White House inspiration
ROB STOCK OPINION: The White House is probably the last place I’d go looking for sane money advice.
Current president Donald Trump once set up a ‘‘university’’ to sell his financial (real estate) secrets of success, and ended up settling a massive lawsuit from angry students who felt anything but enriched by them.
His predecessors Ronald Reagan, Bushes one and two, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all presided over rising US debt.
Clinton paved the way for the Global Financial Crisis by deregulating banking, derivatives dealing, and mortgage lending.
So no, the Oval Office hasn’t provided much money inspiration to us ordinary people.
But this week I read two pieces of money advice I really liked, from Obama’s deputy chief of staff.
It was in the newly-published autobiography Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco who worked for Obama from 2005 to 2014.
The young Mastromonaco found herself practically penniless during a summer of unemployment in her early career. ‘‘I vowed to always have money in the bank, no matter what.’’
Even when being paid a pittance in her pre-Obama days, when she was a small cog in the machine that failed to get John Kerry elected to the Oval Office, she diligently saved.
It meant babysitting in the evenings, frugal menus at home, and no personal pampering.
Mastromonaco did not see herself as some heroine of frugality.
For her, being frugal was hard, and unwelcome, a bridge until she earned enough to save and live a little too.
‘‘I never bought coffee out, got a manicure, or went to the grocery store without coupons. Like I said, not sexy.’’
Having savings was about more than being prepared for misfortune. It was a defence against being in the power of people who seek to exploit you.
She wanted what we might term a ‘‘Bugger Off’’ account (she has a different term), which is enough money in case you need to leave a partner, a terrible job, or a scummy landlord in a hurry.
A very different life-fright led to her second great money tip, which is about keeping your credit score decent.
When she worked for Kerry, she got ‘‘her own’’ credit card to manage the senator’s carter flight bookings.
At one point, campaign bank account statements were released publicly to prove the Kerry presidential
All eyes are on Alyssa Mastromonaco, Barack Obama’s deputy chief of staff, in the Oval Office in 2013.