How to take charge of your money (w/ Wendy De La Rosa) (Transcript)

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How to Be a Better Human
How to take charge of your money (w/ Wendy De La Rosa)
November 14, 2022

[00:00:00] Chris Duffy:
You're listening to How To Be a Better Human. I'm your host, Chris Duffy. When it comes to money, one study found that 78% of people would rather disclose their full dating history than their full financial history. We would rather have you know who has seen us naked than who has seen our credit score? And now for me, this might be one of the areas where I'm a little bit of an outlier actually.

You know, I've talked on the podcast before about how I can get very awkward when it comes to talking about sex, but when it comes to money, I'm a lot more comfortable. And I think the reason for that is I've had so much practice at talking about money, right? I love to do work like giving talks, telling jokes, and leading workshops, but there's not exactly, like, a set price tag for any of those things.

And so I find out what I should be making by asking other comedians, by asking friends who do similar work. I find out what I should be charging, what the prices should be, what the costs are, and I could only do the work that I do by having those kind of open, candid, honest conversations with friends and coworkers.

And obviously, I'm really lucky to even be able to do that. Many people are just trying to survive. But the flip side, even for someone like me, is that when I do get paid, it's at unpredictable times and it's often in unpredictable amounts, so I'm still learning how to even, like, chase down the money that I'm owed, much less what to do with the money once I get it.

Should I be saving it? Should I be spending it? How much should I invest in the future? All of those questions are why I am so excited today to talk to Wendy De La Rosa. This is a conversation I quite honestly would've paid to have. Wendy is a behavioral scientist. She's the co-founder of the Common Cents Lab, which works to improve financial well-being for low and moderate-income people.

And Wendy helped start Google's first behavioral economics unit. Now she's at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and here's a clip from Wendy's TED Series: Your Money and Your Mind.

[00:01:55] TED Narrator:
Always wear sunscreen. Eat a balanced diet. A penny saved is a penny earned. You probably all learned these lessons as a kid, maybe from your parents or if you grew up in the eighties from the public service announcements at the end of every episode of the GI Joe cartoons.

But chances are, despite knowing this, you still stepped outside without putting on sunscreen, devoured an entire back of chips in one go, or spent way more of your paycheck than you anticipated. So why is that?

[00:02:25] Chris Duffy:
We're gonna find out why that is right after this quick break. I mean, come on. It's an episode about money. We have to place some ads. That's how TED pays me. We'll be right back.


[00:02:37] Chris Duffy:
And we're back. Today, we are talking about money with behavioral scientist, Wendy De La Rosa.

[00:02:44] Wendy De La Rosa:
Hi, my name is Wendy De La Rosa. I study how and why people make financial decisions. Through that lens, I’m an assistant professor at the Wharton School, the host and co-creator of TED's Your Money and Your Mind Series and the co-founder of Common Cents Lab.

[00:02:58] Chris Duffy:
One of the things that you've seen, it seems like to me from, from reading your work and doing some research is that whatever income level we are at, people make decisions around money that are not really all that logical or rational.

[00:03:12] Wendy De La Rosa:
I don't like to use that word, of rational. I think people do the best they, they can at every income level, and doing the best we can is actually really hard when the system is set up to make you fail. As we think about the financial system, every company organization is getting better, faster, smarter at helping you part with your money. And so it's really a David versus Goliath story at almost every income level. Where it's obviously the most salient is at the lower income because every time you quote-unquote “fail” or overspend or fail to meet your budget, the consequences of that are magnified compared to those at the higher income level. But, but that temptation, that system. It's sort of set up to, for all of us to fail. And I think the, the reason why I don't like the word irrational or, sort of, mistakes is because there's a lot of shame around financial insecurity.

We tend to think that it is our fault that we're not financially secure. We internalize that, therefore we stop talking to others about our financial situation, and it's really harmful for people's mental well-being and it's also just counterproductive to make us change the system and change our behaviors.

[00:04:37] Chris Duffy:
One thing that I've heard you talk about before is the GI Joe fallacy: the, the mistaken idea that knowing is half the battle. For example, maybe like if we just understood the investing tools available to us better, we wouldn't need to worry about our financial security.

[00:04:52] Wendy De La Rosa:
When we start to think about our financial security as something that is just a function of our personal actions, that's where the shame comes in.

And then, if you view the world through that lens, then you start to think to yourself, well, the only way to quote-unquote “help” people improve their financial security is by increasing their knowledge, is by increasing their financial education. Is getting them in, in a classroom and teaching them how to budget and teaching them how to save, and, and that's going to fix the problem.

And the reality is that that is the GI Joe fallacy. Like, this is not a problem we can just teach away. In a lot, and that's the case for a lot of behavioral problems, for example, right? All of us at some point have tried to become healthier and we all know what to do to do that, right? That means eat a little bit healthier, move a little bit more, and yet we all struggle with that, right? That's not a knowledge gap. There's a behavior gap. If you go to many low-income communities, they know how to budget probably better than anybody else because they know exactly where every dollar goes. And so for them, it's not a, it's not a sort of question of, “Okay, teach me how to budget.”

It's that this is actually really hard, especially in an environment where costs are rising and my income is not going up, and everything around me is sort of set up so that all these goods and services are more expensive. So I think it's more about trying to get rid of this, like, false idea that we can just teach this away.
But even when we think about it in the context of racial wealth disparities, I give tons of talks and presentations to our large bank, to large financial institutions, and they often say, “Well, we just wanna set up financial education programs to try to help close the racial gap.” And you know, I sit back and I say, “Okay, well the racial gap between white Americans and black Americans right now is 10x.”

Even if through that financial education program that we know from research is not that effective, but let's just say it is, you are able to crack the code and every single black family in the US becomes the best investor in the world and doubles their assets, right? They beat Warren Buffet's record, and every white family in the US just has a weird year and stays flat in terms of their wealth. We will still have a 5x racial gap.

[00:07:40] Chris Duffy:
How did you get into this work in the first place? How did you decide that this was the topic that you wanted to research and that you cared about spending your life focusing on?

[00:07:49] Wendy De La Rosa:
So I, uh, was born in the Dominican Republic. My family immigrated to the Bronx, and you know, I just was blessed to be part of this large immigrant community. But as children of many immigrants know you grow up really quickly because you are translating bills for your parents. You are often imitating your parents on the phone when the bill collector calls, and so you're forced to sort of grow up very quickly in a financial domain when you become the primary translator in the household.

When I was growing up, I said, “Wow, like, being financially insecure sucks. Um, you know, my family's great, but this situation is not so great. And I wanna try to do everything I can in my power to sort of increase my financial security and sort of just forget and ignore the reality that was, you know, my past.”
And, you know, I started my career at Goldman as a private equity investor. I have great fond memories of the people that I worked with. Um, I have still to this day, great mentors, but in the large part, I think I was running away from, you know, what became so naturally to me, which was how do, how do we make a dollar outta 10 cents? How do we change the system?

I think a lot of it was that I personally internalized that shame, but I think when I was in college, sometimes I would say I was from New York City instead of I was from the Bronx. Right? It was everything, at all the people's stereotypes that came around that. And it wasn't until I started to own my story to say, “No, I'm really proud of, of my background and my family and where we came from, and indeed, like, research has ignored this population for so long and has had such wrong ideas, especially in economics, about how low-income people think and make decisions, that it's actually my responsibility to try to correct that ship.”

[00:10:00] Chris Duffy:
For me personally, I know that when probably the tightest financial situation that I've been in in my life was the first two years after I had left being a public school teacher and was trying to make a life as a comedian and an artist, uh, obviously I was having like very irregular income. And one of the big things that I remember so clearly about that period is being like, “I just want to make enough money that I don't have to think about my bank account every day.” Because I was logging in every single day to be like, “Will this check clear? And will this other check get deposited and clear the deposit before that other check clears?” And, you know, bouncing checks because the order wasn't right for me. And I felt so much shame when like I would have the, the fee because the check didn't clear in the right amount of time.

And is that the goal that you're trying to get people to, to where they're at a place where they don't have to think about money as much? Which I think is maybe like a, in some ways a counterintuitive idea for financial literacy is like to get to know enough about money that you don't have to think about knowing anything about money anymore.

[00:11:04] Wendy De La Rosa:
That's my dream state. I want people to think about the things that make them happy. That brings them meaning, right? Your, your comedy for—right, Chris—for you.

[00:11:12] Chris Duffy:
Yeah. Yeah.

[00:11:12] Wendy De La Rosa:
Your family, your friends. Thinking about your finances takes up so much cognitive resources, and we know from research from Eldar Shafir and Anuj Shah and at the University of Chicago that when so much of your cognitive capacity is forced to think about scarcity, right, and so it's not that “I am a low-income person, therefore I think like this.” It's “the situation is forcing me to spend a lot of my cognitive capacity thinking about the fact that I have scarce resources.” Your mind can't process information in the same way. Productivity in the workplace decreases when people feel financially constrained. You cannot be your best self when you're constantly in this anxious state trying to figure out how to make it to tomrrow.

[00:12:04] Chris Duffy:
And you know, obviously even when I was in that state, I had all sorts privileges and backup plans and parachutes that many, many people don't have. So I wonder, what are the biggest things that you see that you kind of think that everyone should be implementing in their lives? Because it seems like a extremely universal thing to be concerned about money on, at one time or another.

[00:12:27] Wendy De La Rosa:
Here's why we sort of over-focus, even when we're financially secure, and part of that is because we haven't sort of set up our systems, right, our environment to help us succeed. And once you set up your system to help you succeed, you can start to think about it a little less, assuming that you've already, you know, tried to maximize your income, ask for a raise, all of those good things.

How do you set up your financial household? We kind of all know that we have to start saving for retirement in some way, right? Like that's not a knowledge gap. People know that, but it takes time to do that. Typically when you start a new job, you're asked to do those things when you are like getting your new laptop learning how to memorize people's names that you're meeting for the first time, figuring out what your work password is going to be, right? It's when your brain is the most scattered. And yet at that time is when we ask you, all of a sudden, “Hey, how much do you wanna contribute to your 401k?” Let me add to your to-do list. Right?

And so we tend to put that off and we never come back to it. Or a lot of us know we have subscriptions that we have to cancel. We know that. But it's just never the right time. Or we know if we have children that we should probably open up a college savings account for them, like a 529, but it's like, “Ah, it's gonna take time. I'm gonna have to remember their social security number or whatever it is.”

But you have to prioritize you, and the way to do that, I think, is to, you know, we all take sick days. We all take mental health days. But tt's important to take a financial health day. Like, let's go through systematically, okay, what is it that I need to do? ‘Cause I know that, and execute, and executing takes time.

[00:14:22] Chris Duffy:
One thing that I'm so struck by is the idea, like you said, of just having systems of making it so that it doesn't always have to be a conscious decision. When I left a job, right, I left a job that was a reliable paycheck, where you get your paycheck, the taxes are taken out.

You, you kind of just have to budget with the money that's left over. That's what being financially responsible was. And all of a sudden, I had this job where people send me checks for different amounts, right? Sometimes I'm getting a $5 check. Sometimes I'm getting a thousand dollar check, and they don't withhold any money.

So one of the biggest first things that I had to learn was I just need to have a special dedicated tax savings account. And anytime money comes in, I take out a percentage of the money that just goes in there and I don't touch it ‘cause it's not mine. Otherwise, you'll get completely screwed over at the end of the year, which happened to me and I was like, “Okay, I need to learn from this.” So what are other kind of like automatic systems that you recommend that people put into place?

[00:15:16] Wendy De La Rosa:
And so Chris, let's, let's run with your example, right?

[00:15:18] Chris Duffy:

[00:15:18] Wendy De La Rosa:
’Cause I think there's so many independent contractors, 1099 workers, Uber and Lyft drivers, who are in the same sort of situation. The first thing is, like, getting really good at billing. Right? And, like, creating automated systems that automatically send your clients reminders to pay you. It's crazy when I talk to independent contractors, how long they go without getting paid. Right? Like net 30 is almost comical. Like that, almost like never happens.

[00:15:47] Chris Duffy:
Oh, I would, I would kill for someone to pay me every single time within 30 days of me billing them. That never happens.

[00:15:54] Wendy De La Rosa:
Right? But then for, for whatever reason, like there's some sort of shame of asking to get paid for the work that you did. What? Like no, you know.

[00:16:02] Chris Duffy:
Yeah. Let me tell you, my system right now is I have a, a spreadsheet, an online spreadsheet where I put in the work that I did for someone, what, what date I did it, and then it says “Invoiced but not paid”, and it has a little yellow highlighter. And then when they pay me it changes to green. But I'm doing that all manually. So I don't have an automated system here. So this is, I'm listening very intently ‘cause if I didn't have that spreadsheet, I would just, money would disappear for sure. I would forget entirely that I had never been paid.

[00:16:30] Wendy De La Rosa:
Chris, you know, like we need to get you on like TrueBill, like all people automated, you know, I'm not sponsored by them. Processes where like, we have to get your mind, right, more focused on comedy than, than that.

[00:16:44] Chris Duffy:
Many an audience has told me that.

[00:16:48] Wendy De La Rosa:
[laughter] I mean that with love. Uh, the second piece, right, is now actually you've collected, how do you then automatically send 30% of your paycheck or 35% of your paycheck into your savings? I really don't think that needs to be a manual process, because again, let's think about what, what that looks like. I get money in, I have to go log in to my banking portal, put in my username and password. Forget my password. Go back, reset my password, go to my Gmail, come back, click through three different screens. Do the mental math of what 30% is, and then feel that pain, right, viscerally of that money leaving your checking account into your savings account.

There are free companies like Qapital with a Q or Abound that automatically have that set up, where anytime you get income over a hundred dollars or $200, whatever you, you choose—even Chime, which is a free online bank—they automatically move that money from your savings to, from your checking to your saving.

And again, this is not just for independent contractors, right? All of us have some sort of savings goal, right? Whether we're saving 10% of our income, but believing that one, we're gonna remember every single time to do this, and then believing that we're gonna have the self-control to do that, and then we're gonna be these like perfect human beings that every time income comes into our checking account, we're going to do that is sort of setting up for failure, right? That's, that's not a system that has guard rails to help you succeed, right? The system that has guardrails to let you succeed is one that does this automatically for you.

[00:18:34] Chris Duffy:
Okay? So, uh, I'm doing things wrong. I want to be more financially literate. How do I start learning the right financial literacy? Because sometimes for me, I either get overwhelmed by, it's like a sea of numbers and letters, and I wanna think less about it, but sometimes, you know, they're like, “And this is the definition of a bank.” And I'm like, “Okay, well I'm past that.” So what do you do if you're someone who is in the middle here? What, how do you start?

[00:19:02] Wendy De La Rosa:
Yeah. Well, I think the first thing, if you're in this sort of middle category, is again, just to try to automate as much as possible, so too many people get so bogged down in saying, “Well, I don't really understand what hedging is, what shorting is, what the stock market is, and so therefore, I'm not even going to begin.”

I think it's okay for us to recognize that my life's goal, my life's worth, my life's mission is not to be, right, like a stockbroker. That's not my individual calling, but that doesn't mean that I am going to shun away from this entirely. So what do I do? Well, I can get on these things where they automatically take a certain percentage of, of my income and invest it in a diversified fund, and they're gonna do all the hard work, right, of figuring out how to balance my portfolios, of changing those diversifications as I get older and closer to retirement. Right?

Same thing with my 401k or my retirement plans, where if you are self-employed, right? You have the benefit of having access to a sub-IRA, which is just a tax advantage account where you can put money in to invest.

But you don't have to focus so much on maximizing everything. The focus right now for ev—everybody in the middle ground is to start, to begin. ‘Cause that is the, the move from zero to one is always the hardest, right? Like we can move up from one to two and two to three, but zero to one is probably the most important step.

[00:20:46] Chris Duffy:
How important is it to get a financial advisor or to like have an actual person that you can ask about this stuff ‘cause, to me, sometimes that seems like, like you'll be really helpful, but it's maybe only a thing that you can do when you're already a multimillionaire? How wrong am I in that perception?

[00:21:01] Wendy De La Rosa:
I think the most important thing is having accountability, right? And whether or not you get that from, from financial advisor, whether or not you get that from a trusted source. We know one of the biggest predictors in people changing of behavior right, to start, is that accountability measure. Having someone that is helping you keep on track, and so that's a financial advisor for you, great, right?

But for me, for example, you know, I used to host these brunches with other women in tech where I wanted these other women to hold me accountable. Right? We would share our salaries, we would share our stock options, we would share any board opportunities, and these women sort of held me accountable to say, you know, “You said that you were gonna ask XYZ for a position. Have you done that yet?”

Right, and, and that to me was much more meaningful, right? Because I am having this conversation, not because I feel shame. I’m having this conversation because I know that I'm changing my life for the better, and I want some accountability, and I want to be someone else's accountability partner. It sort of changes the whole frame.

[00:22:19] Chris Duffy:
Okay. I definitely need some accountability. I think we all do. But because this is a podcast, you know what else I think we need is an ad break. We will be right back after this.


[00:22:36] Chris Duffy:
Okay, we're back talking about money with Wendy De La Rosa. Here's another clip from her series. Your Money and Your Mind, and this one I think is particularly helpful, especially if you're feeling very uncomfortable talking about money.

[00:22:47] TED Narrator:
Maybe you've seen the viral video of a happy dancing woman who've paid off more than $200,000 in student debt. She was able to achieve this incredible milestone because she was bold enough to ask her colleagues and her industry peers how much they earned, noting the thousands of dollars that she was missing out on, and finding a job that would pay her her fair market rate. I think that video gained notoriety because it's not often that we get to see what people have saved and how they're doing it, but it shouldn't be so rare.

By having check-ins with your friends, you can help make a trend. I remember when I paid off my student loan, I wish I would've celebrated that milestone with friends, but at the time, I too was brainwashed into thinking that I shouldn't talk to my friends about money. That it was a scary taboo subject. Don't be like me. Start the conversation today.

Research has shown that our social bonds make us healthier. It's time to harness your social ties to boost your financial fitness too. Your future self will thank you.

[00:23:49] Chris Duffy:
I can really relate to that idea that we sometimes don't talk about money to the extent that we don't even celebrate financial victories. I think a lot of what holds us back around money is, is traced back to shame.

But you are very much convincing me, Wendy, that we need to get past that. I think it's, it feels like it's really important to talk with friends and family about finances so that we can not just know what they spend, but also how they save and, and maybe in the process of that conversation we'll uncover a problem that they're having that we can help with. Or maybe we'll learn strategies and techniques that we desperately need to know to improve our own financial situation.

[00:24:26] Wendy De La Rosa:
You probably know right away if your friend bought a new car or if your friend got a new home, but do you know what their mortgage interest rate is? Have you talked to them about how they've consolidated their student loans?

Do you know how much they have in savings? Do you know if they’ve even started contributing to a 401k? We put spending as sort of this great topic of conversation. “Look at my new X. Look at my new Y.” But for whatever reason, we don't do that with savings or investing or the things that actually really matter, right? The things that as friends, as family members, as partners, we should care the most about. And I think the onus is on us, again, to bring that to the forefront of the conversation. We should be close enough to share our financial situations, our financial struggles, and then sort of share tips and, and how did you get through XYZ situation? I've learned this like let's, let's sort of share together. I think that’s really important.

[00:25:37] Chris Duffy:
How do you start conversations around money, like with your own friends? How do you start these conversations?

[00:25:42] Wendy De La Rosa:
Yeah, so first things first is change the system, right? You have to create your conversations. With my own partner, for example, when we started dating, I was very open about my financial situation and I said, “You know, if we see a future here, I'm expecting the same.”

And so it was very much like, “Let's go get tested ‘cause we're engaging in this long-term partnership. Let's show each other our credit scores because we're engaging in this long-term partnership.” One of the things that we've done to help people is that we've actually have a list of 10 questions that you can sort of ease the conversation with your partners or if your friends with talking about money, right?

You can think about these as like the 10 questions in get to knowing someone else financially, and it goes from, you know, “What are your financial goals? What do you wanna accomplish?” all the way to “Well, what's the area that you feel like you need the most help with and how can I support you?” And again, it's coming at this conversation, not as a surprise, not as an argument, because then people retract and, uh, turn inward and walk away, but sort of putting time on the calendar and saying, “You know what? Today is financial date night. Let's talk about our finances. Let's open up that bottle of Merlot, and let's have a frank conversation so that everybody's aware of what's gonna happen on Friday night.” And we can start to let our guard down a little bit more.

[00:27:14] Chris Duffy:
For people who are living check to check, and maybe you want to invest, but you don't have the liquidity to start, what are some tips that you have for them? Because I, I love that you already have said, right, it's not about you, you know, you know that you have to spend within your means. What are the other things that, for people who are living in that moment where it does feel really tight, what should they be doing?

[00:27:35] Wendy De La Rosa:
Well, one of the first things that I always look, that I always ask people to do, is to look at their income, right? How are we going to maximize the money coming in? And because there's so much shame around financial decisions, one of the things that is really sad in the US is, is that a lot of our benefit programs are underutilized.

So for example, in California, 25 to 30% of people who are experiencing food insecurity do not even apply for SNAP, which is the program for where you can get assistance, otherwise known as food stamps. When we think about the program called the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is this tax credit that it has been the largest poverty alleviation program ever introduced. Every year, roughly 20 to 22% of people who are eligible for this, who have worked, who have earned income, right, do not claim their Earned Income Tax Credit. Now, there are a whole host of reasons why that is, right? It’s hard. The application process takes time, but a big part of this, changing the mentality of saying, “My situation is not necessarily just a, is a reflection of my personal choices, it's a reflection of the systems around me, and it is okay for me as a citizen of this great country to tap into the safety net that's there.”

Because once you're out of that situation, then you can help others, right? How can we expand your universe of, of help and income, right? Aside from “let's have you apply for different jobs, let's have you ask for income.” Especially for women, right? Uh, where we know that there's systematic wage gaps, right, between men and women, and it's exacerbated by communities of color, right? Then and only then should we start to have the conversation around, “Well, what, what systems are in place right now that are not serving you?”

When I ask people, “What's the number one thing that you regret? What's the number one expense?” it’s delivery apps and, like, alcohol, right? Like those are, those are the things that come to the top of the list. If that's you, let's change your system. Let's delete those apps. Or if that's too much of a stretch for you, let’s tie that, that bank account, not to your credit card or your checking account, but to a prepaid card that only has 50 bucks, right?

Because then, you know, like once it's, once you pass those 50 bucks, are you really gonna sit there and input a new card? No. Right? We are creating barriers for ourselves in order to change our systems, and that's what I, like, help people to do. Tell me what your values are, and then we can create a system based on those values.

[00:30:51] Chris Duffy:
One thing that I've also heard you talk about is when you aren't starting from zero, when you've already kind of gotten yourself into a situation where you have debt, you have some really practical tips for how people should pay off credit card debt or pay off any debt.

[00:31:05] Wendy De La Rosa:
Yeah, let's talk about debt. We have to get comfortable negotiating and advocating for yourself. Love yourself enough to advocate for yourself. And so what do I mean by that? Oftentimes when we get our credit cards for the first time, it's typically when we're young, probably we are at a college fair, right? Like all these banks were, were sort of salivating after you. You didn’t have the credit score that hopefully you have now.

And so you typically were bucketed into the highest interest rate bucket possible, but if you've been responsible with your, with your credit, if you've paid off your credit cards on time, your risk profile now looks very differently than when, when you got your credit card and said you have a lot of ground to stand on, to pull your credit card company and say, “Okay, can you do a review of my credit history given that I now earn more money, I have a better credit profile. Can you reduce my interest rate?”

The worst thing they could say is no, right? There's nothing to lose. The second thing I would do is to think about your financial life. Right? You know, when is the best time for you to have a large expense come out of your checking account, whether that's the 1st of the month, the 31st of the month, right? If you know that systematically you get paid on the 15th of every month, then it's probably a good thing to have your credit card due date be on the 16th or the 17th instead of the 14th where you're probably the lowest on cash, right? Um, and credit card companies can do that. They don't advertise it, but they can do that.

And that's not just credit card companies, like most installment loans that you have will work with you to change their payment date. And then the last tip I'll say around like any sort of debt to think about your payment frequency. So with credit cards, right, interest is calculated on a daily basis. And so every single day that you wait to pay, right, you start paying the credit card companies more money.

If you get paid biweekly or weekly, why not split that a hundred dollars credit card payment that you were gonna pay your credit card company, and just pay $25 a week? You're going to save money on interest because you're paying earlier. But the key here, all everything that we're talking about, is how do I make the system work for me? Whether it's changing my interest rate, whether it's changing my payment date, or whether it's changing how frequently I end up making payments. It's all about changing those systems around you.

[00:33:56] Chris Duffy:
Wendy, this has been incredible. I feel like I've, I have personally learned so much, and I feel like this is not information that I have heard about before and I want people to know it. I wish I had known it earlier. Before we go, uh, one last question for you. Wendy, what is one thing that has helped you to be a better human?

[00:34:16] Wendy De La Rosa:
Ooh, this is a good question. So, one of these like life lessons that really was seared into my mind, I was, I can't, I can't remember if I was in high school or in college at the time, but my mom and I were walking home, and there was this man who was assaulting a woman on the street, and this is, you know, Bronx, New York, and my gut instinct was immediately to cross the street.

And my mom's gut instinct, who's also 5’1, 5’2, a shorty like me, uh, was to immediately go help the woman. And, you know, we called the police. But I remember in that moment I was so infuriated because it's like, “Mom, you put yourself in danger. How could you?” And my mom looked at me with such disappointment, and she said, “If you are not willing to stand up for justice, then what are you willing… Like what? What do you even stand for?”

And she, you know, she didn't scream, she didn't yell, but it was just like this sense of disappointment of like, “How dare you think that you live in this world by yourself?” ‘Cause you don't, right? Like this could have easily been you. This could have… And that has changed my worldview. Like, watching my mom just operate through the world with her lens of “I am a global citizen, and therefore I have the responsibilities of being a global citizen” constantly makes me a better human.

[00:36:02] Chris Duffy:
That's such a beautiful story and such a powerful message from your mom. That's a great lesson.

[00:36:09] Wendy De La Rosa:
Yeah. Shout out to Martha Felipe. You know, she's just a badass in all the ways. I mean, she's, uh, 61 and just got her learner's permit a couple of days ago. Like, she never stops, girl.

[00:36:21] Chris Duffy:
I love it. Well, Wendy De La Rosa, it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much.

[00:36:27] Wendy De La Rosa:
Well, I'm excited to be on, and I love TED.

[00:36:33] Chris Duffy:
That is our show for today. So many lessons in this one. This was an incredibly valuable conversation for me. I hope that listening paid off for you as well. This has been How to be a Better Human. I am your host, Chris Duffy, and a huge thank you to today’s guest, Wendy De La Rosa.

She's the co-creator and the host of TED's Your Money and Your Mind, and she is the co-founder of The Common Cents Lab. That's C E N T S Cents.

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