'Rich Bitch' author Nicole Lapin shakes up traditional financial advice
Auhor discusses her own financial faults and how women can get ahead financially
By Erica Sandberg | Published: February 23, 2017
It's time to rethink traditional financial wisdom, says author and financial journalist Nicole Lapin. Having made her own financial errors in the past, Lapin has made educating women on how to get their finances in order her passion.
At just 32, Lapin has anchored the news desks of CNN and CNBC and was a special correspondent for Bloomberg Television. She’s a regular on “Good Morning America,” “Dr. Oz,” “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Wendy Williams Show.” Lapin is also a judge on the television program “Hatched,” a business competition show airing on the CW Network. Her books include “The Rich Bitch Guide to Love and Money,” “Rich Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan for Getting Your Financial Life Together … Finally,” and “Boss Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan to Take Charge of Your Career,” which will hit shelves March 21, 2017.
CreditCards.com spoke to Lapin to find out the motivation behind her success.
Author Nicole Lapin
Q: How did you get so savvy? Were your parents great role models, did you study finance or are you naturally gifted?
A: My parents? Definitely not! They are first generation American, an immigrant family, and money wasn’t something we talked about at home. There was never a Wall Street Journal on the kitchen counter. Stocks and bonds were foreign to them. I was clueless about finance up until college, but my boyfriend was majoring in it and he jumped me in. I felt like I had to because that’s what he and his friends were always talking about. That’s when I started learning.
I got a job on the stock exchange when I was 18, and I really got into the language of money.
Q: You give a lot of attention to women – “Rich Bitch” and “Boss Bitch’ both focus on how women can get ahead financially. Why the special guidance – are women making different mistakes which need addressing?
A: As they say, you can’t be all things to all people or you’ll be nothing to no one. These books came to me because I am a woman. I was talking to my former self. It was a biased conversation! No one was talking to me about money when I was young, so what is in the books is what I wanted to hear; what I should have heard. The biggest mistake women make is being intimidated to join conversations on money.
This is always my approach, to be the girls’ girl. I do swear a lot in the books, though. And I include failure stories because they are more resonant than survival stories. It’s good to be vulnerable.
Q: You also wrote “The Rich Bitch Guide to Love and Money.” What’s the best piece of advice you can offer couples?
A: Have "mine," "your" and "ours" accounts. Contribute a set percentage of income so it feels weighted equally versus the exact same amounts.
Q: Where does credit and debt come into play in your work? Do you think we’ve become too dependent on borrowing to live the lives we want?
A: You said it right there – living the life you want. But a lot of people don’t know what that life should look like. You have come up with goals first and then figure out how much money you need to get them. Too many people indiscriminately use credit to live, but it’s done in a random way.
I’m not against credit cards. Not at all. They’re awesome when used wisely, but to charge without a plan is ridiculous. It turns into debt, and that’s a slippery road to go down.
Too many people indiscriminately use credit to live, but it’s done in a random way.
Q: You seem to have no trouble admitting where you went wrong, financially. So what about mistakes with your credit cards? Tell me how imperfect you are!
A: That’s right, it’s no secret that I got into bad credit card debt. I wrote about it in “Rich Bitch.” It happened after college. I was at CNN and needed clothes and justified everything when I shopped. It was all to keep up appearances, to look a certain way. It was what I call “instant mentality.” I was saving cash, but spending on the card and not paying it off. Then everything snowballed out of control.
But having that debt and paying it off turned out to be a good lesson for me. I learned to manage credit, and I really do think credit cards are great. For one, they come with free consumer protection!
Q: What myth or bad advice about money would you love to throw off a cliff, never to be heard from again?
A: I debunk most conventional financial wisdom. I hate this “don’t buy a latte, make your own coffee instead” advice. It’s crap. You don’t need to do that. Most people don’t have to be so extreme.
Fifteen percent of your money should go for crazy expenses. It should be your allowance. Like I love to travel, so I’ll spend my money on that. I recently went to Bali by myself. Massages, too. You’ve got to indulge along the way so you don’t go insane and overdo it later. One little Hershey’s Kiss each day will prevent you from eating a huge chocolate cake at the end of the month.
Q: It’s fantastic to give advice and supply great information, but there’s often resistance. Why is that and how do you address it?
A: Look, budgeting sucks, but so is being broke. You know what’s most fascinating about money? If you can change your mindset, your finances will follow. It’s true. Don’t bury your head in the sand. You didn’t learn about buying a car, credit cards, 401(k)s in school? So what. Now you can.
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