In today’s episode we’re going to dip our toes into some interesting waters that may be uncharted for you… On one hand, we’re going to be talking about power — specifically women in power — and how we can hold it, get more of it, and use it to our advantage. On the other hand, we’re going to be learning some of these things from an interesting source: Dominatrixes.
That’s right, we’re going to be talking about women who work as professional “mistresses,” who take on a dominant role as it pertains to bondage and discipline… and before you say that you know nothing about this world, let me remind you that dominatrix culture has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, and has been featured in countless popular movies and television shows, including Castle, Sherlock, Billions — even Family Guy. So even if you’ve never experienced a dominatrix firsthand, you may already get the general idea of the strength these women are paid to convey, and the fact that they are experts at exerting control, maintaining power, and dominating the room.
This week’s guest Lindsay Goldwert is the author of the new book, “Bow Down: Lessons From Dominatrixes On How To Get Everything You Want.” In her book, she explores all aspects of control, and what it means to have more of it in your working life and in your financial life. Her book is already challenging people’s notions of traditional power dynamics, and has put a spotlight on a world where women not only don’t apologize, they actually enjoy seizing control.
Lindsay says that in many workplaces, she’s seen women who were worried about asking for what they wanted and afraid to advocate for themselves for fear of “sounding like a bitch.” “It’s shocking that in 2020 women are still concerned about that, but they are,” she says. In her book, she explores why women may be reluctant to stand up and say what they believe, even when they know they have good ideas and important things to bring to the table. “I know what it’s like to worry that people are not going to like me, or that I’m going to come off a certain way,” she says. But the dominatrixes she befriended taught her a new way of thinking: “Bitch is just another word for ‘boss,’” they said. And besides, stating what you want in a kind, honest, and direct way can in no way make you a “bitch,” Lindsay explains.
Jean and Lindsay explore the topic of control, and how those of us who aren’t comfortable with it can learn to assert it. “No one springs from the womb as an alpha woman who walks into any room and owns it, who doesn’t care what people think, who doesn’t need anyone to tell her what’s right,” Lindsay says. No one is born that way, but they can learn how to embrace that more assertive side of ourselves, and understand the difference between assertive and aggressive. So, how can we all gain the confidence we need to command the room? Among other things, Goldwert says practice makes perfect, and to never underestimate the importance of asking questions (tons of questions!) and finding a good mentor.
The pair also dive into negotiation, which, in the dominatrix world, is what happens before a session, when everything that won’t happen and will happen in a room is agreed upon. “There’s consent all around, and once you know things aren’t going to veer off the rails, everyone feels safe. The same thing should happen at work,” she says. If you start a job and you don’t negotiate what your tasks will be beforehand, then you’re going to be starting off on the wrong foot. “I’ve started jobs where I thought I was going to be doing one thing, and then a million other things have landed on my plate,” she says. “And I’ve been too intimidated, too afraid to speak up, because I thought ‘If I speak up, they’re going to think I can’t handle it,’ or ‘They’re going to think I’m noisy or that I’m unprofessional,’ but in the end, if you don’t know what you’re going to be doing every day, you’re always going to be at a disadvantage.”
Lindsay recommends starting every job by approaching your boss with your task list, and asking them to help you prioritize everything you do, so that everyone is on the same page. “You’re never going to be in control of your boss, but this is a way you can take control and show your boss that you want to do the best job you can, that you’re on top of what you should be doing, and that you know how to prioritize,” she says.
When it comes to asking for money, Lindsay explores why we don’t ask for what we think we deserve… In many cases, it’s because we’re afraid of being rejected. But as long as your request isn’t unreasonable, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t ask for more. Lindsay also says that the dominatrixes she met taught her the importance of speaking up and saying what you want first. “So many times we wait for other people to set the expectations, and then we’re disappointed,” she says. “Say what you want, and then the other person can come back to you and offer to meet you in the middle, but many times they won’t. People want to be led. They want to be told where to sit and what to do.”
Lindsay explains how writing Bow Down changed her entire outlook on her finances. “I started thinking about my money as a tool, and asking myself, ‘Are these purchases serving me?’” she says. “And I began to see, this lipstick is not serving my goals. I’m only buying it because I’m depressed or sad. I needed to attack my issues with power and authority. I wanted to be able to say, ‘No, I can tackle this. I can ‘dom’ this issue.’” She says she realized that when you let your mood dictate your purchases, you’re not in control. And being “in control” is completely different from being “controlling” — when you’re in control, you’re empowered, which is always a good thing. We deserve to ask for (and get) what we want, and set our own boundaries.
Then, in Mailbag, Kathryn and Jean talk through a number of questions, including one from a listener wondering if she should open up a new credit card to capture additional rewards options, and one from a woman curious if she should channel her funds towards paying down credit card debt or saving for retirement. We also hear from a listener who is feeling disappointed that her request for a raise and title change was largely ignored, and is curious about what her next career move should be. Lastly, in Thrive, Jean dishes on mobile payment apps and how they may be inspiring us to spend more than we would otherwise — 23% more, to be exact — and how we can avoid falling victim to the ease of tech-enabled spending.
Lindsay Goldwert: (00:01)
I just would see them on TV and I’d say what an amazing icon that is. And I never knew any but I always wanted to see what it’d be like to talk to a dominatrix cause I had this idea of who would be a more interesting woman to talk to about how to get what you want when that is your job is to tell people what to do.
Jean Chatzky: (00:19)
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Jean Chatzky: (00:48)
Hey everybody. I’m Jean Chatzky. Thank you so much for joining me for today’s show. It is going to be a good one. We are going to dip our toes into some waters that well, they may be foreign to most of you. They’re foreign to me a little bit. They may be familiar to you. This is a judgment-free zone. Today we are going to talk about power. We’re going to talk about women in power. We’re going to talk about how we can get more power and how we can hold it and use it and turn it to our advantage. And we’re going to be learning these things from a very interesting source. We’re going to learn them from dominatrixes. That’s right. We’re going to talk about women who work as professional mistresses – who take on a dominant role as it pertains to bondage and discipline. And before you say you know nothing about this world, let me remind you that a) you did read 50 Shades of Gray and b) dominatrix culture has become increasingly prevalent in recent years. It’s been in television shows like Billions and Sherlock, even Castle, even Family Guy. So if you’ve never experienced a dominatrix firsthand, you may get the general idea of the strength that these women are paid to convey and the fact that they are experts at exerting control, maintaining power and dominating the room. We’re going to talk about this with Lindsay Goldwert. So let me tell you a little bit about Lindsay. Lindsay’s a New York based journalist. She is a producer. She’s got a personal finance background, but she’s also got a new book called Bow Down: Lessons From Dominatrixes on How to Get Everything You Want. It’s challenging people’s notions of traditional power dynamics. And she is in the studio with me today. Hey Lindsay.
Lindsay Goldwert: (03:03)
Hey, thank you so much for having me. What a great introduction.
Jean Chatzky: (03:06)
Oh, thank you. Thanks for being here. I’ve been very excited about this. I have to say. Because you and I have known each other through personal finance circles and when you told me you were working on this book, I thought, wow, that’s fascinating. How did you get there? You’ve got a personal finance podcast of your own. It’s called Spent. You’ve worked at a number of personal finance oriented websites. Personal finance. Dominatrix. There’s some distance there. So just tell me how you got there.
Lindsay Goldwert: (03:40)
So I’ve always been fascinated by subcultures in general. My podcast, so when I launched it, I was interviewing comedians about their money mistakes. I did a little bit of standup comedy for a few years. I stopped recently, but I love talking to stand ups because they have no filter. And it was very easy for them to talk about all the things they’ve done wrong, what bills they haven’t paid, debts they owe, and they have no filter and they just are able to tell stories while laughing. And my big belief is that if you can laugh at it than you can cope with it. So I’ve always liked the idea of talking to non-traditional people about sort of traditional issues. And, I’ve always been really interested in the image of a dominatrix. I think, this is sort of a strange thing, but I found an old notebook that I used to doodle in and I used to draw pictures of women in lingerie. I think I saw a Frederick’s of Hollywood catalog at a young age and I just would see them on TV and I’d say, what an amazing icon that is. And I never knew any, but I always wanted to see what it’d be like to talk to a dominatrix. Cause I had this idea of who would be a more interesting woman to talk to about how to get what you want when that is your job is to tell people what to do. So, I don’t know, I had some people approaching me to write a book about personal finance and there’s so many good ones out there. I couldn’t think of an idea at the time that was any better or more useful than books by you or books like my other friends who are CFPs. And I just said, I just want to do something a little bit different. I wanted to write about power. It was also personal. I was at a phase in my career, you know, mid-career, mid-marriage, mid-everything. And I felt that I hadn’t done a very good job advocating for my own ideas. And I was looking for a way to do it myself. So it ended up becoming more of a, I hate to use the word journey. It’s so corny. But it ended up becoming, I was asking these women what to do for my own life. It ended up becoming a little bit of a more personal book and I thought it was going to be about how to get what I want in my career, how to get what I want from out of my relationships. And they had really sound practical advice.
Jean Chatzky: (05:45)
So how did you start, I mean, how did you get comfortable enough in this environment to even ask your questions?
Lindsay Goldwert: (05:53)
I think my favorite thing about being a reporter is I can get comfortable quickly. I found that the kink community was incredibly welcoming and having done stand up comedy, it’s not that different. So I didn’t find it all that challenging. I think that’s a quality of mind that I’m proud of as I can kind of walk in and be very gracious and know how to be in the background and just be a good listener. The way it got started was, I had this idea, I signed up for a class with this dominatrix. Her name is Simone justice. She’s a big part of the book. And she ended up canceling the class. But when I got in touch with her after convincing her that I wasn’t writing a book that was exploitative, that it was about their philosophy, about power and communication and empathy and kindness. All qualities you might not think would go along with being a professional dominatrix. But it actually is, she got me into DomCon, to the dominatrix convention, and that’s when I started to meet a lot of the women, the female identified people who do domination. And that’s where I began to get a little bit of, taken to school about what it’s about, what’s important to them, how their work works for them, the challenges that they face and what it’s like to be a professional alpha woman.
Jean Chatzky: (07:04)
So let’s start there. What does it mean to be a dominatrix? What do they do?
Lindsay Goldwert: (07:11)
So a dominatrix is a paid, often luxury service for the most part. And they are paid mostly by straight men to work out a fantasy, that involves a very dominant woman and them being the more submissive part in the fantasy. So it can range from anything. It’s all up to their imagination what they want to cook up together. Dominatrixes will identify as sex workers, but they don’t have normative sex with their clients. And I think that’s sort of important to them, even though that they identify as sex workers. Clients don’t come to them for sex. They come to them for awe, as my friend says. They want to be able to worship a woman in a way that they don’t feel that they’re allowed to in real life. A lot of men don’t want to be in control all the time. I got a real interesting lesson about how men are during the day, especially rich white men, and what they really want in their desires. They want to be able to be in a place where they don’t have to be in charge all the time. They want to be told what to do. They want someone to take the control from them because during the day they feel a lot of pressure to work hard and to be the one that holds the family together. So that’s why they seek out the company of these women who charge a premium for their services.
Jean Chatzky: (08:30)
The power dynamics between men and women are so interesting and so ingrained in our culture. And I think the same things that make a man want to go home and have the decisions made for him. Are they the same dynamics that make it difficult for a woman to ask her male boss for a raise or that allow society to tolerate the gender wage gap? I mean, it seems like we’re looking at the flip side of the same coin.
Lindsay Goldwert: (09:03)
It’s very interesting that what people want in their real life can be a real dissonance from what they want in their fantasy life. But I don’t think they’re as dissonant as people think they are. I do think we’re trapped in more gender roles than we think we are. We think we’re so progressive, but almost every woman I talked to, and I’ve worked at startups, I’ve work with incredibly talented and accomplished women in data science and engineering. And they also said the same thing. How can I say what I want? How can I advocate for myself without sounding like a bitch? And that’s what they all said. And you can’t believe in 2020 that women are still concerned about that. But they are. At heart they know that they know their ideas are great, and they know that they’re just as good, if not better than their colleagues. And yet they’re so worried about standing up and saying what they believe and having everyone hate them. And I know what that feels like.
Jean Chatzky: (09:57)
Lindsay Goldwert: (09:57)
Yeah. So I know what it’s like to worry that people are not gonna like me, that I’m going to come off a certain way and in a way that, I don’t think men have that concern. And when I talk to the doms about it, they just said bitch is another word for boss. Like I don’t understand what you’re so concerned about and what if they do think that, you know, is that the right work environment for you? Like what are you really asking for. If you’re just telling the people that work for you, what you need them to do, how in any way is that being a bitch? Like, what have you internalized about that word?
Jean Chatzky: (10:34)
I think it’s the difference between assertive and aggressive.
Lindsay Goldwert: (10:36)
Absolutely. And there’s nothing worse than a boss who is unreasonable, who is exploitative, who takes advantage of her employees. That doesn’t make you a bitch boss, doesn’t make you a boss. It makes you a terrible person to work for. But just saying what you want in a kind, honest and direct way can in no way ever make you a bitch. And if you think that, then you have to rethink what it means to just ask for what you need to get your job done.
Jean Chatzky: (11:02)
The women that you interviewed, they truly enjoy being in control. Was this a natural state of being for them or was it something they learned to love. And if they learned to like it, how can we do the same?
Lindsay Goldwert: (11:16)
So I think that a lot of them are, I’m very interested in people’s duality. Some of them have different lives outside of their work. Some people are in more regular kind of vanilla relationships outside of their work. But most of them are, you know, they have a kinky bend to them. It’s hard work. It’s emotional labor. It’s a lot of emotional labor. And it’s also a lot of physical labor. But I think that, sorry, what was the question again?
Jean Chatzky: (11:41)
How do we learn to be in control?
Lindsay Goldwert: (11:43)
So, no one Springs from the womb an alpha woman.
Jean Chatzky: (11:49)
What is an alpha woman?
Lindsay Goldwert: (11:50)
I think someone who just walks into a room and owns it, doesn’t care what other people think, just gets her work done and just doesn’t care about what other people think. And they just can advocate for their own ideas and they don’t worry. They don’t need someone else to tell them what they’re doing is right. They just own it and they just keep moving. And who doesn’t want to be that kind of person? I want to be that kind of person.
Jean Chatzky: (12:14)
Lindsay Goldwert: (12:14)
But I don’t think that anyone, some of the women told me that they always knew that they were a little kinky, that they didn’t want to be the submissive person in relationships even in high school.They kind of wanted to be the ones who just sort of boss their partner around a little bit. Or they just had a slightly different view on things. But none of them said, I was born this way. You have to learn and they’re all still learning. And I went to them for answers, like how to like whip yourself into shape. You know, I thought it was going to be a very catchy sort of book. But in the end, they had very good advice, but they didn’t have any answers because they are still figuring it out for themselves. They are still figuring out how to market themselves, how to exist in a world that’s changing. I found their worlds so interesting cause it was so similar to the world of media to me. How in the old days there were all these magazines you could work for and there are ways that you could come up and make connections. But now everyone’s sort of a free agent. They work for themselves. A lot of them came up through these houses of domination, not all of them, in the early nineties and before that. But now all those places are gone. Everyone’s a free agent and they’re competing against people who do this sort of work on Instagram. And everyone’s like, how do I set my rate? How do I set myself apart? How do I get people to find me? How can I put my best self out there? How can I stay true to my personal ethos? To my values? Which for most of them, the ones I met, is to be incredibly open-minded, progressive, to create a safe space for people to come in and be who they are. Know these women see a side of their clients that no one will ever see.
Jean Chatzky: (13:46)
I want to come back though for a second, because you’re starting to talk a little bit about, how do I set my rates, how do I negotiate? And I know you learned a lot of wonderful lessons from the doms about negotiation. I want to get to that, but I don’t want to leave control yet because I don’t feel like, if they weren’t born alpha women, what self-talk do they have going on in their heads? How did they gain the confidence to control the room and how can we do that too?
Lindsay Goldwert: (14:16)
So I think that it’s practice, for sure. When you start off wanting to do this sort of work. So being a dominatrix is an icon, it’s a symbol. Men want to worship a certain kind of woman who acts a certain way. Maybe dresses a certain way. So while they’re working with their clients, they’re putting on a performance. It’s performance art really. It’s like erotic performance art. But outside of the room they have to learn a lot of kind of hard lessons about how to listen to their intuition when booking a client. About how to make sure that they’re keeping themselves very safe. They have to know how to advocate themself and not to have to, people want to pay less. They’re like well how much can I get for this? How much can I get for that? And they have to know to walk away from people who were not going to be good clients, who are going to take up too much of their time.
Jean Chatzky: (15:03)
But so is the control part, are they faking it until they get comfortable with it? I mean if it’s a performance then they’re acting right. Then it is. You just do this enough times and then you will be comfortable. Then you will feel in control. I mean, I got to tell you like, the first few times I gave a speech, more than the first few times. The first hundred times I gave a speech, my stomach was in knots and I was a nervous wreck and I faked my way through. I just blustered my way through and just did it and told myself, okay, this will be over in 20 minutes and as I got better at it, I am no longer scared. I know I have it in me to do this, to control this situation, but I didn’t always feel that way and I pushed myself to act my way through at the beginning. I mean is that what this is?
Lindsay Goldwert: (15:52)
I think that is part of it. I think people start off scared. I think people want mentors. You can have a mentor in this community. I talk about her a lot because she’s become a true friend, but Simone justice does a lot of mentoring of other doms who are have issues like about running their own business, And how do I assert myself with a difficult client. Like everyone needs, it’s not that different as the world that… I wish I had a mentor, you know? And so I think that no one comes out, especially in this kind of a business where you do have certain limitations and there are certain stigmas. They are working with a tighter constriction than I am. But they’re all learning as they go. And that’s what was so great about them is they had such really solid, helpful advice. But they didn’t claim to have the answers, which I think is, I admired that too because I have never found a self-help ethos that I liked cause I don’t trust anyone who says they have the answers. I trust people who ask good questions and are very thoughtful and want to have a great conversation.
Jean Chatzky: (16:50)
I don’t think that you’re alone in that. I think most people these days don’t necessarily trust people who say they have the perfect answers. Cause we know too well that the perfect answers don’t generally exist. I want to come back to the advice that they gave, the advice about negotiation, the advice about dealing with difficult clients, colleagues, all of that. But, before we do that. Let me remind everybody, HerMoney is sponsored, proudly sponsored, by Fidelity Investments. What if you could demand more from your money? What if you could make your money work as hard as you do and what if that helped you reach your financial goals faster? It all starts with financial checkup and an understanding of what you own and what you owe. From there, the folks at Fidelity will work with you to evaluate your investment options and ways to grow your savings. You can get started today at Fidelity.com/demandmore. We are talking with Lindsay Goldwert, author of the new book Bow Down: Lessons From Dominatrixes on How to Get Everything You Want. Talk to me specifically about negotiation. I mean that is a very, very, negotiating for raises, negotiating for better deals. Negotiating is tough for women because it is tough for us to ask for what we want. Specifically when we’re asking for ourselves. What did you learn?
Lindsay Goldwert: (18:13)
So, in kink world, negotiation is what happens beforehand. Before a session or a scene begins. Everyone agrees on what can happen and what will not happen. So that everyone can go in and be really excited about what’s gonna happen. Cause they know things aren’t going to veer off the rails. They know that everyone’s going to feel safe and that there’s consent all around. And I thought that was really interesting and exciting, not just in a sexual way because how many of us have jumped into bed and not know what was going to happen. And then things get awkward. The same thing happens at work. If you start a job and you don’t negotiate really what your tasks are every single day, what you’re going to be doing with your time, then you’re going to be starting off on the wrong foot. So I’ve started jobs where I thought I was going to be doing one thing and then a million other things have landed on my plate. And I’ve been too intimidated. I’ve been too afraid to speak up because I felt, oh, if I speak up, they’re going to think I can’t handle it or they’re going to think I’m noisy or that I’m unprofessional. But in the end, looking back, if you don’t know what you’re doing every day, you’re always going to be on the back foot. So if you can reach out at the very beginning and say, hey, I’ve started this job. I just want to make sure that you know what I’m doing every day and you can help me prioritize. You’re never going to be in control of your boss. But that’s a way you can take control and show your boss that you want to do the best job you can. But you are on top of what you’re supposed to be doing and you know how to prioritize and you want to work with your boss to make sure everything gets done. And your boss might say, I didn’t realize that this was taking up so much more of your time, but it’s just in a way you say it. If you say it without apologizing, like I’m so sorry. I don’t want to bother you. But I know it seems like a lot. Just say what it is. If you’re hired to be an administrative assistant and you’re getting your boss’s laundry and it wasn’t what you agreed to do, you don’t have to be rude about it. You can be gracious, but just don’t ever apologize. And if they say, well that’s the job, learn to live with it, you know, you have to expect anything, then you have to figure out if that’s the job for you. But you’re not wrong and you’re not less of a team player. So negotiating beforehand like what am I doing for this job? And if things change to have a meeting and say, what needs to come off my plate, who can I give this to? And it doesn’t make you a bitch, it just makes you sound more professional and it makes your boss feel like you’re really on top of what you’re doing because you want to get the most important things done first.
Jean Chatzky: (20:18)
What about negotiating specifically for money?
Lindsay Goldwert: (20:20)
So you had her on your podcast recently. Allison Schrager. She mentioned this and I thought it was very interesting about how, we never asked for as much as we want to ask for because we’re so afraid of feeling like we’re being greedy or they’re going to say like, you know what makes you think you deserve that? Like, no way, have a nice life. But we’re afraid of asking because we’re afraid of getting rejected. What they taught me, and they didn’t say this to expressly, but if you look at your own LinkedIn, and you don’t know that to you, you just take stock of your own experience and say, how much would I pay that person? What does that person worth? Don’t look at yourself. Pretend you’re not your LinkedIn and just don’t think, I couldn’t finish the mile in gym class. I clearly deserve less money. Just take a look at what you’ve actually accomplished. Look at the data of everything you’ve done when you asked for money. Don’t look at your personal self worth when you ask for money. That was something that I gleaned from them about, just ask for as much as you can without laughing and just see what happens. And a lot of the time they’ll come back to you. Just don’t apologize and just don’t be unreasonable, but just see what happens. And just remember, if you’re thinking about asking for more and you look at your resume and you see you have years of experience, to see what happens when you ask for more. And Allison Schrager says something so interesting that if you’re not getting nos 50% of the time, you’re not asking for enough. If you get yeses all the time, what are you doing wrong?
Jean Chatzky: (21:44)
I think that’s very true. And just to remind everybody, Allison Schrager wrote, An Economist Walks Into a Brothel and check out that episode if you missed it. When we were chatting before the show, you said your whole life changed in writing this book. That is an incredibly bold statement. What did you mean by that?
Lindsay Goldwert: (22:04)
It is 100% true. And like I said before, you know, I didn’t realize I was searching for an ethos. I’m not a professionally kinky person. I’m a very open-minded, joyous person. I love talking to interesting people. But there was something about the women and their attitude of being kind, honest, and direct, of saying what you mean. Saying it first, so that you can get it out of the way. That changed the way I communicate with my husband. That changed the way I set expectations before I begin a project. That just changed the way I started spending money. I started thinking about money as a tool. How is my money serving my goals? Are these purchases serving me? Using that kind of BDSM terminology, it took the guilt away. Like, oh, I shouldn’t buy this or I shouldn’t do that. It’s like, no, this lipstick is not serving my goals. I’m only buying it because I’m depressed or I’m sad. I needed to attack my issues with a feeling of power and authority. I wanted to be able to say, no, I can tackle this. I can dom this issue.
Jean Chatzky: (23:07)
You said saying it first. I want to put what I want out there first. Why is first important?
Lindsay Goldwert: (23:14)
Cause you can’t wait for other people to set the rules for you and to have the rules that you want. Before the book came out, I sat down with my husband and I said, this is what I need to happen because I’m going to be traveling. I want to make sure that we’re getting on the same page. I’m going to be busy, but I want to make sure that we’re spending time together and he was so grateful that I began that conversation. And so many times people wait for someone else to set the expectations and then they’re just appointed. It’s like, no, say what you want first and then the other person that can come back to you and say, well why don’t we do this or maybe meet in the middle, but sometimes people won’t. People just want to be led. People want to be told where to sit. People want to be told what to do and if they don’t speak up for themselves, you know, then they should read the book.
Jean Chatzky: (23:57)
Absolutely. They should read the book either way because it’s a terrific read and there’s just a lot of, you learn a lot of surprising things.
Lindsay Goldwert: (24:04)
You do and I really wanted to dismiss some of the stereotypes. These women were so smart and they were so much fun to talk to and they have a lot more issues to work with than I do as a freelance writer because there’s some laws that keep them from advertising in the same way that I can advertise my services as a writer. But it was just so much fun to do. It was so much fun to travel and talk to these women. It was so much fun to be at a convention and watching them do their skill sharing, talk about their mental health stuff and advocacy. It was just like being in any room of professional women and they were talking about marketing and SEO. I’m like, will I ever escape a conversation about SEO? And the answer’s no because everyone’s trying to get attention for what they’re doing and they all want to promote themselves and make a living doing something they enjoy.
Jean Chatzky: (24:48)
In your reporting, did you find that when women took control in one area of their lives, they were able to take control in other areas? Were women who were able to take control in the bedroom, then able to take control in their careers or in their fitness or in their eating or, I mean does it spread?
Lindsay Goldwert: (25:11)
I think it does. So in the book I talk about kind of alter egos because a lot of them have a professional name and they have their own name. And one of them, her name is Goddess Samantha. She was so much fun to talk to. She said that, you know, she made this name for herself and she’s trying to let her name Goddess Samantha kind of trickle into her regular life. She wants to be a little bit more like her every year. I stand up for myself. She was very shy growing up and she became a bodybuilder. She’s in great shape, but she said that that’s the person she wants to be. She’s like Goddess Samantha sticks up for me. So I think that it can absolutely translate. I mean, I don’t know what it was about the ethos of this book, but it has helped me. You start being powerful. You start saying what you want in one way and the world doesn’t end. And then you say, well, what would happen if I didn’t do this? If I didn’t do that. If I just said, I can’t meet up with you for coffee. I’m not going to pay for this. I’m not going to pay for this dinner out with friends I don’t really want to see. I’m going to turn down this project that doesn’t pay a lot. I’m not going to do things because I feel guilty, which is so hard for me, but you just start. It helped me with my eating stuff. None of them talked about dieting or eating or finances. I just was able to take all these lessons about how not to eat defensively, how not spend defensively. Like I was sad so I shopped. I was sad so I ate. It’s like no, like how can I put it out there first. You know, how can I take a little bit of control and say, no, I’m worthy of not eating trash. I’m worthy of not having a closet full of clothes that don’t fit that I bought because I was feeling sad.
Jean Chatzky: (26:41)
Defensively. What do you mean?
Lindsay Goldwert: (26:43)
I just kind of made that up. I feel like you do things as they come to you. You don’t do them because you need to do them or you want to do them like, I don’t know. Have you ever walked into Sephora when you’re sad. Maybe it’s just me.
Jean Chatzky: (26:53)
It’s not just you.
Lindsay Goldwert: (26:54)
It’s like, oh I feel so crummy. I’m so sad. I’ll just like buy this lipstick. Or for me walking by a store and being like, oh, I’m going to buy a cookie cause I’m feeling sad. Like you didn’t set out to do that. You’re sort of letting your purchases sort of dictate your mood. You know, you’re kind of self-soothing in some ways. But you’re not taking control of what you really want from the situation. Like, no, I don’t really need a cookie. I need to get a better job.
Jean Chatzky: (27:15)
Right. And I think it’s, we’re going to wrap it up with that idea of control. All through this conversation, I keep flashing back a decade ago. I wrote a book on money and happiness. I did a massive survey, cause I like the data, of thousands of people to try to figure out what it was that made people happy about their money. It was not how much they had. At every single level of income, it was how much control they had over what they had. That’s the key. And I think that’s the key to hearing you. I mean that’s the key to life. You have to feel like you’re driving the bus.
Lindsay Goldwert: (27:53)
100%. And being in control is not the same as being controlling. It’s not the same as being, like all these things when we think about control, we have all these negative ideas cause we’re women. Oh, don’t be controlling. Don’t be a nag. Don’t be type A, you know. And the answer is, you know what you want out of life and if you don’t know, you deserve to take a few days and really think about it. And we’re all evolving. We’re all changing. And the book is a little bit of an Act 2 sort of book. You’re not the same person you were when you were 20 as you are when you’re 40 and you deserve to take stock and figure out what’s changed, what you want, and that is your time to get it. And it’s not all money. It’s about personal space. It’s about your boundaries and how you want to make your life. And it is definitely more than money. We all have to be at peace with ourselves and be able to tell people that aren’t helping us get to where we want to be, to take a back seat.
Jean Chatzky: (28:39)
Lindsay Goldwert, the book is Bow Down. You have a couple of copies for us to give away to our readers. I would love to give away a couple of copies. We will be doing that. You can send us a note in the HerMoney Facebook page and tell us why you want to read it. We’ll pick a couple of lucky participants to send a book to. Thank you so much.
Lindsay Goldwert: (29:02)
It was a pleasure. Thank you so much.
Jean Chatzky: (29:02)
And we’ll be right back with Kathryn and your mailbag.
Jean Chatzky: (29:14)
HerMoney’s Kathryn Tuggle has joined me in the studio. Hey Kathryn.
Kathryn Tuggle: (29:18)
Jean Chatzky: (29:18)
You know, I was looking forward to that conversation for a long time.
Kathryn Tuggle: (29:21)
Jean Chatzky: (29:21)
We have been following Lindsay’s progress as she put this book together. And what I took away was a little bit of a nudge, maybe even more of a push to stop censoring myself from really saying what I think. I mean, I don’t censor myself much except when I’m trying to be nice.
Kathryn Tuggle: (29:47)
Jean Chatzky: (29:47)
Right? I mean, I think I’m nice most of the time, but sometimes I don’t really want to do something and I feel like I really should do something and then I have to think about, but it’s my time. And you say yes to something, then you have to say no to something else. Or if you, you know, all of those and her urging to say what you think. Say it first. Say it unapologetically. And watch the world not fall apart, I think is so important. And if people can just take that, I’m a happy woman.
Kathryn Tuggle: (30:19)
Right. I think unapologetically is such an important word in all this because there’s so many ways that we apologize every day. You don’t have to be saying, I’m sorry to be apologizing. It’s in the words that we use. If you say, oh, I was just checking in on this, or you know, there’s a lots of ways that we humble ourselves when we shouldn’t. And in a way we’re almost apologizing for our existence.
Jean Chatzky: (30:47)
Yeah. Yeah. And just telling people what you want or what you need in a very straight forward way is, I think, exactly what we need to do if we’re going to move the ball forward as women on so many of these power issues. On the salary issue, on the more women in the boardroom issue. I had a very, very frustrating conversation with somebody who will remain nameless recently where I did that. I was very straightforward about what I needed and what I wanted and I was accused of not being emotional enough in the conversation, not being human enough in the conversation. And I emerged, I was so pissed off. I was so unbelievably pissed off.
Kathryn Tuggle: (31:41)
Jean Chatzky: (31:41)
Because that was not my job in this conversation. It was to just be direct about what I needed and what I wanted and what had to happen.
Kathryn Tuggle: (31:51)
Jean Chatzky: (31:52)
And yet it told me so much about the expectations people have of women, right? They expect us to be emotional. They expect us to be, and not across the board, but just in some circumstances, they expect us to be apologetic as you were saying. And no, you know. No. There are times when an apology is absolutely appropriate. I do something that really makes you feel bad and I was misguided in my motivations. You know, I really do something wrong. Okay. I will apologize. But I’m not going to apologize for being straight forward.
Kathryn Tuggle: (32:35)
Right. I love when people are direct with me. I.
Jean Chatzky: (32:38)
Well you’re direct.
Kathryn Tuggle: (32:39)
Oh, thank you. Well I was raised by a Marine. My dad’s a Marine and he always said what he meant and I felt like it was that sort of military precision coming through in him. I love that. I love that way of living. I always want to know where I stand with people and I think I owe it to other people to let them know where they stand with me. You know? I think communication is such a problem in relationships, interpersonal and working relationships because people just don’t come out and say what they mean or what they want. They just dance around things. And then it’s just such a waste of time.
Jean Chatzky: (33:11)
Yeah. Nobody ends up happy. Everybody ends up either unsatisfied or angry.
Kathryn Tuggle: (33:16)
Jean Chatzky: (33:17)
So, all right. That’s what we’re taking from this podcast.
Kathryn Tuggle: (33:20)
We’re doing it. We’re not apologizing.
Jean Chatzky: (33:21)
No, we’re not. We’re not. Let’s take some questions unapologetically.
Kathryn Tuggle: (33:27)
Our first question comes to us from Kelly. She writes, hi Jean. Is there a limit on how many credit cards one should have? Is it damaging to your FICO score if you close one of the multiple Visas or Amexes is in your name in order to open a new one that has better benefits? Should I just keep them all active in some capacity? I started a new job and will be traveling frequently. I have the Delta Platinum Amex and I’m now thinking I should get the American Airlines one as that is another airline that charges baggage fees and I’m tired of paying for it.
Jean Chatzky: (33:55)
So a couple of things. There are two different factors in answering this question. Is there a limit on how many credit cards you should have? Yes, there is. I don’t know what it is. But I can tell you that there is a tipping point where having too many open lines of credit that you’re not using, starts to send your FICO score down a little bit because the credit bureaus start to look at it as a potential liability, that you could spend all of this capacity and then be unable to pay those bills. It’s not a number that is widely published. But if you’ve got so many credit cards out there that you are not using a lot of them, and your credit score is very high, in the midseven hundreds or higher, I would not worry about closing a card or two, as long as you do it in sort of a methodical way. We’re getting at the issue here of credit utilization and what you want is to be using no more than 10 to 30% of your available credit. If you’re using more than that, then you need additional credit limits or additional credit lines or additional credit cards. If you’re using less than that, you should be able to close some credit cards without it having much of an impact. The other issue though that you’re getting at, and you’re getting at it with particular cards you’re mentioning here, Kelly, are the cost of having those credit cards. There are a lot of cards out there that you can get that have no annual fee. The kind of cards you’re talking about, platinum, travel cards, they have annual fees and you want to not layer on more cards unless the benefit that you’re getting from those cards is equal to or above that annual fee that you’re paying. So on that American Airlines card, if having the card is going to save you more in baggage fees, then it costs you in an annual fee. I would say add it. That’s how I’ve made the decisions about the various travel cards to add to my wallet. I have, for example, an American Express Platinum card. Why do I have it? I have it because it pays for my TSA pre, when I need to renew it. It pays for 10 airline Wi-Fi sessions a year at a cost that seems to keep going up. It’s anywhere from like 20 to, I don’t know, 40 bucks a ride. It pays for entrance into the particular airline clubs that I use most often – Delta. Add all of those things up. You know, yes, it’s a really expensive card, but it pays me back for the benefits that I’m using. So look at those things and then you’ll be able to decide whether to add it to your wallet.
Kathryn Tuggle: (36:49)
I have the same. Amex Platinum. And the airport lounges alone is such a perk.
Jean Chatzky: (36:54)
Can we just talk about the fact that at the Delta airport lounge they had seriously upgraded their food game?
Kathryn Tuggle: (37:00)
I was just thinking that because, well first of all, airport food is crazy because they have a captive audience. It’s like eating in a football stadium, right? Like one little sandwich is $20. So it’s so worth the cost of admission.
Jean Chatzky: (37:14)
Kathryn Tuggle: (37:15)
I mean, there’s a full meal for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner, salad bar. Crazy.
Jean Chatzky: (37:20)
It’s crazy. And the last time I was in an airport, I just popped in. The line at Starbucks was so long. I needed a cup of coffee. I didn’t have enough time to even sit down in the airport lounge. I popped into the lounge. I got a cup of coffee, also Starbucks, and took it to my gate and got on my plane.
Kathryn Tuggle: (37:38)
I’ve done that so many times.
Jean Chatzky: (37:39)
Saved me time and and money.
Kathryn Tuggle: (37:41)
Yup. Or I’ll just go in and grab a banana.
Jean Chatzky: (37:43)
Kathryn Tuggle: (37:43)
Jean Chatzky: (37:44)
Thank you Delta. What else we got?
Kathryn Tuggle: (37:46)
Our next question is from Liz. She has a two part question so I’ll read her intro first and then we can take each question one at a time. She says, hello Jean. I’m 33 and I’ve been working as a full time middle school teacher for nine years. To supplement my income, I’ve also taught part time at the local junior college for five years. I recently took a leave of absence from my full time middle school position in hopes of starting a family. I took a significant pay cut and we’re making ends meet, but I don’t have a cushion like I did when I was teaching. I just began listening to HerMoney and it has given me confidence to start examining my finances. My first question is, my student loan debt is a fixed 6.5% rate. Should I look into a personal loan with a lower rate? I borrowed almost $27,000. I’ve paid off $22,000 but I still owe $12,800. I’m comfortable with my monthly payment of $305 but the interest rate seems outrageous at a time when interest rates are so low.
Jean Chatzky: (38:41)
Let’s answer this one then we’ll go to her second question. And for anybody who’s doing the math and thinking, how could she have paid off $22,000 of $27 and still owe almost $13,000 – that’s interest. That’s the interest just continuing to add up. I don’t think a personal loan is going to necessarily save you that much money, but I think that a student loan refi quite well could save you a significant amount of money. And you should do it sooner rather than later because student loan refinancing is typically only available if you have $10,000 in student loan debt or more and you’re paying off your debt at such a rate where you’re very quickly going to be under that $10,000 level. So look at Citizens bank, look at SoFi, look at Common Bond, look at Earnest. There are an awful lot of refinancers in the student loan space. And just understand that you’re going to lose the ability to enter federal loan repayment programs should you need them. So you’d have trouble getting into income-based repayment. It would no longer be available to you. Also deferment, forbearance, those things would no longer be available to you. You’re so far into this process. It doesn’t sound to me like that is a consideration, but I just want people who are thinking of refinancing a federal student loan in the private market to know that that is the downside.
Kathryn Tuggle: (40:15)
Right. Part two. Second question. When I was teaching full time, I was contributing $600 a month to a 403b. Now that I’m working part time, I don’t have the means to put nearly that much into contributions. Should I worry about this one to two year blip where I’m not contributing? In the big picture, is it better to spend these years focusing on managing credit card debt and car payments, et cetera, or will a couple of years of making zero contributions set me way back for retirement.
Jean Chatzky: (40:43)
So I ran the numbers because that’s what I do. And at $600 a month at your age, the two years of contributions would be worth, at a 6% rate of growth, about $100,000 by the time you retired. From my perspective, it’s not worth digging yourself into credit card debt. It’s not worth totally stressing out your personal finances. So if it is a one year hiatus or a two year hiatus, I’d say, okay, you can pare back on that. I wouldn’t take any longer. I would make sure that somewhere in this plan of yours is a plan to rebuild your income, to lower your debt, to the point at which you can start making contributions again. And one way to do it is to figure out how long it will take you, how quickly you can actually get rid of this student loan debt, and then start funneling that $300, if not more, into retirement so you can build those savings back up.
Kathryn Tuggle: (41:53)
Fantastic. Our last note comes to us from an anonymous listener. She writes, hi Jean and Kathryn. I’m a big fan of the HerMoney podcast and resources. Thank you for the work that you do. I hope you can advise me on moving forward after a disappointing experience negotiating a raise. I’m a clinical and educational manager for a large digital healthcare company. I worked in the role, which was newly created for me for a year and a half. I’m a leader who works independently. I get along well with my team and we love working together. Since I started, I’ve gone above and beyond my official title and job description to create a whole new department and I created a new service that brings in revenue. I now lead a team of six and I’m an integral part of all marketing and sales operations. At 10 months I asked for promotion and significant salary increase to match my current role. I presented my accomplishments, goals for the future and research of market standards for the work I do. My manager seem to support me. After four months, I heard back that I would receive a $5,000 salary increase, about $40,000 less than what I asked for, and that I would be eligible for a larger salary increase and bonus in 2021. I was floored. I attempted to continue to negotiate, but my manager shut me down quickly and in so many words told me I was lucky to receive any salary increase since there have been budget cuts and that the benefits I receive more than compensate. I do have good benefits, but nothing far outside the norm of larger corporations with health benefits, 401k, PTO, et cetera. This leads me to believe that my role and the service is not valued by leadership. I’m angry and torn. I could leave when I have another position lined up, but then I leave behind work I’m really proud of. Should I continue with the company but scale back on my time and effort to match my job title and salary, while building up a side hustle? Or should I leave for another position and start fresh? Are there other options or opportunities to negotiate that I’m missing? What should I consider when moving forward?
Jean Chatzky: (43:48)
Boy, did you pick the right question for the right show there, Kathryn. I have Lindsay and her advice just running through my head. First of all, I know how frustrating it is to be in this position. I’ve been there before myself and sometimes I think the company is just not allocating its resources in the way that maybe it should be in order to make employees happy. But I also feel listening to all that you have done already, that you’re not going to be happy if you scale back on your time and your effort in order to match your job and your salary. I suspect that won’t make you feel very good, even if you do build up the side hustle. I’d look for another job that pays you what you believe that you’re worth. The experience of going out and looking will teach you what your value is on the open market and if ,as you suspect, it is worth $40,000 more than you are being paid right now, I think you should take that job. I don’t think that they are going to meet you where you and your expectations are. And if you do go out and you do get an offer and at that point your gut tells you that what you really want to do is stay. You can do that too. But not looking is not being fair to yourself by getting a fuller picture of what you’re worth.
Kathryn Tuggle: (45:23)
Right. Now maybe I just need to spend more time with some dominatrixes, but when I read this, I was thinking that a request for a $45,000 raise is a lot.
Jean Chatzky: (45:35)
It is a lot and we don’t know what the base salary is, right? I don’t know what this is in terms of a percentage increase. It could be small on percentage terms. My guess, like yours, is that it’s not. But I also hear in what she wrote that she’s got transparency into the value that her work is bringing to the bottom line. She may not understand or have insight into the additional costs that the company has incurred to support those new efforts and maybe it would have been nice if somebody, in turning her down for this, would have shared that. That might have made her feel a little bit better about it. But, I hear a lot of dissatisfaction in this and I think sometimes when you’re feeling that dissatisfied, the only thing that you can do is go.
Kathryn Tuggle: (46:33)
Jean Chatzky: (46:34)
Thanks so much for the letter. I hope you’ll let us know what happens because we definitely want to keep up with your experiences and hear. And I’d like to know if listening to Lindsay helped as well. Thanks Kathryn.
Kathryn Tuggle: (46:47)
Jean Chatzky: (46:48)
If you’d like to send us a letter.
Kathryn Tuggle: (46:50)
Jean Chatzky: (46:52)
Excellent. Okay. In today’s Thrive, when’s the last time you used your phone to make a purchase? How about cash? It turns out today’s consumers actually spend more money and make more frequent purchases when shopping on a smartphone. Using data from China’s Alipay, the largest mobile payment system in the world, business professors at the Gies College of Business in Illinois found that people who pay with their mobile devices make 23% more purchases on average and spend about 2.4% more per transaction. In the U S Apple Pay has now supplanted the Starbucks app as the most popular mobile payment app in the country. And the research from eMarketer predicts that by the end of 2020, nearly all mobile payment users in the U S will use Apple Pay. Total Apple Pay spending is expected to reach $100 billion this year. That’s an expenditure of roughly $1,500 per customer. That’s an increase of about 24% over 2018 – just two years ago. But even though convenience is a big selling point, and it is a big selling point for mobile payments, not all retailers, especially small businesses, are equipped to accept money this way. If your favorite corner cafe doesn’t have a system at their register for you to brush with your phone, you’ll have to use a card or cash and if you feel like mobile payment methods are inspiring you to spend more, consider going on a cash diet for a few weeks. Nothing helps connect us to our money quite like having to pull physical dollars out of our wallets anytime we want something. Thank you so much for listening to me today on HerMoney. Big thanks to Lindsay Goldwert for her insight on taking control of our lives. If you like what you hear, I hope you’ll subscribe to our show at Apple Podcasts. Leave us a review because we love hearing what you think. We want to thank our sponsor Fidelity. We record this podcast out of CDM Sound Studios. Our music is provided by Video Helper and our show comes to you through PRX. Thanks so much for listening and we’ll talk soon.