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“When It Comes to Most Financial Decisions, Our Emotions, Not Our Intellect, Guide Us.”

“When It Comes to Most Financial Decisions, Our Emotions, Not Our Intellect, Guide Us.”

Interview: Jill Schlesinger

Jill Schlesinger, CFP, is an award-winning analyst for CBS News. Jill appears on CBS radio and TV stations across the country to cover the economy, markets, investing and anything else related to money; she's a weekly guest on NPR’s “Here and Now” and writes the nationally syndicated column “Jill on Money” for Tribune Media Services.

As if that's not enough to keep her busy, she just published her first book: The Dumb Things Smart People Do With Their Money: Thirteen Ways to Right Your Financial Wrongs. It's a book that makes it easier for people to take stock of their situation, figure out how to take positive action, and move forward. For most of us, money is an uncomfortable, anxiety-provoking subject, and her book is meant to make it less intimidating.

I couldn't wait to talk to Jill about happiness, habits, productivity—and money.

Gretchen: What’s a simple activity or habit that consistently makes you happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative?

Jill: Walking my dogs.

What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

Having control over my time makes me happier than I ever could have imagined at age 18, when I had all the time in the world!

You’ve done fascinating research. What has surprised or intrigued you—or your readers—most?

The fact that when it comes to most financial decisions, our emotions, not our intellect, guide us. That's why so many smart people can make counter-intuitive errors with their money.

In your field, is there a common misperception or incorrect assumption that you’d like to correct?

Yes. Please know that nobody really knows how to "beat the market" over the long term, so there's no reason to try (or pay someone else a lot of money) to do so.

Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit – or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?

I was a 15-20 mile a week runner, who was hurting her body. After going to physical therapy and having a tough conversation with a doctor, I stopped...and my hip stopped hurting! I replaced running with long walks (with my pups), which have become some of the best hours of my days.

Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger?

As I found out when I read your book—and interviewed you on my podcast, I (like you) am an Upholder who tips to Questioner.

Have you ever been hit by a lightning bolt, where you made a major change very suddenly, as a consequence of reading a book, a conversation with a friend, a milestone birthday, a health scare, etc.?

Yes, I ended a long-term romantic relationship after my father had a near-death experience. The event became a tripper to re-evaluate many of the relationships in my life—and to this day, I think this one event changed the destiny of my life in a significant (and happier!) way.

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The Four Tendencies explain why we act and why we don’t actOur Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding your Tendency lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively.

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