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ASK CARRIE -- How to Take Charge of Your Financial Future PDF Print E-mail
Written by San Fernando Valley Sun   
Thursday, 09 December 2010 03:00

This week, Carrie interviews Farnoosh Torabi, CBS MoneyWatch columnist and author of "Psych Yourself Rich: Get the Mindset and Discipline YouNeed to Build Your Financial Life" (FT Press: 2010).

CARRIE: Farnoosh, you've written a great book for young adults. Can you briefly explain why the propermindset is so crucial for a young person who is just starting to build their financial life?

FARNOOSH: I think it's easy, as a young adult, to get emotionally overwhelmed, especially now with so much economic uncertainty. Many are graduating from college with heaps of student loan and credit card debt and entering an extremely competitive job market.Many are being forced to move back home with mom and dad (not so fun). Others are barely making ends meet on their own, given stagnant starting salaries.

In short, being a young professional today can be quite an emotional drain. That's where "Psych Yourself" enters the picture. It teaches us that while life has its setbacks, it also has its opportunities. Before you reach for your financial calculator, you need to get control of your emotions, think strategically, and commit to your goals.

CARRIE: You talk about why it's crucial for all of us to be our own financial advocates. Can you explain why this is important?

FARNOOSH: If you're likeme, you accept that no one caresmore about your money and your financial livelihood than you do. And you see why it's so critical to be your own financial advocate, protecting your assets and making the most educated decisions. This is especially critical for a young adult new to being completely on his or her own.

When you're just starting out, it's easy to feel intimidated by the financial world. We often feel insecure about calling up our lenders or walking into our boss's office to discuss a raise. But if you don't ask for these things, no one will do it for you. You'll learn (quickly) that there's not a lot of handholding in the real world. You'll be expected tomake a lot of decisions.

My advice: To earn your independence, speak up, ask questions and be heard. From your student loan officers to your landlord, human resources manager, doctor and bank agent, ask questions and follow up.

CARRIE: The title of your book is pretty bold. Tell us what youmean by "rich"?

FARNOOSH:Richinmy book equals financial security. It's not about becoming a millionaire or accumulatingwealth.After all,we know plenty of quantifiably "rich" people who do little to protect their assets and give into a lifestyle that is far beyond theirmeans. To me, rich is about striking a balance between your needs and wants andhaving enoughleft over to protect you in the event of a financial emergency, like a job loss. It's about freedom and choice.

CARRIE: As you point out in your book, many of us behave irrationally when it comes to money, making foolish decisions that really aren't in our long-term best interests. Do you have some suggestions for how we can correct that tendency and take control?

FARNOOSH: Absolutely. Some of my favorite highlights from "Psych Yourself Rich" include:

Use Cash. There's no doubt that we tend to overspend when we use credit cards.We feel a false sense of confidence and shop more impulsively. To avoid this, use cash more often. It not only limits how much you can spend, but it also keeps youmore honest. You are forced to think twice, three times about whether something is worth it and, indeed, aligned with your goals.

Narrow Your Options. It's a proven behavioral fact: too many options cause confusion — whether that's entrees on a menu or mutual funds for your 401(k). One way to deal with this phenomenon is to identify a price range you're comfortable with

Pre-commit to Saving. Do you want to save but seem to come up dry at the end of the month? A pre-commitment to paying yourself first and saving automatically in your employer's 401(k) plan before you get your paycheckwill ensure that you save well.

EmailCarrie Schwab-Pomerantz at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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