Interview Series – Laura Adams

September 15, 2011

Laura Adams has definitely earned her nickname of the “Money Girl”.  Not only is she an author (Money Girl’s Smart Moves to Grow Rich) she’s also a financial coach -a Certified Personal Finance Counselor® – and she produces one of the top financial podcasts, the MoneyGirl podcast.

Laura’s podcast is a weekly five minute discussion of personal finance topics; her current episode (#234) goes over how to invest your business or self-employment income into a Simple IRA.  If you do the math (234 x 5) you’ll see that so far she’s produced almost 20 hours of bite-sized personal finance tips, perfect for easy consumption on your commute or daily workout routine.

However, even someone as knowledgeable about money as Laura has been known to make a money mistake or two.  In today’s interview series of speakers at the upcoming FINCON, Laura talks about one financial decision that she wishes she could do over. 

1) Describe a time that a person or company tried to take advantage of you financially and what you did to stop them.

I can’t think of a particular incident–but I’m on guard all the time to stay safe from people and companies who try to take financial advantage of me!

For instance, I get phishing emails and scammy investment offers in the mail pretty frequently. Consumers need to be pretty sophisticated these days in order to distinguish what’s legitimate from what’s bogus.

2) Describe a time you were bullied into a financial decision (by a person or a company).  How did it end up impacting you and if you could go back in time how would you handle it differently?

I’ve never been bullied into a financial decision–I take full responsibility for every stupid money mistake I’ve ever made!

My worst decision, by far, was a hedge fund that I invested in many years ago that turned out to be a ponzi scheme. It wasn’t Madoff, but the guy did end up in jail.

A dear friend recommended the “investment company” to me and I trusted him so much that I didn’t check it out for myself. We both lost lots of money. So, if I had one financial do-over in my life, that would definitely be it!


Thanks to Laura for sharing!  One of the things she mentions, phishing, can have nasty effects but is actually pretty simple to avoid.  If you’re not familiar with phishing, it’s basically when criminal sends you an email that makes you think it’s from a trusted source and includes a link to a nefarious website that’s setup to steal your information.

How I Avoid Phishing Scams

To avoid phishing scams, I’m very careful about what links I click on in an email.  Even if I know the person I always hover over the link to see where it will take me.  Usually I’ll just open a new tab on my browser and type the website into the address bar of the browser.  If it’s an extremely long web address that I don’t want type out sometimes I’ll click on it, but only if I know the person sending the email and recognize the site that the link leads me to.

Doing Your Homework

The experience Laura shared about a Ponzi scheme she got involved in through a friend is a tough because often the best people to work with come through referrals.  So if a family member or friend you trust recommends a product or service you’re a lot more likely to give it a try.  Referrals are great but as Laura mentioned above you should do your own research before handing over any money.

One way to try out referrals is to start off small.  So if a friend recommends an auto mechanic, don’t go there and have your timing belt replaced the first time you use them.  Instead, start off with having them change your oil and rotate your tires.  If you like how they do business and feel they’re competent then you can trust them with bigger jobs.

Another thing to do is to just ask a lot of questions.  Many legitimate service providers may gloss over details to begin with but will go into more depth if you ask them.  However, someone who’s up to no good or has something to hide may avoid your questions or try and confuse you with jargon.  Don’t feel embarrased to keep asking questions until you understand what you’re getting for your money and feel comfortable with the arrangement.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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