Everyone has an inner financial whizz. These women tapped into theirs.
How to ip your money script
truth time: 65% of women don’t feel totally confident about making financial decisions, according to a study. Experts say one cause is our ‘money script’, or preconceptions about finances we picked up in childhood.
“Women typically haven’t been encouraged to take charge of their money,” says Dr Kristy Archuleta, programme director for the Institute of Personal Financial Planning. “Those societal messages have an impact and cause anxiety.”
The good news? Your story can be rewritten. “I was always afraid of being broke.”
– Ramona Ortega, 42, founder of a financial management platform
“My parents were farm workers before they got bluecollar jobs. I started working at 14 and put myself through university. After graduation I did human rights work, focusing on solutions to end poverty. Still, I wasn’t saving my own money. Like many people from a low-income background, I focused on getting by; I never planned ahead. When I started practising corporate law, I got a reality check: most of my colleagues already had robust retirement accounts. It was time to snap out of survival mode. So I started investing in shares. I lost money. But I don’t regret it; I learnt that I needed to do more homework and that financial empowerment is about action. Last year, I launched a personal financial management platform to help underserved women and millennials. I still worry about being broke, but now I have a growing retirement fund and I’m investing in my business. I have the power to change my situation.”
“Money made me feel helpless.” – Rachael Rifkin, 35, freelance writer
“Growing up, I was convinced my parents were poor; when we went shopping, they’d complain about prices and my mom even avoided using the ATM. I was wrong: my parents owned their home and had savings, but they were so frugal I assumed the worst. When I got married, I let my husband handle our bills. Then I started talking to my mother-inlaw, who was a bank teller. She managed the family finances and taught her kids to budget. She gave me saving tips and made me feel comfortable talking about money. I started reading financial sites for kids; they were less intimidating than adult investing books. I set up regular financial checkups with my husband. Now money doesn’t overwhelm me – I see it as a way to build the life I want.”
“I wish I’d known how money could work for me.” – Zim Ugochukwu, 29, CEO of travelnoire.com
“I was bullied in high school because I looked different, so when I got a part-time job, I used my salary to buy nice clothes so I’d fit in. My mom taught me to save at a young age, but I wasn’t always very good with money. Then, at 16, I went to Nigeria to visit family. It was magical, but I thought travel was too expensive to enjoy regularly. After university I spent a year in India and realised travelling doesn’t need to be pricey! Seeing the world became my motivation for saving. When I came home, I lived frugally: I didn’t eat out, walked to work and put away half my salary from my conference producer job. I started booking more trips and launched a site featuring travellers who are people of colour, like me; now I make a living helping others explore. I’ve learnt that experiences are what makes saving worthwhile. My advice: cut out what you don’t need so you can save to spend on what you love.”