Not all of us love our jobs. I know, I know: You’re not supposed to say such things in an era when everyone’s supposed to love what they do from sun-up to sun-down… But as much as we’re told that our jobs should inspire passion and we should adore every task our bosses assign us (just check your social media feeds) some of us simply don’t like what we do. Perhaps we haven’t found our calling, or maybe we haven’t found a place where we can grow, or it could be that we just need a new manager, because ours is a jerk. The list of reasons we may feel dissatisfied in our jobs is almost as long as the list of jobs available. So why do so many of us continue to feel isolated or undervalued in our positions? Why do we feel like something is missing from our day-to-day?
This week’s guest says that it doesn’t have to be this way. She says that with a little effort, we can all develop the intuition, self-awareness, and interpersonal agility we need to prosper in any role — even if it’s not our top choice. Dr. Melanie Katzman is the author of the new bestselling book, “Connect First: 52 Simple Ways To Ignite Success, Meaning, and Joy At Work.” She’s also a business psychologist, and the founder of Katzman Consulting.
In this week’s episode, Melanie and Jean dive into some of the simple things we can do to improve our working lives, and make our colleagues feel good in the process. One easy thing? Taking time to smile. We can’t stop ourselves from smiling at those who smile back at us, Melanie says. A smile gives our brains a nice little shot of oxytocin, and it costs nothing. The next time you’re on the elevator, she advises, don’t just look at your phone. Instead, engage with your colleagues. And once the elevator lets you off on your floor, don’t stop there. Continue sharing meals with them, celebrating their successes, and laughing with them at the things they didn’t do as well as they would have liked. Every day is a chance to build and strengthen those relationships, and become the kind of person everyone wants to work with.
But how do you become that person? When you meet with someone, think about what they would like to know, Melanie advises. Prepare “conversational gifts” for them. “Make sure that in your interactions, they leave their conversations with you feeling smarter and better about themselves,” she says. And, no, this is not about being popular — your work life isn’t a popularity contest, but it is very important that you have a seat at the table. In other words, you want to be the person who is included, who gets new opportunities, and whose emails and calls are answered. Being popular is about being the person that people want to include. And you become that person “by being generous and attentive to others, and by making people feel good in your presence. They will want to be with you and seek you out, and that will open opportunities, give you more access to information, and position you for advancement,” Melanie says.
But when we talk about popularity, it’s important not to confuse being popular with being likeable — being likeable should be our long-term goal. “Sometimes we actually confuse having quality relationships with the avoidance of conflict,” she says. “ If you confuse being likeable with being sweet and charming and agreeable, you are disempowering yourself.” Think about it this way: Ending your sentence with an emoji is not making the conflict go away. We have to sit down and talk about what the problem is, take ownership, and work towards a solution, she advises, offering additional guidance to women on how we can use our emotional savvy to our advantage.
Melanie also breaks down the importance of being connected not only through technology, but also in person — we must take time to have face-time with one another and make “small talk,” which is actually incredibly important for team-building and feeling heard and understood at work. Melanie also dives into what people who work from home can do to feel they are part of the group, and to feel connected to their workspace and colleagues. (Hint: Video calls, and saying “good morning” to one another can really make a difference!)
You might be surprised to learn how our hormones (including oxytocin) play a role in how we feel about our jobs, and how in-tune we feel with our colleagues. Also, we explore how we can get back on the right track at work if we feel like we’re missing something, and how we can help create a working environment that allows everyone to be their best. It’s less about “What’s my job?” and more about: “Am I creating an environment that allows everyone to be their best, and for me to feel my best?” When we ask these questions, people become more creative, and relax into a workplace with more meaning and purpose, Melanie explains.
Lastly, Melanie and Jean dive into salary and explore how much money is enough money — what’s the number that’s going to make you happy? Many people have the sense that “more is more” but this leads them to live in a constant state of dissatisfaction. What we really need, she explains, is to have the money we need for the goals we’ve set, and be able to recognize when we’ve met them.
In Mailbag, Jean and Kathryn tackle questions about what inflation means for retirement savings and costs, whether a Solo 401(k) or a SEP IRA is right for an entrepreneur, and what the best options are for investing an infusion of cash that a listener wants to keep handy in the event of an emergency. In Thrive, Jean goes into how we can all use the right keywords in our resume and ensure that resume-scanning robots pick your CV out of the pile and flag you as a qualified candidate.
Melanie Katzman: (00:00)
Ending your sentence with a little emoticon with a smiley face is not making the conflict go away. If you could fuse being likable with being sweet and charming and agreeable, you are disempowering yourself. If you feel as if you have the courage to be able to say, look, we have to sit down and talk about what the problem is. Take ownership and work towards a solution. That makes somebody popular because they have a desired quality that people need.
Jean Chatzky: (00:31)
HerMoney is brought to you by Fidelity Investments. You work too hard to just let your money sit in savings. Learn how to make your money work as hard as you do at Fidelity.com/demandmore. HerMoney comes to you through PRX.
Jean Chatzky: (00:45)
Hey everybody, it is Jean Chatzky. I’m very happy that all of you are with us today. I was thinking that I’ve heard from so many of you that you’re listening to HerMoney on your way into the office in the morning. I’m glad that you’re taking us with you on your daily commute. That’s where I sample my share of podcasts as well. It’s an honor to get to share a small part of your work day before you get into the nuts and bolts of it or even into the grind. It is that grind, that slog as some people call it that we’re going to dive into today because here’s the dirty little secret. Not all of us love our jobs. I know. I know we are not supposed to admit that in an era where everyone is supposed to love what they do. That it’s supposed to light us up. That it’s supposed to fulfill us. But as much as we are told daily, it seems on social media, that our jobs should inspire passion, that we should adore the tasks that we are asked to perform for the purpose of earning money, some of us just don’t like it. Some of us have not found our calling. Some of us haven’t found that place where we feel like we can grow. Maybe we just need a new boss cause ours is a jerk. The list of reasons why a person can be unsatisfied in their job is almost as long as the list of jobs themselves. So why is it that so many of us feel isolated or undervalued? Why do we feel like there is just something missing? My guest today says doesn’t have to be that way. She says that with just a little bit of effort, we can all develop the intuition, the self-awareness, the interpersonal agility that we need to prosper at work even if it is not our favorite. Dr Melanie Katzman is author of the new book Connect First. It’s a bestseller and the subtitle is 52 Simple Ways to Ignite Success, Meaning and Joy at Work. She’s a business psychologist. She’s founder of Katzman Consulting. She co-created the Sirius XM show, Women at Work. Melanie, nice to see you.
Melanie Katzman: (03:21)
Thanks so much for having me, Jean.
Jean Chatzky: (03:22)
Thanks for being here. We’ve talked a number of times on your show. We’ve talked over lunch because we are both alums of the University of Pennsylvania and members of a board at Penn and it’s nice to have you in my studio.
Melanie Katzman: (03:38)
Thank you so much and it’s great to share the stage and to talk about women and money from psychological and a financial and social view.
Jean Chatzky: (03:46)
What inspired you to do this? What inspired you to put pen to paper and write Connect First?
Melanie Katzman: (03:52)
I have to tell you, Jean. We are all naturally wired to connect. And yet to our own detriment, we have let technology often speed up our lives and disconnect us. We collect followers and likes, but we don’t forge the deep relationships that give work a sense of meaning, that cement us to the things that we do in a way that allows us to feel grounded and appreciated. And I wrote the book because I really want to put people out of the pain that you described as you were introducing the podcast. There’s so many simple ways in which people can find greater happiness and meaning at work and they just don’t experience it. And that often is a result of not having the kinds of connection at the human level first, as people, person to person, and then from that build on it and create relationships as colleagues, as collaborators and as fellow community members.
Jean Chatzky: (04:43)
When you say build relationships, are you talking about friendships?
Melanie Katzman: (04:49)
I’m really talking about understanding what makes someone tick. You know, in a day and age we talk so much about diversity or we talk about an appreciation of difference. What I think we often fail to focus on is the commonality between us, that you peel back the skin and we all are wired in the same way. We want to matter. We want to be appreciated. We want to be thanked. We want to be seen. I’m a clinical psychologist and I’m a corporate consultant and I see people in my therapy practice and then I’d go to companies and I work with CEOs in a corner office and I also talked to people in cubicles and wherever I am, having these conversations, what I’m hearing over and over again is that when people feel disrespected or marginalized, they’re miserable. But what it takes to help people feel empowered and energized, it doesn’t cost money and it doesn’t take a long time. And so ultimately I wrote this book because it just doesn’t have to be that hard.
Jean Chatzky: (05:43)
You have 52 things actually.
Melanie Katzman: (05:44)
Jean Chatzky: (05:44)
Share a couple of your favorites to kick us off at the top. I mean, what are the simple things that we can do to help other people along and help ourselves?
Melanie Katzman: (05:54)
Thanks for asking. I mean, the book can pose in a way that you could do one thing a week if you want to. So you could kind of have your own personal campaign or self development program or do it as a company initiative. The first section is all around establishing respect. And it’s getting the basics right. Taking the time to ,believe it or not, smile. I smile at you. You smile back. It’s a neurohack. We can’t stop ourselves from smiling at someone who smiles at us.
Jean Chatzky: (06:21)
We’re going to smile now.
Melanie Katzman: (06:23)
You and me. We’re gonna smile. We’re gonna smile and people in the booth. And it’s just that little shot of oxytocin that makes you feel good, that makes you feel bonded. And so the book starts with a smile. It’s simple. It costs nothing. Walk into the office, don’t look at your personal device. Look at the people in the elevator. I often get requests to comment on how do people network at work. And I say, well for one, when you get into the elevator, talk to the people who you’re commuting upstairs with. I mean, just the ways in which we missed the opportunity to see someone, to listen, to truly listen, to engage our senses. So I also suggest that people look for ways to share meals together, to be able to celebrate, to celebrate the things we did well and to laugh at the things that we didn’t do as well as we would have liked. I also talked to people at being a magnet. So another tip is about how do you become the person people want to work with. Show up. Do your research. Prepare what I call conversational gifts. Think about what the person you’re meeting with would like to know. Make sure that in your interactions, people leave their time with you feeling smarter and better about themselves.
Jean Chatzky: (07:28)
Another thing that the book talks about is becoming popular. Popular sounds a little bit like an eighth grade aspiration.
Melanie Katzman: (07:35)
Jean Chatzky: (07:35)
Except you know, I remember having these conversations with my daughter about, you know, it doesn’t matter if you’re not popular. We tell our girls, because there’s so many mean ones out there, that it’s not all about being popular. So why do we need to be popular at work?
Melanie Katzman: (07:51)
So I purposely did that. I put that in to be evocative. To get the reaction. People go, wait, it’s not the middle school classroom or the middle school cafeteria. But there’s something about that middle school cafeteria that does matter. You want a seat at the table. And when you’re in business, you want a seat at the table. You want to be the person who’s included. You want the opportunity. You want to get the information that when you are showing up on someone’s caller ID, you want them to grab the phone. You want them to answer your email. So being popular isn’t in that mean vicious way that you trip somebody to get their spot in line. But it is about becoming the individual that people want to include. And you do that by being generous and attentive to others. By making people feel good in your presence, they will want to be with you and they will seek you out. And that will open opportunities, give you more access to information and position you for more innovation and advancement.
Jean Chatzky: (08:45)
There’s a lot of pressure on women to be likable. How is popular different from likable?
Melanie Katzman: (08:51)
So you know, sometimes we actually confuse having quality relationships with the avoidance of conflict. And one of the things that also motivated me to write the book was to help people have the tools so that they aren’t afraid to have the difficult conversations. So if you could fuse being likable with being sweet and charming and agreeable, you are disempowering yourself. If you feel as if you have the courage to be able to say, look, ending your sentence with a little emoticon with a smiley face is not making the conflict go away. We have to sit down and talk about what the problem is. Take ownership and work towards a solution. That makes somebody popular because they have a desired quality that people need. They may not always be likable because another chapter in the book I have is called, Name the Elephant in the Room. But you need to identify the problems. If you don’t identify them, you can’t find the solution. So we shouldn’t confuse popular with being likable. You’re not always likable, but your longterm goal is that you will be liked and most importantly you’ll be respected.
Jean Chatzky: (09:56)
It’s a big difference. And I think for women getting to that point where we don’t feel crushed at the end of the day, if we know somebody is unhappy with us, it’s sometimes difficult to sleep with. You know, it’s difficult to not go to bed dwelling on that.
Melanie Katzman: (10:12)
So you know, work is personal. So I think we have to be careful. Like when we say to people, Oh, it’s only business, it’s only worked. Don’t take it personally. It is personal, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible and it doesn’t mean you’re always wrong or you need to feel bad. What I do coach people to consider is that if you’re feeling it, it is likely that your colleague is feeling it too. Did you leave that meeting feeling very sour, feeling off, experiencing tension? Go back. Check it out. Was somebody else feeling that way too? Use yourself as a barometer. Oftentimes I think women get penalized at work for being emotionally savvy. Here’s the opportunity to see that as your superpower. You know, if you can read the room, if you’re feeling it deeply, use that to start the conversation with others at work and help them feel honored because you have identified that there may be a problem and you are going to help them get through it.
Jean Chatzky: (11:03)
How does lack of connection hurt us? How does that get in the way of achieving the goals that we want to achieve?
Melanie Katzman: (11:10)
In so many different ways. I mean, one of the greatest wastes in today’s economy is the disengaged workforce. People show up. They go through the motions. They don’t care. I don’t care about you. I don’t care about your company. I’m going to give you a lackluster effort. I’m not going to report errors when they’re going on. I’m not going to look for ways to advance my bosses mission or the organization’s goals. So the company suffers and individual suffer. We all really want to feel connected. We want to feel like we belong. But when we don’t, we feel miserable. We end up getting sick. We are more open to the stressors that are around us. People who are disengaged actually have poor health and they live shorter lives.
Jean Chatzky: (11:54)
You’re talking, it sounds like, about loneliness.
Melanie Katzman: (11:56)
Loneliness is really at epidemic proportions these days. And it seems so counter intuitive because everybody is connected through their technology. But again, we can’t confuse having information that you get through your phone or computer with what it means to actually spend time with an individual. To feel what they’re feeling, to experience where they’re living and working. And that gives us energy.
Jean Chatzky: (12:24)
So you’re saying to make time to be with people. I mean it’s interesting. As I listened to you talk, I think the phone is almost an intermediate step between the device and being in person. I think we are under-utilizing the phone these days to our detriment. Because you can connect over the phone in a way that you can’t on texting.
Melanie Katzman: (12:47)
Yes. And people see that making a phone call as being too intimate or I’m interrupting somebody. You know, you don’t have to pick it up. But if somebody calls you, you know, just have a two minute conversation hearing a voice actually gives a greater sense of connection. You’re 100% right. It also bridges us to one another in a way that multiple emails do not. And I often say to my clients, if you had more than two or three exchanges by email, pick up the phone and have the conversation. If you’re co-located, get out of your seat and walk down the hall. People using Slack when they’re all in the same conference room and they’re talking to each other or talking about one another. And so you’re cheating and you’re cheating yourself.
Jean Chatzky: (13:26)
Well, yeah. It reminds me of having, I had a car full of girls in high school and they were all texting each other. Right? They’re all in the car. I know it’s not because they don’t want me to hear what they’re saying because they could care less. Right. But they’re all just texting on their devices rather than talking to each other.
Melanie Katzman: (13:45)
And you lose the intonation. Like we know that you know, no matter how many different pictures that you include, whether you have your latest GIF or video or emoticon, that you’re still not going to get the nuance that a voice will provide. And even better yet that the visual provide. So we can use our phones to our betterment for sure. But I would still argue that it’s important to make time to be with one another and it’s not inefficient. You know, in companies we often talk about small talk as if it’s small, unimportant and I would say no, it actually slows things down for just a few minutes in order to speed things up. To make us more efficient.
Jean Chatzky: (14:25)
What do you say to people who are working from home?
Melanie Katzman: (14:29)
Well, a number of things. One is that there’s responsibility on both sides. That if you’re working from home, that to look for ways in which you can be part of the group. And that means perhaps making sure that everybody, when they get online in the morning, says good morning. Like we are indicating that the day has started. It’s a way of recognizing we’re working together, but equally to say goodnight because it’s a way to signal that the day has ended. Because oftentimes people working at home have no sense of what’s happening. They don’t have the visual cue that people have now gotten up and are starting to leave. So saying good morning and good night I think makes it human and also makes you connect it. I encourage people to get into the office if at all possible, if they live in the distance that allows that, to use video calls when they can. If you’re the manager who’s managing remote workers, start your conference calls with just asking people what do you see out your window? Cause suddenly you find out that the purpose person who’s working in Texas sees a prairie, the person in New York sees a construction site, the person India sees a cow. Like, okay, we’ve literally grounded people in their environment and then we go and have the conversation we need to. But it makes it real.
Jean Chatzky: (15:39)
What if you don’t have a company? What if you’re a solo practitioner? You’re a freelancer, you’re working from home. How do you connect?
Melanie Katzman: (15:49)
So I think there’s a number of different ways. I mean some of that has to do with being part of organizations that are comprised of other freelancers. Even if you don’t want to work out of a co-working space.To be able to have some sort of club, society or organization. Or in one of the chapters I talk about create the group you want to be a part of. Find people who are doing similar kinds of work, so that you have a peer group that gives you a sense of belonging and also a reality check. And if you work from home or you work on your own, you still are part of teams, right? So that in many instances if you’re a consultant, there’s a period of time that you are a member of the team. And if the team isn’t creating the rituals, you can. And these rituals are… How do we say hello? How do we acknowledge success? How do we do midpoint check-ins to know are we succeeding or do we need to make adjustments? All of those conversations progress the project, but also give you a sense of belonging and connectedness.
Jean Chatzky: (16:46)
I want to come back to talk about, again, this importance of interpersonal connection. But before I do that, let me just remind everybody that HerMoney is proudly sponsored by Fidelity Investments and we’re here to remind you that you work too hard to just let your money sit in savings. Whether you’re new to the workforce, whether you’re approaching retirement. Fidelity will help advise you throughout your career and beyond so that your money is working just as hard as you do. It all starts with a yearly financial checkup and an understanding of what you own and what you owe. From there, the folks at Fidelity will work with you to evaluate your investment options, determine ways to grow your savings and keep you on track to reach your life goals. Start demanding more from your money today at Fidelity.com/demandmore. We are with Melanie Katzman, author of the bestselling book Connect First: 52 Simple Ways to Ignite Success, Meaning and Joy at Work. I know that you were on the faculty of Cornell Medical School. What is the latest science tell us about why we need human connection.
Melanie Katzman: (17:57)
As I mentioned earlier, we are all wired to connect. Our brains at rest will actually tune into the breathing, adjust to the heartbeat of the people around us. We release oxytocin, the bonding hormone, when we are in connection with other people. It helps us feel safe. It gives us the courage to innovate, to make the mistakes that are necessary to find the new results. By contrast, when we feel under threat, we release cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone and it actually deteriorates our health when we have it in too high doses. And so what we know from neuroscience is that oxytocin helps and cortisol can actually undermine our effectiveness. So oxytocin bonding hormone – good, cortisol – not so good. So we want to look for ways that biology will work with us and for us.
Jean Chatzky: (18:49)
Does oxytocin have anything to do with why when you live with roommates, you all get your period on the same schedule?
Melanie Katzman: (18:53)
Jean Chatzky: (18:54)
Melanie Katzman: (18:55)
Yes. We all start to menstruate together. If you put a group of people together in a room, and I do this actually, I talk about in one of the chapters called Silence, that you get people just to spend even five minutes together in silence and to focus on their breathing. The breathing of your colleagues will fall into sync. And if you are then breathing in the same rhythm, imagine the kind of conversation you’re going to have versus when you all come in tense and anxious and checking out who’s sitting where and what they’re doing and checking your email and thinking about the last meeting. So I actually give the suggestion that at times you give people the opportunity to fall into sync by being quiet, by learning to breathe together. Same thing as I said with heartbeats. Menstruation, heartbeats, breathing, the list goes on and on.
Jean Chatzky: (19:44)
Kathryn’s going to have to lead us in group yoga. She’s a certified yoga instructor.
Melanie Katzman: (19:48)
So you’ve got the ingredients right here.
Jean Chatzky: (19:50)
There we do. A lot of times, I teed this up at the beginning of the show, when we’re talking about increasing our, the fulfillment at work. That feels sometimes like a lot of pressure. It feels like a lot of pressure to like what we do. Step back from connectivity for a second and talk to me as a coach. In your professional life for years, you have helped people find fulfillment at work. If we feel like we’re missing something, how do we start to get back on the right track?
Melanie Katzman: (20:23)
So I find that people become paralyzed with this big question of, what is my purpose? How do I find meaning? I’ve got to do something that’s incredible. I have to change the world tomorrow. And what happens is it actually paralyzes people because it feels too big. They don’t know where to start. So when I work with people, I encourage them to think about the daily things that are going to make a difference for you. How do you want to feel about yourself when you get up in the morning? What is going to give you a spring in your step? What’s going to give you energy? Who and what kinds of questions are going to matter to you, and how can you create even those small moments of interaction that help you feel important and allow you to see the difference that you’re making in your life, in the lives of other people? So it’s less about what’s my job? Am I working for nonprofits? It’s feeding the poor and eradicating illiteracy versus am I actually creating an environment by who I am and how I show up that allows everybody to be their best and for me to feel their best. From that place, people become more creative. They relax into the questions of meaning and purpose. So I like to take it from like the big picture into the small, more microscopic interactions and allow people to see that no matter your position, no matter your job, you can find purpose and meaning by what you do and how you do it.
Jean Chatzky: (21:44)
For one of the books I wrote years back, I looked into the difference between jobs and careers and callings. And I was struck that people are able to find the calling in careers as janitors, in careers as, I don’t even know. They were surprising things that they were able to feel like they were doing…
Melanie Katzman: (22:09)
Because they were connected to their outcome in a way that meant something to them. I did the Doctor Radio show a few months ago and one of the questions asked of me was, how can doctors find meaning at work? And I thought, okay, if that’s the question, we’ve really got a problem. That people think about medicine as a place that is imbued with meaning, but at a time when people are working with numerical assessments of did you see enough patients fast enough and get the right kinds of billings and have they been done on time, people have become disconnected with the service that they’re providing. By contrast, you could have somebody who is the cafeteria worker who’s doing the meal preparation for people on the oncology unit, and they feel as if they’re giving the nutritional supplements they’re allowing the patients to actually have the strength to fight their disease. And they have more meaning. They’re working in a dark basement kitchen and yet they’re feeling more connected than some of the doctors that are in the operating rooms.
Jean Chatzky: (23:03)
So how do you tap into that?
Melanie Katzman: (23:05)
Well, I think it’s about recognizing how your actions actually impact the outcome. So this gets back to really looking at, what is it that you’re doing that will make a difference. So if I am, let’s use the street cleaner. If I am bringing the people together and say, okay, we’re going to go out there today and we’re going to make sure we’re ridding the city of as much disease as possible. And at the end of every street that we clean, we’re going to stop the garbage truck and just look and say, wow, this is what we did. That’s an immediate opportunity with your team, with the people on your truck to go, this is smelly, it’s dirty, it’s not particularly glamorous. But you know what we can see right now that this street looks completely different. And as those kids were leaving for school, they’re leaving in a cleaner, safer environment. So I think that it isn’t always as I have to say what it is that your job title says. It’s what you do with that. And I think once you start to do that for yourself and you talk about that with the people you work with, you become a force for good.
Jean Chatzky: (24:02)
This is a financial show. We talk a lot about issues of careers, but we talk about money as well. Often I think these days your satisfaction, people satisfaction at work, is tied to the money that they’re earning. Tied to the raises that they’re getting. Should it be? And how do we put that in perspective?
Melanie Katzman: (24:23)
So you know, people are often surprised that one of the questions I asked people when they come in to talk to me about their careers is how much money do you need to make? And they look at me like, wait, aren’t you like psychologist? Aren’t you supposed to be talking to me about my feelings? I’m like, we’ll get to your feelings, but I want to get the baseline down. How much is enough? So first of all, that question of itself takes a while to unpack. But if we are honest with ourselves, what is that we’re solving for? So what’s the lifestyle that we need? Can you put a number on it? Okay, then what’s the way you’re going to get to that? And then what is the envelope that you want to put around your daily activities? What’s the rhythm that you want for the week? And can we actually align that? So there’s some people who say, Oh, you know, I just want to work flat out all the time. Or I want to be more in a project-oriented career where I work hard and then I’m on the beach or I’m riding my motorcycle cross country. So I try to work with people and defining how much money is enough. Then what is it that they want to be doing – the rhythm of their days and their weeks. And then we start to say, what’s the number? Because oftentimes people have some amorphous sense of more has to be more, has to be more, and then they’re living in a constant state of dissatisfaction. I want to be realistic. You need to have the money that you need for the things that you’ve set as as goals. But let’s set those goals and then recognize when you’ve met them financially so you have a chance to breathe and to be able to say, okay, now I’m going to spend some time to do other things or invest some of my money into other things that will bring me greater happiness.
Jean Chatzky: (25:49)
Melanie Katzman. The book is Connect First. Thank you so much. You’re going to have to come back and take us through that how much is enough exercise.
Melanie Katzman: (25:58)
I would love to. It’s been great talking with you.
Jean Chatzky: (26:00)
It’s been great talking with you too and we’ll be right back with Kathryn and your mailbox.
Jean Chatzky: (26:12)
HerMoney’s Kathryn Tuggle has joined me in the studio. Hey Kathryn.
Kathryn Tuggle: (26:16)
Hello. Melanie was great.
Jean Chatzky: (26:18)
She was terrific. She was really terrific. I have interacted with her on her Sirius show and I know her from this committee that we are both on it at Penn. And I know a number of people who are coached by her and she is really effective at helping people get where they want to be in their careers. And I think a lot of that comes through in this book.
Kathryn Tuggle: (26:43)
I agree and I could tell just from listening to her talk, there were takeaways, no matter your situation, whether you’re really happy in your job and you just want to improve it, or whether it’s time to move on, she had something for everybody.
Jean Chatzky: (26:56)
Yeah, absolutely. And I am serious about bringing her back to do that exercise about what’s enough because it is something, it’s something I struggle with. I think it’s something that a lot of people who strive struggle with. You know, I know what the research says about money and happiness and how more is not always better, but sometimes when you’ve been trying to prove yourself, your whole life, stopping is really, really difficult.
Kathryn Tuggle: (27:23)
Yup. That’s such a great point.
Jean Chatzky: (27:25)
So we will schedule that in the near future. But before we do that, we want to take some questions from our listeners.
Kathryn Tuggle: (27:32)
Absolutely. Our first note comes to us from Irene. She writes, hi Jean. I just turned 32 and I have a 401k with $50,000 in it. When I calculate how much I’ll have at 65, if I contribute the maximum $19,000 every year, a compound interest calculator tells me I’ll have 3.6 million when I retire. That sounds like a lot. But in 2053 will it be? How do I determine how much to save for retirement and take into account inflation over the decades? I’m in the midst of digging my way out of student loans with every extra penny, but I want to make sure I’m not underestimating retirement costs.
Jean Chatzky: (28:07)
The money nerd in me loves this question, Irene, because it just sends us to calculators. So you can apply inflation to figure this out and there are lots of calculators on the internet that you can type into… What will a dollar be worth in 20 years? In 30 years? In however many years you did it? I just took a dollar and I plugged it into a calculator and showed me that in 30 years, which today’s 2020 so in 2050 it’ll be worth, according to this calculator, with inflation at 3%, it’ll be worth about 41 cents – which sounds incredibly daunting and basically takes your 3.6 million and cuts it in more than half. But expenses are not always equal. If you, for example, pay off your mortgage before you retire, you will have a place to live as long as you stay in that house. And the value of homes tend to grow along with the value of inflation. So it’s not an apples to apples comparison. It’s actually the sort of analysis I think you will be best off doing if you sit down and you think about what your life will look like in retirement. Do you plan on having a home that is paid off? Do you plan on living someplace expensive or a little bit less expensive? Do you plan on continuing to work at all? Do you think you’ll be able to wait until age 70 to take social security based on the amount of money that you have? My guess is the answer to that question is yes. And then, have I dealt with the big wild card and the big wild card for all of us, but particularly for women is longterm care and health care. And what I would say is that as you look toward the future, I would sit down with the financial advisor. I would bring all of my calculations. I would think about whether I should be investing some of my money in a longterm care policy. This is not something that you’re going to want to do until you’re around age 50. That’s about the age at which, and that’s a long time away for you now, but those are the sorts of unknowns that prevent a substantial amount of money, and $3.6 million is a substantial amount of money, from going the distance with all of us. As we head into the future, I think we are going to see a lot more solutions for things like longterm care. I think we’re going to see a lot more about the concept of lifetime income in retirement – taking some of that retirement money and turning it into an income that will supplement social security and will last as long as we do. Because although undersaving is a problem, even if you do a bang up job in saving and investing as you are doing a bang up job in saving and investing, things like health care, longterm care and longevity can actually get in the way. So those are the kinds of things to keep in mind as you’re planning. Right now, I’d just keep on saving. I’d just keep putting my money in. I would keep investing it in a way that is aggressive because you’re young and I would seek out the help of a financial advisor at times of transition or when you want to dig a little deeper into these issues.
Kathryn Tuggle: (31:52)
Great. Our next note comes to us from Malak. She writes, Jean, I’m a longtime fan of yours. I love your show and find listening to you a bright spot in an otherwise drab commute.
Jean Chatzky: (32:02)
Oh, thank you.
Kathryn Tuggle: (32:03)
I’m working as a consultant on a 1099 and want to put away the maximum I legally can. This year I’ll have about $50,000 in earnings, so a solo 401k is a fine option. But in the years to come, I expect to be making more and want to maximize my contributions. I was thinking this is where a SEP IRA could come in. I wonder if I should set up a solo 401k this year and contribute the max, but then next year, if I have more income, I could contribute to a SEP IRA. Would I be able to have both depending on the year?Thank you.
Jean Chatzky: (32:33)
So you can’t actually, typically have both a SEP IRA and a solo 401k open at the same time. It gets a little technical. The reason is that both plans have employer profit sharing options. So when you work for yourself, you contribute as yourself, but you also contribute as your employer. I think the easier thing to do is just to set up the SEP IRA now and make the SEP IRA contribution now rather than the solo 401k and just let that be your ongoing option. You can put a significant amount of money into a SEP IRA – much more than you can put into a solo 401k. And the fact that you won’t be able to put as much in this year doesn’t really matter. So just go with the one account that you know is going to serve you better longterm and call it a day. And quite frankly, I have a SEP IRA. It is really, really easy to establish. So I wouldn’t worry too much about a lot of paperwork or anything.
Kathryn Tuggle: (33:42)
It’s nice to hear that that’s easy.
Jean Chatzky: (33:43)
Yeah, really easy. Very, very underused. SEP IRAs.
Kathryn Tuggle: (33:50)
Our last note comes to us from Heather. She writes, hi Jean. I teach middle school in upstate New York. I’ve been teaching for 22 years and plan on retiring at age 55 in 2029. I’m already maxing out my 403b and this past fall my mother sold her house and gave me $12,500 to invest in an IRA. I haven’t done it yet because I wasn’t sure the best way to go about it. Then this past weekend, she informed me that in this calendar year she’ll be gifting me $50,000 to do with whatever I want. This is an incredible gift and I want to make sure I’m extremely careful with the money. I have about $8,000 left in my car alone and $134,000 left on my mortgage with 26 years at 3.35%. I already have my emergency fund of $24,000. After I take about a thousand dollars of the money to treat my husband and myself to some fun. I’d like to invest it in a place that I can still access it if something special comes up. So what should I do? Should I pay off my car, pay off my mortgage, invest the money? I’d like my money to grow as much as possible. Thanks so very much for your time and advice.
Jean Chatzky: (34:54)
So based on the stipulations that you gave me, which are, I’d like to invest the money in a place that I can still access it iff something comes up, that says don’t put it on the car loan because he can’t get it back and probably don’t put it on the mortgage. The mortgage is relatively inexpensive money at 3.35%. I, as you know, if you’ve been listening to this show for any length of time, I really like the idea of going into retirement with a paid off mortgage. I think it takes a lot of pressure off. And based on your age, you’re not really on track to do that. So I’d start prepaying a little bit on the mortgage. I might make one extra payment a year on the mortgage to just get yourself out of it a little bit sooner and maybe heavy up down the road. But I would look to invest the money, and I’d look to do it with a plan in mind for how you’re going to use it, which means that I actually want you to sit down with a financial advisor. This is a big chunk of money. $50,000, actually $62,500, because she hasn’t invested the other portion of it yet. It’s a ton of money and it’s an opportunity that doesn’t come along all the time, right? I mean, you said it yourself, Heather. It’s an incredible gift and you want to make sure you’re doing the right thing and that means setting goals. That means having a plan. That means understanding that if you invest this money that the markets are volatile. You could experience some ups and downs. You want to talk about with an expert, how comfortable you feel with that. So you can go through your 403b plan. You may have access to a financial advisor who is very able and willing to help you, who administers that plan. Or you can just find a financial advisor on your own. Talk to friends who are in similar financial situations to yours. Get some recommendations. Find out how much these people cost. Check them out online. Make sure you do a background check. You want to use the broker check tool. That’s what it’s called. It’s a tool provided by FINRA. And then sit down with at least one person and possibly more than one and get some recommendations for how to proceed. 55 years old is very young and I say that because I am 55 years old. You’ve got a lot of years, you’ve got a lot of years that you could allow this money to grow, but it really depends on when you think you’re going to need it, when you think you’re going to want to use it for whatever the ultimate goal happens to be. So financial advisor, make a plan and go forward, but I would not put it in the car or the mortgage.
Kathryn Tuggle: (37:55)
Your advice to pay an extra mortgage payment once a year doesn’t sound like that much.
Jean Chatzky: (38:01)
It’s not that much. So an extra mortgage payment once a year on a 30 year mortgage will reduce a 30 year mortgage to 24 years.
Kathryn Tuggle: (38:13)
That’s more than I thought.
Jean Chatzky: (38:14)
Yeah, it’ll wipe off a good six years worth of payments. The same is true if you do biweekly mortgage payments. So because of, you know, the calendar year, if you make biweekly mortgage payments, once every two weeks, you’ll make 26 mortgage payments, which is a 13th payment. And because of interest and because the years of a mortgage are overloaded with interest, it does have the cumulative effect of wiping a number of years off the loan. You can also look up what it would cost you to pay off the mortgage in 15 years and just go on that sort of a calendar. There are no penalties for prepaying your mortgage. And I do like the idea, even though the money is cheap, of not having the pressure of having to pay the mortgage at the point where you decide that you’re not going to be in the workforce.
Kathryn Tuggle: (39:08)
Jean Chatzky: (39:09)
But I love the question and I think it’s a wonderful opportunity, Heather. So lots of luck to you and to your mom and thanks so much for listening.
Kathryn Tuggle: (39:17)
What a gift.
Jean Chatzky: (39:18)
Yup, absolutely. In today’s Thrive, if you, first of all, thank you Kathryn.
Kathryn Tuggle: (39:24)
You’re welcome. Anytime. Every week.
Jean Chatzky: (39:26)
In today’s Thrive, if you’re looking to land a new job anytime soon, it is time you learn to communicate with the computers that take the first pass at online applications. If you’ve applied for any jobs recently, you may have experienced their M.O. You work on your resume, you spend hours and hours perfecting your application, you submit it, and then crickets because the computer decided you weren’t a match. Thankfully, there are a few ways to make sure those resume-scanning robots don’t trash your application. First, spice up your resume with specific on the job results. Use meaningful job titles, tailor your choice of words to match the company’s keywords and requirements. These robots, they have the ability to scan for hard and soft skills and they can also knock you out of the running based on a single application question like, where you want to work location-wise. So be sure to keep the resume jargon at an all time high and be open always to multiple locations. Recruiters themselves admit they miss qualified candidates when they let robots do the work. So always make sure you use your network to make as many human connections as possible at the companies that you’re interested in. And then ask those people what they can do to help get your application pulled from the pile. Nope, this is not going to get you the job, but it might get you the interview. And that’s step one. Thanks so much for joining me today on HerMoney. Thank you to Melanie Katzman for sharing all the wonderful ways that we can ignite success, meaning and joy at work. If you like what you hear, I hope you’ll subscribe to our show at Apple Podcasts. Leave us a review. We love hearing what you think. We also want to thank our sponsor Fidelity. We record this podcast out of CDM Sound Studios. Our music is provided by Video Helper and our show comes to you through PRX. Join us next week. We’ll sit down with Lindsay Goldwert, author of Bow Down. Lessons from dominatrixes on how to get everything you want. Yes, you heard that right? Lindsay’s going to dish on how we can use some of their strategies to help us negotiate and take control of our finances and careers. Thanks so much for listening and we’ll talk soon.