Today, I spoke with Kimberly Palmer, who is an senior editor for the U.S.News & World Report. She has a great view on what it takes to be financially competent. I brought her out today to talk about the recession and what we can do as brands, in order to be financially secure and protected during these rough times. We are all CEO’s of our own brand, so being the CFO is one of the roles we must play. Read the interview below to have a clear idea of what your next steps should be!
On this blog, we talk about being the Chief Financial Officer for the brand called you, meaning that everyone is their own business and needs to understand personal finance. How important is it for people, not just entrepreneurs, to understand money management?
To me, being able to manage your money is the same thing as being able to manage your life. Money lets you do things — big things like going back to school or starting your own business but also smaller things like being able to afford a babysitter for a day, which can translate into bigger things. If you’re in control of your money, then you can be in control of your life.
Of course, “being in control of your money” means totally different things to different people. Some people love to know they can afford a huge vacation once a year, or expensive dinners out every Saturday night. I’m so risk-averse that for me, being in control means having a six-month emergency fund in the bank.
You’ve written about “recessions 2.0” before. How do you define it and what is your future outlook on the economy?
The economic mood that we’re all feeling — with the stock market down so much, job markets tightening, and fears of deflation — is new to people who experienced mostly economic boom times throughout their adult lives, which is almost all of us. I use “Recession 2.0” as a short-hand way of describing that mood – that “ugh” feeling that makes me want to crawl into bed on days that the stock market plunges 5 percent (or more).
While there’s not much good to say about a sluggish economy, there are some ways to cast a positive light on it. I’ve heard from people appreciating little things like home-cooked meals, relationships, and quiet evenings at home more. Those are all definitely good things.
As for my outlook, I think that we’re up for some extended sluggishness for at least another 6 months — so all we can do is make the most of it, which for me, means retreating into my kitchen.
What can we start to do today to prepare ourselves for recession 2.0?
- Generate an emergency fund that could hold you over for 6 months.
- Pay off all your debt.
- Save at least 10 percent of your income, in addition to 10 percent for tax-protected retirement funds.
- Take up some cheap hobbies, like cooking, knitting, or just hanging out with Scrabble.
- Plan a “stay-cation.” Use the library, volunteer (giving makes you feel richer).
- Focus on relationships.
- Clean out your closet.
- Create a home you love.
As an entrepreneur, should one seek a financial adviser or try to handle all their finances on their own? Does it help to learn more about finance, so it’s easier to deal with an adviser?
Anyone running their own business has enough tax complications to justify hiring an outside expert. In fact, most people benefit from consulting with a personal finance planner, unless you’re the kind of person who loves reading Suze Orman books on your spare time. But I think everyone should have a basic understanding of money and investing, if only to make sure you don’t get taken advantage of.
How can social media tools help fight the poor economy?
At least one way social media can combat the sluggishness is by serving as an effective marketer for all the amazing new websites, products, and ideas to come out of this slowdown. For example, among the personal finance social networks, there’s been huge growth in websites and chatter on twitter and other media all about dealing with the economy — without social media tools, it would be harder to be aware of what other people were doing.
Kimberly Palmer is an senior editor for the print and online Money & Business section of the U.S.News & World Report. She is the author of the personal finance blog Alpha Consumer on www.usnews.com, and weekly on-air guest on WTOP-FM, the top news talk radio station in Washington, D.C. She has written about trends in the credit card industry, personal finance, consumerism, retail trends, creativity in the workplace, working mothers, and paying for college.
Palmer has been interviewed on Court TV’s Star Jones, C-SPAN, FOX Business Network, KTTV FOX 11 (FOX News Los Angeles), MSNBC’s News Live,and Retirement Living TV’s Daily Café, as well as major metro radio stations.