Lauren Lyons Cole is a certified financial planner, journalist, financial expert — and an avid traveler.

Lauren has appeared on television and radio networks, including the NBC Today Show, CBS This Morning, Marketplace Money, and Fox News, among others. She has also been featured as a financial expert in the New York Times.

Currently, she is executive producer of Business Insider Today, where she also appears in personal finance segments when she has time. She joined Business Insider in 2017 to oversee the site’s personal finance coverage.  Prior to that, Lauren worked at Consumer Reports and previously hosted The Financial Fix for TheStreet.com.

Photo by Sarah Jacobs

Lauren’s career mission is to help as many people as possible make good decisions with their money. Though she primarily does that through media and financial education now, she began her financial planning career at a small wealth management firm in Manhattan shortly before the financial crisis began. Two years later she created her own fee-only firm to address the challenges that everyone faces regardless of their net worth, including spending management, retirement planning, and financial decision making. In addition to working with individual clients, she has served as a consultant to many fintech startups.

Her experience as a financial planner has given her unique insight into the struggles many Americans face, as well as the solutions that work. Lauren’s no-nonsense approach to money management and financial advice is more akin to personal training than traditional financial planning.

Lauren helps people take control of their money by getting organized, spending smarter & earning more. Usually in that order.

Though she studied financial planning at New York University, she learned far more about money from her Scottish grandmother who taught her the importance of saving and investing.

Born and raised in the Southeast, Lauren currently resides in Manhattan with her fiancé, Shaun. She uses her discretionary income to explore the world—on a budget, of course. Lauren went bungee jumping in New Zealand, but only because she had a 50% off coupon.

As a Teach for America alum, Lauren still enjoys spending time in the classroom teaching financial literacy workshops across the country. She previously spent six months studying Spanish in Colombia and is still trying very hard to correctly pronounce ahorrar, which means to save. Once she masters that, she’d love to teach financial literacy courses in Spanish as well.

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On a personal note — from Lauren:

When I was 15, my grandmother helped me land my first job. Far from glamorous, I sold hams at the Honey Baked Ham Company during their holiday rush (truth be told, I loved it). That experience taught me the value of a dollar—not to mention the freedom that money provides. It also helped me get out of a $300 speeding ticket a few months later, but that’s a different story.

During my freshman year of college, my dad made me track my expenses so that I could create my first budget. I carried a little blue notebook around with me to record every purchase, no matter how small, and it quickly became a running joke among my friends. But by sophomore year, they started coming to me with financial questions, and thus began my unofficial foray into becoming a financial planner.

After college, I explored different career paths, dabbling in teaching, fundraising, advocacy, and marketing. I wanted to help people, but none of those avenues felt quite right. That is, until I realized that all the financial advice I was giving my friends could actually be my profession. In 2008 I passed the Certified Financial Planner exam, and took my first job at a financial planning firm. Two weeks later, Lehman Brothers collapsed and the financial crisis was in full swing.

My experience in financial planning has been eventful, to say the least. But making smart decisions with my money has allowed me to do some amazing things, all on my own dime. Like sledding down a snowbank on the continent of Antarctica, sailing through the impossibly gorgeous San Blas Islands, and surfing with sea lions in the Galapagos.

San Blas Islands

I wouldn’t trade my travel adventures for anything—they truly are priceless. But I couldn’t have afforded them if my grandmother hadn’t made me get that job or if my dad hadn’t taught me to budget. I’ve been fortunate. And now, I am lucky enough to pay it forward: empowering thousands of people to live their happiest life. It’s really not as hard as it may seem.

My financial planning philosophy is based on the belief that behind every checkbook and every retirement account is a personal story. We’ve all made mistakes with our finances, but we also have successes and plenty of goals and dreams for the future. That’s what makes financial planning so fulfilling. It’s not just a numbers game. It’s truly about people.

I love what I do. And, seven continents later, I still travel as much as I can.

Que te vaya bien,

— llc