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Becoming a Financial Grownup, with Bobbi Rebell

Becoming a Financial Grownup, with Bobbi Rebell

Episode 11: Becoming a Financial Grownup, with Bobbi Rebell

Bobbi Rebell is a journalist and an author. Her book, How to Be a Financial Grownup: Proven Advice from High Achievers on How to Live Your Dreams and Have Financial Freedom, shares insights and candid stories from some of today’s leaders (including our own Sallie Krawcheck) about the moment they became “financial grownups.” In this episode, Sallie shares a little of her financial grownup story (which involves divorce) and discusses the importance of being a financial grownup. In addition, Kristy and Bobbie have a conversation about Bobbi’s book, her column on Reuters about Millennials, and how this group is reaching their financial maturity.

Episode Transcript

00:13 Sallie Krawcheck: Welcome everybody to the Ellevate Network podcast. This is Sallie Krawcheck, the chair of Ellevate Network here with my friend and partner, Kristy Wallace, the president of Ellevate Network. Hey, Kristy.

00:23 Kristy Wallace: Hey, Sallie.

00:24 SK: How you doing?

00:24 KW: Good. I'm doing great.

00:25 SK: Alright, you've been working hard. Who have you been talking to this go-around?

00:30 KW: Oh, well, today we're gonna hear from Bobbi Rebell Kaufman who is an author of, "How to Be a Financial Grownup," an anchor and columnist at Thomson Reuters and someone who interviewed you for her book, Sallie.

00:45 SK: About being a financial grownup?

00:46 KW: Yes.

00:47 SK: Oh, okay, I wonder what I said.

00:50 KW: You talked about your divorce.

00:50 SK: I talked about my divorce, I'm not surprised. Yeah, that was not fun.

00:56 KW: I mean, you talked about getting divorced.

00:57 SK: He cheated on me? [laughter]

01:01 KW: That is in there, yes.

01:01 SK: Yes, yes. That was sort of a super important part of the divorce.

01:05 KW: Yes, the black hair that's like, yes.

01:06 SK: Oh, the black hair on the sheet?

01:08 KW: Yeah, mm-hmm.

01:08 SK: Yeah, that was that.

01:09 KW: But the main thing is how you rely on your partner.

01:14 SK: Bad idea, bad idea. Yeah, so for our listeners who care, the reason I figured out my then husband was cheating on me with my then friend is, I came home from a trip and found a hair that clearly was not mine on the guest bed.

01:30 KW: You came home from your sister's wedding.

01:31 SK: It was my sister's wedding. It was, I'm like, "Oh, gosh I'm so sorry you have to go back and work during my sister's wedding which I'm sure you wanna be at for the whole thing. Gosh, you're the best husband ever." And actually, I don't know if I told you this part but the night that I finally reminded myself to ask him, I had made him an apple pie.

01:54 KW: What?

01:54 SK: Yeah, and we didn't have any kids.

01:56 KW: You are an amazing cook.

01:56 SK: I know. Well, thank you. But I had made a Spanish tortilla and an apple pie and after the dinner I thought to finally, "Oh, right about that black hair on the bed." Yeah. Okay, so enough about me. What about Bobbi? Let's hear a little bit about Bobbi.


02:14 KW: Well, Bobbi's great, so she gives us some teasers into her book where she's talking with Ivanka Trump and a lot of other well-known and influential individuals including Drew Barrymore and obviously yours truly, Sallie Krawcheck about their financial grownup moment and I tell her a little bit about my moment. So we get into that and talk a lot about responsibility for your career, responsibility for your finances, and how we can all have that turning moment.

02:45 SK: It matters. So what I'll tell our listeners is even if you are married, even if you think you can never be cheated on... I didn't think I could be cheated on. But by the way I didn't think Beyonce could be cheated on either and she has been so now anybody can be... If Beyonce can be cheated on, that's it, anybody can be cheated on. It's over, but we live five, by some estimate, six, eight years longer than our male partners. And so 90% of women manage their money on their own at some point in their lives. So being a financial grownup matters.

03:23 SK: So quickly, a poll, we love to share the Ellevate Network weekly polls with our listeners. We asked them, "How do you manage your money?" The answer: 62%, so splitting it two-thirds of the women said I personally manage my finances. Just under quarter, 24%, say I have a financial advisor. If you can believe this, 5% say I close my eyes and hope for the best. I actually was just on the phone with somebody who said that. She said, "She doesn't save for retirement." Does not save for retirement, I said, "Well, I guess you're hoping you'll be dead." 3%...

04:00 KW: Or win the lottery.

04:01 SK: Well, you know my doorman won the lottery.

04:04 KW: What?

04:04 SK: Yeah. Seriously. Richie, he won the lottery.

04:07 KW: Richie Rich now.

04:08 SK: No, he's dead. Yeah, so that happened. No, so he won the lottery and said he was gonna keep working and then was seen in the New York Post in Atlantic City with an exotic dancer who we don't actually think danced in that way.

04:27 KW: Understood.

04:27 SK: Yeah, you got it. And then he got fired because he was in the post when he said he was sick. And then actually, very sadly, he got cancer and died. So winning the lottery, they say is a terrible financial thing that can happen to you. People end up in worse shape than you would expect. So anyway 3%, my husband or partner takes care of everything and 2% say I use my spouse or partner's financial advisor. So that's... Winning the lottery didn't come out, Kristy.

04:54 KW: There you go. Well, let's hear from Bobbi.


05:11 KW: We're here today with Bobbi Rebell. I'm very excited to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

05:16 Bobbi Rebell Kaufman: Thank you so much for having me.

05:17 KW: One of the first things I wanted to jump right into is hearing all about your new book. "How to Be a Financial Grownup: Proven Advice from High Achievers on How to Live Your Dreams and Have Financial Freedom. So I know in the book you have 30 role models who share their stories and I'll tell you I went through it and I was just blown away by some of these insights. And you really got these people to open up so I would love to hear some of your favorite stories.

05:49 BK: Well, I'm not gonna share all the stories because I wanna save for the book. I don't wanna have any spoilers but I do agree with you, I was very surprised at the candor and really how giving people were in telling these stories, some of which were very personal.

06:02 KW: Did you see any themes emerging across the interviews?

06:06 BK: Well, it was interesting. The themes were different especially comparing the men to the women. So the women, a lot of the stories had to do with relationships. It had to do with building consensus. So for example, Dottie Herman from Douglas Elliman, tells a great story that involved getting all of her female co-workers to help her with a goal and getting everyone on board, and believing in herself, and really aiming for a very, very ambitious goal. And that's one of the stories that people tell me really resonates with them. Sallie's was relationship based. We interviewed Big City Moms, they also talk about their relationship, different things like that.

06:43 BK: With the men, somehow cars always came into the picture. It was so funny, none of the stories were alike. And yet the CEO of Macy's, Terry Lundgren, tells a great story. And I'll just tell you a car was involved in his first job decision, which is mind-boggling to me because I don't even like to drive. We had the head of PWC who also talks about the importance of a car and how that helped him to achieve a financial goal. He sold his car to make his first big decision, big financial purchase, and it was a really tough decision for him, but he made that decision. Oh, and Jim Cramer, great story. I will tell you part of it involves him sleeping in his car. Men and cars. What can I say?

07:25 KW: There you go. [chuckle] So did you find that parents or other grownups influenced your role models in terms of their a-ha moment?

07:37 BK: Well, I think we are all influenced by our parents, either for good or for bad sometimes. And absolutely, parents did come into the mix. For example, Ivanka Trump talks about her experience with her mother and an incident that happened that really taught her basically not to be a spoiled brat. And it's a really compelling story that I think people will really enjoy reading and will really give some insight into the Trump family. Whatever you might say about Donald Trump, his children carry themselves very well and I don't think anybody would dispute that. And I think that has attributed to his and Ivanka and his other wives parenting, that they do carry themselves well. And Ivanka's story is lovely. And it was really wonderful that she participated.

08:17 KW: I have to admit, that's the first story in your book and I read that, and I'm like, "Oh, this is gonna be fun." So it's a great lead in, it is a good story.

08:24 BK: It's a really interesting story that I think will surprise a lot of people.

08:28 KW: Absolutely. I think for me, my grownup moment was when I first started working. I'm the oldest of four. I'm actually a twin, but my dad had us get jobs as soon as we could and I worked during the day at his dental office, and at night I waitressed at a restaurant. And he opened up a bank account for me and an investment account. And all when I was still in grade school, I was working and had a bank account and was investing. And that I think has stayed with me for all these many, many, many, many years later. It's a great influence, it's really great, and I think back about it now and think very positively on it.

09:09 BK: I think it's really important to start investing early. I remember my first investment was my 401k really and that's thanks to the HR person at CNBC where I had my first paying job. I had internships before that, but my first paying job was... I mean real job after college, I should say. I had jobs in high school. But she said, "I'm just gonna put 6% in your 401k because that's what the company matches and you're gonna be happy later." And I said, "But my salary's so low." And she said, "Tough." [chuckle] "Get over it. Move on."

09:38 KW: That's great advice.

09:39 BK: And I still actually have that money, and I think GE owned CNBC at the time, and I still get statements from General Electric with that account. It's just kinda sittin' there hopefully growing nicely.

09:50 KW: You also write a column about millennials for Reuters and we hear a lot about millennials. But you have some great insights there and just interested to note why the interest for you personally in this cohort?

10:06 BK: Well, I think everyone needs to be interested because they are the dominant workforce right now, the dominant generation in the workforce. And they are gonna be that way for quite sometime. They're also moving into having more money and really gaining the focus of all the marketing dollars, all the advertisers. I mean, you have to pay attention to the people worth paying attention to. And right now, that's where the excitement is in so many areas of business. So I think it's important that we pay attention.

10:31 BK: It's also important, frankly, that we work to educate millennials on money because so many millennials, and this inspired the book to a large degree, have had a delayed adulthood. Not their fault because the economy was so stalled when so many people got out of school that they had no choice but to delay a lot of the life stages that come at certain times for other generations. So they're living at home, they don't have full-time jobs. They have the gig economy and these little side hustles going on. And that's great to some degree, but at a certain point, you wanna grow up and have your own home if you want to and get married, if you want to, and so on. And those choices were delayed. So they're getting a late start and they're not always cognizant of the financial decisions that need to be made. So it was important to me to start looking at that and paying attention.

11:18 KW: I know for me it was, "I want a house, and I want a car, and I need my retirement savings." But is that what this generation is thinking about?

11:26 BK: I think what's interesting is how it's evolving, and shifting, and surprising people because people put a lot of stereotypes on generations. It happens all the time. I'm Gen X and we were all slackers, and lazy, and that's not really the truth. The truth is we were just younger. I think what's happening is millennials are acting a lot like the baby boomers in that they want to move to the suburbs that's being shown, they want a traditional home life more so than we thought they would. For a while we thought, "Oh, they wanna live in cities." No, they just at that point for the most part, that's what they could afford and they couldn't move out. They weren't getting married because they didn't have the economic stability, and as we continue to see that economic stability grow I think that we will see them grow up, much as other generations do and have similar values.

12:11 BK: And the correlation to the baby boomers is very interesting. I wrote piece on investing recently and they invest a lot like their grandparents not their parents because the parents grew up maybe in the go-go 80s where everything was all great and rosy in terms of investing, at least. And the grandparents experienced a very different time, and a more cautious time and I think that's what the millennials that saw the destruction of the recession are going through now, but they're a little bit more conservative then maybe they should be for their age.

12:44 KW: I wanna touch back on some of the trends with millennials and their careers and having a little side hustle, maybe prioritizing their career values if you will differently if it's compensation, if it's quality of life or if it's mission. And it also sounds millennials are a little bit more fluid in their tenure at companies, they tend to move around a little bit more, but I'm making a lot of generalizations here so would love your insights on that and what your research has shown you.

13:16 BK: Well, I think the expectations have changed. I don't think they expect to have a job for as many years as previous generations, but I also think that they are focused on what they're getting out of the job. So previous generations would just assume, "Well, I'm just slave to the job. I'm gonna work, work, work and they'll see how hard I work, and they'll promote me." I think a lot of younger people aren't taking that promotion for granted but because of that, they're taking responsibility for their own career and therefore, you get a split where you don't have the same loyalty to companies that you would have had in the past, they have more ownership, but that also means they're gonna be a little more self-focused about, "Well, I've got this assignment option, what's it really gonna do for me?" So for example, my second job at CNN I was told to go on overnights, I was told to go on overnights and that was that. Now you might get someone that would push back and say, "Well, if I do this, what do I get?" It's a little bit of a different relationship with their bosses.

14:09 KW: We'd talked earlier a little bit about your experience, your first internship, and you approached that differently than it sounds millennials are approaching their careers now and would love to hear about that, that first internship in your experience.

14:28 BK: Yes, well, I think now a lot of millennials... And I think there's a lot of value to it, they really put lifestyle pretty high up. Everyone's different but they definitely value work/life balance, they wanna work for socially responsible companies, they wanna have a work environment where they enjoy their day and so on. And that all sounds great, I don't object to any of that, but I do think that when I was coming up and I was in college doing internships, I had an internship at CNN, which is what you're alluding to and I was so thrilled to get it, but it wasn't as exclusive an internship as I thought it might be. They probably had 20 interns and they probably needed five. So we're all standing around not doing a whole a lot of anything and I was there to get experience.

15:04 BK: I wasn't being paid, I wanted to get experience, I wanted to leave with clips, and I wanted to learn something. So I thought of the idea of going to work on overnights, and I told them that and they said, "Okay." They got me a car, it was free labor, and the overnights were, it was pretty thinly staffed and that turned out to be a great move. I met someone named Maria Bartiromo at the time who was sitting in sweats and pajama bottoms writing behind the scenes, paying her dues and she taught me a lot and let me write some things that ended up on the air, which was a big thrill to have a script that I wrote be read by Stuart Varney at 6:00 AM when the show finally went on the air. So I got a lot of great experience but I had to take the initiative.

15:41 KW: You're an Ellevate member.

15:43 BK: Yes.

15:44 KW: And that makes me happy. We love that you're a part of our community and you've given back to the members of the community quite a bit over the years but I want to hear, I would love to hear about some of the... I knew you have some other Ellevate members in the book as well as inspirational women in general and we all enjoy hearing advice and insights and stories so could you please share with me some of the other women and their stories from the book?

16:11 BK: Well, there are a lot of amazing women in the book. One of my favorites is Amanda Steinberg, who is an Ellevate member. I talked to her by phone, it was a great conversation, she is a riot, I hope you have her on the show, she is so funny and had so much to share. She told a really interesting story and I don't wanna give away the whole thing, but it was about taking every moment seriously when you're at work and really paying attention not only to what you're saying but how you present yourself. She was being photographed for a magazine cover and I think that she did not really focus enough on her image and paying attention, she was very humble and just being herself, but she didn't take the time to prepare at that moment, and I think it's really important to prepare and always put on your game face.

16:56 BK: I always was told growing up in my early years working, "You know, dress for the job that you want, not always the job that you have." And I think that was the lesson to her that she was being photographed as an up and comer and she came as herself which was great but she didn't come necessarily in the outfit that she wanted to be on the cover of a magazine in, and she didn't really take the time to prep and think about what she was doing and the importance of it. So now, when she does photo shoots she plans a lot more and thinks it through. So I think it's important when you're doing a presentation whether it's a sales call or talking to a conference or going on television, those things matter. Think about your outfit, think about, "Am I gonna get my hair done? Am I gonna get my makeup done?" Whatever it is, it's also gonna make you feel more confident. Those things are not superficial, they're part of who you are and your image and your own personal branding, which is a big buzzword these days.

17:47 BK: So a lot of the book talks about things like, how do you spend money when you want to buy food/ Do you have to buy organic for everything Well, no. And I have an expert in there who wrote a book on organic food, Steven Prime, who talks about, when is it worth it to pay up for organic? When is it not? Seasonality, when should you be paying more for food? When not? And so on. I even go into makeup tips. When should you pay up for a designer brand? Is it worth it for blush? Is it worth it for lipstick? You're spending 50 bucks for a lipstick. We're all worried about the lattes. What about the lipstick factor?

18:21 KW: Well, and that's one of my favorite parts about the book is, you take the story and then you really delve into a lot of the financial tips, a lot of the insights after the story. And that gives it more depth and makes it much more impactful because you're sharing more financial insights and knowledge for the readers.

18:43 BK: I wanted the book to be practical. I want it to be something that people can pick up, read in just a couple of days. It's a fairly quick, easy read. To have it be memorable, but have it be something that people wanna go back to and re-read, and enjoy but also to have very tangible, practical things that people can do to implement in their life, and be smarter with money. And while it's absolutely crucial that you maximize your 401k and pay attention to your taxes, and investing, and saving, and paying down debt, it's just as important, as I said, to think about, "Should I really pay $50 for a lipstick?" Well, maybe. Maybe there's one special one you want that you want to look fancy, but you don't always have to do that. You can save a lot of money doing that. You can rent clothing now. There's all kinds of things. You can save money by putting an item in your online shopping cart, walk away for an hour, they'll probably send you a coupon code 'cause they wanna seal the deal, they wanna make that sale. Little things like that can make a huge difference in how much money you spend. And we don't always talk about that, but it's important to pay attention.

19:48 KW: Well, thank you, and congratulations...

19:50 BK: Thank you.

19:51 KW: And we really appreciate you joining us here today.


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