The 5 Questions We Ask Everyone: Financial Expert, Lisa Serwin

so many shoesLet’s be honest for a moment here: as college females, we aren’t so good at managing our money. Sure, we’d like to be…until we walk past Anthropologie and have to have every dress in the window and those adorable throw pillows for our bedrooms.

The truth is, money management and financial mumbo jumbo is boring and spending all that hard earned money is fun! Who wants boring when we can have this?

But it doesn’t have to be that way, which I learned after reading So Many Shoes, So Little Money: A Girl’s Guide to Finance. Lisa Serwin, a girly girl to her core, breaks all that budget business down in a way that is easy to understand and, even more importantly, easy to incorporate (realistically!) into the college girl’s life. Serwin doesn’t tell us to eat ramen and wear our leftovers from middle school; she explains how to save and how to spend in a way that won’t send us back to our childhood bedrooms when the money (inevitably) runs out.

Naturally, I needed her to set my budget to talk to her. And I did! Here is a bit about my new financial hero and a lot of useful information that all of us can benefit from!

5 Questions We Ask Everyone:

1. What’s your most hysterical/ridiculous college memory?
That’s fit for print? I accidentally locked myself in a second floor bathroom during a fraternity party.  The door handle broke off, and no one heard my pounding. (The one and only time in history there wasn’t a line for a ladies room!) I climbed out the bathroom window onto the roof – high heels and all, shimmied down a tree, and walked back in through the front door. However, apparently everyone had been watching my descent through the window.  When I walked back in I was greeted with cat calls and applause.

2. What are the five things you can’t live without?
In no particular order:
Great shoes
My family and friends
A good night’s sleep (otherwise I’m really cranky)

3. What’s your motto/advice you live by?
I don’t actually have one. However, I’ve always liked: “People are more fun than anybody” by Dorothy Parker.

4. What’s your favorite song to belt out at the bar/in the car/for karaoke?
That’s a hard one – there are so many good choices.  Pretty much any cheesy 80s song that doesn’t require a lot of range…I am a truly AWFUL singer.

5. Ten years from now you will be…
Hopefully writing more books! I was a British history major in college prior to getting my Masters in Business so perhaps one day I’ll write a period romance novel.

5 Questions Just for Lisa:

1. What is the most important thing college women need to know/do when it comes to managing their money?
First and foremost, managing your finances is not hard…you can do it! The best thing you can do for yourself and your money is to make a budget.  The worst thing you can do is to charge more than you can afford on a credit card and not pay the bill in full when it arrives. Why? When you can’t pay your bill in full, the card companies charge you a fee. These charges are called interest and the amount of interest is called the Annual Percentage Rate (or APR). When you are unable to pay your bill in full every month, the charges for borrowing money from the credit card company add up very quickly.

2. What are the 2 things that are totally worth spending the extra money on vs. 2 things that are a complete waste?

Totally worth it: college education and experiences with friends (years from now you’ll never remember a sweater you bought but you always remember how much fun you had).
Complete waste: expensive cosmetics and beauty supplies.

3. What do you think is the hardest part of setting a budget and managing your money?
The hardest part of setting a budget is actually sitting down to make it!  But budgets are essential.  After all, how do you know how much you can spend if you don’t even know what you have? Making a budget is all about living within your means, knowing you’re on top of things, in control. Regardless of how much or—more to the point—how little money you have, if you live within your means, you’ll still have choices. Maybe not as many choices as you would like, but definitely choices.

By the way, it’s not what you budget—it’s how you utilize it. Attitude is everything. Most budgets fail because they are seen as a restraint as in, “It’s not in my budget.” Instead, think of a budget as a way to help you achieve your life’s goals and dreams. A budget doesn’t tell you what you can’t do; it tells you what you can do.

4. How much money should a college girl have in a savings account?
It depends on the girl! A good rule of thumb is to start by saving up to one month’s worth of living expenses. This may take awhile, but it is really crucial. You want to be able to take care of yourself if you hit any of life’s little bumps—and you will hit some. Then, work your way up to three months and promise yourself you won’t touch that money unless there is an emergency. The sooner you start saving, the better. I urge you to start saving now—even if you only have a little bit left over every month.

Why did you write this book? I mean, finance isn’t the most exciting topic to tackle for young women…
I want women to embrace the empowering notion that basic financial knowledge and a long-term plan can be the equivalent of front row tickets to Fashion Week. I want every woman to know how to manage her money.  At its best, money is about freedom and choices, options and opportunities. It’s about being able to live the life you want to live in the way you want to live it. Money allows you to be self-sufficient, with the confidence that comes with being independent and the freedom to make life choices that are right for you.  I think that’s tremendously exciting!

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