This Week In Your Wallet: Trust, But Verify (Then Verify Some More)
Obsessed. Well, maybe that’s pushing it. But really, really interested. That’s how I’d describe my feelings about the coverage of the week-long crash-and-burn saga of Ozy Media. It began with New York Times media columnist Ben Smith’s report that an Ozy co-founder had impersonated a YouTube executive on a conference call with Goldman Sachs, which was then weighing a $40 million investment in the company. The purpose of the charade was to inspire confidence in the number of eyeballs Ozy’s centerpiece program The Carlos Watson Show (hosted by the company’s co-founder and CEO) was regularly garnering on YouTube.
Fast-forward seven days and – in no particular order – Ozy star Katty Kay resigned, as did board chair Marc Lasry, an owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, and by Friday the company said it would wind down operations. Then, this morning Watson appeared on Today where he told anchor Craig Melvin that in fact the company was open for business and that this would be “our Lazarus moment, our Tylenol moment,” referencing two other rise-from-ruins stories. Yep. That all happened.
So…what does this have to do with you and your money? After all, most of us are not investing in start-ups. It feels like the advice to trust, but verify – or maybe it should be verify, then verify some more? – should be written in the skies. With the trial of Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes underway, the rise of new meme stocks in the trail of GameStop, and the continuing question of what Facebook knew about the harm it may cause and how long it’s had that information (the whistleblower, Frances Haugen, came forward and was profiled on last night’s 60 Minutes), it is more clear than ever that it’s up to us to protect ourselves where our finances (and our privacy) is concerned.
Speaking of protecting our finances, many of you have been asking when the next Finance Fixx class will begin. We have a great group gathering starting Monday, Oct. 11, and we have a few spots left. I’d love for you to join us. I’ve always found that getting money matters in order + financial questions answered before the holidays is the absolute best way to end a year – and start a new one. I look forward to seeing you there!
Yes, It’s Not Just Your Money On The Line…
It’s your data. We’ve all become kind of, well, immune to the free credit score pitch. Me included. I’ve recommended using many of the services that will give you a free score – with the caveat that you know that the deal you’re making is that these companies (Credit Karma, Credit Sesame and others) will use your information to try to pitch you products. Well, Consumer Reports’ Lisa Gill lays out a compelling case for being more wary than that. She suggests that if you do need a credit score (and it’s an important piece of data to check from time to time) that instead you look to other free sources. Does your credit card provide a free score, perhaps? Many do. In the meantime, going to annualcreditreport.com three times a year and pulling a truly free report from each of the three credit bureaus is your right. If you find mistakes, report them pronto. And, if you want credit scores to be similarly available for free, keep an eye on a bill introduced by Representative Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) called the Protecting Your Credit Score Act.
A Podcast Episode You Don’t Want To Miss
Last week, we launched an episode of the HerMoney Podcast focused on financial abuse. A staggering 99% of people in abusive relationships face financial abuse, notes our guest Katie Hood, CEO of the One Love Foundation (named for Yeardley Love, the UVA lacrosse player killed by her former boyfriend when both were students.)
“When you hear the term ‘abuse,’ perhaps you have an image in your mind of domestic abuse — one that’s physical or verbal. And these forms of abuse can absolutely be related — controlling a partner’s finances is one of the most effective ways of keeping someone trapped and powerless in a relationship,” HerMoney Producer Kathryn Tuggle wrote about the episode. “But when financial abuse is happening, it’s not always easy to identify, because it can look different in every relationship. In some cases, the abuser may deny their victim access to income, or monitor every penny spent. In other cases, the abuser may limit their partner’s access to information about the family’s finances, may sabotage their jobs and prevent them from working, or may coerce them into taking out loans or credit cards.”
We were also joined by Rebecca, who shared her own tale of financial abuse, and details on how she escaped. Listen in as we talk about what financial abuse really is, and why it can be so difficult to identify. To that end, we also discuss how best you can help a friend who you suspect may be suffering from financial abuse. Join us. And please take the time to share this episode with anyone you think might benefit from it.
“Get Invested. Stay Invested.”
This past weekend, I had the honor of appearing on a panel discussion for my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania’s Momentum 2021 conference with a group of amazing women. As we signed off, the words of Jamie Kramer, head of the Alternatives Solutions Group and Managing Director at JP Morgan, became a mantra for me. She said: “Get invested. Stay invested.” Those words stuck with me as the stock market set off on a gloomy Monday. Her advice is particularly good for women, who keep 71% of our assets in cash (according to Blackrock) compared with 60% for men. History shows us that investing + sticking with it is the very best pathway to building long-lasting wealth.
Have a great week!