July 27, 2018

Lillie McGary | Assistant Producer, b&b Podcast

I had always heard of financial planning stuff at a distance. I knew that you were supposed to start saving young, and also investing, and that credit scores were important, and I have student loans to worry about, but all of my ideas were rather vague. I was aware that debt was bad and investing was good, but how did one handle either? It was something my parents mentioned but I hadn’t gotten around to understanding yet.

As a college junior and now senior, the time when I would have to concretely worry about finances—when I would have to actually pay back the loans and get a good job, and whatever else you’re supposed to do to maintain a healthy relationship with money, was looming. I wanted to do something to feel more secure, but…what?

At Pratt, juniors in the Writing program (aka me) are encouraged to get an internship. My teacher had a handy list of a few that wanted Pratt students, and in her pre-description about the Brunch & Budget podcast she wrote “The show is new to me, but it seems really cool, like a practical everyday-use Freakonomics—but also, economics tackled from an ethics & social justice standpoint.”

I had read and loved both Freakonomics (the second is Super Freakonomics), as well as similar books about fascinating overlooked phenomena, and so that sounded cool, and very timely with my imminent financial concerns. I’m minoring in psychology, and was especially intrigued by Social Psychology and Environmental Psychology. There are so many things which can change your behavior without you realizing it, so I was interested to see which subconscious motivations I might have about money. (Turns out it’s about the same as anything else in psychology: your parents’ attitudes and your childhood background have a lot of impact.)

I had also grown up in a sheltered white suburb, and some of my own reading in high school and more immersive experiences in New York during college had alerted me to the very real injustices that still exist. I didn’t feel I was doing enough about them, or even knew enough about what should be done. So I applied.

I’ve listened to 2-3 episodes per week since December 2017, and learned a ton more than I even knew there was to understand about finances. I started investing (small amounts of money with Acorns) and asking my friends if they were investing.

Personally, researching to help produce new shows is especially exhilarating. Most of my classes are focused on writing, but I love to learn and had not been motivated to gather comprehensive knowledge about non-writing subjects for too long. Listening to the show is informative, but creating pieces myself is downright fun.

I also understand far more about the injustices built into our economic system, often legally. I’ve read about discrimination before in books like The Mismeasure of Man and The Autobiography of Malcolm X, but those are either emotional or statistical, and set in the past. In the podcast, Pam and Dyalekt bring up issues using statistics, and then unpack them by explaining the impact this will have on individual people. The opportunities which will simply not be possible. Unlike most of what I have read, they also talk about current problems so one cannot say “Yes, our country had a tragic past, but everything is better now.”  Economic divides are only intensifying. I am glad to be a part of spreading awareness.