You’ve got questions. Bethy has answers.
Bethy Hardeman knows how credit card debt can consume our brains.
Tally’s personal finance expert has dedicated the last decade of her career to advising others on all things money. And she’s even dealt with her own credit mishaps. Now, those experiences shape the way she helps others take control of their financial lives and overcome debt.
“My approach comes from a place of empathy,” Bethy said. “It’s easy to be critical about someone’s choices, but it’s much harder to understand why they’re in that position. If you don’t understand the why, how can you expect to help anyone?”
Bethy joined Tally in August 2018 after honing her personal finance expertise at Credit Karma, where she served as the Chief Consumer Advocate and was part of the early team that helped grow it into a $4 billion company with more than 85 million members. While there, she encountered a seemingly endless number of people who were damaging their credit with credit cards.
“Tally is, in many ways, doing what I always wanted to do, which is acting on behalf of consumers,” Bethy said. “Having Tally be the place that handles your money and makes decisions for you was really exciting to me.”
Fascinated By Personal Finance
Bethy traces her relationship with money back to her childhood in South Carolina, where her parents instilled a simple motto that she still employs to this day: Spend less than you make.
“We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but it never felt that way. My parents were frugal,” she said. “Now, living in San Francisco, where the cost of living is so high, I still follow what my parents taught me.”
These days, the mother of two is focused on practical, day-to-day money management. For Bethy, that means asking a few basic questions: How much am I able to spend on this? How did I decide that number? What are my savings goals?
“As a parent, I’ve realized the benefit of project-managing parts of my life: meal planning, time, efficiency. It’s about knowing and controlling where all of your money goes,” she said. “I like to budget for the week, not the month. A week at a time feels more achievable, and it can be hard to see a month ahead.”
But Bethy also knows that her approach isn’t necessarily right for everyone. And when it comes to credit card debt, she cares less about espousing a single strategy and more about understanding an individual’s needs.
“If I just tell someone who’s mismanaging their money to stop spending because they’re being impulsive, they won’t do it. It’s just a slap on the wrist,” she said. “What’s more important is encouraging behavioral change. I’m more concerned with giving someone the right advice and pointing them in the right direction.”
An Empathetic Approach to Money
That sentiment is reflected in one of Tally’s core values: “Change shoes often.” It’s something Tally employees do with one another to foster inclusion and diversity in the workplace, but it’s also a way for Tally, as a company, to better understand its customers.
“Empathy is one of the keys to Tally’s success. If we expect to help our customers overcome credit card debt, we need to be able to share in their feelings,” said Tally’s CEO and co-founder Jason Brown. “Bethy’s extensive experience and passion for personal finance align perfectly with what we’re working toward. She’s incredibly knowledgeable and connects with our customers on a very personal level.”
Bethy’s empathetic approach stems from a few events in her personal life, including one as a graduate student at Syracuse University. Like many young adults away from home for one of the first times, she signed up for a retail credit card for the immediate perks: highly discounted jeans at Old Navy.
“I forgot to make a payment on the card and, by the time I realized it, the late payment had hit my credit report,” she said. “The money I saved with the card was gone, and that one moment, that one decision, ended up staying with me for seven years.”
That experience is directly tied to the empathy Bethy is able to have for others who are dealing with debt or living paycheck to paycheck, especially millennials.
“Older millennials were the ones on college campuses getting free T-shirts for signing up for credit cards,” she said. “They were given access to these lines of credit earlier than they should have, while accumulating student loan debt, and many came out to jobs that didn’t match expectations in terms of salary.”
“My approach comes from a place of empathy. It’s easy to be critical about someone’s choices, but it’s much harder to understand why they’re in that position. If you don’t understand the why, how can you expect to help anyone?”
— Bethy Hardeman, Tally’s Personal Finance Expert
As a personal finance expert, Bethy often works with people to correct their past mistakes or misconceptions, like that credit cards are bad, or that having a lot of credit cards and carrying a balance is an effective way to build credit. And as for the burgeoning fintech industry, Bethy has a few tips for people turning to technology for help with their finances.
“Before you decide on anything, make sure you do a healthy amount of information gathering. The apps or tools you use should speak directly to you and feel seamless with your life,” she said. “I’m constantly using a meal-planning app, and I have things like that for finance, too. But I know there’s another meal-planning app that works better for someone else. Thinking that one solution is better than another is hard to prove with so many types of people.”
So what makes Tally so special?
“Financial services, in general, is such an old industry, and a lot of these newer companies are launching as a result of lack of innovation in the industry,” Bethy said. “What’s special about Tally is that it has the power to relieve the burden that comes with credit card debt. Every person on Tally’s team, no matter their role, cares about customers and is always thinking about the best way to serve them.”
Follow Bethy Hardeman on Twitter at @bhardeman for financial tips, tricks and money advice.