The Most Important Lessons to Teach Your Child About Money!

Financial Advice By: Carmen Wong Ulrich

Q: My daughter is still quite young, but I want to make sure that when she’s older and ready to go off on her own that I will be able to send her off with a positive start to her financial future, so that she can be as independent as possible and can avoid some of the mistakes that I made.  What do you think are the most important lessons that I could teach my child about managing her money as she’s growing up?

My seven-year old daughter says loudly every time we shop for her, “Mom, what’s my budget?”  Onlookers twitter, but as you can imagine, it’s a proud moment.  No matter how old your child is, it’s never too late to begin.  Here are some solid to-do’s to teach your kids about money that will last a lifetime:

  • Limits:  As early as five years old, you can start a child with a budget.  For example, let’s say your daughter wants a toy and you say, “Your budget is $5.00.”  She then knows that she has to either find something close to that amount or two or more things that add up to that amount.  Knowing that money has limits—that you can’t just put a card into a machine and unlimited cash spits out—means that your daughter will be much more likely to respect limits when she grows up, such as avoiding the trap of overdrafts on her accounts or using too much credit. But the key here is you have to hold firm.
  • Earning and handling money:  This one is simple.  As soon as your child is old enough to make his or her bed, get dressed on her own, and do other small household chores, start them with an allowance.  Adjust to what fits your budget and child’s age.  Allowance isn’t just a way to make money to buy candy.  It’s a big and tangible way to teach that when you put in effort, you get a result—this result is your responsibility.  Start three piggy banks or boxes where you can put some of the money in one box, then a charity or church box to teach that you should give to those in need and, then, save money for something bigger down the road.  Which brings us to…
  • Delayed gratification, a.k.a. planning:  This one is a doozy and one that even many grown-ups fail at.  Part of your child’s allowance should go toward a goal.  Maybe it’s the ability to go to the arcade with friends or rent a movie on-demand.  Designate some spending as their responsibility.  For example, my daughter knows that any movie, show or app she wants comes out of her “bank.”  Recently, she spent all of her allowance on a movie rental then realized she had no money to play games at the arcade later that week.  She was very upset, but I held my ground and explained to her the need to plan for your money and use good judgment.  It wasn’t easy, but lesson learned.
  • No fear:  One last important lesson is to make sure that your kids are not afraid or ignorant of what it’s like to go to a bank or other financial institution and make a transaction.  Take your kids to the bank with you when you can, even if it’s just to sit in the lobby while you go over a few questions.  It’s important to see the role of banking in your lives.  And if you’re mostly an online-banker like I am, then show your daughter your cell phone bills, explaining charges, so she understands what bills are and just how much it costs to have cell service or other comforts such as cable.  Our kids should not fear bills or banks.  No fear means they can approach their money positively and with the confidence to manage what life has in store.

Carmen Wong Ulrich is a personal finance expert and author of “The Real Cost of Living.”

The Success Diaries: Denise Hendricks

Dear Young Denise,

Girlfriend, you are in for the ride of your life. You’ll be able to make your wildest dreams come true as you embark upon this journey of producing television news and entertainment. You’ll get many roses along the way, and they will beautiful, sweet-smelling opportunities… but they will come with thorns on their stems. Here’s how to thrive in the rose garden with minimal sting.

Attitude is everything – Positivity and optimism will take you a long way; you can out maneuver anyone with a smile and smarts any day.

Take the Initiative – This was a favorite mantra of my father, the late Colonel Bernard D. Hendricks; everything is not going to be handed to you, even if you are doing exceptionally well, there will be times when you have to speak up to implement new plans, speak up for injustices taking place, speak up for promotions and pay. Remember this phrase: “enter action with boldness.”

Pick Your Battles Carefully – Think before you speak and know that every fight is not worth entering the ring. Through consistent prayer and trusting your gut, you will know when to act. Trust Yourself.

Know Your Craft – Seek out ways to grow professionally throughout your career; attend conferences, workshops, lectures and read as much as you can. You should also get a mentor who works inside of the industry  and one who works outside of it. This will help you stay ahead of the curve.

Be authentic – Be true to yourself, remember why you wanted to become a producer – to inform, educate, entertain and help shape and transform mindsets and perspectives; and with any new endeavor, ask yourself, ‘what is my true intention?’ Your heart will tell you.

Cultivate genuine relationships – Treat everyone with the same respect and kindness with which you would want to be treated, no matter their position in life. Befriending receptionists, assistants and the like, will allow you access to key information and in many instances, a seat at the table.

Have Faith – No matter where the business takes you-  and it will take you around the world – find a church home, develop a consistent prayer life and memorize scripture.  This might not make sense now, but trust me, you will encounter situations when calling a scripture or two to mind will keep you from losing your cool and blowing your future.

Lastly – HAVE FUN! You only go around once so enjoy it. Be thankful for the opportunities that come your way, give back to the community, spend quality time with family & friends, and take vacations. If you do this all with a smile, the roses I talked about earlier will flourish in ways you never imagined and those thorns – they’ll still be around, but the sting won’t be so bad.

With love,

Producer Denise

C. Denise Hendricks is an award-winning television producer and writer. She is currently a Senior Producer for HLN (CNN Headline News) in Atlanta, Georgia.  Denise has been in the news and entertainment business for twenty years. Her list of credits include associate producer for “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” producer for ABC’s “The Revolution” daytime talk show, producer for BET’s late night talk show “The Mo’Nique Show,” and News Producer/Executive Producer for CNN, and NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX television affiliates. 

Make Quick Money on the Smartest Investment of All – Yourself!

Financial Advice By: Carmen Wong Ulrich

Q: I’m down to my last month in savings, and I need to make money fast! I’m having a hard time finding employment, but I heard that you can make money just by investing money. Should I invest my money to try to make a quick profit before next month? If so, where can I find the best investments with the fastest returns?

A: You know that old saying, “Too good to be true”?  Well, imagine if what you said was true.  Imagine if you could just invest some money and then make money, every time, in a short time.  Well, we’d all be rich! 

The truth is that investing means one thing:  No guarantees.  Why?  Because to invest money means to take on risk—the risk of losing money, sometimes, a whole lot or even all of it.  There is no guaranteed quick-money-making investment.  Not one.  Yes, some folks—few folks!—get very, very lucky and make a return on an investment over a couple of months or years.  But, certainly not weeks, which sounds like your time frame.

In your situation, you need the opposite of risk.  You need a guarantee.  You need income, real income, and quickly.  The only way to do that is to earn it.  But, you don’t necessarily need to earn it the usual way.  You can try legitimate sites on the web with hourly work such as, where you can hire yourself out based on your skills such as running errands, putting together furniture, housekeeping or data entry.  Also, try your local message boards.  Yahoo message boards exist for thousands of neighborhoods around the country and AOL has the Patch network.  Sign up and scan listings for local jobs. 

And in the meantime, spend some time on your biggest investment—YOU.  Never stop reading or learning or building your network of friends and contacts.  Ask folks you admire for help with a solid career-growth plan.  Every person you meet and impress builds a framework to ensure your hard times of finding employment end up in your rear view mirror.  Now that’s an investment!

Carmen Wong Ulrich is the co-Founder and former President of ALTA Wealth Management and a Professor in NYU PolyTech‘s school of Finance and Risk Engineering. She is an author and the former host and co-creator of CNBC‘s “On the Money,” and currently the money advice columnist for Good Housekeeping, a contributor to MSNBC and CNN as well as a frequent expert guest on ABC’s “The View.

Marriage: Joint Lives and Joint Bank Accounts

Financial Advice By: Carmen Wong Ulrich

Q: I’m getting married in less than two months, and I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to joining my finances with my future husband’s! Where do I even start? My fiancé and I have barely talked about money since we got engaged! Help!

A:  I wish you’d asked this question after your third date!  When it comes to money and love, it’s rarely too early to start even some discussion.  But it’s also never too late.

Start by pulling all your financial-facts together:  How much debt do you have and in what form?  What kind of savings do you have as well as any other assets?  What state is your credit record in?  Both of you should make this a starting point—the facts.  By being upfront, especially about debts, you can both avoid surprises down the road, say, when you buy a home together.

This is just a jump-off point.  From there, start talking about assumptions and expectations about household expenses such as who-pays-for-what.  Set up a system that you both can agree on, for example, maintaining one household checking account that you both contribute to in order to pay joint bills such as rent or the mortgage.  And just as importantly, discuss your financial goals:  Do you want to start up a joint annual vacation fund?  Or save up for a home or kids’ college education?

Come to the table with an attitude of partnership, not confrontation.  After all, if you’re partners in life and in love, you should also be partners in money.

Carmen Wong Ulrich is the co-Founder and former President of ALTA Wealth Management and a Professor in NYU PolyTech‘s school of Finance and Risk Engineering. She is an author and the former host and co-creator of CNBC‘s “On the Money,” and currently the money advice columnist for Good Housekeeping, a contributor to MSNBC and CNN as well as a frequent expert guest on ABC’s “The View.

Cashing Out Your 401K

Financial Advice By: Carmen Wong Ulrich

Q: I know that 401-Ks are supposed to be for retirement, but I could REALLY use that money today. Can you please explain the fees/taxes that are associated with liquidating your 401-K and are there any exceptions in the laws that would allow me to use my unemployment status to avoid them?

A:  I realize you may just need access to those funds to, for example, stay in your home.  Of course, I’d rather you not touch that money—it’s your future.  And if you simply cash-out a 401k or other retirement account, you can get hit not only with taxes, but severe penalties that can wipe out 40% or more of your balance.  If you need it that badly, get to it the right way—by applying for a hardship withdrawal.  This kind of formal withdrawal allows you access to the funds in your 401k, but without the penalties, only the taxes.  For more information on hardship withdrawals, you can read all about it on the IRS website!   Good luck!

About the writer: Carmen Wong Ulrich is the co-Founder and former President of ALTA Wealth Management and a Professor in NYU PolyTech‘s school of Finance and Risk Engineering. She is an author and the former host and co-creator of CNBC‘s “On the Money,” and currently the money advice columnist for Good Housekeeping, a contributor to MSNBC and CNN as well as a frequent expert guest on ABC’s “The View.

Is Getting a Loan from a Title Company Right for Me?

Financial Advice By: Carmen Wong Ulrich

Q: I’m thinking about getting a loan from one of those title companies that advertise on TV. The ads say I can use my car title and get automatically approved. Are these legitimate lenders and would you recommend them? I will repay the full amount as soon as I am working again to avoid so much interest.

A:  This one is an easy answer: NO WAY! Why?  Super high interest rates that could be on par with a payday loan.  Borrowing that pricey means keeping you in debt, possibly just to keep up with payments.  Fix what’s really wrong here.  Are you out of work or maybe just over burdened with other loans?  If you’ve got lots of debt, first head over to an office near you, which is run by nonprofit credit counselors.  For a small initial fee (they don’t make money off of you), they can give you a solid assessment of where you’re at credit-wise and what lenders you should avoid.  They can also help you with a debt management plan that not only gets you out of the red for good, but improves your credit, so you don’t have to borrow at such a high interest rate.  If you’re just in a tight spot income-wise and you need cash, look instead to make more money either by taking on a part-time job or being creative such as listing yourself as a “TaskRabbit” by the hour or by the task.  Also, make sure your budget is cut as far as it can go before you borrow.  Buy nothing but essentials.  And don’t forget about your local community banks or credit unions; they’re more likely to have lower rates and loans that won’t keep you on a borrowing spiral.


About the writer: Carmen Wong Ulrich is the co-Founder and former President of ALTA Wealth Management and a Professor in NYU PolyTech‘s school of Finance and Risk Engineering. She is an author and the former host and co-creator of CNBC‘s “On the Money,” and currently the money advice columnist for Good Housekeeping, a contributor to MSNBC and CNN as well as a frequent expert guest on ABC’s “The View.

Keeping it Moving with Kimora Lee Simmons

Catch Kimora Lee Simmons in “House of Fab,” on the Style Network!


Her name rings through the halls of fashion greats all over the world and reverberates against the jagged sidewalks of name-your-city, USA. Like many other icons of our time, she operates on a first-name basis and her business savvy has catapulted her beyond what others in her field have been able to achieve. On television, she’s a glamorous, fearless, fierce business woman and mother. But when the cameras are gone, the world will learn, as I did, that Kimora’s life parallels many of our own. The K.I.M. (Keep It Moving) method has proven that forward movement for Kimora has been her key to success and the unstoppable pursuit to do what hasn’t been done is what makes Kimora, Kimora.

In 2010, the media world was abuzz with news of Kimora leaving Baby Phat and while many speculated on the reason, the process of the transition was much more than a business transaction.

 “Leaving Baby Phat, as it may have seemed, was a business matter – it happens everyday in business. However, for me, it was more than that. It was about closing a chapter in my life, moving on, and evolving. It was about the new possibilities and believing in myself to use what I had learned to achieve more.”

Fashion immediately consumed Kimora’s life when she was discovered at the young age of 10 years old and set the foundation for pure, unadulterated hard work. “I’ve never done anything risqué or outlandish to propel me to this place. It was simply hard work and understanding my passions. You see my love for fashion in everything I do: my television show, my books, my beauty brands, everything. When a woman can find her true passion, she can create and recreate herself and her life any way she wants.”

Overcoming hurdles and obstacles reminds us of the parallels in Kimora’s life to our very own, parallels that may not be so apparent on the TV screen or in magazines.  “This was something I was going to do in spite of myself – when people told me ‘you cannot have this, you cannot be a woman of color in fashion, or a woman this young as an executive’, I did it anyway. We all have to find that passion and overcome ourselves to achieve our goals.”

Many women find themselves in a place where they’re not sure of what move to make next. I can certainly relate – after years of struggling, trying to find my own place in the world, I finally figured out what made me happy, what gave me the will to press forward. Kimora knows the same feeling. “You know you’re in the right place when you can feel it,” she explains. Finding your purpose is about growth, change and intentionally seeking positively charged environments. Women have a sixth sense about these things. When you’re on the right path, you just know.”

But a change towards a new path can cause fear to rear its pesky little head: sweaty palms and tear-filled internal battles seem to wage inside of you. But fear, as Kimora suggests, can be a good thing. “We all live with some element of fear – but when you embrace it, you find that fear no longer becomes something you run away from, but something you run towards. It’s beyond the fear that you find your heart’s passion. It’s beyond the fear that life really begins.”

Dress for Success has helped propel thousands of women towards new lives and, as our inaugural Dress for Success Power Woman, Kimora exudes what the organization is all about: empowering women. “In everything I do, I want to show the power of a woman – and I want to do it in a way that is contrary to what society says is ‘empowering’. I met a woman at a Dress for Success affiliate that stood in front of me and showed me [drug] tracks in her arms. She told me it had been three months since she last did drugs. Do you know how empowering that was for her? Moments like that remind me that while our stories may all be different, they all have the power to change lives. I’ve learned so much from their stories; it uplifts me so much.”

Kimora has carved out her own path in the fab lane and has experienced one success after the next: a model, a mogul, a mother, executive producer, best selling author of Fabulosity: What It Is and How to Get It, president and creative director of, and founder of Shinto Clinical, a skincare line whose name means “of the Gods.” Kimora’s power extends beyond the boardrooms and cat walks. Kimora understands the ebbs and flows of womanhood, and in that, she is a piece of our lives that make us proud to know her.

“When you begin to think of yourself as one and as a whole, you understand the global impact we can all have. You are a unit of a bigger picture – I find pride in seeing women overcome things. To be able to stand in front of someone and say, ‘this is who I used to be’, shows the brilliance and balance of being a woman.”

Follow Kimora on Twitter at @OfficialKimora and visit her site

Kimora’s K.I.M. (Keep it Moving!)
When life tries to stop you, you have to learn to keep it moving! Here are some tips from Kimora on how to propel yourself forward!

1. Reinvent yourself, as many times as necessary. Never become complacent!

2. Believe in yourself: you were built for this!

3. Set goals, plan them out, and execute. You have to work hard!

-Alisha L. Gordon is a Masters of Divinity student at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. She is the author of Pieces: Finding the Missing Piece is Easier than You Think, an avid writer, teacher, public speaker and social media maven who has an affection for faith and culture. Follow Alisha on Twitter @AlishaLGordon.