1. What motivated you to pen SHOO, Jimmy Choo?
Maybe I'd watched one too many episodes of Sex & the City, but when I moved to New York, I lived it up. I got an apartment I couldn't afford in Chelsea, went out way too much and bought shoes (and a million other things!) I couldn't afford on my credit card. The result (other than one too many martini hangovers and a stuffed-to-the-brim closet?): A pile of credit card debt, no retirement fund and not even a dime in savings.
But luckily, I was promoted to become the Financial Marketing Manger for Forbes Magazine, which was a giant wake-up call ... At first, I'd be in a meeting and hear terms like Roth IRA, nod and pretend that, of course, I knew what they were talking about, and then race to my computer to Google it so I didn't later look like an idiot. Slowly but surely, I started learning more and more about finance. And the more I learned, the more I realized, I'd better do something about my not-so-sexy financial "situation."
At the same time, I started talking to other women about their finances and realized I wasn't alone when I'd felt a little confused and intimidated by money management. And the more I looked into it, the more I realized there weren't that many personal finance books for women like me - young women in their 20s and 30s - written in a voice we relate to (not a mom figure tsk tsking us, but a girl our age who did this all herself, a girl who gets that its not an option to never again buy an amazing pair of shoes or go cold-turkey on nights out). So I decided to write it. And that's how SHOO, Jimmy Choo! was born.
2. Which section of SHOO, Jimmy Choo! did you enjoy writing most?
The "Spending Style" section was my favorite part of SHOO, Jimmy Choo! to write for two reasons. First, the advice in the section was one of the first - and primary - things that turned my financial situation around. Here's why: spending is the crux of our financial life - if we spend too much money, we won't have enough to get out of debt and save. So, once I started controlling my spending using the advice in this section, it set me up to meet the rest of my financial goals.
And second, because the "Spending Style" section approaches spending in a unique, and I think critical, way. The section helps us look not only at what we buy but also WHY we buy it. A lot of books look at what we buy and help us budget, but the "why" - the motivations, root causes and patterns - of our spending is critical to helping us spend less, but often overlooked in personal finance books. Until you get to the bottom of why you spend money, you'll have so much more trouble controlling that unnecessary spending.
3. If you could give a woman in her 20s just one piece of financial advice, what would it be?
The #1 piece of advice I'd give a woman in her 20s would be to make financial goals and a plan to stick to them. A lot of us - I was one of them! - just glide through life thinking we'll worry about retirement, saving and other financial goals later, that we'll deal with our debt when we make more money, etc. We have vague goals (things like: I'll be laying on the beach at 40 with a margarita in my hand and giant nest egg in the bank; or I'll save enough so I can quit my job and write a book - my personal fave! - etc.) But we have no solid financial goals and no real steps to make them happen.
4. You've gotten incredible press coverage, what's the most interesting question you've been asked so far?
It's funny: The book is a personal finance book but I get almost as many questions about shoes as I do about money management. I often get "Why do women like shoes so much?" (Ha, I'm no expert on why all women like anything, but I always just say "because they always fit and they always look good - even after those ten extra post-holiday pounds!"). Another favorite is "Can you please tell our audience what a Jimmy Choo is." When I get to the part in my explanation about how much Jimmy Choos cost, it opens up a whole other set of questions - most of them involving "why on earth would a woman spend that much on shoes?" Once we go there, it's an entire interview about the shoes...
5. How did you personally learn about personal finance?
I learned in the trenches so to speak. I picked up the basics working at Forbes, and then just started reading every personal finance book I could get my hands on - which is how the idea for SHOO, Jimmy Choo! came about. To research for SHOO, Jimmy Choo!, I kept reading personal finance books and interviewed a bunch of financial advisors, economists and regular people about money management. I also took a job as the Money Editor for the New York Daily News online.
6. Do you think personal finance should be taught in schools - and if so, starting at what grade level?
I do think personal finance should be taught in schools probably starting in middle school and most definitely through high school. I certainly wish I'd been taught about checking and savings accounts, credit cards, student loans, auto loans and more. It could have saved me thousands of dollars, and I'm sure I wasn't any different from millions of other kids heading off to college or into the real world these days with little or no financial preparation. Since the financial choices we make early on can stick with us for decades, why don't we give kids the best shot to make the right financial choices in their lives by teaching it in school?
7. What's next for you?
I just started working on my next book - a guide to living fabulously on a budget. It's a companion guide to SHOO, Jimmy Choo!: Now that you've got your finances under control using the advice SHOO, Jimmy Choo!, the new book will show you how to keep them that way without sacrificing your sense of style.
Keep up with Catey's latest thinking by following her on Twitter at @cateyhill
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