CREDIT: Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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I’m not sure who’s more excited about Sawyer doing so well at her weekend waitressing job at P. F. Chang’s, me for how she’s balancing her college classes with working, or her because she’s making good money.


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I am impressed that she plans to save most of it so that she has a nest egg when she graduates. Too bad you did not have the same understanding of money when you were her age. Or, even when you were in your 20s or 30s.


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You’re never going to let me forget that, are you? I can’t help that I found personal finance intimidating, so avoided it. Plus, it’s confusing. And tedious. And boring.


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That is one way to look at it – but as you eventually learned, if you can add and subtract, you can “do” personal finance. But, you have made significant progress. You used to kick and scream about it; now you just whine.


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Fine, but just because I now have a better understanding of personal finance, it doesn’t make it any more interesting. But just like brushing my teeth, I know it’s something I need to do because not doing it has repercussions.


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Great analogy, especially as personal finance is important for everyone.

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But just because something’s important doesn’t mean “everyone” wants to know about it, or do it. For years, we’ve been saying that people would rather be entertained than educated.

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I will never forget how surprised I was that our book, which was supposed to be the basis of a sitcom, ended up being a powerful way to “teach” personal finance and other life lessons. I envisioned people enjoying the sisterly banter and all the other “characters”, so was focused on them, not the subject matter.

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Yes, while I was focused on my personal crisis, you were busy turning it into a book – a brand – a business.

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Once I realized that the most successful sitcoms were about relationships and basic day-to-day living, it seemed logical to use your financial predicament as the backdrop. It was never intended as a “laugh and learn”.

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Well, “I Love Lucy” never did an episode on her trying to understand financial statements. And I doubt “Seinfeld” or “Friends” ever talked about credit cards.

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Missed opportunities. Think about our “Assets and Liabilities” story. You started freaking out at the mere mention of financial statements. Telling me how I was the MBA and you were the theater major. Then, when I thought I was making it easier by focusing on assets and liabilities, you completely lost it. Insisting you could not do this. Complaining that you hated math. Your theatrics alone would make it a funny scene.

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Thanks. Happy to help!

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Then, when I simplified it and said I wanted to talk about “what you own” versus “what you owe,” you calmed down. And, much to my amusement, you then declared that you could do that, just not assets and liabilities.

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How was I supposed to know they were the same thing?

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The point is that it is a funny story. And one that many people seem to enjoy, as many people can relate to being intimidated by terminology.


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That, and thinking that understanding, let alone “doing”, personal finance requires an MBA. Let’s face it, by creating mental roadblocks, I became my own worst enemy.


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That is an understatement. But, that “character flaw” can lead to an assortment of amusing episodes. As does thinking that just having more money was the answer, not realizing the key was how you handled the money you had. That having more might mean larger mistakes.


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Is this where you’re going to tell me about all the celebrities, athletes, and lottery winners who made (or won) millions, but ended up broke or in bankruptcy? I still love how you use Nicholas Cage and his purchase of two ‒ not one, but two ‒ castles to make that point!


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If these people understood the basics of personal finance, they would have made very different decisions. It is as simple as money coming in and money going out. I guess no one asked them if they could add and subtract.


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The first time you asked me that, I thought it was just another one of your sarcastic remarks. And whenever we tell that to people, whether an auditorium full of eighth-graders or one person in a business meeting, they always laugh.


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I miss doing speaking engagements. I loved asking people how many like math. Everyone would look around to see who the nerds in the room were. Then when I asked how many like money, everyone’s hands went up. It is all in the packaging.


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Which is why I’d love to circle back to the sitcom idea. But how do we get Hollywood to see that a sitcom about personal finance and other Life 101 topics could be successful? And funny!


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Easy. By not telling them. We focus on the characters that are resonating with audiences of all ages ‒ a warm and fuzzy stay-at-home mom and her pragmatic and sarcastic retired executive sister who races Ferraris, who are surrounded by an assortment of other “characters”.


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So, just totally ignore the “laugh and learn”.


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When I first envisioned your crisis as a sitcom, I saw it as something to be disclosed on a need-to-know basis, and at the time, you did not need to know. This is no different.


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Now that’s funny.

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

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I may not celebrate Rosh Hashanah by going to temple, and now that the girls are no longer home for the holiday, I don’t prepare a seder with the traditional foods . But I know and appreciate that it’s one of the most important Jewish holidays, as it’s a time for reflection on the past and hope for the future. And this year, between world events, where I feel surrounded by so much negativity, and on the personal front, with Mom’s passing, it seems more important than ever before.


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Although Rosh Hashanah is filled with traditions, like apples dipped in honey because it is believed apples have healing properties (think of the rhyme, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”), and the honey signifies the hope for a new year that will be sweet … it is still incredibly relevant. In today’s hectic world, a contemplative holiday where you stop and think about the road you have traveled over the last year (including any wrong turns) and where you would like to go in the future may be exactly what we all need.

We wish everyone who celebrates Rosh Hashanah a happy and sweet New Year. And remember, you don’t have to be Jewish to look back and reflect … and then try to do better in the future.

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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So, I had to smile when Sawyer came to visit us at Mom’s estate sale. And even though I had seen her only a few hours before, I gave her a hug.


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Yes, you make it rather obvious that you are warm and fuzzy. And, a hugger.


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But what made me laugh was when she greeted you by acknowledging that you weren’t a hugger. Now there’s an understatement.


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No, it is merely a fact.


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I never realized, though, just how much both Natasha and Sawyer are like you. Although they begrudgingly let me hug them, they’d both be just as happy with a handshake. If that.


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Maybe a fist bump?
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Credit: Photo by Maha1450 on iStock


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I know you celebrate Labor Day by just, well, laboring away on Red & Black. But that’s how you celebrate most holidays. For me, I always enjoy celebrating the last three-day weekend of the summer, although the challenge will be deciding what to do this Labor Day. Escape to a movie (ok, my passion’s the popcorn), go to Dunkin’ for a leisurely coffee (it always brings back memories of growing up in New York), read, or climb into bed and watch old episodes of Downton Abbey. Or, maybe “all of the above”!

But before you say anything, yes, I’m well aware that today’s more than a day off and a potential “cut-off” for wearing white (😊). It’s about honoring American workers and all the many contributions they’ve made and continue to make.


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I know you love history, but do you know the history of Labor Day includes violence and a deadly railroad strike? And, was a way for politicians to “prove” they cared about workers? It is too bad people do not typically walk around thanking others for the work they do (imagine the impact if we did), but maybe you will get inspired by these Labor Day quotes.

And, in terms of me “laboring” today. Of course, I am. I look forward to the quiet time of weekends, especially long ones, to work on strategic projects needing large blocks of uninterrupted time or one of my passion projects. To you, it might appear as if I am “working”, but I am doing what makes me happy. Although tomorrow morning, you may not be happy when you find all my emails that will be waiting in your inbox.