Interview with the Home Economist Brett Graff

Brett Graff – a former US government economist and nationally syndicated news columnist – is a family finance expert who helps families maximize their money and their lives.  

Her newspaper pieces – called THE HOME ECONOMIST – run first in  The Miami Herald  and then in over 400 media outlets across the country including the  Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The State, The News & Observer, Lexington Herald Leader  and more.  

Brett’s book, NOT BUYING IT: STOP OVERSPENDING AND START RAISING HAPPIER, HEALTHIER MORE SUCCESSFUL KIDS is an iBook Pick-of-the-Week and has been featured in USA Today, Yahoo! News,  The Miami Herald , The Financial Post, Toronto Star, Mind Body and more. Brett’s appeared on affiliates of every major television network – including ABC, NBC, CBS, CW and FOX – to discuss overspending, how to avoid it, and why our very own brains can trick us into buying ourselves to debt. 

Brett also contributes to magazines and has been published and interviewed by publications including Glamour, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Parents and also to websites such as The Mother List and  

As a speaker, Brett has been invited to address employees, clients and parents at organizations including American Express, The Boston Public Library, JP Morgan, Washington Hebrew Congregation, Books & Books at the Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts, Capitol Hill Day School and many more.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Brett.

Faten Abdallah (FA): How can spouses agree when it comes to finances?  

Brett Graff (BG): Spouses can agree on finances?? Kidding. They can. But those harmonies tend to go unnoticed – even when involving large sums of money – while even the smallest disagreements become sore, inflamed, and painful. First, ask your partner why, exactly, a particular money move is important. You may learn that he envisions a new 500-foot television screen as a backdrop to replicate the family movie nights from his own childhood or that she wants the exotic vacation plans because international travel is the only time everyone puts down their cell phones. If instead you can’t agree on the value of certain – but smaller - personal purchases  (I learned in my own marriage that not everyone sees the value in designer jeans) then use a joint account for expenses such as the mortgage, car, kids and groceries. And open separate accounts -- funded with equal amounts each month — that can support your addiction to designer jeans, technology or ski equipment.

FA: What are some of the biggest money wasters with families?

BG: I can’t say your diamond-covered, hand-blown crystal-shaped farm animal collection is a waste of money (maybe it makes you happier than sending your kids to college.) But know anytime we make a purchase because we’re afraid that not buying it will set our kids back, or because we’re feeling competitive (think: lessons, sneakers, sports equipment, you name it) there’s a big chance we’re wasting our money. Nothing guarantees a kid’s success. Go ahead, ask any private school how it guarantees its students get into Ivy League colleges or stay off drugs. No. You could be spending five figures for results opposite of what you hoped. Spend money only on things you can afford, you want and you will be happy to have owned or experienced — regardless of the future outcome.  

FA: How can one save money without feeling overwhelmed?

BG Switch your focus from the sacrifice to the gains. Meaning you’ll push out of your mind that Instagram post with your shiny manicure and play the movie of your retirement home on the lake. Think of how great you’ll feel sending your kids to the schools of their choice or moving in to the new home you are itching to buy.

FA: What motivated you to become the Home Economist?

BG:  I was working at a news station when we realized the reports coming from economists didn’t match the experiences of people at home. I began reporting to fill the gap, proving how economic forces affect real people and the psychology behind many of our decisions to spend, save or conduct ourselves at work. We’re not as in control as you might think.

FA: What should families do with the extra money they have in savings? 

BG: We’re all supposed to have one year of expenses covered, in case of an emergency. We all need disability insurance. (Did you know the typical 35-year-old woman, weighing 125 pounds and working in an office has a 25 percent chance of becoming disabled?) A Last Will In Testament is critical, as is the naming of guardians and trustees for our kids. And we will need money for retirement and for our kids’ college savings accounts – loans are nice but heavy debt can delay them. So pick one of those and if all the boxes are checked, you should put extra money towards your greatest passion.   

FA: When is it ok to spend on entertainment?

BG:  Only when you want to invest in your family’s bonding and happiness. Research shows that experiences — such as entertainment — make us happier than retail goods. Experiences are fun when they happen, but the human mind has a way of over time making these experiences even better. Our brains cleanse them – forgetting about the hassles and remembering only the highlights, which get emphasized over and over. If you’re going to spend money, this is the area that gets the most psychological bang for your buck.

 My book is amazing! You should buy it right now! Don’t believe me, of course, take it from Emmy-Award Winning sports reporter Andrea Brody, who says I combine “the humor of a stand-up comic with the experience of a highly-respected business reporter.” And let’s totally connect on social media because in addition to posting photos of my kids and my lunches, I’ll tell you when everyday products become dangerous – did you know CarMax was selling us recalled cars and which brands sour cream & onion potato chips were recalled for salmonella? And also some fascinating statistics, such as how many people were murdered at work last year and the difference in pay between men and women truck drivers. @brettgraff (twitter) @brett_graff (Instagram)

No comments:

Post a Comment


Blog Widget by LinkWithin

wibiya widget

Facebook and Twitter