Author: Lauren Young

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How to Have the Money Talk with Your Parents

Even if you began planning for your Golden Years at an early age, there is one thing about retirement that no one ever warns you about: You might be on the hook for some (or all) of your parents’ retirement. How, you may ask? Well, there is a high probability your parentals will outlive their savings. The median household approaching retirement has a nest egg of just $10,000 to $20,000, according to the Government Accountability Office. Among folks who have saved for retirement, the median amount of their savings is about $104,000 for households age 55 to 64 and $148,000 for households age 65 to 74. That’s equivalent to a payout of $310 and $649 per month, respectively. That’s not even accounting for inflation. And you shouldn’t count on Social Security to give Mom and Dad much of a safety net. Social Security coverage is minimal at best – this year, the average monthly benefit is $1,341, which equates to $16,092 for the year. That’s barely enough to stay out of poverty. [pullquote] The average …

5 Things I Wish I’d Said to the Men Who Grabbed and Groped

 It’s inevitable. Someone wrongs you, and then you think of the perfect response hours later. Here are some of the things I wish I had said to the numerous men who have flashed me, touched me and invaded my sexual space over the years: When I was maybe 10 years old, my little sister and I were walking home from the bus stop after school and our neighbor, an elderly Irish man, was outside of his home waiting for us. He was creepy and not all there mentally (knowing what I know now, I wonder if he had dementia or if he was drunk). Anyway, he had his penis out, and he was trying to masturbate as he was talking to us on the street corner. I didn’t quite grasp what was happening, but I knew we had to get out there. I never trick-o-treated at their house after that. To him I say: “Leave thy neighbor alone.” In middle school, my best friend and I were standing on the street outside our town’s main shopping mall …

6 Things I Learned Tracking the First Jobs of Famous Folk

Everyone gets a start in the working world somewhere. So, as the Money editor at Reuters, I thought it would be interesting to use the monthly jobs report released by the U.S. Department of Labor as a springboard talk to notable people about their very first gigs. (For non-financial types, the jobs report is by far the most closely watched economic gauge of the U.S. economy’s health.) After all, no matter how famous or powerful they have become, all of us remember the first moment of bringing home the bacon. Here is what I’ve learned from editing three years’ worth of first job stories: 1. Many people got their start delivering newspapers It sounds so old-timey, but the list includes MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, baseball legend Ron Darling and financial wizard Warren Buffett. However, so far no one has mentioned being chased by a dog. 2. Many more of them worked in restaurants Fredrik Eklund of Million Dollar Listing New York, Olympic gold medalist Carmelita Jeter, football star Damien Woody, Wheel of Fortune’s Vanna White, comedian …

The Permanent Effect of George W. Bush

In the spring of 2001, I was summoned to our nation’s capital to meet with George Walker Bush, the 43rd president of the United States. I had written a cover story about the president’s tax plan for SmartMoney magazine, which is now, sadly, defunct. According to the White House press officer who set up the meeting, the president wanted to talk to me – and a select group of other personal finance journalists – about his blueprint to stimulate the American economy by lowering taxes. Based in New York, I got the necessary approval from my boss to make the trek to DC, contingent on one key detail: I needed to get George Bush’s autograph on the magazine cover. And not with a wussy ballpoint pen. My editor-in-chief wanted the John Hancock-ing done with the permanent ink of a black Sharpie. He was half-joking, naturally. But I did not want to mess around with this assignment. The morning of my big rendezvous with Bush, I found the drug store closest to the White House and …

The Affair: Cheating on My Fiancé with a Work Husband

This is an updated version of a piece Lauren wrote at a previous employer, several work husbands ago. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I’ve been cheating on my fiancé with someone from the office. Well, it’s not exactly cheating. And it’s not exactly a secret, either. I currently have not one but two leading men in my life at work. Alas, you may be a bit disappointed to know that my relationships with both of these men are strictly platonic. First and foremost, there is Frank, who sits next to me day in and day out at the office. Frank will HATE that I am writing this. He despises attention. But let me tell you, Frank is pretty much the most excellent person I know. I always say that if the building is burning, I’ll take Frank out with me because he is a Jack-of-all-trades who can solve any problem in the office — and often in life. Frank has helped me buy a computer, set up a new iPhone, …

Confessions of a Serial Dog Lover

I have an abnormal love of dogs. At least that’s what a former boyfriend told me when he broke up with me. (see the video evidence.) Which is funny, since I didn’t have a four-legged friend of my own at the time, and I still don’t have one today. But, I have to admit, it is true. I love dogs too much. I am – according to those who know me – the person who loves dogs the most despite not having one. I am obsessed with dogs the way some tweens are obsessed with Taylor Swift, or how the Jennifer Jason Leigh character in Single White Female fixated on her roommate (minus the homicide.) I attribute my affinity for dogs to the fact that I was probably was one in another life. Never, ever walk down a street with me and expect me to ignore a dog. In fact, I can spot a pooch from a block away. My ears prick up. My proverbial tail starts to wag. I absolutely, positively must say hello …

The Final Reunions I Never Had

There are reunions you look forward to in life. For these gatherings, you plan to lose a few pounds ahead of time, book hotel rooms and rekindle memories by looking though old photo albums and yearbooks. And then there are the impromptu reunions. They are the unplanned, emotional and raw. I keep an altar of sorts on my nightstand. It’s a place to reunite the spirits I love. The ones who were taken from us too soon. *** I met my friend Chris Vicente in a Nazism and Fascism class in college during our junior year at Penn State. He had just returned from a semester in Rome, and I was immediately drawn to his Euro style: the horn-rimmed glasses, the bouffy, big 80s hair and a fabulous fashion sense. We didn’t know each other, but figured we should. And that’s how the friendship started. Turns out we shared a birthday (July 8), a passion for life, dancing and a love of men, although I didn’t officially discover that Chris liked boys until much later …

Four Rabbis and the Get: My Jewish Divorce

“He shall write for her a bill of divorce and place it in her hand.” (Deuteronomy 24:1) Anyone who has been through a divorce will tell you that it’s a pretty horrific process, no matter how amicable, how mature or how quick. Separating yourself from another person — lover, best friend and confidant — is painful. By all counts, I had one of the “best” civil divorces possible. There were no fireworks. My ex and I used a mediator, and the overall cost was reasonable. The whole process took less than a year. But that was just our first divorce. Before I get to the second divorce, let me tell you about the wedding. It took place at the summer camp I attended for many seasons as a child and young adult. I walked down the aisle in a canvas gown and Jack Purcell sneakers to the tune of  the Sex and The City theme song. Our campy nuptials even included a sing-along rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend.” To this day, people tell me it …

I Bank at McDonalds: Confessions of a Personal Finance Writer

People assume that I’m good with money because I write about it. I’m better than most. I’ve managed to keep my housing costs below-market in one of America’s most expensive cities for the past two decades. I dutifully sock away 15 percent of my salary (amplified by that oh-so-nice company match) in a retirement plan. I’ve paid off my loans for grad school as well as a car. But I do make questionable financial decisions. Here are four of my deepest, darkest money secrets. 1. I bank at McDonald’s. I know where every McDonald’s is within a 20-block radius from my office. And it’s not for the Big Macs, Filet-O-Fish or French Fries. While I rarely (maybe one out of every 100 visits) consume any food at Mickey Dees, aside from the occasional black-and-white shake, it’s where I get cold, hard cash. That’s because I bank at a credit union which has limited brick-and-mortar locations. But the credit union’s banking network allows you to use ATMs at any New York City McDonald’s, surcharge-free. If I need …

Giving Up the Blame Game — And Finding Adventure

I gave up blaming others — or at least tried to — during the month of January. At times it was not easy, especially when we got locked out of the house. Or when the car battery died. Twice. I once blamed two people at work within a 10-minute span for screwing things up very badly. Naturally, I blame Montezuma for the stomach bug I contracted on the yoga retreat I took in Mexico in late January. But, overall, ending the blame game was deceptively easy. There were plenty of moments when I found myself searching for someone to point a finger at. Often, I took ownership of it. Other times, I simply let it go. And sometimes the outcome of screw-up/misstep/bad mistake led to something better. Case in point: We went to Kent, Connecticut for a few days over the Christmas holiday. On Christmas morning, I started making a glorious skillet of Melissa Clark’s shakshuka, a spicy Middle Eastern egg confection. Once the peppers, onions and tomatoes were all stewed together, I went into …

Why Do I Blame Everyone Else?

I’m Lauren Young. I am the oldest of four children. I am a mother. I am an ex-wife. And I am a blameaholic. I blame everyone else when something bad happens to me. I blame others when I break a nail, lose my Metrocard or driver’s license, when I hurt my shoulder or when I find a brownie shoved into my rug after a holiday party. (All of these things happened in the past week, by the way.) Several years ago, I got laid off from a job that I loved during a takeover – I naturally blamed the acquirer, even though some of my colleagues moved to the new company. When my boyfriend moved in with me for the summer, I rearranged my closets so he would have more hanging space. During the closet switch, one of my favorite Kate Spade dresses was impaled by a wire hanger. I blamed him for the giant hole. Speaking of my boyfriend, he is terrified of being blamed. It’s gotten so bad that he prefaces everything with: …

Why Equality is Critical: A Chat with Pax CEO Joe Keefe

I have said repeatedly — and publicly — that Joe Keefe is the perfect white male. And here’s why: As president and CEO of Pax World Funds, Joe Keefe is leading a movement to promote women in the workplace. Earlier this year, he teamed up with Sallie Krawcheck, a former Citigroup and Bank of America executive and one of the highest-ranking women in the history of Wall Street, to create the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund. It tracks companies with the highest rating for advancing women’s leadership. Companies in the portfolio include Avon Products, where five of the beauty company’s 13 executives are women, including CEO Sheri McCoy and CFO Kimberly A. Ross. Another holding is consumer products giant Procter & Gamble, where women comprised 43.6 percent of management positions globally last year. Keefe has dedicated his career to social change. He has served in politics and worked at several socially responsible investment firms. He recently spoke on a panel I moderated about diversity and investing, sponsored by Thomson Reuters and the Women’s Bond Club. At first I …

If You Were at Camp Kweebec, You’d Be Home By Now

“Welcome home.” You’ll find this simple greeting on a wooden sign at the end of a short and very bumpy dirt road in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania. Schwenksville (zip code 19473) is as epic as it sounds — it’s a hilly, leafy town in the exurbs of Philadelphia that had a small cameo in the book The Corrections. Schwenksville is also home to Camp Kweebec, an overnight camp for boys and girls founded in 1935, and, for more than a decade, my summertime “home away from home.” I both attended and worked at Camp Kweebec in the 1970s and 1980s, spanning ages nine to 19. Once school was out every June, I jumped on the camp bus from a Lord & Taylor parking lot in suburban Philadelphia and never looked back. My sister and both of my brothers went to Kweebec, as well. So did at least five of my cousins. I’m not trying to one-up my fellow campers, but I also got married at my camp, in a gazebo overlooking the lake. Anyone who was there will …

My Wet Hot American Playlist

I’ll be the first to admit my obsession with all things camp is a wee bit weird. I watch informational videos about other camps. I troll camp websites. I’m hooked on movies about camp. (Meatballs is one of my all-time favorites. But I also recommend Wet Hot American Summer, Camp, Indian Summer and Little Darlings.) Yet music is the art form I associate most closely with camp. I hear songs on the radio, at a wedding or in an elevator, and I am immediately transported back to my summers in Schwenksville at Camp Kweebec. (Also included in this group of memories: the one summer I spent on an all-camping teen tour out West with one of my bunkmates, and the summer she and I don’t like to discuss because my parents sent me to a “nicer” camp under duress.) So here is my camp playlist timeline,  starting the summer when I was a junior camper and ending when I was a group leader and counselor. Ah, the memories. 1977: “I Just Want to Be Your …

11 + 1: How I’ve Kept the Same Group of Pals Since Preschool

  Most women I know have drifted away from their childhood friends. Not me. My childhood friends are my partners in crime, my trusted advisers and an eternal source of laughter in my life. Remember the Pink Ladies in the movie Grease? Well, my group of girls has a name, too: We call ourselves 11 + 1. (We don’t have pink satin jackets, though.) Some of these friendships formed as early as preschool, and one was cemented as late as high school (she’s the +1). But this group of a dozen women fused together and we all love each other like sisters. We live in three different time zones — and eight different cities — so getting everyone together (with 25 kids among us!) is nearly impossible. Instead, we gather at the virtual water cooler known as Facebook, where we can share life’s joys, including a baby’s first steps, family trips, college acceptances, and, most recently, the birth of twins via a surrogate. We’ve also encountered plenty of the heavy stuff, too: divorce, miscarriages, alcoholism, …

Women Who Inspire: Wendy Davis

NAME: Wendy Davis AGE: 50 OCCUPATION: Texas state senator and Texas gubernatorial candidate WHO SHE IS: To be honest with you, I had never heard of Wendy Davis before she staged a courageous coup in the Texas State Senate — a filibuster that lasted 11 hours in June of 2013. Davis successfully blocked a bill banning abortions in the state after 20 weeks of pregnancy. In addition, the legislation featured some pretty tough requirements that would ultimately shut down many women’s health clinics. As Davis’ filibuster dragged on, social media went bonkers. And it was on Twitter where I first heard about Davis and started following her story. Now she is running for governor of Texas, a path partially forged by another Lone Star heroine of mine, Ann Richards, who died in 2006. (Richards’ daughter Cecile, incidentally, is the president of Planned Parenthood.) WHY SHE INSPIRES ME: Some question the campaign narrative Davis relies heavily on as a former single mom, who once lived in a trailer park, and graduated from Harvard Law School. Honestly, her backstory and her …

My System: How to Have Perfect Hands

Who: Lauren Young, Wealth Editor, Thomson Reuters System: Brooklynite Lauren Young has had a love affair with her hands for as long as she can remember. Below are her tips to caring for and maintaining perfect paws. What products do you use?  “Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream, Fragrance Free, and Essie nail polish. I usually like Essie’s Pink Glove Service. I keep hand cream by my bed, on my desk at work, and in my bag.” What’s so great about that hand cream? “You just need a dab – it’s very thick and rich. I also use it on my feet. It creates a wonderful seal to protect skin from soap and cold weather.”  How long have you had this love affair with your hands?  “I’ve always had long, very hard nails, so I’m lucky. I probably started using this hand cream in high school when I worked at Gladwyne Pharmacy (outside of Philly) and got to try lots of products. All of the women in my family have beautiful hands. My dad also has lovely hands.” Did …

Here’s Why I Did the Polar Bear Plunge

Usually, I spend the first day of the new year like any normal person would: hanging out in flannel pajamas, watching TV, nursing a hangover and maybe going to a movie or a New Year’s Day brunch with friends. But, to usher in 2014, I jumped into the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Accompanied by my sister, boyfriend and nephew, I joined hundreds of others as part of the 20th Annual Polar Bear Plunge in Margate, New Jersey. I have to admit that I always thought the people who participated in Polar Bear swims were completely nuts — albeit fun-loving lunatics. Most of my knowledge about them came from those images of the New York City’s annual Coney Island dip on New Year’s Day. (Cue my father, pointing to the television, saying: “Can you believe these people?”) The Coney Island Polar Club was founded in 1903, making it the oldest in the nation. It attracts thousands of zany polar bears and onlookers every January 1st, including my brave Reuters colleague Peter, who participated in the group’s 111th New …

The Dogs I Have Loved: Although None of Them Are Mine

I have an abnormal love of dogs. At least that’s what a former boyfriend said when he broke up with me. (Also on the list — which you can review here — is that I’m not political enough, and that I’m a loud clapper.) I do, admittedly, have an irrational love of dogs. I love them more than humans. My favorite movie is Best in Show — and I actually go to the Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show in New York City every year. (The movie ain’t too far from the truth.) I must have been a dog in a former life: I sense them from blocks away. If I had a tail, it would start to wag when I saw a furry friend on the street. I know my dog breeds cold, but please don’t ask me to pick a favorite. Although, if pressed, I’m partial to the following: Puli (Rasta dogs), Poodles (the may look wussy but they are super-smart) and Poodle mixes, along with any shaggy-looking mutt. I also know how …

My Big ’80s Pink Prom Dress: A Love Story

At the ripe young age of 17, I fell in love. With a dress. While shopping for the prom, this pink sateen confection wooed me in the couture department at Saks Fifth Avenue in suburban Philadelphia. I can’t remember the designer, but in my mind’s eye — which may not be accurate due to my affinity for revisionist history — it was of a Christian Lacroix poof vintage Everything about the dress said “Big ‘80s” sophistication: the above-the-knee length, the strapless, heart-shaped neckline, the shimmery fabric that unfolded in soft layers like petals on a plump rose. Plus, it was pink, my favorite color — and the only color I could imagine myself wearing to the prom. I was never much of a “girly girl,” but I always loved iterations of pink. It might be because someone once told me that it complimented my complexion. But I also think pink is a happy color. (Plus, it’s said to have a calming effect.) [pullquote]“The Dress.” I had to have it. There was just one problem: My single mom couldn’t …

How I Lost (And Regained) My Handstand

When I lost my dream job, my life went topsy-turvy — so much so that I also lost my handstand. I’m not talking about a gymnastics-style handstand — the kind where perky and muscular athletes like Nadia Comaneci or Gabby Douglas walk around on chalky hands to win Olympic medals. I’m referring to the yoga handstand, often done with the help of a wall. Known in Sanskrit as Adho Mukha Vrksasana, this handstand is my favorite yoga pose. The benefits include increased blood flow to the brain, which is obviously very helpful when it comes to thinking on your feet, once you’re upright again. Typically, this handstand is one of the poses you do toward the end of class, after you’re a malleable and sweaty pretzel. You’re now all warmed up and your shoulders are nice and loose, so your body is perfectly prepped for that handstand. I’m by no means a crazy athlete, by the way. But being able to pop myself into this handstand was just one of those karmic things I could …