Long-term goals, budgeting, saving, and enjoying small indulgences are a some of the key things you will often hear explored by financial guru and New York Times bestselling author Nicole Lapin. Lapin founded The Money School after a role as an anchor on major television networks where she noticed a large gap in populations that gained access to financial literacy knowledge. The population Lapin desired to support was the former version of her self. The one, the founder describes as: “that girl who was smiling, nodding, and not joining basic money conversations because she was too freaked out and too scared to do it.”
As a first-generation American, Lapin was raised in a household where financial literacy was not primarily taught or spoken of. Growing up, at age eleven, she encountered the loss of her father due to a drug overdose and a lack of guidance from her mother. During this time, Lapin describes seeing her parents primarily make money moves that were not the most ideal. This sparked her desire to write a new trajectory for her future.
By starting from the ground up, Lapin expresses taking any job she could from working at a low salary to accumulating credit card debt, and more. Finally, with determination and grit, she landed a job as a business reporter and it just happened that the role was in the field of finance. While feeling clueless and freaked out about the language of money, Lapin explains that she had to learn the language of money the hard way because her job demanded that she spoke it to the world.
Learning The Language of Money
At the “school of hard knocks” the financial expert, who then was the process of acquiring greater knowledge, details that she encountered a plethora of funny affirmable moments along the way. Through her work, Lapin shares these experiences to challenge others to embrace being comfortable with learning and growing through unfamiliar spaces.
For example, while Lapin was on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange she gathered her belongings to head to an interview with a few founders. On her way out she recalled her manager asking: “Do you have the P&L?” And she responded: “No” staring with a puzzled grimace. “No, I don’t have to pee,” she thought to herself. In another instance, Lapin describes thinking that a former boyfriend was a garden “hedge manager” given his role at a hedge fund.
To Lapin, money has served as a language to be learned and one that we often don’t realize can serve as the biggest hurdle for bridging avenues to opportunities in our financial lives.
Pervasive Disparities in Financial Education
Learning the language of money has become instrumentally important due to an ongoing widespread dialogue surrounding the financial literacy education gap in America. Currently, two-thirds of American adults are said not to be able to pass a basic financial literacy test, 54% of Millennials express worry that they will not be able to pay back student loans, and only 16% between the ages 18-26 feel very optimistic about their financial futures.
To counter these disparities at a national scale, Lapin advocates for lobbying for more financial education in our governmental system to bridge what she notes as “a personal budget deficit.” However, in addition to lobbying at the national level, she advocates helping others explore a fundamental piece of the puzzle that they truly can control, which begins with themselves. She articulates this by sharing:
People say all the time I’m freaked out by the stock market; I’m freaked out by all of these things. And all we really have control over is ourselves. This is a deeper component of the conversation because how we each interact within these markets permeates all aspects of our lives.
By founding The Money School, Lapin has created opportunities to support each individual learner where they are in their financial growth journey. Given that so often financial learning exists within traditionally broad topics explored in school such as macroeconomics, by meeting the individual learner where they are in the process Lapin shares practical hands-on tips and tricks—from writing checks to completing taxes or making a budget.
One Solution: The Money School
The Money School is an online community Lapin created where she shares a 12-step plan for helping others get their financial lives together. This plan has been tested in both of her books and the third book due to hit shelves soon. Traditionally, readers and students have found the guides to be easy to follow and iterate upon.
The financial guru and New York Times Bestselling author shares that the first step at The Money School is:
…Admitting you have a problem—and we all have problems—so that you can do something about it. From there, I wanted to create interactive video lessons, worksheets, and quizzes for the school community. Then bring in some cool experts and friends that I know from the business world to help along the way.
Overall, a key goal for the Money School is to rethink the way education around this topic looks. To do so Lapin has broken down finance into a language we often would use daily, like in a meeting with a circle of friends. Similar to friendships, she compares starting a new financial guide to embarking on a long-term endeavor. During the journey, Lapin says it’s “beneficial to set benchmarks and opportunities for small outings and/or indulgences so that you stay on track.”
How to Start Achieving Your Money Goals Today
To start achieving your money goals today, Lapin shares: “We really need to focus on our endgames and goals.” To cover these two areas, she recommends breaking down: 1) a spending plan into three E’s—essentials, endgame, and extras, and 2) goals into three F’s—family, finance, and fun. The Money School founder uses these alliterations to explore how we can look at our goals holistically due to our work lives and personal lives overlapping in numerous ways. In order to achieve true happiness, “we must achieve happiness in all areas,” she shares.
Additionally, when it comes to creating plans for money matters Lapin encourages those who wish to become financially fit to pursue money from a place of aspiration versus deprivation—mentality plays a crucial role in the process. For example, a person aspiring to build wealth settling to clip coupons and digging in the couch for coins may have greater adverse effects than one focusing on creating a savings plan.
As Lapin highlights:
…Figure out where you aspire to go and then reverse engineer your actions. The more I’ve been able to be real, the closer I’ve gotten to reaching my goals and you can too! For me, I had to get to a place where I was super vulnerable, authentic, basically naked, sharing all the stories I wanted to whiteout in the past when I tried to pretend I was perfect. Doing the internal work, only I could do for myself, made all the difference.
Money is known to mar even the best of relationships. The conflict over cash could invade the privacy of spouses over something as innocuous as spending habits, rend the sibling bond over a legacy leading to legal disputes, or rip apart a friendship over borrowed money. While we do not aim to span the legal scope of financial disputes in this column, we will try to deal with financial dilemmas and reduce money-induced friction in relationships, be it family, friends or colleagues.
Should you ask your colleague to return the money he borrowed and forgot? What do you do if your relative asks you to be a guarantor to a loan? What if your sibling wants you to be a partner in his startup?
In this new series, we will help you tackle the awkwardness in a relationship caused by money. To start with, we explain what you should do if your adult child seeks financial aid. Should you give him whatever he asks for without considering its impact on your own financial situation? Or should you simply decline? Here are the six questions that will help you take a decision.
1. Is it a one-time help or has it been a frequent demand?
Your decision should be based on the child’s track record regarding such demands. If this is the first time or a rare instance that he is asking for money, you could consider it. If you know him to be facing a financial crisis, or is in a phase of life where your assistance could set him up professionally, you can offer the money, but on the condition that it is returned in a pre-determined time frame. If, on the other hand, this is only one in a long list of monetary demands that have sprung up from time to time ever since he achieved adulthood, it’s high time you put an end to it.
2. Is it likely to impact your retirement?
This is probably the most crucial question to ask yourself. If you do not have spare cash and dipping into your savings could slash your retirement corpus considerably, you should politely turn down the request. No startup or business venture is worth jeopardising your retirement.
If the child needs the money to tide over a crisis, suggest alternate sources of funding: he can monetise his assets by taking a loan against his securities, insurance or gold; he can sell his less important personal assets; use his credit card to meet an emergency; or as a last resort, take a personal loan. He will probably have enough time to shore up his depleted resources, but you may not be able to do so if you have a few years left for retirement. Also, he can take a loan to meet his financial needs; you can’t do the same to fund your retirement.
3. Is the money for a life-threatening situation or buying an asset?
If it’s the former, no parent can say ‘no’. In case of a medical emergency, parents would willingly empty out their coffers for their progeny. A better option is to be prepared for medical crises and advise the child to buy adequate health insurance. If such an option doesn’t exist, try to monetise your assets first.
If, on the other hand, the money is for acquiring a big financial asset like a house or a car, make sure it is offered as a loan and that you retain the joint ownership for the specified asset. Also lay down the terms of the loan clearly, with no ambiguity over the amount, time frame or ownership.
4. Is the money to be given as loan?
Except for medical emergencies, all funds offered as assistance to an adult offspring should ideally be in the form of loans. It is likely that you have already spent a small fortune on educating your children or for their weddings. If you have empowered the child to earn his own living and establish himself professionally, there should be few occasions for him to run to you for financial help. Avoid being the financial crutch for your child and let him meet his own financial challenges or find solutions to the crises he is facing.
5 Should you have a written agreement?
If the sum you are offering your child as a loan is large, make sure that you draft a legal agreement, clearly delineating the loan terms, including the purpose of the loan, exact amount or principal being offered, interest rate, time frame for repayment, options in case of defaults, and any other conditions you want outlined.
Even if the loan amount is not big, have a written contract in place to avoid family disputes later on. Both the parties should have a copy of the agreement and it should ideally be framed with the help of, and in the presence of, a lawyer. Do not be carried away by emotion and treat it as a business transaction to avoid an unlikely fallout at a later date.
6 Are the other siblings aware of it?
While the level of privacy involving the financial help to an adult child may depend on the dynamics of the family concerned, it is advisable to keep the other siblings in the know to avoid family disputes over inheritance. Also, if you are not in a position to offer the entire sum yourself, the other siblings could be asked to join in and reduce your financial burden.
Make sure, however, that all the transactions are in writing and all the parties have a copy of the agreement. In fact, you should also include the details of the loan in your will, so that if you die before the money is repaid, the amount can be deducted from the child’s inheritance and there is no ill-will involving other siblings.
If you have a wealth whine, write to us…
All of us have been in a financial dilemma when it comes to relationships. How do you say no to a friend who wants you to invest in his new business venture? Should you take a loan from your married brother? Are you concerned about your wife’s impulse buying? If you have any such concerns that are hard to resolve, write in to us at [email protected] with ‘Wealth Whines’ as the subject.
Disclaimer: The advice in this column is not from a licensed healthcare professional and should not be construed as psychological counselling, therapy or medical advice. ET Wealth and the writer will not be responsible for the outcome of the suggestions made in the column.
Updated 13 hours ago
The new year is off to a cold start, with hundreds of school delays and closings across the region. How has this impacted your first week back to school and work after the holidays? Tell us your story or send us other tips and feedback: [email protected] or 724-850-2867.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. School districts ave tough decision when temperatures plummet—and stay there
2. Schools in Allegheny, Westmoreland turn to digital career planning
3. New York governor calls for food pantries at public colleges
INSIDE THE CLASSROOM
First-grade teacher Debbie Walker, of Montour Elementary School, was browsing Pinterest when she came across a low-tech activity to help her students get excited about reading: Flashlight Fridays.
Every Friday, the first-graders spend a few minutes with a good book and read by flashlight. Walker says giving students the freedom to choose a comfortable spot in the room during the activity–at their desks, under a table or snuggled in a book boat–motivates them to focus.
WHY IT MATTERS
Here are the education stories of 2017 that stuck with TribLIVE Education Team reporters. Look for updates as we follow these stories into 2018.
Have an angle you think we should explore? Tell us: [email protected] or 724-850-2867.
1. EARLY ED: Early childhood education prep key to future success
Numerous studies have shown that preschool preparation is key to future success in a student’s academic career and beyond. While some school districts—like Derry Area in Westmoreland County—are finding ways to support their youngest learners,other parts of Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties still lack access to quality preschool.
And in the City of Pittsburgh, Mayor Bill Peduto has plans for implementing universal pre-kindergarten in city schools.
2. K-12: Western Pennsylvania school districts experiment with later start times
The Centers for Disease Control has recommended later start times for schools since 2014. In the last few months, an increasing number of schools in the Greater Pittsburgh area—including those with start times as early as 7 a.m.—have started to take another look at that research.
Several districts, including Hampton and North Allegheny, are expected to move forward with reviewing policies in January.
3. K-12: Wave of threats rattle Western Pa. schools early in year
At least five districts in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties experienced or investigated rumors of violent threats targeting students or school buildings in the first seven weeks of the 2017-18 school year.
Though administrators and law enforcement do their best to keep students safe, challenges like social media can make it difficult to make a call on whether to close schools or increase security, and how to communicate concerns or threats to community members.
Meanwhile, State Sen. Don White (R-Indiana) is advocating for legislation that would allow teachers to carry concealed firearms in schools. This, he said, would give school districts more ways to keep students safe.
The bill has been sitting in the House Education Committee since June 2017.
4. K-12: Pittsburgh Public Schools to ban out-of-school suspensions before third grade
Pittsburgh Public Schools became the first school district in Pennsylvania to prohibit principals from suspending students in second grade or younger in December 2017.
Effective next September, the out-of-school suspension ban will apply only to students in preschool through second grade cited for nonviolent, “minor disciplinary infractions,” such as repeatedly showing up late, violating the school’s dress code or disrupting class.
5. K-12: The new state plan for education and changes to testing, school ratings
The Pennsylvania Department of Education released the proposed the new state plan for education in August, but it has yet to be approved by the federal Department of Education.
Long-term goals under the new plan include reducing the number of students who fail to graduate, increasing the number of students who achieve proficiency on PSSA and Keystone Exams and supporting English Language Learners in growth towards achieving English proficiency.
The state Department of Education also announced the development of the Future Ready PA Index, a new school report card that measures academic growth, school climate, graduation rates and readiness for opportunities after high school. The proposed tool would not give schools a letter grade or a numerical score.
Changes to the PSSA exam under the new plan could make the testing period shorter in 2018. While the testing overhaul received high marks from some parents and educators, others say the effect is likely to be limited.
6. HIGHER ED: Tuition-free California University program helps seniors get ahead
The 60+CAP program at California University of Pennsylvania offers free tuition to any Pennsylvania resident 60 or older, allowing some older adults to sharpen their job skills in a rapidly changing economy.
7. HIGHER ED: GI Bill a ‘cash cow’ for some Pennsylvania schools
Though the Post-9/11 GI Bill has helped some veterans at local colleges and universities continue their educations, the program has become a ‘cash cow’ for some Pennsylvania schools.
8. LOCAL: How lead in the water impacts Pittsburgh’s youngest residents
Pittsburgh’s water has a lead problem. The city’s youngest residents are especially vulnerable to the neurotoxin, which can damage the brain and lead to development, learning, hearing and speech problems.
Locating the source of the lead can be difficult. Last month, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority told the Tribune-Review it will start using Allegheny County Health Department data to prioritize lead line replacements at homes with children.
But the depth of lead problems at school buildings across the Greater Pittsburgh region is still unclear.
9. LOCAL: Pittsburgh’s bid for Amazon HQ2 is submitted; now the wait
Pittsburgh is one of many cities across the countries interested in scoring the Amazon HQ2 bid, which promises to bring 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment to the region.
Among Pittsburgh’s biggest advantages is the city’s large number of university graduates, officials have said.
We’ll be watching to see how Pittsburgh and other cities like Detroit, which touted proximity to Carnegie Mellon University in its pitch, fare. But even if Pittsburgh doesn’t win the bid, the city’s interest in attracting tech companies is likely to have an impact in K-12 and higher education as schools strive to prepare students for jobs in STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—fields.
10. NATIONAL: Greater Pittsburgh demonstrators to lawmakers: Save DACA
Demonstrators turned out to lawmakers’ offices in Pittsburgh and D.C. following the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for childhood Arrivals Program, known as DACA, in September.
Calls to preserve the program, which grants protection to individuals who arrived in the country as children and do not have legal status, also came from local leaders in higher education.
According to U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, Pennsylvania is home to 5,889 DACA recipients. The program was started in 2012 under the Obama administration, but never offered participants any clear path to citizenship. Congress has yet to act on a solution.