“Money is power”.
The first time I came across this message from Sallie Krawcheck, founder of the digital investment platform, Ellevest.com, I scoffed. There I was, another privileged American denying the reality of what money means in this world and in this country. I thought back to a conversation held in my Advanced Spanish Language class in Barcelona, where our professor had us discuss the value of money – and whether it buys happiness – in Spain compared to the U.S. The majority of the class agreed that past a certain threshold, it doesn’t. And I still stand by the belief – money does not buy happiness. But money certainly is power. And guess who has been left out of the money conversation since the value of worth changed from gold to paper (and far before)?
I spent this past semester doing a capstone internship at a wealth management firm. Prior to the internship, I had held no previous experience in finance (apart from reading the daily Morning Brew newsletter), and a part of me recognized that I needed to change that reality. While I was nervous to enter an industry known to be intimidating and certainly male dominated, I was eager to learn and understand more about a topic that only perplexed me.
Throughout the semester, I spent any down time at work – and even free time – researching the world of finance from wealth management to investing to budgeting and beyond. I first came across one of Wall Street’s former most powerful women and the founder of now one of my favorites startups, Ellevest.com, Sallie Krawcheck. After a history on Wall Street, including being the CEO of both Merrill Lynch and Citi, Sallie founded Ellevest, a digital investment platform for women. Ellevest “aims to serve women’s needs better than any other existing system by using an algorithm tailored specifically to women’s incomes and life cycles” (The Cut). This was my first exposure to gender-specific investing, and I was intrigued.
Soon after, I found Amanda Steinberg and her book, Worth It: Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms, which details Amanda’s “money story”, as well as highlights how women are often left out of the money conversation and how detrimental that is to our power and freedom. She invites women into the world of money and provides guidance for how we can achieve prosperity despite the realities of the gender pay gap and family care-related career breaks. I read the book in one day, the day in which I first thought of The Feminequity Factor. In fact, after reading her book and seeing how unbelievably deprived women are of understanding money, wealth, and worth (myself included), I first thought The Feminequity Factor would focus solely on money education for young women. I quickly realized someone who is uneducated herself wouldn’t be the best teacher, however I still see the need to involve both myself and my peers in the conversation. Therefore, the “money” section of this blog will detail my personal journey toward learning more about money and how it can be used to create freedom and power in my life, in hopes that it will inspire other young millennial and Gen Z women to do the same.
Steinberg’s book is largely focused on her generation – the 30 and 40 somethings who can still turn it around and re-write their money stories. But what about us – those in their 20s? We are at a unique advantage in that our money stories are fresh. We have the opportunity to change the story of women and money for ourselves and those who come after us. And so, step one is joining the conversation. Women – especially young women – are conditioned to not talk about money. Forget the blatancy of the lack of female representation on Wall Street (which is another huge issue), I’m talking about everyday finances. How many of you have sat around and talked about your investment accounts, or the stock market, or even bitcoin with your friends? Until about two months ago, I hadn’t either. And to be frank, I still don’t talk about it enough. But that’s the problem – we tiptoe around a topic that seems arrogant and confusing, and in doing so, we allow ourselves to walk away from the incredible opportunities the other half of the population aren’t afraid to embrace.
Just two weeks ago, I opened my first investment account. Do I understand everything about it? No. Was I “ready”? No. Did I feel incredibly proud of myself? Yes. I’m not saying that you should necessarily go open an investment account this second, but at the same time, I’m saying you should go open an investment account. Of course, you’ll need to do some research first and understand some of the basics, which I will attempt to help you do by providing my own financial education path (however do not solely rely on my information – what I will provide is simply my personal financial education journey, not a blueprint for any type of success), but to be honest, the “right” time will never be now, and so you’re just going to have to do it.
This section of The Feminequity Factor will talk about money in the sense of financial education, investing resources, budgeting, spending, and more. One week, I might provide my go-to investing glossary, and another I might detail how I create a budget for a trip. It’ll be a place to explore owning your money future and achieving feminequity in finances. Your first assignment is to join the conversation. Check out Amanda Steinberg’s book, or head to her blog DailyWorth.com. Google Sallie Krawcheck, and play around on her website, Ellevest.com. Be the force that jumpstarts your own financial education, and check back in to see what I have to say about the resource that will not buy happiness, but will ease stresses, advance your learning, open your eyes to the world, support social development, and so much more.
Let’s take ownership of our money and start to understand how we can capitalize on our worth. We must not let history repeat itself, and before paper money vanishes and our money is held in code, let’s be a part of the conversation.