Get Your Finances in Shape! Take the Financial Fitness Quiz

To help you get a quick idea about the state of your personal finances, answer these quiz questions and you'll get a snapshot of how healthy your finances are (not to worry--nobody will be watching you work out). It's kind of like getting your cholesterol checked. In just a few minutes you'll know if you're doing okay or if you should trim the fat from your financial diet to get your finances in shape.

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Self Expression in the Workplace: The Case for Edited Authenticity

By: Raleigh Mayer

Significant controversy and outcry arose when a  Google executive lost his job after airing his views on the company's diversity policy . This sparked  public debate regarding the benefits and risks of airing personal viewpoints, and the expectation of individual responsibility in regard to protecting corporate reputation. Of course, each industry and company environment is different, but every employee is assumed to be a representative of the organization.

Despite the current emphasis on authenticity and "bringing your whole self to work", the over-arching consideration is whether complete freedom of expression  at work -- whether through speech, dress, or demeanor -- is always wise.

Our country's first amendment does protect free speech, but it doesn't protect  speakers from the consequences of that speech, including the impact on our  reputations. So , while we should certainly be true to our ethics, morals, and core beliefs, we should  keep in mind that  communicating positions on unpopular, political, and controversial topics can make us targets at work .

Rather than total authenticity, I recommend edited authenticity. Make deliberate, thoughtful choices, aligned with your professional environment, and seek counsel from trusted colleagues, coaches, mentors, or other allies if you're unsure of your potential impact.

Be aware that exceeding the normal  boundaries of behavior, personal appearance, and yes, individual expression, may jeopardize your career.

Remember, when we bring our whole selves to work, we are also carrying our reputations.

Want to assess, discuss, or enhance your reputation? Call or email me, and let's talk.


Known as the "Gravitas Guru", Mayer is currently a senior fellow at the Logos Institute for Crisis Management and executive leadership, a leadership lecturer at New York University and Barnard College, and on the leadership council of the Financial Women's Association. 


Raleigh Mayer

Raleigh Mayer, known as the “Gravitas Guru”, is an executive development consultant, coach, and speaker, specializing in presentation, communication, and leadership, including programs designed specifically for the career acceleration of female executives. Formerly a vice president and spokesperson for the New York City Marathon, Raleigh has coached and trained executive clients for more than a decade and serves a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies.  She is currently a senior fellow at the Logos Institute for Crisis Management and Executive Leadership, a leadership lecturer at New York University and Barnard College, and on the leadership council of the Financial Women’s Association.

Teach Your Children Well: Financial Literacy is the Key to Economic Success

By: Marguerita M. Cheng

Parents would not dream of raising illiterate children—why does it seem that to most parents, financial literacy is less important?

Not to me. As a Certified Financial Planner professional and mother of three, I believe that teaching children how to manage money is one of the most important responsibilities parents have.

Living in a consumer culture where delayed gratification seems like an outmoded concept, it’s’ not easy to keep kids financially grounded. However, by providing our children with firsthand experience in earning, saving, and spending their own money, they are more likely to develop a savvy sensibility and the framework necessary to manage their personal finances as adults.

Financial Literacy Is a Lasting Legacy

Financial literacy—understanding fundamental financial concepts and being able to make prudent financial decisions—will have a critical impact on many important aspects of our children’s lives, including:

  • Cash-flow management,
  • Saving,
  • Debt management,
  • Real-estate purchases and refinances,
  • Investments,
  • Investing planning for retirement and college education, and
  • Tax planning.

Additionally, individuals who are financially literate demonstrate a keen understanding of fundamental financial concepts, such as compound interest, the time value of money, use of consumer credit, diversification, tax-preferred savings vehicles, consumer rights, and more.

With student loan debt at crisis levels and many of today’‘s college graduates burdened by both high student-loan payments and a challenging job market, I encourage parents to adopt a proactive approach to the problem by raising financially literate children.

Since financial education is a natural contributor to economic success, I am passionate about helping my children understand the value of financial stewardship. I want them to be able to differentiate between needs and wants. I want to teach my children sound money-management skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Three Tips for Teaching Kids About Money

With the goal of financial literacy in mind, consider these three money-saving strategies to help teach your children how to best manage their money. They are simple and effective, even for children still in elementary school.

1. Create a financial mission statement for your family. Solicit input from your family about what each member thinks is important. Is it eating out, taking vacations, saving for college, or all of these goals? Have an open conversation with your spouse and children to encourage them to think about the meaning of money, the challenge of earning it, and the importance of saving for what they truly value.

2. Take opportunities in your daily activities to model how you make spending decisions. By discussing money-making decisions as you shop, cook, and pay bills, you provide concrete examples that your children can model. Plus, taking the kids to the grocery store and cooking dinner afterwards teaches them to apply their math skills in the real world. For example, having them bag groceries with you at the checkout shows them how much it really costs to fill up the fridge each week.

My daughter Sarina, who just graduated from high school, has worked as a swim instructor, lifeguard, and math tutor. Earning money has given her an understanding of how much she needs to work to pay for the things she wants. Working at a summer camp this year, she realized that by not taking a full hour for lunch, she could lifeguard for an extra 30 minutes and earn an additional $10 a day! The extra income benefited Sarina and the camp director, who was able to accomplish other tasks while Sarina was lifeguarding.

The value of money is not the only thing Sarina derived from her work experience. “Every teen needs to have work experience so that they know how to deal with people!” she says.

3. Allow children firsthand experience in earning, saving, and spending their own money. Allowances are great, as long as the kids actually do chores to earn the cash. Be sure to set up a savings account for them early, and consider allowing them to manage the records. Children can monitor their savings activity over the years.

By the time they become teenagers, the benefit of saving regularly over time will be apparent, because they will have some money to spend on clothes, food, and friends—and still save for college. And by the time they head off to the university of their dreams, they will be more likely to have a savvy sensibility about managing their expenses.

One of the hard parts of giving children some control over their own money is that they are sure to make some mistakes. It is important not to rescue them from every mistake! Children need the benefit of making their own decisions. By learning from their mistakes, they become adults who can manage their money well.

The Bottom Line

As 7th century Muslim sage Ali ibn Abi Talib espoused, ““There is no greater wealth than knowledge, and no greater poverty than ignorance.””

I hope you’ll consider these ideas for raising your own financially savvy children, and keep me informed of your progress. If you have any good advice on how to help your children become financially literate, please share them with me at

For more information, visit

This article originally appeared on


Marguerita M. Cheng is the Chief Executive Officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth. Prior to co-founding Blue Ocean Global Wealth, she was a Financial Advisor at Ameriprise Financial and an Analyst and Editor at Towa Securities in Tokyo, Japan. She is a CFP® professional, a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠, a Retirement Income Certified Professional® and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.


Marguerita M. Cheng

Marguerita M. Cheng is the Chief Executive Officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth. Prior to co-founding Blue Ocean Global Wealth, she was a Financial Advisor at Ameriprise Financial and an Analyst and Editor at Towa Securities in Tokyo, Japan. Marguerita is a past spokesperson for the AARP Financial Freedom Campaign and a regular columnist for Investopedia & Kiplinger. She is a CFP® professional, a Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM, a Retirement Income Certified Professional® and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. As a Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) Ambassador, Marguerita helps educate the public, policy makers, and media about the benefits of competent, ethical financial planning. She serves as a Women’s Initiative (WIN) Advocate and subject matter expert for CFP Board, contributing to the development of examination questions for the CFP® Certification Examination. Marguerita also volunteers for CFP Board Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (DEC) hearings. She served on the Financial Planning Association (FPA) National Board of Directors from 2013 – 2015 and is a past president of the Financial Planning Association of the National Capital Area (FPA NCA) 

Rita is a recipient of the Ameriprise Financial Presidential Award for Quality of Advice and the prestigious Japanese Monbukagakusho Scholarship. In 2017, she was named the #3 Most Influential Financial Advisor in the Investopedia Top 100, a Woman to Watch by InvestmentNews, and a Top 100 Minority Business Enterprise (MBE®) by the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council (CRMSDC).

Marguerita’s mantra is “So many people spend their health to gain wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health” (A.J. Reb Materi).

The Rise Of The "Sugar Mamma"

Money expert Manisha Thakor discusses the rise of the female breadwinner and co-breadwinner in America. In particular she highlights the growing interest in financial education by working women seeking financial freedom and financial security.

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Gen X & Gen Y – Dialing Financial 911

by Manisha Thakor

Six Reasons Why Gen X & Gen Y Need Some Serious Financial TLC  

  • They’re scared: They’ve entered their adult years during a gut-wrenching economic and job market. With unemployment over 9.5%, they’ve seen their parents struggle. Over 7 out of 10 Americans are now living paycheck-to-paycheck.

  • They are making poor decisions: As a result of that fear they are not making the best long-term decisions for their futures. A recent ICI study shows only 34% of investors under age 35 are willing to take substantial risk with their retirement money – the exact time in their lives when they should take that risk.

  • Something as “simple” as a 20-year head start can give you 5x more money: Let’s take 2 people. Jane starts saving $5,000 a year at age 25 for her retirement every year until age 65 and gets an average return of 7%. Jane has a $1 million nest egg by retirement. Joe starts saving $5,000 a year at age 45 for retirement every year until age 65 and also gets an average return of 7%. Joe has $200,000 in his next egg. That 20-year head start gave Jane 5x more money. That’s why learning the basics of personal finance – how to budget, get out of debt, and save so you can get that retirement fund funded in the key early years is so vital.

  • Young adults consume information differently so there’s a delivery challenge when it comes to education: Studies shows that young adults want their financial education delivered in a 21st Century way. They want it web-based with robust, interactive tools. And unlike their “I’ll do it myself” parents, these emerging adults want help and guidance.

  • Nearly half of Gen Y has below average financial fluency: A study by The National Foundation for Credit Counseling showed that nearly half of this generation did not understand how to save and budget and that 45% of them have no savings!

  • The financial world is geometrically more complex: Part of the reason for the above statistic is due to the fact that financial literacy is not taught in schools as a core life skill. Young adults often rely on parents who were brought up in “financially simpler” times and aren’t equipped to help. They are also bombarded by so many more unrealistic media images about what “normal” lives are like.

So, what’s the solution?

If you or someone you love is a Gen X or Gen Y-er… encourage them to self-educate.  Here are some of my favorite personal finance sites – all of which I’ve either written for or read regularly myself:

What about you – any additional resources to recommend to Gen X & Gen Y?

[For more MoneyZen in your life, follow Manisha on Twitter at @ManishaThakor, on Facebook at /ManishaThakor, or visit]


Manisha Thakor

From Manisha's linkedin profile page:

Manisha Thakor is the Director of Wealth Strategies for Women at Buckingham Strategic Wealth and The BAM Alliance. 

Manisha and her colleagues provide both evidence-based wealth advisory services for high-net-worth households and core asset management solutions for women and families nationwide with $80,000 or more in investible assets. 

An ardent financial literacy advocate for women, Manisha is the co-author of two critically acclaimed personal finance books: ON MY OWN TWO FEET: a modern girl’s guide to personal finance and GET FINANCIALLY NAKED: how to talk money with your honey. She is on Faculty at The Omega Institute and serves as a Financial Fellow at Wellesley College. Manisha is also a member of The Wall Street Journal’s Wealth Experts Panel, a member of the 2015 CNBC Financial Advisor’s Council, and wearing her financial educator’s hat serves as a part of TIAA-CREF’s Women’s Initiative. 

Manisha's financial advice has been featured in a wide range of national media outlets including CNN, PBS, NPR, The Today Show, Rachel Ray, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The LA Times, Real Simple, Women’s Day, Glamour, Essence, and MORE magazine.

Prior to joining the Buckingham team, Manisha spent over twenty years working in financial services. On the institutional side she worked as an analyst, portfolio manager and client relations executive at SG Warburg, Atalanta/Sosnoff Capital, Fayez Sarofim & Co., and Sands Capital Management. After this she moved to the retail side and ran her own independent registered investment advisory firm, MoneyZen Wealth Management. 

Manisha earned her MBA from Harvard Business School in 1997, her BA from Wellesley College in 1992 and is a CFA charterholder. She lives in Portland, OR where she delights in the amazing Third Wave coffee scene and stunning natural beauty of the Pacific NorthWest. Manisha’s website is