Ten Money Questions for Carol Lin

In this week’s Ten Money Questions, we speak with Carol Lin, a name and face that many will recognize as a former CNN news anchor and ABC News correspondent. Carol recently launched www.CarolLinReporting.com, inspired by her personal experience of losing her husband Will to a rare form of cancer in 2003, and her Mother's ongoing battle with lymphoma. The site, which will provide cancer patients, their families, and caregivers with answers they may not find on traditional networks, is part of a larger project that will be an operating system to enable cancer patients and their families to find immediate solutions to the most pressing problems in their daily lives. Carol gets personal below on this new labor of love, motherhood, career and community and how it all relates to money.

1. When a family member is diagnosed with cancer, how do finances play a role in coping with the news, accessing information and seeking treatment?
It’s a fact that people who can get to a cancer center that treats the most number of cases of their type of cancer, will double or triple their odds of surviving. Most people cannot afford to travel beyond their local treatment center. So finances can play a major role in surviving cancer simply because of the challenge of getting to the right doctors with the most experience. One of the goals of my next project is to create a grant system to help families travel to Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Excellence.

2. How will your cancer projects eliminate some of this stress?
Right now, you can go to www.CarolLinReporting.com where the reporting and story telling is centered on solutions, being pro-active and being informed. There are lots of stories out there about the ravages of disease -- www.CarolLinReporting wants to take that a step further and say, okay, what’s the wisdom out there that helps people take charge!

We’re very close to being able to give more details about my upcoming “Project C”. Heh heh. That’s our nickname for the larger online forum I will soon be launching. I can tell you this: Our project addresses the most immediate logistical and personal needs of a cancer patient and family. There’s the whole issue of organizing your social network to dive in and keep all the relevant daily life stuff on track. We can’t control the cancer, but there are many, many things a cancer patient and family can take control of. “Project C”--nickname again! is about empowering them with the information, tools and resources to kick... well, you-know-what, before, during and after treatment!

3. What is your most significant memory about money?
Knowing that I didn’t have it, but I could earn it, if I created a service: washing cars, walking dogs, baby-sitting, working at the local shoe store. No one was handing out $20 bills. I had to make an honest living.

4. What is your worst habit around finances?
Rationalizing an emotional purchase. “I deserve that new pair of shoes”. “I’ll have that rug forever, so it's worth the price!”

5. Did you ever wonder if motherhood might curb your professional opportunities? What are some of the challenges you experience as a single, working mother of a young child?
I never thought motherhood would curb my opportunities, but a lot of friends did. They knew my passion for traveling internationally for big breaking news stories was not exactly compatible with raising a kid. I did have totally unrealistic expectations that I could still leave for the Middle East for six weeks and it would be no big deal. Ha!

Children are not a to-do list. The challenge is to be honest with myself and realize that I am responsible for my happiness, but I am also accountable to someone else. But, then, it’s really like any other committed relationship: it’s not all about me. The biggest challenge is to let go of the fantasy career and the fantasy of motherhood. Neither are realistic or satisfying. I work more intensely and don’t waste time. I carve out time in the day when the blackberry is in the drawer and I’m totally committed to my family. I discipline myself to know that watching an hour of CSI is not a good idea if I need to get a few more emails out to finish out my day!

6. Journalists typically struggle with earning a suitable living early in their careers. Did you ever feel like a starving artist when you were just starting out?
Yes! In my first job as a news production assistant, they offered me $9,000 a year to live in Los Angeles (!). I shared an apartment with three other women and gave up eating meat for a while because it was too expensive. There were times I paid for gas or other expenses so I could be on the scene of a story. I paid for my airfare and stayed with friends in order to be at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco just to be able to see all the network correspondents do their jobs at the convention center. I considered it an investment, not an expense.

7. What is the most important lesson that your parents taught you about finances?
Avoid bad debt. They paid cash for everything except the house.

8. How do you intend to instill good money habits in your child?
She’s only four, but she has responsibilities that contribute to the family: walking the dog, setting the table, picking up her toys. She gets an allowance of $2. She gets paid in quarters so she can divide up her money in to “save”, “spend” or “charity” jam jars. She can watch the money accumulate through the glass. That in itself becomes a simple incentive for her to save.

9. How old were you when you got your first credit card? Who taught you how to manage debt and use credit responsibly?
I was 21. I learned to manage debt after figuring out that the dress I worked so hard to buy on sale at 70% off, would actually cost 100 times more by the time I paid off the interest after only paying the credit card minimum!

10. If you could buy one thing right now what would it be?
Time

More about Carol Lin
Carol was a CNN news anchor and correspondent from 1998-2006, and served as anchor for CNN’s morning news show, as well as numerous Prime Time news programs. She traveled the world to report on breaking news stories that included the rebuilding of Kosovo in Yugoslavia; the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan; the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the siege of Bethlehem in Jerusalem; and the shootings at Columbine High School.

Carol was on the air live the morning of September 11th 2001, and was the very first national news anchor to bring the world the first news report of the terrorist attacks against the United States. Soon after those reports, Carol traveled to Central Asia where she secured numerous exclusive reports for CNN from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Before joining CNN, Carol was with ABC News where she was a national correspondent and substitute anchor for Good Morning America, reporting also for World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. Earlier, Carol spent five years at KTTV-TV in Los Angeles. She earned her bachelor’s degree from UCLA, and currently lives in the Los Angeles-area with her daughter.

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Read other interviews in Nina’s Ten Money Questions series at Queercents where today she speaks with Bryan Batt from Mad Men.

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