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The Reality Check That Changed How I Manage Money

The call was short, simple and, at the time, devastating. It was clear that the days of shamelessly extracting money from my father were over.

Articles by Sarah Kaufman

By Sarah Kaufman
Director of Brand and Content, Betterment  |  Published: July 22, 2014

Getting "cut off" from parents is the reality check many people need to start managing their finances responsibly.

Like many love stories, my romance with personal finance started as a rebound relationship after a harsh breakup — a financial breakup, with my father.

I was in a graduate journalism program, studying at one of the most expensive universities in the country in one of the most expensive cities in the world. After borrowing every last penny from my student loan provider — for not just tuition, but also living expenses, “school clothes,” and expensive nights out — I still somehow managed to run out of money.

It was right before Thanksgiving when I found myself in New York’s Union Square, realizing I wasn’t going to be able to pay rent. I decided to make a quick call to my father to ask him for help, and then I’d hop on the subway and head home.

The call was short, simple and, at the time, devastating. It went something like, “Dad, I just need $200, that’s it. I promise I’ll pay you back.” Followed by, “Sarah, you’re an adult. You’ll figure it out.”


Sarah Kaufman, new growth manager, joins Betterment's content team.
Sarah Kaufman, growth manager, joins Betterment’s content team.

It was clear that the days of shamelessly extracting money from my father were over.

Needless to say, it was a surprise to both of us when, years later, I had not only become responsible with money, but I had also become a passionate advocate for saving, budgeting, and all things personal finance.

Over the years, the concept of simplifying and organizing people’s daily lives has become one that I can’t seem to shake. In today’s digital world, we use online services and mobile apps to do everything from pay our bills to order dinner. So, why wouldn’t we use technology to save for the future, build wealth, and ultimately watch our money grow?

When I found Betterment, I had been thinking about changing the way I invest. I had a 401k with my then-employer, but my job was coming to an end. I had to figure out what to do with it, which prompted me to start thinking about other savings goals, like the house I’d thought about but never put money toward, or my emergency fund that wasn’t growing at all.

Betterment made it easy and efficient. The principles that Betterment promises — global diversification, optimal asset allocation, and low cost — were designed to simplify the lives of busy professionals who want to be more efficient in the way they spend their time.

It’s all about increasing productivity, which is something that I care about both personally and professionally. So, when I heard the company’s content team was looking to expand, I knew it’s where I wanted to be, helping people to maximize their time and grow their money.

Today, I’m excited to share that I’ve joined the Betterment content team as a growth manager and contributor to the Betterment blog.

I’ll be working alongside an impressive roster of investing experts, engineers, and product managers who are all after the same mission: to create the perfect investment management service.

As a consumer, I’m most drawn to Betterment for its low-fee structure and ease of use. But what I appreciate most about the service is that while it’s accessible to everyone, it has been designed in such a way that its sophisticated, seamless platform is ideal for even the most seasoned investor.

For me, it took a reality check to understand the right way to manage, and eventually invest, my money. For others, implementing savings goals — both long- and short-term — comes more naturally. But all of us, no matter how we got to the point of wanting to save, deserve a smart investing platform that will help provide for our future.

What was your financial “ah-hah” moment that inspired you to practice responsible money management? Let us know in the comments below.

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