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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Avon Calling with $$$ Secrets

Alexa von Tobel. The young powerhouse talked money--and skin cream.
I don't know if my mom knew an Avon lady, but she must have. As a girl in Dumont, I was gifted with some of those teeny-tiny lipstick samples of the seventies--each in its own perfect white bullet. I felt so lucky. [I also had little pink versions of my mom's curlers, to put in my doll Karen's ruggy hair. Doubly lucky.]

Today I went to a media lunch @ Avon's offices on Third Avenue in NYC. First we ate veggie wraps and pasta salad at high tables with lipstick-pink floral arrangements. Then we went behind closed doors, about 10 of us writers and editors, to sit on overstuffed cream-colored chairs and hear from Alexa von Tobel [founder and CEO of personal finance site] and Francine and Claudia, two successful Avon reps. [Claudia, as a divorced mother of four young children, was on welfare and food stamps but sold enough beauty products to reclaim her life.] The three women were there to convey the idea that women can pave their way to financial empowerment, and Avon can help [it costs $10 to start as a rep].

Money wizard Alexa looks like Lindsay Lohan, back when Lindsay was healthy and bouncy*. Except Alexa went to Harvard College and Harvard Business HERE about the celebrity wunderkind.

She shared her 7 favorite money mantras:
  • Get organized. Bank and pay bills online. Streamline accounts so you don't have too many to keep track of [six credit cards and scattered savings accounts=no good]. 
  • Come up with a plan to pay down debt as quickly as possible. Alexa calls mortgage and school loans good debt; car loans and credit cards bad debt.
  • Know your numbers. Visit for free credit report. Never pay for your credit report.
  • Follow the 50-20-30 rule. "It's so simple and powerful," said the petite blonde in chic coal-black heels [which she surely did not go into debt to buy]. Spend 50% or less of take-home pay on shelter/food/utilities/transportation to and from work; 20% on the future [401K, investments, etc.]; and 30% on choices [eating out, travel, clothing, etc.] She noted that people in their 20s who spend more than 30 to 35 percent of their take-home pay on rent are in for trouble. "It's the number one way to ruin your finances," she said.
  • Save for retirement. Start in your 20s to 30s, when you don't have a mortgage or kids.
  • Get insurance. "Insurance is so unsexy--I'm with you on that," said Alexa. But it's key to have health, renter's and life insurance so you don't have to replace everything after a fire or go broke when you or a family member is sick and hospitalized.
  • Have an emergency savings accounts. Alexa alternately calls this a freedom fund. You should have enough money in it to cover 6 to 9 months of your life expenses--so that you can leave a job or [live-in] relationship that isn't working for you. [I have heard this for years and am sorry to say I/we have never managed to do it.]
"I always tell people there are two things in life that are hard to lose--extra weight and extra credit card debt," said Alexa. When I asked about the brand's best products, Alexa said she loves Anew Genics skin cream--"the one in the orange box"--and rubbed her face to show how happy she was with it. On the way out, I popped into the company store and bought a jar. The power of persuasion.

Good night.

*I really hope Lindsay Lohan bounces back. She is so gifted. H., Figgy and I are huge fans of her films. We watched "The Parent Trap" a million times on video  b/c Fig loved it--and we also love "Freaky Friday," "Mean Girls" and "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen."

  1. Biked to dentist. Walked 45 minutes in NYC.
  2. Private Benjamin, double dip. Hard work. Honestly. I am doing the best I can for myself and my family.

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