What’s stopping people from reaching their dreams and earning the money they want? According to our guest, Christine Lapidus, one hindrance is very evident in our daily lives, and it’s fear! Christine is an advisor and financial professional with Pacific Advisors in Beverly Hills, California. Listen as Christine shares her experience and expertise on why fear is the number one reason people, especially women, can’t achieve their dreams. Christine also teaches women about financial planning, wealth building, and retirement maximization. Tune into this episode to gain insights into making better financial decisions in your life.
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Christine Lapidus: Your Money, Your Dreams
How To Heal Your Relationship To Your Money And Thrive
We’re going to talk about women and money and some of the mistakes and what they can do about it. My guest is Christine Lapidus. She is a financial advisor and financial professional with Pacific Advisors in Beverly Hills, California. Originally a small business owner from New York, she came to Southern California by way of Fort Myers, Florida, providing her with years of experience in the retirement capital of the country. Her practice focuses on financial literacy, wealth building and retirement maximization.
Christine’s special passion is teaching women of all ages to be part of this process and protecting her clients, their families, and their businesses from the many forces threatening their secure future, for children are Millennials and have inspired her to help that generation create a successful financial future for themselves. What Christine wants for all of her clients is summed up at the Pacific Advisors mission statement, “A good life for the rest of your life.” With that, let’s bring on the wonderful, thoughtful, caring, and beautiful, Christine Lapidus. Welcome to the show. It’s lovely to be with you.
How are you? Thank you so much for having me. I am so delighted to be here. It’s such a wonderful gift for me to be able to talk about something that I do as a living that I love because I see the benefits and how it helps people. It’s wonderful. I wish for everyone out there for you to be doing what it is that you love because it makes a tremendous difference in your life.
I said to my team, ”I don’t want to work with anyone anymore who isn’t thinking about their purpose and sharing their gifts every day.” It’s too draining.
When you’re working with somebody, puts the other person at ease, makes you feel terrific and you’re not so much worried about whatever the outcome is going to be. You trust that you’re doing something that gives benefit to others. That’s the most important thing. We need to watch out for our fellow men and woman. I have a very good friend in New York that instead of saying, “Amen,” she says, “Awomen.” The first time I saw that I said, “Oh.” I got it. It’s like, “Amen, no, it’s Awomen.”
Women include men in it. That’s what I love about it. We all start out as women in the beginning anyway. Christine, why do women need financial guidance?
I have found in my years of doing this that women, for whatever reason, have fear and are embarrassed talking about money because it was never something that they believed they knew about. They would leave it to their parents, their father or if they were in a relationship to the other person. I’ve seen the devastating damage done to women who don’t know and a lot of it is because they’re afraid.
Fear is one of the biggest issues in every part of life that derails people. There’s nothing wrong with fear but to me, fear is meant to inspire investigation. Through that investigation, you become educated, which allays your fears provided you take action on what you’ve investigated. That’s where you come in as a shortcut because this is your background.
Before I ask you some more questions about women and money, have you shared a bit with the readers about yourself because you have such a great business story? Will you share with everyone what your professional life was like in New York and why you went to Florida? Three-part question professional life in New York, why you go to New York and the profession you built up in Florida before you moved to Los Angeles?
I graduated college with a degree in French. When I graduated, I said, “What the heck am I going to do with this?” I will tell you that the reason I majored in French was that I could spend my junior year abroad in Paris, which I did. I graduated with no desire to be a teacher, not knowing enough French to be a translator at the UN.
I got involved in the fashion industry with a division of a shoe company that had opened up a clothing division. I started off in retail as a buyer but bought dresses, coats, sports wear. At one point in my career, I made the shift to the manufacturing end of the business, where money and responsibilities were greater. I was fortunate enough to work for a gentleman who taught me everything I knew about the industry, which was beautiful from being a good salesperson. By that, I mean not being salesy but being who you are.
How a garment is made, how to price the garment? I was in that industry for about twenty years and I lived in Manhattan. I’m the person that when I started to see a shift in industries, in life, my husband and I decided and our two children that we were ready to leave New York City. We had been there and done that. Through a number of different circumstances that happened, we ended up moving to the West Coast of Florida, where my sister is. I had eventually owned my own business in the fashion industry that we would open up educational toy stores.
I owned educational toy stores for about thirteen years in Florida and loved it until it got to the point where I was working in retail, 7 days a week, 14 hour days and I finally said, “I’m done.” A very dear friend of mine owned a financial services company and he said, “Chris, you’re terrific. You’ve got a great personality. Come work for me.” I burst out laughing. I said, “Finance? I majored in French. I went to Paris. I was in the fashion industry. I own toy stores. Where do you come off thinking that I can do this?” He laughed and he said, “Chris, when you’re in your own business, you do finances every day.” I realized, “He’s got the point.”
What I loved the most about it was that the way I did it, I wasn’t there to sell somebody something. I was there to take a look at their total financial picture, everything that touches their financial life, whether I get involved in it or not because if you make a decision to buy something, buy furniture or car, it’s going to affect everything else in your financial life. I knew that it was important for me to take what I call a holistic approach to financial planning.
In the course of my doing that and distinguishing the way I did business, that it wasn’t selling somebody something, I came across working with a lot of women. I can tell you some stories. A woman called me once who that I knew very peripherally and hysterical crying. I said, “What’s the matter?” She said, “Unexpectedly, my husband asked me for a divorce.” I sat with her and I said, “Before we sit down and do anything with finances, let me recommend a divorce attorney.”
When I mentioned the word finance, she broke into tears again. She said, “I have no idea what we have. All I know is that I had a credit card. I could buy whatever I want and that’s it. I have no idea how much our house is worth.” I started to ask her, “What about retirement?” “I don’t know.” “What about investments?” “I don’t know.” “What about savings?” “I don’t know.” I started to see that more and it bothered me because what I saw was we, as women work so hard and strive in the business world to leave a footprint. We have to work harder to do that. If we don’t know about the financial part of our life, that makes it that much more difficult.
We need to watch out for our fellow man. We just trust that we’re doing something that gives benefit to others.
I started to take my business and concentrate a lot on working with women. I moved to California to be near my children. They’re both Millennials and work in the entertainment industry. My husband and I were adventurous and not afraid to make moves to try something new. When I got here, I also discovered that Millennials need a lot of help. They were not brought up with financial education. I have to tell you a very funny story because stories give you an idea of how this works.
I was working with a couple helping them with retirement and they said to me, “We have a daughter in her 30s who received a settlement and we’re concerned that she’s going to blow right through it.” I said, “Let me call her.” For six months, Baeth, I called, emailed and she wouldn’t respond. Finally, one day she called me back and she said, “We can meet for lunch.” I said, “Great.”
As we were sitting there talking, I realized that she had this tremendous fear. Me thinking that I’m going to try to make her feel comfortable, lay her fear, I said to her, “I realized that I am asking you to be financially undressed in front of me and that’s not easy.” She looked at me right in the eyes and she said, “Chris, I would prefer to take my clothes off than to financially undress.”
It’s the same for me. Most of us feel the way. I would rather walk naked in the street, not much now, but when I was in that position, I’ve been there. I had that same thing happen years ago with a financial planner. I cried through the whole thing. I had so much shame that I should have done more with my money. Had I saved all my holiday money and invested it, I’d be retired by 30. I blew through it. I mismanaged it and I overspend. I underspent. It was a horrible feeling.
At one point, I looked at her and I said, “We’re in the restaurant. Please don’t take your clothes off.” We were able to laugh about it and she’s become a client. It showed me that it’s fear and embarrassment. A big thing I tell everyone that I work with is, “What you did yesterday, I cannot undo and neither can you. All we can do is work going forward and learn from the mistakes of the past. It’s what we’re going to do now and tomorrow that’s going to make the difference.” I said, “You can have that feeling, but you need to let it go.” My question becomes, “Does that feeling serve you? Is it doing you any good?” The answer is usually no.
What are some of the gender differences in dealing with finances that you’ve noticed?
Men, when I work with them, they want to know, “What investment can I get into? Is it going to make me 20%?”
Men are very efficient, aren’t they?
All they care about is the rate of return. When I told them, “The stock market in the last several years has averaged a little under 8%,” they said, “No, I want better than that. You have to do better.” I said, “I can’t guarantee you better.” Men want to know about the rate of return. Women, on the other hand, want to plan. I tell everyone, “The truth is people don’t plan to fail. They fail to plan. If you don’t plan, trust me, chances are high you’re going to fail.” Women look at it from a much more objective view and a view of, “Teach me, educate me,” that’s the others.
They want to be educated, whereas men think they know it all. Even if they don’t, they come across as well, “I know that this is what I should be able to get and this is what I can do.” Whereas women want to be educated. Men do not because they feel that they know it all. Women are much more organized about it and they are willing to listen. Men don’t want to hear. They come to me as a financial advisor, but they want to tell me what they want to do. At one point, I say, “What is it you want me to do? Why am I sitting here? How can I help you?”
What are some of the money personalities you come across?
There are so many. There is number one, the money spender. I once worked with a young woman who said, “The first thing I talk about is people’s goals. It doesn’t matter to me at the beginning how much money you have or anything.” She said, “My goal is to have a Ferrari and to be able to make $500,000 a year and go on the best vacations.” She was 32. She was spending her money like that. You have the opposite end of the extreme, where you have the money hoarder. By people that hoard things, people that hoard money are so miserable. All they think about is, “I’ve got to save, I’ve got to put it aside. I can’t spend it. How much is that going to cost?”
They’re cheap and they are not generous tippers.
No, they’re not and they become penny-wise and pound-foolish. That doesn’t work either. To illustrate that even better, I was working with a client who had paid off all her debt and she had money left at the end of the month. We were working on, “How do you want to allocate this money?” We sat down with a plan and said some in emergency savings for retirement, some for travel and some me money. I said, “Great.”
We came up with a plan and a week later, she called me up because she was working for herself. She said, “I don’t know if I’m going to have such a good year next year. We need to scale back a little.” I said, “Great.” She looks at me and she says, “I know you’re going to tell me that I should scale back money for me.” I said, “No. That’s the last thing that should go.” She said to me, “I know you’re going to ask me to cut back on my need money.”
I said, “No, because if you have a budget or if you are working with your cashflow and you cannot have fun, you cannot go out to eat, you can’t go to a movie, this plan is going to go out the window in a week and that’s not our goal. My goal was for you to enjoy life. There’s a way to do it, not hoarding the money and not spending it.” It’s that spender in between. The one who is able to realize that, “If it’s planned, I can do everything that I want.” You might not be able to do it to the extent that you want, but you can still do it.
A simple decision affects everything else in your life. It’s important to take a holistic approach to financial planning.
We have the spender and the hoarder. Are there other types?
There’s the person that will sit there and they’ll say, “I want to give as much of my money away.” I said, “That’s very noble.” My question will be, “Do you have money saved? Do you have any emergency money?” “No, I trust that it will be provided.” I said, “I understand that but the reality is it would be great for you to have planned for something in your life, in addition to giving to charity. You can give to charity, not just with your money, but by volunteering your time. You cannot do it yourself.” There is that person too. This whole thing about money is important to get you a happy medium to spend too much, not to spend enough and not to just give most of it away. It’s finding what your balance is and keeping the goals in mind of what it is that you want to do.
In addition to women having shame about finances, what are some of their fears?
The number one fear nowadays for women and everyone is running out of money in retirement because we’re all living so much longer. That’s a fear. That’s where planning versus not planning comes in.
When the Life Purpose work I do, the average life span is meant to be 84 years, any years before after 84, are bonus years. It means you took care of your body if you’re not seeing out whatever. The idea of retirement is outmoded. We’re designed to work to the very end, provided we’re doing work we like. I don’t plan on retiring. I am planning on doing other things. By the same token, having that safety net is a nice thing.
When I had the shame conversation, it was 2011 with my financial planner at that time. I put things in place that the money all this time has been on auto withdrawal going into these accounts. I go, “Look at those accounts down. Look at them and that.” I didn’t have to do anything. I didn’t feel it. My fear was like, “What do I decide? I want to make the right choice.” I kept putting it off because of the shame. I have a couple more questions for you about this so that people can reach out to you. My first question is, how does one get started?
You get started by truly deciding that you are important to tackle something that you might be afraid of and do it. The way I start with my clients too, it’s like, I don’t start with questions about how much money do you have and how much money do you make because that’s stressful. My goal is, what do you want out of life? What are you working towards? Why are you working? What keeps you up at night? What wakes you up at 2:00 in the morning? Know what your goals are, have your goals set because once you do that, it makes working on your finances so much easier. One of the big things I do is I go through a cashflow summary.
How much money are you spending? Let’s say all of a sudden they’re spending $1,000 a month, “I’m going out to eat.” I don’t judge. It’s easy to do. I tell them at the end, I said, “You want to save money? Where would you save it?” It can’t come from me. It has to come from them. If they say, “Yes, I know. I’m going out to dinner too much.” I said, “If you want to attain this goal of buying a house, so when you want to go out for that dinner, what is it you want more? That’s your choice.” We all have choices in life that we could make to attain where it is that we want to be.
I facilitate. The decisions are made by my clients but I guide them along the path. The first thing is to pick up the phone. Whether it’s me or someone else, I want to know about money and how it works. If you’re not feeling well, it’s not the best idea to diagnose it yourself. You’d go to a doctor. You don’t know about money. You don’t try and do it yourself. Go to somebody that knows and has experience. It’s the same thing because they feel they’re going to be judged. The thing to remember is, first of all, what do you care? You’re there to help yourself for you to have a better today and tomorrow. The thing is to understand that there is help out there. You have to want it and that helps.
How does someone work with you? What is that process?
The process starts where the first meeting that I have with my clients is finding out who they are. Who are you? What are your goals? If there’s time, we’ll get into a short fact-finding session. The next meeting comes, “Let me know more about you. Date of birth, where were you born? How much money do you have? Are you working? Are you not working?” Go through a cashflow summary. Once I get an idea of their goals, what they have, I sit down and usually with a partner because I’m smart enough to know, I don’t know everything. I have a lot of partners I work with and come up with some possible plans and scenarios, “You have this option. You have option B or you can take option C.” Educate my clients enough so that they feel comfortable making the decision.
How can people reach out to you to have a conversation with you?
You can email me at the email address that you’ll see or pick up a phone. I answer my phone unless I know for sure it’s a telemarketer or a scam call. I answer all my calls. The first thing will be to set up some time to talk.
Why don’t you spell out your email address for everyone reading and also give out your number?
My email address is Christine_Lapidus@PacificAdvisors.com.
What’s your phone number?
We all have choices in life that we could make to attain where it is that we want to be.
What are your final words of wisdom for our readers?
Don’t be afraid and don’t let your fear immobilize you. You will get such tremendous satisfaction in starting the process. I compare it to when you go on a diet, you haven’t lost a pound, but the first day you feel terrific because you know you’re doing something, it’s the same thing here. Don’t be afraid and be embarrassed. It doesn’t matter. What matters is you and you’re getting your financial life in order and organized.
That’s the other thing. People have so many things in different places. They might have a retirement account here or another account here, insurance there because I do insurance as well, life, health, disability, and I help organize everything in one place so that people aren’t scattered. They feel they are organized and everything is in one place.
You and I are going to be having a conversation because my stuff is scattered all over. At least I have stuff now to have scattered, but I would like it at one point. I want to share with you before we wrap up, I had an epiphany listening to you. It may not sound that dramatic when I say it. It’s big for me, which is that when we’re clear about our goals and our goals are not so much, I’m not about realistic goals. I don’t know what that means, but goals that are authentic to the person. Your authentic goals, the goals that are true for you, dictate how to shape your finances.
I was going about it the other way, like, “I have to fix my finances.” It was this separate thing over here versus the financial structure that will naturally flow out of and evolve from me being clear about, do I want to rent or own? Do I collect cars or do I buy horses? Am I into makeup, travel or a Ferrari? What are the goals?
I’m a minimalist. I love owning property, having stock and all those things, but I’m not interested in taking care of stuff. That doesn’t interest me, whereas Jay Leno got a 22 car garage. I remembered years ago, one of my coaches saying, “It’s good if you have three things you’re into and that’s where your me money’s going to go. Whatever those three things are you into.”
I heard that then but as I listened to you now, I’m going to spend the next few days getting even clear about my goals on a life scale. I can see how that’s going to inform and better support me in my money choices because when I go to spend money on a pair of shoes that I’m like, “Whoa,” or a trip or whatever it might be, I can check-in and go, “Does this purchase or investment align with my authentic goals?”
It’s true because goals mean everything. It makes how you deal with your money so much easier because it’s out there on paper. Every meeting I have with my clients, we go over the goals because sometimes they change. It’s like, “These were your goals a month ago. Are they still your goals? If we meet after a year, have things changed?” We changed. There are different things we want or we’ve achieved some goals and we’re ready for another one.
Thank you again. For everyone reading, I invite you to reach out to Christine. It’s free. Have a strategy session with her, release your financial shame and put a plan in place because a bad plan is better than no plan. Christine will give you an excellent plan that is simple, manageable and on auto-repeat. If you want to reach out to her, it’s Christine_Lapidus@PacificAdvisors.com or gives her a call at (818) 920-8395. Thank you again, Christine.
Thank you, Baeth, for the opportunity. I’ve loved it. I love talking about this and I’m here to help.
You’re wonderful to talk with. You’re a fascinating person. I’ve loved you from the first minute I met you and now we finally got this interview after two years of trying to make it happen, all in perfect timing. Thank you again. You’re such a wonderful resource. I know for anyone who reaches out to you, you’re going to be tremendous healing and support to them. Thank you.
Thank you so much. I appreciate that.
Have a wonderful day.
Everyone, thank you for being on the show and we’ll see you next time. Bye for now.
About Christine Lapidus
Christine Lapidus is a Financial advisor and Financial Professional with Pacific Advisors in Beverly Hills, California. She is a recent transplant to southern California from New York, by way of Fort Myers, Florida where Christine was with Alliance Financial Group – a sister organization to Pacific Advisors – making her transition to the west coast seamless and providing her with years of experience in the retirement capital of the country.