Interview with Jacquette Timmons, WISC Women & Money 2017 Speaker
Join us for the second workshop, How to Make the Best Money Choices...Every Time! on Saturday, June 10 at 9am at Homewise with financial behaviorist Jacquette Timmons.
We asked Jacquette some questions about life and work.
What are the most common challenges for women and their money?
JT: This answer may surprise you because the most common challenge for women and their money has little to do with money directly. It has to do with time and priority. I see far too many women who put managing their money on the back-burner. Sure, they make sure the bills get paid. But, as far as looking beyond the day-to-day and taking the time to be strategic when it comes to earning, saving, investing, spending and managing debt...that's another story. One that tends to get deferred to a later date that never materializes. So, the biggest challenge is a lack of engagement because you've confused daily actions with planning.
What prevents people from conversations about money?
JT: Funny, I think people talk about money all the time. I just don't think the right conversations are being had. When most people talk about money, it's about transactions and successes. Rarely do people talk about their financial failures and lessons learned, or how they get their financial questions answered; how they meet financial challenges; or address their financial frustrations. To do that would require being more vulnerable about what one doesn't have or know...and to admit when you've made a right turn when you wish you made a left. And all of this taps into the most basic of our emotions: fear, shame and embarrassment -- these are what prevent people from having "real" conversations about money. Especially with the people that matter most to you.
What changes have you seen in terms of pay equity?
[intentional left blank]
What are the most important skills or qualities that have contributed to your success and how did you develop them?
JT: I'm so glad you asked this in the plural, because it is never just "one" thing. In no particular order, I'd say tenacity, curiosity, discipline, focus, having a teachable spirit, and having an inner-circle of people I trust -- people that will give me feedback, guidance, and advice even when I don't like the message. In terms of how I developed these skills and qualities...ha! Life and time will handle that for you. :)
Name three inspiring women or three women that were role models for you. What did you learn from them?
JT: My beloved mother is at the top of the list. She taught me so much, especially the value of being accepting of people without judgment; being kind to everyone regardless of their station in life; always looking for the best in people (but not being a doormat, either); bringing as much grace as possible to every situation; and being willing to stand alone when everyone is going in the proverbial opposite direction of what I believe is best for me. And she didn't let having modest means stop her from having an estate plan! She was an incredible woman, whom certainly inspired me whilst she was alive. My admiration has deepened since her death in 2014 and my discovery of how quiet she was about her philanthropy; she didn't feel the need to broadcast her giving. That is refreshing, especially given the times in which we live today.
There are, of course, other women that inspire me and from whom I learn how to manage both the small and big decisions of life and business. Some of whom are role models because they were the first; others because some aspect of their life is "non-conventional." But I'd say a common thread is that they are wicked smart; they are planners; they sometimes make decisions that, on the surface, don't make sense to others in the short-term but make total sense once you begin to see their bigger-picture, master plan unfold; they take calculated risks; they are kind and generous; they are quietly effective (aka, not boastful) and understated.
What about women and girls who didn't learn about money at home? How do they identify good information, the appropriate mentors and resources?
JT: Most people didn't learn about making smart money decisions, in every area of money, at home. For example, my mother was an excellent saver, so I learned that skill. But investing - I didn't learn about that until after I graduated college. Until then, I thought that was something only "rich" people did. So, they shouldn't feel alone in this regard. Truth is, the math of money is very simple: 1+1 will always equal 2. Money only seems mysterious because of the emotions we bring to it - because it is so steeply connected to human behavior. Therefore, read books - fiction and non-fiction. The more you learn about what motivates us as human beings, the better you'll understand the why behind not only your own choices, but the choices other people make, too. And of course, read your local newspaper; read financial magazines like Kiplinger's; or business magazines like Fast Company. As you read, you'll come across thought-leaders in business, psychology and personal finance - follow them on social media. And combine what you learn from them with your own self-discoveries to cultivate your style/approach to money. Also remember this: "Good" information is information you act on!
And embrace the fear when it comes to talking about money...do it anyway!
What is your best advice for recovering from a setback or failure?
JT: The first thing is to forgive yourself. If you knew it would fail or lead to a setback, you likely would not have made the choices/decisions that lead to this outcome. Then, with as much objectivity as possible, ask yourself if there were clues that you overlooked or dismissed. For example, were you overly optimistic when you should have been more cautious; were you blindsided by something you never even considered? You don't do this exercise to place blame, but to put in place measures so that going forward you don't make the same mistake in judgment. You will learn to ask different questions, which is invaluable!
The key here is to sit with the feelings of being pissed off or disappointment long enough to get the lesson, but not too long that you get stuck and become paralyzed with inertia.
What advice do you have for younger women and girls wanting to set themselves up for healthy relationships with money?
JT: First, recognize that like with every relationship, you will have ups and downs. There will be times in your life, for a variety of reasons, when money will flow more easily than others. Second, like every relationship, you must put yourself first. It may sound selfish, but it's actually the opposite. So, when it comes to money, make sure you're operating as the leader, telling it, by way of your actions, what it is you want money to do for you. Resist the temptation to let money (or more aptly the absence of money) make you feel like you're not in control. And if you're reading this during a time when your money situation is funky and you feel like you don't have anything to give...give! It may just be 50cents, but give it away, and then save 50cents for yourself. Don't discount the significance of "small" acts. Just like you wouldn't discount the small gestures of someone's kindness that is extended to you, nor would you want yours that is extended to others. The same is true when it comes to money.
Third, money is always giving you feedback about the quality of your choices and decisions. Pay attention. And proceed accordingly.
What are you reading right now?
JT: Non-fiction, I'm reading "Profit First" by Mike Michalowicz. Fiction, I'm reading "Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi. I tend to read two books at a time.
What is or was your most rewarding accomplishment?
JT: I am a runner, and I tend to often lean on the practice of running as an analogy for life and business. So, there isn't just one rewarding accomplishment - each has been a milestone and springboard, setting me up for the next. But if you're asking what served as the pivotal accomplishment that led to me getting more national attention, it would definitely be writing my book, "Financial Intimacy: How to Create a Healthy Relationship with Your Money and Your Mate," which was published in 2009.
Who's work are you excited about?
JT: The "dance" between artificial intelligence and financial services - aka FinTech - isn't new. But we are entering new territory, with implications that are just as fascinating as they are uncomfortable. I cannot portend to understand what Tim Estes and his team at Digital Reasoning do, but boy do I admire them. I dig a tech company that emphasizes the importance of values, and am excited to learn more about what they do and how. Especially if, in some small measure, what I learn can ultimately be used to help my clients in the process.