Savvy Young Women

Why We Should Talk About Women’s Financial Empowerment Now More than Ever

Women's Financial Empowerment

This article was originally published June 16, 2018. In celebration of National Financial Literacy Month and our ongoing commitment to women’s financial empowerment, we thought we’d give it a refresh for 2021.

Millions of women worldwide took to the streets on January 21, 2017, one day after former President Trump’s inauguration. The Women’s March, now regarded as the largest single-day protest in U.S. history, was primarily aimed at the threat the Trump administration represented to hard-won reproductive, civil, and human rights.

The energy of the first Women’s March was contagious. I was thrilled to be a part of the sea of knitted pink hats and hand-made signs in San Francisco with clever slogans such as, “Tweet women with respect,” “Without Hermione, Harry Potter would have died in book 1,” and, “I’m a girl, what’s your superpower?”

In 2018, women marched again on the first anniversary of the original Women’s March. But this time, the marches were fueled by the anti-sexual assault and women’s empowerment movements #MeToo and Time’s Up.

The Women’s March has since become an annual tradition, with protestors assembling every January in various parts of the world around critical issues. This year, which would have marked the fifth annual protest, the movement went virtual. Not even a pandemic could stop it.

A Big Step Towards Women’s Empowerment

These coordinated protests have elevated the global consciousness surrounding women’s obstacles to success, both personal and professional. Women desperately want to be empowered—not diminished—in the workplace and in their own lives.

The definition of empowerment is compelling: the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights. As a financial advisor who works with many women, my greatest satisfaction is watching a client go from feeling anxious and confused about her finances to clear and confident about her future. Taking responsibility and control of your money is a big step towards feeling empowered.

Taking Control of Your Financial Future

Recently I met with a young woman in her early 20s who wanted to get her finances on track. She started working full-time a couple of years ago and made enough money to know she needed to get educated and set up a savings plan.

We sat down for an hour and a half and quickly decided the first steps:

1. Increase her student loan payments,
2. Open a Roth account, 
3. Boost her contribution to her 401(k) plan.

After she fully funded her emergency savings account, she planned to begin saving in a taxable account toward future goals, such as buying a home.

A few days later, she sent me an email and told me that she had completed the to-do list we put together before she left my office. This young woman is empowered, and her financial future is assuredly going to be bright.

Financial Empowerment is Available to Everyone

The people marching each January are diverse. For many, it’s a family affair—multi-generational mothers, daughters, and grandmothers channeling determination and commitment, with supportive husbands and male friends in tow. I tell my clients that financial empowerment is attainable at any age, especially with that same commitment and determination to become financially literate, independent, and secure.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

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Why We Should Talk About Women’s Financial Empowerment Now More than Ever

 

Millions of women all over the world took to the streets on January 21st, 2017 to stand up for what they believe in primarily fueled by the fear that the new Trump administration would threaten hard-won reproductive, civil and human rights.  The energy of the Women’s March was contagious, and I was thrilled to be a part of the sea of knitted pink hats and hand-made signs in San Francisco with clever slogans such as “Tweet women with respect”, “Without Hermione, Harry Potter would have died in book 1”, “I’m a girl, what’s your superpower?

Women marched again a year later in January of 2018, but this time the marches were fueled by the anti-sexual assault and women’s empowerment movements #MeToo and Time’s Up. These movements have elevated the global consciousness surrounding the obstacles women face in their lives, both personal and professional. Women desperately want to be empowered not diminished in the workplace and in their own lives.

Taking responsibility and control of your money is one big step to feeling empowered.

The definition of empowerment is compelling: the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights. As a financial advisor who works with many women, my greatest satisfaction is watching a client go from feeling anxious and confused about her finances to clear and confident about her future. Taking responsibility and control of your money is one big step to feeling empowered.

The people who marched in 2017 and 2018 were diverse – a family affair for many, with multi-generational mothers, daughters, and grandmothers channeling determination and commitment, supportive husbands and male friends in tow.  I tell my clients that financial empowerment is attainable at any age, especially with that same commitment and determination to become financially literate, independent, and secure.

Take control of your financial future

Recently I met with a young woman in her early 20’s who wanted to get her finances on track. She started working full-time a couple of years ago and was making enough money to know she needed to get educated and set up a savings plan.

We sat down for an hour and a half and quickly decided the first steps: increase her student loan payments, open a Roth account, and boost her contribution to her 401 (k) plan.  After she fully funded her emergency savings account, she planned to begin saving in a taxable account toward future goals, such as buying a home.

A few days later, she sent me an email and told me that she had completed the to-do list we put together before she left my office. This young woman is empowered, and her financial future is assuredly going to be bright.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Do you want to manage your money (and life!) better?

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A Savvy Young Woman Charts a Brave Course

As a financial planner, a lot of my work for clients is centered around careful and strategic planning. I help people gain a clear perspective on where they are right now. I work to understand where they want to go in the short term (“We want to go to Paris next year.”) and in the long term (“We want to retire comfortably in Napa Valley.”). Of course, there are many variables to any financial planning effort – there’s budgeting, saving for a college fund, buying a house, putting money away for a vacation home, etc.

As part of our work, financial planners must take into account our clients tolerance for risk. Personal financial goals, risk tolerance and, a clients age, will be among some the factors that shape any plan. Along the way, a financial plan has to be reviewed and tweaked to accommodate changing conditions — as in the economic meltdown in 2008. Good, sound financial advice – whether to stay the course or to make adjustments are key to long term success.

In financial planning, as in life, some of the best laid plans have to have some built-in flexibility to meet conditions on the ground. Or, as our story will show, on the sea.

Meet Jessica Watson – Sailor, Savvy Planner, Risk Taker

Jessica Watson - Youngest Around the World Solo Sailor
Jessica Watson - Youngest Around the World Solo Sailor

When we talk about planning, tolerance for risk, adjusting to changing conditions, sheer courage, and staying the course, we could hardly find a more inspirational example than Jessica Watson, a savvy young woman from Buderim, Australia.

Jessica, at this very moment, is sailing around the world. She is alone, on a solo voyage. Her pink sailboat is named Ella’s Pink Lady.  She is well over 5,000 miles into her epic journey and is about to sail straight into the fearsome Southern Ocean and the Cape of Good Hope.

Jessica is sixteen years old.

If she is successful, she will be the youngest person ever to sail around the world solo, unassisted. On her website, she lists her philosophy – “Always make the best of everything. Stay positive, ask questions, lots of questions.”

Not a bad approach for someone trying to sail around the world, or for life in general, or for someone trying to plan their financial life.

As a financial planner who focuses on women, their families and businesses, I think Jessica Watson is one savvy young woman. It’s clear from her blog and website that she is a serious planner who knows what her goals are, knows how to create a plan to achieve her goals, has the smarts and the skills to adjust as conditions change and has something that will stand her in good stead the rest of her life – courage.

Go Jessica!

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