Money Talk: Our Experts Get Personal About Finances

Saying farewell to Ask Carrie: passing the torch to Money Talk.

As I shared with you all last month, after 40 years at Schwab, I'm stepping away from this column and my dream job at the end of June to focus on my new role: member of Schwab's board of directors. In my place, I'm excited to introduce my esteemed colleagues who are launching a new biweekly column called Money Talk.

There's so much to know about money, but as I've always said, it doesn't have to be complicated. The reality is that a little financial know-how goes a long way, and smart money management leads to so much more than a bigger bank account. It leads to financial stability, and ultimately more opportunity for you and your family.

So I'm excited to keep the conversation going by introducing our team of Money Talk experts, who will be sharing their perspectives and firsthand experiences with the goal of helping you move your financial life forward. I had the opportunity to ask each of them a few questions to help you get to know them. Let's dig in.

What are your early memories around money?

Cindy Scott: "When I was in grade school, I sat at the kitchen table with my dad while he paid the bills. I would write the checks and he would sign them. I made the entry into and balanced the checkbook. It taught me if I wanted to save for certain things, I had to have a plan," says Cindy Scott, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional at Schwab.

Patrick Means: "My first memory is around budgeting. My parents influenced me by spending within their means. They had envelopes with cash earmarked for certain things. Everyone in the family knew where that pocket of money was and if there was nothing left, you couldn't spend that month. We talked about it—this is what certain activities cost each month, this is what we have allotted, and we have to stay within that budget. That has helped me stay within my means today," says Patrick Means, vice president and branch manager at Schwab.

Share an important money lesson you learned early.

Susan Hirshman: "Consider the pleasure you get from material things versus the pain of having large credit card bills. Over time, the pain outweighs the short-term pleasure you receive from material things. Create a plan that incorporates both spending and saving. Connect emotionally to what your savings can give you today and in your future—it's a means to an end. Consistent and steady long-term saving is what wins out in the end," says Susan Hirshman, a director of wealth management for Schwab Wealth Advisory.

What is your view on money and investing?

Patrick: "Money doesn't always equate to happiness. But it is a tool to give you access to experiences and opportunities that can be meaningful to you. Things like traveling, buying a home, paying for college, and even providing for loved ones. Investing is a way to make your money work harder for you."

Jeannie Bidner: "For me it's important to know my goals. To understand the why. Anytime I'm thinking about reallocating my investments or rebalancing, I pull back and ask myself what am I saving for? How does it all work together? Is it for my home remodeling projects, or for the kids, or a family trip? It's important to see the big picture," says Jeannie Bidner, a managing director within the branch network at Schwab.

Why did you become a financial planner?

Cindy: "Growing up, I witnessed people who succeeded financially and those who seemed to struggle. I wanted to help people succeed. Using my experience, knowledge, and education that I've gained over the last 26 years to help people—that lights me up. It doesn't take a lot of energy and effort to turn financial struggle into financial success. When I run through a financial plan with a client, you can see the anxiety fall away. I help people live lives of joy, significance and meaning and I'm doing it through financial planning. I experience it every single day when I interact with clients."

What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?

Jeannie: "When you don't have a lot of money it's important to understand credit, how it works, and have a solid budget in place to keep your finances on track. You could be living paycheck to paycheck—it's transactional—and ten years can seem so far off. To help think long-term, talk to people who are older than you. Have conversations with family members, mentors or people who are 10-15 years older. I rely on my relationships. I talk to my sister who is 12 years older and my brother who is 15 years older and ask them what should I be thinking about? That gives me perspective."

Susan: "Ask questions. Learn. Read. Being educated is your best defense. Approach saving with a sense of abundance versus deprivation—it's a mindset. You take a little bit away from today and create choice, flexibility, and freedom in your future."

Money Talk: let's talk about it.

With every ending, there is a new beginning. I'm so grateful to each of you for your Ask Carrie questions, readership, and support over the years. My hope is that you will keep the conversation going with this new column. Managing money is a lifelong journey. Don't be afraid to seek help or ask questions—and keep asking until you get answers that make sense. The Money Talk experts are here to help.

Money can be complicated. That's why we're here to help. Email us your money questions at for consideration in a future article. We regret we cannot reply to questions individually or provide personalized financial planning guidance via email. If you have a question about your Schwab account or for general inquiries, contact Schwab. Thanks!