Staying on Top of Your Finances during COVID-19
LinkedIn
businesswoman-reviewing finances at desk with calculator and wearing a protective mask

A lot of people are dealing with serious financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re worried about your finances but haven’t experienced a loss of income or increased expenses so far, consider the following:

Our fellow federal regulators and their state counterparts are still working every day to keep our financial system safe. Generally, all bank deposits up to $250,000 are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Deposits at all federal credit unions, and the vast majority of state-chartered credit unions, are also insured up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF). Take care of your finances as usual. If you are in the position to strengthen your financial well-being, read more below about how to take control. You’ll be better prepared for shocks down the road, whether from the pandemic or something else.

Keep Up with Your Bills

There are ways to get help if you are struggling to pay your bills due to the financial impact of COVID-19. But if you can still pay your bills, you will likely be better off staying on track. Keep in mind that if you decide to use a program that lets you pause or reduce payments; you will still owe the money you have not paid once the program ends.

Remember, if you ARE struggling, you have options.

If You Can’t Pay Your Bills
Don’t hesitate to contact your financial lenders and creditors if you can’t keep up because COVID-19 has cost you income. The CFPB and other financial regulators have encouraged lenders to work with their customers during this time.

If You Can’t Make Your Mortgage Payments
The new CARES Act allows homeowners with federally backed loans who are affected by the pandemic to request a forbearance of their mortgage for up to 180 days. The forbearance can be extended for up to an additional 180 days. Private mortgage loans may also offer programs. Learn more here.

If You Can’t Keep Up with Your Student Loans
The CARES Act also automatically suspends payments on federally held student loans through September 30, 2020. For help with a student loan other than a federally held loan, you should contact your servicer to see what options are available to you.

If You’re Already Behind on Your Bills
Check out these tips for dealing with debt – a stressful experience even under normal circumstances.

If You’re a Financial Caregiver
Those who serve as financial caregivers for older adults or people with disabilities may have unique worries and challenges.

Keep Your Money Safe

Whether or not you’ve experienced a financial hit, don’t head for the ATM to withdraw more cash than you usually need. Your money is safe in your bank or credit union account. Unlike money kept at home, you likely have federal protections if money you’ve deposited are taken illegally and in the unlikely event your institution shuts down. You will always be able to get cash when you need it. The professionals restocking cash machines and moving money across the country are on the job and are considered essential service workers.

Take Control of Your Finances

Getting money smart is one of the best ways to be ready for any kind of trouble the future might bring. We also offer a variety of tools including some designed to help you track your spending, build a budget, pay off your debt, or take stock of your overall financial well-being. And always remember to manage and protect your credit.

For more information, please visit: consumerfinance.gov

Reinventing Yourself: Who Will You Be Post COVID-19?
LinkedIn
A woman holding her baby while working on a laptop

By Kimberlee Davis, host & founder of The Fiscal Feminist

There is no shortage of lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the economic and health adjustments we are all scrambling to make, a deluge of new challenges that have yet to be considered still looms around the corner.

As we navigate our way through these rough waters of financial hardships, stress and anxiety, let’s make sure to maintain our sense of control and handle the problems that we are empowered to solve. The best way to do this is by re-evaluating our finances, focusing on our long-term goals, and reflecting inward on our own identity.

From a corporate securities lawyer and an investment banker to an entrepreneur and stay-at-home mom, I’ve reinvented myself many times over. Some changes were for the better, others not so much. I’ve found that the key to making solid transitions is to start them in a quiet place like the unique setting of the quarantine.

With mouths to feed, bills to pay and immune systems to protect, taking stock on the bigger picture might seem like a low priority at the moment, but it really shouldn’t be. Ultimately, who we choose to be – either in business, in wealth, in family or just plain spiritually – will determine our paths forward out of this crisis. Amid the chaos and loss of control, our own sense of self is one of the few things we can control. Plus, sheltering in place gives us a unique opportunity to do some personal observation, self-reflection, introspection, and evaluation because we’re not losing time in the dash to in-person meetings and child soccer practices.

The first question that a lot of us get stuck on is: Where do we start? Having gone through several personal and professional re-inventions, myself, I have found great value in beginning with a deep exploration into my hierarchy of values. This consists of the following important questions:

  • What’s important to my emotional development as a person?
  • What’s important to my economic goals?
  • What’s important to my interpersonal relations and social/ethical perspective?

All three are equally important and must be looked at holistically and practically. We can stand back and look at our lives as they were pre-coronavirus, and examine if we were happy and if our finances survived. In our society we seem to be perpetually busy and for many of us, this outbreak has been a hard stop, forcing us to spend time with our loved ones, get comfortable being alone and taking a moment to think about the things that really matter.

Using this time to think about how your financial situation held up, ask yourself what areas can be improved upon. Did you have enough in your savings to cover a couple months of bills if you were to get furloughed from your job? Did you notice how much less money you were spending on frivolous things like your morning coffee? Taking this time to reflect and thoroughly comb through your spending habits and fiscal well-being will help you plan for the future and give you the knowledge and tools you need to make better choices after this is all over.

Having more idle time also allows us to enjoy ordinary activities such as reading, yoga, exercise, painting, listening to music, cooking and reconnecting with our interests. Instead of succumbing to the pressure and uncertainty, embrace the stillness and relearn how to be thoughtful.

Just because the pandemic is tragic – and, of course, it certainly is – does not mean that it is not also a great chance to spend more time together, talk without rushing and determine how we can continue this in a post-coronavirus environment. There may be wonderful recalibrations to consider which never would have been possible during the rat race of the so-called “normal” life we used to know.

We should all examine the strengths of our relationships and family to gauge how we are surviving as a wife, mother, friend and/or businesswoman. In this state of quiet, what do we value and how do we prioritize it among all the other noise?

While contemplating that answer, it is important not to undervalue your career goals. Often, women will assume financial freedom and professional ambition are lower priorities because of societal pressures. However, though we are free to choose other values as higher priorities, that does not mean that we have to.

To adjust your career path, take this opportunity to learn new skills and pursue interests that have been on the back burner. The internet is full of how-to videos and video-networking/coaching platforms that are just a click or swipe away. Use it as a tool for reinvention – not just a vehicle for killing time as we wait for the economy to reopen. Set specific and achievable financial goals taking one step at a time so as not to get overwhelmed and give up on your strategy in frustration.

Personally, I am rethinking my daily schedule from pre-coronavirus times. I have been taking a four- to five-mile walk at least four times a week, and I am committed to continuing that after we resume our new-normal lives. I am going to make exercise a non-negotiable priority. It clears my mind and gives me a positive attitude.

It is so important that you have good nutrition, get regular sleep, have regular physical exercise, have some down time, nurture your spirit and have some fun with the positive people in your life. Intentional self-care will reap many benefits, and it will increase your energy and sharpen your financial focus.

We all should be looking at our lives as a whole and reflecting on what changes we can be making to provide for a better tomorrow. In all our busyness, it’s too easy to lose track of what is really important. The excuse, “I don’t have time,” is no longer an option. For me it’s health, free time to pursue my interests and family. What is important to you?

Kimberlee Davis is the Host of The Fiscal Feminist, a podcast and platform about women and their relationship with money and finances. Her mission is to help all women of all ages and wealth levels embrace their responsibility to themselves to achieve solid financial footing in both calm and turbulent times. Kimberlee Davis has more than 25 years of finance, legal and corporate experience, her career has included being a corporate securities lawyer, investment banker, and Chief Financial Officer. Currently, she is Managing Director and Partner at The Bahnsen Group, a private wealth management firm.

How One Woman is Reinventing the Wedding Industry
LinkedIn
Amy Grace decorating for an outdoor wedding while looking at the camera

Amy Grace Collins loved her work through Amy Grace Events. She was doing incredible corporate events and weddings for organizations and couples at the most amazing venues in California and Michigan, with the very best in everything—food, flowers, music, photography, videography and more.

But she saw a trend that concerned her with the dream weddings she was helping California brides make a reality: They wanted $60,000 events when they could barely afford $15,000, so they were headed out of Santa Barbara to less expensive destinations, like the dessert of Palm Springs.

“My background is in finance, so I’m acutely aware that the money goes where the trends are,” said Collins, a NAWBO-Central Coast California member, who currently resides with her family in Michigan but works in California as well. “I started looking for an option to keep Santa Barbarians in their local town.”

Part of an international mastermind group of wedding planners, Collins began sharing her thoughts on calls. She learned that a fellow planner in Australia was in the process of implementing pop-up weddings. The concept was that several couples would have their wedding at the same location, on the same day, enjoying the same vendor resources—just in their 3- to 5-hour window and with a small group of friends and family in attendance.

While the concept would take some time to tweak for the American market, Collins knew she was onto something big.

“I reached out last summer to all my vendor friends saying, ‘I have this crazy idea…’ We talked about it and I ran every financial number I could,” says Collins. “There are a lot of models out there that undercut the vendors, so they only do the events on off-days.

“But couples want a Saturday or Sunday wedding for less, so we created these and started working on marketing them in February.”

Then COVID-19 hit. “There were brides booked for March and April who were stuck in contracts and out $60,000,” said Collins, adding that the biggest engagement season is between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day and brides usually start reaching out to wedding planners in the spring…and it’s been silent.

Collins’ thoughts immediately turned to the women who are part of MasterBrides—her other business, which is a free, online community for brides to learn about weddings from an industry veteran. She knew these women didn’t have tens of thousands of dollars to lose. Also, would it even possible for them to plan their weddings in the age of Coronavirus with so many unknowns from state to state, especially in California and Michigan, that tend to be among the strictest? Amy began sharing her research and expertise in blogs like, How Do I Know If I Should Cancel or Postpone My Wedding? and The Phased Strategy to Open America: What Does This Actually Mean for My Wedding? By the response she received from brides, it was clear it was time to pivot and focus on pop-up weddings. Her own industry, on the other hand, wasn’t so thrilled about what she was putting out there, but Amy felt strongly it was the right thing to do.

Today, that honest, timely communication has paid off. Amy is now offering pop-up weddings where she leverages the cost of a $60,000 wedding and distributes it three ways between couples so they can have stunning weddings for a fraction of the price. These are all-inclusive, with 90 percent of the decisions already made. She just helps each couple finalize the personalization aspects to make it their own event.

There are other advantages to this model, too. For one, it’s recommended that the guest list is small with just 40-80 people. In this time of social distancing, that’s the perfect size. Also, it’s environmentally friendly. Whereas before, thousands of dollars on everything from flowers to food would go to waste after one big event, now several couples are taking advantage of the same resources.

“I think this will completely shift the mindset of brides,” Collins says. “To see the couples’ expectations from 2002 when I first started, to 2020 is mind-blowing—it’s the same amount of money with way different expectations. This is really resetting the industry so that couples are having a wedding within their means.”

Collins is equally excited about another outcome: A focus on the ceremony more so than the party. “I have always been frustrated by the lack of reverence given to the ceremony portion of the wedding,” she explains. “To have people now see the importance of the actual ceremony and license and how it affects so much in their life, from health care to taxes to immigration. It’s so much deeper and I think we, as an industry, will be appreciated in such a different way. I look forward to that.”

Negotiate Like a Pro
LinkedIn

By Le Anne Harper

Study after study confirms that the gender wage gap in this country persists. According to PayScale, women earned 79 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2019 (“The State of the Gender Pay Gap,” 2020). Decades earlier, The New York Times reported that in 1980 women earned 70 cents for every dollar earned by men (“Women’s Roles vs. Social Norms,” 1986).

In nearly 40 years, the wage gap has only decreased by 9 cents! Sadly, it could take another 40 years to reach pay parity. The good news is you can change your personal earning power now.

Let’s pull back the curtain to share these ten insights that can help you negotiate like a pro:

  1. Your gender matters. Babcock and Laschever’s famous 2003 study of graduating master’s degree students found 57 percent of the men negotiated their first job offers while only 7 percent of the women did. Despite many collective gains, women often find salary negotiations challenging on a personal level. Generations of limiting gender norms have shaped you and can influence how you handle job offers. Will you be “agreeable” even if it means settling for less than you’re worth? Be aware of this insidious legacy so you won’t be limited by it.
  1. Don’t accept…yet. What’s the first thing you feel when you receive a job offer? Typically, it’s gratitude. By the time you’ve interviewed and showcased your myriad talents for a potential employer, you’ve often adopted a “please, pick me” mindset. If you finally get to an offer, it’s easy to ride that momentum (and relief!) to a fast “Yes, I accept,” especially if you’ve interviewed for several jobs without receiving an offer. Whatever you do, don’t accept…yet. With an offer in hand, the power shifts in your favor slightly, so press pause and assess the offer’s merits.
  1. Don’t overshare. When it comes to job offers, companies historically used a candidate’s most recent salary as a baseline and added approximately 10–30 percent to make an offer. This approach keeps people who have been underpaid in the past underpaid even as they move into new, more senior roles. California is one of 17 states (and counting) that has enacted protections to address this problem by prohibiting companies from requesting salary history; instead, companies place a value on a position’s responsibilities and set the budget accordingly. Instead, ask what the budget for the role is and decide if it aligns with your expectations.
  1. Negotiating can bridge the gender gap. Another significant finding of Babcock and Laschever’s study was that the women who did negotiate were able to increase their salaries by approximately the same percentage as the men who negotiated. This means that failing to ask for a higher initial offer is a key factor in their lower starting salaries. But don’t let the historical collective figures discourage you. You have the power to bridge the gap. As with the adage Closed mouths don’t get fed, you can learn exactly what they’re willing to pay if you open your mouth and ASK.
  1. The first offer is rarely the best offer. If you’ve ever been a hiring manager, you know there’s almost always wiggle room on an offer. In fact, we’re so used to being countered that we often factor that into our offers. We might propose $190,000 to our final candidate, so that when s/he suggests that $210,000 will seal the deal, we can all feel good about compromising in the middle at $200,000. Companies typically set a target range for a role, but exceptions are pretty common. The policies vary, but there’s usually some flexibility. Someone in the hiring hierarchy has the power to shuffle their budget to give you a little more.
  1. Know your value. There’s power in understanding your value to the companies where you interview as well as to the specific business unit/hiring manager you’ll support, since that’s usually who has to go to bat for your bigger offer. Get clear about how the company makes or saves money and be able to directly articulate how your skills fit into those equations. Bonus points if you can share specific examples of successful past efforts that demonstrate your expertise and quantify the business impact (e.g. reduced supplier spend by $1.5M, increased employee retention by 40 percent). Use a salary tool like PayScale, Glassdoor, Salary.com, or Indeed to calculate your desired salary. Adjust up or down for significant factors like supply/demand of your skillset, cost of living, a terrible commute (or lack of one), company benefits, culture/values, lifestyle (frequent travel, long hours).
  1. Toss any baggage. Examine and release any emotional baggage you may be carrying from prior interviewing or work experiences, such as insecurities about being laid off or resentment about feeling underappreciated. This isn’t about invalidating your feelings; it’s about sidelining them so you can be effective in salary negotiations. You can’t afford to convey any hint of resentment, entitlement, or desperation. Work through any lingering feelings, get grounded, and approach your negotiations with a clear, confident state of mind and well-researched data.
  1. Be the key. Most for-profit companies are constantly assessing how to grow, which basically means saving money or unlocking new revenue. If your expertise addresses one of these objectives, then you become the key that unlocks the solution. Do some research beforehand so you can precisely target companies that most need and value your key. For example, you wouldn’t try to sell steak knives to vegans. One way to figure out who needs you is think about what keeps a company’s leaders up at night. When you can solve that company’s problems, focus your sights on them. That’s how you can command top dollar during negotiations.
  1. Get creative. There are many elements to a job offer, and salary is only one facet. If a balanced lifestyle is what you seek, think about asking for a remote working schedule or unlimited PTO. Companies have a range of creative perks, some of which might add more value than cash. These fringe benefits are not to be overlooked; it can be fun, like ordering from a restaurant’s secret menu. You can get creative in your asks but consider the cost and possible upside. For example, asking to leave early on Wednesdays for three months so you can complete your MBA will benefit the company and make you look smart.
  1. Practice poise. Especially if you’re not an experienced negotiator, this process can be awkward or downright panic-inducing. It’s nerve-wracking for most people, so now is not the time to wing it. Practice out loud with someone you trust and keep practicing until you can convey your salary request with clarity, supporting data, and confidence without ego, apology, or entitlement.

Now you’ve got some tools for getting into the right mindset and making a sound business case for your ask. Be bold and remember that negotiating works most of the time (89% according to Inc. Magazine)!

Le Anne Harper leads the Diversity & Inclusion practice at Katalyst Group, a talent advisory firm that finds unicorns and purple squirrels for industry-leading companies like The Gap, Samsung, Nike, and Sony. She is a talent consultant and diversity evangelist who has spent 20 years helping companies transform and thrive by recruiting and cultivating the world’s best talent.

 

5 Facts About Financial Wellness Your Business Needs to Know
LinkedIn
Close up hand of business woman using a calculator and a laptop

By Richelle Delia, PhD

Financial wellness is a relatively new buzzword that focuses on a person’s knowledge of the personal financial topics and their ability to successfully navigate financial decisions. It pertains an individual’s ability to understand and choose financial products, services and mechanisms to best allow them to reach their goals taking the ebbs and flows of life into context.

Even if your business is not in the financial sector, get to know these five facts about financial wellness to create a supportive workplace and maintain staff productivity.

  1. A lack of financial wellness means loss of productivity for your business.

The media constantly reminds us about the poor financial situation many Americans face. It is no secret that the average American is saddled with debt and lacks enough savings to weather even a minor financial hiccup.

The sobering reality of stress and anxiety distracts workers from being productive in the workplace. Employees concerned about their own personal financial situation find it difficult to focus on their work and tend to be less engaged, which means fewer dollars to your bottom line.

2.  Financial wellness and mental health are closely related

When a person feels out of control financially, adverse behavior may begin to impact other areas of their lives. Mental strain from financial concerns can pour into relationships and even affect physical health.

In fact, financial stressors have been linked to migraines, depression and insomnia. High levels of stress increase the likelihood of negative thoughts, self-criticism and feelings of hopelessness.

Business owners may read these insights and think that an employee’s personal financial situation is not their problem. In fact, the adverse effects that arise from a lack of financial wellbeing have a direct effect on the bottom line. Poor financial literacy has been associated with increased absences from work and a decrease in overall engagement in the workplace. What’s more is that the latent stress of working under personal financial strain can lead to decreased cognitive ability.

3. Financial wellness solutions are easy to implement.

The good news is you can take simple steps to help your employees and community take charge of their finances. Implementing financial wellness solutions may be as simple or elaborate as you desire.

You may consider bringing in experts on budgeting and saving for college for a speaking engagement or to host an interactive workshop. You could take it a step further by offering financial counseling or even subscribing to a corporate financial wellness seminar series that includes regular follow-ups.

Be sure to check with your benefits offerings to explore any financial wellness solutions they may already provide.

Regardless of how you choose to incorporate financial literacy in your business, your employees will take notice.

4.  Financial wellness helps with employee engagement.

Implementing any of the strategies outlined above can serve as an effective employee retention strategy. Today’s employee is not loyal to any particular company. Instead they gravitate to employers that provide the best working situation for their lifestyle.

Financial literacy resources can be attractive for groups that face difficulty navigating tough financial decisions on their own. Consider millennials who face a mountain of student debt. Or baby boomers still trying to recover from losses of the Great Recession.

Let’s be honest, a financially literate person is better equipped to make better financial decisions for themselves and the business. Improving your company’s bottom line is everyone’s job. All businesses benefit from employees that leverage strong financial fundamentals to support their ideas and prioritize initiatives.

5. Financial wellness is a simple way to enhance company culture by showing that you care.

To summarize, offering financial literacy resources lets employees know that you care about their personal well-being and ability to bring their whole selves into the workplace.

Improving financial literacy is a team sport. Employees are known to thrive in cultures that support who they are both inside and outside the office. Today’s small businesses seek to deliver differentiated value in the marketplace.

Take these ideas into consideration as you look to set yourself apart from other potential employers to recruit and maintain the brightest talent available.

Richelle Delia, PhD, is the co-founder of Housing Joint Venture, a private community of professionals who seek to improve the urban landscape with mission-first investments.

 

5 Ways to Keep Your Finances in Check When Between Jobs
LinkedIn
Businesswoman analyzing finances

Ashaunda Davis, Financial Advisor with Northwestern Mutual

It’s likely at some point in time you will find yourself between jobs. Whether you were laid off or you willingly left your previous job, this is not an easy time for anyone. But know you are not alone – about four percent of the U.S. population is unemployed at any time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statics.

While you are gainfully employed, prepare for the unexpected. My mother always said, “There is nothing new under the sun, so be prepared when life throws you a curve ball.” Control what you can during employment including your mindset, spending and savings while keeping your resume updated.

When you find yourself between jobs, this period may be overwhelming. You can minimize and prevent future stress by following these recommendations I offer my clients.

1. Create a spending plan and stick to it
Spend some time figuring out how long you can go without an income by taking a look at where your finances currently stand. Budget monthly bills that you cannot forego like rent or a mortgage, utilities and car payments. Then, set a weekly allowance for necessities like groceries and gas, and stick to it.

2. Identify expenses you can cut
Separating wants from needs can help make sticking to a budget possible. Try cutting out luxury expenses like daily coffee runs, eating out and monthly subscriptions. Buying generic products, using coupons and rethinking how you spend time with friends and family can also help eliminate expenses. Although it’s important to maintain a social life and continue to do the things you enjoy, staying frugal now can help avoid putting yourself in debt.

3. Apply for unemployment
While filing for unemployment can be time consuming and tricky, unemployment checks can help make the time between jobs less stressful. If you were fired from your previous job under circumstances that were beyond your control, like a layoff, and you meet the state’s requirements for time worked, then you may be eligible to file for unemployment. Requirements vary from state to state, so be sure to check your state’s Department of Workforce website for all information.

4. Manage your own health insurance
Private health care plans can be expensive, but it’s important to be covered at all times because unexpected hospital visits are even more pricey than paying a monthly premium. Before leaving your job, talk to the HR department about how long you will be covered under your current health insurance plan. Some companies offer a grace period to allow time to find a new plan. If you have a spouse, look into joining his or her plan. Or, consider enrolling in the Affordable Care Act platform. Some states offer a special enrollment period for situations like this, so you don’t have to worry about waiting until the health insurance marketplace opens at the end of the year.

5. Consider a part-time job
Two words: side hustle. Do you have a talent or interest you have wanted to practice, but didn’t have time before? Now is a perfect time to freelance, work a part-time job in retail or sell your artwork or vintage cloths online. Not only can a part-time job provide a sense of purpose during the transition, but the extra cash will help prevent draining your bank account.

3 easy ways to meet your 2020 money goals
LinkedIn
latina woman sitting at desk with checkbook and paperwork

Chances are your goals for 2020 will include everything from becoming more physically fit and sleeping better to achieving new career ambitions and becoming financially healthier.

So how do we avoid these goals turning into empty promises? And when it comes to your money, what is actually realistic? There is no one-size-fits-all model for financial wellness. Instead, it’s about starting where you are, setting goals that drive behavior change, and ultimately following through.

Here are three things that you can do today to improve your financial future.

Cut unnecessary spending

Most of us have unnecessary expenses that we can cut. The trick here is to find a few expenses that you can live without that don’t negatively impact your happiness. For example, I need to be well-caffeinated during the day, and I enjoy a nice glass of wine after work, so obviously I’m not going to cut my coffee or alcohol budget. My friends, colleagues, and husband can thank me later.

That said, I enjoy running outside, and I have used my gym membership exactly once in three months. It’s time for that membership to go. In that vein, think of all of your expenses that are well-intentioned, but you’re not using. Or identify a free alternative, such as using audiobook subscription services or library apps instead of buying books. There are great services out there that identify your recurring payments. First, check with your bank to see if they do it, and make a goal to cut a few of those if you can.

And it’s not just the small stuff. The neighborhood you live in, public versus private school for kids, and whether you can cook (as opposed to eating prepackaged or takeout food) all have a significant impact on your finances.

Consider a side hustle

It’s never been easier to take on a side hustle. Getting started can be as easy as decluttering your closet and selling items you no longer use on eBay, driving for ride-share services such as Uber or Lyft, or putting your skills to work as a freelancer. While I don’t recommend it, dumpster divers are even seeing success selling stuff on Amazon.

The beauty of a side hustle is you can spend as much–or as little–time and money as you have. What matters is that you pick something that works with your schedule, skills, and maybe even a passion that you’ve ignored for too long. The key here is to be intentional. Use the extra money to accelerate debt reduction, or save for a down payment on a home to get out of the rental cycle.

Another often-overlooked side hustle is getting more money from your current employer. If you haven’t received a raise in a while or are killing it in your current role, consider asking for more money. Just make sure you are asking the right way.

Automate where you can and commit to cash

Good financial hygiene is crucial to your financial health, and this means avoiding late fees, overdraft charges, and other penalties. Where possible, automate any and all recurring monthly expenses, such as your mortgage, utilities, and cell phone expenses. Late fees add up and impact more than just your bottom line.

And although it may seem crazy, try committing to cash. Studies have shown that when we have to pull out cash to pay for groceries or other daily expenses, we’re more careful about how much we spend. Set yourself a challenge. Commit to using cash for a short period of time and see how it feels. You may be surprised by how much less you spend.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Does a Career in Finance Pay Off?
LinkedIn
woman at a meeting table going over financial documents

Often requiring long hours and grueling days at the office, finance remains one of the highest-paying sectors in the U.S. economy.

Those who stick with it are rewarded with high pay and typically shorter hours as they move up the ranks in the industry.

If you’re looking for a high-paying career, browse through the following list:

Finance Jobs with the Highest Salaries

Investment Banker–
$81,000–$183,000
Investment bankers have a wide range of responsibilities that touch many areas of the financial industry. In general, investment bankers raise money for their clients by issuing debt or selling equity in companies for their clients. They also advise clients on investment opportunities and strategies, as well as assist with mergers and acquisitions. Typically requiring long hours and a strong work ethic, aspiring investment bankers must be tenacious in their approach to the job.

Equity Analyst–
$64,000–$164,000
Equity analysts are typically employed by brokerages or financial firms to analyze the value of a company’s stock and make financial predictions about a company. This type of research is accomplished through numerical and qualitative analysis of financial data, public records of companies, recent news and other information sources.

Financial Analyst–
$49,000–$89,000
Like equity analysts, financial analysts use quantitative and qualitative methods to study the performance of investments, such as stocks, bonds and commodities to provide investment guidance to businesses and individuals. Financial analysts also may advise companies on their financial strategy decisions.

Credit Risk Manager–
$67,000–$134,000
Credit risk managers develop, implement and maintain policies and protocols that help to reduce the credit risk of financial institutions. Their duties include building financial models that predict credit risk exposure as well as monitoring and reporting on credit risk to the organizations they are employed by. A highly quantitative job, becoming a credit risk manager often requires an area-specific master’s degree.

Director of Financial Planning and Analysis–
$113,000–$175,000
The director of financial planning and analysis is typically in charge of creating and overseeing budgets, long-term financial plans, analyses and predictions for a financial organization or team. This role often requires an MBA or degree in accounting or finance, and sometimes it is required that employees in this role are certified as an accountant.

Promotions, Plateaus and Possibilities: Context; Coaching; and Cohort Networks Keep Careers on Track
LinkedIn
Professional Woman

2019 Best CPA Firms for Women and 2019 Best CPA Firms for Equity Leadership show how investing in women is Investing in firms.

The 2019 Accounting MOVE Project will delve into the perceptions and misperceptions that women and firms have about how and why women pursue partnership and other senior leadership positions. The report will also outline tactics that women, advocates for women, and firm leaders can take to ensure that all women CPAs can fully achieve their aspirations for their careers and drive firm growth in the process.

Highlights of the findings include:

  • Peer Power: Women’s peer networks are both horizontal and tend to be powerful retention factors. By comparison, men’s peer networks tend to be vertical and transactional. Leading MOVE firms shape women’s initiatives to make the most of how women organically cultivate networks.
  • Piecing the Future: Women plot their expectations based on what they observe and experience. Firms that show women the benefits of partnership and that build confidence and results with early business development wins seed ambition for partnership.
  • Intervention Builds Retention: Women don’t want to choose between coasting and quitting. Firms strengthen retention by cultivating multiple paths to senior positions, and by working with women before they reach the point of no return.

“Firms of all sizes are engineering new ways for women to excel.  And when women excel, firms win new clients and grow their relationships with existing clients,” said Joanne Cleaver, President of Wilson-Taylor Associates, Inc., the content strategy firm that manages the Accounting MOVE Project.  “As well, the 2019 Accounting MOVE Project illustrates the power of re-investing in programs and culture proven to advance women. Firms that consistently participate in the Accounting MOVE Project promote more quickly. As a group, 28% of their partners and principals are women, ahead of even the high mark achievement this year of 27% women partners and principals, for all participating firms.”

“The findings in this year’s report emphasize how important it is to be transparent about career paths and opportunities within your firm. Having those honest conversations strengthens relationships and really creates a sticky factor,” said Jennifer Wyne, executive director of human resources for Moss Adams, founding sponsor of the Accounting MOVE Project.

“Midcareer coaching offers the greatest return for investment in women, and the greatest opportunity for firms to drive immediate and long- term results from that investment.  At CohnReznick, we are steadily capitalizing on the effects of retaining rising women,” said Risa Lavine, Principal and chief of staff at CohnReznick. CohnReznick is the national sponsor of the Accounting MOVE Project. “This year’s Accounting MOVE Project report shows strategies to help firms retool the pipeline.”

An executive summary of the 2019 Accounting MOVE Project is available at the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance website. https://www.afwa.org/move-project/

“This year’s MOVE Report is especially important to AFWA,” said Cindy Stanley, executive director for the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA), the association partner for the Accounting MOVE Project. “As a women’s organization, we see first hand the value of a strong women’s network at all stages of the career pipeline. This year’s report shows that as women advance in their career they have fewer peers, and each peer becomes more valuable. From entry level to partner, women benefit greatly from the support and example of other women in their network.”

Firms of all sizes are invited and encouraged to participate in the 2020 Accounting MOVE Project. Registration will open in August 2019 at www.wilson-taylorassoc.com. The MOVE Project is supported by founding sponsor Moss

Adams, national sponsor CohnReznick, and administrative fees from participating firms.  Registration for the Accounting MOVE Project will be open through December 20, 2019.

MOVE is making a real difference in the profession and has positioned CPA firms as innovators in the business world. Look no further than MOVE mentions in the CPA Practice Advisor, Harvard Business Review, Financial Times, Parade and other publications to see how MOVE Project firms are leading the national conversation about advancing women.

Click here to view the  2019 Accounting MOVE Project Best CPA Firms for Women

Financial Freedom for Millennials: A Bucket List
LinkedIn
millennials discussing financial options

By Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life

The 2007 movie “The Bucket List” told the story of two terminally ill men seeking to finish out all the things they’ve always wanted to do but never completed. The duo set out on their adventure with the intention to fulfill all their dreams before they “kicked the bucket.”

While most people associate bucket lists with experiences, you can apply the same concept to personal finance matters, as well. Essentially, you list all the things you need to accomplish in your financial life and then start making moves to get them done. According to financial experts, people should start to tick off money-matter items on their lists while they are still in their 20s and 30s. With this strategy, they’ll achieve financial freedom sooner than later because they’ve set themselves up for a less stressful future as they reach retirement age.

At this point, retirement probably seems a million years away, but now is the time to start thinking wisely when it comes to money. Check out our financial bucket list for millennials.

1. Live with roommates

Most millennials want to move out of their parents’ home but can’t always afford to do it. Why forego and miss out on the pleasures of autonomy you can enjoy living on your own? Get some roommates instead to help share housing costs.

When seeking roommates, always be smart and keep safety in mind during the selection process. Everyone, especially women, should stay away from listings on Craigslist and other platforms that don’t fully vet the people out who post these listings.

Once you’ve got your roommates in the house, aside from the financial savings you’ll enjoy by splitting the rent, you can make some great memories — or at least accumulate a few great stories to someday tell your family and friends.

2. Move to an affordable city

Sure, New York is the city that never sleeps, and Los Angeles sees a lot of action, too —but these cities are incredibly expensive to live in. Instead of struggling (even with the help of roommates) in an expensive city, consider relocating to a more affordable city with a lower cost of living. Kansas City, for example, is not only affordable, but it also offers plenty of great job opportunities and even boasts some of the shortest commuting times in the country.

3. Downsize and sell some stuff

We live at a time minimizing is en vogue, especially for millennials. Aside from being a trendy thing to do, selling off possessions you no longer need or want can net you some serious cash. Try selling clothes, unused gift cards, old electronics and gadgets, pretty much anything.

If you have old toys, video games, or other nostalgic items you don’t necessarily want to hang onto anymore, try selling these too. You’d be surprised at how well nostalgia sells!  Set up an account on eBay (or another preferred platform) and get selling. Then take that money and save it or invest it so it grows.

4. Learn thrifty shopping habits

Even if you’re aiming to downsize, there will still be stuff you need. Instead of paying full price for new items, learn the art of thrifting by shopping at places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity resale stores. You can find great deals on everything for the home from kitchen necessities to furniture, along with personal items, too, such as clothing and accessories.

Other ways to save on shopping are to watch for sales, try extreme couponing, and follow discount sites such as Groupon for deals on things you want to buy. Also check out Craigslist and Freecycle to find freebies in your neighborhood.

5. Make a few investments

While making habitual changes can go a long way toward achieving financial freedom, you’ll want to find other ways to increase your bank account. Why not try purchasing some stocks and seeing what happens? Some online brokerage sites let users start buying with as little as $100 and make trades for $5. You can buy small amounts and see if you can aggressively make them grow. “Playing the market” is a unique experience that not everybody gets in their lifetime — and watching your stock’s values go up is a thrill.

6. Launch a business

Even if you’re holding down a full-time job, you can launch a business on the side to generate some extra cash and help build your financial future. It could be something as straightforward as buying a property to use as a vacation rental. Or you can build a brand in your spare time, you can market your business by creating a presence on social media and cultivating helpful business relationships. Sign yourself up to attend some trade shows to help establish a name for yourself.

Depending on your line of work, you may need to obtain a license, insurance, or meet other local legal requirements. Be sure to have your ducks in a row and do everything legally. Also, remember that you’ll need to file taxes as a business. An online calculator can help you make the necessary tax calculations.

Achieving financial freedom is a wonderful feeling! The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be that much closer to your ultimate money goals … and then you’ll be able to afford the things on your “other” bucket list.

Working Wardrobes’ Smart Women Speaker Series with Financial Guru Laila Pence
LinkedIn
2018 Laila Headshot Working Wardrobes Smart Women Event

At the age of 12, Laila emigrated to the U.S. with her mother, arriving in New York.  Her father joined them a year later, and the rest of her family joined in the following years.

Her first job was selling hot dogs and knishes on the Staten Island Ferry, at the age of 14. She credits her mother, who always told her “there’s no limit to what you can do,” with giving her self-confidence. After her family moved to California, Laila attended UCLA and had a full-time job as a waitress while she attended school. She met a man who gave her a job selling tax shelter annuities to school teachers and she shadowed him and learned on the job. Her first paycheck was $4,600 for one month, which she immediately deposited in the bank.

At a conference shortly after, she met Karl Romero who became her mentor and offered her a job which doubled salary. He helped her get licensed as a CFP® (Certified Financial Planner®). By age 22, she was making $100,000 a year.

Today, Laila is co-founder of Pence Wealth Management which she formed with her husband, Dryden. An avid sports fan, Laila is a dedicated wife and mother and very proud to be able to provide great care for her original cheerleader – her mother!

At Pence Wealth Management, her husband heads their in-house asset and investment management, and together, they manage their clients’ portfolios so that they have more control – especially when the market is down. One of her most poignant pieces of financial advice?  “Don’t wait for retirement to enjoy your life!”

Other very important pieces of advice that Laila offered were: “People don’t care what you know, they want to know that you care” – something that she imparts to all her new employees – and the traditional wisdom of: “If you want to Working Wardrobesgo fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”

Smart Women is a women’s giving collective which supports the work of the nonprofit Working Wardrobes. New memberships are currently available (and are entirely tax-deductible), along with tickets to upcoming Speaker Series events.

For more information, please visit workingwardrobes.org/smart-women/ .

Air Force Civilian Service

Air Force Civilian Service

Verizon

Verizon