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Sramana Mitra: Let’s go back to the beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born and raised? What is the story leading up to this? We’ll do Laurie-Anne as well in that mode.
Britt Baker: I was born in Santa Monica, California, and then moved to Idaho when I was five. I was raised in Idaho but did most of my schooling on the East Coast. I went to boarding school, college, and grad school all on the East Coast.
Sramana Mitra: Where?
Britt Baker: I went to Deer Field Academy for high school, Georgetown University for college, and then Harvard Business School.
Sramana Mitra: Laurie-Anne, what about you?
Laurie-Anne King: I was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. I moved to the US when I got engaged. My husband is American. He picked the country and I got to pick the city. We moved to San Francisco. I’ve been an entrepreneur since 2015 after leaving my consulting career.
Sramana Mitra: Britt, what career path did you follow?
Britt Baker: I was also in consulting. That’s how Laurie-Anne and I met.
Sramana Mitra: You were consulting for which company?
Britt Baker: For Monitor Group.
Sramana Mitra: In the Bay Area?
Britt Baker: I was in the San Francisco office and Laurie-Anne was in the Toronto office. We were staffed on a project together in Los Angeles.
Sramana Mitra: Tell me the story of how this venture came about.
Britt Baker: I moved back to the Bay Area after graduating from business school. My girlfriends kept asking me how to invest. They thought that was something I learned in business school. I didn’t learn it in business school. I was raised by parents and grandparents who taught me about personal finance. When I was seven years old, my dad taught me about compound interest. My grandfather taught me to invest in the stock market when I was in college.
I decided to teach my friends in this casual environment. It started in the living room behind me. We would do meetups for a couple of months where I would teach them about diversification and asset allocation. I realized in that meeting that a lot of people had this desire to invest but weren’t ready. They didn’t have enough savings. They hadn’t paid off their debt yet.
It was this wake-up call that more basic learning is needed before we get to investing. It changed the orientation of the group and brought in Laurie-Anne to teach a session on budgeting. I’ll let Laurie-Anne share her story. Most people think of budgeting as restrictive and controlling. Laurie-Anne made it feel empowering. We brought that way of teaching into the session. People loved it. People loved Laurie-Anne.
Sramana Mitra: Laurie-Anne, what is your story?
Laurie-Anne King: Budgeting saved my marriage. I grew up without the financial education that Britt received. My parents taught me the best they could, but they didn’t have much financial literacy themselves. It wasn’t too long into my career after school that I found myself in $40,000 of debt. This was early on in my marriage.
My husband has great financial literacy. He was not happy. We had combined finances, but we never had conversations about how we were going to spend money or what our financial goals were. We had such dissimilar habits when it came to money.
Budgeting started as something that needs to change, because this isn’t working. Learning it was difficult. It was pretty painful in the beginning. What helped us was shifting to what we call a values-based budget. That was what I taught in the original in-person session of Dow Janes. It’s about focusing on spending better and spending in alignment with your values. That transformed my life.