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Podcast: How one CPA went from thousands in debt to personal finance expert

Written on Apr 25, 2019

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

Beverly_HarzogPersonal finances can be a struggle even for those in the accounting profession, as Beverly Harzog can attest. She passed the CPA exam and has a finance background, but still found herself in serious debt.

“As I got into debt in my twenties, I gradually started learning more about personal finance,” said Harzog, now a credit card expert and consumer finance analyst for US News and World Report. “Which is very different from corporate finance in the sense that there was a lot I didn’t know.”

Harzog appears on the most recent episode of The State of Business podcast, discussing how she went from being in debt to becoming a personal finance expert. Harzog attributes her debt to a variety of factors.

“Some of it really is just being financially literate, but sometimes there’s an emotional reason,” she said. “And for me, when I looked at the reason that’s what it was.”

She explained that when she started her career, she was one of few women working in accounting, and felt pressure to keep up appearances with her male coworkers to boost her self-esteem. She described spending money on “power suits, power lunches, power shoes,” and if she had a rough day she would make herself feel better later by purchasing something.

After a transaction where her department store credit card got declined, Harzog decided she needed to do something about the debt she had accumulated. She dove into reading about personal finance, and eventually went on to become a finance journalist and write numerous books on the subject.

“Because here I was, an educated woman, a CPA, and I still messed up,” she said.

Harzog said it’s important to figure out your spending habits as you start your journey to get out of debt and better understand your finances. If you don’t pay attention to the way you spend your money, it will be difficult to change your habits.

“I really wanted to share this with the public in a more direct way,” she said. “I was proud of the work I was doing in financial accounting, but I wanted to share with consumers what happened to me and save them the agony of what I had to go through.”

Listen to the entire episode here to hear more about Beverly’s journey to becoming a personal finance expert and the advice she regularly gives readers when it comes to debt, credit cards and more.