Introducing the Better Off Podcast: Unconventional and
entertaining insights on your money and life.


Host Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, tackles sometimes uncomfortable and even
controversial money and investing issues, without the financial jargon.

Jill interviews informative and entertaining guests each week to uncover
surprising insights and give you actionable information to make the most
of your money.

Latest Episodes | Listen Now

 

Better Off BONUS call 023

This week on the BONUS call we’re talking to Brian from Los Angeles. Brian and his wife have lived overseas for a while and in the process built up a nest egg of about 600k. Now back in the States they have to find a house and are wondering how to do it without blowing through all the money they’ve accumulated.

Have a finance question? We want to hear from you! Email us at askjill@betteroffpodcast.com and we’ll arrange to get you on.

Don’t forget, a brand new episode of the Better Off podcast comes out Thursday so stay tuned for more listener questions plus an informative interview.

We love feedback so please subscribe and leave us a rating or review in iTunes!

Better Off is sponsored by Betterment.

“Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 029 - The Secret History of the iPhone with Brian Merchant

On June 29th, 2007 Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled a new product, which he described as “a revolutionary mobile phone,” and a “breakthrough Internet communications device.”

Indeed, the iPhone has changed our lives. We do EVERYTHING on our phones. We text, we surf the web, we bank, we book vacations, we get directions, we book cars, we play games, and we even make the occasional phone call.

In the process, Apple has become the most profitable public company in the world, with a market cap of about three quarters of a trillion dollars – that’s more than twice as much as Exxon Mobil and three times as much as General Electric. Over the past ten years, Apple’s business has grown by 10 times and its stock price has increased by nearly 720 percent, dwarfing the 134 percent rise in the NASDAQ Composite Index.

But just how close did we come to not having the iPhone? How did it actually happen? Our guest Brian Merchant, technology journalist and author of the new book, The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone takes us back to the mid-2000’s to tell the iPhone origin story.

Brian reveals the inside story of the device, based on his exclusive interviews with the engineers, inventors and developers who guided every stage of the iPhone’s creation. He also discussed what life is like for the workers in China who assemble the phones. As you’ll hear, Brian doesn’t paint a very pretty picture.

If you’re a techie and live for the latest Apple rumors and news, definitely follow Brian on Twitter.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

We love feedback so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Better Off BONUS call 022

This week on the BONUS call we chatted with John from Philadelphia. The call started with John wanting to know how he and his wife can find a financial advisor. By the time the call was over, let’s just say the game plan changed for John. Remember folks, there are certain things that need to be happening before you’re ready to take the next step. This call will help walk you through the process.

Have a finance question? We want to hear from you! Email us at askjill@betteroffpodcast.com and we’ll arrange to get you on.

Don’t forget, a brand new episode of the Better Off podcast comes out Thursday so stay tuned for more listener questions plus an informative interview.

We love feedback so please subscribe and leave us a rating or review in iTunes!

Better Off is sponsored by Betterment.

“Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 028 - How to Buy a Car with Consumer Reports Auto Specialist Mike Quincy

If you live in a big city, it can be easy to forget what it’s like to depend on a car. Urbanites tend to walk, take the subway or bus, ride a bicycle, or hop in a cab to get virtually everywhere.

But I grew up in the suburbs and know the vast majority of you listening to this podcast have a deep, personal relationship with your car. After all, next to your home, your car is one of the biggest assets you’ll purchase in life, which is why you are likely to have a ton of questions that need to be answered.

Where does one turn to learn the best car buying tips? Maybe you have used the Consumer Reports Annual Auto Issue, but, today on Better Off, we go one better… we have Mike Quincy, Automotive Specialist at Consumer Reports, one of the pros behind all things car-related at the magazine.

Mike may have the coolest job in the world. He gets to race, I mean drive, basically every car imaginable around a test track and then write the reviews you read…a dream job for a total car geek. With almost 30 years under his belt, Mike has the answers to the most-frequently asked car questions:

  • Buy or lease?
  • Sedan or SUV?
  • Which model has the best crash test ratings?
  • Do I need to buy the extended warranty?
  • Which manufacturers should I avoid?

We also discussed which cars are safest for young adults, the reliability of high end cars like Mercedes and BMW, what the future holds for Tesla and the current state of the legacy automakers here in the U.S.

So as you hit the road this summer and fantasize about a new set of wheels, this episode is a must listen before you walk into that dealership.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

We love feedback so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Better Off BONUS call 021

It’s so great and satisfying when we’re able to expose people to the world of finance through the podcast. That’s the case with Joe from Arizona, our latest BONUS call, who after listening to us, is now interested in pursuing a career as a CFP. Since Joe doesn’t have a background in finance he was looking for some advice as he prepares to start this new chapter of his professional life.

Have a finance question? We want to hear from you! Email us at askjill@betteroffpodcast.com and we’ll arrange to get you on.

Don’t forget, a brand new episode of the Better Off podcast comes out Thursday so stay tuned for more listener questions plus an informative interview.

We love feedback so please subscribe and leave us a rating or review in iTunes!

Better Off is sponsored by Betterment.

“Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 027 - Summer Travel Tips with Peter Greenberg

Summertime is officially upon us which means millions of Americans will be hitting the roads and taking to the skies to enjoy their summer vacations. Whether you want to hit the beach, blaze a trail off the beaten path or explore one of the major tourist destinations, there’s a smart way to do it.  That’s where Peter Greenberg, this week’s guest on Better Off, enters the picture.

Peter, the Travel Editor for CBS News, is full of tips and suggestions to help you get the most bang for your buck as you plan and book your trip.

Where to go? Where not to go? Drive, train or fly? From South Africa to Chile to Tokyo and Thailand, as well as hidden gems here in the States, we circle the globe with Peter and provide you with useful tips to easily reach your destination, with a few bucks left in your pocket.

Give recent attacks in London, Paris and Istanbul, is there any reason to think twice before booking vacations to those cities? How should we think about places where the Zika virus remains prevalent? What’s on Peter’s “Do Not Visit List?”

This one may be hard to believe, but despite all the travel related websites out there, Peter insists that even in 2017, the best thing to do is to pick up the phone and have an actual conversation with the airline or hotel.  But it’s not just a conversation for the sake of having one.  There’s a way to do it and certain questions to ask.  It’s a process.  So much so, that we did a little role playing to help guide you guys through it!

If you’re a frequent traveler, Peter is definitely someone to follow on Twitter.

Let us know where you’re vacationing this summer…send a picture to askjill@betteroffpodcast.com.

Me? Well, I don’t have anything extravagant planned other than some weekends at the local beach.

Mark on the other hand was just in Paris for the French Open and is now in London for Wimbledon.

Somehow this equation seems out of whack!

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

We love feedback so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Better Off BONUS call 020

This week on the BONUS call I had to pick a side. I was either going to side with our caller, Dustin from Minnesota, or his wife. Only in their 30s, these guys are in great shape. They already have a good nest egg going and are able to save a solid amount each year.

Dustin is all about contributing to their retirement accounts. His wife on the other hand thinks they should pull back on the retirement accounts and beef up their liquid assets. Have a guess as to which way I’m leaning?

Have a finance question? We want to hear from you! Email us at askjill@betteroffpodcast.com and we’ll arrange to get you on.

Don’t forget, a brand new episode of the Better Off podcast comes out Thursday so stay tuned for more listener questions plus an informative interview.

We love feedback so please subscribe and leave us a rating or review in iTunes!

Better Off is sponsored by Betterment.

“Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 026 - Personal Finance 101 with Liz Weston

While it’s always fun talking to authors, CEOs and you on the Better Off podcast, I also enjoy chatting with fellow financial industry journalism colleagues. Doing so allows me to get their take on the state of the industry and to talk about what they’ve been covering, what has them jazzed and what they see coming in the weeks and months ahead.

Our guest this week, Liz Weston, is a total financial nerd, so I guess it’s fitting that Liz works as a columnist for NerdWallet, a personal finance website that offers financial tools and advice to help people understand their options when making financial decisions.

Liz is also a CFP® and has been covering the industry for many years. She started her career on the politics beat but that got old quickly. She transitioned into personal finance and has been writing full-time since 1994.

Even though Liz knows her stuff, it was very interesting to hear her talk about how she has used an insurance agent, a tax pro, an estate planner and even has her own financial planner. I’m the same way…even though we are professionals within the industry, qualified experts can help you save time, money or ideally, both!

Some of the other topics we discussed include:

  • The decreasing role of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • The student loan crisis and possible ways to fix it
  • Whether or not social security will be around for millennials

If you follow me on Twitter then you know I’m a big fan of the content Liz continues to crank out. She’s definitely worth a follow for top notch personal finance insight.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

We love feedback so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Better Off BONUS call 019

We love starting them young on Better Off, and that’s certainly the case with Kevin from Maryland, our latest BONUS call.

Kevin, just 23 years old, want’s to make sure he has all his finances in order before starting medical school later this summer. His main question is what he should do with an old 401(k) plan. What criteria should he consider before rolling it over? Can he do it on his own or does he need a financial planner? All very good and common questions that will likely apply to some of you listening.

Have a finance question? We want to hear from you! Email us at askjill@betteroffpodcast.com and we’ll arrange to get you on.

Don’t forget, a brand new episode of the Better Off podcast comes out Thursday so stay tuned for more listener questions plus an informative interview.

We love feedback so please subscribe and leave us a rating or review in iTunes!

Better Off is sponsored by Betterment.

“Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 025 - Why Wall Street Matters with William Cohan

Imagine a world without companies like Apple, or media outlets such as CBS or NBC, without all of the cars and trucks crisscrossing the country, without food provided by the farmer…that’s what would happen if Wall Street did not exist…it would all go away, according to this week’s Better Off guest, writer William “Bill” Cohan.

If you’ve read some of his previous books, like “House of Cards,” or “Money and Power”, you know Bill is usually not one to shy away from going after Wall Street and its shortcomings. But in an interesting twist, Bill’s recent book, “Why Wall Street Matters,” is a defense of the industry that he has pilloried.

In our interview, Bill describes a poor decision by Elizabeth Warren as the catalyst that propelled him to write this latest book. He tells us what Wall Street has done well, like providing the necessary capital to companies, which in turn allows them to invest, expand and hire, thus propelling overall economic growth.

Don’t be mistaken: Bill knows that Wall Street and the institutions that occupy the space in Lower Manhattan are imperfect, but he believes that there is far more good than bad — and more importantly, the consequences would be dire if the essential role the industry plays were carelessly curtailed.

Bill had one goal when writing this book: for Wall Street to become understandable to the average American. In this easy to read book, Bill succeeded.  I highly recommend you pick it up.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

We love feedback so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Better Off BONUS call 018

This week we have one of the more interesting BONUS calls that we’ve taken on Better Off. You know, life isn’t always as we plan it…it’s not always a simple, straight line. Things come up, especially health related items that can make it difficult when doing a financial plan. Mike from Tennessee falls into this category. Given some recent poor test scores, and the fact that his father died of a heart attack at 59, Mike, currently 49, wants to retire early. The good news is that Mike and his wife have a nest egg of about $2.5 million. Given that Mike is asymptomatic, we hope he lives a long life and is able to reap the rewards in retirement.

Have a finance question? We want to hear from you! Email us at askjill@betteroffpodcast.com and we’ll arrange to get you on.

Don’t forget, a brand new episode of the Better Off podcast comes out Thursday so stay tuned for more listener questions plus an informative interview.

We love feedback so please subscribe and leave us a rating or review in iTunes!

Better Off is sponsored by Betterment.

“Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 024 - Cybersecurity and Hacking with Kevin Mitnick

It seems everyday there’s a story in the news that involves hacking.  Whether it’s a big box retailer, the IRS or Russians hacking the DNC, cyber warfare has become one of the biggest threats in the 21st century and we are all vulnerable.

To help you understand the current environment and to learn some of the simple steps we should take to prevent ourselves from becoming a victim, we had to find an expert…a professional hacker. I’m not talking about some random hack…I’m talking about the hacker of all hackers, Kevin Mitnick.  This guy is the real deal.  So real that after a well publicized pursuit back in the 1990s, he was arrested by the FBI and spent five years in prison, including eight months in solitary confinement.

Now a free man, he does consulting work for Fortune 500 companies and the government. Though I should point out that for business cards he uses metal lock pick sets with his name and number on them. Really. In his latest book, The Art of Invisibility, Kevin uses true-life stories to show exactly what is happening without your knowledge, teaching you online and real-world tactics to protect you and your family, with step-by-step instructions. After reading this book you will learn everything from password protection and smart Wi-Fi usage to advanced techniques designed to maximize your anonymity.

Despite what we’d all like to believe, our passwords really can be stolen, our data sold and our personal emails read.  After listening to this interview, check out the book and learn the simple steps to help prevent it from happening to you.  

A big-time presence in the social media world, you call follow Kevin on Twitter for updates and tips from the cybersecurity world.  

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

We love feedback so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Better Off BONUS call 017

Summer is just about upon us which means all those hardworking teachers out there will get a well deserved break. That includes our BONUS caller this week, James from Illinois. What’s different about James is that he doesn’t necessarily want to take the whole summer off…he actually wants to find a side gig to make some extra cash. Because he lives in a rural area he’s not quite sure how to make it happen so he decided to call us for some advice.

Have a finance question? We want to hear from you! Email us at askjill@betteroffpodcast.com and we’ll arrange to get you on.

Don’t forget, a brand new episode of the Better Off podcast comes out Thursday so stay tuned for more listener questions plus an informative interview.

We love feedback so please subscribe and leave us a rating or review in iTunes!

Better Off is sponsored by Betterment.

“Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 023 - Behavioral Economics with Michael Lewis

Sometimes a host has to do what a host has to do to land the interview.  You could say that was the case with the one and only Michael Lewis, our guest this week on Better Off.  

It was a few months back that I ran into Michael in the CBS This Morning Green Room and immediately started working my mojo to get him on the podcast.  Although it took weeks and weeks of emails to finally make it happen, it was worth the wait.

Lewis is such a prolific writer that you’ve probably picked up at least one of his books, including Moneyball, The Blind Side, The Big Short or Flash Boys. In this interview, we discuss his latest work, The Undoing Project.  

The Undoing Project explores the roots of behavioral economics, a topic that has always fascinated me. I love trying to understand why people make the decisions they do.  Trying to figure out how the human mind works.  And that’s what this book is all about.  

It’s starts with the partnership between Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.  Forty years ago, the pair wrote a series of original studies questioning our assumptions about the decision-making process. Their papers showed the ways in which the human mind systematically erred, when forced to make judgments in uncertain situations. Their work created the field of behavioral economics, revolutionized Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine and led to a new approach to government regulation.

We also touched on many other topics including the financial industry, the current political climate and what he plans to work on next. Which means you’ll likely hear Michael again on this podcast sometime down the road…hopefully I won’t have to tackle him again in the Green Room!

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

We love feedback so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 022 - Option B with Adam Grant

By now you may have seen or heard an interview with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg discussing her recently released new book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy.

Although she is the headliner, Sandberg had a co-author on the project — the incredible Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist, professor and accomplished author in his own right. We were lucky enough to land Adam as this week’s Better Off guest.

Adam, named Wharton’s top-rated professor for five straight years, has already authored two New York Times bestselling books.  Originals explores how individuals champion new ideas and leaders fight groupthink and Give and Take examines why helping others drives our success.

His latest project with Sandberg focuses on resilience and how to use it in everyday life to become better off, a core theme of our podcast.

Life isn’t always a smooth ride and inevitably you’re going to have to deal with some bumps in the road.  Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job or a bad financial decision, at some point along the way there are going to be tough times that you will face.

For Sheryl this moment came after the sudden death of her husband Dave Goldberg.  Stuck in a deep void, she felt that she and her children would never again experience joy.  It was Adam who helped her realize that there are concrete steps she could take to recover and rebound from the life-shattering experience.

Adam notes that deep down inside all of us, we all have resilience — and combined with a support system, it’s possible for of us to grow and find even greater appreciation in our lives.  I think this book with help you prepare for the next hurdle you encounter.

Quick side note…it’s always our goal to get our guests with us in-studio but due to conflicting schedules, we conducted this interview on the phone.  Because Adam we was so good and the topic so important, we decided the phone shouldn’t stop us from running it.  We hope you agree!

You can connect with Adam on Twitter for more advice and tips on how to deal with those unavoidable tough times in life.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

We love feedback so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Better Off BONUS call 015

This week on the BONUS call we’re going to the Pacific Northwest where we found Chris from Spokane, Washington. Chris, who is only 40 years old, is maxing out his 401(k) and his Roth IRA and also has an emergency reserve. On top of all that, he has an extra 2k each month and isn’t sure what to do with it. Should he keep saving for retirement or can he ease up a bit and do something else with the extra cash? Nice problem to have, huh?

Have a finance question? We want to hear from you! Email us at askjill@betteroffpodcast.com and we’ll arrange to get you on.

Don’t forget, a brand new episode of the Better Off podcast comes out Thursday so stay tuned for more listener questions plus an informative interview.

We love feedback so please subscribe and leave us a rating or review in iTunes!

Better Off is sponsored by Betterment.

“Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 021 - The Wizard of Lies with Diana Henriques

Bernie Madoff is perhaps the most notorious name in the history of Wall Street.  

By now we all know the story. Madoff conducted a Ponzi scheme that is considered to be the largest in U.S. history. Over the course of decades, Madoff stole billions of dollars from his clients and finally, amid the financial crisis of 2008, the crime came to a screeching halt.

How on earth was he able to pull it off for so long, when there were plenty of warning signs and whistleblowers who tried to alert regulators that something was amiss?

One of the journalists covering the scandal was Diana Henriques, then a staff reporter at The New York Times, who specialized in investigative reporting on white-collar crime, market regulation and corporate governance. Diana used her countless hours of work as the lead reporter on the story as a catalyst to write the bestselling book, The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust.

Diana had incredible access, including the first interview with an imprisoned Madoff. I was fortunate enough to interview her in 2011, just as the book was becoming a bestseller. I remember thinking at the time that the tale of Bernie Madoff was not just a financial story, but a Shakespearean tragedy.

Robert De Niro was so drawn to the character of Bernie Madoff as Henriques depicted him, that he bought the film rights to “The Wizard of Lies.” Six years later, HBO films released the movie version of “The Wizard of Lies” – it debuted this past Sunday.  

If you’ve yet to see “The Wizard of Lies,” go watch it.  DVR it, stream it, whatever the method, just watch it.  It’s incredibly well done and stars Robert De Niro as Bernie Madoff and Michelle Pfeiffer as Ruth Madoff.  

Diana is an amazing storyteller, from her dogged pursuit of the Madoff prison interview to her describing the phone call she got from Robert De Niro saying he wanted to play Madoff…just an incredible story. We wanted to give you as much of Diana as possible,  so for this week only, we’re skipping the caller of the week…don’t freak out, it’ll return next week.

Always sharing good stories and always working on a book, Diana is someone worth connecting with on Twitter.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

We love feedback so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Better Off BONUS call 014

Nowadays it’s a common occurrence to change jobs every few years, if not every few months. That means at some point you’re going to have at least one, likely more, retirement accounts from past jobs. What should you do with them? Should you consolidate? That’s what Andrew from Chicago was calling about on the latest BONUS call. He has about 100k in an old retirement account and was wondering if he should roll it into something new or just leave it where it is. The answer may surprise you…

Have a finance question? We want to hear from you! Email us at askjill@betteroffpodcast.com and we’ll arrange to get you on.

Don’t forget, a brand new episode of the Better Off podcast comes out Thursday so stay tuned for more listener questions plus an informative interview.

We love feedback so please subscribe and leave us a rating or review in iTunes!

Better Off is sponsored by Betterment.

“Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 020 - Succeeding in College and Life with Daniel Lerner and Alan Schlechter

 

It’s officially that time of year when college grads throw their caps high into the air and prepare to enter the real world. Just a few short years ago, these graduates were among the four million students who began their journeys at the nation’s colleges and universities.

While those four years are supposed to be the best years of your life, for many, they turn out to be the most stressful they’ll experience. They can be so stressful that, by the end of freshman year, 30% of students drop out.

That’s where today’s guests enter the picture. Dan Lerner and Alan Schlechter team-teach a course at New York University called The Science of Happiness. From this wildly successful class, they recently released the book, “U Thrive: How to Succeed in College (and Life).”

Let me stress that last part of the title…”and life.” This is not a book just for students—it’s for everyone. Using fascinating science and real-life stories, Dan and Alan bring a similar focus to the Better Off podcast: They try to help you better your life.

Whether it’s for yourself, you have a kid starting college or one that is graduating right now, this book will provide tips for building positive habits that will last a lifetime.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

We love feedback so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Better Off BONUS call 013

Today on the BONUS call we’re chatting with Doug in Miami who initially called to ask about an old 401(k) plan and what he should do with it. As you’ll hear, the call quickly turned into Doug, 35 years old, wanting to retire at 50. Can he do it? Does he have enough saved? Is it a smart move?

Have a finance question? We want to hear from you! Email us at askjill@betteroffpodcast.com and we’ll arrange to get you on.

Don’t forget, a brand new episode of the Better Off podcast comes out Thursday so stay tuned for more listener questions plus an informative interview.

We love feedback so please subscribe and leave us a rating or review in iTunes!

Better Off is sponsored by Betterment.

“Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 019 - Life Insurance Made Simple with Yaron Ben-Zvi

Technology has made our financial lives better and simpler. From banking and investing to shopping and planning a vacation, many of our daily necessities are just a click away.

Thanks to Haven Life, you can now add life insurance to the mix. If you’ve ever applied for life insurance coverage, you know that it can be painful. From the multi-page applications to medical exams and records, it used to take weeks, if you were lucky.

Founded by our guest, Yaron Ben-Zvi, Haven Life is leveraging technology in order to disrupt the life insurance process and experience. Mark, our producer here at “Better Off,” recently became a customer and couldn’t believe how easy and painless the process was: “I just calculated how much coverage I needed and was covered in about 20 minutes. No joke!”

Yaron says that the company’s goal is to provide an easier, faster, just plain better way to provide coverage of up to $1 million, by offering:

  • Simple online application process
  • No medical exam for qualified, healthy applicants
  • Easy price and policy comparisons
  • An immediate decision with InstantTerm
  • Backing of MassMutual, a 160-year-old life insurer
  • A plain language no commission policy

Just enter the basics, like gender, age, health condition, city, etc. and you’re on your way. Check out Haven Life’s calculators and see what makes sense for you.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment. For more information from the insurance industry, connect with Haven Life on Twitter.

We love feedback so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Better Off BONUS call 012

On the BONUS call this week we talked to John from Houston who had some questions about reducing his tax liability once retirement rolls around. John and his wife are in great shape…these guys are serious savers which has allowed them to sock away $700k in retirement savings with many years left to add to the pot. It was a success as we were able to open John’s eyes about the benefits of using his Roth 401(k) plan at work.

Have a finance question? We want to hear from you! Email us at askjill@betteroffpodcast.com and we’ll arrange to get you on.

Don’t forget, a brand new episode of the Better Off podcast comes out Thursday so stay tuned for more listener questions plus an informative interview.

We love feedback so please subscribe and leave us a rating or review in iTunes!

Better Off is sponsored by Betterment.

“Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 018 - Global Economics with Mohamed El-Erian (Part Two)

I never take it for granted how fortunate I am to have my job. Let’s be honest, it’s not really a job when you’re doing what you love. And that’s what I get to do as a journalist covering personal finance and economics.

With the “job” comes the opportunity to meet many smart, interesting and influential people, some of whom are legit heavyweights within their specific industries and in the world at large. Today’s Better Off guest, the esteemed Dr. Mohamed El-Erian, falls into that category. Of all of the economists and financial services executives that I have been privileged to interview, Mohamed is one of the few who can distill and communicate complicated ideas in a way that all of us can understand. That’s why we’re keeping him around for two episodes…there’s just too much knowledge in his brain to squeeze into one show.

While you may have seen or read Dr. El-Erian before—as a guest on CNBC, a LinkedIn Influencer, a columnist for “Bloomberg View,” a contributing editor to the “Financial Times,” and the chief economic advisor for Allianz—our conversations on “Better Off” are rare opportunities where he can delve into a myriad of big picture economic topics for more than the three minutes usually allotted to his appearances.

Mohamed’s bestselling book, “The Only Game in Town: Central Banks, Instability, and Avoiding the Next Collapse,” will be released in paperback next month. I encourage everyone to read it, because it was one of my top picks for economics/business books last year.

In part two of the interview we talk to Mohamed about the financial concerns keeping him up at night. We also continue our discussion on Brexit and the ongoing crisis in Greece and why that country faces the risk of a lost generation.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Before leaving us, Mohamed touched on the three reasons why he continues to remain optimistic about the global economy.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment. For more insight on U.S. and global economics, you can connect with Mohamed on Twitter.

Quick favor to ask…please take two minutes and fill out our listener survey…it’s painless and literally takes two minutes, three max. Thank you!

We love feedback so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Better Off BONUS call 011

You’re getting ready to buy a new home and have the cash to purchase it outright…should you? Or should you take on a mortgage? That’s what Dwayne from Illinois was wondering and we answered his question on the latest BONUS call of the week.

Have a finance question? We want to hear from you! Email us at askjill@betteroffpodcast.com and we’ll arrange to get you on.

Don’t forget, a brand new episode of the Better Off podcast comes out Thursday so stay tuned for more listener questions plus an informative interview.

We love feedback so please subscribe and leave us a rating or review in iTunes!

Better Off is sponsored by Betterment.

“Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 017 - Global Economics with Mohamed El-Erian (Part One)

I never take it for granted how fortunate I am to have my job. Let’s be honest, it’s not really a job when you’re doing what you love. And that’s what I get to do as a journalist covering personal finance and economics.

With the “job” comes the opportunity to meet many smart, interesting and influential people, some of whom are legit heavyweights within their specific industries and in the world at large. Today’s Better Off guest, the esteemed Dr. Mohamed El-Erian, falls into that category. Of all of the economists and financial services executives that I have been privileged to interview, Mohamed is one of the few who can distill and communicate complicated ideas in a way that all of us can understand. That’s why we’re keeping him around for two episodes…there’s just too much knowledge in his brain to squeeze into one show.

While you may have seen or read Dr. El-Erian before—as a guest on CNBC, a LinkedIn Influencer, a columnist for “Bloomberg View,” a contributing editor to the “Financial Times,” and the chief economic advisor for Allianz—our conversations on “Better Off” are rare opportunities where he can delve into a myriad of big picture economic topics for more than the three minutes usually allotted to his appearances.

Mohamed’s bestselling book, “The Only Game in Town: Central Banks, Instability, and Avoiding the Next Collapse,” will be released in paperback next month. I encourage everyone to read it, because it was one of my top picks for economics/business books last year.

In part one of the interview Mohamed touches on the three things he believes every investor needs to be a successful:

  • An understanding of fundamentals
  • An understanding of mathematics and discounted cash flows
  • A solid gut instinct

If you only possess one of these attributes—gut instinct—don’t worry! We also discuss passive investing as an alternative to stock picking.

As the new administration and Congress roll out various fiscal policies, it was a treat to hear what’s on Mohamed’s wish list. There are measures that the government can take to foster a more inclusive U.S. economy, help boost wage growth and improve the current tax system. And of course, we wouldn’t let him go before getting this UK-educated economist’s view of Brexit!

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment. For more insight on U.S. and global economics, you can connect with Mohamed on Twitter.

Quick favor to ask…please take two minutes and fill out our listener survey…it’s painless and literally takes two minutes, three max. Thank you!

We love feedback so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 016 - Navigating Your Career with Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew

Human Capital: It’s more valuable than any other investment you have and that’s why we often discuss career development and management on Better Off.  If you’re one of the lucky ones like me, then you’re doing what you want to do, but it took me some time to get here…

Many of you may want to change careers and do something that’s more in line with your passions. There are those who have been laid off, often after spending several years at the same company, and now suddenly have to launch a job search process.

Thankfully we live in a day and age where there’s plenty of career finder and guidance websites available to assist. Enter The Muse, founded in 2011 by Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew. Alex and Kathryn, both millennials, decided to launch the site after working together in the consulting world and realizing it wasn’t what they wanted out of life.

Fast forward to present day — 50 million people visit The Muse each year to determine what they want to do with their lives. The success and popularity of the site encouraged Alex and Kathryn to write a guidebook for the modern workplace. “The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career” is designed to help, whether you are starting out in your career, looking to advance, navigating a mid-career shift or anywhere in between.

Through exercises and tips, you will learn:

  • The New Rules for finding the right path: Sift through, and narrow today’s ever-growing menu of job and career options, using the simple step-by-step Muse Method
  • The New Rules for landing the perfect job: Build your personal brand, and communicate exactly how you can contribute and why your experience is valuable in a way that is sure to get the attention of your dream employer. Then ace every step of the interview process, from getting a foot in the door to negotiating your offer.
  • The New Rules for growing and advancing in your career: Mastering first impressions, the art of communication, networking, managing up and other “soft” skills.

Regardless of where you’re at on your career trajectory, you’re bound to find some tips in this book that will help you navigate your professional journey.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.  For more career advice and tips, connect with Alex, Kathryn and The Muse on Twitter.

We love feedback so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 015 - Leadership Skills with Retired Admiral William H. McRaven

By now you know that on the Better Off podcast we talk about more than just the nuts and bolts of investments and economics. Our mission is to help you take control of your financial life, and that includes helping you better yourself, invest in yourself, and ultimately, become an all around better off individual.

One of the amazing byproducts of leaving a full time career in investment management and entering the news business is that I now meet (and have the privilege to interview) a wide range of incredibly smart people. While at times I can take that for granted, every once in awhile, I host a guest who helps me realize just how lucky I have it.

That’s what happened when Retired Admiral William “Bill” McRaven walked into the studio last week and talked to me for about 45 minutes. It happened to be the day after the U.S. had launched airstrikes against Syria, which made the visit timely.

If Bill’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he presided over the 2011 Navy SEAL raid that resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Bill was the man who identified the body when it was flown back to Afghanistan and told President Obama that the U.S. finally had their guy.

A few years later in 2014, the four-star admiral and 37-year Navy SEAL veteran delivered the commencement speech at his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin (Hook ‘em Horns!). Little did McRaven know that his address, which spoke to how students could overcome challenges and change themselves, would become a viral hit with nearly 25 million views online.

In January, 2015 Bill became the Chancellor of the entire University of Texas system and was encouraged to expand his commencement speech into a book, Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World. The ten fundamental life lessons McRaven learned in Navy Seal training resonate with all of us, but these are three of my favorite:

  • If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed
  • If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle
  • If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment. You can connect with Admiral McRaven on Twitter.

We love feedback, so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 014 - Financial Aid and Student Loans with Kelly Peeler

One of the goals of the Better Off podcast is to make the daunting seem doable. And there is no more daunting topic than college. From saving for it, going through the selection process and the heavy lifting of paying for it (whether out of pocket or through financial aid and student loans), the whole subject produces anxiety for students and their families.

But it doesn’t have to be that way, according to our guest Kelly Peeler, founder and CEO of NextGenVest, a free text message service to help students navigate the college selection and financial aid and student loan processes.

It’s the busy time of year for Kelly and her team, as college acceptances are rolling in and families are trying to figure what to do with all the various forms. And those forms are KEY. Can you believe that more than $2.7 billion dollars, yes billion with a B, of unclaimed financial aid money is left on the table every single year primarily because people don’t fill out the FAFSA form. That blows my mind.

By using NextGenVest, students and their families are connected with Money Mentors who will help coach them through the process and also provide key financial aid deadline reminders, form annotations, and on-demand help via text message to get more financial aid in high school and beyond. Mentors will also answer questions such as:

  • How do I find scholarships I can actually apply to?
  • Am I filling out the right FAFSA forms?
  • Am I allowed to negotiate my college tuition?
  • Is working during college a good idea?
  • Can I still get scholarships even if I don’t have great grades?

Aside from discussing the dreaded but necessary forms, we also talked to Kelly about the student loan bubble and why she feels it could be the next financial crisis.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment. For more student loan and financial aid tips and advice, connect with Kelly on Twitter.

We love feedback, so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

“Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 013 - Taking Charge of Your Career with Nicole Lapin

When you hear my unabashed enthusiasm and connection with today’s guest, Nicole Lapin, I think you will understand why we hit it off so quickly.

Nicole, already an accomplished journalist by her thirtieth birthday, expanded her reach with the 2015 release of her New York Times bestseller, “Rich Bitch”. Yes, that’s the title. Before you start going nuts, CALM DOWN. Nicole’s premise is simple: she wanted to own that word and use it to entice those who might not necessarily pick up a personal finance book.

Nicole’s latest book, which is laugh out loud funny, is called “Boss Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan to Take Charge of Your Career”. Despite the title of both of her books, they are not exclusively for women. Both are about taking charge, no matter who you are.

Boss Bitch is about being a boss without having a business card or dozens of employees to prove it. Here are some topics that that Nicole explores:

  • Be the CEO of YOU by running your life like a business
  • Think like a boss by being entrepreneurial within an existing company
  • Getting, and crushing, your dream job
  • Be a hustler by exploring your passions and making extra money
  • The nuts and bolts of getting your OWN business off the ground

Nicole’s steps jibe with one of the common themes of Better Off: Investing in YOURSELF, bettering yourself to become better off in life and in your career will pay more dividends than any investment! These are not unique concepts, but like diet and exercise, just a few small steps often lead to long-lasting improvements.

I had so much fun with this interview that I can’t wait for Nicole’s next book! I suspect it will have a certain word in the title…

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment. For more career and finance tips, connect with Nicole on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also catch Nicole on television as part of the business competition reality show Hatched on CBS stations across the country.

We love feedback, so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

“Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 012 - Listener Questions with Alex Benke, CFP®

We like to mix it up and try new things every now and then on “Better Off.” Earlier this month, for the first time, we featured one guest (Jason Zweig) on back-to-back episodes.

This week, it’s another first for us, one that’s all about you guys, our awesome listeners. We’ve been getting so many email questions on a variety of topics we thought it would be a good idea to devote an entire episode to answering your questions.

Sure, I could do this on my own but thought it would be much more fun to have a partner in crime, so I borrowed Alex Benke, CFP®, from our sponsor, Betterment.

Betterment recently announced new service plans which offer access to a team of CFP® professionals and licensed financial experts to help customers with their more complicated financial issues. We’re borrowing a page from that model and answering your questions!

We started off helping Stephen from Florida with retirement planning. Like many, Stephen feels he got a late start and wants to make sure he’s now on the right path.

Howard from Atlanta is in pretty good shape with a nice chunk of money socked away, but he wanted a second opinion to see if there’s anything he could be doing better or if there’s something he should stop doing.

Andrew from Illinois recently inherited retirement money after his father passed away. With the inheritance comes the responsibility of RMDs, taxes, etc. It can be a lot for someone to process so Alex and I were more than happy to lend a helping hand to Andrew.

We finished up this episode with Peter in Michigan who finds himself in a common situation: He’s carrying piles of student loan debt, as in $200,000. Peter was wondering if it made more sense to increase his 401(k) contribution or put some extra cash toward the student loans? Here’s a tease…Alex and I had different opinions on this one. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this special episode. Who knows, maybe we’ll start doing it on a more regular basis. I’ve always found that people love hearing other people ask questions because chances are, they were wondering the same thing but were too afraid to ask. Don’t be afraid! If you have a question, email us at askjill@betteroffpodcast.com.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment. For more personal finance tips and advice, connect with them on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

We love feedback, so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

“Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 011 - Tax Prep with Ed Slott

With Tax Day right around the corner, our guest, Ed Slott, CPA, is in the house to review some last-minute tips, dos and don’ts, and provide sage advice about which IRA might be right for you.

Ed is not only a tax guru, he’s also a total character. He skillfully presents what is usually dry advice in just the way we like on “Better Off”: with attitude and humor!

Considered one of the foremost authorities on all things regarding taxes, retirement, IRAs, Ed is regularly quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Money, Kiplinger’s, USA Today, Investment News and a host of additional national magazines and financial publications. You may have also seen Ed on your local public television station on one of his numerous specials.

I realize paying taxes can be a sore subject, but as much as everyone complains, Ed says that tax rates are still relatively low. That means that now could be a good time to move funds from tax-deferred vehicles, like 401(k)s and IRAs into tax free Roth IRAs.

Ed also notes that the very best retirement strategy is to work as long as you can. Extra income can prevent you from dipping into your nest egg; allow you to make Roth and spousal Roth IRA contributions (though once you turn 70 1/2, you can NOT make traditional IRA contributions); and most importantly, working longer will help you combat the reality of longevity!

See, it’s not all bad news around tax time…and as Ed says, the key to the entire tax preparation process is to keep flawless records and documentation throughout the year!

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment. For more tips and advice on taxes, retirement and IRAs, connect with Ed on Twitter and visit his website for a variety of resources.

We love feedback, so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

“Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 010 - Become an Intelligent Investor with Jason Zweig (Part Two)

If you don’t know the name Jason Zweig, as a listener of the Better Off podcast, chances are you know his work. The “Intelligent Investor” column that you read every Saturday in the Wall Street Journal…yep, that’s his awesome work.

I’ve been a fan of Jason’s for a long time, so it’s a no brainer that he’s on one of the early episodes of “Better Off.” And let me just say, it was no easy get! We, and when I say we I really mean Mark, the best producer in the world, have been going back and forth with Jason since last October trying to nail down a date.

Was it worth it? Let’s just say that when we do interviews, Mark and I are acutely aware of how long they’re running. We try to keep them 30 minutes or less. Well, Jason was so good we kept him for nearly an hour. His knowledge and insight of the financial industry is so wide and deep that we decided that we needed to feature him in back-to-back episodes, a “Better Off” first!

In part two of this interview we cover the decreasing cost of investing and why it may eventually cost the customer absolutely nothing, the role of brokers as the industry continues to evolve, and finally, what encourages Jason about the future of the financial services industry.

If you like Jason’s column, you should also check out his books. His latest work, The Devil’s Financial Dictionary, skewers the plutocrats and bureaucrats who gave us exploding mortgages, freakish risks, and banks that are too big to fail. It also distills the complexities, absurdities, and pomposities of Wall Street into plain truths and aphorisms anyone can understand.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment. For more insight on how to become an intelligent investor, connect with Jason on Twitter.

We love feedback so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 009 Become an Intelligent Investor with Jason Zweig (Part One)

If you don’t know the name Jason Zweig, as a listener of the Better Off podcast, chances are you know his work. The “Intelligent Investor” column that you read every Saturday in the Wall Street Journal…yep, that’s his awesome work.

I’ve been a fan of Jason’s for a long time, so it’s a no brainer that he’s on one of the early episodes of “Better Off.” And let me just say, it was no easy get! We, and when I say we I really mean Mark, the best producer in the world, have been going back and forth with Jason since last October trying to nail down a date.

Was it worth it? Let’s just say that when we do interviews, Mark and I are acutely aware of how long they’re running. We try to keep them 30 minutes or less. Well, Jason was so good we kept him for nearly an hour. His knowledge and insight of the financial industry is so wide and deep that we decided that we needed to feature him in back-to-back episodes, a “Better Off” first!

In part one of the interview we cover the power of index funds, the importance of having rules in your financial life, the beauty of passive investing and the importance of technology and humans working together. We also talk about the evil F-word (fiduciary) and why such a simple concept of putting clients first, is such a controversial issue for a conflict-ridden industry.

If you like Jason’s column, you should also check out his books. His latest work, The Devil’s Financial Dictionary, skewers the plutocrats and bureaucrats who gave us exploding mortgages, freakish risks, and banks that are too big to fail. It also distills the complexities, absurdities, and pomposities of Wall Street into plain truths and aphorisms anyone can understand.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment. For more insight on how to become an intelligent investor, connect with Jason on Twitter.

Please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 008 - Silicon Valley Disrupters with Brad Stone

I’m going to assume that a good portion of you subscribed to the Better Off podcast have used either Uber or Airbnb. I use Uber all the time and it seems like everyone I know has used Airbnb. My producer Mark just used Airbnb for a week in Tokyo and loved it. James Altucher, our guest from the second episode, basically lives full-time in various Airbnb locations.

It’s no exaggeration to say that these companies have almost single-handedly disrupted stodgy industries (taxi/limousine and hotel), become stars of the Silicon Valley venture capital world and made their impact felt across the globe. That’s why we were delighted to have a great conversation with Brad Stone, Bloomberg journalist and author of “The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley are Changing the World.”

Brad defines an upstart as either “a newly successful person” or “someone who does not show proper respect to the established way of doing things” — you’ll need to decide whether or not Travis Kalanick of Uber and Brian Chesky fall into one or both of those categories. They certainly were brash survivors who didn’t create the ideas that made each company successful, but somehow they were able to execute better (more ruthlessly?) than their competitors.

Unlike in his previous book about Amazon, “The Everything Store”, where CEO Jeff Bezos would not talk to him, this time Brad had access to all the key players and he writes a compelling page-turner. He opens the story with the 2008 Obama Inauguration, which founders of both companies were attending.

What lessons have these wildly successful upstarts learned over the past nine years? How have they matured and become better leaders? After reading this book, you’ll have a whole new perspective the next time you ride in an Uber or make an Airbnb reservation.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment. For more Silicon Valley updates from Brad, you can connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

Please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.



Ep. 007 - Fiduciary Rule with Jon Stein

A couple weeks ago, we devoted the entire interview portion of the podcast to the hotly debated Department of Labor fiduciary rule, which was set to begin implementation on April 10. We taped that interview just days before President Trump signed a Memorandum that instructs the DOL to examine the rule “to determine whether it may adversely affect the ability of Americans to gain access to retirement information and financial advice.”

In other words, the fiduciary rule could be toast. Well, not on this show–it’s going to be a running theme on Better Off because as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, fiduciary is an issue about which I’m deeply passionate. So is our guest this week, Betterment CEO Jon Stein.

By now it’s no secret that Betterment is the sponsor of Better Off. But that’s not the reason why we’re having Jon on today. Jon has been an industry leader on the issue of fiduciary, publishing an open letter to President Trump, and voicing his company’s support for the rule.

Jon’s take is simple and one that should resonate: U.S. investors should be able to trust that the financial advice they’re getting is in their best interest. As he stated in the letter, “Investing can be made intentionally complicated, and salesmen are clever. Left to its own devices, the investment industry for decades sold bad products to Americans.”

The good news is that Jon and I are not alone. There’s support out there from plenty of high-profile people, including U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who penned a letter to the DOL highlighting support for the fiduciary rule from several financial institutions, including Betterment, adding that a delay “would be a slap in the face to the companies that have invested, in good faith, for a deadline that has stood for the past year — and to the everyday worker deserving of the assurance that their retirement adviser is working in their best interest.”

Safe to say Jon and I have plenty to discuss!

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment. For updates on the fiduciary rule process, connect with Betterment on Twitter and Facebook.

Please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman.



Ep. 006 - Kids and Financial Literacy with Beth Kobliner

You will often hear me say that before you worry about the financial future of your kids, you need to make sure you’re taking care of yourself first. But that doesn’t take you off the hook for discussing money with your kids.

Think of it as another one of the talks…so now in addition to the sex talk, the drug and alcohol talk, we can add the money talk. All of these conversations must occur at every stage of your child’s development, with age-appropriate messaging that the kids can absorb.

To help with your effort, this week we’re talking to Beth Kobliner, author of Make Your Kid A Money Genius (Even If You’re Not): A Parents’ Guide for Kids 3 to 23. Okay, okay, full disclosure, she’s also a friend of mine.

But that’s not why Beth is on “Better Off.” She’s on because it’s an important topic. I know there are a lot of you out there subscribed to this podcast, with kids or thinking about starting a family, wondering how to have such conversations:

  • How much debt should we take on for college?
  • Should I give my teen a debit or credit card?
  • Should I give my child an allowance?
  • My kid wants to move back home…should I charge rent?

Those are just some examples and there’s plenty more in the book. Whether you’re a rookie in the parenting game or a veteran, this book will help. As Beth says, “Think of it as a guide for parents that offers the financial facts of life for kids 3 to 23.”

And FYI, Beth is the real deal. In 2010, she was selected by President Obama to be a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, where she created MoneyAsYouGrow.org. The site attracted more than 1.4 million visitors and was adopted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2016.

So whether you have kids, are planning on it or know someone with kids, I encourage you to check it out. It’s never too soon to start the money talk with your children.

For more financial literacy tips with Beth, you can connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Please leave us a rating or review in iTunes.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman.



Ep. 005 - Fiduciary Standard Under Fire with Megan Leonhardt and Jack Otter

Fiduciary Definition, according to Merriam-Webster:

  1. a : held or founded in trust or confidence <a fiduciary relationship> <a bank’s fiduciary obligations>
  2. b : holding in trust
  3. c : depending on public confidence for value or currency <fiduciary fiat money>

Fiduciary is a weird legal word that has become a lightning rod from Wall Street to Washington DC. In a nutshell, fiduciary is the standard of care which requires financial professionals to put the interests of their clients’ first. Seems like a pretty obvious and basic principle, that should be the standard when someone is talking about your money, right?

Well, you may be surprised as to learn that the majority of the financial services industry has long been held to a lower standard, which was called “suitability.” Suitability meant that any financial product that was sold had to be appropriate for you, though not necessarily in your best interest. The problem is that most investors have been unaware of the different standards that have applied for all of these years.

Enter the the Department of Labor (DOL), which in the aftermath of the financial crisis — and in conjunction with the Obama Administration, began working on a way to incorporate elements of the fiduciary standard to those who provide retirement services to American investors.

After a lengthy comment period and lots of negotiation with the financial services industry, new DOL fiduciary rules are scheduled to begin implementation on April 10th. These rules are intended to help protect investors by requiring all who provide retirement investment advice to plans, plan fiduciaries and IRAs to abide by a “fiduciary” standard, putting their clients’ interest first. (There are exceptions to the new rules, which require advisers and financial institutions to follow certain procedures to avoid being in violation of the new rules.)

Financial service companies large and small had made big plans to comply with the new rules, but that was before the election of President Donald Trump. It is now widely expected that Mr. Trump, along with Congressional Republicans, may delay and perhaps kill portions of the proposed DOL rule.

As you can see it’s a complicated issue. It shouldn’t be, but it is. That’s why we brought in Megan Leonhardt from MONEY Magazine and Jack Otter from Barrons to try and help us make sense of it all. With implementation day rapidly approaching, if the government takes the position that the fiduciary standard is not important, you may want to ask yourself this question: If a broker or salesperson doesn’t want to put you first, why should you work with him?

I would love to hear your feedback on this thorny issue. You can always reach us via email at askjill@betteroffpodcast.com.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

Ratings/reviews matter in the podcasting world, so if you have a free minute, please leave us one in iTunes.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman.



Ep. 004 - Build Your Dream Network with Kelly Hoey

I promised you that on the “Better Off” podcast, we would tackle uncomfortable, and even controversial, money and investing issues. And high up on the list of anxieties is trying to land a new job or move up the food chain in your existing workplace. Of course, it’s all about who you know and having connections.

As someone who has been called a “natural networker,” I wholeheartedly cling to that concept. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of all jobs are found through networking. And because it’s a new year, a time when people often make changes, especially career changes, we thought it was a good idea to talk to networking expert Kelly Hoey. Kelly’s new book, Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in a Hyper-Connected World, has just been released and is perfect for anyone looking for networking and career advice.

We have all heard that networking can be an effective and important tool, but Kelly emphasizes creating meaningful connections, defining your goal and honing on those who can help you form a strategy for connecting. Some of her tips include:

  • Determine the most effective ways to connect with others so you don’t clutter your calendar with dead-end coffee dates and informational interviews
  • Synchronize networking efforts with your digital outreach
  • Turn “closed door” conversations into strong personal relationships and business opportunities
  • Eliminate FOMO by keeping your networking efforts focused

We also talk about how the rules have been rewritten now that we live in a digital world where our lives are dominated by Facebook, Twitter and apps.

The book also includes a series of Q&As with some of the best networking experts in the business who share some invaluable advice based on their successes and failures.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment. For more networking tips, connect with Kelly on Twitter, Facebook and her website.

As always, ratings and reviews matter in the podcasting world, so if you have a free minute, please leave us a rating in iTunes. Thank you!

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman.



Ep. 003 - Misleading Numbers in Elections and Investing with Harry Enten

Young. Check.

Ivy League educated. Check.

Obsessed with statistics. Check.

Obsessed with politics. Check.

A rising star in the media world. Check.

Yep, that pretty much describes this week’s “Better Off” podcast guest.

As promised, we tackle uncomfortable, and even controversial, money and investing issues, but on this episode, we are wading into the choppy waters of politics, with Harry Enten, senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight. If you’re not familiar with the site, it’s the brainchild of statistician guru Nate Silver who gained recognition in 2008 after correctly predicting the outcomes in 49 of the 50 states in the presidential election.

With the presidential inauguration upon us, we thought it made sense to talk to someone about the recent race, more specifically the numbers behind it, and how so many people got it wrong.

What were the warning signs that so many missed? What did Hillary do wrong? Was it all about the economy or were there other factors? Did the third party candidates have an impact?

Harry breaks down the election/forecasting/statistical terminology we’ve been bombarded with over the past year or so. What is probability and what does it mean? How about margin of error? What about sample errors? Are polls perfect or are they just a tool?

As you’ll hear, politics was the main theme, but we also talked about Harry’s background and his love of sports and weather. That’s right, weather. This guy loves a good snowstorm. So much so that it played a role in picking a college.

I think you’ll really enjoy the interview. It was very fun and informative, definitely one of my personal favorites. Harry Enten is a name you will be hearing more and more of in 2017. We just hope he remembers us little people.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment and if you like what you hear, follow and connect with Harry on social media. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.

And one more thing…ratings and reviews matter a lot in the podcasting world. So if you have a free minute it’d mean a lot if you can rate me in iTunes. Thank you!

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman.



Ep. 002 - Fail More, Reinvent Yourself with James Altucher

So here you are, listening to, or about to listen to the second episode of the “Better Off” podcast. Like you, I love podcasts. I subscribe to many, probably too many. But that’s how I found our guest this week, the one and only James Altucher.

Last spring, I was walking on an isolated Long Island beach, picking up trash on Earth Day, listening to his podcast, The James Altucher Show, and was so blown away that I said out loud, “I need to interview this guy!” And that’s exactly what I did. After getting in touch via Twitter, James was a guest on my radio show and we’ve been pals ever since, hence his appearance on the podcast today.

Aside from hosting his own successful podcast, James is also a serial entrepreneur and investor. How smart is this guy? As you’ll hear right off the bat, he’s smart enough to know that when it comes to investing, he’s not smarter than the market, which is why these days, he prefers the robo-advisor model, which essentially prevents him (and the rest of us) from making stupid decisions. Makes sense since he’s a lover of technology. One day we’ll get his thoughts on virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

James is also an accomplished author with more than a dozen books under his belt. You can now add another one to the list with the recently released Reinvent Yourself. More than anything else, that’s exactly what initially drew me to James: his ability to continually reinvent himself, as well as his authenticity and his willingness to talk about it. He really is an open book. And he’s not just talking about his successes, of which he’s had many, but also his failures, of which he’s probably had more. This guy has made millions and lost it all, more than once! More than twice! Yet he somehow continues to reinvent himself and come out on top.

As you hear this interview I suspect you may think, “How can I be more like this guy?” If so, you should definitely check out his book, Choose Yourself and his newest release, Reinvent Yourself.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment and if you are as drawn to James as I am, you can follow and connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

And one more thing…ratings and reviews matter a lot in the podcasting world. So if you have a free minute it’d mean a lot if you can rate me in iTunes. Thank you!

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman.



Ep. 001 - New Year's Resolution: Become a Millionaire with David Bach

How does it feel to have nine consecutive books make the New York Times bestsellers list? Or to be on the Oprah Winfrey Show six times? Well, I have no idea, but our “Better Off” guest, David Bach, does!

Let me back up…this is the first-ever episode of “Better Off” where I tackle sometimes uncomfortable — and even controversial — money and investing issues. For the show premiere, I talked with David Bach, who has written eleven national bestsellers, with over seven million books in print. He’s best known for “The Automatic Millionaire.” It was so popular the first time around that he just released an expanded and updated version.

Of course, there’s no secret recipe to becoming an automatic millionaire. There’s no magic formula. It’s something that takes time, work and discipline. If it were that easy we’d all be millionaires…and Mark probably wouldn’t be my producer. You’ll get to know Mark in subsequent episodes. He’s the guy that makes the show appear in your feed every week.

As you’ll hear, I don’t agree with David that skipping a latte a day will help you become rich, but we also discuss many topics in the book upon which we both agree—perhaps none more important than becoming an “automatic investor.” Research shows that we have more positive outcomes when we take emotions and self-discipline out of the equation and put our financial lives on autopilot. That may be the biggest takeaway from the book. Whether it’s a retirement plan at work, an IRA, or a service such as Betterment, set it, forget it and let the magic of compounding interest go to work.

It’s the beginning of a new year, a time when we reassess our financial situations and maybe even make some resolutions. Listen to this podcast, read the book and I have no doubt you’ll pick up some useful tips that will help you achieve your goals in 2017.

Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment. If you like what David Bach has to say, you can follow and connect with him on social media. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook, as well as his website.

Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman.



Welcome to the Better Off Podcast