If you’re into sports, and/or you’re a fan of personal finance, chances are you’re a bit of a numbers junkie — so let’s talk stats, shall we?
66 million monthly users.
12 million podcast listeners.
Annual revenue approaching $100 million.
These are just a few of the impressive numbers being posted by Barstool Sports, the world’s fastest-growing sports media brand, which is helmed by CEO (and this week’s HerMoney Podcast guest!) Erika Nardini. In just 3.5 years as CEO, Erika has grown the company from a staff of 15 employees to what it is today. She’s also launched 35 new brands within the company, which is now the world’s largest sports podcast publisher.
So just how did she manage to do all this, and beat her company’s 5 year goals in just 16 months? Erika gives us some insight into her incredible work ethic and drive, and her journey to helm the startup and work alongside its founder, Dave Portnoy. (Yes, that Dave Portnoy.) She also talks about her career journey, including roles at Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL, as well as our sponsor, Fidelity, all of which she says led her to understanding how the internet works, from both a content perspective and a business perspective.
She talks about a moment in her career at AOL where she finally got the position and title she wanted, but then realized it didn’t make her happy. Her quest to work for a more mission-driven company is what led her to Barstool, which she describes as the most mission-driven organization she’s ever found. She credits Dave Portnoy — who emptied out his bank account and maxed out his credit cards to keep his dream alive — with that. “He believed in what he was creating, he believed in his fans, and he created relationships that meant something,” she says.
Erika also addresses allegations that she’s a “token” female CEO — something she finds incredibly insulting, since the numbers and her track record speak for themselves. She and Jean also dive into sexism at large corporations, and how it can be so insidious at organizations where nothing is talked about, and everything happens behind closed doors. “I love that nothing is sacred at Barstool, and everything is talked about,” Erika says. Yes, Barstool is uncensored, but its employees have never been afraid to call things as they see them, and at the same time they’ve always built a welcoming culture for all kinds of people, she explains.
Erika talks about the early days at Barstool, before the team had an office, when they were working out of hotel lobbies and coffee shops so they could get free wifi. She also dives into the company’s majority-female C-suite and why it’s been important for her to have women in positions of power, but most importantly, to hire the right person for the job.
The pair also talk about Barstool’s programming for women, including the popular podcasts Schnitt Talk, and Call Her Daddy. They also dive into the “secret sauce” that makes a podcast — or online content of any kind — popular. It all comes back to the relatability and the “it factor” of the hosts, as well as transparency from Barstool, she says. “We show the process. We don’t have a plan,” she explains. ‘What makes us different from a traditional media company is that we give people a camera and a laptop and say ‘Have at it,’ and that’s why our stuff sticks.”
Of course, because this is the HerMoney podcast, Erika also weighs in on money matters, and talks about her struggles to manage her finances early on in her career when she had to take a paycut — “I didn’t adjust myself to my new job, and recalibrate for where I was,” she says, offering up her thoughts on some of the best things women can do to set themselves up for financial success.
Lastly, Erika weighs in on women in competitive sports, and how team sports can help us succeed. “For me, sports is the single biggest driver of any success I’ve had,” she says, detailing how her experiences in high school, college and beyond all taught her discipline, work ethic, and how to contribute to a team. “Sometimes you have the ball, sometimes you don’t,” she says.
In Mailbag, Jean and Kathryn tackle your questions on co-signing on loans for your loved ones, and what happens if they’re delinquent in paying the loan. They also dive into the best practices for easy tracking of financial accounts, including apps and other programs, and they tackle a question from a listener who lays out all the details on her retirement savings, and asks for advice on her asset allocation and her retirement date prospects.
Erika Nardini: (00:01)
We didn’t know what was next. We just started. And my feeling was we surely just need to start things. Like we need to take the first step and then the first step became the second step and we beat the five year goals for the company in basically 16 months. So we we knew right away that we were onto something and it’s just been electric since.
Jean Chatzky: (00:30)
HerMoney is brought to you by Fidelity Investments. You work too hard to let your money just sit in savings. Learn how to make your money work as hard as you do at Fidelity.com/demandmore. HerMoney comes to you from PRX.
Jean Chatzky: (00:48)
So regular listeners to this podcast know I am a bit of a numbers junkie and to kick off this episode, I have just a few numbers to toss out there for you. 201 employees, 66 million monthly users, 12 million podcast listeners, annual revenue approaching a hundred million. Those are just a few of the impressive numbers being posted by Barstool Sports, the world’s fastest growing media brand, which is helmed by today’s very special guest, Erika Nardini. In just three and a half years as CEO, she has grown the company from just 15 employees to what it is today. She’s also launched 35 new brands within the company, which is now the world’s largest sports podcast publisher and the third most engaged sports publisher on all of social media. Very impressive.
Erika Nardini: (01:48)
Jean Chatzky: (01:48)
Erika, thanks so much for coming in today.
Erika Nardini: (01:49)
Thanks for having me.
Jean Chatzky: (01:51)
I am thrown by those numbers, particularly since you just joined the company in 2016.
Erika Nardini: (01:59)
Jean Chatzky: (01:59)
Tell me a little bit about what you do there.
Erika Nardini: (02:02)
It’s wild. It hasn’t been that long. We’ve, you know, it’s a hard time in media. You hear mostly about attrition and contraction and the loss of viewers and subs and we’re the opposite. We are growing so fast. I joined Barstool. We didn’t have an office. There wasn’t a P&L. They didn’t use email. There were, I would say,15 guys. We weren’t even really sure how many guys there were because there were all these people who sort of worked for Barstool but didn’t. Everyone for the most part lived in Boston. We moved everyone to New York. We opened an office and we just really got to work. So we’ve done nothing but work for the last three and a half years. It’s been a grind, but the best grind on the planet. I’ve loved this job more than I ever thought possible and it’s been so fun to grow something and to grow people and to build what I think a future media company is going to look like. I think we’re so forward in how we think about creating content and monetizing content and distributing content on the internet. And because it wasn’t really a quote unquote company when I got there, there was nothing to change. So it’s been such a dream because I could figure out how to build something just the way I wanted to build it or just the way we wanted to build it. And I didn’t have to explain why we had to change something, just nothing existed really.
Jean Chatzky: (03:31)
I love that. I started my career at Forbes, but very quickly moved to Smart Money magazine, which, until working at HerMoney was the best job I ever had.
Erika Nardini: (03:41)
Jean Chatzky: (03:41)
Because we were inventing it as we went along.
Erika Nardini: (03:45)
And you don’t really know what you’re doing, you know. People say we don’t have a plan and they’re exactly right. We didn’t know what was next. We just started and my feeling was we surely just need to start things. Like we need to take the first step. And then the first step became the second step. And you know, we beat the five year goals for the company in basically 16 months. So we knew right away that we were onto something and it’s just been electric sense.
Jean Chatzky: (04:17)
You actually came from a pretty traditional background. You spent your career at AOL and Yahoo and Microsoft. You actually started at Fidelity. I did. Shout out to the ad read. Exactly. Why did you decide to take a leap to a startup but also a startup in sports?
Erika Nardini: (04:36)
Yup. Great question. So I’m not a person who had a straight line career. And I just can’t imagine if you have. I just haven’t been able to do that. So I’ve been a part of a handful of startups and really big companies and I feel like I’ve been able to take something from all of them. Like learned really how to operate, make money, organize, execute at scale at places like Yahoo and Microsoft. I really also was able to understand the internet. I worked abroad when I worked at Microsoft. I worked in really driving monetization when I was at Yahoo. At AOL, I was very focused on video. At Demand Media, we were completely oriented to Google. So I feel like I understand how the internet works from a business perspective and a content perspective and a distribution perspective. But my path was never linear. And I found that I always cared too much, is really how I felt about it. That I remember being at AOL and I had gotten the CMO title and I had worked so hard for 15 plus years to get that job. Like that was the job I always wanted. And then I got it and was in it and we were successful, but I wasn’t fulfilled. It just didn’t make me happy.
Jean Chatzky: (06:03)
What was missing?
Erika Nardini: (06:03)
I felt that it was a big enough company where no one really used the product and they didn’t believe, and people were looking for invisibility. Like, just want things to pass me by so I don’t get noticed and don’t get in trouble. So it created this culture, for me anyways, where I’m always trying to change things and do things and try things and I’m very mission driven. I felt like I was missing a really big mission and I couldn’t get people to want to be on a mission. And then I found Barstool, which is the biggest mission driven company I’ve ever been a part of. And what Dave Portnoy did when he founded it is, he was this Don Quixote type of character where he had nothing. He worked so hard. He emptied his bank account out multiple times. He maxed out credit cards. He scrapped, he hustled. And his whole thing was that he believed. He believed in what he was creating and he believed in his fans and he created this relationship that meant something. And I really at that point wanted to take a risk to try to do something that meant something. I’m not saying it was easy, but I haven’t looked back since.
Jean Chatzky: (07:23)
It’s an interesting description. The Don Quixote description. Dave has been criticized. The company has been criticized for being unfriendly to women, for being misogynistic and you have been accused at times of of being a cover for them.
Erika Nardini: (07:46)
Jean Chatzky: (07:46)
So talk about both of those things. I mean clearly you had listened to Barstool before you went. You knew what they were doing. How do you answer those criticisms?
Erika Nardini: (07:57)
Yeah, so look, I’ve worked in a lot of big companies. I’ve worked in media. I worked at a bunch of ad agencies. I worked at a financial institution. Intimately, personally familiar with Me Too, right? And I think the biggest issue in companies and especially big companies is how insidious sexism is. Where it’s just not talked about. Like, things are locked. They’re behind closed doors. And the culture is to not talk about things. And actually what I love about Dave and what I love about Barstool sports is that there’s nothing sacred. Everything is talked about and that is a core part of Barstools DNA. And I really loved that. When I was interviewing, before I met Dave for the first time, I didn’t know what I was going to get. I didn’t know who this El Pres character was in real life. And I met with a mutual friend in a coffee shop in New York city on the West side. And I loved him. I thought he was humble and smart and so creative and passionate. And I liked the way he talked about his people. And I liked the way he talked about the business. And mostly I liked that he was so confident in what he had done, which was incredible. You know, in 2016 Barstool Sports was probably arguably at the time, the most influential brand in Massachusetts. Like for 18 to 34 year olds and even older. But he was so confident and assured of himself in what he knew and very honest about what he didn’t know and was looking for. And I really liked that. I was worried. I’ve met with a lot of founders and sometimes they want someone to come in and help them and sometimes they really don’t want someone to come in and help them. And Dave was really open. He’s always been so open to me. And I’m very grateful for it. He is the single best person I have ever worked with. So to the criticism, look, I think there’s a lot of perception about Barstool Sports. If you do a Google search of Barstool sports, you are going to find a well-organized catalog of everything these guys have ever said that offended everyone and anyone. I remember doing an interview with Bloomberg and whatever you call the copy at the bottom of the screen was…
Jean Chatzky: (10:27)
Erika Nardini: (10:27)
Yeah the chyron. You know, Iit’s like, Nardini. Barstool Sports has offended absolutely everyone. And it’s true. Like, he was never afraid nor censored about what he said. And the second piece was Barstool really never deleted its history. So, you know, 2016, what was acceptable in 2016 versus what’s acceptable in 2019 has really changed. And not for, not in a bad way, but culture has gotten much more PC. There’s very much heightened awareness. There’s a lot of, you know, the internet has become a very divisive place. And then I think there’s a lot of things that, given the chance, they probably wouldn’t say again. But in 2008 or 2012, they were a rogue blog in Boston and they just called it like they saw it. You know what? Sometimes they called it wrong. So, you know, I felt what was most important for me was that these are good people and people who I would want to work with and build something with. And I felt extremely assured of that. And then the second piece was that this was going to be a place that could build a really great culture for all kinds of people. And we have, and I feel really good about that.
Jean Chatzky: (11:46)
You have, it seems to me, made a concerted effort to build a female team in the C suite.
Erika Nardini: (11:53)
Jean Chatzky: (11:54)
Can you talk about why you’ve done that? Was it a business decision? Was it a strategic decision?
Erika Nardini: (12:03)
So I’ll give you an example. When I first got to Barstool, there were four of us or five of us in New York City. We didn’t have an office. We worked out of hotel lobbies where we could get free wifi or coffee shops. And I was looking for an assistant slash an office manager. And what I said to myself, I didn’t say it to anybody else, but I was like, I will not be hiring a woman because I didn’t want the most junior, the most junior person here to be a woman. I was the only woman at the time. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want the lowest person on the totem pole to be a woman. I felt like that was a bad statement about a woman’s role at this company even though I had taken the CEO job. I just didn’t feel good about it, so I hired an office manager. He was great, but he had his own quirks. He couldn’t find a place to live. He lived in my extra bedroom for three months.
Jean Chatzky: (12:59)
You are very tolerant.
Erika Nardini: (13:01)
It’s like the whole thing. The whole thing is just a story. But I’ve since hired a lot of women at Barstool and Dave’s hired a lot of women and the people who work with us have hired a lot of women. I think we are the only internet company of scale and media company of scale that has a female CEO, CRO, CFO. We have a female head of production. I mean our C suite is female. And I didn’t hire these women because they were women. I hate that. To your question on the token thing, like that just pisses me off. Like, people call me a token all the time. They basically say that I am here to be Dave’s punching bag and to make him look better out in public and to give him something that he can point to, to make people look the other way. Like I hate that. It infuriates me, especially because we’ve had the results that we’ve had and we’ve grown the way we’ve grown. So I feel like it’s just doubly insulting because the numbers technically I think should speak for themselves. So in hiring our C suite, look, we’ve grown from, you know, we had in 2016, I think we had $2 million in the bank and we did like under $10 million in revenue. So we’ve grown from that to a company that’s 200 people, is doing almost a hundred million dollars in revenue. Like we’ve changed. Every six months we are a different size company and what we’re blessed with or what’s really great about Barstool is that the core content team has always remained the same. But the business teams had to change and evolve because running a hundred million dollar business is way different than running a $6 million business. And I wanted the best people for the job. So, you know, I’ll give you an example. We had a recruiter. I was looking for a CFO and I looked for a really long time. And the recruiters ask you about cultural fit and there’s always the cultural fit question and how somebody’s gonna fit in Barstool. And, the first candidate that the recruiter brought me, the recruiter said, look like she doesn’t have the profile. She’s not a stoolie. She doesn’t really know Barstool, but there’s something about her that I really think you’re gonna like. And I met her. Her name’s Wajeeha Ahmed. She worked at Time, she worked at Vice and she had spent a long time at Shell. And anyone who knows anything about business, Shell is like an incredible training ground. And I met her. She was awesome. I loved her. And she asked the right questions. She was very thoughtful. She was tough. She held her own with Dave, like she was just great. And then I went and interviewed 15 other guys who were like, you tell me why I should take this job. And I was like, nah, I’m going back with Wajeeha. So I think we’ve been really lucky to hire awesome talent. Dierdre Lester runs revenue for us. She is a machine. She’s an animal. I would put her up against any guy any day. So I think Dave and I’ve always felt, like Dave says this and I think he means it, like Dave didn’t hire me because I was a woman. He hired me because I was the right person and I think it’s turned out that I’ve been the right person. Dierdra, Jen, Wajeeha, like every woman we’ve hired and every person we’ve hired who’s stuck with Barstool and Barstool stuck with them has been the right person for the job.
Jean Chatzky: (16:18)
I want to talk about your programming for women, but before we do that, let me just remind everyone that HerMoney is proudly sponsored by Fidelity Investments. We are here to remind you that you all work way too hard to just let your money sit in savings. Whether you’re new to the workforce, you’re approaching retirement. Fidelity can 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 financial checkup every year 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, keep you on track to reach your life goals. You can start demanding more from your money today at Fidelity.com/demandmore. I am back in the studio with Erika Nardini, CEO of media company, Barstool Sports who actually started at Fidelity. What did you do there?
Erika Nardini: (17:16)
I worked in the legal department. I interned at Fidelity in the REIT group, at 82 Devinshires. My first job. I remember going to Ann Taylor and I like bought a bunch of very proper outfits, which now I wear like jeans and sneakers to work.
Jean Chatzky: (17:30)
With very cool pumps.
Erika Nardini: (17:30)
Thank you. I had to change in the cab.
Jean Chatzky: (17:34)
Erika Nardini: (17:34)
Taxi shoes. But I worked in the REIT group and then after I graduated I took a job in the legal department. I thought I wanted to be a lawyer and then I definitely didn’t want to be a lawyer. And then I told the people at Fidelity that I wanted to work in advertising and I moved to the ad group inside of Fidelity. And everyone at that time, this is in the late nineties, cared about print and television and no one cared about this internet thing and then they let me run with it. Then that was the end of that.
Jean Chatzky: (18:07)
Amazing. They have some internship program.
Erika Nardini: (18:09)
Oh it’s amazing.
Jean Chatzky: (18:09)
I’ve actually gone there the past couple of years and just spoke.
Erika Nardini: (18:12)
It’s amazing. Yeah, it was very lucky. I feel very fortunate that I did that.
Jean Chatzky: (18:17)
You not only have the most popular podcasts in the country, you have three of the most popular female focused podcasts.
Erika Nardini: (18:26)
Jean Chatzky: (18:26)
Tell us why you turned in that direction.
Erika Nardini: (18:29)
You know, when people ask Dave, or Dave or about it, you know part of the not having a plan per se is we look for funny, smart people with a very strong point of view on the internet. I don’t think there’s any company that’s as good at watching the internet as Barstool Sports. We watch the internet 24/7. We have some of the most talented people who only have eyes for the internet. And as a result, those people are able to find other really talented people before they pop. And guys, girls, football, soccer, you name it. Like they just have humor, internet, good writers. We care a lot about, you know, people who can write, people who have an opinion, people who bring an audience, who have, you know, it’s so hard to break through. There’s so much clutter. It’s so hard to break through. People who are breaking through, there’s a magic there to them. So you know, Ellie Schnitt is a perfect example of this. Ellie was in college in Chicago. She was a nanny and she was just popping off on Twitter. We were watching her, our guys found her, started to watch her and you would watch her tweets. A single tweet would have 12,000 likes, 15,000 likes. And it was amazing to watch. She had no promotion. She had no platform. She just tapped into what a college girl cared about or was thinking about or the way they felt on a Saturday night, or the way they thought about themselves or their boyfriends or whatever. And so we recruited Ellie and said, hey, come to New York. Come do this. We don’t know what you’re going to do here. We think you should have a podcast. We definitely think you should keep tweeting and let’s see what else you can do. And she has been just a dynamo. So now she has a podcast called Schnitt Talk, where she just talks about things that are interesting to her, interesting to women, dating, work, life, friendship. She’s incredible in her own content. We feature her in all sorts of other content. On Friday afternoon, we didn’t realize she could sing, and we had kind of like a Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga moment with one of the hosts of Pardon My Take. PFT Commenter is playing a guitar and she’s singing Mean by Taylor Swift and it is going bananas on the internet. It was such a good rendition and she has the most beautiful voice. So I feel like we’re always discovering more about the people at Barstool and I think our fans are seeing it at the same time as we are. Part of Barstool’s a reality show, which is partly what makes it very different. We show the process and we’re very open, so when we screw up, everybody knows it. They know at the same time we do. When we do something great, everybody feels a part of it. But I wouldn’t say that we went out and said, you know, what makes us different from a very traditional media company is a traditional media company would say, Somebody like me would be like, we’re going to have a show and the show is going to have three hosts and one’s going to be a woman and we’re going to have a person of color in the next seat and then we’re going to have an analyst or expert in the third. We’re not like that. We’re trying to find people who are funny and real and relatable and have audience. We give them a camera, a laptop. Sometimes we give them a producer, we give them access to the blog and we say have at it. And that’s I think why our stuff sticks.
Jean Chatzky: (22:11)
What is that thing? That secret sauce? I mean everybody these days is building their own brand, right? Everybody’s figuring out what their thing is. What is it that ties all of your personalities together?
Erika Nardini: (22:28)
Work ethic. So one is just the work ethic inside of this company is astounding. True drive, true grit. An obligation to talk to fans. Nobody here says you should talk to your fans more. All of our content people do it really naturally and organically. The second is they have something to them that makes them interesting and relatable. I think. Like either there’s maybe a little bit of a shock factor. Like Ellie’s not shocking. Call Her Daddy’s extremely shocking.
Jean Chatzky: (23:03)
Yes, my daughter said, I love this show.
Erika Nardini: (23:06)
Not for your mom. Not for your mom. Nope, not for you. But there’s something, you know, Call Her Daddy, they’re perfectionist. They care so much about that podcast. They feel an obligation to their fans. In that regard, they’re not any different than, Pardon My Take or Spittin Chiclets or any of the other brands we have. So I think it’s a relatability. It’s having something to say, an it factor that’s real. Not an it factor that’s that’s fake. And then the desire to have a conversation about their content.
Jean Chatzky: (23:43)
We always talk about personal finance on this show and so I’m just curious about you as you’ve come into your success. Did you have an evolution with money?
Erika Nardini: (23:55)
I was horrible at money when I was at Fidelity, ironically. I could have used their products and services probably a little bit better, but I was, you know, 20. I remember I never ever really got paid that much cause I worked in advertising and I worked in the internet and when I left legal at Fidelity and I went to go work in advertising, I went from making $50,000, which was for me a ton of money at that time, which I still think is a lot of money, to making $17,000. And I racked up a ton of credit card debt and I didn’t adjust myself to my new job and my new salary. I didn’t recalibrate for where I was. And what it really made me feel like, is it just made me feel bad. It made me feel like I was in a hole and it made me feel like I had something hanging over me, which I didn’t like. So you know, I think on the personal finance side, you got to pay yourself first. Look, I think it’s easy to be insecure and nervous and have anxiety about any number of things in life. Relationships, your job, your friends, your family. There’s always something to be worked up about and making sure that your finances is not one of them is entirely in your control. And so I’ve tried to live by that. I have enough to worry about that I don’t want to be worrying about paying bills or how much I’m saving. I do want to worry about it but I want to take care of it ahead of time so that it’s happening.
Jean Chatzky: (25:30)
It’s so true. And it’s true, I mean I had a very parallel track to what you’re talking about. Credit card debt in my twenties. Felt really sick about it. Dealt with it. Moved on. But no matter what level of income people are at, that feeling of control, if you can get to the fact where you know you’re living within your means and saving a little bit of something, you’re good.
Erika Nardini: (25:56)
Absolutely. And it just makes you feel solid. Like you’re on footing. Cause you never know. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. Do you know what I mean? Like you really don’t in life, you never know what’s going to happen and if you’re starting at zero or maybe you’re starting at like plus one, cause you’ve got a little bit in the bank, I think it just makes you go full forward into whatever adventure you want to choose. And I think that that’s important. I think that’s really important for women.
Jean Chatzky: (26:26)
I know we’re going to wrap this up, but I just want to touch on the fact that you grew up playing hockey as did I. I grew up in Wisconsin.
Erika Nardini: (26:34)
Oh you did? You’re from Wisconsin?
Jean Chatzky: (26:35)
I did. I’m from Wisconsin. And there’s a lot of research on women who play competitive sports and the fact that career-wise it just helps. Why do you think that is?
Erika Nardini: (26:45)
So I’m just learning how to play hockey. So I just started. I played field hockey, but I think ice hockey is the best sport on the planet. So I just started playing in July.
Jean Chatzky: (26:54)
Well I haven’t played in many, many years.
Erika Nardini: (26:55)
It’s so fun.
Jean Chatzky: (26:56)
Just skating is the best. I read that story in the times, you should read it if you haven’t, about this woman. It was a travel piece and she went to Canada just to skate the paths.
Erika Nardini: (27:07)
Oh, that’s so cool.
Jean Chatzky: (27:08)
And went miles and miles from town to town to town.
Erika Nardini: (27:10)
Oh, I would love that.
Jean Chatzky: (27:12)
Erika Nardini: (27:12)
That’s so fun. That’s like mystery Alaska. Like I love that. I think sports, look, I personally, for me, sports is the single biggest driver of any success that I’ve had, playing high school sports and college sports. The reason I think that is, one, it teaches you discipline and work ethic. To get better, you need to work hard. And you need to contribute. You need to be the best at your role. I also think it teaches you how to be part of a team, where you know, sometimes you have the ball, sometimes you don’t have the ball, sometimes you score, sometimes you pass. I think those things are really important. And then, you know, for me, I always loved the locker room. Like, I loved the locker room. The pranks I played on people in the locker room was like egregious.
Jean Chatzky: (28:03)
Alright the best one ever.
Erika Nardini: (28:05)
Oh we would have freshmen in the locker room and our locker rooms, when I went to college, the women had these horrible, they probably still do, group showers, horrible metal, terrible lockers. It was in the basement. It was just disgusting. And the men had gorgeous wooden, with their names on plaques and showers that were individual. Like the men’s sports program was living life. And we were in the dungeon and it was dark and dank and everyone had to share. And so you had to walk very long maze hallway to get to our locker room from the shower area. And we would, like every other day, rip everybody’s towels off. So all the girls, you know, you had to walk naked back to your locker room, which was embarrassing, which sounds terrible. I’m like making myself seem like a bad person, but we did a lot of pranks.
Jean Chatzky: (28:58)
It doesn’t sound terrible. We all went to middle school and many of us went to summer camp.
Erika Nardini: (29:02)
Stuff like that but it keeps it fun and I think being able to make fun of each other, you know, part of what makes our podcast so great is the relationship between our hosts, which is like a team. Like you give each other shit sometimes and you know, you can take it at the same time, but you’re in it together. If somebody comes after you, you’re a team. I think that prepared me a lot for Barstool because this was kind of like a locker room, not in the negative connotation that people have, but in like, it’s a bunch of people standing around waiting to play in a game.
Jean Chatzky: (29:35)
Erika Nardini, CEO of Barstool. Thank you so much.
Erika Nardini: (29:38)
Thank you for having me.
Jean Chatzky: (29:39)
Yeah. You are a lot of fun.
Erika Nardini: (29:41)
Oh good. Thank you.
Jean Chatzky: (29:42)
And we will be right back with Kathryn and your mailbag.
Jean Chatzky: (29:53)
HerMoney’s Kathryn Tuggle has joined me in the studio. Thanks so much. That was a great one.
Kathryn Tuggle: (29:58)
Yeah, I love her. She’s amazing.
Jean Chatzky: (30:00)
How did this come to be? I meant to ask you this all weekend. And I was like, how did we get her?
Kathryn Tuggle: (30:05)
We met at a bar last week.
Jean Chatzky: (30:07)
Are you kidding me?
Kathryn Tuggle: (30:08)
Jean Chatzky: (30:08)
I love that. What bar?
Kathryn Tuggle: (30:10)
It’s Delmonico’s Kitchen on 36th. And we have a lot of mutual friends and they said, come to this bar after the Rangers game. And I went and there she was and I was like, I know you, you should come on our podcast. And she agreed. We both had a little bit to drink and I think in those moments you know, you never know if a yes is really a yes, but she was like fantastic. And I was like fantastic.
Jean Chatzky: (30:37)
Amazing. I love that.
Kathryn Tuggle: (30:38)
I emailed the next day and to my delight it wasn’t just the beer talking. She was in.
Jean Chatzky: (30:45)
That’s perfect. That is perfect. I have been telling people in the days leading up to this podcast that we were going to have her on. And so many, particularly of the young people in my life were like, wow, that is so cool. She is amazing. So I think we’re going to have a lot of happy listeners.
Kathryn Tuggle: (31:08)
Jean Chatzky: (31:10)
Alright. We’ve got a lot of letters coming in. Let’s turn to mailbag. What do we have?
Kathryn Tuggle: (31:15)
Our first note comes to us from Kathy. She writes hi Jean. My husband and I have always had A-1 credit. We’ve had two mortgages through the years, which we paid off well ahead of time. Unfortunately, my husband passed in 2012. He was a great guy and would do anything for anyone. His family always came first. I’ve continued to put our family first since he passed and when my daughter went through a divorce seven years ago, her ex-husband stopped paying the mortgage on her home and she was about to lose it. Of course, I helped her with the house and also bought her a car. Unortunately, she’s now missing her mortgage payments and this has impacted my credit. I’m trying to clear my name and rebuild my score, which at one point was 789. I’ve asked my daughter several times to take over the loan and put it in her own name, but she refuses, saying her credit ratio is too high. Is there any way I can get out of this debt or make her more responsible for this loan. If it helps, I’m 73 and she’s 52. Thanks so much for any insight or any information you can offer.
Jean Chatzky: (32:10)
Well, first of all, I am just so sorry, Kathy. I’m sorry that you lost your husband. I am also sorry that you co-signed on a loan for your daughter. That’s clearly what happened here because your name is now on this loan. We don’t co-sign. We sometimes have to co-sign in the case of a student loan, but in almost every other instance, co-signing is, as you’re learning, just a bad decision because particularly when you look at the people who ask you to cosign for them, there’s generally some reason that they need a co-signer, and the reason is that they’re not particularly responsible on their own. Now I understand why you didn’t think that of your daughter at the time since the divorce was happening, since it was her ex-husband who wasn’t making the payments. But for anybody else who’s listening and thinking, maybe I’ll co-sign, just don’t just don’t. But let’s work on fixing your problem. The problem with co-signing is that it is essentially your debt from this point on. And because she’s being uncooperative in terms of taking over the loan, in terms of essentially refinancing it, putting it back in her own name, you have a problem. You could stop paying and if you stop paying, she will eventually either start paying or lose the house. And both her credit and your credit will be trashed in the process, which I understand you don’t want. What I would suggest is taking both of you to a credit counselor. I think if you find yourself a not-for-profit credit counselor, one preferably who is experienced in housing, some credit counselors have housing certifications. Maybe they can work with both of you to come up with a payment plan that you’ll both be able to stick with. Aside from that, I don’t think there is a way necessarily to make her responsible for this loan without killing your own credit more than it’s already been harmed. And I’m really, really sorry about that.
Kathryn Tuggle: (34:32)
Right. Is there a threshold at which you don’t really need great credit?
Jean Chatzky: (34:39)
You’re looking at her age?
Kathryn Tuggle: (34:40)
Yeah. Well, I think about my parents. They’re in their late seventies. They just bought a couple of new cars when my dad retired, their house is completely paid off. I don’t know that they’re going to need to apply for new lines of credit. And she talks about how her house is paid off. So I wonder.
Jean Chatzky: (34:54)
Yeah, I was thinking about that. Credit cards are still a factor, right? If you’re the kind of person, my mother is a little bit older than Kathy, but she still uses her credit cards. She occasionally swaps mileage cards because she’s looking for a different airline to build points on. There is an argument that you may not necessarily need it, but it’s not worth trashing your credit right over, at least unintentionally. I would try this first.
Kathryn Tuggle: (35:26)
Jean Chatzky: (35:27)
Let us know what happens.
Kathryn Tuggle: (35:30)
Yeah, good luck, Kathy. Our next note comes to us from Alison in Ohio. She writes hi Jean. I would love your advice on money management, budgeting and overall tracking of my finances. I’d like to be more aware of the status of my money, but I haven’t found a tracking approach that sticks, despite automating practically everything. This includes my direct deposit, 401k and HSA investing, brokerage investing, credit card payments, loan payments and everything else. While this is huge for my peace of mind and ease, it has left me on autopilot, almost never checking in on my account balances and transactions. I find myself in a situation where I don’t feel I know what I’m looking for and it bores me so I just don’t log in, but I’m probably too trusting that everything is working as it should. What is the best practice for easy tracking of financial accounts? What do I need to monitor or look out for and on what regularity? Thank you.
Jean Chatzky: (36:21)
There are so many people like you, Alison. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard stories of people who want to track and so they pick some pieces of software and they try to put all their accounts on it and then they never look at that and that’s totally the antithesis of the point. The whole thinking behind tracking, which I have said many, many times I think, is the key to saving more and spending less because it gives you a window into where your money is actually going. The whole key is finding some methodology that actually works for you and I want to share. I’ve recently started using a new tool and it’s working for me. It’s called Tiller and it’s a spreadsheet-like program. Now I am not a lover of spreadsheets. I know how to use Excel, but I’m not a pro by any means. But what I like about Tiller is that every day it emails me my transactions. And so I don’t have to sign on anywhere in order to look at what I did with my money yesterday. What I did with my money yesterday, whether it’s from my bank or from my credit cards, it comes to me.
Kathryn Tuggle: (37:42)
This is amazing.
Jean Chatzky: (37:43)
And it’s made my life a lot easier. And so I would say give that a try. It’s free for the first 30 days and so you can decide if you like it or you don’t. And by the way, they pay me no money for saying this. The other thing I want to tell you is that we are working on a coaching program that we will be rolling out in the next few months to help people like you with problems like this. And I am going to send you an email because we’re going to put together a beta group of people to coach through the process first and maybe you’ll want to be one of them.
Kathryn Tuggle: (38:19)
I had that same thought.
Jean Chatzky: (38:20)
There you go.
Kathryn Tuggle: (38:21)
Our last note comes to us from Christina. She says, dear Jean and Kathryn. I’ve been listening to your podcast for awhile. I’ll be 60 in March and I don’t have much money to retire. I have the following $10,000 in a CD, $9,000 in a Roth IRA, around 2,500 and various ETFs and nearly 140,000 in a Roth 401k. The CD just expired. And I’m wondering where to put that money, where it has the best chance at growth and if you recommend any changes to where my other funds are being kept so I can maximize my money before I retire. Thank you so much for your advice.
Jean Chatzky: (38:54)
Thanks for writing, Christina. So it sounds to me sort of reading between the lines in your letter, like you’re not using any of this money in the short term. That you’re living on whatever’s coming in and this money is for future growth. Now, assuming that’s correct, you should be investing all of it in relatively the same way. I mean for somebody who’s 60, I would look at a balance of about 50% in equities and 50% in bonds or other safer havens. I don’t know how you’ve invested the money in your Roth IRA and Roth 401k, but where you should put the money that’s currently in the CD has absolutely everything to do with that. Because it represents your safer money, your fixed income money. You may be able to do better by putting it into a bond portfolio, but I’m not exactly sure what you’ve earmarked that money for and if you want to be able to get your hands on that money, you might be better off putting it in a money market fund rather than a CD for example, because CDs have penalties and money market funds don’t. This is a really, really good time for you to take a look at what life will look like for you five years out. Forecast what it’s going to cost you to live. That would include things like, will your house be paid off? Will you be taking social security at that time? Do you have any pension income? And decide if it’s going to be enough for you to live on. And if it’s not, now’s the time to try to supercharge your saving a little bit, to think about maybe not retiring at 65, but retiring at 66 or 67 because as we’ve talked about before, the extra one or two years in saving and not drawing down your money and waiting to take social security, that can make a huge, huge difference. And you’ll be on the right track. And if you’ve never sat down with a financial advisor, if you’ve never talked to somebody about how your money is invested, the firm that manages that Roth 401k for you probably has people that you can talk to for free. So I’d pick up the phone and I’d give them a call or there are a lot of financial advisors who will just work by the hour. There’s a whole network of them called the Garrett Planning Network. Sit down for an hour or two, make sure you’re on the right track. It is so much better to do this at age 60.
Kathryn Tuggle: (41:43)
Jean Chatzky: (41:44)
Than it is to do down the road.
Kathryn Tuggle: (41:46)
And 60 so young.
Jean Chatzky: (41:47)
It’s so young.
Kathryn Tuggle: (41:48)
Barring any health problems, she has another 15 years in the workforce if she wants it.
Jean Chatzky: (41:52)
Absolutely. I was having a conversation last night with my husband and he made a comment, pretty good for people in our sixties at which point I smacked him cause I’m only 55. But he’s 62 you know, that’s young.
Kathryn Tuggle: (42:06)
Jean Chatzky: (42:06)
Yeah, so good luck. Thanks so much for writing.
Kathryn Tuggle: (42:10)
Jean Chatzky: (42:10)
Thank you so much for joining me today on HerMoney. Thanks to Erika Nardini for the fantastic conversation and the encouragement to embrace our inner girl boss and shout our love of sports from the 50 yard line whenever possible. If you like what you hear, please subscribe to our show at Apple Podcasts. Leave us a review because we love hearing what you think. We want to thank our sponsor Fidelity. Today we recorded this podcast out of NYC Podcasting Studios. Our music is provided by Video Helper and our show comes to you through PRX. Tune in next week. We’ll be back with Hilary Gosher, managing director at Global Venture Capital, and private equity firm, Insight Partners. She’s going to tell us all about the active steps women are taking to remove bro culture from the tech industry, how to get more women interested in pursuing their tech dreams, and how to end toxic code till you collapse culture at work. Thanks so much for joining us and we’ll talk soon.