Get A Financial Life


Talking Dollars & Sense with Personal Finance Expert Beth Kobliner

WomanWithMoney

I first met Beth Kobliner, author of the New York Times best-seller “Get A Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties”, when I was 24 and struggling to make it in Manhattan.   Apparently, I was a prime example of someone who needed to “Get A Financial Life”, so I was asked to appear on an NYC news show with Beth to discuss my spending habits (that was fun…)! You see, Beth’s book had just come out, and it was just the kind of advice I needed!

Constantly updated and revised, the book is as fabulous as ever, and  is one of Fab & Fru’s top must-read picks.  Beth does a great job of presenting financial info in a down to earth, easy to understand way – which as you know is not easy to come by.  Little did I know sitting there with Beth all those years ago that Getting a Financial Life would become my life’s goal as well.  Fab & Fru was delighted to have Beth answer some questions for us!

What advice do you have for a debt-ridden 20- or 30-something woman who thinks that she will never “Get A Financial Life” because she feels overwhelmed by the bad economy, too much debt, and too few job prospects?

Small changes can make a big difference. If you owe $1,000 on a credit card but pay only the minimum, it’ll take 12 years to pay off, with around $1,000 in interest. But say you pay an extra $15 each month, you’ll save about $720, because you’ll pay off that $1,000 in only three and a half years, costing you about $280 in interest.

Also, If someone is really overwhelmed, she might consider moving back home with her parents or other family members. If that’s an option, it could help her save on rent while paying off debt and getting back on her feet.

In the 14 years since Get A Financial Life was first published, what are the biggest changes you’ve seen in 20 and 30 somethings’ attitudes towards money?

Every generation has its own specific challenges, but we’ve never seen this combination of young people unable to get jobs and starting out their adult lives so deep in the red. The GetAFinancialLifeaverage college grad leaves school owing about $4,100 in credit card debt and about $23,000 in student loans.  And unemployment for this age group is hovering around 15.8%—more than double what it was ten years ago, and much higher than the national rate of 9.7%. This group is hurting financially before they’ve even had a chance to start making money!

As a result, I’m seeing more interest in personal finance among young people. Today’s twenty-somethings are mindful of the fact that they’re in a tough economy, and the high-paying jobs that were typical routes for recent grads (like corporate law positions and investment banking jobs) just aren’t guaranteed anymore, not even with an Ivy League degree!  And no job promises security today. The upside is that there’s been a surge of applications to Teach for America and the Peace Corps. These days, people are more concerned with helping others and finding meaning in their work.

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