Each week, we ask a pro for their money tips. This week, we talked to Lindsay Goldwert, host of personal finance podcast “Spent” and author of “Bow Down: Lessons from Dominatrixes on How to Get Everything You Want”. Want more expert advice? Sign up for our Easy Money newsletter, sent to your inbox each Friday.
“Bow Down” explores what professional dominatrixes can teach us about confidence, power and happiness. What’s the No. 1 financial lesson the women you interviewed for the book have to impart?
The most important lesson is that your money has to serve you and you’re in control of your goals and emotional spending. For example, when I go shopping I ask myself: ‘Why am I buying this? What need does it serve? How will it make my life better? How will it get me to a goal?’ This helps me shop with purpose rather than out of boredom.
What does ‘power’ mean at the office and how can that translate at home?
When I think of power, I don’t think of lording it over people or being controlling. I think of putting your needs out there with clear, honest and direct language — then being a good listener. Power means that you have faith in yourself to lead a discussion, solve a problem and take action when something isn’t working. I believe this makes you a better boss and a better partner. It has nothing to do with being “bossy’ or ‘power hungry’. It’s being a leader who is confident in her ideas and can execute on a plan.
It’s International Women's Month. How can workplaces benefit from successful women?
The reality is, successful women have to do triple the work of men. They often have to navigate gender politics and prove they’re as sharp and capable as men while acting as role models for other women — and making sure that they’re not alienating others. The best thing a business can do is listen to women and take their insights about company culture and strategy seriously.
How can following your intuition make you successful at work?
So many of us doubt our instincts, they say, ‘what do I know?’ or ‘maybe I’m wrong.’ Your intuition sets you apart. You can’t learn it at school, it’s something you hone over time. Having good instincts and being able to back it up with data makes you a force to be reckoned with and an asset to any organization.
Why is communication at home and at work important?
There’s a big difference between being confrontational and being direct. One can come off as aggressive and the other is using clear communication to clear the air and say what’s on your mind.
So many work and personal relationships fall apart because people don’t embrace direct, honest and kind communication. We’re so afraid of hurting feelings or it's easier to bottle it up and pretend that everything is OK. But then nothing gets accomplished! You continue to feel slighted and hurt and the other person goes on acting like a jerk.
I believe [being] the first person to clear the air is a positive-power move. And you get to set the tone for the interaction and be the first one to say, ‘This isn’t working for me, but I’d like to figure out a way to right the ship.’
You are also the host of funny money podcast “Spent” — what is the intersectionality between comedy and personal finance?
When it comes to money, a topic that’s so fraught, laughter and empathy is key to making change. Knowing you’re not alone, that other people have gone through what you’re going through is an essential step in getting your finances together.
Want more money listens? Check out our roundup of some solid personal finance podcasts.
What’s your current money goal and how you’re working toward it?
My goal is to be more organized, find a system that works for me when it comes to keeping receipts, and to reduce my emotional spending. At first, questioning each purchase was exhausting but now it’s second nature. I still buy things I need, but I really, really try to not shop as means of self-soothing.
What’s one money thing you’re most proud of?
I’m proud that people come to me with questions about their finances. So often, they just want someone to understand what they’re going through and to tell them they’re not alone. I’m not a certified financial planner or tax attorney, but I can help people figure out what actions they need to take to get on the right path. That feels really really good.
Do you have any financial regrets?
I regret all the things I bought that I didn't need because I was sad. Those purchases weren’t special, solved nothing and added to my stress when I got my credit card statement.
What’s the best financial advice you ever received?
Always read the fine print. Never be afraid to ask questions. Don’t invest in anything you don’t understand or seems too good to be true.
What’s the worst financial advice you ever received?
I was once sucked into a conversation with a person who tried to convince me that selling [dietary supplements] was my ticket to ‘financial freedom.’ It was very depressing because she was a very persuasive speaker. I understood how people looking for a chance at wealth can fall prey to multi-level marketing hucksters.
Before writing “Bow Down” you said your life was ‘at a crossroads’ and you ‘hid from professional challenge.’ What do you mean and how did you overcome it?
I went to school for journalism and thought, well, I’m going to be a journalist. I worked in magazines and in breaking news for years, always thinking it was the job that was making me unhappy.
So I jumped around, trying to find something that could make me happy. But I had major self-confidence issues and I couldn’t put my finger on what I was doing wrong. I thought if only I could find a magical job that would fit me, like Cinderella’s slipper. When I was in my mid-30s, I realized that I had to leave full-time journalism work and find something else. At the time, this made me feel like a failure. I’d spent so much time and heart working in the newsroom and I felt like it had all been a waste.
As soon as the Affordable Care Act became available, I became a freelancer. I started doing stand-up comedy again (I’d done it in my early 20s and always regretted quitting). And I started thinking about what I wanted to do versus what I could do. Getting to a place where I’m creatively and financially stable is always going to be a challenge. But taking one big chance made it easier to take the next chance, and the next.
What’s the hardest part about writing a book?
Keeping the faith that you have a compelling story to tell. When you’re alone, plugging away at an idea, there are a lot of dark nights of the soul when you wonder, ‘who is going to read this? Is it any good? Does it matter?’
What’s the most rewarding part of writing a book?
The most rewarding part was having strangers message me and tell me they liked it. I get very emotional when people take time out of their lives to tell me they got something out of it. The women I interviewed changed my life, so it meant a lot to me that they gave the book a seal approval. Getting to know them was a gift.
This interview was lightly edited for style and clarity. It is intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal advice.
Image: Nastia Kobzarenko