tv QA Michelle Singletary What to Do with Your Money When Crisis Hits CSPAN January 2, 2022 7:59pm-9:01pm EST
government. announcer: c-span is your unfiltered view of government. funded by these television companies and more, including co x. >> cox to providing families with affordable internet. bridging the digital divide one connected student at a time. cox, bringing us closer. >> cox supports c-span along with these other television providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy. announcer: coming up tonight on c-span, q&a is next with washington post syndicated finance columnist michelle singletary on her new book, "what to do with your money after crisis hits."
was there anything about the covid economy that made it different? michelle: i think the scope of it. the complete shutdown, i should not say complete, near shutdown of so many businesses. i think it was a wake-up call for a lot of people. let me rephrase that. i think it was a wake-up call for a lot of people that they had so little to sustain them through such a long, economic downturn. the fact of the matter is, there have been crisis is and there will continue to be economic crises in the future. susan: statistics about the past year and a half to just women overall, particularly women of color were impacted at a greater degree than even others in the pandemic economy. what are you learning from your social interactions, social
media presentations about the particular challenges people like that faced? michelle: i think we always knew that there were so many, millions of people living paycheck-to-paycheck. and i think the pandemic showed us how tenuous people's lives were. in fact, they were not even living paycheck-to-paycheck. they were barely limping. do when they got additional funds for the work that they did. just how close people were to financial disaster. they are making so little, that they could not put money aside to save, not just for atypical -- a typical crisis, but out of work for months. we knew there was a concentration of minorities and women in the service industry, lower paying jobs, but it's almost as if we pulled the cover over our heads, and said that is them over there, they will figure out how to make it.
when we realized their downfall was our downfall as well. susan: the government pumped tremendous sums into the economy through various covid relief programs, direct payments, paycheck protection program, rent forbearance. has the deployment of these federal programs impacted the advice you give people? michelle: it has not, actually. it actually has enhanced the advice. it is hard to tell people who are making less than minimum wage that you need to put money away for your kids to go to college. they are thinking, i can barely put food on the table and a roof over my head. the aid that they received showed them what it was like to have a backstop. it was completely necessary. it kept millions of families from going under. now what i'm telling people is,
perhaps we need to rethink the whole lot of things. for example, i talk about the example of shared housing. everybody cannot have their own place. multigenerational housing. which we had during the pandemic, right? people left their apartments, adults decided to stay home or moved in, three or four people to a place. i think that is what we are going to need in the future, to make sure people can have a safety net for themselves. if housing takes up so much of your budget, we need to give people relief, and give them permission to live with people, give them permission and say it is ok if you are 30 living at home, if you are trying to save, and not spend 70% of your paycheck on rent. susan: having a backstop in difficult times is the bedrock of all of the advice you have
given to people over the years, and you write in the book, you have always managed your finances as if you are in a perpetual recession. what does that look like? michelle: when i wrote that i knew i would get feedback. are you crazy? it's not something i do out of fear, but of planning. i liken it to fire people, people who work in fire stations. the whole time they are there they are not fighting fires, but they are checking the equipment, making sure the hoses are ok. even if the fire comes, they can quickly jump into the outfits to fight the fire. i am preparing for the next crisis. you hope there won't be a fire. they don't want to be a fire, but they know that it will be.
that is what i am talking about. i know i am in a good position. but you don't know what tomorrow will bring. and so i try to live below my means. i live on a salary that i made maybe 10 years ago. i don't elevate my lifestyle every time i get a raise. because i know there is going to be another crisis. if i don't need the funds, i know somebody in my life will. and so, for example, my husband and i have a family and friends fund, that we put money aside for people who will lose their jobs, a disruption in income. and will need assistance. susan: do you live a life of complete frugality? michelle: [laughter] yes and no. i am extremely frugal, that is just how i am wired. but there are things that we do. we take a two week vacation every year.
we give a lot to our church. we are very charitable, my husband and i. if you asked me what i splurge on, i probably could not dig up anything other than scrabble dictionaries. [laughter] i have more than a normal person should have. i think that has a lot to do with my background. i think the unique position i am in as i came from a low income background. my parents abandoned me and my grandmother stepped in and took care of me and my siblings, there were five of us. she literally saved us from a car ride to foster care. and watching her take care of us, and my grandfather had a drinking problem. all of his money did not make it home. watching her manage that money taught me a lot that i needed to do the same, even when i did well. and so i come from a situation
where i know hunger. i knew what it was like to not have enough food. i have an affinity, empathy for people who are struggling. i know that struggle. i was your kid who may not have a meal that night. and now that i am doing better, i don't forget that, i understand what it is like. that is why i wrote this book. i want people to know i know what it means when you said you don't have any money for food. but i also want to help you build resources to have a little bit on the side when a crisis hits. i want to give you advice that when you do do well, how do you make sure you don't fall on bad habits and spend more than you make. and so i learned a lot of that from my grandmother. susan: you write about your grandmother. the name you called her was big mama.
can you tell me more about the money-management tricks she gave you? michelle: my grandmother held a penny, lincoln would scream. my grandmother hated debt. i joke now that if debt was a person, i would slap it. mortgage debt is all i have right now. car debt, have not had that in 25 years. she learned me to have a healthy hatred for debt, because debt limits your choices. then she taught me how to save every dollar i made. she said but something away, every dollar you make, these -- at least 10%. i did that for my very first job at 14 years old as a tutor. if i can tell you this quick story.
my first job at the baltimore evening sun, my first week on the job, there was a huge fire. i was covering the fire and i made the front page. i called my grandmother, so excited, new reporter, big paper, made the front page. the first question out of her mouth was did you go to hr and make sure you put money away in the credit union account. i said i will get to that later. she hung up on me. [laughter] i called her back, trying to tell her about my big story. she said did you go put that money away from your paycheck. i said no. she hung up again. i went upstairs to hr, put the request to have the money taken out, then i called my grandmother back and told her that i did that, and then she listened to my story. i will never forget that.
she was thinking about my future even when i wasn't. i have taken that advice so now every time i get money, i don't care if it is a dollar, i put that away. i taught that to my children as well and they are great savers and money managers. susan: one of the other things you describe is always do a budget. even if it was on the back of an envelope. in your basic advice you stress the importance of everybody having a budget. what does a budget look like? and why is it so important? michelle: a budget for me is like gps. i live on the east coast. if i was taking a trip to california, driving across country, i would want to map it out. i would have the gps tell me where to go. when you don't have a budget
it's like trying to go from the east coast to the west coast with no direction. your budget is the gps. it tells you where you can go and when you need to stop. if you are taking a trip and you get off track, the gps will say recalculating. reroute you to where you need to be. that is how your budget is. it's a living document. not something you put on paper and forget. it tells you what you can do and what you can't do. i know a lot of people hate budgeting. they just hated -- hate it. but for me, it's freedom. it tells me exactly what i can and cannot do. i know my numbers intimately. i love my budget. my two loves are my husband and my budget. it just allows me to put my money where my values are. people are like, how do you stay on track?
i just look at my budget, see what i can do and give myself notes. it is how my husband we are able to send all three of our kids to college debt-free. we have an account to help family members. it sets up the whole lifestyle for what we want to do with the money that we earned. susan: this is the kind of advice you provide. basics, things that apply anytime. i want to dig in to specifics. i want to start by asking you, where you think we are right now, regarding the covid economy. we are talking summer 2021. i saw a new gallup poll that set the percentage of americans who evaluate their lives as thriving has reached 59%, the highest in over 13 years of measurement. it had plunged during covid.
does this indicate to you the corner has turned? michelle: i think that has turned for the haves, but not the have-nots. the pandemic showed us we have an economy of the house and -- haves and have-nots. we need to remember there are still millions of people who are out of work. people who are not sure where their next meal is going to come from. while i rejoice in better job numbers, unemployment is coming down, people are going back to work. i also know there are a lot of people who are still suffering, and we need to remember that. even if your own situation is getting better. you need to realize there are so many other people who can't make it, because either they don't have a job or the job that they have does not pay them enough.
does not pay them a living wage. susan: as a corollary, what do you make of statistics showing up that the labor market is tight, people are delaying going back to work, or thinking about complete career redirections? michelle: i think a lot of people took notice of what was going on, assessed their life and said, i'm not going to be working in this job all day every day. people are saying i quit. i need to do something else. and i don't think it is a sign of people being lazy or not wanting to work, i think they have reassessed how they want to work. and i do not blame them in the least.
if you work in the service industry, especially if you are serving the public, a public that is not all on board in terms of what used to be done to keep them and you safe, i get it. the benefits of the unemployment and other things has allowed for people to reassess their lives, and say maybe i need to be in more training. or i was working this job and i could not my family, and out of -- see my family, and in time where family was so important, they are saying i need to do something a little bit different. i think that is great. i think it will pressure both policymakers and employers to rethink working conditions and wages.
susan: there also seems to be in -- a new spirit of entrepreneurialism, new businesses being started. you look back at what happened in 2008, when another spate of entrepreneurial happened. how did that turn out for people? michelle: a lot of businesses to grow out of the great recession, and a lot of businesses are growing out of the pandemic. i just cautioned that we know statistically lots of small businesses failed, not necessarily because people aren't good at what they do, money management, lack of capital, it's tough to run a small business. people have the idea, the skills, but lacked the financial training to make it successful. i think it is a great thing. oftentimes we think everybody works for big corporations, but most people work for small businesses, and it's important
to our economy. i hope many people take the time that they need to make sure they are doing their own personal finances, so not just business succeeds, but they succeeded. susan: but do a deeper dive into -- let's do a deeper dive into the covert relief that you -- covid relief that you suggest in your book for people who are still struggling. let me ask about how the book came about. michelle: my publisher and i thought about how do we address the current pandemic, but make it evergreen. oftentimes a crisis happens and we get out of it and we forget it. i wanted to write a book that said it is not a matter if, but when. we want to set you up for the next crisis. it's not all about covid, but
what recession is going to come down the road? it may be long, short, but like going to happen. and i need you to prepare now. i do a lot of financial seminars, and it is so hard to get people to save when they are doing well. they are doing well. they don't think tomorrow is going to have an issue. i say you need to save, and they say i will get to it. when a crisis hits, everyone is in frugal mode. they are ready to do it. but that is too late. the time to do that is when you have the resources, the ability to cut. it's easy to cut when you can't pay for anything. i want to say let's prepare. let's be like the firemen and firewomen. they hope it will not happen but
they will be prepared. we wanted to make it very accessible. it's written in an faq fashion. short chapters, short answers. when you're in a crisis, you don't want to read a 200 page financial book. that is the last thing you want to do. you can skip around to the issues that relate to you. i really wanted to make it very accessible, whether you are in a crisis, or have never been and -- in a crisis or you are the person that other people come to for help. i want to give those people the answers to better help those who are in need. susan: let's focus on those people who did not prepare. they have lost their jobs. what is the biggest mistake people tend to make when that circumstance hits them. michelle: oddly enough, and
people may not believe this, when people lose their jobs, they want to pay everybody. whatever money they had, they tried to parcel it out to creditors, pay their bills. but that is not what you should do. it goes against the wisdom that most people have and things we teach. when you have a job loss or disruption in income, you have to go in triage mode. i talk about it in the book. for those who may not be familiar with that term, if you have ever gone to the emergency room, you have a sprained ankle. you're in pain and sitting there. someone comes in after you and they take them before you, and you get funky about that. what you don't know if that -- is that person is having a heart attack. and while your ankle is legitimate, they have to take care at that other person.
treat your bills the same way. if you have a certain amount of income, you have to pay the necessities. call your creditors, let them know what is going on, but it may mean that major bills are not going to get paid, even your rent or your mortgage. because for that day with that little money you have you have to put food on the table and keep the lights on. later i talked about how to rebuild your credit scores. if you can't pay your mortgage, call your mortgage service and ask for a forbearance. you are not going to put out tomorrow. i want people to focus on the bare necessities. i want to give them permission to do that without judgment. it doesn't matter if they were
good money managers or not. that's a people will wag their finger. you know what? when people are in need, that is not the time. it's time to have empathy, and help them how to figure out how to get through the crisis, and teach them how to do better. susan: staying with calling your creditors, people might be loath to do that, thinking these are big and personal corporations. michelle: that is what the creditors say. people don't call. i have heard from so many landlords. my tenant did not call me and tell me. it's counterintuitive to call someone when you don't have any money. you're thinking i don't have any money. what can i tell them. you can tell them i lost my job. you can tell them i'm getting some unemployment, i can pay you
may be $20 or $50 when i owe you $100 a month. communication is important, because, when you communicate, and i know people are shaking their head, corporations and businesses understand this. they will work with you. i hear from creditors all the time. especially from the pandemic, federal mortgage, they were mandated to work with you. and i have been a landlord myself, and i appreciated when my tenant lost her job and she called me, she said i am so sorry. i cannot tell you this month. i said you know what, thank you for calling me. and because she had been such a good tenant prior to that, i allowed her to stay there and not pay rent for several months. and when she started working again, i said there is no way you're going to catch up. don't worry about it. i got you. you do not have to pay me this money back.
because i was a saver and i was able to make my mortgage payments without her money, and i felt like, why burden her? i know she is a hard worker. she will not be able to catch up. it will put her further behind. i know every landlord can't do that. but i wanted her to know that i was in her corner. and i think she appreciated it. it came to a point where she still wasn't working enough hours, and we talked it out and i said honey, i have carried you as long as i can. how can i help you find better housing? and she went home to live with a relative. that is what i am talking about. her communicating to me and her already having been a good tenant put me in a position where i was like i want to help you. that's what happens when you call and communicate. now, it is not always happen that way. you might call and they might
say, i do not care, i want my money. then you fall back to the triage method. susan: you also look at some of the ways people turn to options. one of those is debt relief companies. what is your view of them? michelle: stay away. run as fast as you can. the majority of the time they're going to make the situation worse. typically how these operations work is that they will ask you to pay a fee, and it can be very high, several thousand dollars in some cases. all they are saying is negotiate with your creditors. what they don't tell you is most creditors don't actually work with those companies. they really can't negotiate on your behalf. they are not going to do anything that you cannot do
yourself. the consumer financial protection bureau has a whole section on their website where people can go and get information on how to negotiate with creditors. the ftc has information that will help you negotiate with creditors. and the national foundation for credit counseling will put you in touch with nonprofit consumer credit counseling agencies they can help you negotiate with your creditors. that is the way to go. oftentimes they are scams. i would tell people don't go there. you can do this on your own. susan: another ad people see on tv, reverse mortgages. in tough times, is that a good option? michelle: reverse mortgages is a different type of product. i would caution people to use it in crisis. the way reverse mortgages work,
you get a mortgage, but instead of making monthly payments, you don't have to make any payments. that is of course very appealing. you only have to pay that back if you move or sell or pass away. it is only available to older homeowners. the problem is, you basically are pulling out. you have to have the house almost paid off or paid off. you are pulling the equity. if you have ongoing issues, you will go through that money really quickly. those loans tend to be more expensive than traditional loans. and so thankfully there is counseling that goes along with reverse mortgages. it can be helpful for a lot of people who say they have a lot of money in their house. we call it house which.
you need money to fix the roof or do other things, than a reverse mortgage might work. but if you are short every single month, and you get a reverse mortgage, you will quickly go through that money, and you will be at a point where you might have to move, there is no equity in the house. my advice would be very cautious about reverse mortgages. they can work for some people. susan: to more areas you write about. the irs. you have taxes and you cannot pay right now. you have been writing columns and describe the irs as a hot mess. what is going on right there? michelle: the irs was besieged like every other company, they had to shut down because of covid. they were already having a problem even before the pandemic. they just don't have the resources to work with all the
taxpayers that need help. the technology is outdated in a lot of cases. that is because their budget has been cut, they were not fully budgeted for the things they need to do. i always advise people to call the irs. always should do it no matter what, even though my column says you are not likely to get through. and so i really wanted to continue to do columns that point out how bad things are at the irs. you are not likely to have them answer your phone. even with an online account, less than 50% of people fail, because the system that tries to verify your identity is glitchy. on the one hand, it's not completely the irs's fault. the pandemic, they are losing workers.
all they were charged with giving stimulus payments to tens of millions of people. three rounds of stimulus payments. in the summer of 2021, they are giving child tax credit payments. that is a lot on their plate. on the other hand, they need to be held accountable for the fact that their customer service for taxpayers is horrible. that needs to be fixed. people need to contact their congressional leaders to make sure that the irs gets the funding they need to help taxpayers. susan: in difficult times you seem to be more benign about people tapping into their retirement savings in difficult times. michelle: if you don't have to tap it, don't.
before the pandemic, people were tapping their retirement for a down payment on a home, to pay off debt. don't do that. it is there for your retirement. it is tough enough to save that money. however, if you have lost your job, and you have no savings, no judgment. that is a part of money available to you. sometimes you have to do what you have to do. i cannot sit here and say don't touch that money and you can't buy groceries. i cannot do that. i give permission to people to tap in, but only what you need, and with things get better, try -- when things get better, try to put that money back or cut expenses so you can increase contribution. in times of crisis, you have to go in crisis mode, and that may be tapping that money. try to make it a last resort.
in the book, i talk about the first place you should go, if you don't have savings, tap the people in your lives. people are like, "what?" i am saying if you need financial help as the people who care about you or love you first. just say i need help with my utility bills. can you help me with groceries. don't ask for a loan. ask them to give you the money. if you were on the other side of the request don't demand that it be alone. -- a loan. you know they are suffering. how are they going to pay you back? if you can afford to give them the money, give them the money. that happened to me. a relative lost her job and the restaurant business. she did not come to me. she was telling another relative. that relative talked to me, she said she is having a lot of trouble.
enough said. i called her, asked her where she lives, all the information i needed. and we sent her several rental payments. she said she was going to pay me back, i said absolutely not, this is a gift. i am never going to bring it up to her again, never going to remind her. it is what we are called to do. why are we saving and stockpiling money if it's not to help the people in your lives? and if you have got it like that, don't even wait for them to ask. you know who was in need. if there is nobody in your circle in need, then go out to your community. the need is great, you don't have to look very far. i want to give people permission to ask and receive. susan: this is a different direction, what is your view of using bankruptcy laws?
michelle: they are there for a purpose. i don't think it should be your go to right away, in fact most people don't go to the bankruptcy right away. i covered bankruptcy for several years. i sat on a million backups in cases. people say people go skipping into bankruptcy court. there are some people who take advantage, but the vast majority don't want to be there. they want to pay their debts. often times those debts are medical debts. if you are in a situation where you just can't make it anymore, bankruptcy is there for a reason. now it's being tested so if you have the ability to pay back your creditors, you are put into a chapter 13, and if you can't, it is just not going to happen, then you qualify for a chapter seven which will erase your debt.
the system is set up for people who can pay back their creditors. i talked to people who were seniors in trouble. i say listen, talk to a bankruptcy attorney, see if this is the right option. susan: one of the biggest concerns people have during the pandemic economy if they lost their jobs or starting out, his -- is health care. what is your guidance? michelle: we need health care. and i know especially with young adults. their first go to is i will get rid of health care or don't get health care. we know one major health emergency could bankrupt you. and so i encourage people to get health insurance. for many people it's connected to jobs, but there is the health
care marketplace that will help you pay your premiums. they are state run. you go to the site, you look for a health care plan you can afford, and try to keep that plan. i don't have to tell people how our health care system is broken. there are so many people who don't have health care that can't afford it. at least exchanges through the affordable care act provides an avenue for more people to get health coverage, or to qualify for medicaid. susan: during the pandemic, some segment of the population used the time available to start pursuing additional degrees or sometimes graduate degrees. you have a cautionary note. why is that? michelle: i have seen this
happen so much in my work with the community. people want to elevate their skills, they get degrees with debt. a boat load of debt. then they don't end up making more money. they got these degrees but it has not benefited them. i work with a couple. the husband was in grad school. it was going to end up costing $75,000 for his degree. i asked a series of questions, are you sure this degree is going to elevate your salary? who told you that. he said the college did. did you talk to anybody in the field? and asked them whether this degree will help you get a job. he said no. who did you talk to? he only talked to the university. i said, listen, you guys can't
afford to put this kind of debt on your books. get out of grad school. he was only a semester in. lots of people were rubbing their eyes. he is trying to advance. he did not do any research to find out whether that degree would actually help. he dropped out, they paid off the little debt, and not even a year after, he found the exact job he wanted and he did not need that degree and didn't have that debt. obviously there are some industries where you have to get an advanced degree. but be very cautious about taking on that degree with debt. because if you can't pay it, people put that in deferral or forbearance, and then the interest racks up. i know people who started out with a graduate debt of $30,000,
and five or six or seven years later it's doubled or tripled, because the interest. it adds up and adds up. it's a cautionary tale. i am a big advocate for post secondary education. i have a masters degree in business from johns hopkins university, paid cash for it in my employer reimbursed me. if i did not have the cash, i would not have gotten that degree. it did not help me get any raises, but i'm glad i have the knowledge. some people, you have to ask the question can i afford the knowledge for knowledge's sake. susan: that comes back again and again. you write that you have had a conservative view about it. you have an episode about a debate with jared bernstein. who is he? michelle: an economic adviser in
the obama administration, i believe he is now with the biden administration. he is so brilliant, a brilliant economist. i was talking about how i hate debt. if debt was a person i would slap it. he said michelle, do you really hate debt that much? we had a back-and-forth conversation about the usefulness of debt. while he was absolutely right, i was more right. what i was trying to communicate was that while most people can't buy a house without a mortgage, but other areas, we tend to take on too much debt and that limits your economic possibilities going forward. so when a crisis hits, you are carrying such a heavy debt load that it makes things worse for you.
i just try to have people think about how much debt they are taking on. for example, my college, we characterize that debt as good debt. we told people, send your kid to college. they heard, at any cost. they have to go to a private school, a brand-name school, they have to live on campus, they have to have the full experience even though you don't have the money. people are living beyond their means for the sake of college. when you think about it, people are borrowing not just for tuition and fees but for room and board. that is the equivalent of a regular person borrowing money to pay the rent. we would never tell people to do that. yet, when it comes to college that is what we do. he and i were having a conversation about how i want people to rethink the whole idea
of taking on debt. i try to encourage parents and students that if you can't afford it, go to community college and transfer, live at home, commute. rethink the whole idea of what a college experience should be. i know people listening right now think that is not fair, i want my kid to have that college experience. you know what, life is not fair. i would rather you do what is prudent for you than to spend decades and decades in student loan debt. susan: we have about 15 minutes left. in a chapter on the gig economy you talk about the big increase in a marketplace of online reselling, the statistics are impressive. in 2019, $20 billion marketplace, the next year up to $64 billion.
what is going on and is it a safe place? michelle: i think for a lot of people who want to rethink how they work, they want to work when they want to. the hours they went to work in the day they went to work. that is perfectly fine. people can make a living. as i was doing more research, they are making as much as you think. some of the big companies you can piece together enough hours to make a decent salary, but most people don't make enough to sustain themselves. however, the gig economy comes with flexibility, particularly if you have children, caring for elderly parents, it gives you the freedom. but with the gig economy jobs, health insurance and other
benefits like saving for retirement. -- you lose health insurance and other benefits like saving for retirement. you can save on your own, you can get a traditional ira and build your own retirement. but we know that studies show people are more likely to save through their employer. why is that? because it is automatic. many companies automatically put you into the retirement plan in the workplace. because of procrastination, people don't get out of it. even if they are giving 3% to their salary for retirement, it's something. it helps people save. you lose that when you have a gig job. it does not mean you cannot do it yourself. studies show you are pushed to do it when you work for an employer. you have to be super disciplined if you are going to work for
yourself in the gig economy. make sure you are paying your estimated taxes on the income you're earning. make sure you're paying into social security. people get these jobs, maybe it is off the books, think they don't have to report it, which you do. that can hurt you in the future. for example, you want to be sure you are building the credit toward social security. that is an important benefit you will get when it is time for you to retire. susan: people come to you and say i have money, i'm thing of -- thinking about investing in cryptocurrency. michelle: oh my goodness. cryptocurrency is speculative investing. the average person should not be in that at all. listen.
the excitement of stocks and cryptocurrency. that is for people who can afford to lose all of their money and are speculating. it is akin to gambling. sound investing is long-term, and you can get great returns over time to keep pace with inflation and then some by growth index funds, low-cost index funds. that is how i invest and how we sent all of our kids to college debt-free. we are talking about investing, we are talking about financial security for yourself. can people become millionaires on these? sure they can. just like when you go into the casino someone can hit that slot machine and when $1 million. the rest of the folks end up losing. the house always wins. susan: last question about the
covid economy, that is on scams. what has been happening? michelle: scam artists read the news just like everybody else. the pandemic has increased the number of scams, because people are looking for ways to make money. they are looking for ways to brother income. unfortunately, the scammers are very skilled at getting people to buy in to these schemes. blessing circles, savings clubs, they are just pyramid schemes. they know people are looking for jobs. they know people are looking for jobs, they are employment schemes. there is no end to the scams out there.
i wish i could tell people a quick way to avoid the scams, because if it is too good to be true, it is, but that is not enough, because when you're in a crisis, you are looking for help, for a savior. these pitches sound believable to you, because you are desperate. i always tell people to check everything out. trust but verify. i tell people trust no one, trust nothing. even me. check out what i'm saying. make sure i am legit with what i'm telling you, i am -- i don't even trust my husband. if he brought in an investment vehicle, i'm going to check it out. check everything out. verify it. call. look online. go to the ftc website, consumer
financial protection bureau website. just check everything out. the scammers are so good at what they do, what they are trying to pitch to you can sound believable. when you're in a desperate situation, when you are trying to maybe grow money quickly, you tend to not use some common sense that normally would be in place. susan: i want to talk a little bit more about you. how long have you been writing your column? michelle: [laughter] let me think. i have got to do some math on that. i started the column in 1997. that is a long time ago. susan: has your advice been consistent or have you found yourself changing your advice? michelle: i have not. i have worked for the post for almost three decades.
believe it or not, their wisdom of how to handle your money does not change. with every crisis, people think there is a new thing, another is -- no there is not. the basics of handling your money stay the same. live below your means. don't pile on debt. save as much as you can as often as you can. think about your future. all of that still applies, no matter what is happening. i love that wisdom stays the same. all of the things my grandmother, to save, hate debt. live below your means. look to the future. be a good decision-maker. that is one thing i covered in the book, how to make good financial decisions. it does not change with the
crisis, that is a good thing. sound financial money-management really isn't about the dollars. it's about how people think. people are always asking me, what budget tool do you recommend? what app do you think will help me be up -- be a better money manager. i say pencil and paper is fine with me, that's most of the time how i budget. and you say, what? you are not using any new technology? when you buy an exercise bike, you spend a couple of thousand dollars the talk to you, you are thinking that that is helping you lose weight. it is not. it is that you decided to change your lifestyle. you decided to get control over what you eat and exercise. if you don't do that, that
expensive bike is a clothes hanger. budget and tools is the same way. it is not the tool. it's your mind. you have decided you want to take control. then you just use the tool as a plus, it is just a bonus. you don't need any special app or program. just decide that you want to have financial security, and these are the things you need to do. budget, keep your debt low, save, help others. that is really the secret. it does not change from decade to decade or crisis to crisis. susan: you have referenced your work with your church, the biography in your book talks about the ministry you establish. are the goals what you described? michelle: they are. what is different, however, i modeled the program after aa, alcoholics anonymous.
there is a component of what they do that i tried to transfer to helping people with their money. in addition to teaching about the things i talked about, monthly workshops, we train a core people who become peoples -- people's money accountability partners. that is why it's called prosperity partners. these are people who are not financial experts, not accountants, regular folks who have gone through it, may have racked up a bunch of debt but paid it off. they walk alongside people. we had a partner who was a shop-a-holic. she called the partner in a store and said i need to buy the stuff, and her partner talked her out of buying stuff. that is what we tried to do. we want you to know that there is somebody there that is going to help you. we are not judging you, but we
will fuss at you. we are there to walk alongside of you. make sure you do the budget. when you do a payment plan, you stick with it. when it comes time to send your kids to college, they have all of the a's, all of the active curricular's and you don't have the money, but you are thinking about letting them go to that brand school. we talk you out of that. guess what? your kid is going to be ok. if they did all of that stuff, they are already bright. i tell people, i work at the washington post, top of my line. the guy who sat across from me went to harvard, love him to death. we both worked at the washington post. he went to harvard and i went to a state school. i was abandoned by my parents.
i was raised low income. we both got to the post. that is the message. i was motivated enough to get there. he was too, he had great pedigree, but we both ended up at the washington post. your kid can do well without you taking on that debt. those are the stories and motivation we give people. it is a proven component of the program. my husband that i work with prisons in a marilyn's doo-wop inmates who are about to be released handle their money so when they come out, they will be better money managers. i believe in giving back. i love that work, i love the prison work, working with individuals to help them achieve their goals. so that they could have financial freedom. so when that crisis happens, maybe they can't weather the whole storm, but a little bit better. susan: we are about out of time.
i want to invite people to find your work online through your column. it is indicated by the washington post. you have a great website with lots of financial advice. michelle singletary, thank you for spending an hour with c-span. michelle: thank you for having me. ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2022] announcer: altar acuity programs are available on their website or as a podcast at c-span.org -- all q and a programs are available on our website or as a podcast at c-span.org. announcer: c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we are funded by these television companies anymore including comcast. >> you think this is just a
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>> senator reid played a key role in getting the affordable care act passed and signed into law. prior to becoming a senator, he was a member of the u.s. house of representatives from 1980 to 1987 he was 82 years old. in 2016, joe biden and hillary clinton joined senators mcconnell and schumer at a portrait unveiling to commemorate senator reid's service as the democratic leader in the senate. mitch mcconnell: i must say, this is a bit of an out of body experience for me. it is not every day the vice president and secretary clinton come to visit us on the capital, but it is not every day the democratic leader heads to show us how he looks on canvas. i know our guests would not miss it. the rest of the reid