Nicole Lapin is a woman who I’ve looked up to since I started this site. At just 30 years old, she’s been a business and financial correspondent for CNN (she was one of the youngest anchors in history), CNBC and several other major networks. You’ve likely also seen her on talk shows dishing out advice as an expert money commentator. If that’s not impressive enough, three years ago Lapin launched her own production company, Nothing But Gold Productions, for accessible financial news.
You can see why I jumped at the opportunity to read her new book, Rich Bitch – a straightforward, smart guide to handling all of your big money questions and getting your financial life in order. I read the entire book over the weekend and had the opportunity to ask her for some pieces of wisdom myself:
Q/ When I looked into your career and accomplishments I was blown away by the success that you’ve encountered at such a young age. I often feel frustrated by the fact that I haven’t attained any real accolades or reached any of my career goals since I didn’t immediately enter a field that I was passionate about. What would your advice be for women in their 30’s who can tend to lose motivation since they don’t necessarily want to go back to school or start from the bottom, or maybe don’t have a strong entrepreneurial spirit?
A/ Don't wait. Get out there and do it—whatever "it" is. 30, 34, 39 is not old; you're still young enough to make a change, switch gears, and take control of your financial destiny. If you want to be on TV, start a video blog. If you want to be an author, don’t wait for the advance to start writing a book. If you want to be a documentary filmmaker, shoot some video and get to editing. Or if you simply want a raise and/or promotion at the job you're already in, ask for it. It’s much easier to get those big fancy opportunities once you have something to show for doing the legwork and are no longer talking pie-in-the-sky conceptual dreams.
Q/ Although I pride myself on being incredible at saving money and finding creative ways to make it (I’m an eBay junkie too), I am sad to say that I am still completely ignorant of the financial market and how to invest my money. My savings have been sitting in online banks making 1% interest (not even beating inflation, as you mention in the book). I find that this is the case for many women. Two tips that I took away from Rich Bitch are using accessible resources like Twitter to follow the market, and opening virtual trading accounts like Market Watch to get familiar with trading before you invest real money. For a complete beginner to investing, what would you say is the first step (after reading Rich Bitch) to really learning how the market works so some of that fear can be eliminated?
A/ Before you can even think about investing, make sure you have 3-6 months’ worth of expenses in the bank; your credit cards are paid off in full; and you have some extra cash flow available to get into the game.
The good news is that investing isn’t all about complicated numbers, it’s about you and me as consumers. Consumers drive sales and thus profits and thus stocks. So head to the mall for some market research! Pay attention to which stores are busiest, the amount and array of inventory on the shelves, the types of discounts being offered, the customer service experience. Invest in companies you like and believe in. If you have a good experience as a consumer, others will and that particular company’s stock will feel the love.
Once you’re ready to go, there are two different options for getting into the game. The first is going to a discount brokerage, like E*Trade, TD Ameritrade, or Fidelity. These are typically do-it-yourself operations (although some have offices in large cities where you can sit down, talk to a representative, and get help opening the account). They cost around $4-5 per trade. The second option is to head to a full service brokerage, like Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, and Wells Fargo Advisors, where an actual professional manages your account. This option is more expensive (around $150 per trade) so you hope your advisor will add enough value to make up for the extra cost, and, thus not eat into your profits.
Q/ So I passed the Rich Bitch test of should I be my own boss, and it’s at the perfect time since I’m in the process of starting my own business. Although it’s in my field, this is my first time running a business, and I worry about not being trusted or taken seriously because of my inexperience and age. I know that you’ve encountered similar mental roadblocks in your career – so how were you able to maintain that confidence? How do you make yourself trusted especially if you’re not even 1000% confident in yourself?
A/ Fake it ‘til you make it, baby! Confidence is infectious. I might be the least likely person to be a financial expert. I didn’t work at a bank and I didn’t get my MBA. But I learned to speak the language of money, first to myself and then to the world as a financial journalist. With a little chutzpah and sweat equity, you can and will learn your chosen field inside out—and before you know it, you’re no longer faking it. You’re living it.
She knows what she’s talking about. Pick up Rich Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan for Getting Your Financial Life Together…Finally – it’s an educational tool that’s worth the investment and actually really fun and easy to read. I’m in the process of convincing Nicole that we should be besties. I’ll wear her down eventually. Hopefully without a restraining order.*