and focus on putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. If you are at work, this translates into spending time asking your boss questions so you can understand his or her perspective. Find out how you can demonstrate your value to the company and help your boss show upper management how you contribute to the firm. Remember, bosses suffer from money silence too.

Tip #3: Progress, not perfection. Talking about money is not easy. There is a longstanding tradition in our society that says discussing finances with others is rude and unnecessary. If you take the risk to engage in a financial conversation, reward yourself for a job well done. Learn from each interaction, and let go of any need to be perfect in your money conversations. Together, we can make progress toward breaking money silence for good—one money talk at a time.

What do you think about discussing salary at work? Does it make you uncomfortable, or do you believe it is important to be fairly compensated?

You can find more information on the study here.

The Upside of a Bad Money Behavior

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money habitsHave you ever wondered why you don’t always act in responsible ways when it comes to money? Or maybe you are financially fit and find it hard to understand why a loved one seems to spend or invest money in an irrational manner. The reason is simple. There is an upside to every bad money behavior. That is why it is so difficult to change poor habits, including unhealthy financial habits. The short-term gain keeps you coming back for more.

Dan is a great example. He loves to buy expensive gadgets but knows that he spends too much of his take-home pay on these toys. Dan knows that this spending behavior is getting in the way of his goal to save for a down payment for his first home. When asked, Dan tells me that he wants to stop overspending on electrics. But his actions tell a different story.

What Dan doesn’t realize is that buying something new gives him a rush, makes him feel good after a long week at work and boosts his self-esteem. All his friends fondly call him “the gadget guy.” There is a big upside to this unhealthy money behavior. Until Dan appreciates the benefits of this habit, it will be hard, if not impossible, to change.

Do you identify with Dan? Do you have a habit or behavior that you would love to stop but find it difficult to let go of? If so, here are some inquiries for you to consider.

What is the short-term benefit of this money behavior?
As a trained behavioral change specialist, I always look for the brilliance in the bad behavior. In other words, what are the benefits of staying stuck or not changing? In Dan’s case not changing his spending habits helped him feel good about himself and good in the moment.

What would it be like to not receive this short-term benefit?
The first step in changing an unhealthy habit is realizing how it serves you. In Dan’s case, the bad habit was paired with feeling good and special. If he is going to save more money and spend less money, he will have to grieve the loss of the excitement he feels each time he buys the latest gadget. This is not an easy task, but possible. It is easier to sit with uncomfortable feelings once you label them and know that feeling them is temporary and part of what will ultimately help you heal. 

What other coping strategies can I use to get these needs met?
Dan’s desire to feel good about himself is not unhealthy and in fact, is a good thing. It is just that how he is going about it is hurting him financially. When you want to change a habit make sure you find other ways of meeting your underlying need. In Dan’s case, he started a blog about gadgets. This way he didn’t have to buy every toy but could stay up on the latest trends in electronics. He also was still seen as the gadget guy by his friends and that was an important part of his identity.

Asking these three questions will help you identify the upside of any unwanted money habit. While the answers are not a magic wand, they do provide valuable data to aid in the change process. So the next time you are beating yourself up for a bad habit, instead wonder about the upside.

What is an upside of an unwanted money habit for you? What strategies help you change an unwanted money habit?

Myth: Men should manage the money.

By | Women and Wealth, Women's Empowerment | No Comments

Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA®, CES™, Francis Financial 

The myth that men should manage the money is one that many women succumb to when they get married. This includes women who for years managed their own money during college and at the beginning of a career. However, approximately 80% of women will end up having to manage their money without a partner at some point in their life due to divorce or the death of a spouse. Stacy and Kathleen investigate this myth and how it can severely disadvantage women throughout their lives.

Take Aways:

  1. The upside. There is an upside to men always managing the money. In the short run, some women who are intimidated by finances or who don’t feel they have the time to devote to money management get relief from this responsibility. Eventually, the upside diminishes and can create a real problem for women after a divorce, or the death of their partner. 
  1. Try a money date. A great way to get more comfortable with money is to have a date night to talk about finances in a non-threatening and engaging way. Listen and learn how Stacy and her husband have gotten creative with their money dates so everyone gets their needs met. 
  1. Use apps. It is important for each person to fully understand where the money is going. Using finance tools like Mint.com is a great way to integrate spending with education about where your money is going. It is an easy online system that connects with your bank accounts, tracks your spending, and even categorizes them for you. 

Bio:

Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA®, CES™ 

Stacy is the President and CEO of Francis Financial, which she founded 15 years ago. She is a Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®), Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®) and a Certified Estate and Trust Specialist (CES™). She is also the founder of Savvy Ladies™, a nonprofit that has provided free personal finance education and resources to over 15,000 women. 

Stacy has received numerous awards including Investment News Top 20 Women to Watch in the United States, Financial Planning Association’s Heart of Financial Planning Award and Financial Planning Magazine’s Pro Bono Award. She was also listed as a National Money Hero by CNN Money Magazine and received the Women’s Choice Award for one of the best financial advisors for women. 

She is a nationally-recognized financial expert as an active member of CNBC’s Digital Financial Advisor Council, the Forbes Finance Council, as well as an expert contributor for The Wall Street Journal. She has appeared in over 100 media outlets including CNBC, CNN, Good Morning America, Investment News, Money Magazine, NBC, The New York Times, and USA Today. 

Special Offer:

Stacy recently released her own podcast. Every other Tuesday, tune in to Financially Ever After with Stacy Francis. Download Unveiling the Unspoken Truth, The Financial Challenges Women Face During and After Divorce.

Check Out These Breaking Money Silence Revolutionaries

By | Advisor Education, Family and Money, Financial Psychology | No Comments

These individuals have joined the Breaking Money Silence Revolution and are doing great work with clients and/or advisors to empower them to talk more about the human side of finance.

Ellen Rogin Money Will Not Buy Happiness

Ellen Rogin, CPA, CFP® – Prosperity on Purpose

Ellen has leveraged her expertise to develop prosperity strategies that work and is a speaker, money expert, and New York Times best-selling author. Her current book is a New York Times bestseller, Picture Your Prosperity: Smart Money Moves to Turn Your Vision into Reality.

Ellen highlights my new book, Breaking Money Silence: How to Shatter Money Taboos, Talk More Openly about Finances, and Live a Richer Life, in her list of books that will feed your mind and soul. Check out the entire list here:

5 Books to Kick Start Your Fall: Inspiration to Grow Your Influence, Open Communication, and Lead a Richer, Happier Life

Michael Kay, CFP® – President, Financial Life Focus

Michael F. Kay, CFP® is President of Financial Life Focus, a fee-only multi-advisor financial life planning firm and the author of The Feel Rich Project (Career Press, June 2016) and The Business of Life.

I was a guest author for Michael’s Forbes blog and I discuss how important it is to talk to your parents about finances. Check out the post: 3 Tips for Raising Financially Fit Parents

Susan B. Weiner, Investment Writing

Susan helps financial professionals increase the impact of their writing on clients and prospects. Her Investment Writing blog is popular with advisors who care about deepening their connections with clients and prospects. Susan and I talk about how important it is to communicate with your clients about their legacy in this expert interview. Read it here: Communicate with your clients about their legacy

Myth: Parents must protect their children from college financing decisions

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Ryan Lane, Senior Editor, American Student Assistance 

The college selection process is complex and stressful, and many parents fail to discuss the long-term financial ramifications of taking on student loan debt with their children. In today’s episode, Kathleen and Ryan discuss how many parents try to protect their children by not talking about money, but do the family a disservice by not engaging in this important and enlightening conversation. Ryan offers tips for involving your children in the college funding decision-making process and how doing so can help them avoid huge student loan debt when they graduate from school. 

Take Aways: 

  1. Start the college application process early by involving your children in the FAFSA process and talking about different ways to finance their education, such as loans, grants, scholarships, and good old hard work.
  2. Schedule a money talk with your children to discuss the FAFSA results, repayment schedule, how it may affect their college choice. Create a mock budget to demonstrate the long-term, real-life impact of each of the funding options.
  3. When discussing this topic with recent graduates, encourage them to pay down student loans faster by making an extra payment per year. Have your child calculate the amount of money saved by avoiding additional interest expenses. Then brainstorm all the other ways they could use this cash. For example, if you save $1000 in interest expense, what could you buy instead? A long weekend in Bermuda comes to mind?!

Guest Bio:

Ryan Lane is the Senior Editor, at the national nonprofit American Student Assistance. In his role, he oversees the development of articles, infographics, course materials for the organization’s free education finance support program: Salt. Working with internal and external subject matter experts, Ryan creates content that simplifies the world of college financing and helps families successfully plan for, pay for, and repay higher education expenses. Over the past three years, he has written about student loans as a co-author of the U.S. News & World Report Blog “The Student Loan Ranger.” For more information about Ryan and the ASA, visit http://www.asa.org/.

Breaking Money Silence Facebook Live Launch Party

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My 5th book, Breaking Money Silence: How to Shatter Money Taboos, Talk More Openly about Finances, and Live a Richer Life was published Saturday, September 30, 2017, and I celebrated with my first Facebook Live event. It was great to celebrate with friends and colleagues and I even hosted a contest during the event.

If you missed the Live event, watch it below and enjoy! Make sure you ‘LIKE’ my Facebook Author page so you can be notified of upcoming Facebook Live events, contests, giveaways, and more. To learn more, visit the Breaking Money Silence website or order the book on Amazon.