Expanding Your Wealth Through Personal Finance, with Natali Morris
Episode 102: Expanding Your Wealth Through Personal Finance, with Natali Morris
This week, we sat down with broadcaster, speaker, writer, and educator, Natali Morris to discuss managing your personal finances. When Natali left CBS, she set out to build her family’s wealth by growing the resources they already had. In the process, she became highly knowledgeable in the realm of personal finance, so much so that women and men around the world seek out her insights.
00:13 Kristy Wallace: Hello and welcome to the Ellevate podcast. This is your host, Kristy Wallace, with my co-host, Maricella Herrera.
00:20 Maricella Herrera: Hey, Kristy.
00:21 KW: And Maricella, you're killin' it today in that shirt.
00:23 MH: I love my shirt. It's one of my collection of feminist t-shirts. This one says, "Nevertheless she persisted," and I've gotten a lot of compliments today with it.
00:34 KW: I'm giving you one right now.
00:36 MH: Yeah.
00:36 KW: But I have to say, the Ellevate team is super savvy on our feminist wear, our clothing, jewelry, bags, mugs, notebooks, you name it. Rebecca, on our team, actually made me a business card holder, candles, notepads, bags that were Ellevate branded 'cause she's really pitching me on Ellevate merch. Yeah.
01:01 MH: I was gonna say, Rebecca has an angle there; she's trying to get us to do some merch, which we will, I'm sure.
01:08 KW: I mean, I'd say like, good advice. If you're gunning for something then be aggressive.
01:13 MH: You know the best...
01:14 KW: So she just hand-delivered all this great stuff to me and that was a great pitch.
01:19 MH: The best part about it is, we posted it on our Instagram and you can go check it out, just scroll a little bit through those pictures, ellevate_ntwk. But we posted it on our Instagram and we got a lot of people saying they would like some of that stuff.
01:34 KW: Yeah.
01:34 MH: They would.
01:35 KW: It's well... Folks, don't be jealous. I have the first bunch of that, but we actually have a summit in June, the Ellevate Action Summit. Can you tell us about some of those speakers?
01:48 MH: Oh, my God. So, I always say the podcast is one of my babies, but the summit is the other one. It's just something I love that we're doing, and we're very intentional about doing something different. We strongly believe that mobilizing the power of women, and that's what the summit is called, this is the second year that we do it, should be a platform for action and for change. And it should not be the same people speaking about the same topics and not coming up with new solutions. Because if you are the same people talking about the same topics, it's just gonna... You're gonna come back to the same solution. So the idea behind Mobilize Women is to bring speakers and voices that are not usually in this conversation and not usually in the conversation about gender equality and really think of ways that we can disrupt this and really make a change. We have people from NASA, we have a Paralympic gold medalist, we have activists, world champion power-lifters, transgender advocates, obviously CEOs and men who are allies to the cause of closing the gender gap because it affects all of us, and it's just gonna be... It's gonna be good.
03:00 KW: I'm so excited, and not to steal the thunder of what you just said because we have so many unbelievable speakers, but we also have really cool merch that's gonna be coming out then, too.
03:11 MH: Yeah.
03:12 KW: June 21st in New York City. It's gonna be a great time. If you can't join us in person and we totally get it, busy lives, don't fret, we will be live streaming the entire event online for free.
03:26 MH: Yup.
03:26 KW: So, sign up for the live stream, that's at ellevatenetwork.com, reserve your spot now, put it on your calendar 'cause it's going to be life changing.
03:37 MH: It will.
03:37 KW: And we're very excited about it.
03:39 MH: Yeah, can't wait.
03:41 KW: Yes, absolutely. So, on today's podcast, we have Natali Morris. Natali and I had just a really great conversation about some really important topics. She is a woman in media, worked with MSNBC and CNBC. She has a side hustle, so started her own business. Just really talking about the challenges facing women in media and the opportunities women have with side hustle and other sources of income. So, it was chock-full of some great tips and advice. And I know Ellevate actually is very passionate about the representation of women in media. It's something that we see as a clear area where we can have an impact and change. We just recently had the Oscars and Frances McDormand, just really had some important and powerful words around equality in media and Ellevate has been screening documentaries, correct?
04:41 MH: Yeah, so every year for Women's History Month, we pick a documentary, we screen it across our chapters, we tried to rally everyone to see it. It depends on the topic that we think is very relevant, but they're all documentaries that deal with challenges that women and girls face. And this year we're doing screenings of Misrepresentation, which actually is a documentary that came out in 2011. So it's a little old, and some people were a little, "Are we really doing this? Because it's so... It's a little dated." But the reality is the challenges are still there. We have come a long way, but there is a lot that you see in that documentary that showcase how women are portrayed in the media and how that affects their desire in the decision and the opportunities they have to lead in a way that it's still very, very relevant. We're screening it in 30 different chapters around the world, so everywhere from London to Puerto Rico, to New York, we just had it a few weeks ago, to everywhere.
05:48 KW: Yeah, I've been hearing some really solid feedback on the movie. I mean, one, that it's depressing as heck but that we really feel inspired by the conversations happening today and part of change is that it's hard 'cause oftentimes you just have to acknowledge the inequalities and the things that are wrong in order to start moving towards what's right, and we don't want those inequalities to exist. But exciting that at least there's a conversation around them, recently came out with The Crown.
06:26 MH: I know.
06:26 KW: Main character is a woman and she's the queen, it's about her, and her male counterpart was being paid more. I think we're gonna continue to hear these stories, and at least it's getting out there and change is happening.
06:42 MH: And you're right, the more that a spotlight is shining on the issues that are happening and the issues that exist, the more we can actually change them, 'cause if we don't see them then everything stays the same.
06:54 KW: And a conversation that's been coming up a lot, and I actually really wanna know what you think about this, which is if we talk about it too much, will it then not be newsworthy, right? So if you keep talking about the pay gap, if you keep talking about sexual harassment in the workplace, does that then make it less powerful?
07:14 MH: Does it normalize that in anyway? I have mixed feelings about this and I've thought about it and I've discussed with some of my friends who are not so into the whole world that I think we are most of the time. It's actually thinking about these issues and working on them but I think that yes, it's likely that that happens. It's likely that things will start being less shocking if everyone is talking about it. But I think that that is better than not talking about it. So, yeah there's a chance that things will start being, "Okay, yeah, another sexual harassment scandal." But what's worse? Just never knowing about it and just not doing anything about it?
08:04 KW: Yeah, I mean those voices have been silenced for way too long.
08:07 MH: Right.
08:08 KW: And didn't have their voice heard in that conversation. So I agree, I think we need to keep talking about it. And I also would urge our listeners and the media to also start talking about some of the positive stories as well.
08:24 MH: I agree.
08:24 KW: So let's start also talking about when women are getting paid equally or more for roles, for their work, and I say that not to sugarcoat an issue but to say you can... I don't want any excuses. Or I don't want excuses about, "Oh, well, this is why the pay gap or this is why... " like no more excuses. Let's celebrate the companies that have diverse leadership teams and diverse boards and not because it's in response to a huge sexual harassment lawsuit or a huge media debacle. Let's celebrate the companies and the people in the industries that are ahead of the game that are really leading the way and use that as a way to further shame these bad stories because it's possible to change and to do right by human beings, and we don't have to continue accepting the status quo.
09:22 MH: I think you made a great point. I think that's right and that's how you see the full picture.
09:28 KW: Absolutely. Alright, well, let's get to my conversation with Natali. It's been fun chatting with you, Maricella.
09:33 KW: Natali, welcome to the Ellevate Podcast.
09:45 Natali Morris: Thank you so much for having me.
09:47 KW: So you're pretty incredible between hosting an MSNBC, contributing at CNBC blogging...
09:53 NM: That's so nice to say.
09:56 KW: [chuckle] Well, you've done... You've been doing so much. You are blogging, writing, mom. I would love to know just how do you get it all done and how did you get to this place?
10:06 NM: You know what? I mean, gosh, I would love to know how I got to this point, too. I think it's just one day at a time, and this year has been a year where I really have been able to look back and see what I've created, but it didn't even feel like a real thing until maybe, I wanna say, like a year or two ago. Because I started my career as a broadcast journalist... Actually before that I was a print journalist, and then I went into broadcast television.
10:31 NM: And I remember one day, I went to this retreat that this guy used to put... I don't remember the name of it. It was 30, the top 30 under 30 or something for professionals who were out there making a name, and somehow I got invited. I had a show on CNET and was working and then CBS bought CNET, so I was working for the network. So I guess I was recognizable in the dot-com space. So I was one of the first tech reporters to have a video podcast. And so we went to this retreat in Mexico and someone there said to me, "You need to own your own brand. It's not good enough for you to just work for CBS; you have to own yourself a book, a show, whatever that means."
11:14 NM: And I remember thinking, "No, I can't do that. No, absolutely no." I just had this huge aversion to being the boss of my own story. I felt like it was enough to just work for the network and let the network promote my brand and the bigger the network got, the more I moved up, the more visible I would be. And now I look back at that person and thought, "Oh, my gosh. I really... I did that." I was so afraid to do that and I did that. I now am in control of the ship. My husband and I have built this real estate empire where we own enough in real estate, and that was all very, very deliberate that we don't have to work for TV networks any longer. And now I decide what I write, I decide what I disseminate, and I decide what I broadcast. So yeah, it's been a great year to actually see that and to look back at that girl who was so afraid back then.
12:09 KW: Two things are really resonating with me here. One is just that financial independence. So creating a situation where financially you can go after the projects, the work, or the things that you want because you're not reliant on a set job or a set situation.
12:26 NM: Yeah.
12:28 KW: And I'm also hearing the brand, and the power of really creating a name for yourself outside of your company or your position and how that can really feed into future opportunities and give you that foundation for growing in whatever direction you want. So did you...
12:47 NM: Right.
12:48 KW: Those two things, and correct me if I'm hearing... You know, if I'm missing something, but did you very intentionally build both of those aspects, the financial and the brand? Or is this something you...
13:01 NM: Yes.
13:03 KW: Kind of just happened?
13:04 NM: Well, the financial part was very deliberate, and it was sort of my slay-your-dragons moment because when I left CBS, I had not realized how much of my ego and identity was tied to that regular paycheck. And so, my husband, he was a weekend anchor at Fox News and I was... And I had been... I had a weekday job. And so, when I left CBS I didn't wanna get another job that was five days a week in the middle of the week because my husband worked the weekends and then we had no family time. There was no time for us to raise our son together. And so, I was trying to find a job that sort of fit into a flexible schedule, but I could still be home enough for my son. And in broadcasting, that's not really a thing. Like, most people in TV news are there full-time. My husband was just lucky that he had a weekend job, so he was around a lot to raise our kids; he still is.
14:03 NM: And so, I wasn't able to find a job that fit my new life as a mother, and I was really... It was hard. I wanna say, I was hard on myself and it was really hard identity change for me. So one day I was sitting at my desk and I had been waiting for updates from my agent, and now, I talk to agent three times a year, not all that much, you know. But I was waiting, like, "Give me an update," every single day. "I need to know, have they called you back." I was meeting with CNN, I was meeting with ABC. I was just trying so hard to get a job and the right job, and it wasn't happening. And so, once the money in my own personal check book dried up, I realized, "Okay, I have to think of our finances as a family now." My husband and I had been using the Suze Orman way of going about it where you each have your own checking account, and then you have a joint account, and you each put the same percentage of your paycheck into the joint account, so that you can meet your bills.
15:06 NM: And that worked fine until I lost my job. And then I remember going to him one day and saying, "We need to just co-mingle our finances," and he was like, "Okay, sure." But I decided, once we did that, that I was going to, instead of not having a paycheck to contribute to that joint account, if I didn't have a paycheck any longer that was coming in every week or every month, I was going to become really, really, really good at personal finance and managing the money that we did have, either in savings or the money that was coming in. And I didn't want... I was very deliberate about the fact that I did not want to become better at budgeting because some women can come to this conclusion and decide, "Okay, I'm gonna just be better at budgeting, and then it will be easier for us to not have my paycheck." And I think that's a way of thinking that shrinks your life, and I think that's the wrong way to go about it.
16:00 NM: I decided that my role was the chief home officer, was to expand our lives with the resources that we already had. I had a budget, but what I did was make a balance sheet. So this was something my father had taught me to do because he's an entrepreneur and self-employed. And so what I did was just make a list of all of our assets and then make a list of all of our liabilities, and then when you subtract the two you have your net worth. Now, I wasn't so interested in the net worth, what I was interested in was what do I have to work with? So where do I start? So I took that balance sheet and I started, which is one line, which was we had $33,000 in a Scottrade account where we could... We had tax. We had some Apple stock, and that was about it, and then maybe some mutual funds. And I said, "Okay. I'm gonna learn how to do better with this."
16:52 NM: And so I learned one thing at a time, and so I went to the library and I checked out a book on exchange traded funds and I learned how to evaluate my stock accounts and how to choose better, and what is the language inside of that one thing? And then that one thing led me to the next thing on my balance sheet. And I was like, "Well, if I can do well with this, I can do well with that." And I just sort of went down the list doing better and better and better with the things that we had and then I went to the liabilities column, and I started to shrink those things. What are the things that we owe, car payment, house payment, credit card, whatever it is you might have, student loans. And you realize how to re-evaluate your liabilities and you shrink those, and that's really how we built wealth.
17:38 NM: Now, at the same time, my husband was getting to... Was learning how to invest in off-market investment real estate; that became his passion. So I was really so well-versed in our finances that when he would find a deal, I knew exactly where we could find the room to purchase those things based on our net worth.
18:00 KW: That sounds like some serious team work there. What resources...
18:03 NM: It is, but...
18:04 KW: I mean, I know you have a...
18:05 NM: So a big part of... I'm sorry to interrupt you, but... You're exactly right; it is good team work. But what I did is probably what most every woman listening to this already does in her day job, like, organization, goal-setting, teamwork. It's basically taking your job as the head of your household seriously, like a real job. And I took it seriously. Every day I would go to the gym and put my kids in child care at the gym, and I would have another book about personal finance, and I read it as if it had been assigned by a college professor. I took it seriously because that was my job.
18:46 KW: Great, well thanks so much Natali. It was great talking to you today, and I really appreciate you taking the time.
18:52 NM: My pleasure.
18:57 KW: Thanks so much for listening to Ellevate. If you like what you hear, help a girl out. Subscribe to the Ellevate Podcast on iTunes, give us five stars, and share your review. Also don't get to follow us on Twitter @EllevateNTWK, that's Ellevate Network, and become a member. You can learn all about membership and all the great things that Ellevate Network is doing at our website, www.ellevatenetwork.com. That's E-L-L-E-V-A-T-E Network dot com. And special thanks to our producer, Katharine Heller, she rocks, and to our voice over artist, Rachel Griesinger. Thanks so much and join us next week.
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