Speeding up growing up: When a parent's career takes a hit with Ambition Redefined author Kathryn Sollmann

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Ambition Redefined author Kathryn Sollmann’s childhood took an unexpected financial detour when her father had a career setback. But becoming a financial grownup at a young age gave her the foundation to redefine ambition. 

In Kathryn's money story you will learn:

-Why she started working at a young age

-How her financially stressful childhood prepared her for success

-The way she wished her parents talked about money when she was growing up

In Kathryn’s money lesson you will learn:

-How to have honest conversations about money with a significant other

-Why Kathryn suggests women should always have a way to make money

-Her tips on how to balance work and family life

In Kathryn's everyday money tip you will learn:

-How to categorize your savings account

-Ways prioritize saving money while staying out of debt

In My Take you will learn:

-Financial grownups don't judge, every financial plan is unique to each family or individual but making smart decisions are what make plans successful

-Family time and work time don't have to be separate, hear what Bobbi and Kathryn have to say about blending a schedule in order to balance it

EPISODE LINKS

Read Kathryn's new book Ambition Redefined here

Check out Kathryn's website for more information here

Follow Kathryn!

Instagram: @KathrynSollmann

Twitter: @KathrynSollmann

Linked In: @KathrynSollmann


Transcription

KATHRYN SOLLMAN:
The financial situation at home got so tenuous that my father, a couple of times, took my little part-time afterschool paychecks to pay a few bills while he was waiting for some things to come in and that had just a profound impact on me.

BOBBI REBELL:
You're listening to Financial Grownup with me, certified financial planner, Bobbi Rebell, author of How To Be A Financial Grownup. And you know what? Being a grownup is really hard, especially when it comes to money, but it's okay. We're going to get there together. I'm going to bring you one money story from a financial grownup, one lesson, and then my take on how you can make it your own. We got this.

BOBBI REBELL:
Hey, financial grownup friends. I like to joke that it is never too young to grow up financially, but I'm rethinking that a bit, and that is because my guest, Ambition Redefined author, Kathryn Sollman, got a rude awakening when her comfortable upper middle class suburban life was interrupted by the harsh financial reality of a change in her family's financial situation. More on that in just a minute.

BOBBI REBELL:
First, a quick welcome to everyone. If you are new, so glad you found us. Please hit the subscribe button so you don't miss any upcoming episodes and go into custom settings and set to auto download. While you are there, it will make our day if you leave a quick review. Now to Kathryn Sollman. Love her book, Ambition Redefined, but I will warn you, she makes him controversial arguments. And while I do see her point, and she does a lot of research, there's a lot of data to backup everything she says, there is a lot of discussion about her perspective. And stay to the end. We will be giving away a signed copy of Ambition Redefined. Here is Kathryn Sollman.

BOBBI REBELL:
Kathryn Sollman, you are a financial grownup. Welcome to the podcast.

KATHRYN SOLLMAN:
Oh, thanks for having me. It's great to be here.

BOBBI REBELL:
I love your new book. Congratulations on it. It is Ambition Redefined: Why The Corner Office Doesn't Work For Every Woman And What To Do Instead. It's like you read my mind, Kathryn.

KATHRYN SOLLMAN:
Yeah. We're in an era of women's empowerment, which is great, and we need to have a woman president, and we need to have more women running corporations, but that's very small percentage of women overall who want those kinds of jobs.

BOBBI REBELL:
Absolutely, and I do want to just mention that this is very important for men as well because men are huge stakeholders in this issue because they have so much at stake when it comes to not only whether they're women partners, their sisters, their mothers, their daughters work, but also the income that they generate because that can be a big factor when things don't go as planned, which brings us to your money story, which does have to do with your father and what happened and the impact on the rest of the family and the role that your mother had to play then in the family finances. Tell us your money story, Kathryn.

KATHRYN SOLLMAN:
I grew up in a very affluent community. My father was working in a big executive job in New York City. When I was in middle school, he lost that big job and he never fully recovered professionally. This then sent my mother, who was a former teacher, back to work and she hadn't worked in more than 20 years.

BOBBI REBELL:
Wow.

KATHRYN SOLLMAN:
So she had some fits and starts, but over time was able to reinvent herself to be an English as a second language teacher, but that wasn't really enough to keep the household going. So there was a tremendous amount of financial stress in the household. The financial situation at home got so tenuous that my father, a couple of times, took my little part-time afterschool paychecks to pay a few bills while he was waiting for some things to come in, and that had just a profound impact on me.

BOBBI REBELL:
What was your job?

KATHRYN SOLLMAN:
It was a company called the Danbury Mint. I guess I was a like an administrative assistant.

BOBBI REBELL:
And what kind of conversations did you have with your father or with your parents at this time?

KATHRYN SOLLMAN:
You know, it was a difficult environment because I felt like everything was always on pins and needles. I was young and it's not like I could have given my father advice. I was just kind of a victim.

BOBBI REBELL:
Well, what about your mother? How did she feel? Did you talk to her? Did she have regrets about having left the workforce? At the time, as you say, it was a different time. Did she feel she even had options not to leave the workforce?

KATHRYN SOLLMAN:
She felt a little powerless and she said that to me. She said, "Make sure that you always work because money is power." Not only in a relationship can money be power, but she said it's important that you have that power to support yourself and your family. I remember when she got one of her first big paychecks, she was very excited about being back to work and she bought herself a watch. I remember my father was very, very upset that she had bought that watch for herself because he felt like he should have bought it for her.

BOBBI REBELL:
What is the takeaway from your story for our listeners?

KATHRYN SOLLMAN:
You know, women really need to be sure that they're not delegating their financial security to a partner because even when things seem like they're going so well, you've got to realize that no job has a lifetime guarantee. The second thing is that women should always find a way to work in a flexible way, which in some circles, is very controversial. Women live longer than men. They typically earn and save less and it's very difficult to return to the workforce and recoup lost earnings when you've been out of the workforce for many years and women are out for an average of 12 years.

KATHRYN SOLLMAN:
If you feel like you have a moral obligation to be with your children 24/7, you've got to realize that if you ran out of money late in life, you would then, in fact, burden those very same children, which is basically what happened to me when my father took a couple of my paychecks. Fast forward, that's the same man who is not prepared for retirement and still alive at 89. At some point, he is going to run out of money and it's going to be my problem.

BOBBI REBELL:
All right, let's move on to the everyday money tip, which is also very important for women to have a sense of the contribution that they are making because, in some cases, many cases, they are not the primary breadwinner, but it is important to really understand that there is a significant contribution being made financially and you have a way to do that.

KATHRYN SOLLMAN:
What I always say is look at how much money you're bringing in each year and attach it to something. It could be two family vacations, it could be 50 percent or 100 percent of a college tuition bill, a child's braces, whatever it is, so that you can then say, "Okay, well I covered that. My money went to that." If you just put it all in the pot, it seems like your money is going to nothing or nothing significant.

BOBBI REBELL:
Right.

KATHRYN SOLLMAN:
And that's the way to make yourself feel better but also to, as my mother was saying, to exert a little power into the relationship and say, "I'm contributing too. This isn't just your ballgame."

BOBBI REBELL:
Which is very important because it makes it a lot more tangible. Let's talk about Ambition Redefined. I love this book. It's so relatable and there's a lot of truths in this that are not always spoken about, one of which is the fact that just because you were working flexible hours and sometimes part time hours does not mean you are earning less money or that you should settle for less money if you have the earning power in the market to earn more money.

KATHRYN SOLLMAN:
Yeah, it's absolutely true. A large percentage of freelancers earn more money than they were making in their full time jobs within a year. I was just speaking to a woman who had a full-time job with absolutely no flexibility. She needed more flexibility. She left and she found another job where she is working three days a week and she's working closer to home. She got rid of the commute and she's making 60 percent more than she was in the full-time job.

BOBBI REBELL:
So it's a question of finding the right job that values your skills. You also talk about something called a Type E, and this is important because I know a lot of our listeners are very interested in having their own business and being entrepreneurs. But it's important to make sure that's the right fit for you.

KATHRYN SOLLMAN:
That's right. When you're thinking about flexibility, what could be more flexible than being your own boss? So I find that lots of women think about, have these Walter Mitty dreams of starting this business or that business. The fact is that you have to be the entrepreneurial profile and the entrepreneurial profile is working 24/7 because there's nobody else to make this business work other than you, especially in the early stages before you might hire people. The other thing is that you have to wear so many hats.

KATHRYN SOLLMAN:
So if you have a dream to be a marketing consultant and you really love marketing, well, you might love that marketing discipline, but you probably or you may not love sales. Any job, any business that you develop, you've got to be a salesperson. And lots of people thinking about having their own business will tell me, "Well, I don't like sales. I never wanted to be a salesperson."

BOBBI REBELL:
Everything is sales though, right?

KATHRYN SOLLMAN:
Everything is sales. You've got to be selling yourself, your product, your service constantly. So you can't say you don't like sales and you can't say that you don't like financial stuff and numbers because you've got to work the numbers for your business. You've got to figure out how you're going to fund your business, even if it's a very small business.

BOBBI REBELL:
Tell us more about where people can find out more information about you, your book, and all your social channels so we can follow you.

KATHRYN SOLLMAN:
You can read more about my book on my website, kathrynsollman.com, and Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram can all be found under @kathrynsollman.

BOBBI REBELL:
Wonderful. Thank you, Kathryn.

KATHRYN SOLLMAN:
Thank you. So great to be with you.

BOBBI REBELL:
Hey everyone. As I mentioned at the top, Katherine is very tough in her stance on the fact that women must always earn money. And that comes from personal experience, but still, financial grownup tip number one, no judging. Kathryn makes her point very well. She did her homework. It's a really well researched book and I live by most of her advice already in my own life, but part of being a financial grownup is understanding that there is a human element to money and an emotional element to the decisions that we make and all the decisions that go around our financial lives.

BOBBI REBELL:
Everyone faces different situations and there may be many seasons in one's life when a regular paycheck or earning power is just not as important as other things. Don't get me wrong, we must all be vigilant about financial security, but let's not judge if someone makes a decision that, from the outside, doesn't look good. Sometimes, by the way, it may look like somebody's choosing not to work or not to earn money, but in fact, they may be trying and just not have been that successful. Be a friend.

BOBBI REBELL:
Financial gonna tip number two. One idea in Kathryn's book that I loved was not to worry so much about work life balance, but to focus on blending. Maybe don't put pressure on yourself to turn off communication with work the minute you get home. It may work for some people, but it's okay if you give her child a bath, for example, and then you take a work call, and then you do story time. And maybe your kids stays up a little later than you wanted or whatever. Do what works for you to maintain your career path.

BOBBI REBELL:
And by the way, it is more than okay for your kids to know that you have other responsibilities and that paying attention to those other responsibilities may help pay, literally, for the fun things that you do together like your next vacation. Put them on your team, include them. Let them know that their good behavior and understanding when you have to do some work, even when it's supposed to be their time, helps the whole family.

BOBBI REBELL:
Katherine very generously sent along a signed copy of her book, Ambition Redefined: Why The Corner Office Doesn't Work For Every Woman And What To Do Instead for one lucky listener. To win, all you have to do is DM me with your takeaway from the episode. You can do it on Instagram @bobbirebell1, on Twitter @bobbirebell, or you can even email us at hello@financialgrownup.com. That is hello@financialgrownup.com.

BOBBI REBELL:
I love talking to Kathryn. She has so much value to add to this conversation. I hope everyone checks out her book, Ambition Redefined, and thank you, Kathryn, for helping us all get one step closer to being financial grownups. Financial Grownup with Bobbi Rebell is edited and produced by Steve Stewart and is a BRK Media production.